Yes, You CAN Turn Your Passion Into Profit: A Chat With Digital Artist And Entrepreneur Aaron Wood

By December 5, 2012 Interviews
Yes, You CAN Turn Your Passion Into Profit: A Chat With Digital Artist And Entrepreneur Aaron Wood

What do you get when you combine a geek’s paradise of social media, iconic pop-culture characters and tech with World War II propaganda?

You get the very cool art of Aaron Wood, a digital artist who knows a thing or two about creativity and getting to the heart of what people love… which sometimes includes bacon.Aaron Wood

Aaron is a graphic designer who’s got one of those inspiring stories we can all learn something from: namely, how to turn passion into profit and keep on enjoying what you do.

We love Aaron’s art and recently bought a bunch of his social media posters to spruce up our office. They’ve been a conversation piece ever since and I couldn’t help but ask Aaron how he does it (and beg him to keep on doing it!)

When you’re done reading his story, check out his Etsy store and see if some of his designs inspire you to do some decorating, too. I bet you’ll find something there to make the geek in your life very happy this holiday season.

And did I mention that he knits? You’ve got to read it to believe it.

Interview With Digital Artist Aaron Wood

Question: Aaron, you’re a digital artist with a business called “justonescarf”. Where did you get that name from?

My “justonescarf” name comes from my ability to knit and the fact that when I started knitting I was only going to make “just one scarf.” I wound up making 4. The name has garnered me some recognition in the knitting community, especially on ravelry.com.

Question: I understand that you also design gift wrap as your “day job”. Could you tell me a little bit about your artistic career and how you got started?

I’ve always been drawn to art in some way. I have my Associates in Visual Arts from Community College and my Bachelors of Arts in Illustration with a Minor in Animation from The Art Institute of Boston but I believe I really get my creative side from my mom. My Mom was artistic and painted with oils as a hobby. She’s always encouraged me to use my talent.

I have almost 5 years’ experience in the pre-press and printing field and I also freelance whenever I can. That includes logo design, propaganda illustrations, business cards and flyers.

My first job was a lot of fun. I worked in LEGO’s model shop for a year and a half. We made the models that went into commercials, amusement parks, trade shows, and other promotional things.

aaron-wood-social-media-posters-01Question: That’s a pretty diverse list of creative accomplishments. Where do you get your ideas?

I have a pretty big imagination and I’m constantly thinking up something new to create. Social media, video games, pop culture, movies, TV… ideas are everywhere.

Question: I know that sometimes it’s hard to hold onto those ideas when they seem to be coming at you from all angles. Do you keep an “idea list” or have another way of managing your creativity?

Sometimes when I have an idea I do a sketch. Sometimes I just sit down with the idea and turn out a final product. I tend to have a terrible memory, so some of my ideas can get lost if I don’t finish them off quickly. Maybe I should write things down… lol.

Question: Your social media posters are especially popular. Where did you get the idea for those?

I got the idea for making my posters on Google+ because I noticed a lot of hatred there for anything that wasn’t Google related. People there are very anti Facebook, Twitter, Apple. It’s a little like a social media war.

It’s a sentiment I’ve really only seen on Google+. Sure, there’s the occasional person that I run across that steers clear of all social media, or says things like, “I just don’t get Twitter,” but for the most part that anti-everything-else sentiment seems to live on G+.

Aaron Wood Propaganda Posters First ThreeQuestion: What were the first posters you did as a reaction to that?

My first three posters were Twitter: Be Brief, Facebook: Join The Cause: Your Friends’ Farms Need You, and Google+: All Must Be Shared To Win The War.

Question: Sounds like Google+ is where your fan base lives. Is that where you do most of your promotion?

I have over 120,000 followers on G+, so that does get the brunt of my focus.

I recently started a Facebook page and I’m hoping that will help me out with promotion, too. I also use my personal Facebook page to promote my work to my friends.

I can’t seem to generate a lot of traction on Twitter, but I do search for “social media propaganda posters” and “justonescarf” every few days and try to respond to any people who post about my posters.

And I also use Pinterest because I like its visual nature.

aaron-wood-social-media-posters-02Question: Do you have a specific strategy for using social media to promote your work?

Just posting on as many sites as possible has really driven traffic to my Etsy store. I also have done a few interviews in Google+ Hangouts that I know for a fact have driven sales.

I like to try different things, so I took out a Facebook ad recently. It’s garnered me a lot more likes on my page but I can’t prove that it’s driven sales.

I also took out an ad on Reddit, and sadly that didn’t really pan out. It could be because I’m not totally familiar with the site.

On Facebook where I have a lot of real life friends and contacts, I tend to ease up on promotion since most people already know what I do.

Twitter tends to be only used for promotion, but I also use that the least of the three.

Question: Do you do any other type of marketing to sell your art outside of social or online?

I have business cards that I’ve printed up that I try to hand out when I can.

I also do conventions to sell my posters. Mostly comic book and gaming cons (C2E2 in Chicago, ConnectiCon in Hartford, CT, and The Boston Comic Con.) Hoping to make it to San Diego Comic Con next year!

Question: You use Etsy for your art sales. Why did you choose that platform and did you try others?

I had made up an Etsy account to sell some stickers I had created, so I already had a digital store front set up. On a whim I decided to list my posters there and was pleasantly surprised with the results. I briefly looked into Artflakes and Society6 recently, but haven’t really done anything with them. Those sites do offer larger sizes, something people have asked me for, but I haven’t done enough research into the pros and cons of those sites yet.

Question: What are your plans for the future for you and your art?

Plans for the future? Just keep making new posters and as much new art as I can!

And I’d be lying if I said that I’m not interested in fame and recognition!

aaron-wood-bookHow can you not be intrigued by a guy who knits, worked in a LEGO store and is doing what so many entrepreneurs dream of doing every day – creating, selling and succeeding? Check out  Aaron’s art across the web.

justonescarf Etsy store

Aaron on Google+

justonescarf Facebook page

Pinterest

Twitter

And if you find yourself a fan like I did, check out this gorgeous, 60-page coffee table book that has 26 full-color propaganda poster pages plus the stories behind how each was created.

Do you have a favorite Aaron Wood poster? Or maybe you have an idea that would look cool in poster format! Tell me in the comments!