Brittany Bolster of EddieSketti
Updated: Sep 13, 2019
One thing I've got to say about working in a craft store is that you meet some truly talented individuals both customers and employees. Brittany of EddieSketti is an extremely talented young artist I'm privileged to now call friend.
Misty: Please tell me a little bit about yourself.
Brittany: I'm a nonbinary freelance/comic artist in my early-mid twenties from the Seattle area. I also currently do part-time work at a veterinary hospital where I've been learning a lot and get to spend most of my day working with a variety of animals, which has been a great opportunity and very inspiring artistically. Apart from working, I enjoy caring for my own pets, playing video games and traveling.
Misty: What lead you to start EddieSketti?
Brittany: I'd wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember, but there were times when I wondered if I actually wanted to draw for a living or just draw for myself. Drawing as EddieSketti is a combination of both.
Misty: Do you remember the moment you realized this was your creative calling?
Brittany: I don't think it was actually until recent years, despite having been taking art commissions and such for a little while, that I really started to get serious about trying to pursue art as a career. It had always been something I said I was going to do and others had envisioned for me growing up, but when I started working part-time jobs in high school and college, I started thinking that maybe for the sake of an easier source of income I should just stick to art as a hobby. It didn't take long for me to realize that working for other people didn't bring the same satisfaction as working for myself and creating the things I wanted to create. I'd say only within the last year have I really begun to treat my art as a business and work toward turning it into something sustainable.
Misty: How long have you been running EddieSketti?
Brittany: About...9 years now. It started off as an alias I used to display my artwork online, but 2009 was about when I gained enough confidence to try offering art commissions and selling my artwork.
Misty: Where did the inspiration for your creative business concept come from? Brittany: I had been a part of a few online art communities such as Deviantart and Fanart-central (going waaay back lol) since I was about 11 years old. I think being apart of that and getting to see what other artists all around the world were creating and how they were marketing themselves was really where I started to try to find my place in it all. I became pretty familiar with seeing artists offering commissions and home-made merch items. Not only was it really inspiring, but the people doing it seemed to have a lot of fun with it--and that's definitely been my own experience so far.
Misty: What do you love most about running a creative business?
Brittany: I think...the ability to share my stories and my personal take on the world with others, and even more than that, seeing them respond positively to it. It's one of the best feelings in the world.
Misty: What do you consider most unique about EddieSketti?
Brittany: For awhile I felt really unsure about whether or not there was anything unique about what I was offering. It's hard to find your place in a sea of artists all creating things that seem so inspired and unique. Instead of pushing myself though, I think I found my own 'uniqueness' just by going about life. I got the inspiration for my ongoing webcomic, Grim Café one night while working at my job in custom picture framing. Spending some time on the characters and story and realizing how much my own experience and biases have added to the overall concept makes me feel like I've found something that's very uniquely my own, and it's been fun to share it with others.
Misty: What would you be doing if you weren't a creative entrepreneur? Brittany: I'd probably just be working more hours at a job for someone else. I've been lucky enough to do jobs outside of art that I've enjoyed and are still relatively within my realm of interest...even so, they haven't been nearly as fulfilling in the way art has.
Misty: What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
Brittany: Being able to express thoughts and ideas in a way that seems to be understood and enjoyed by others. I've always struggled social anxiety and variety of other demons that make verbalizing my thoughts and feeling understood difficult. Art is just more comfortable, and in some ways, it feels like a more accurate expression than words.
Misty: How did you develop an interest in creating freelance artwork?
Brittany: I think I chose freelance largely in reading about the experiences of others in the online artist communities I was apart of. Before considering freelance, I had always wanted to be a character concept artist for a movie or video game company. Reading about the highly competitive industry, the burnout, and the lamenting of other artists who'd actually gotten there pouring all their energy into another person's concept at the expense of their personal projects was what made me start to second-guess the idea. Another thing was school--my family and I never had the money for the fancy art degree that seemed to be a prerequisite in some of the fields I was looking at, and I wasn't comfortable with the idea of taking out a loan for school. I took visual communications courses at community college with the money I got from working, but even as I was learning more about the creative industry, I was realizing more and more that what I really wanted was to pursue my own ideas as an artist.
Misty: Was creativity part of your upbringing?
