When it comes to making a living, let’s face it, we’d all love to make ends meet by doing something we love, something which ignites our soul and is so enjoyable that it doesn’t really feel like a job at all…
One person who’s living this colourful, and very enviable dream, is Leicester’s Danielle Tomlinson, who spends her days painting an array of wild and domestic animals in her spacious studio, just a stone’s throw from the city’s Curve theatre.
Her paintings are stylish, distinctive and highly sought after, with clients commissioning work from across the globe.
“Australia, America, France, Spain, New Zealand – you name it, I’ve probably got something there!” she says proudly.
The fact that Danielle has only been painting professionally for just over two years, is quite remarkable really. That she’s been able to buy a house as a direct result of her profession, at the age of just 24, is even more so.
So what’s her secret?
Well, apart from the obvious incredible aesthetic appeal of her paintings, Danielle says that the Covid-19 pandemic had a big hand in kick-starting her creative career success.
“Covid really helped me. It sounds awful, I know everyone had a really bad time, but for me as an artist, it was great,” she revealed.
“Everyone was at home, everyone had spare cash, and everyone was on their phones, so it kind of just catapulted my career at that time.
“It was really weird how it happened,” she added. “It was just like a snowball effect really and I was able to find my style quite quickly, which people seem to like.
“I started out doing little pet portraits as a sort of side hustle, but the paintings and the animals have just got bigger and bigger over time. It helps that most people love animals, including me of course, so there’s always big demand!”
Danielle’s current waiting list for commissions is over four months long, with animal lovers keen to get their hands on one of her unique and wildly wonderful creations.
She currently boasts over 16,000 followers on Instagram, with admirers flocking to view the amazing variety of animals she brings to life in her striking style.
“Social media has had a big hand in my success, for sure,” says the artist, who uses it to connect easily with thousands of potential customers from across the world.
“With social media, you literally have the whole world at your fingertips.
“It’s made connecting with customers across the world so much easier. I do most of my sales through Facebook and ship internationally from right here in Leicester.”
Despite her appreciation of social media however, (from a business perspective at least), Danielle says that her reason for making animals her primary subject matter, is to bring people away from technology, and back to the natural world.
“I’ve been passionate about wildlife ever since I was a child, but sadly, I think we’re a species which is losing touch with nature,” said the animal lover, who grew up watching David Attenborough documentaries.
“I want all my paintings to stop people in their tracks and take them away from their screens for a moment in order to appreciate the wonderful world that surrounds us.”
Danielle is grateful that she’s been able to pursue a career that she’s so passionate about – one which combines two of her greatest loves; animals and art.
“I’m very lucky. What I do is not a hobby and it’s not a job – it’s a ‘jobby!’” she says.
She is a big advocate for encouraging others to do what they love as a career. In fact, she regularly goes into schools to encourage youngsters to pursue their passions.
“I’ve done a few career talks at schools now, and a lot of people don’t think being an artist is a tangible career. I know I thought this way when I was growing up, which is why I didn’t choose to study it at university,” revealed the artist, who previously made a name for herself as a successful swimmer.
“However, if you treat it as a business and you market yourself right, there’s no reason why you can’t do something you love, especially in the world we live in now.
“Obviously luck comes into it as well, but if you work hard, are self-motivated and take it seriously, then you can turn your passion into a business.
“I really enjoy art, it makes me happy, and if you’re happy, you’re more likely to succeed,” she added.
Her advice for those looking to turn their passion into a career, is just to “go for it” and to “have confidence in your work.”
“The hardest part is literally just posting your work and getting it out there. When I first started, It was quite daunting. It’s like putting your heart on a chopping block!” she told Pukaar.
“However I got past that, and so glad that I did. I’m doing really well at the moment and am really grateful.
“Seeing my work on the walls of beautiful homes around the world is such an honour – it makes me proud, and that’s the real payoff.”
To find out more about Danielle’s work, visit: www.danielletomlinsonart.com
By Louise Steel