Natalia Hubbert is a Ukraine-born illustrator and Fotolia Contributor who now lives and works in Houston, Texas. In addition to editorial and assignment work, Natalia has a robust stock illustration portfolio. Her delicate and organic watercolor paintings of food, kitchen items and everyday objects have gone on to become best sellers. We caught up with Natalia about her career and how she got started in the stock industry.
FOTOLIA: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative background?
Natalia Hubbert: My name is Natalia and I am a self-taught artist and illustrator from Ukraine. I grew up in a small village in the countryside where there were no art schools or classes. I went to university and graduated with two master’s degrees that had nothing to do with art at all. Despite this I was always drawing and sketching in my free time and began to draw my own little books, calendars, greeting cards, and board games when I was a child. Apparently, even back then, I knew I was going to do some sort of creative work in the future.
F: So how did you get started in illustration professionally?
NH: My first illustration job was at a weekly magazine about ten years ago. However, I only recently gained the confidence to call myself a professional illustrator within the last few years. I think I needed that time and experience having worked as a freelance artist on various projects with a multitude of different people and companies to convince myself that I am indeed a professional illustrator!
F: Why did you decide to get into the stock industry?
NH: Honestly? I was bored! My husband got a new job in Houston and we decided to move there. I had to wait a few months before I could work in the US and I had a lot of free time. I was desperate for some sort of work, deadlines and challenges. I wanted to make illustrations that someone would need and love. Plus it would be nice to have some additional income. So I decided to try stock. It’s been a long journey and a big learning curve, but it’s been worth it.
F: What are the benefits of selling your images on Fotoali?
NH: Time. You own your time. You can work on stock content 24/7 for 6 months solid or you can take every second day, week or month off – once you upload your work to Fotolia, it will work and bring you income whether you’re on vacation or at the office. The more you create, the more you understand the buyer and the market. You get better with each design you upload and if you have a good portfolio, stock can become a major source of income.
Also your stock portfolio is one of the most visited portfolios you can have online. If you fill it with good quality content, with the best you can offer, clients will find you and they will ask for more. It’s not just the place where you sell your designs; it’s also the field of your potential clients and commissioners.
F: What are the challenges?
NH: Continuing to work, managing time efficiently, and keeping the level of your work high. You have to stay in tune with what’s trending, what’s popular and what sells. At the same time, you can’t be afraid to try something new, even if there’s no guarantee that it will sell well.
F: Why do you think your stock illustrations have been successful?
NH: I put a bit of my inner world into each of my illustrations, so they are personal to me. I think that is what the buyer sees – a bit of soul behind the painting.
F: Is there a difference between doing assignment illustrations and drawing for stock?
NH: When you are working on assignments you have to make your client happy, which, although interesting, can be much more challenging and even quite stressful at times. Drawing for stock on the other hand, is relaxing and a therapeutic activity for me. I enjoy the process and create the illustrations the way I want to. When I submit stock illustrations I set them free and over time they find their own buyers and sometimes bring me new clients.
F: How would you describe your style?
NH: Oh, that is not an easy question! I have tried many things and worked with that many styles that sometimes I feel totally lost in it all. I would call one part of my creative work comic doodles and the other part digital watercolor illustrations (which is currently my favorite). Watercolors became a large part of my creative process about two years ago after I burned out from doing digital work. After that I decided to go back to basics, drawing and painting by hand. It took me some time to get used to the creative process without all those handy Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+D hot keys!
I love watercolors because they have a special texture and color. I like it when a painting looks a little bit messy, untidy, old-fashioned and rustic. It makes it all the more realistic to me. One of my clients told me that he loved with my stock vegetable illustrations because they have that earthy and traditional feel about them.
F: You have a lot of food illustrations, is that your preferred subject?
NH: I like to paint all sort of food, meals, cooking, and kitchen items. These are my best sellers. People love food! The food industry is massive and there are never enough juicy ham sandwiches, cheesecakes or cookies for food magazines, websites, blogs, recipe books, menus or advertisements. I also like to paint little oddities like cowboy stuff, zodiac signs, home décor and animals. I like to try different things.
F: Where do you find your inspiration?
NH: Pretty much everywhere – nature, outdoors, animals, cooking, home, family, public places, the gym, new places I visit, old places I visited, museums and Instagram, almost anything! The most important thing is to keep a steady balance between creating and burning out.
F: What are you excited to work on in 2017?
NH: One of my biggest goals for 2017 is to learn more about animation. I would love to bring some of my characters and doodles to life. Perhaps I can even sell these as footage on Fotolia! I’m also planning to make some more painted collections and sets, like home décor and furniture. I have a feeling that these will make good sales.
F: Do you have any advice for someone who is looking to get into selling their work on Fotolia?
NH: Be patient and be ready to work hard. People who have never tried contributing to stock may think it’s easy money, but it’s not. There are endless hours, weeks of work, numerous cups of coffee, plenty of saved and lost files, piles of sketches, and many more lists of creative ideas. However, if you are patient, persistent and good at what you do, there will also be satisfaction, success, enjoyment and other mental and material benefits.
You can see more of Natalia’s watercolor illustrations on her Fotolia portfolio.