Chelsea Heimlich is an Ohio-based artist on a mission.
Having forged a novel path for her own art career, she’s turned her attention to helping other artists gain exposure and make sales in a challenging industry.
Her collective, The Daily Doodle Art, promotes the idea of artists helping other artists achieve recognition and success.
We spoke to Chelsea about the roots of the collective, her vision for uniting local artists, and how she turned a Zyro website into a communal arts platform.
I thought it would be cool to start a collective
When I first decided to start doing this, I actually had a dead-end job that was really boring. I would draw when I was there and my partner encouraged me to do something with it.
Originally, I started a Patreon and would send hand-drawn doodles in the mail. When I got to the point where I realized hand-drawing 40 doodles to mail out was too much work, I tried my hand at digital illustration.
As people started to take an interest, I had artists reaching out to me asking how I started the Daily Doodle Mail.
I realized that they didn’t really have a platform that they could be selling or displaying their art without paying a fee.
So, that’s how the idea of starting an art collective was born.
Helping oneself through helping others
There’s a small space in downtown Columbus that that houses our artwork. It’s actually a hair salon, so it has great lighting, but there’s art everywhere instead of people getting their hair cut.
I have a number of friends in the art scene, and it really started with a couple of people asking:
“Hey, is it ok if I put my work up in your space?”
I’ve had multiple artists who have approached me. There are also artists I’ve sought out myself.
Most of the time, I’m in the space I’m creating. The only time that’s interrupted is if someone walks into the shop.
It’s allowed me to have an almost private studio space. People coming in are seeing someone creating or looking at what you’re working on, also get a glimpse of the process.
I tend to do more simplistic black line art, which a lot of artists just refer to it as blackwork. I gravitate towards pen and ink because it’s very simple.
Recently, someone came into the store looking for a really beautiful painting of a watercolor, but that’s just not what I specialize in.
But, thanks to the art collective, I know someone who can do it better.
It’s been a really cool and beneficial situation – being able to support other local artists just through referral.
Instagram isn’t enough
I got started with Instagram and, as much as I think it’s a cool way to get your artwork out there, I didn’t necessarily want to make that the primary way you could find other artists.
Once I made the decision to extend outside of myself, I wanted to make sure I had a platform that was truly supportive of the sale of other people’s artwork.
Coming from an agency background, working in digital marketing, I’ve worked with WordPress, HubSpot, and other website builders.
Zyro was a website builder I hadn’t used before. That excites me because I like learning about new things, but I also felt that aesthetically, the templates that Zyro had suited me very well.
I found that the customer support was really good. When I was building my website and asked questions to support, someone would answer me almost immediately. I appreciate that a lot.
What I really like is the automation, like when customers are notified that something is left in their cart with an abandoned cart email, or they’re notified the order has shipped.
The platform does most of the work that is frustrating for me. It automates that work in a way that still feels personal and that I’m able to customize.
People have spoken very highly about the way that they are communicated with, and honestly, that’s not me, it’s Zyro.
Finally, it’s an up and coming builder, and I like being at the forefront of these types of movements.
When you look at our work, it’s a little bit surprising
Becca, Thea, and Betsy are the other artists currently on the website.
Thea is from Buffalo, New York. Her style is similar to mine – it’s simple blackwork. She often draws the female form, and I think her work is beautiful. She’s just really cool.
Betsy does what are called pour paintings, and she does acrylic and oil paintings. So when you look at her style – these marbleized patterns – it’s a lot different from Thea’s.
And Becca is actually a cross-stitch artist. It’s a little bit difficult to tell on the website, but she does micro cross-stitches. Her biggest pieces are about 2.5 inches.
When I first put the collective together, I wanted to have very different artists, and I think I’ve done that.
There are these line drawings that people are familiar with if they know this brand, but there are also cross-stitch designs and oil paintings.
This is outside what people expect to see.
Our path is strategic
I’ve had a lot of conversations with the artists involved about what we would want the brand to look like, or what we would want the brand to represent.
There are some artists that believe we should go down a ‘women supporting women’ path, but I know plenty of male (and at least two transgender) artists who are interested in being a part of the collective.
I’m slow to limit it to any one group of people specifically.
We know we want to grow, and I know I want this to continue, but I want to make sure our path is strategic.
Recently we’ve had a lot of brand brainstorming, to try and figure out how we could extend our tone and voice, who we want to represent, and how we want to be perceived.
I concern myself less with art sales, and more with the connectivity of artists. So for me, success is continuing to grow the brand through, honestly, the work of other people.
I’ll continue producing work and I am excited about that.
But I’m actually more excited about meeting other artists, having their work featured, and continuing to spread the word about these people who are working so hard in an industry that is so difficult to survive in.
Art is one of those things where, you know, you can pay $5,000 for a painting, or you can go to Ikea and pay $20 for a piece of work.
So, I want to find that balance. I want accessible, affordable art for people to consume, but I want it to still be made by an artist, and be unique and custom, and not something you’re going to find in a large retail store.
People are starting to hone in on their creativity
When you look for artwork that is personal, has a story, or is custom, it’s not always expensive, and it is attainable.
For that kind of work, it’s important to shop on a local level and support real people who are working really hard.
We’re living in a time that’s really interesting because you’re seeing the really creative side of people come out in very bizarre ways, whether that’s through social media or baking bread.
It’s really important for us as a society to support those creative efforts because it’s what makes us human.