Most great entrepreneurs are all members of a special organisation known as the five o’clock club. Long before the rest of us throw back the sheets in the morning they’re already up, driven by purpose and passion.
Amanda Brooks of Art by Brooks has been a member for many years.
“I spend a lot of time each day not just painting but also marketing,” she says. “I get up at five and start surfing Instagram and Facebook and making sure that my website is fresh. Old work is taken down and new pieces go up and then I start on my emails.
“I might spend up to four hours a day answering all of my emails and people are really surprised when they get a response from me.
“I think it’s a missed opportunity for a lot of artists that don’t engage with prospects that might be interested in their work,” she says.
“People that know me might say that I have an element of OCD, but it’s not a bad problem to have. I turn it into a positive.”
You could say that art was in Amanda’s blood with artists on both sides of Amanda’s family.
Born in Johannesburg and growing up in Durban, South Africa, Amanda says she was always interested in art and her ability to combine her business mind with her artistic side is evident in her early studies.
“When I left school I did graphic design and business economics in Durban and the two degrees have married together,” she said. “It didn’t matter whether it was interiors, graphic design, or architecture, I loved all aspects of art.
“I was drawing house plans when I was eight years of age and now my son is doing the same.”
Networking has been a key element in building and growing the business, Art by Brooks, into what it is today. She has gathered 34,000 likes on Facebook and although new to Instagram, she is swiftly building a strong following.
“For me the marketing side is just as much fun as the painting,” she says.
“When I’m creating something I don’t ever start thinking that it’s going to be popular. I create it then post it on social media and before I know it the image has gone viral and it’s sold.
“Facebook is probably the best social media platform for me plus I do advertise in a number of national glossy magazines,” says Amanda. “My clients are mainly from the country.
“I send pieces of art to places that don’t even have a street address; simply a property name plus I’ve sent pieces to galleries in Moree, Wagga Wagga, Gunnedah and Narrabri, locations I’ve never even been to.”
With this rising popularity in rural Australia, there’s been a significant shift in themes with a growing demand for cattle and horses.
“The cows happened by accident. I was experimenting about three years ago and decided to paint cows and I’ve never looked back. Families on properties are sentimental and loyal and they relate to the rural work that I do.”
Keeping the work fresh and spontaneous is important to Amanda who says that she often doesn’t know what she is going to create when she gets up in the morning.
“I’m obsessed with images on Instagram and Pinterest and if I see something that grabs my attention then I go for it,” she says. “I follow a lot of people and photographers that post wildlife pictures and safari images. I do a lot of safari art and I’ve found that a lot of Australians are very interested in those themes as well.
“I can get bored easily however if I’m painting the same thing all the time and I lose interest quickly. I find the more time you have to ponder what you’re doing with a piece then the higher the chance of ruining it and if I’ve overworked something I can’t look at it.”
Balancing the business, raising children and a home life can be tricky, especially when your husband is part of the business, she said.
“Jason was a mechanical engineer who was working overseas on oil and gas projects with a very stressful rotational roster. He was based in Singapore for a while however we didn’t like being apart so we decided if he quit his job then he’d work with me on building up the art business,” explains Amanda.
“That’s when we invested in a large commercial printer. Our online print store is a huge part of the business and a lot of the things I create end up as a print.
“Jason turns all of my originals into prints and they’re limited editions, signed, dated and then rolled up and sent direct to the customer’s door.”
As a working couple we’re both extremely motivated and we share a common goal for the best results said Amanda.
“It’s a case of delegating who’s in charge of what. Jason is in charge of prints, packaging, accounts and administration and I’m in charge of creating the art and marketing.”
From the first pieces of work sold from a Hastings Street gallery twenty years ago to utilising various social media platforms today as viral marketing tools, there’s never been a doubt in Amanda’s mind that she could build a business from her creations.
“I get just as much of an adrenalin rush from selling a painting as I do creating it” she says.
How would you like a chance to WIN a print of your choice from Art By Brooks valued at $145?
Simply check out Amanda’s website and tell us in 25 words or less about one of the art pieces that grabs your attention.
Email your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org