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Having our own illustration business - How it all started

Macbook laptop

Photo by Federica Galli on Unsplash

The very beginning

The very first time I put my hands on an illustration software was in June 2013.

Back then, Jenny and I were living in Vancouver, Canada.

That month, Jenny went back to France for a couple of weeks to attend her brother's wedding. I was all alone, desperate and missing her... ( please don't judge me!) so instead of eating everything on my way, I decided to use that time to create a few prints to decorate our tiny studio in Vancouver's lovely West End.

For some reasons Photoshop was installed on my computer. Thinking about that today, I don't even know how I did it. Photoshop is definitely not my preferred software when it comes to illustration! I probably looked at a few tutorials online to make my very first illustration, I don't really remember that part!

I was pretty happy with the result!

A few days before Jenny's glorious return, I went to a local printer to get them printed and taped then on our kitchen cabinet doors. I was super proud to show my pieces of art (ha!) to Jenny who was also pleased with the result (at least she pretended).

Learning more and more

As far as I remember I didn't do much in the next few months. I just got back to it towards the end of 2014, when we moved to New-Zealand. During my time off I was watching loads of design video tutorials (mostly on Youtube and tuto.com). I was also creating some prints just for fun. I mostly made some movie posters, still using Photoshop! I had really good fun and learnt a bit more everyday! I tried a few other things, like branding: I made some visuals for my sister in law's Youtube channel and also participated in a few graphic design contests on Bransupply.com. I participated in a few, but didn't win any! :(

Graphic design laptop

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Back in December 2015, Jenny and I moved to the UK. You're probably thinking what the hell we're doing, always moving to different countries... YES that's true, we have the travel bug, we love travelling and especially living abroad but don't worry... we're settled now. More than 3 years later we're still in England! Woop woop! That's a record!

Anyway, back to my story... So after a few months spent with our dear friend Anne-So in London we moved to Leeds, in West Yorkshire. Neither Jenny nor I found a permanent full time job that would have allowed to live decently in London. Actually we're really happy I found a really nice job in marketing (SEO for those who know a little bit about it) in Leeds, West Yorkshire. The life is way much cheaper and Leeds really feels like home! 

Thinking about having a business on the side

During the first 6 months in Leeds we were broke as hell! We came here without a dime and even though I started my marketing job straight away we had plenty of expenses... especially to furnish our empty apartment.

We talked about starting a business somehow. We wanted a little bit of extra cash to cover our expenses and live a little bit more comfortably.... but you know how it is, when you're really short on money, you're reluctant to spend any penny to start a little business that might not be profitable. We were not ready to take any risk at that time... and to be honest I don't think we really had any business idea either!

That's when we started to think about selling some of my designs. For months, friends and family were advising me to sell my illustrations and I slowly made my mind about opening an Etsy shop. I opened the shop in November 2016, and started by only selling digital downloads (prints that I would send to clients in a PDF version and that they would print themselves). Etsy doesn't require to invest upfront money (well... only £0,20 per product added to the shop) and that was perfect for us!

I won't lie to you... in the first few months, the only buyers were my mum and our friends! But things have changed since then! We'll let you know more in another article!

Want to have a look at our Etsy shop?: Check it out here.


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