Brittany: Definitely. My mom has always been artistic and made sure to expose my sister and I to a variety of the arts at very young ages. My dad was also a big fan of Marvel comics and Playstation games--he let me play my first one when I was 3--all of which was a large source of inspiration and fueled a desire to make stories and characters of my own.
Misty: Were you a creative/artistic child growing up?
Brittany: Mom tells me I've been drawing since I could hold a pencil. Thinking back, it's really all I remember wanting to do. I would draw my favorite characters while watching cartoons, and the animals I saw in my books. I had a really hard time making friends and socializing, so a lot of times I would use my doodles as a means to draw people in and start communication with them.
Misty: You're a new addition to a crayon box, what color are you and why?
Brittany: Blue, maybe a little closer to a teal. I've always liked blue, and green has been an identifying color for me, too. So teal. Colors are hard to explain.
Misty: What does a day-in-the-life of Brittany Bolster consist of?
Brittany: An inconsistent sleep schedule (though it's been getting a little better), coffee and food for fuel, lots of animal care, inspiration time (playing games, looking at other peoples' art/comics/manga, getting caught up on TV shows), and maybe about 4-6 hours of creating, often times with my husband or sister just hanging out nearby (and making sure I remember to eat lol). I try to maintain a balance of knocking things off my to-do list while not spending so long on projects that I burn myself out. As long as I get enough done in the day without overdoing it, I generally maintain a sense of accomplishment.
Misty: When did you start creating freelance artwork?
Brittany: Technically since my sophomore year of high school. I hadn't started publicly going by 'EddieSketti' yet, but I was known as 'Eddie' and 'Sketti' separately. I was offered my first-ever art commission by my late math teacher that year, who really enjoyed seeing the things I'd create in art class. After that I started offering commissions publicly online, and the interest of a few classmates helped give me the confidence to start selling my artwork.
Misty: How do you choose your projects, stories and characters?
Brittany: I really like characters I can relate to, so a lot of my characters and stories tend to be based on my own experiences. I like concepts that challenge social norms and peoples' senses of morality (which is a pretty large theme in Grim Café), and I think a lot of the stuff I like to create focuses on a hard-fought sense of acceptance, comfort, and belonging.
Misty: What's your favorite part of the day?
Brittany: Mm...it's either when I first wake up (on days when I don't have to set an alarm lol) or in the evening/wee hours when I'm in the thick of creating something I'm really excited about.
Misty: What words do you live by?
Brittany: "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." I kind of try to maintain that no matter where I end up, I'll always have a lot more to learn and that it's important to keep an open mind when presented with conflicting ideas.
Misty: What was your creative mission when you started out? Has it changed?
Brittany: I'm not sure...I think it's just developed more, if anything. I always liked the idea of having an ongoing webcomic/story that I was really passionate about, but none of my previous story ideas really had a specific theme or a message that I really wanted to relay. Grim Café certainly does, and it's comprised of so many different interests of mine which keeps it fun and interesting to work on.
Misty: How would you like people to remember you and EddieSketti?
Brittany: That's a hard question lol...I think I'd like to be remembered as someone who wouldn't let circumstances get in the way of what I wanted to achieve, and who wasn't limited by fear or short-comings. For my art, I'd like the concepts to be comforting, thought-provoking, and maybe a little bit challenging at times.
Misty: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
Brittany: For the time being, I'm still sort of on a high from my recent trip to Japan. I'd always wanted to go, but I never thought I'd be able to go so soon. Being able to overcome several fears and setbacks to make it there and experience it was one of the most inspiring things I've ever done for myself, and from there I think I felt like achieving a career as an artist was the only real goal left I had previously thought of as 'unattainable'. I don't think that anymore, which is an achievement in and of itself for me.
Misty: To what do you attribute your success?
Brittany: I think...the biggest part was getting past my own way of thinking. There were a lot of people around me growing up who had more resources and opportunities available to them than I initially had, and for a long time I allowed it to make me think I had less of a shot at making my own dreams a reality. I'm more at a place now where I feel like as long as I work hard for it, I could potentially do anything--which for someone who tends to spend a lot of time thinking on the negative, is a relatively new concept for me lol.
Misty: What's your biggest struggle?
Brittany: I think one of my biggest struggles is the fear of not performing to my own standard--which is something I know a lot of artists struggle with. You have an idea in your head of the way something should look or what it should convey, and if your skills don't quite reach that, it's incredibly frustrating. I'm trying to get better and take comfort in the fact that as long as I keep up the pace and continue to stretch the limits of my comfort zone, my ability will only increase from here.
