Joni Nickrent, of Pop Art Minis, has always had a love for creativity and art. She credits her success, however, to her mother’s encouragement and support.
Though her mother has left this world, Joni still draws comfort and encouragement from the lessons she instilled in her: to keep going, to keep on creating, and to never, ever give up on your dreams.
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Alyice: How did you come up with the idea for your Pop Art Minis?
Joni: Pop Art Minis came at a time that I was going through a lot with my mom, she was diagnosed with cancer, along with my Product Development job. I came home from work one day and I just needed a release. I hadn’t been creating a lot and felt drawn my oil pastels. I just needed to create something positive.
The first piece I created, called “LIFE…find yourself!”, was a little larger than the current size of the Pop Art Minis, which are usually around 12″ x 12″, although I have been deviating from this size a bit as I experiment with some new techniques, themes, and subjects. It was a lot about trying to find something positive in all the negative that had been going on in my world.
It was also about colors, blending, and the simple ability to create. Creating something that I could feel good about was important to me at the time. It was also healing, and allowed me to find myself again. And so, Pop Art Minis was born.
Alyice: Do you remember what your first sale was?
Joni: My very first sale, as an artist, was a long time ago. It was when I created with watercolors and I used to sell them at festivals. I remember that it felt great. The fact that someone actually thought my art was good enough to hang in their house or give as a gift was an amazing and very positive feeling!
My first Pop Art Mini sale was a poster that featured a Fairy design called BELIEVE! Again, a great feeling! You never know how your art will be received, if anyone will want it, so that first sale when you put it out there is always a great feeling—like you broke through to the other side!
Alyice: How long did it take you to start earning a regular income from your art, after that first sale?
Joni: I have been earning a pretty steady income from my art for quite a while now, but I would say pretty quickly after I really started putting things out. I have sold art prints at wholesale, original art pieces at art festivals and craft fairs, and currently I sell originals and reprints online. I feel very fortunate to be able to sell my art and am very thankful that people want to buy the things I make!
Alyice: You are probably one of the most Internet savvy artists I’ve met to date. You promote your work heavily through various social networking sites, blogs, forums, and even a newsletter. How do you juggle it all?
Joni: Thank you, that’s a very big compliment! I think that my position as Product Development Manager for Charisma Brands has helped me to realize that the Internet is a necessity. It’s important that we, artists, take advantage of social networking, especially in today’s fast paced online market!
As for juggling, sometimes it’s hard to juggle all of the different online places, but it’s fun and I enjoy the interaction so I’ve made it a priority. To fit it into my schedule, I have made it a part of my daily routine. I set aside some time each day to interact in some way across the board.
Alyice: Though you promote your work heavily online, you do it with great care and tact. Your networking seems to have a nice balance between sales, give-a-ways, shop news, and personal tid-bits. Can you share some tips on how to promote without alienating followers, fans, and/or potential buyers?
Joni: For me it’s about making people feel like they’re a part of what I’m doing. I want them to have an experience when they interact with me online. It’s more about experience and less about putting my work “in their face”.
I want to share things that mean something so I take the time to figure out how to do that without making it feel like I’m forcing the issue. It’s much more fun for me to figure out how to write a blog post that’s creative and shows my personality than it is to bombard my readers with things that are just about selling. I don’t want to see that from others, so I’m sure nobody wants to see that from me.
I also like to think of it as “We” instead of just “Me”. Together we can do a lot more. If someone is following me on Twitter, or becomes a new friend on Facebook, or takes the time to read my blog, I want that person to feel I’ve taken the time to think things through. I want to offer something that is worthy of their time, something that is more meaningful than a one line tidbit just to say I did it!
What I’m really trying to say is to share who you are and what you do, but make the people you’re trying to do that with a part of the total experience. Think about how you feel when you read blogs, comments, tweets, and sales pitches. Do you feel a part of the artist’s world or just another number to make a quick buck?
Read your own blog, tweets, and sales pitches. Do you make others feel good about being a part of your world? If so, that’s a pretty strong key for success!
Alyice: Do you do any promoting offline?
Joni: Promotions offline? Yes, but only through flyers and business cards that I include in every package I ship out. The majority of what I do in the way of promoting my art, my business, my sites, is done online.
Alyice: Before you go, can you leave our readers with one tip you feel is vital to the success of any art business?
Joni: I actually have two tips…
Create from the heart, people can see this. People (art buyers) know when it’s genuine and they appreciate that. Genuineness can open up a lot of new opportunities; opportunities for showing and selling your art!
Also, be teachable. There are always things to learn and new discoveries to make so keep your eyes open for inspiration, AND always make it your own! BE YOURSELF!