I chat with thriving artist Patattoune about the importance of doing the work you love. The benefits and difficulties with running an Etsy art store and why we should be embracing the addictive nature of tiktok. Check out Patattoune on Instagram:
Thumbnail and blog portrait photo by: Visiontranquilo
Andy: Today I’m talking with Lily from Patattoune, I think I pronounced that correctly. Welcome to the podcast and livestream
Lily: thank you for having me.
Andy: did i get that correct?
Lily: It’s a french pun sorry
Andy: okay cool, what does it mean?
Lily: I would say it’s a combination between two french words which are patat which is a slang word for potato, and pat which means paw, so yeah I’m trying to have fun with words.
Andy: like a cat paw?
Lily: yeah exactly
Andy: Nice, I noticed a lot of cat themes running throughout your artwork. So for the people on the podcast can you give everyone your handle on instagram, so they can look up your instagram while they are listening to the podcast. and then also describe your artwork.
Lily: okay so my handle is @patattoune p-a-t-a-t-t-o-u-n-e i know it’s long, and how would i describe my art? well i kind of do whatever i feel like doing if it makes any sense so it’s mainly illustrations of things that are in my head or yeah i just use my instagram as a kind of sketchbook in terms of the process and things that come to mind
Andy: is there any particular place or environment where you get inspired to create your work?
Lily: Mainly instagram, because there are so many artists on that platform it’s very difficult to not feel inspired by others. Then i would say probably real life things you hear, things you see, things you feel and then probably movies or youtube content that i watch i would say.
Andy: And how do you create your work? is it digital or is it a traditional style? I found it hard to tell from looking.
Lily: yeah because my instagram is such like a dump of ideas. I use both, it depends on my mood. I work a lot with computers so at the end of the day usually i don’t feel like putting myself into another screen so i like to use traditional techniques which relaxes me and i feel like in my space and yeah otherwise for client works or for things that i sell i will use digital because it’s more easy to produce faster also you can correct mistakes more easily obviously and amend as per clients requests so i would say it’s a mix between between the two it depends if it’s personal or client oriented i would say.
Andy: Okay that’s interesting, i found one thing when i was illustrating kids books is… I only just recently started using procreate on my ipad and and there were certain things like drawing characters i found, because i wasn’t, i wasn’t used to it, i found it impossible to do on the ipad. I had to sketch it first and then go over it with a digital pen after, have you got similar things like that?
Lily: Not always but yes it does happen um where technology has its limits i would say so what i do is using a sketchbook I draft my idea and then try to translate it into the digital medium, not always successfully i would say i’m not always very happy with the outcome because it lacks even though you have a lot of textured brushes uh you can do a lot of things with uh procreate um it’s still missing something from the traditional i would say yeah so yeah
Andy: for me it almost feels like i’m using a different part of my brain
Andy (Reading from the chat) do you guys use pinterest at all? Do you use Pinterest, i don’t
Lily: I do actually it depends for references mainly so i would um references or mood boards i would say so i would use it for landscapes or buildings stuff like that maybe sometimes color palettes um and yeah general ideas i would say if i’m feeling stuck yeah.
Andy: and with Instagram you’re saying you take a lot of inspiration from instagram do you ever feel like because i feel it’s a bit of a double-edged sword you can either go oh my god i’m never going to be as good as these people or or would you be inspired and go i want to be as good as that. How do your moods work with scrolling the instagram feed?
Lily: That’s a hard question i think it depends on my well-being i would say if i spend too much time on instagram then i notice i tend to feel quite sad and starting to compare myself to others which is never really i would say stable it’s not very good for me if i just spend a little amount of time on it then it’s good so it’s it’s a balance of course you don’t want to spend too much time on on socials i think in general it’s not very good for you so yeah trying to find a balance to not feel overwhelmed
Andy: yeah it can definitely be overwhelming. Apparently i have heard in terms of Pinterest is a lot of people call it another like youtube as a search engine and google as a search engine it actually turns out that pinterest is a search engine as well and that might be a way to get discovered if you’re showing techniques or something like that step-by-step techniques as a thing on pinterest so that’s what i’ve heard anyway. so in terms of your your instagram links out to your etsy store. i don’t know anything about etsy i would love to know what are the things you love about etsy and one of the things you don’t love so much about it?
