Sandra Bowers talks about teaching watercolors on Skillshare.
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this interview today with Sandra Bowers. Sandra has been kind enough to answer my questions on her role as a teacher with Skillshare (affiliate), an online global community for creators. Choose from thousands of online classes or even create one yourself! The classes are presented in a way that you can learn at your own pace with bite size, high quality videos.
Sandra’s classes are very popular right now and are all related to watercolor and how to apply watercolor in different areas of design.
Here’s Sandra in her own words…
Can you introduce yourself to our readers? Where are you from, where are you based now? Do you work from home or have a studio?
Hello! I´m Sandra Bowers, I´m an Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer and I´m originally from beautiful Medellín, Colombia. Now, I´m based in BC, Canada, where I live with my husband, my three cats and my little chihuahua. I work from home and that´s one of my favourite things of working as an Independent Designer.
Have you always been creative? Are you from a creative family?
I was always painting (with markers) for as long as I can remember, and in school I was the one my friends would go to to decorate their letters to their friends and boyfriends, but I never saw it as something I could pursue as a career. My mom and grandma are super creative and for many years they were in the business of making artificial flowers and making floral arrangements, so I was surrounded by that. My Grandfather on my dad’s side was an artist (writer, painter, sculptor). This is the first time I think about this in a long time, these are such nice memories! It makes me feel grateful for being able to create art for a living.
When did you first get into design?
I majored in Communications, then got a postgraduate degree in Project Management and worked on that for a long time, until I realized I needed more creativity and color in my life and started searching for this. I had my own line of products when I lived in Colombia but stopped that when I came to live in Canada in 2014. Here, I started building a portfolio suitable for the US and the international markets and when I got my work permit in March last year, that´s when Sandra Bowers was born and I started selling my designs to Client´s and freelancing.
When did you recognize that you would pursue this path?
Pursue it as a career and not as a hobby? The day I first earned money from one of my illustrations. I realized I could make this passion of mine a full-time job!
Where did you learn your skills and how have they helped you in your current business?
In the Illustration area I´m mostly self-taught. I have taken some Illustration classes in Colombia and online classes like Make Art that Sells, Make it in Design, and Skillshare. Those are great to teach you about the business or technical stuff and I really recommend learning about that because you need to understand the business: contracts, the market, how everything works. I´m also grateful that my business background makes everything much easier because I know how to make that side of my business work. To draw or paint, what teaches you the most is to practice like crazy. Draw every second you have and you´ll get better and better. Also, try to see as many people live painting (or online painting) as you can, you´ll always learn something from the way they do things. Don´t copy them! Just use what you learn to understand how and why they do things and figure out your own path and your own way to do things. Being very very prolific and working very hard every day I have gotten to this point in my business and that dedication and hard work always pay off.
How did you get into teaching with Skillshare? Did you use Skillshare yourself before teaching and do you take classes yourself? Which classes other than yours would you recommend?
I did use Skillshare before I started teaching, and I was (and still am) a Teacher Assistant there. That means I´m always taking new classes and looking at student´s projects and commenting on them and participating in discussions. The staff at Skillshare suggested I created my own class and become a teacher but I didn´t think so at first because I thought my accent would make my classes hard to understand! But I finally decided I wanted to share what I have learned in my journey and that if I could make it easier for at least one person, that would make it worth it. And it has been so fulfilling! I´m so grateful for so many students taking my classes and leaving such nice comments and projects.
Every little thing each Skillshare student posts makes my heart jump up and down with happiness.
There are many great classes… my favourite ones are taught by Elizabeth Olwen, Ana Victoriana and Anne Bollman.
How did you come up with the ideas for your classes?
I have so many ideas for my classes! I´ll try to make as many as I can. Every class answers one question for me: what would I have wanted to learn when I was first starting? And I answer that in my own way. There are millions of different ways to do what I show in my classes, but my approach is to teach what works for me, in the hopes that it will work for other people or that they can adapt what I teach to their own workflow.
How long did it take you to prepare one class? Did you enjoy the experience and will you continue to create classes in the future?
Oh, I sort of answered that in the last question. About preparing the classes, it takes a long time. The ideas are the easiest, the rest of the process is the longest: recording, editing, creating the script, recording voiceovers, creating the pattern or painting, creating class materials and downloads, promoting the class, and looking and commenting on student´s projects and comments. It´s very time consuming but I enjoy it a lot.
What’s the most satisfy thing about being a teacher?
Knowing that sharing something I learned how to do either makes someone happy, teaches them something or just makes them experiment with something new. And seeing student´s projects! There´s one in my Watercolors for Illustrators class (made by Saskia Keultjes) that makes me specially happy because she took her illustration and animated it! Little things like that make me happy.
Tell us a little bit about your business outside of Skillshare and the services you offer. How has your teaching helped your own business?
Apart from being a teacher, I sell my illustrations and patterns and I also work as a freelancer for specific projects. I recently started sending my portfolio out to look for licensing opportunities and have had great response so far, so hopefully that becomes an other area of my business soon. I also paint original watercolors, but only as commissions and when I have time. Teaching has helped me learn a lot about myself, my process and my art and it has also given me a lot of exposure and I have met many great people because of them.
Do you have any special projects you’re working on at the moment? For example; new classes coming up, or something outside of Skillshare that you’d like to share with us?
I launched my new class last week: “Remove Backgrounds from Watercolor Illustrations” (affiliate) and I´m dying to start my next one that will probably be about painting botanical illustrations with watercolors.
What´s taking up the most of my time now is preparing for my debut Tradeshow in May 12th to 16th! I’m going to be exhibiting at Blueprint in New York (Metropolitan Pavilion), so I have a lot of work to do. Come and say hi if you’re around!
What are your future plans, do you have a bigger picture or are you taking it one project at a time?
I take this one day at a time, enjoying the journey, even when it´s hard and bumpy because it’s not always perfect or easy. I have huge dreams but I know I´ll get there by working hard one day at a time.
Which tools can’t you live without?
I can´t live without:
- A pencil and a notepad (as many as I can get my hands on).
- Also a Black ink Gel Pen.
- Other than that I love my watercolors.
- Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
- My Wacom Cintiq 13HD (affiliate).
- The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines (affiliate).
I do enjoy reading a lot but not design books, just literature. My little dog is not a tool but she’s the one thing I really can’t live without!
Where can you be found?
Many thanks to Sandra Bowers for sharing her story with us today.
Sandra’s work is really beautiful! If you’re interested in collaborating or joining her Skillshare classes, then please use the links above. For your first month free with Skillshare , use my affiliate link. Also, don’t forget to follow her social media to keep up-to-date with new courses and what’s going on in her world.
My next interview will be with one of Sandra’s students, Marina Grzanka. So don’t forget to check back in to see how she enjoyed the class and work she completed with her new skills.
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See you next time…