As part of our inspiring women in business campaign Eli Trier tells us how to become an illustrator, author and award-winning blogger.
Eli Trier is an artist, author and award-winning blogger who travels the world writing and drawing and making gorgeous picture books for grown-ups about everything from gratitude to productivity. She spends her days exploring ideas, messing around with paint and counting her lucky stars.
Want to know how to become an illustrator yourself? As part of our inspiring women in business campaign we’ve got Eli to tell us her industry secrets – here’s your guide to becoming the bext big thing…
Q1. Talk us through a typical working day
I usually start my day around 10am with coffee and a look over my task lists and calendar. I set my project goals at the beginning of the month and then break them down into daily and weekly tasks so I always know where I am. I like to stick to working on one thing for a whole day so I can get really absorbed in it, and my favourite days are painting days! I’ll put some music on and just get stuck in. I like my days to be reasonably unstructured so I don’t have set working hours or mealtimes.
I just go with the flow. After 7 years of self-employment and many experiments, this seems to be my most productive work style.
I check in on emails and social media throughout the day, whenever there’s a natural pause in my work, and I set aside Mondays for admin tasks and catching up with anything that’s slipped through the net the previous week. I make sure I get at least two days off per week, but I don’t mind which days they are, in fact Sunday is one of my preferred days for working so I’ll usually take a day off during the week instead. I usually finish my work day at around 7 or 8pm, but if I’m on a deadline or really into what I’m working on I’ll stay in the studio until much later.
Q2. What is your trademark workwear style, and why?
My workwear style is definitely casual! As I work from home most of the time I tend to wear yoga pants, or comfy loungewear, and I have been known to work in pyjamas on occasion.
If I need to go out and meet a client then I’ll wear a pretty dress, or my beloved skinny jeans with some funky boots and an interesting top, big earrings and a gorgeous scarf.
For book launches and exhibitions I’ll go for full on glamour – maxi dress, high heels, the works. Because I work in a creative field.I have quite a lot of leeway with what I wear, and I like to express myself with my clothes. I love putting outfits together and colour is always a big part of my outfit – just like in my illustrations!
3. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To follow my intuition and not try to force myself into accepting traditional advice just because I’ve been told it’s the ‘right way’. It’s taken a few years of experimentation but I’ve found my own ‘right way’ of doing business. It’s unconventional but it works for me, and that’s the most important thing.
Q4. Who is your biggest inspiration?
This is a really difficult question for me because I am inspired by everyone! People fascinate me and the sharing of ideas is a huge source of inspiration. Having said that, I have a few people I look up to immensely: Frida Kahlo, Susannah Conway, Patti Smith, Elizabeth Gilbert, Lisa Conway, and Maira Kalman have all had a big impact on me and my work.
Q5. What’s your next big career goal?
I have a new book coming out in a couple of months called The Creative Compass: An Illustrated Guide to Rediscovering Your Creativity. It’s a book for creative people about making the best use of their creative power. It covers topics like overcoming creative block, finding and managing inspiration, getting organised in a ‘right-brain friendly’ way, and boosting productivity. I’m currently working on an online course based on the book to help people with these issues in a more hands-on way, so my next big challenge is building a valuable (and beautiful) ecourse and delivering it.
Q6. When it comes to work, what has been the best decision you’ve made?
The best decision I’ve made about my work is to follow my heart and only work on projects that excite me. As well as producing my own books and artwork, I also do freelance illustration and book-related jobs (editing, layout design etc), and I’m very picky when it comes to these jobs, about who I work with and what the project is.
Only doing work I believe in makes such a difference to the energy I bring to the project and the quality of my work.
Q7. And what has been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
There have been so many hard lessons along the way – there’s nothing like running a business to force you to deal with all your personal issues! I think the toughest lesson for me has been dealing with money. Not only in terms of the challenges of having a fluctuating income, but also with valuing myself and my work and charging the right amount for my services. It’s an ongoing lesson, but I’m beginning to get the hang of it now.
Q8. What do you believe is the biggest challenge to women in business today?
This may come across as controversial, but I believe that the biggest challenge women in business face is themselves.
I think the most important tool in your toolkit is a trusted group of people who will help to boost you up, and call you out when you’re in the midst of one of these issues.
I see it all over the place, amongst my peers and colleagues, that even the strongest, most talented women out there are still struggling with issues such as self-doubt, imposter syndrome, over-apologising, talking themselves down, not speaking up, and generally feeling like they are ‘not enough’ in some sense.
Need some more careerspiration? Head over to our what to wear to work hub where we have even more inspiring women in business, workwear outfit inspiration and tips and tricks on how to build the ultimate capsule work wardrobe.