developing a brand style with painter, julie marriott
Sometimes it's hard to know what to actually do to grow your business unless we're able to see how others have done it before us. We can look at something one way for months and months and then someone else can show us an entirely new perspective that might just make it click.
That's why I'm sharing with you an insider perspective from painter, Julie Marriott, on how she's been able to develop her own brand style over time and put together a content strategy that works well for her creative business and attracts customers that love her brand. In this post, Julie walks us through what she's struggled with, the parts of her content strategy that have made the biggest impact, and even her recommendations for if you're just starting to put your brand identity together.
So go ahead and dive into the interview, and then be sure to leave a comment below the post on what inspired you most about Julie's perspective.
1. What do you do and how did you get started?
I’m a painter and surface pattern designer. I absolutely love lush, colorful, painterly florals, so that is my main subject matter! Art-making has always been a big part of my life, beginning when I was a kid who colored and painted for hours every day. After college, I taught as a children’s art instructor for 5 years before having my daughter and deciding to stay home with her and really focus on my own art practice and business. I’ve been on this adventure for about 2 years.
2. Where do you get your creative inspiration?
Colors, textures and patterns from interior design inspire me so much! I love decor magazines and float around Pinterest a lot, searching for new color combos and collecting images of gorgeous fresh flowers and greenery. Also, I’m super inspired right now by the trend of slightly wild, asymmetrical floral arranging. Their lush abundance and organized disorder really draws me in.
3. In what ways do you incorporate visuals into your business and your marketing?
The artwork I create is fundamentally a visual product, so the majority of what I do to market my work is simply sharing images, images, and more images! I’ve found that everyone (myself included!) loves to be given a behind-the-scenes view of how something they enjoy is made, so I’ve made it a priority to share images and videos of my painting process and studio setup on my website, social media and email newsletter.
When I chose a website design, I opted for one that was bright, open and clean to really allow the images of my art to take center stage. Instagram is my favorite (and primary) social media platform because it is so image-based, so it’s a perfect fit for sharing artwork. I also send out a weekly email newsletter sharing what’s going on in my studio, which is pretty image-driven. I like to think of it as a bit of eye candy for your inbox!
4. How did you develop your own unique brand style?
My visual brand has definitely grown and matured over time, beginning when I was just starting out selling an assortment of handmade items on Etsy, and progressing to having my own stand-alone website and online shop for my artwork. Sitting down and writing out a handful of words that I wanted to describe my art and brand really helped solidify and give focus to what I was trying to do.
I also studied what types of images other brands I admired were producing and tried to incorporate the elements that really caught my eye, like bright, clean lighting, using a mix of close-up detail shots and full-picture shots, posting photos of my art materials, and really curating what I share so that a clear message can get across to viewers. After getting that start, I just kept trying to produce images of what I was creating along those lines and have improved slowly but surely. Certain favorite colors pop up again and again in my art, so that definitely helps tie things together. But most of all, my brand style is based on the art that personally make me happy to create, which is the thread that unifies everything.
5. What do you hope to convey through your branded images?
I want to convey the vibe of my art, which is joyful, colorful, feminine, and pattern-loving.
6. What was your biggest photography challenge when getting started?
A huge challenge for me was getting good lighting for my photos. Even though I had pretty good light from a window in my studio, I found myself spending tons of time in Photoshop trying to brighten and color-correct, and it was really frustrating!
7. Has your photographic style and/or quality changed any as your business has grown?
Yes! For a long time, I was shooting on my phone or my husband’s small digital camera. The biggest step in improving my image quality was investing in a DSLR camera, buying a lens that could let in a lot of light, and learning the basics of manual settings so I could have more control over how my images turned out. I still use Photoshop to tweak things, but it’s a huge improvement! The new lens also allows me to focus on an object while blurring out the background, which is a look I love!
8. What are you still working to improve visually?
I’m pretty happy with the photos I take on a day to day basis, but now I’m looking into getting more professional photos taken of me at work in my studio for my website and media pitches. The fantastic lighting and clarity that pro photographers can capture is just way beyond my skills! It’s also a goal of mine to capture more videos of my painting process. I’ve had such a great response to the videos I’ve already done, I want to make that a more regular part of my working process and what I share.
9. What part of your visual content has made the biggest impact on your business growth?
Being dedicated to posting carefully chosen photos regularly to Instagram has definitely had the biggest impact on my business so far. Consistently sharing beautiful photos about what I’m creating draws people’s attention, and helps them get to know me as an artist and form a relationship with me and my work. All that hard work has translated into the majority of my sales coming from my Instagram friends.
10. What recommendations would you give to someone just starting to use photos and video in marketing their business?
Get super clear on what your brand identity is and let that inform what images you show. Always try to think from your viewer’s point of view and ask, “What impression of my brand would I get from this image/group of images? Would I find this image appealing/interesting/intriguing? Or would I just scroll past?” Take time to look at other brands who are doing it well and make a list of what you specifically like about them.
Then, filter those things through your brand identity and work on incorporating them into your photos, little by little. Remember that sharing a few good photos less frequently at first is better than an avalanche of mediocre images, so don’t feel pressured to share just for the sake of sharing. But most of all, try not to be intimidated! Developing the brand and quality of your images takes time and practice. Just start being intentional today, have fun experimenting with it, and you’ll be amazed at where you are in a few months!
And don't forget to leave a comment below about the thing you found most inspiring about Julie's branding story.
*Photos used with permission from Julie Marriott Art.