I stumbled on Viktorija’s work thanks to a feature on Crafty magazine’s blog where she discussed her move to full-time maker. Her work was so sweet and her optimism so addictive, I knew I had to interview her for Create & Thrive. If you’re on the cusp of working for yourself full-time, you’re going to love this interview with Viktorija of AndSmile (This site/resource is no longer available)!
Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?
I graduated from university with a degree in Illustration in 2009 and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do and how shall I do it and then opened an Etsy shop in early January 2012. I started selling postcards and prints and then broadened my range to brooches and other handmade jewellery. That’s what I do now and work on illustration commissions too (be it a tattoo design, logo or wedding invitation).
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?
It’s hard to say that I had any big challenges as my business is very, very young. But I think the only one and the hardest is to keep going and keep working even when things seem not to be happening.
What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?
The same as with challenges, I can’t think of a big pump moment. It’s all been happening slowly and gradually.
But I think the nicest thing, which happened recently which made me happy as a creative person, is when I was commissioned to design a tattoo. A tattoo which someone will have on their body forever (in a form of my illustration)! That was very flattering and really made me believe more in what I do.
Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?
No, no doubts, maybe altering the direction a little bit from time to time but no big doubts.
The thing which I really would love to do one day is to illustrate a children’s book. That’s a big time dream.
Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?
There are times of course! I try to keep working as it would be impossible to do anything if I were to wait for inspiration.
Sometimes I switch tasks if one thing is taking too long and I keep dragging time. I know I can do another thing (like varnish brooches or pack orders) and get into the mood of working.
How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?
I can’t balance it! I’m very bad at that. I try to learn how to do it and remind myself to do it everyday. What I do is both my hobby and profession and my passion so it’s really hard to stop.
I usually wake up, have a cup of tea or coffee, pack orders if anything is waiting to be packed, check social networks, answer emails, double check the to-do list and see if anything needs to be added to the day and then I would make little hand drawn goodies for my shop or work on new designs and recently I got more illustration commissions (which makes me happy!) so I would crack on with those till the evening. Of course there is a lunch break and walk to the post office at some point in the day. Recently I started getting better at taking at least half a day off to meet lovely people! And, of course, some physical activity (which was neglected recently) like going to a gym or yoga class is a must!
What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?
The best so far was to start using Instagram and doing craft markets! It’s a great opportunity to connect to people, meet fellow creatives, and share your creative adventures.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?
I really hope that my business will be successful one day, so hard to give advice on that. But the things which I learned and I think they helped me is work hard, be nice to people, and make sure you enjoy what you do!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Hopefully illustrating that big dream of mine a children’s book and going on all sorts of creative adventures!
You can find more of Viktorija’s work online:
On her website (This site/resource is no longer available)
In her Etsy shop: AndSmile
On Twitter: @yellowfi
On Instagram: yellowfi