Misty: What tips would you give to someone trying to break into the freelance artwork industry?
Brittany: I'm still learning that myself lol...but what I've found as an artist is that if you spend a lot of time practicing and working on your skill and sharing the results with others, people are bound to notice you eventually--especially if you're posting things often and catering to a niche field of interest. Find your passion, find the people who share that passion, and figure out the most effective way to connect with them.
Misty: If you had one piece of advice to give someone starting out, what would it be?
Brittany: Don't stop practicing, don't stop trying...it can be really hard getting to where you want to be and a lot of times it'll seem impossible, but as long as you keep working toward what you want, I think you can find a way to get to it. The older I get, the more I'm starting to realize that the gap between a dream and its success is really just a refusal to give up; people that persist enough to get somewhere, generally eventually do.
Misty: What's your least favorite part of being a creative entrepreneur?
Brittany: I've had to research and figure out a lot of things on my own which can be really tough when you're trying to find the best way to do something you've never tried before...but at the same time, once you do get it figured out and look back on the result, it's nice being able to say you've made it there on your own.
Misty: Looking back what's the one thing you'd do differently?
Brittany: Honestly, I wish I hadn't put so much pressure on myself when trying to improve--it's something I still struggle with. It's difficult to be patient sometimes and let time take its course when it comes to what I want to have accomplished, I guess...but trying to do too much at once and expecting myself to be at a certain level I haven't quite reached yet generally only leaves me feeling burnt out and depressed.
Misty: What's the most important lesson you've learned as a creative entrepreneur?
Brittany: I've learned a lot, mostly through trial and error and just seeing what other artists are doing and what works for them. I think an important lesson I've learned is that art is relative; regardless of your style or subject matter, there's generally always an audience out there somewhere who's going to be receptive to what you have to offer...it's just a matter of connecting with them.
Misty: Does EddieSketti support/help your local community? How so? Brittany: I try! A lot of my friends/family have local businesses of their own, and I try to support them in the same way others have supported me. My friend recently opened a café in town and it's already been a huge source of inspiration to me, and I've shared some of that with other friends/followers in hopes of getting their place some attention. I also recently started drawing a few favorite client pets from the veterinary hospital I work at as practice, and giving prints to their owners. It's a small thing, but it's obvious it means a lot to them. I'm always open to ways that I can use my art to help and encourage others.
Misty: Are there any special causes EddieSketti contributes to?
Brittany: Sharing my friends' work and supporting them by whatever means I can has been a primary way for me to contribute to others through my business so far. I may look into some other options once things grow a bit and I have the audience and the means to do so, like doing a charity auction/fund raiser, etc. There are a lot of causes I care about and would like to contribute more to, particularly with those dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters across the world, the recent separations of immigrating parents/children in the US, gender and LGBT equality, Christian spirituality and its treatment of the aforementioned groups, environmental prosperity, domestic and wild animal welfare, etc...we live in a pretty messy world and I'd just like to see it become a better place for everyone.
Misty: Where do you sell your freelance artwork?
Brittany: For the most part, my commission sales are conducted online through my website (www.eddiesketti.com) and merch sales (prints, mugs, stickers, etc. featuring my designs) are processed through my online store (EddieSketti on Redbubble.com). This year I've been working toward expanding that, which will also become more of an option as my audience grows. I've been researching, making, and gradually stocking physical items I've made to sell at anime and comic conventions--something I've never done before, but have recently decided I'd really like to try. I'd also like to try creating a new online store where I can sell and ship to people directly (without the use of third-party sites like Redbubble) when I have more of the means to do so.
Misty: What's next on the horizon for you and EddieSketti? Brittany: Hopefully, lots of things! Like I said, I'm hoping to move more in the direction of selling at conventions and have been looking into making more quality, physical merch items available for sale. I'd also like to continue to grow my Patreon and continue working on Grim Café, eventually to the point of making printed volumes available to readers. (I'm hoping to have volume one printed at the end of chapter 5)
Misty: Any parting words for our readers?
Brittany: If you've read this far, thank you. If you've ever supported me in any way, thank you. I've only gotten this far by the encouragement and support of others, and it means so much that people enjoy what I create enough to help me grow and develop it.