So, how is everyone enjoying our bumper blogging weekend? We hope you’re enjoying settling in to our new venture, and that you’re excited for the next HUGE step when our big sister site launches very soon – we certainly are! Carrying on with our theme of showcasing artists all weekend, tonight we have a special interview with Stephanie of Beyond Paper Stars talking about her inspirations, her experiences launching a new business, how she balances things with her work life and we get to find out about some of her other talents too!
Hi Stephanie! You started Beyond Paper Stars early this year. What made you decide to take the plunge?
A new years resolution. The first I have ever kept in fact! I only made the one resolution on December 31 2015 – to share some of the things I had been creating on the internet, and open myself up to pursuing being an artist again. My friends have been incredibly supportive of me with it all – my boyfriend especially, who has had to put up with all the paper, glue, glitter, resin, glass and wood all over the place. And now felt. He is a patient man! Nine months on and I feel my work keeps getting better, I’ve met some incredible people who inspire me, and I’m looking forward to carrying on making things and learning what I’m capable of.
Your pieces tend to be quite theatrical and feature the sea quite a lot. What draws you to those themes, and what else inspires you?
Stories. It always comes down to stories with me. My degree was in Theatre, and I specialised in scenic design so a lot of the stuff I have been working on recently takes me back to those layered worlds created from theatre flats and the classic red curtains that I always associate with seeing something special. If I’ve managed to make something that tells a story, I feel like I am on to a winner.
And for the sea?
I always associate the sea with emotions. I was in a production of ‘A Dream Play’ at Uni that was centred around the sea and the sounds of the ocean and I’ve been fascinated by how water can tap in to your emotions ever since. A happy babbling brook or a raging storm in deep water, saying goodbye to a ship bound on a long voyage. It’s a realm of possibility.
So, aside from your artwork, do you have any other talents?
Well, in my day job I am a Digital Learning Consultant at a Univeristy. I design e-learning, film videos, teach PhD students about tech solutions that can help with their research, deliver some training on different bits of software and build web pages for the graduate school. It’s all very technical, but also really tests my creativity too. I love the science of learning and am really enjoying teaching myself coding languages for the job too.
Isn’t it difficult juggling things with your day job?
One of the biggest things that held me back from ever getting started was the belief that I *had* to quit my day job. Actually, working full time alongside my business is amazing – not least because the financial security means I can afford to experiment a little more than I would have. It also helps me with planning and structuring my time, and I’m now learning skills to benefit both my day job and my passion projects.
Do you have any top tips for juggling things successfully with your day job?
Get a diary. Once you know the amount of time you have, you need to get yourself a diary to plan out what you want to do. This can be a paper diary, a big wall chart, or an online calendar. Personally, I use a combination of all three for different things. My wall chart is for setting my big ‘deadlines’, marking out family holidays and other days I won’t be free. My paper diary is for my daily to do lists, and my online diary plans out my month using the big wall chart.
Have there been any things you’ve got really wrong?
Omg yes. It’s all a big learning curve for me. My big thing this year has been my accounts. I cannot recommend enough getting an accountant. I figured I wouldn’t need proper accounts, as I knew it would take a while to start selling things initially and thought I wouldn’t have a lot to record. I diligently kept all my receipts in a shoe box, telling myself there weren’t that many and I’d sort them out in one go when I’d started selling. Cue 6 months later, 2 shoe boxes and 3 days spent sorting the receipts into months, going through my paypal and bank statements, and painstakingly entering each individual purchase into a master spreadsheet along with my sales. I am *still* not done. Don’t be like me. Get a spreadsheet. Update it every week.
What was the one thing you wish you’d known before you started Beyond Paper Stars?
Whether it is the kind of service you would want to receive, a product you think is useful/ace, or a beautiful piece of art that you love to make, it’s important to be excited about what you and your business is offering to the world. Loving what you are doing is what will keep you going when things are slow or tough. Yes, having other avenues just to keep some pennies rolling in is also important, but the core of what you do should be something you can keep going back to. I fell into a trap a couple of times of making things purely because I thought they would sell, and now I’m getting to a place where I am comfortable just letting my creativity out and seeing what comes of it – especially when that something ends up being something I truly love myself.
What’s your advice for anyone thinking about starting their own art business?
Work out how much time you can spend on your business, and then be prepared to spend WAY more time than you’d thought on it. It doesn’t matter if your time would be one evening a week, your weekends, two hours a day or all day every day. Work out how much time you can afford to give to this whilst still looking after yourself and doing everything else you need to in your personal life. Only have one night a week? Fine. Safeguard that time for your business and plan based on that time. BUT be ready for 11pm messages to your facebook page, last minute commissions or bulk orders for christmas stocking fillers. Networking, reaching out to stockists or galleries, staying up until 3am to put that last finishing touch on your creation either for your customer or just because you love it so much. Getting your pictures perfect, your packaging precise and practicing endlessly – it will all take those extra hours you didn’t know you had. And it’ll be worth it.
And that’s that! We’ve really loved getting to know Stephanie and her work over the last nine months as she’s grown her business with LLD and developed both as an artist and in her technical skills in her new day job too – and we can’t wait to see what she does next! To see Stephanie’s new work as she shares it over the next few months, here are her links: