Interview with Artist Andrea Gomoll
Photographer and artist Andrea Gomoll offers valuable advice on building a creative career with online art courses and selling merchandise.
Andrea Gomoll Bio
Andrea Gomoll is a mixed media artist from Berlin, Germany, where she lives with her husband Thomas and 3 crazy cats. She studied Media Design in Berlin and then spend her days working in an advertising agency for many years before she took the leap – turned her Passion for art and creativity into a business – and is working fulltime as an artist, art instructor, designer and wedding photographer ever since. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made – following my dream!”
“I love artjournaling, mixed media art and painting in a whimsical style. Being creative with paints, inks, pens, markers etc. is essential for me – it helps through the rough days and makes the good days even better. Art can help you in so many ways – it has a positive impact on your life – and I love to inspire and enable others to play, have fun creating and to discover the artist within, just waiting to be nurtured.”
Please tell us about yourself?
My name is Andrea Gomoll, I’m 36 Years old and I live in Berlin, Germany with my husband Thomas and three crazy cats. I am a full-time wedding photographer and mixed media artist. As a photographer, I offer full wedding coverage, capturing the memories of the whole wedding day (6 up to 12 hours).
As an artist, I make and sell my art, mostly whimsical, playful mixed media and watercolor illustrations. I sell originals, prints, cards, etc. and I teach art classes online and live. In addition, I have my own product line with clearstamps and digital /printable items featuring my illustrations.
What is your art background?
I attended Art- & Design School for Digital & Print Media Design for three years right after I finished college. After graduating from Design School, I started working in an advertising agency in Berlin, where I worked for almost 10 Years, designing websites and all sorts of print media.
I loved my job, but always felt the urgent need to build something myself. Besides working my day job, I started my own business in 2006 self-publishing a quarterly german scrapbook magazine till 2012.
I also started to slowly build up my wedding photography business. As you can imagine, at a certain point it was just to much to handle in only 24 hours a day, so life was calling for decisions. I didn’t wanted to give up on what I slowly started to build up, so I took the leap in 2009, quit my Job and started my own business with the two branches: wedding photography and art.
Attending Design School gave me some basic tools for what I’m doing now (mostly the tech stuff like advertising / marketing / web design / seo etc.), but most of the skills I’m using today are self-taught over the years. In photography, as well as in art, I invested a lot of time into learning, practicing, taking classes and courses, learning some more and practicing some more. It’s a constant process that never stops. Which is important to keep things fresh and which I love.
What percentage of your income comes from
wedding photography versus online classes?
In the beginning, when I started my business, wedding photography was the major part and also my main focal point. It was what was giving me a steady income because usually wedding couples book 9-12 months in advance, so I could perfectly plan out my year ahead.
The art part played a minor role in the beginning, at least from a business point of view. It mainly consisted of the magazine I published four times a year. As soon as I started with my online classes, teaching live classes and coming out with my own products (stamps etc.) the art part started to grow a lot. Not from one day to the next, but over the months and years, slow but steady. I felt it was good and right and I knew that this was the direction I wanted to go into. I knew from the beginning, that even though I absolutely love both the wedding photography as well as the art, if I would have to choose, it would be art.
So over the last years, my priorities shifted more and more . I’m shooting less weddings, which gives me more time to focus on my art, which leads to the art part of my business growing. It’s like a smooth transition and the percentage is shifting more and more towards the art part of my business. It’s leading me more and more towards where I want to be.
To sum this up in numbers, in the beginning, when I started my business full-time, it was maybe 80 % wedding photography versus 20 % art. Today, it is 20 % wedding photography and 80 % art. I think I want to keep it that way since I’m not ready to completely give up wedding photography yet.
How do you promote your wedding photography
business, I don’t see any links from your website?
For me, the wedding photography business and the art business are two completely “different pairs of shoes” (as we use to say here in Germany). Meaning that they both are “co-existing” but they don’t have anything to do with each other (other than me being the girl behind the scenes for both businesses).
Even though both topics come up when you google my name, it was my intention right from the beginning that if potential wedding clients google “Gomoll Design” (the name my wedding photography goes by) they will find my wedding photography based website and not whimsical illustrations. They’re likely looking for me as a photographer who is all “business,” not the girl with brushes in her hands, clothes covered in paint and hair tied up into a messy bun. *lol*
And vice versa, if somebody googles “Cre8tive Cre8tions” (my art business) they’re likely not looking for a wedding photographer, but for me as an artist. It’s not possible to completely seperate those two in the digital world and, to be honest, sometimes it’s confusing to me when I’m explaining it. It sounds a little schizophrenic. *lol* I’m trying my best to keep both parts of my business seperate from each other – hence I’m not cross-promoting my two businesses. My wedding photography business aims for a completely different client-base compared to my art business. My wedding photography business is focused on reaching local couples.
In the beginning, I promoted it in local print media, on wedding shows where vendors offer their wedding services and, of course, online. SEO was my big buddy here, especially in the beginning. Over the years, the wedding photography business transformed into a “self runner” – meaning that now 95% of my wedding clients contact me because of word-of- mouth recommendations of former clients. Many of today’s clients have been guests at weddings that I photographed in the past. Actually, nowadays I’m all booked up with weddings for the next season, long before I even think of advertising for the upcoming wedding season, which is a great thing.
The art business, on the other hand, focuses on a completely different client base. Even though I’m from Germany, everything based around my art business I do in the English Language, which gives me a larger audience. Local clients for my art, classes, etc. are very rare. A good 95% of the people who support me as an artist by taking my online classes or by buying my products are from outside Germany. Most of them are from the USA, Australia, Canada, etc. so again, crosspromoting my businesses would make very little sense. Unless an online class student from New Zealand or the Bahamas wants to hire me to travel and shoot their wedding. (YAY – I would be ALL IN – hint hint *lol)
Does your photography business help your online
business, and vice versa?
I guess I answered that in the previous question already. 😉 The only thing to add here is that my photography skills and equipment, of course, help my art business a lot when it comes to creating quality photo and video content. Being an artist sort of helps me in my photography business because I LOVE to think outside the box. I love to come up with unusual photo compositions for my wedding portraits, etc. which helps me to seperate myself from my local competitors when it comes to photography style. So being an artist AND a photographer definitely helps me give my best in both areas.
Are online courses a good way for artists to earn
First of all – yes – I think online classes are a good way for an artist to earn money with what they do. A good way, however, not an easy way. From my experience, some people think it’s super easy nowadays to make money by offering online courses. Just film a video, upload and earn big cash. Not so.
There’s so much more behind creating and launching a good online class and making a good and steady income from it. It’s a combination of many things. You have to build up an audience and loyal client base. Social media and your online presence is very important. Consistency is a big keyword here with everything you do. You also have to provide quality and good customer service almost 24/7 (trust me on that one!). You have to be tech-savvy with all the backend stuff behind creating the class and the class online environment. You have to be good at marketing what you have to offer to the world (and feel comfortable doing so!). If you can commit to all of this and it all sounds like something you would fully enjoy, then YES, you can make an income with your creative talent by teaching online courses.
Are courses becoming too competitive?
I don’t think so. Of course, online courses are becoming more and more popular, hence there’s more competition. But, I think with online courses, as with any other business, competition is a good thing. Competition means that there’s a market for what you offer and competition helps us to be the best we can be and do the best we can do. It helps to keep things fresh and it helps to continue to grow and improve, which is a good thing. In the long run, I truly believe that everybody has something very special, very unique to offer to the world. Everybody who puts heart & soul into what they do, who are persistent and bring their own personality to their work will succeed. And more people offering something similar also brings the opposite of competition: collaboration. One should never underestimate the power of joining forces. 😉
What’s better than one artist trying to make this world a little more colorful? Many artists trying to make this world a little more colorful. 😉
Is it hard to earn an income from selling art?
It depends. In terms of selling paintings locally, I think it can be quite hard to make a living from it. Art is just something very unique and it’s hard to find enough local customers buying enough from you to make a steady income. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but I’m talking about the average artist here.
However, the Internet – digital media, social media, etc. – is a big advantage. It helps to not only promote your art locally, but worldwide. All of a sudden the non-starving artist seems more doable. 😉 So I think if you take full advantage of online media / social media it still isn’t a piece of cake – but definitely doable to make a living of being an artist selling your art, prints etc.
If you could start over, what would you do
Honestly? Nothing. It might sound cliché, but every step that I took over the years, every turn, even the turns that at that point lead into a dead end, brought me exactly to where I am right now. I’m happy with and grateful for where I am right now and what I have achieved by doing what I love most. So yeah, I would do it all over again in the exact same way. Well, except for spilling the jars of paint over the carpet or messing up way too many good clothes with inks and paints because I was too lazy to put my art apron on, but I guess that’s a different story. 😉
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
It’s always hard to give advice because everybody stands at a different point in their life and there are so many different reasons why people create, where they want to go with their art, etc. I guess the best advice would be:
- believe in yourself (self-doubt will ALWAYS be your companion on your art journey, but never let it stop you!)
- take one step at a time,
- don’t compare yourself to others (NEVER EVER!!!),
- just be you, enjoy what you do and follow your heart. 🙂
Andrea’s most popular art course has more than 27 video lessons with step-by-step instructions on:
- keeping a visual Journal / Sketchbook of your Everyday Life
- sketching on the go / in-field sketching
- Basic & Advances Techniques for Sketching, bringing your sketches to life with watercolor, adding whimsical touches to your sketches
- lots of Info on her favourite sketching supplies (Pens, Pencils, Paper, Sketchbooks, Watercolors)
- you will create detailed sketches and quick on-the-go sketches, step-by-step from start to finish
- you will create a mini watercolor sketchbook / Art journal and fill all the pages with colourful sketches