Q&A with Leslie Gan
Meet Leslie. Doctor by day, artist by night. One day during a particularly long work meeting, Leslie started doodling in her notebook. When she realised she could doodle, she felt inspired to join a local community sketching group where she refined her skills. Some time later she thought to herself, “if I can draw, why not paint?” So she bought some acrylic paints and never looked back.
Today you can find Leslie’s paintings splashed across consulting rooms and homes throughout Australia.
in today’s Q&A WE learn more about Leslies Creative Thoughts and hear her advice for others who are looking to turn a hobbY into a SUCCESSFUL business.
See Leslie’s Creative Thoughts Website Live
1. WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR PAINTING COME FROM?
For me, painting was a natural progression from doodling and sketching with pen and ink. I wanted to work on a larger scale, and to be able to play with a myriad of colours. Once I started, I found that I was able to derive much of my inspiration from day to day vignettes and chance encounters around me, and to allow my imagination to wander freely about the most mundane things. Painting allows me to express some of my quirky thoughts and sense of wonder on canvas and paper. In a strange way, discovering my ability to express myself through painting has helped me build self-confidence as a person, and given me a better sense of who I actually am.
2. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO START SHARING YOUR PAINTINGS THROUGH A BLOG?
Initially I shared my paintings through a Facebook page. Soon, I felt that the FB platform simply didn't allow me enough space to express my thoughts about my artwork. I wanted to have a means of recording the inspiration and thought processes behind each piece. Some of my art buyers are also very interested in the background of the pieces they buy, and I feel that it helps me build a sense of connection to my buyers. Of course, having a blog allows me to treat it a little like an impromptu diary too.
3. WHAT'S THE MOST VALUABLE LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNT FROM STARTING YOUR BLOG?
People welcome the personal connection. As an artist where every painting you make contains a little piece of your mind and heart, my blog allows people to understand me better, and hopefully this helps me spread the message that art can be fun and joyful.
4. WHAT DO YOU WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD YOU WHEN YOU WERE STARTING OUT?
Be firm about boundaries on social media. The typing keyboard is impersonal, and you need to be very clear about what you are willing to reveal.
5. HAS SOCIAL MEDIA AND/OR ONLINE ADVERTISING PLAYED A PART IN YOUR GROWTH? IF SO, HOW?
Oh definitely. Almost all my sales inquiries come from exposure via social media. I first started sharing pictures of my artwork on to a social media group page just for the fun of sharing my love of painting, and of course, personal pride in my work, but soon people started asking about purchasing ready-made work, prints and original commissions. It grew from there.
6. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO OTHERS WHO ARE THINKING OF STARTING A BLOG WITH THE IDEA OF TURNING A HOBBY INTO A BUSINESS?
I am very much still a newbie at this artist gig as I only started painting about 3 years ago, but I would say the following:
check with your accountant about your taxation liabilities
keep good records
work out your pricing
be careful not to let the hobby turn into something that is onerous
7. ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
I am thankful that I have a primary day job that takes care of everyday living expenses, so making art is still very much just a "paying" hobby for me, covering my art-making expenses plus a bit extra. But I am mindful that there are others who are not so fortunate. However, I do think it is important that you retain a sense of joy in your hobby. It's a sad day when what you once enjoyed doing becomes a chore.