Photos by FotoFloor
Many people may not think to consider artists as savvy business people, but if they are to be successful they need create a brand awareness, use marketing to sell, deal with finances and everything else a business needs to consider. When I asked Angelique Houtkamp to take part in this interview, she expressed the same sentiments, ''Most people don't consider artists as a one person business. And I absolutely do. All the things that come with having a business absolutely also go for being an artist.''
On a personal level, I was very excited to interview Angelique, as I am a big fan of her work. You can see my blog post about buying a limited edition print, and getting my book signed. I also have a tattoo based on her artwork. However on a business level I was excited too, as she has created such a recognisable style, and a personal brand, both things I admire and hope to achieve one day!
ReeRee Rockette: How did you become an artist? Have you ever had a regular 9-5 office job?
Angelique Houtkamp: I've had a 9-5 job once, but only for a year. Didn't like it much. Then I did a lot of odd jobs, like being a seamstress, working in bars, all sorts of things.
I was always a creative person, in that I was drawing a lot and making stuff. When I was 19 I decided I wanted to be a musician or a tattooer. I made music for quite some time, but was never really good at it. With a lot of hiccups I got an apprenticeship at a tattoo parlour and it felt like I found what I had been looking for. Because of the large amount of drawing work that comes with tattooing I slowly evolved to painting for a living and tattooing as a hobby.
ReeRee Rockette: How do you spend your average working day?
Angelique Houtkamp: The only constant in my days is that my first two hours are spent doing emails and social media like facebook. Then it can go a lot of ways; drawing, painting, color-sketching, designing a tattoo, sending out print orders, maintaining my website, etc. I have periods where I draw and paint most days and periods where there is a lot of other business stuff to do.
ReeRee Rockette: Who inspires you - creatively or in business?
Angelique Houtkamp: Creatively, a lot of tattooers, mostly old timers, but also a lot of vintage illustration, Hollywood glamour photos, people like Brassai and Erté. I'm always scouting for inspiration. In business I never really had any role models. I mostly look at what I want as a customer, how I want to be treated.
ReeRee Rockette: How have you found working in a traditionally male environment?
Angelique Houtkamp: I think almost any work environment is male, so I don't really know. I've always gotten along pretty well with the guys I work with. Maybe I was lucky in who my colleagues were! But I don't really believe that women don't have the same opportunities as men. Although there are some fields that rely heavily on old-boy networks, where it might be a different story. Mostly I think it has to do with ambition. By nature, I feel men are more ambitious then women, but I never felt in any way that a man stood in my way of being successful. On the contrary actually, I feel men share their knowledge much easier with women then men, as they feel less threatened by them.
ReeRee Rockette: What have you found most challenging when running your business? What lessons have you learned?
Angelique Houtkamp: I've learned a tremendous amount. Most of it little by little. The most important one I have learned is that having one talent is not enough, you need to be good at a number of things to make it really work. That can be challenging sometimes; that you can't spend most of your time on doing the thing that makes your business, in my case painting, but that there are so many little other things to do and take care of.
ReeRee Rockette: What have you been most proud of?
Angelique Houtkamp: That I turned out to have quite an entrepreneurial spirit, which I never would have thought.
ReeRee Rockette: If you could give some advice to our 'Wonderful Women: Minding Our Own Business'' group what would it be?
Angelique Houtkamp: A bit of a cliché, but staying close to who you are. Do what you love and it will be much easier to do it and for a longer time, as businesses don't grow in a day. Allow yourself time to grow and learn. Remember it is 20% talent and 80% hard work. You have to be a bit of a workaholic to be successful.
Angelique also stressed the importance of informing yourself about as many business aspects as you can, taking advantage of online resources as well as books. She mentioned that she had read 'Selling online for dummies' which helped her to create a profitable website.
She summarised perfectly, ''Being successful and be able to live off what you love doing – I couldn't think of anything better.''