‘I work less than 2 hours a day on it’
At the onset of the pandemic, I was putting in 80-hour work weeks in two full-time marketing jobs. I earned a total salary of $129,000 per year.
But a part of me felt that something was missing. I have always had a passion for making art and I wanted to have the time to pursue it. So in April 2020 I quit one of my jobs to start a side hustle. I wanted to see if I could really make it as an artist.
I called my brand DomoINK, which is a play on my name and the materials I use. I create original artwork using colored pencils and markers, printing my designs on everything from socks to laptop cases to sneakers.
There were many sleepless nights, but investing in my talent has paid off. I’ve had the chance to work with big companies like Disney, Samsung, Lowe’s and the LA Lakers.
Today I make $22,000 a month selling art online through my websitemine Etsy and Society 6 stores and retail stores such as Target and Home Goods.
To create works of art that shed light on important subjects
Growing up, I was often the only black kid in my class, and I had a hard time finding things that represented my background.
My dad and I would go out of our way to find greeting cards with pictures of black families. We would buy them from individual sellers because many dealers didn’t have them.
I never limit myself when it comes to experimenting with ideas.
For example, I made a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. with colored pencils. Mine Tik Tok showing my process went viral and led to a collaboration with Bleacher Report to draw UNC basketball coach Hubert Davis in the same style.
And this year, I was hired by Bath & Body Works as an illustrator to create an image of what Juneteenth means.
I work less than 2 hours a day on my side hustle
On weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. I work from home as a marketing manager.
After I log out of my day job, I switch gears and create artwork. I spend about 10 hours during the week, including weekends, on DomoINK.
For about an hour, I’ll go on TikTok or Instagram and try to find trending videos, then put my own spin on those trends to promote my store.
Expanding my commercial art business
When I started, every single painting and product was made to order. Since I never worked on any projects unless I had a commission, I didn’t have to worry about expensive inventory.
My prices range from $18 socks to a $5,000 painting called “Reflection” which sold just days after I put it up for sale on my website.
To keep costs down by not investing in ads, I am currently focused on creating organic reach through social media.
In addition to my Etsy sales, I make money by licensing my artwork non-exclusively to platforms like Society6, which I created for free. The downside is that I only get a 10% commission on the products I sell.
My ultimate goal is to make DomoINK a lifestyle retailer that can be a source of representation for those who are underrepresented.
The feedback I have received from people who feel seen by my work has been incredibly gratifying and it inspires me to develop my business even more.
Domonique Brown is an artist and founder of DomoINK, a lifestyle brand that contributes art, apparel and home decor to celebrate diversity and empowerment. Follow her on Instagram and TikTok.
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