Bold Place: Meet Leanne Van

Thirdly in our features with the Bold Place girls we spoke to Leanne Van about her life as a digital artist.

Our Bold Place features have been some of my favourite features ever to be on galerie de aims. All of the girls I have had the pleasure of interviewing have been so friendly and interesting.

This feature showcases the work of Leanne Van. Leanne is part of the fabulous group of women who have creative spaces at Bold Place. Leanne’s art differs from the previous features as she focuses mostly on digital art and murals.

Leanne also hosts classes online for up and coming artists. Her story was fascinating about how she is able to create art that is mostly digital but can also turn her hand at real life murals for good causes and businesses.

In our feature with Leanne she discusses how having a studio space at Bold Place has allowed her to feel less isolated as an artist and given her the opportunity to meet like minded female artists who are happy to help you out whenever possible.

Over to Leanne to discuss how she got into digital art…

What made you get into art and wanting to make that into your career long term?

I started out as a trainee buyer for a fast fashion retailer, but quickly realised there was a very limited level of creativity in that industry as a buyer. I made the career move to consumer product design, designing kids clothing and merchandise for Mattel (which I still do part time as a freelancer). Moving into the creative industry gave me the confidence to take my own illustration and art seriously, so I started building my own portfolio and approaching clients to build up my network and start making money from my illustrations.

Your digital artwork is so beautiful. Was it an easy decision for you to go down the digital route for a lot of your work?

When I went full time freelance 4 years ago, I knew that the kind of work and projects I wanted to do would be in the digital realm. Digital art gave me the freedom to be playful, to edit my work and to not worry so much about the final outcome. I view digital illustration as an exciting space where there are lots of opportunities, not restricted to the physical world.

Your art is so versatile with parts being digital and some being physical murals. What have been some of your favourite collaborations from these and do the two ever cross over?

The downside to creating mostly digital Art is that you don’t often get to see it in the real world in a tangible way. So painting murals became a fun way to get my art off the screen and into a different format. When creating a mural I first design the concept digitally, and often digital art I have previously created inspires a mural design. I only moved to my studio in Liverpool a few months ago, but have already partnered with some of my studio sisters to create both digital and print projects that will be dropping soon. My favourite mural so far was for a zero-waste grocery store that gave the message to “Join the Refill Revolution”

What would be your biggest tips for someone who is thinking of making being an artist a full time career but has no idea where to start?

Being a freelancer is risky business, but very rewarding. What really helped me was securing two monthly clients at first, that I did illustration and consumer product design for, to help me with my base income. Once I had that financial security, I was able to work on personal projects, and build up my portfolio to start attracting my dream clients. Multiple income streams are so important. Also bear in mind not every income stream has to be making art, so if you are also working part time in a different industry, utilise all the skills you have. A lot of Creatives are very hard on themselves for not doing art “full time” – but if you have extra income from different sources, that is your superpower!

Murals are so inspiring to me, how do you practice a skill as this and what are your tips for creating a great mural?

They are quite intimidating to begin with, but I started with painting some large wooden panels to get used to the scale. I really mostly on simple, bold designs to be impactful. Where I am incorporating text, I create a life size design to trace onto the wall, to help with accuracy.

You have a space at Bold Place, how does working from a co-working studio inspire you?

Working from home is fine to an extent, but it can be very isolating. I get energy from discussing ideas, and this has been a great perk of working from Bold Place. I find it very inspiring to see work from different disciplines, and The Bold Sisters have been great cheerleaders when I doubt myself.

What is next for you as an artist and would you recommend a space at Bold Place for other creatives to work from?

This year I would like to grow my network and work on bigger projects that are in the public domain.  I am also focusing on more collaborative work, as well as connecting with more creatives through my online illustration classes on Skillshare.  I am also finalising my first NFT collection, which is a whole new space to explore (absolutely winging it – what’s the worst that could happen?).  Bold Place is more than a studio space, it is a community of supportive women who genuinely care about your success.  

Follow Leanne on her Instagram here

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