Around two years ago, Latvia-born designer/maker Viktorija started her Etsy business, AndSmile with a few prints and postcards. Now she also sells a variety of brooches, earrings, necklaces, and cufflinks with her unique watercolor illustrations on them. Here, she chat’s to our roving reporter Kaylie Hatos about her business…
Is there a story behind the name AndSmile?
I had troubles coming up with a name for my shop and then I had the idea that the whole point of me selling and making things is to make people smile and hopefully a little happier, so I went with the name AndSmile. That’s what I would love people to do when they come across my work.
What motivated you to start selling your work?
I had a friend who was setting up a pop-up shop selling vintage furniture and he wanted to have some paper goods to compliment his stock. He loved my illustrations and asked if he could stock them in his shop. That gave me the boost of confidence I needed and I opened my Etsy shop.
Can you describe your making process? What media do you use?
I usually sketch and then colour with watercolours and gouache, then I scan things in and finish them off digitally. When making jewellery from the illustration, I print it onto shrink plastic and experiment with colours and size to see if it works better as earrings or a brooch or a necklace.
Do you think having an audience influences your work?
Yes, I think it gives you a lot of confidence. It makes you believe in yourself and gives you a boost of energy and inspiration. It also makes you look for new themes and create new wok. I am very grateful for people who take their time to look at my work or follow me on social media.
Now that this is your full time job, what does a typical day look like?
I start my working day in the morning with a big cup of coffee (vital part of my day). Then I make a list of what I need to work on and take it from there. Usually my day will include answering emails, packing Etsy orders and a short walk to the post office. I also spend time on some social media, updating and doing research (read Pinterest, oops). Depending on what I need to do, I could bake lots of brooches or draw all day (or do some not so fun admin work).
Do you have to make yourself take a break from work?
I really enjoy what I do. I love it! When I have a day off, I have a craving to get back to draw or make something, so it’s hard to force myself to take a proper day off. But recently I have been forcing myself to do so (even if it means going to an arts supply store, yay!). It definitely gives me more energy and more ideas, and when I come back to work I feel a lot more productive than before.
Do you think you approach your drawing differently now that it is a career and not a hobby?
I never saw drawing or making as a hobby. It’s a passion, obsession, and in one way or another, an addiction. I saw my day jobs as more of a hobby (even though they paid the bills). I still treasure and enjoy the moments I spend creating and I hope it will continue that way. I am very grateful I am able to do what I love for a living.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to turn their passion into a career?
A great piece of advice that I’ve heard so many times is to work hard and be nice to people. And a personal one would be to DO IT! Don’t be scared, just do what you want to do!
Photo Credits: Kaylie Hatos and Viktorija Semjonova