How Elise Swopes Created Her Brand As An Artist


How Elise Swopes Created Her Brand As An Artist

Elise Swopes is a Chicago-based photographer, designer and artist, as well as a sought-after speaker and host. She has been featured on Vice’s Canon Day Diaries and has collaborated with Adidas, Jordan Brand, GreenLabel, Dos Equis, Beats by Dre and more.

What do you do?

I am a graphic designer and photographer from Chicago, IL. I have a quarter of a million followers on Instagram and I make a living by working with big brands to promote clothing, travel, events and art. A day in my work life (depending on the project) would include client calls, throwing together ideas for marketing, scouting locations, editing on my phone or computer for hours, throwing together approachable copy for captions, and client approval processes.

Photo courtesy of Elise Swopes

What path did you take to get started?

I started making art on a computer when I was a little girl, so graphic design was always something I truly loved. But it wasn’t until I began creating art with my iPhone on Instagram in 2011 that I unknowingly began to create my brand as an artist. I started collecting a lot of followers over time and eventually brands and agencies started realizing that influencers were in an important piece of the marketing puzzle. Today I work on random projects that fall into my email inbox, which can include travel, live tutorials on mobile editing, or simply creating a fun advert for an agency.

What is your background?

I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, about 45 minutes north, very close to Wisconsin. I was homeschooled until I was in 4th grade by my father. He taught me a lot about having an imagination and allowed us to explore ourselves creatively. I had a website when I was in 6th grade and some years after that I started designing album covers and websites for friends. My parents were always helpful and supportive of my love for designing. They bought computers, programs and always provided me the funds to host my own websites. My upbringing was a huge part of why I feel so comfortable creating.

Photo courtesy of Elise Swopes

What resources would you recommend for others looking to do something similar?

Honestly, I don’t know if there’s a book on this. Every single day is a new lesson on how to work through my profession. The influencer market is so new that we just don’t know if it’s even lucrative. I think most of any artists experience in freelance is a never-ending circle of lessons and failures. If you feel lost in something, open Google, but I think it’s best if you use every single one of those resources while making sure you allow yourself to experience the process and fail while blindfolded.

“Having an imagination is a blessing, use it.”

Do you have any tips or insight to share with someone looking to get started?

You really need to love what you do because you will be tested many, many times. You will be tested to give up and change who you are. During that struggle, you will question if it’s worth it but if that love is strong enough, it will never deter you from your true calling. Make sure you are doing it all for the right reasons.

Is there anything else you’d like to add, share or elaborate on?

“Having an imagination is a blessing, use it.”




Quick Start

Create. Imagine. Dream.

Create a portfolio of your work.

Build your social media following.

Consistently post your work to your profile pages.

Don’t give up.

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