Tatiana Gaspar (or, as you may know her, Tati Alecrim) isn’t your typical illustrator or designer. While many artists tend to cram as much color into their designs as possible, Tatiana is content with using a pen. This ultimately makes her illustrations even more unique, and this sentiment isn’t shared by only us; her designs have quickly proven to be an absolute hit on Spreadshirt’s Marketplace. If you’re not already impressed, get this: Tatiana is also a social media savant. She’s uses her various platforms to not only showcase her work, but also make sales via Spreadshirt. We asked her a handful of questions about her experiences, and her answers should be invaluable to artists looking to use Spreadshirt…
Current Location: Marinha Grande, Portugal
Current job/source of income: Graphic designer and illustrator
Previous jobs: Architect
When did you join Spreadshirt? March, 2017
Hey, Tatiana. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. When browsing your website, visitors can easily see that you enjoy drawing with a black pen. How did your background lead you to using this specific instrument?
I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pen. When I was a toddler, I would draw on any surface I could find: paper, boxes, walls, furniture, even clothes. That was until my parents started buying sketchbooks for me, and since then I always carry a sketchbook and pens around. I like to do very detailed drawings and patterns, and fine pens are the best to do that. I also love the contrast of black ink on white paper. Sometimes I use other materials and colors, but I always go back to black pens.
You also seem to enjoy drawing animals. What inspires you to illustrate these specific designs?
I live in a forest (in a house, of course), which is five kilometers away from the beach. Since nature is my surrounding environment, I draw a lot of animals, flowers, landscapes and patterns. I guess my art reflects who I am and what I enjoy in life, even when I don’t realize it. When I go out for wanders, I like to photograph everything, from animals to the textures of trees. Ideas just start forming naturally. I find that what sells best on Spreadshirt are the animal designs, and I think it´s because people can relate to them. Everyone has a favorite animal, and even if they don’t, it will remind them of a friend or family member that is an animal-person.
Besides being crafty with a pen, you’re also crafty with social media. You currently have 2,300+ likes on Facebook and 870+ followers on Instagram. How have you managed to compile so many followers, and how do you entice those followers to make purchases?
For me, Facebook and Instagram have the most impact. That´s where people interact the most, and I think the best thing one can do is to just share all of their projects (on whatever social media platform they prefer). When I have a new illustration in a certain platform, I always share it on social media. If I don’t have a new illustration, I will just share the link of my designs to remind people where they’re available to purchase.
Paid online ads or organic ads – what works best for you?
Social media can be overwhelming; there are so many websites and apps. Each one works in a totally different way with a totally different audience. I have tried paid advertising, but I much prefer the organic method. Paid adverts can definitely bring you numbers, but in my case, it doesn´t bring more sales. I’d prefer to have 100 followers who truly follow, like and purchase my illustrations than 10,000 followers who don’t care about my work.
When it comes to social media, do you have any specific strategies that you tend to rely on?
I have tried a lot of strategies throughout the years, and I think there are three major routes that work best.
- The first strategy is consistency; it’s important to show the public that you are active. I try to post something different every day, whether it’s a new illustration, a sneak peek of a new project, a photo of something that inspires me, or an event I’m going to participate in. There´s always something you can share from your art world.
- The second strategy is presentation; it’s important to create your own style not just in your work, but also in the way you present it. For instance, I find that it helps to stick to a specific visual identity while also including high-quality phots.
- The third strategy is to get personal; I have found that people like to see that there is a human being behind my work and not a robot. Showing who I am makes the connection with customers much easier. I talk with people in an informal way, and sometimes I’ll post photos of a work-in-progress project. This way, people can see the mess I make before a final piece. I also post photos of myself at an art fair I’m participating in, since people really like to see “behind the scenes”.
How much time do you generally spend uploading designs? Why did you even choose Spreadshirt in the first place?
I do have a busy schedule, but because I think consistency is really important, I try to upload a new design every week. The advantage of Spreadshirt is that it is really easy to use. This is great because it means I don´t need to spend a whole day uploading one design. Overall, the best attribute is how user-friendly and quick the website is. To upload a single design, I only need to upload one file. I can then adapt the design to every single product, and I can easily edit it whenever I want. It makes my life so much easier.
You’ve clearly got a solid grasp on what it takes to be successful on Spreadshirt. Can you give three tips for Spreadshirt rookies?
- Upload high quality images. No one wants a t-shirt with a pixelated design.
- Don’t just upload a design and give it a title. Rather, you need to work on descriptions and include as many tags as you can think of. This really helps customers find you and your designs.
- And of course, don’t upload a couple of designs and expect them to sell automatically. To have success, you need to work on it regularly. Try to upload at least a couple of new designs every month. Even if it is a slow growth, success will happen…you just have to keep working on it.
Finally, what advice do you have for any future artists?
My advice is to be perseverant, patient, and keep a positive attitude. There isn´t one guidebook that can help every single illustrator because we all have different styles, goals and target audiences. I´ve made many mistakes (I´m sure I will make a lot more), and there´s always a lot of trial and error in the process until you find the best methods and strategies for yourself. If something doesn´t work, you just need to move on and try something else. If you really want to be successful, you need to work hard and stay positive (it’s a cliché, I know…but it’s the truth). Without a doubt, you will eventually achieve your goals.
Thanks for your time, Tatiana! We appreciate the insight from a successful designer!