Eli Trier Artist, Author and Blogger
How did you find your university experience, were you a part of any societies?
I didn't really have a university experience as I studied alone, whilst working full-time to support myself. I've never enjoyed joining societies though, I've always been a solitary soul and prefer to work alone. I loved learning, however, and writing essays!
Have you always loved art and what do you enjoy most about it?
My mum is an artist and encouraged me to make things from a very early age. Art has always been part of my life, and I made my first illustrated books when I was about 5 years old - I still have them all. I think the thing that appeals most to me about art and writing is the ability is has to connect people. The expression of something deeply personal can resonate so deeply with others - you are never alone with art and books. There's a magical quality to it. What really excites me is the sharing of ideas, whether that's with words or pictures.
When did you decide you wanted to become an artist professionally, is there a specific moment you remember?
I was running a small marketing agency specialising in digital communications and I realised I wasn't enjoying it at all. The situation culminated in a bout of severe depression when I began writing and illustrating my first book. I shared it as a blog as I was writing it and people began to ask me to illustrate for them. It grew from there.
Many people in the art industry struggle to support themselves financially, did you experience this when you became a full time artist?
Yes, and I still do to a certain degree. Especially if I'm focusing on a large personal project, it can be hard to balance passion work with paying work. I have many different streams of income including selling artwork and books, freelance illustration and book layout work, and teaching workshops. I've recently branched out into teaching online as well, which I absolutely love. Since moving to Denmark last year I also have a part-time job in a local Culturehouse which helps with my integration into my new country as well as language practice and an extra source of income. I love the fact that my work is a movable feast - I don't have to rely on any one thing to keep me afloat financially, and I can choose what I want to do more or less of at any time.
Art is often perceived in society as more of a hobby or “not a real job”. Do you think this attitude contributes to the fact that many artists do struggle and have you ever experienced this kind of attitude from other people?
Absolutely! In fact, I recently put together a community artist project where 30 artists including myself discussed how they felt about this very topic. You can find a free ebook of the project at here. My advice for anyone facing this sort of attitude is just to ignore it and follow your heart. You can't let other people's opinions about the validity of what you do knock you off course, just believe in yourself and your work and stay on track.
Is there anything you would do differently in your transition from working for somebody else to being self-employed?
No, actually. I was 100% certain that I was doing the right thing when I left my marketing job to set up on my own. I took some temp jobs and flexible part-time work whilst I was getting set up, and then networked as much as humanly possible. I had my marketing agency set up and profitable in just a couple of months. From there, transitioning into doing my artwork was relatively straightforward and I just let my existing clients go one by one as I built up my income from my artwork.
What is the best thing about running your own business?
The freedom and autonomy. And not having to see people all the time! I'm a HSP (highly sensitive person) and an introvert, so being able to stay at home and in solitude has completely transformed my life and my wellbeing.
What challenges have you faced over your career?
The biggest challenges have arisen when I've tried to do things the way I think they 'should' be done, or tried to follow someone else's idea of how I should be running my business. It took me a very long time to realise that my way of doing things was the right way for me and it was 'allowed'. I think women in particular have a tendency to defer to other people's suggestions and advice and they're not always the best solutions for you, even if they're offered by a loved one.
Which women personally or professionally inspire you?
Patti Smith, Susannah Conway, Claire Brewster, Ashley Longshore, Amanda Palmer.
Would you consider yourself a feminist? If not, why?
Definitely. No doubt about it.
What is the one piece of advice that you have picked up over your professional life that can apply to any career that you would like to pass on?
Don't give up, even when it gets tough. And learn how to listen to your intuition - it will never steer you wrong
Visit Eli's website here!
Interview by Laura Makin
What did we learn from Eli?
Trust yourself – Eli realised she was most successful when she did things her own way rather than trying to follow others;
Running your own business can be liberating – it brings much more freedom for Eli and suits her personality;
Having multiple sources of income is an option – Eli does a variety of different work which means she doesn’t need to rely on one area;
You shouldn’t let the negativity of others affect you – if you are passionate about something and want to pursue it, that’s all that matters.
What do you like, what do you not like, what was useful, what should we have asked instead? Please give us your feedback
"You are never alone with art and books. There's a magical quality to it"
Artist, author, and blogger Eli Trier tells us about her transition to becoming self-employed, the importance of believing in yourself and her love of art
National Extension College
A-Levels: Classics, Philosophy and Literature
Degree: Literature and Art History
Variety of hospitality roles, including the running of her own guest house and marketing manager of a large hotel