How Artist Aramis Hamer used YouTube Vids to build her fanbase

How Artist Aramis Hamer used YouTube Vids to build her fanbase
Aramis Hamer paints. Photo Credit: Isaac Pruden

Aramis Hamer creates large-scale, color-saturated acrylic paintings evoking spirituality—specifically the divine feminine. She also documents her creative life and artistic process through YouTube videos.  By sharing her life and journey with her audience, Hamer has built up a fanbase to help support her career as a visual artist through her Patreon channel.

Whipsmart asked her about her journey from full-time nurse to full-time working artist, how she uses YouTube to promote her business, and how to make connections—online and IRL— that bring new adventures and creative success. And read about some of the other Instagram artists she finds inspiration from.

You started your career as Registered Nurse, but made the decision to channel your passion for healing into a career as a painter. Did you have any fears about moving from such a stable job to something less predictable? What gave you the confidence to make the leap? 

Omg, I was scared as h*ll! This is part of the reason that I didn’t quit my job overnight. I actually don’t recommend that artists leave their job if they haven’t built a supportive and paying audience to fund this transition. 

I slowly transitioned (out of nursing) over-two years from being full-time, to part-time, then per-diem, and finally left for good. During this two year transition phase, I showed my artwork at any and every venue that allowed me. I sold my work at Summer festivals throughout Washington. 

At these events, I asked people to join my newsletter and encouraged them to follow me on Instagram. This helped me to stay in touch with my audience. I would notify them when I was doing another festival and shared links to shop on my website. I started to create more murals for corporations and small business owners. Those are always bigger payouts, so over time my art-money started to outgrow my nurse-money.

Eventually, I was able to completely leave my hospital employment. Truly, my supporters gave me the confidence to leave my job. They continued to purchase my art, shared my socials with their friends, and recommended me for paying opportunities. They continued to show up for me so I continued to share my work. 

I say all the time that I am not self-made, I’m “community-made.” From a financial perspective, I started to observe the cyclical patterns of high-earning months versus low-earning months. I knew around the summer I would earn a lot because of the festivals, but I remembered that by September sales would slow down so I had to save. I would also prepare for the coming months because in November and December holiday shopping would be on the rise. 

Witnessing the cycles also boosted my confidence to leave because I was prepared for the money fluctuations so they didn’t scare me. 

You have an amazing YouTube channel with lots of great videos about you and your work. Why did you decide to use YouTube as a tool to promote your business? 

YouTube has been so much fun for me! I treat all of my platforms like different friend groups and name them, too (ie. E-fam, Tube Team, Gram Fam, Facebook Friends, and Patreon Pandas). 

YouTube is a place where I can create longer format content for us to go deep. I didn’t initially set it up to promote my business. First, I genuinely wanted to document my artistic journey. 

I thought to myself: if Picasso had a YouTube channel, I would binge-watch all his videos to learn everything possible. I, personally, think he was a marketing genius. Creating the channel was my personal art diary, but also to leave a roadmap for other creators. 

I identify more as a “working artist” instead of a “teaching artist.” But I value teachers so much and wanted to contribute to the collective knowledge share. I hope that viewers can watch my videos to learn more about my work, but also gain artistic and business knowledge on our to grow theirs as well. 

The business promo was definitely a cherry on top! YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, so the organic reach is great with proper search engine optimization.

Aramis Hamer with 2 of her murals. Photo Credit: Isaac Pruden

What are some vital things creatives should keep in mind when setting up their own YouTube channels to support their businesses?

Include all links back to your online store and other platforms. When my videos are uploaded, I share them far and wide. I post the link in my swipe-up IG stories, on my Facebook page, in a Patreon post, and with my email subscribers. 

I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that YouTube is a long game. To see actual growth, you have to be consistent and reliable. You want your audience to know when you’ll be back. 

I recently started ending my videos with: “I’ll see you next week.” This way, even if I don’t show up on their home screen because of the algorithm, they’ll know to come back to my channel next week for my latest upload. I include my name in my video tags. Because of this “aohamer” is one of the top searched tags for my videos, including “studio tour” and “canvas roll.”

How do you think the pandemic has shifted the value of art in our society? And how can artists use this shift to empower themselves to be better business people and get paid what they’re worth?

As a Gemini, I view the two sides of all coins ;) In one aspect, it has lowered the value as the economic climate has stiffed. On the other hand, it has risen because art is what’s keeping people sane during these times. 

We’re listening to music, binge watching movies on Netflix, choreographing TikTok dances, rediscovered our love for gardening, and finally have the time to explore watercolor painting. 

I feel like a lot of people are witnessing businesses close due to the pandemic and want to help in some way. I’ve heard from my collectors that by supporting artists they feel empowered. They feel like they are making a difference in a world where we can sometimes feel helpless. Individuals are looking for ways to support many marginalized and underserved groups as our stories are being shared. I encourage artists to make themselves available to people who want to help. 

Don’t be shy to share your Paypal links, Cashapp name, and online store. 

Supporters shouldn’t have to go through a maze to contribute to your business. There are many people looking for artists to pour into, but I find a lot of artists haven’t even set up methods to receive. I call myself the “link-in-bio b*tch.” I will share a link in a heartbeat LOL! 

Empower yourself by optimizing your platforms to receive money. Create your website. Start a Patreon. Hang your work up at coffee shops with your info printed on the price tags. Put yourself out there. Not everybody is financially hurting in this pandemic and a lot of those people want to share their energy with artists.

We hear often that creatives have a hard time finding work with giant companies, not because they don’t have a need to hire creatives, simply because they don’t have access to the folks that are hiring. You have worked with corporations like Amazon and Liberty bank. How did you connect with those companies to do creative work for them? 

Individuals who work at giant companies are also community members and people that we run into at the grocery store. One of the greatest ways to work with bigger organizations is just get connected to the community. I have a genuine love for people and I believe social relationships is one of the highest currencies. 

One day, I took my mom and aunt to a dance class in the Central District when they came to town from Chicago. The instructor was a dear friend. A few months later, she referred me to her friend who was given the task to find a local artist to paint a pair of Nikes for Seattle Storm’s MVP Breanna Stewart.

I was one of the co-founders for an entrepreneurial epicenter called “Black Dot” on 23rd and Union. One of my business partners, community leader and activist, Wyking Garrett, recommended me to the Liberty Bank creative team. I was familiar with the team because I had attended creative workshops and hung my work in their gallery months prior. 

You’ll also be surprised who’s following you on Instagram. I received a direct message (DM) from the owner of an architecture firm. He literally was one of my Instagram supporters and is now a dear friend, collector, and patron. He owns the building where Amazon is leasing for corporate offices, so my contract wasn’t even with Amazon. 

To me, it all goes back to relationships and putting myself out there. With this digital age, we still rely heavily on word of mouth. Just about everyone knows someone in Seattle that works for Amazon. If you keep your personal relationships intact, your business ones are bound to follow. 

Aramis Hamer in her studio. Photo Credit: Isaac Pruden

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