Lily: well i do like etsy for its visibility i would say because it’s such a gigantic marketplace if you manage to get your seo right and i’m still struggling with that uh you can get a lot of exposure of course whenever i make a sell um i’m feeling super proud of myself very excited very happy that someone wants to buy something that i made it’s very it’s a very very very nice feeling so yeah dislikes dislikes i would say probably have a website take advantages of artisans or artists in general by progressively over the years increasing their fees on every time you sell something so though i would love to go outside of etsy and have my own shop where uh 100 of the income uh that i make from my postcards my my stickers would be for me
it’s it’s very difficult because lack of exposure i think i need a platform still at this stage of my career so pros and cons it’s good and also it’s kind of a bummer every time i see um the invoices yeah and so in terms of um because i’m having uh things like i’ve i’ve just started up a a red bubble thing and people talk about seo how does seo work in redbubble do you type in keywords do you have to make sure your description is fine-tuned how how do you make seo work for etsy i think like every other marketplace you need to have a good title preferably a short one one that can be um very um be very visible also on google because it’s linked to google shops if i’m correct okay then it’s all about the description it needs to be accurate not too long because people don’t like to read too much and then yes it’s the hashtags as always you have to find the good keywords for people to find you okay
yes like i like instagram it’s the same thing you have to find the good uh the good keywords and and i find it quite tricky i’m not very good at this
and one thing i’ve noticed on instagram lately as well i’ve heard from a few of the um instagram gurus is um is because they used to say 30 hashtags on your photo now they say between three and five and to have them really focused on exactly what the picture or video or whatever is they don’t want it like hashtag blessed or hashtag sunny day or something like that but they wanted to be more specific because they’re wanting to turn it into a bit more to optimize their search a bit better because instagram has never really been that good for um searching for things you know yes yeah yeah
that you’re creating the stickers the postcards calendars um who is mike who are making those do you go to printers do you is there someone through etsy that makes them how does that work i tried a bunch of different things and i could make them myself very easily the problem is the quality of my printer is not that is not the best i would say so i don’t want to sell any products that i’m not a hundred percent behind so i’m using a third party who is a um a print shop a professional print shop to print them and then i will um send them to the clients i have to use yeah that print shop is local and you can you keep stock in your house and then you and then you send it from there yes exactly yes okay yeah and how would you say that um your time is balanced between promoting sending stuff out doing all the business side of things taxes i don’t know do you do taxes in this way
and and how much time is actually like could can you do a pie chart in your head quickly and go are you 50 50 business art or is it like what are we looking like um i just recently went from part-time to full-time um freelancer so i’m still trying to juggle my daily life so i would say no days i like the other it really depends on what’s on my in on my plate at the moment and i have to find kind of a balance between the administrative parts of the business the actual art then my personal life which i’m still struggling to to find kind of a balance so i would say
maybe 50 of the time on the laptop doing administrative not very artsy things then 25 doing the art and the rest uh is for me i need some new time yeah yeah yeah and is your marketing uh and promotion primarily on etsy and instagram is there anywhere else that you’re um getting your work out there right now yes primarily on these two platforms i try to use twitter and facebook facebook i don’t really like the platform i don’t feel it’s very um user-friendly like at the beginning of it they want your money but instagram is facebook as well it’s facebook well yeah now you can see the shifts huh how it works and how the algorithm is choosing one piece over another it’s quite interesting yeah and twitter twitter love hate relationship i would say i’m not a good writer so i don’t feel like i have anything of value to say so i’m not very comfortable using that platform yet maybe in the future we’ll see yeah i found twitter is mainly for me a good place to um connect with other artists and um kind of join in on the on their conversations i know it feels weird at first just like you know they barely know who you are but kind of like put your two cents worth in the comments and you know start up a conversation so i mean it’s funny because i used to use twitter when i had a business and i was
that’s actually a valuable thing um and i find what’s made a difference for me as well is having a podcast and a vlog and all this kind of stuff because then that gives me incentive to reach out to people like you learn from people like you and everyone else and kind of like open up a dialogue between everybody so yeah connect connection is important yes i think that’s probably one of the best things that have come out of doing a podcast is kind of like doing the interviews so that’s why i kind of want to do more interviews like i i heard some of your interview previous ones and they were super interesting as well it’s it’s really nice to see the perspective of uh other people yeah yeah and i really want to focus on a lot of people focus because i didn’t go to art school and a lot of people focus on the art which is great but that’s kind of not the angle i want to come from because i know there’s so many people that do their art as a hobby and some of these people are absolutely amazing they’re brilliant and why they’re not doing it full-time as a job is mind-blowing um it’s that it’s those steps like treating it like a business and the promotion and all that kind of stuff and and artists hate promoting themselves
