Number twenty-six of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Stuart Roper.
Who are you and what do you do?
I have multiple hats:
- I am a graphic designer. I work with businesses and charities to create a complete brand identity including logo design and corporate identity. I have worked on diverse projects from the OxTrails project, designed to increase the number of visitors coming to the Vale of White Horse, to my recent work with a training company.
- I am an illustrator. I have a specific style and have illustrated tourism maps, sign boards, books – both children and adult and greeting cards
- I paint and have exhibited in galleries as well as painting commissions
- I write and perform music. I have written and performed the theme tune for a set of videos from a training company, I perform live and I help others to perform.
I have found Social Media for the illustrator, painting and music sides of my business invaluable. Social Media is a perfect medium to share visual and audio works.
I share my illustrations and paintings on my Facebook page. Although the number of likes of the actual page is only about 100, I often get a reach of over 300 people seeing my posts. It is a visual medium and is immediate – it is easier to share my illustrations on my Facebook page than on my website.
I use Pinterest to create boards of places I’ve been. For example I was recently in Cornwall and did quite a bit of painting and illustrating. I created a Cornwall board and shared a number of the paintings. It is a good way of judging the interest of particular pieces before approaching galleries.
LinkedIn is more business orientated I find, though I have included examples of my work on my profile. I share and connect with clients I have worked with in the past when I did more graphic design work. To me, LinkedIn feels clunky so I do use it less than Facebook and Pinterest.
I also have a Facebook Page for my music. People use it to make bookings.
What about Copyright?
I used to be very concerned about copyright and yes it is an issue. I am becoming more laid back though. When I scan in my illustrations and paintings I always upload a low resolution copy which means that if somebody does decide to print it out the quality won’t be very good. I also ensure that my website is always the source on images I upload to Pinterest. In reality, I’m getting my images in front of people in a way that I couldn’t do before social media, so it is worth the risk. If somebody likes the image, they can either keep a low resolution print or purchase a high resolution print or the original from me. Even if somebody just keeps the low resolution copy, I still get satisfaction from the fact that somebody likes what I do.
I guess the difference from photography is that it is unlikely that somebody will get commercial gain from a low resolution copy of one of my illustrations.
Can you share a Personal Success Story?
I have definitely found business from using social media. I use it to develop relationships and allow people to know who I am. People buy people which is particularly true in my business. Some recent success stories.
- I wrote and illustrated a book about my dog visiting Wantage because I wanted to show tourist organisations that writing a children’s book about an area was a good way of getting families to visit the area. I created an Issu book and shared on all my social media. I was contacted by somebody in Australia who liked the book and wanted to share it with her contacts. I have also had lots of people on Twitter and Facebook sharing and commenting on the book and wanting a copy. I will probably print the book as a result. Eventually I hope to get more book illustration work – but it is a slow burn and is all part of building my reputation.
- Due to sharing my illustrations and comments on Facebook, I have been contacted by a friend of a friend who commissioned a new large piece of work from me.
- An old contact on LinkedIn has recently contacted me about some graphic design work.
- A lady from London searched Google for “Oxfordshire artist” and found my website and social media profiles. This led to yet another commission.
Can you give our readers a top tip?
- If in doubt about posting an image or an opinion, don’t!
- Engage with people – groups or individuals.
- Say something pertinent, interesting or funny so people will want to talk to you.
- Keep on top of the technology so you can use it for your benefit.