Many people start blogs to chronicle their day-to-day life, practice writing skills or simply rant about celebrities or politicians who grind their gears. For some, however, the benefits of blogging can be more significant.
For TJ Lubrano, from the Netherlands, blogging has provided the confidence to pursue a career doing what she loves. What’s that, you ask? Well, she likes to draw “cute little people.”
TJ is an artist and illustrator who has been drawing since she was 4 years old. She has dabbled in a variety of styles, ranging from abstract drawing to the most detailed illustrations, and she cites anime as one of her favorites, although she gives it a bit of a personal touch:
“The style I use is generally called a chibi style, a word which is used to describe cute little characters,” she explains. “My characters have an anime influence, but aren’t really like the standard chibi you see when you google it. I guess this is because I infuse my own ideas and elements into it.”
A Look in a Creative Mind
TJ maintains a popular blog where she offers interesting stories and observations accompanied by her characteristic doodles. The blog was actually started one day on an impulse, and she admits she didn’t have much of a plan at the outset.
“I just wanted to share my observations, ramblings, occasional doodles and maybe even writing/cooking adventures,” she says. Before long, however, the drawing element took center stage.
“I started drawing the little characters, because they were quick and fun to do and I used it to complete a post. At that time, a post without a doodle didn’t seem complete to me. It still doesn’t. Soon these little characters became the only stable element in my posts, because I don’t have fixed subjects that I talk about.”
Building a Following
When checking out the blog, one notices that every post has double-digit comments. How did TJ go from a blog of random thoughts to one with such dedicated readership? One major factor was the connections she made through commenting on other blogs.
“I visited a lot of blogs about photography, illustrating and cooking, just to name a few. I always left what I call a ramble comment. I call it that because I really read the post and commented on it and answered the questions they asked. Lots of bloggers ask a question at the end of the post, but a lot of people don’t even respond on it and just add ‘Nice post!’ or ‘great article. Please stop by mine’ etc. That kind of annoyed me. It’s a small effort for me to leave a thoughtful comment on a post.”
These thoughtful comments prompted most of those bloggers to follow TJ back to her own blog to check it out. When they did, they were intrigued by its format of “illustrations with observational ramblings” as TJ calls it. Most of them became subscribers because they were so curious about what she would cover next. More regular readers first arrived at the site from communities such as Blogcatalog.
Illustration as a Business
TJ had always given away drawings to some of her close friends, but after launching the blog, this quickly turned into something more than just a hobby.
“When I created my first mug for a friend, people started to ask if they could get one or if I could draw something for them. And when I got my first commission, it slowly started to sink in that I could do more with it.”
“That moment was kind of surreal, because up till then I gave away my drawings to friends. So to actually getting paid to draw, was a new world for me.”
TJ is now setting herself up as a freelance illustrator. She has an online store where people can shop for a variety of fun products featuring her illustrations, including mugs, T-shirts and greeting cards. Right now there are many Holiday-themed items.
“It takes a lot of time, energy and patience, but so far it’s going good,” she says. She plans to eventually earn a full-time income with illustrating.
TJ’s blog has come a long way since its first days and she has also evolved as an artist, but she hasn’t abandoned her original objective:
“I would say that I started with the goal to ramble about stuff and now my goals are to ramble AND to display my art and gain more exposure as illustrator!”
You can also click on the images in this post to see a larger version.
TJ, you have won the Tickle City Award!