it’s them they’re putting themselves they’re exposing themselves you can’t relate are you relationships promoting yourself i do it’s very very difficult for me to go out of my comfort zone try to reach people put myself out there like you said you feel a bit naked so i’m trying to do it more i’m very glad to be here with you today but obviously it’s out of my comfort zone i prefer to just draw and that’s it yeah um and you do um commissions i believe commissions collaborations as well as selling the postcard stickers and calendars on etsy um are there any kind of other streams that you have um that you’re working on uh right now something that has nothing to do with art in general i just started a job as a community manager for three entities i just started so i’m i’m i’m still new at it still dipping my toes everywhere so i don’t quite know yet how i feel about it but it’s a little income stream i learned a lot in the process so it’s also very interesting and as you said it helps me see things from a business point of view which i think is very hard for me so all i know it’s uh it’s a nice um rounded package i would say yeah yeah have you checked out many art tick tocks yes i’m i would say i’m addicted to tick-tock
so if you’re addicted to it that must mean that it’s a great platform that you should be on probably i don’t know right now it’s the platform you should be on um i put out not many videos but mostly goofy things that i made and i got so much traction for it it was incredible and it was overnight and even the videos you make that aren’t doing very well it’s still much more than instagram or youtube i’ve i feel like everyone is on this platform right now it’s i don’t know how the algorithm works but it’s very easy to have people watch it watch your content so yeah yeah and i’ve i’ve found um like because i don’t seem to have much time to create you know to use all the tools within tik tok and make one of those really amazing videos but what i’ve tended to do is just put a time lapse of the artwork up and just a time lapse that’s all you have time left for some of their music and that can get quite a lot of views which can hopefully lead back somewhere else because um because in tick tock you can link to your instagram account and also to your youtube account so that there is that possibility to link out of um tick tock and i had some quite big views on that but also recently here on instagram on instagram uh reels i’ve been getting you know 50 100 or whatever but just my most not my most recent vlog the vlog before that i got like 3500 and it just like it went up we’ve been in this face of about an hour and then wow like they turned the taps off or something again this guy’s had
so you know if you’re making a if you make a tick tock i definitely recommend putting it on the reels as well yeah we’ll try i will try to do that as well as you said it’s uh as long as it’s uh visual content you can do whatever it will get used yeah yeah yeah definitely definitely yeah and um in terms of like because i know on tiktok they have something like um drawing your style challenges and i notice you do that kind of thing i also noticed you did peach tuba do you want to tell everyone about peach tuba peach toba um it was a contest uh during inktober i don’t know if you heard about it
one of those inktober contest or challenge um i i try to do it every year not the peach toby but the inktober in general because i like them draw this in your style i find it very funny refreshing you don’t have any pressure to to do a perfect job the point is to to to make art and to increment it into your daily life and after each year after the challenge i find so inspired and yeah just um feeling refreshed of course it’s hard work of course it’s on top of everything but the outcome for you as a person it’s uh it’s just it’s everything it’s everything you want yeah and so for every day of october are you doing are you doing a full complete digital illustration not this year unfortunately i had too much work to do that but i remember two years ago i i yeah i managed to do the challenge the whole challenge and to draw every day for 31 days well i i was tired at the end of it i’m not gonna lie but i learned so much and i progress so much and you choose a medium whatever you want maybe something you never used before watercolors or pencils or digital if you’re not feeling comfortable and you just you just do it and you will see results at the end of the month you will not be at the same point that you were at the at the first day so yeah very good time do you find it’s a good thing because i found when i was doing it um i was doing a daily vlog trying to upload something for the kids book every day i find when you have that that deadline because i think uh the enemy of a lot of artists is perfection
i know if you’ve seen have you seen the work of people for digital artist people no he recently sold um all his he he created a digital like a fancy or kind of funny kind of um digital work and he put on instagram every day and i’m gonna i’m gonna muck this up but he he got millions and millions of dollars for selling at the digital um uh nft oh okay yeah yes and um but but he he gives himself that um that deadline every night like he has to be finished by midnight and just like you know even if it’s not he knows it can be better it’s done it’s out he forgets about it completely he’s on to the next one and i think that’s probably a good a good muscle to kind of be working on as an artist to just go yep it’s done move on yeah and and if you’re doing it at that kind of pace you know you’re bound to just get amazingly better at it anyway and and learn the tools because another thing with me is like because i just started on procreate and i was doing live streams with the author and um as soon as there was something i didn’t know how to do i’d write it down look up the video learn it and then get back because my old technique was just a fluff around completely different yeah yeah yeah because you want to progress and when you want to get better so i think that’s a good a good technique for getting better are you gonna burn out how do you how do you know when you’re burning out uh for me it would be if i’m doing anything too quickly then it means i’m panicking and why am i panicking if i’m not burned out yeah he said no one is pointing a gun at my head so why am i panicking that for me is is uh is a sign that i need to take a little bit of time out of everything refresh my mind obviously if you don’t want to arrive at this point you have to um give yourself some time for you otherwise and outside of everything do something completely different see people outside go see a play if you can because these times are very difficult
