North Carolina collage artist Catherine Rains has spent years developing and evolving her collage style, taking classes and trying new materials. Her torn papers and paint are layered into an abstract style. She creates her art in collections and then announces their availability through Instagram and her newsletter, and is quite successful selling out.
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Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:
- Catherine did a great exercise to figure out what she wanted to do. She made a list of all the things that she did as a child without anyone asking her to do them. Collage appeared on that list, and that’s why she tried making a collage as an adult. Think about the things you do that allow you to relax and immerse into the task. Those are the things you should be doing.
- Remember that if you travel a lot, you can still carve out time to make art. Catherine traveled for work and took an extra suitcase just of art supplies. She would make art in the evening after she was done with work. You can still make it happen with just a small amount of supplies. You may find that working art into your life makes you happier for everything else that’s in your life.
- If you are trying to develop your skills with something new, challenge yourself to do one new art piece a day. It shouldn’t be too big so that you can easily complete it, but you’ll find that the more that you do, the better you will get.
- Catherine has found that if she is creating from a place of joy, then her artwork sells easier. People can tell if you have made art just to sell vs. made art that’s come from you.
- If you have a lot of collage bits and papers, you might want to try Catherine’s method of storage, which is to store the papers by color. I can see how that will make it easier to find the next piece you want to add to a collage. She also finds it’s fun to just work with a limited palette on many pieces of art until she’s bored with those colors.
- Artists often create in a collection, meaning they make multiple pieces of a same color palette or theme. Catherine also releases her art for sale as a collection. You can show each piece as you finish it on Instagram, and announce the date that they will become available for purchase. That will build up interest in your art.
- Realize that Instagram and your followers are not really “yours.” What I mean by that is, you can have 10,000 followers, but it is Instagram that determines which followers get to see your posts, not you. The one thing that you can control is your newsletter list. Catherine has a way of getting her Instagram followers to opt in to her newsletter list. When she gets a new follower, she messages them and invites them to join her newsletter list. She gives them a free gift too as a thank you. You can use your newsletter list to announce a new sale of your art, or a new class, or a new art event.
- Try to be consistent and regular with your online activity. People will follow you more if they know that they will see new content from you every day.
- Catherine uses the app Planoly to visually plan, manage, and schedule her Instagram posts.
- If you feel like you are blocked and are unable to be creative, try setting a timer and just make art for ten minutes. That may work to get you moving on something new.