Claire, AKA Aloha Lola Cards, is very well-known among the blogging community, and I think one of the first people I followed when I created the This Stuff Is Golden Twitter account. Not only does she have a successful business as an illustrator, creating blogger banners, logos, and more, but she’s also one of the sweetest people I have had the pleasure to meet online.
What made you start working as an illustrator?
It was actually due to my illness that I started. I had to give up my career (which is was very heartbreaking) and had to adjust to a new life which was very, very different to the one I was accustomed to living to. However, even in the most defeating situations you can find a silver lining. For me it was rekindling my love of drawing and turning into my own business.
What has your career story been up to this point in time? What were your first jobs?
As a trained journalist (I feel very obnoxious when I type that! I don’t know why!) my jobs previous to this point focused on editing, PR and marketing. Some of my first roles involved co-running a new local newspaper distributed in supermarkets (gosh, was that a challenge!) and working in an arts management company managing their online arts publication and PR and marketing for all their projects.
Have you always been passionate about art and design?
I have always found comfort and solace in visual creativity. It has the power to absorb you and free you – at least for a fleeting few seconds – from any woes you might have. Art and design brings such beauty to the world and I am a huge fan of appealing aesthetics! To be able to create artwork – at any level – is such a gift and I know I do take my skills for granted from time to time.
What helps you to get into a creative mindset?
I get inspired by what I see. My artwork is very pro female so – the majority of the time – I just get inspired scrolling my Instagram feed or looking through my tweets. Women inspire me. I see a girl rocking a bold look, or someone spreading a motivating message and creatively I become connected to that. How can I bring that to life through illustration? How can I radiate their body positivity though an image? How can I address mental health issues through art? How can I make someone feel beautiful and powerful by connecting a few lines together?
If somebody wanted to start their own illustrating business, what advice would you give?
You need your own niche and you need your own goal. i made the major mistake of trying to mould my art into what I thought would sell well. As soon as you do that you lose your style and flavour. So work out the vibes you want to give and you’ll attract your vibes through that! Also, network, connect with others, promote yourself, keep your work circulating. Yes it’s exhausting and for the first few months you might see a tumbleweed roll past but KEEP AT IT!
What do you think is the toughest part about being an illustrator?
Being in the creative industry itself is tough. Customers and clients don’t take your work as seriously. Being underpaid and undervalued can play havoc with your self esteem and I’ve had a lot of lessons to learn in regards to protecting myself. Also, I think creatives are very prone to self criticism, I can be my own worst enemy and I am always thinking of ways to improve – which is exhausting!
What hurdle(s) have you ever had to overcome in regards to your work?
Being self taught I think it was just about overcoming constant challenges, technically, finally, emotionally. There always seems to be something new I’ve overlooked or need to understand – but I guess that’s the same in any industry! Another challenge is establishing a business. When I first started it was painfully difficult. Competition was (and still is) fierce and recognition was scarce – it was just a case of not giving up.
What are your plans for your business within the next few years to come?
I hope that my business continues to thrive, that I will branch out into printed products and maybe even become a supplier to an outlet (?) Here’s me hoping!
Which social media channel has helped you generate sales the most?
A lot of businesses have said Twitter isn’t a great sales tool but I am in total disagreement! This platform is where my work is mostly seen and I generate the most sales through this channel.
Do you have a book that changed your life/favourite book you’d recommend to everyone and anyone?
I do love Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar. Mental health is complex, it doesn’t make sense sometimes, we can fall from society and have to shed our skin and start again. I think this book encapsulates that, the meaning of being human.
What is your favourite genre to read and why?
I love drama, the complexities of characters and everyday relationships. Nick Hornby is a fantastic writer for this.
What does your normal day look like?
I start the day with a brew, watching the news, then firing up the laptop and looking through work emails and requests. Then I roll up my sleeves and get started!
Who inspired you to start a creative career (if anybody)?
I remember seeing a newspaper article about a brand called Claireabella that did cute illustrations. The company founded by a woman called Claire (like me!) started by drawing little caricatures on woven bags in her kitchen – her business has now gone global. That made me think, why can’t I do that?
Biggest supporter of your business so far?
My gorgeous twitter friends – I would be name dropping a lot to mention them – but they have boosted my confidence on a bad day, helped with spreading the word and just been cheering me on from day number one. I am forever grateful to them.
What helps you get through a stressful day?
Lovely feedback from customers. When they are thrilled I get a little glow and I think, see Claire, you’re doing this right.
What advice would you give yourself 5 years ago?
You are fine just the way you are.
Any favourite quotes that particularly motivate/inspire you?
She believed she could so she did.