With 2023 officially undreway, we decided it was about time we sat down with some of our most talented customers, and the first one to take the hot seat is the incredible Spilt Milk Press.
We recently had the pleasure of sitting down and getting to know more about one of our long-time customers and talented illustrators, Bethany Mannion. With great insights into making a living selling art prints, we let Bethany spill the tea (…or the milk) on all things Etsy, motivation, and the importance of quality printing, so pull up a pew.
Hi Bethany! Let’s get started with a little introduction. What can you tell us about you in around 280 characters?
I am an illustrator and part-time student based in Nottingham, UK. Most of my work is focused on popular culture, films, and music, particularly things that have more of a niche audience for which it’s very difficult to find nice art for. Lastly, if it doesn’t contain loads of pink, it’s not a Spilt Milk print!
How did 2022 treat you as a small business owner & creative?
2022 was a weird one. I don’t know if other creatives can relate, but the one silver lining of the pandemic was the boost in support for small businesses as people were unable to visit bricks-and-mortar shops. With the reopening of the high street alongside the current cost-of-living crisis, people are now less inclined to spend that little bit more on small business items, which has a knock-on effect. Having said all this, I am extremely lucky to continue calling this my full-time job, so I can’t complain
What inspired you to start selling your illustrations?
I started selling my illustrations because I wanted to build a little side business whilst studying. My intention was to make a bit of extra income so I could afford to support my daily urge to spend £3 on coffee!
And how did you finally settle on Etsy as your primary storefront?
My main reason for choosing Etsy was down to the past experience I had using the platform. I also knew that I needed their audience and search engine systems so that people could actually discover my work.
How would you describe your art style?
I used to be obsessed with hyperrealism (check out CJ Hendry’s work, it’s incredible), but I am nowhere near talented enough to pull off that style myself! I always start off a piece with the intention of making it flawless, but they always end up as a sort of sketchy, unfinished drawing… I always add the pink accents to make it look a bit more finished.
What are your secrets to success?
Honestly, I have no secrets. I have constant anxiety seeing people on social media who seem to have their lives together and their careers planned out perfectly, but when you have no prediction on what your sales and income will be like on any given day, I just have to take it one day at a time. It’s worked so far!
How do you motivate yourself to create when the dreaded ‘creative slump’ strikes?
If I’m in a creative slump I used to force myself to draw through it, which ended up with me making rubbish art and feeling constantly burnt out. If I am not feeling creative now I focus solely on the administrative side of running the business. I usually update my finances, reply to all my emails, do stock checks etc. After a few days of absolutely no art and too many spreadsheets, my brain seems to reset itself and I can ease back into drawing.
How important is print quality to you?
It’s probably the most important thing to me. I initially started out using a different company (not naming names, but if you keep up-to-date with UK print industry news then you’ll know who I’m talking about) and they were slow, unreliable and the print quality was so average.
I sometimes find old prints and the quality difference compared with my Aura Print ones is massive.
How long have you been printing with Aura Print/TFPC and how are we doing?
I love working with Aura Print, everyone is so friendly and helpful (especially if I have made a mistake when placing my order!), turnaround is quick, and as someone who is always doing everything at the last minute, I really appreciate having a rush delivery option. I’ve been using Aura Print for over 2 years now and I have no intention of going elsewhere!
Tell us about your print go-to’s
I usually opt for 400gsm and I always always always add soft-touch lamination. I get such positive feedback about the quality of the prints, and people have also noted that the lamination allows them to tape their prints to their walls without damaging the print!
Have you given in to foil?
Yes! I first discovered The Foil Printing Co. as I wanted some holographic foil on a new Taylor Swift print series. I now have around 10 different foiled prints, using holographic, gold and copper foil, and I plan to bring more out very soon.
2023 has officially begun… What are your aspirations for the coming year?
In 2023 I would like to continue to build the brand and explore homeware and stationery products. I also want to explore some new ideas with foil to create some really unique prints.
Keen to get involved with our 'customer spotlight' series? If you're a customer looking for a platform to share your success story, or want to comment on how our awesome print has helped take your business/branding to the next level, we can't wait to hear from you!