Dani Ives known as @begoodnatured on Instagram, has certainly gone through an unexpected career shift. Growing up she was always interested in science, which led her to biology and conservation studies. Some years later, while working as a conservation educator at a zoo, she began to feel the urge to create come back. She had always been “artsy” but never nurtured her artistic tendencies. But when a friend recommended her to try out needlefelting something happened… She just couldn’t stop!
“There is something completely addictive with needlefelting”, she says in the interview. From the first day, a whole new world of needlefelting opened up, and she is now able to nurture both her creativity and love for animals and conservation using the same medium.
“It’s like I am continuing my work as a conservation educator, just in a different medium
One of Dani’s main goals with her artistry is to help people better connect with nature and art in nature. This is why her art is focused on capturing animals and other natural beauties. When she first began to do felted animals, she couldn’t even imagine the high demand for her style. “If you had said to me five years ago that I would be doing woolart for a living, I would think that’s a crazy concept”, she laughs.
It’s like a dream she didn’t knew existed has now become her reality. Today she is able to travel around the world and share knowledge about nature and its animals by creating needlefelting.
How to know when you can leave your day-job behind and go for artistry full-time?
For everyone working a regular day-job this is probably the most frequently asked question. Unfortunately there are no easy answers except that you just have to keep on creating. For Dani, the break-point came in 2014 when she began to offer commissioned animal portraits. She wasn’t able to keep up with demand and realised that she would be able to create a minimum reliable income on commissions.
However, she realised that to only focus on your art isn’t enough. Because to be an artist means that you are the owner of a creative business,
which consists of your artworks and services. Thus one of the first things that Dani did was to educate herself as much as could. “It was like a transition period. I had to learn how to sell, market and do all the things to know how to run my own business”.
What’s important to not forget is that creative entrepreneurship is a continuous learning process. There is always more information to get about updates in the market and more people to reach out to. One of Dani’s biggest advices from her experience is to reach out to more people that are in your situation. “Eventually someone will answer you”. To learn from peers is invaluable and can give you deeper connections and understanding of the work.
Find your resources
Podcasts are a great example of where you can find tons of information for free. Another bonus is that you are able to work your art while listening and learning from other people’s experiences. This is actually one of the main
reasons why Charles and I are running the Charles and Elin podcast. It’s our way of giving back to the community and contributing to the pool of creative entrepreneurial resources with our own experiences and interviews with other professionals in the creative field.
Some of the recommendations that Dani gives in the episode includes:
- “Being Boss” by Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson
- “Action Army Podcast” by Jason Zook
- “Wandering aimfully” by Jason and Caroline Zook
Another example of a valuable resource is social media. For Dani that has meant finding her tribe of likeminded people in similar boats. She keeps contact and conversations with them on a weekly basis just to bounce off ideas and reflections. This goes back to the reoccurring subject of community in our recent podcast episodes. We cannot do everything alone and that’s ok. It’s ok to ask for advice and don’t be too proud to give advices in return.
How to find your artistic voice?
Juggling between artistry and entrepreneurship can be difficult. Especially when so many of us are dependent on social media to spread our art and message.
In the episode we talk about how Instagram sometimes can feel limiting in the sense that it puts expectations. You are expected to post a certain type of content at a certain frequency. Dani is trying to deal with this by making a public commitment to share a weekly flip through in her sketchbook.
She began to take her sketchbook more seriously back in 2016, because she felt that she needed to experiment and go further in her art. Even though needlefelting has her heart, she wants to dive deeper into drawing and painting as well. As fellow fiberartists, Charles and I have both experiences how illustration skills has a huge impact on the level of freedom in your fiberart creations. Thus this emphasises the need to really take the time to experiment. Not only to try out different mediums and improve your skills, but to also develop your own style.
Dani is now working on taking her sketchbook project to the next level, by creating an online course that will assist other creatives in challenging their creativity through sketching.
Why are online courses such a hype?
To be able to live off your art, you will need to figure out ways that increases your minimum income level. Apart from creating your own artworks there are plenty of services that you can do such as teaching workshop in real life or online. “The benefit of teaching online is that you have to put in the work ones and it will keep on generating income long-term”, says Dani. She has already created two online courses with different needlefelting projects that you can find on her website daniives.com.
There are numerous online teaching platforms out there that can help you set up courses easily. Charles and I use teachable as hosts for our Charles and Elin Academy, which has been incredibly helpful. They’ve designed a tool that enables even the “computer-dead” artist to create beautiful and successful courses. If this sounds interesting to you, you should definitely sign up for their free webinars at teachable.com.
What advices would you give yourself if you had to start over with @begoodnatured today?
“I would give myself the same advice that I still give myself today. Just continue to put in the work and good things will happen for you. Don’t give in to self-doubt.”
When you are at the beginning of your artistry, the road can seem endless and overwhelming. But whatever you do, don’t give up. Ian Edwards puts it nicely in another recent interview ;“It’s not just your artwork that you’re creating, it’s your artist life. Where you want to live, how you want to live, with whom and doing what. It’s all yours to build and it’s a long road, so you better start today”.
This was only a fraction of all the inspiring topics we covered in our talk with Dani. Make sure to bring out your work in progress and press play to listen to the full interview. Or click the following link to get to our show: Charles and Elin
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Thanks for reading!