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This week I am happy to introduce the Ink Nest, which consists of artists Sabina, Iglika, Rhian, Denise, Rachel, Emma, Nicole, Rebekka, and Sarah.
Sabina says, "the Ink Nest was a single artist shop initially. However, it quickly attracted more artists with a similar hand drawn style. The benefits of selling together became obvious to us - attracting attention to the shop collectively with our work and through our personal channels, such as our blogs, social media and personal websites. The traffic to the group shop is higher than to our personal websites and results in better sales. It also makes sense to centralize the technical and customer support in one place and free the individual artists from having to deal with shop maintenance and customer communication."
She then adds that as a group "we motivate and inspire each other to create new graphics. New sets are coordinated according to current trends and customer requests." Some of their members help with the social marketing and updating the blog. "It is really impossible for a single person to maintain such an active shop. Our success is only the result of our group effort," she concludes.
So I asked what's their creative process like: "Each artist in our group has freedom to create the graphics that they want to make and this is one of the benefits of making clip art images," adds Sabina. "The creative process itself is rather independent. Only the initial direction may involve the group. These are established artists with experience and published work. They don't need much direction or help." The final designs go through the approval of the shop manager (Sabina) to make sure the style fits the rest of the products. Sometimes feedback is given to modify the set to make it fit better.
"As a team what helped initially was to agree on a common system for packaging our clip art, explains Sabina. We developed an internal standard which keeps all our files consistent and easy for the customer to use. The customer knows what to expect when they purchase several sets from different artists in our shop. All sets have the same technical specifications and quality."
Rhian added, "I enjoy the different creative aspects of each artist. Working with other artists exposes me to different styles and design approaches and as a result it enhances my knowledge of art. Each artist at the Ink Nest has her own style and uses different tools and methods to approach her design projects. The results are original designs even though we sometimes start with the same subject."
She also enjoys the sense of community and feeling more connected to the design and art world, she says. "Sharing and discussing projects with other artists motivates me to be a better artist. It's also good to know that I am not the only one that faces challenges as a freelance designer and that I am likely doing the right things for my business since other artists are following the same methods I use to run mine."
Nicole then adds, "definitely there's a motivation to be awesome. When our group is doing such great work and producing quirky and cute and useful sets it actually makes me feel more creative myself. There's so much talent in our group that it can't help but motivate us to be our coolest."
They use Google Groups for their internal group messages. They also recently opened a Facebook group. Email is their main channel of communication to keep connected.
The advantage in working together, says Rachel, is "being in a group full of artists I admire, which is a huge motivation. I want my work to be as strong as the others in the shop. We are also able to be cheerleaders for each other and it is so fun to see the other ladies succeed in their personal work. Working as a freelancer can be quite lonely but being part of a group is great for bouncing ideas around and learning from each other. We can also discuss problems in our business lives that our families may not want to hear about constantly!"
I wanted to know what excites them to work together. Denise says "being in a group like this is very motivating. It's exciting to see new work we create. And it's really exciting to see how much The Ink Nest has grown and how each of us has grown because of it."
Rhian added, "working with other artists is very inspiring! Every one of us has her own unique style, it is always fun to see how each member of the team interprets design trends and ideas and comes up with her own unique set of graphics."
I have been getting emails from other artists who have been learning more about this topic of collaborative teams and partnerships after reading the recent articles and interviews so any suggestions or tips for starting up a group was my final question for this lovely team.
Sabina said, "working together can be very powerful. My advice to other artists is to be curious about people online. Take the opportunity to network offline and online. You can meet very interesting people and if you show interest they will often respond back. Send them a message, comment on their blog, make a connection. They are much more willing to start a project with you or help you if they know you already."
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