Aurora Lady of Aurora Lady Sweet Shoppe creates mixed media art and portraits of everyone from everyday folks to indie bands. A Los Angeles resident with an affinity for vintage Sassy magazines, she recently spoke with IndieMade about the message behind her art, and why patience is so important for any creative indie business owner.
What attracted you to the art business? How did you get your start?
I grew interested in being in business for myself, rather than being in the "art business." I graduated college at a time when the Internet was really finding its land legs, and I was floored by the potential of empowerment that the Internet afforded people. When I saw other women being creative and building their worlds, I knew I had no excuse — I had to make my dreams a reality as well.
I started by posting my work up on my blog, which was pre-blog...it was on Livejournal! From there, I learned to really connect with people and really share what I was about, and people responded positively to it.
What piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in the art business?
Be patient! I know that is about the most unsexy advice ever. But really, it's a good thing to take in every day and breathe out as your head hits the pillow. I heard a comedian telling a story about asking Dennis Miller for advice as a fledgling standup, and Dennis said, "Be a reliable truck hauling your goods, not a little red race car." I love that. It's dope to really know what your work is about, what you are trying to say, and have your whole world be consistent. Haul ass slowly and surely.
What's one thing that most people don't know about your craft?
So much of it is research and planning and LIVING. By the time I actually put pen to paper I've rolled it around in my brain about what I'm gonna lay down for days, at the very least.
What makes your business unique?
I'm an artist hellbent on delivering messages of empowerment and societal questioning. When you decide to purchase my work, you aren't just putting something pretty on your wall-- you're actively involved with the life of the piece after it leaves my hands. This leaves the responsibility in both of our hands. I choose to build community and boost people. You choose to embrace the message, pass it on to someone else, or destroy it. The uniqueness of my business lies solely in the afterlife of the work.
How did you start selling your products online?
I started on Livejournal. It was shady and before Paypal was even in the picture. I would post pieces on that blog and then people would mail me a check or give me cash, and then I'd send it out. How adorable! I'm sure if anyone around me had known anything about online business, they would hav
bit their thumb at me!
Besides on your website, where do you sell your stuff?
Most of my sales are generated online, but occasionally I will do pop-up events in the Los Angeles area. I'm starting to do more zine fests and art-based workshops as well.
Why did you decide to expand beyond Etsy?
I had an Etsy store for a few years, and still hold an Etsy account. It was a great way to learn how to organize my work and how to articulate my pieces for a consumer. I considered moving on to IndieMade because it was easier to integrate into the design of my website. And when I found out that one could upload PDFs to IndieMade directly as a product, I was sold! Nothing could be easier and it left me with more time to create, not sitting at my computer sending out emails to customers.
How are you promoting your business online?
I generally use my website as my main source of promotion. I blog there, and then link that post up to my networks on Facebook and Twitter. More often than not though, new people find me from referrals from otherclients. It's the best high when you hear that!
Why did you decide to try IndieMade?
The ease of the IndieMade set-up is what sold me. My friend Janie of Janie XY was really excited about the potential of digital products, and that enthusiasm was contagious. IndieMade made the idea of selling patterns, books, and other digitals so easy and attractive. More than anything else, I want my hands to be hitting the paper, creating. So the more work my platform can do for me, the more I love it! And IndieMade is definitely a piece of work. I'm stoked about it!
(Click here to read IndieMade's interview with Janie XY!)
What's on the horizon for you and your business?
I've always got a few tricks up my sleeve! This year I've resolved to go bigger and work on projects that are more near and dear to my heart. This means less of an emphasis on private portraiture pieces, and spending more energy on work that projects peace, meditation, and working toward a greater good. I wanna facilitate people flourishing and empowering themselves, and gnashing into life with voracity.
Do you have any tips for new users of IndieMade?
Use the Resources section of the site! Every time I've run into a hurdle I can't get over, the resources section has saved the day.
(Want to see how other IndieMade users are making the most of their sites? Click here for our entire series of featured artists!)