PopArtDiva, The Martini Diva, The Diva of Tiny Foods, The Brat in the Hat, The Normal Challenged Artist. What? Am I interviewing several guests this week? Nope! These are just the many personifications of my friend Terri, who I met when we both became members of an online woman's group. This is a prime example of networking in action because not only has Ms. PopArt become my friend, she has been a great influence and mentor on some upcoming projects - not to mention the fact that she has taught me to make a killer martini and appetizers to die for! And through our relationship she has gained a new client. Traveling' Bob has hired her to do a Pop Art of him. I know once you read her interview, you will admire her as much as I do. So without further ado, I present THE POP ART DIVA!!
1. Just who is PopArtDiva? I am a Normal Challenged artist with a passion for my art, designer martinis and Tiny Foods (what I call appetizers). My interest in art began early in life. Growing up in Kansas I was never without a crayon in my hand. From grade school through college my main emphasis was on being an artist. I worked in the commercial market for nearly fifteen years as an illustrator and designer for publishers, advertising agencies and corporate marketing agencies. In 1981 I started participating in fine art shows where I exhibited and sold my original art at fine art shows and to galleries throughout the United States and abroad. In the mid 1990's I installed my first graphics software and discovered a whole new excitement in creating art digitally. Currently I apply my computer graphics skills to creating graphic design and animation for print media and the web for myself and a few select clients, and Fine Art Digital Images for my own art publishing business. Being an artist is not just what I do, it's what I am. My art defines me and my life. It's my job, my vocation, my avocation and my passion. I cannot imagine my world without the creativity that drives me. Every morning I have a reason to get up and that's the biggest blessing one can receive.
2. Why Pop Art? I grew up being exposed to the art of Peter Maxx, Andy Warhol and the rock posters of the sixties. As a child I fell in love with the Disney animations, then grew to love the surrealists as a teenager. Combine these inspirations with my love of color and add a little tongue in cheek and you end up with my contemporary pop art style.
3. What's with your obsession for martinis? I love martini glasses! Elegant, sophisticated, graceful and sassy, they were the ultimate in posh to me. However, I never liked classic martinis! One day I heard of an Apple Martini and I grew fascinated. There was something I could drink in a martini glass that wasn't basically just vodka or gin? Show me! Tell Me! Let me enjoy the drink as much as the glass it is presented in! From that point it grew into finding new recipes to drink, to creating new recipes to drink and then to creating a website to share my recipes with the world! Thus, The Martini Diva, was born. And I can write off my booze now, thank you Mr. Taxman.
4. Tell us about your business. I create contemporary pop art and images for licensing at PopArtDiva.com, TheMartiniDiva.Com and for merchandise at The PopArtDiva Boutique, The Martini Diva Boutique and my other online stores. I also do graphic design for a few select clients. I create or recreate recipes, how to videos and fun graphic recipe cards for designer martinis at TheMartiniDiva.com as well as The Diva of Tiny Foods blog. I have published my first martini recipe book (The Merry Martini Mixology Book), for sale on Amazon, am currently editing my Halloween Martini book and have several other in the works.
5. Why did you start your own business? I never saw myself being happy in the nine to five corporate cubicle world! I started my first business as a freelance graphic designer in 1976 - Graphica Studios. It is still operational today. I started publishing fine art for sale in 1980 and continue to this day. I went live with PopArtDiva.com and The Martini Diva in 2005 and continue to build those brands online through my websites, blogs and social media.
6. What do you like most and least about being your own boss? I like not having to go to someone else's office, I like my boss (gee, ya think?) - even though my boss is type A and makes me work all the time, lol. I like the fact that I am not subject to the whims of inferior superiors, lackluster co-workers or corporate idiocy.
I dislike not knowing exactly how much money is coming in.
7. What personality traits and skills are needed to run a business? Here are the primary skills and personality traits that are necessary to run a successful business, in order: Be passionate about your work. Be honest, be diligent and do what you say you are going to do. Be dedicated and a self-starter. Be willing to work all the time. Be willing to sacrifice a large part of your personal life. Be organized - if you're not, then learn! Have a least a rudimentary business knowledge including accounting, legal, costing, time management, etcetera. Be able to prioritize and delegate where you can. Be FLEXIBLE! Be personable - you have to like people to do business with them! Be on time! Be original. Be yourself.
8. What has been the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur?
Gaining the understanding of those who work a standard nine to five job. Dealing with the vagaries of a trickle down and out economy!
9. Do you have any resources you have used to build your business that you would recommend?
I network with several groups but I narrow these down to those that a) are beneficial to my business plan or b) I enjoy on a personal level. Why? Because you can spend all day "networking" and not getting any business benefit from it if you aren't aware of your time.
I do all my own web design, web graphics, marketing and promotion. I taught myself html, various web design wysiwygs, Photoshop, video editing software, audio editing software and every other part of the web - there are great free resources for all of these skills online, just Google them with the added keyword "tutorials".
When I went to college computers were still the size of Mack trucks! I didn't even get my first computer until 1996! And frankly, when I looked into classes to learn how to do an internet business they were way behind my knowledge and the times. My only resource was the computer itself!
10. Do you have any tips to share on promoting your business?
I promote myself online by newsletters, press releases, blogging and social networking. It's a new type of advertising and marketing with different rules and procedures than the old style mass media promotion. Once upon a time you sold a product, now you sell a brand! Over the last six years I've learned quite a bit about how to market online, so much so that I now have clients who pay me for social media marketing as well as hire me to train them in the techniques.
In today's market it's more important that you build a trust and a relationship with your potential customer base than ever before. Your brand must have a distinct personality, a unique visual look and a personal presence. The faceless corporate entity of old is a distrusted figure today. People want to know who they're doing business with, they want a friendly "face", reliable and friendly customer service and someone they can connect with on a human level.
Building your brand online gives you the opportunity to build a relationship and interact with your potential clients. This not only will build your brand, it will sell your products or services. The added benefit of this relationship comes when those clients tell you what they want - they will be part of your research and development, if you listen to them!
11. What other advice do you have for someone starting their own business?
Be prepared to work hard, work long hours, and be prepared to take it on the chin, brush yourself off and start all over again!
12. How can we contact you about your products and services?
Just click the links at the bottom of this page!
13. Is there anything else you would like to share?
I've made it sound like owning your own business is a 24/7 venture - and it often is! However, if you love the business you are creating it will not be like a job! You will get up every morning (well, almost, lol) just itching to start that new project, upload that new website, post that new blog and tweet about your latest business adventure. My love and passion for my work has been a lifesaver for me many times over in the course of over 30 years of being my own boss. When all else around me was crashing at my feet, when I lost my family and friends, my work was always there to give me a reason to get up and go on with my life!
And having some cute puppies, kitties and other little pets is a big help too! (Kisses to my Pixel and StinkyTinkyCat!)
LOVE YOUR WORK AND IT WILL LOVE YOU!
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