Random question: You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why? Very specific, but I’d be duck egg blue. And not just because it’s my favourite colour (though it’s probably 50% that), but because it incorporates the two colours I associate with the most: green and blue. Whether it’s the blue of the sea around Cornwall where I live or the green of the trees, there’s something so calming, yet so real, so pretty, so rugged and sometimes even tremulous about them.
Are you a bold introvert? Have you always been one? Absolutely. I’ve always been labeled as ‘quiet’ by people who don’t know me and ‘never stops talking’ by those who do. I’m shy– I’ve always been shy– big groups of people intimidate me straight back into my shell and meeting new people causes unbridled anxiety, but at the same time, I’m confident in who I am and my passions, so get me talking about animals, my favourite books, illustration, places I love… you’ll never shut me up.
I see bold as the ability to step out of my comfort zone, to meet the new people, to speak to the large crowd, even when the introvert in me is terrified. And I can do that. It takes me a while, longer than it might take others, and there may be one or two freakouts and steps backward along the way, but with determination and a pep talk or two from myself to myself, I usually get there eventually. And it nearly always opens exciting new doors. Being a bold introvert doesn’t mean you’re no longer anxious. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there, so long as you keep pushing and keep trying, you’ll get there in the end.
What do you do? For a long time, I didn’t know how to answer this. I think it was a case of imposter syndrome. I’m an illustrator and I have my own business selling my designs as cards, mugs, and prints. It’s called Abbie Imagine and my main shop is over on Etsy www.abbieimagine.etsy.com, but I have also recently launched my own website www.abbieimagine.co.uk. I’ve been doing this for five years now, and it’s only this year that I’ve started answering this question with confidence and self-belief.
You see other illustrators who are killing it with their style, their achievements, and you end up comparing yourself to them, questioning whether you can really consider yourself on the same level or as a peer because you don’t have as many followers on Instagram, you don’t have as many sales on Etsy, as many stockists. But actually, none of that matters.
I draw for a living. It’s my 9-5 (actually, it’s my 8am-11pm because I’m terrible at not working- my brain never switches off). I work closely with several different companies and I’ve built my own little corner of the internet where people can see something I’ve drawn, and recognise it as mine without needing to see the tag, which is incredible and more than I could ever have dreamed of.
As a side note, I’m also a writer. I’ve written a book from start to finish and I fully intend to get it published at some point… as soon as I let the perfectionist in me stop editing. It’s all about magic and witches and covens and families at war. As a kid, when asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I always said I wanted to write a book and draw the pictures. Well, I draw pictures, now I just need to publish the book!
What are you most proud of? How far I’ve come with my business. When I first decided to open up my Etsy shop, so many people said to me, “Yeah, but no one actually buys this stuff. You can’t make a living by drawing.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s difficult. There have been a few times I’ve thought about giving up. There will probably be a few more times in the future! Sales aren’t always consistent, but then sometimes sales are absolutely bonkers.
As an over-thinker, it can be extremely difficult not to worry and to get out of my own head, and as an introvert, saying yes to new opportunities can be daunting to the point of almost running away. It’s a constant game of balancing and trying not to let emotions, good or bad, overwhelm you, but at the end of the day, it’s something I did myself. Completely and entirely. It’s my passion and heart and when I sit and think about the fact that thousands of people around the world have something I created in their homes… it’s mad– in a good way!
Do you feel that your personality trait has helped you achieve your goals? I think so. Sometimes, I get frustrated at myself for not being able to just put myself out there at the click of a finger, for having to think and think and think some more about a direction I want to take my business in, but at the same time, being an over-thinker is what has made me a success. It means I’m always pushing myself to do better, always ensuring every product I send out is perfect, that every customer is as happy as they possibly can be with the service or commission, which in turn makes them come back and tell their friends.
There is a lot of risks involved in growing a creative business, and that’s not something I find particularly easy as an introvert, but having the ability to quietly contemplate every step and direction that could be taken, to analyse each possibility and forge a plan based on those things has helped me bring my business to where it is today. It might not be as big as someone else who started at the same time as me, but it’s exactly where I need it to be for where I am right now. I have a plan, I know what I’m doing, where I’m going and I’m seeing success at a pace that suits me and suits my personality, which is a lovely feeling.
What advice do you have for introverts who are worried about chasing their dreams? Way back when I first started my Etsy shop, I drew out the quote, “Never quit your daydream.” It wasn’t done very well and when I look back at it now, I cringe at the design, but it also makes me smile. Because I can cringe. Because I didn’t quit. I wanted to do what I love for a living and out of pure determination, even though I wasn’t very good at all in the beginning, I’ve achieved it. So many people told me I couldn’t. So many people still to this day seem a bit confused when I tell them what I do and that yes, it is my full-time job.
I’ve had failures and I’ve cried a bit. I’ll have more failures and cry a little bit more, but it’s the not giving up that determines where you go. If you love what you do, don’t ever listen to anyone telling you, you can’t. You can. You can do whatever you want- just don’t give up. Never quit your daydream.
Bio: Abbie is a 29-year-old illustrator and small business owner living in Cornwall, UK. She’s owned Abbie Imagine for 5 years and her designs can be found all over the internet. Abbie is a proud animal mum of two rabbits and a border collie. She spends most of her free time exploring the Cornish countryside to gather inspiration for her work.