Enjoy artist Susan Elliot’s lovely portfolio inspired by nature. She shares her art and business tips she has learned through making sales of her work.
ABI: You are known as a “tree artist.” How does that define your work?
SE: I read somewhere several years ago that the true soul of an artist is revealed when they draw or paint what they KNOW. Having a background in Natural Resources initially led me to pinpoint my subject matter to trees because I know them intimately and have always studied, photographed, and loved them. That love easily and naturally transfers itself to my art without effort.
When I started my business I wanted a body of work that was identifiable, cohesive, and uniquely mine. Trees are universally loved, and invoke feelings of mystery, nostalgia, reverence, and intrigue. No matter how I draw a tree, whether it’s with realism, whimsy, or exaggeration, people always know it’s a tree, and they seem to appreciate that I can take a seemingly narrow subject matter and broaden it to infinite proportions. In a very short time I became known as the “Tree Woman”, and using the Dr. Seuss quote “I Speak For The Trees” made me instantly recognizable as a tree lover.
ABI: How have you used art notecards to drive sales of your art?
SE: I initially started printing cards of my work at the request of customers who wanted an affordable “sample” of my work to send to family or friends who did not have access to meeting me in person. I thought email had replaced card sales, but I was wrong. They sell like hotcakes and having my website, Etsy page, and Facebook page printed on the back has led dozens of people to those sites that I would never have reached otherwise.
I deliberately keep my price low, offer cards as a bonuses for purchasing a certain amount of art, enclose one with a personal note in every package I ship, and offer a deal of buy five get one free when I am at outdoor festivals. I know that every card I sell is like selling my business card only with a larger image, and that image often leads someone across the country to eventually buy a larger piece of art because they want it in a bigger size.
ABI: How have you used words in your artwork to gain interest?
SE: I love words, and the marriage of using quotes, quips, bits of wisdom, lyrics, and poetry was an inevitable progression in my art. I am not a fan of artwork titled “untitled” because I want to know what the artist was feeling when they created it, even if my own reaction is different. The reaction to words being written unobtrusively in pencil on the mat under my art has been 100% positive.
People are searching for inspiration, validation, and motivation in their daily lives, and choosing a piece of art that says something meaningful to them is like combining beauty with intelligence, so the art has a double impact. I tend to draw small, detailed works which don’t attract attention from far away…I tell people that I don’t create “drive by art”. This makes them look closer, and they get caught up in reading the quotes and catch on quickly that there is more to my work than initially meets the eye.
ABI: What feedback have you gotten from collectors who have acquired your work?
SE: The number one greatest response I get about my artwork from collectors is that it has opened their eyes to trees in their daily lives…. that they notice shapes, features, faces and, since viewing my work, see trees in a whole new light. People are always emailing me photos of trees that they think are interesting, beautiful, or unusual enough for me to draw. My favorite quote from a client is, “I will never look at trees the same way again.” As an environmentalist and a tree lover that is my greatest achievement as an artist.