go for a walk um do something completely different first is very good for inspiration because you cannot create out of a dried mind if you burned out you burned everything in your mind as well you can’t create good things if it comes out of a place of of uh nothing there is nothing in your head yeah so you have to continuously give yourself as well i think in order to give others something yeah yeah yeah most it’s it’s quite tricky i i’m i’m sometimes i i don’t very i’m not very successful with that the best yeah yeah and i know i i’ve noticed uh i think it might have been your most recent post you’re saying because you do a lot of cards and calendars and stuff like this this time of the year are you even doing any art or are you just shipping stuff out i’m doing a lot of things i’m shipping stuff out i’m doing a lot of art because i have commission’s deadlines as well end of the year everyone wants their everything by christmas oh why
that means after christmas you get to have a nice little time for yourself as well so
this and uh of course the new uh community manager thingy so it’s a lot of different um kind of ventures all at once and i’m still struggling to find a good work um and play time so yeah it’s challenging i would
your work so your work is that plus your um work on it uh instagram and etsy what would you talk a bit a bit about seo on etsy what do you what kind of instagram tips have you found which is quite helpful um
i would say the challenges the monthly challenges or weekly challenges the contest like draw this in your style things like that like you if you engage with people people will engage with you whereas when i post just post things that are out of my head because i need to share it with people i find found find i don’t know um the investment from the public was kind of lacking so in comparison of course we’re comparing but yeah so i would say participating in challenges will help you gain visibility of course we talked about keywords using the correct keywords matching your content and then interacting simply interacting with people it’s a social platform so if you put art out there and expect people um to rave about it without engaging yourself with people it will not happen you have you have to be fully committed to the platform and post regularly yeah yeah i think that’s one thing i definitely hear all the time i did a survey on on twitter a while back i’m saying what makes a thriving what do you think makes a thriving or successful artist and i’ll put down a few things like skill set mindset um community uh business skills few things like that what do you think um is the number one contributor to an artist being successful or thriving if you had to choose
what a tricky question um
i would respond that it’s important for you to love what you do because if you’re not then you won’t put as much work your mindset will not be that great you will end your career very shortly in comparison if you only do stuff for the market or for people people pleasing content you will lose yourself and you have to ask yourself why are you doing things do you love what you’re doing and if you have the the answer of both questions i think you can be as successful as a thriving artist because you will have the skill set with time you will have it the mindset if you love what you’re doing it’s always going to be there yeah so yeah all these things are down to do you love what you’re doing yeah and keep loving what you’re doing and if you’re not change something yeah i think i think that’s the best answer so far like you know and it’s funny it’s not until you actually said it that it brought on new meaning to me like because i’ve often had people do what you love and the money will come and you know all this will come and and all that and i kind of think that’s [ __ ] i can understand that yeah yeah yeah because you know like sometimes like i used to run um i i used to run a uh outdoor cinema and um and i had shows where i put on movies which i loved which i thought were great no one would bloody come and and then and then like um people would hire me to screen films that they love and lots of people would come so in that sense do what you love and the money will flow doesn’t work but i think but but what you’re saying there what you’re saying there it feels true it feels right to me that yes like with the art side of things creating your art because it gives you the drive um on the long run because i i can i can understand where you’re coming from before doing this full time i was working in a bank 95 and it was very money-oriented so i it’s not that it was a waste of time but i did it for the money of course i made friends along the way but that’s not the point i was doing it for the money so if you’re um working on a cinema project of course the things you would love doesn’t don’t necessarily match what the people would expect to see and that’s because i don’t know how to explain it but you’re not you’re not really you you want short-term outcomes money outcomes from it it’s quite a different goal than if you want to be a thriving artist you’re not doing art for the money yeah otherwise you wouldn’t have picked up art as a career
and a lot of people would argue that being thriving has got nothing being thriving you’re successful has got nothing to do with money because money doesn’t make you happy exactly just ask a rich person they’ll tell you but i’d like to know for myself well if you need money there is other ways to gain some yeah and but i feel like if you’re loving what you’re doing most of the time like really loving not just liking it if you’re really into it you will feel within yourself more sustained than the contrary so you can always make money money you can always find money if you’re looking for it but you’re not yeah yeah sorry and i found another thing from art as well is that it really recharges me in terms of mental health as well like i feel really good when i’ve created something within myself i don’t need someone to say oh nice job you did a good job there i feel good myself like yes exactly it’s within yourself you don’t need you don’t need external validation money-wise or people-pleasing or whatever if you can feel that thing within you i feel like at the end of your life you will feel more accomplished than if you did a job only for the money with no heart in it of course you will be very wealthy and very comfortable i’m not denying that money is a source of comfort and you need a roof and food that’s uh very important things to be happy but if you have the minimum i would say and you feel good within you at the end of your life you will feel more accomplished than doing something that is meaningless for you but you’re in a very nice mansion with uh silky sheets yeah yeah i think you’ll have fond memories of what you did but you’ll have no memory or recollection of how much what numbers you had in your bank account thank you so much for joining me thank you very much for having me thank you