AIP: How would you describe your style of work and what is your preferred medium to work in? 

AMY: I work in coloured pencils, watercolour pencils, and archival ink pens as well as water soluble pens. My work incorporates a spin off of the art style Zentangle, mixed with more of a realistic spin on animals, people and scenery. 

My current art style of mixing patterns with realism came from a need to bring balance to my moods. In 2004, at the age of 18, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I find composition and colour to be overstimulating, to the point where I’m soaring through manic elation, and I don’t want to eat, sleep, or even take bathroom breaks as it will disrupt my creative flow. I began to incorporate the patterns in 2011, as when I applied them to the paper, the repetitive motion relieved the mania into a peaceful meditative state. 

AIP: What were you first steps toward selling your art and what type of setting was this in, a gallery, art & crafts show, market, on-line or elsewhere?

AMY: I actually started selling my work as a teenager in high school. That flopped of course as I was living with un-diagnosed bipolar disorder and I was mentally and emotionally unstable. Eventually with the help of an amazing support team my mood began to stabilize after many years marked by substance abuse, self harm, and many admittances to psychiatric hospitals. 

I officially turned my art into business when I was 25, in mid-2011. My first big step was signing up for a Craft Fair in 2012.

AIP: Why do you choose Art Ink to print your reproductions, and what products to you order from us?

AMY: When I signed up for the Craft Fair, a friend mentioned that I should sell greeting cards. I was just starting my business and I’d never printed any before. I went to a different print shop than Art Ink Print and the cards I had printed were within my budget at the time but were awful. They didn’t fold properly, so I had to trim about 200 cards by hand to make them fold evenly. After that, I knew I had to invest my money in quality products. 

My sister Googled print shops in Victoria and Art Ink Print was one of the ones she sent to me. I emailed Scott some images and I’ve never ordered cards anywhere else since! Art Ink Print is such high quality, and I love that their cards are printed on environmentally sustainable paper. I also get all my scanning done at Art Ink Print, as well as all my Giclee prints. 

AIP: If you could look back in time and meet yourself when you first started making an income as an artist; what would be the most valuable piece of advice you would give yourself?

AMY: Scan or have a great photo of every image. You never know what will become of that image one day! 

Test the market before printing a ton of products. Whether it’s an online vote to your followers, or asking key people who have varying opinions and preferences of art – seeing if there’s interest in an image BEFORE printing a ton of prints and/or cards is key. 

Learn how to properly run and grow your business. Creating art is the easy part for me, but knowing how to effectively run a business is more challenging. There’s power in knowing your target market and how to reach them. There’s also a lot to be gained from doing proper book keeping and tracking your inventory/sales so you know what’s moving and what isn’t.

Painting of a park bench by Amy Frank

At Peace by Amy Frank

AIP: What are your favorite methods for marketing yourself as a self representing artist?

AMY: I enjoy using Facebook for marketing, although I use Instagram too. I took a business course in 2015 and I’m actually planning to go back to school in the Fall to learn more about business, so I can better market myself and allow my business to grow. Some of the things I’m interested in learning more about are social media and how to read Google analytics as I believe online marketing is the way of the future. It also allows my work to be seen outside of my community. Getting my cards into more retail locations is also a goal of mine, as well as finding more licensing opportunities.

AIP: Can you tell us an event or occasion which excited you the most, with regards to getting your art ‘out there’ for people to see?

AMY: Since going into business in 2011, my greeting cards are being sold in retail locations around Victoria. In 2015, my art was on the cover of Focus Magazine with an article written inside about my journey with mental illness. The article also featured photos of me and my work. The following year, I received a licensing contract from a Jigsaw Puzzle company: StandOut Puzzles, which continues to be a great working relationship.

AIP: Where can our followers and your patrons find your work, and keep up to date with your new creations?

My website: www.amyfrank.ca 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/amy.frank.585 (I use my Public Profile as my business Page, so please send me a friend request or follow my public posts!)

AIP: Any other comments you would like to share?

AMY: A huge aspect of my art is also my mental health advocacy. I have been creating art since I could pick up a pencil. By the age of 11 I could draw realistically quite easily. My art has transformed from being a realist as a youth, to going completely wonky when my mental health began to shift my art in my teens. Now, it has once again shifted, and continues to evolve as my moods fluctuate and then steady. Alongside my art, I also do public speaking on the topic of art and mental illness, as for me, mental wellness and art go hand in hand.

Thank-you so much Amy for sharing your story with us, we love your detailed and colourful work!