How I went from flight attendant to full-time digital artist
Bronte Jasica is a talented freelance artist based in Auckland, New Zealand and the creator of Done By Bronte, an art brand specialising in minimalist print designs. At the start of 2020, she made the leap from flight attendant to full time digital artist, creating her original prints and custom designs using her Wacom Cintiq 16.
How did you first get started in digital art? What drew you to it in the first place?
My answer might shock you. I guess I am still what you’d call a digital art novice. In the upcoming questions, you will read that Done By Bronte only appeared on the scene in the early months of 2020. But in my defence, I have always loved art. From an early age, art was massively encouraged by both my amazing parents and the people we surrounded ourselves with. To push the message I’m putting across, I was that kid at day-care who not only didn’t rush art time to be allowed to go outside to play but begged the teachers to not make me go outside and let me stay in and paint all day.
Fast forward to my high school years, you could without a doubt always find me in either the art room or the photography room working on current and upcoming projects. Through the years my love for art form only grew and grew. Then my 20’s arrived and it was time for me to start getting my first job and becoming more active socially. Like I imagine it’s the same for most people my age, a lot of hobbies we once spent a lot of time on, slowly drop off due to lack of time. But then! 2020 rolled around and COVID-19 came into the picture and no one’s life would ever be the same. I couldn’t have ever guessed it would change my life in the most positive way possible. It was three days before New Zealand was going into full lockdown, that I made the spur of the moment decision to buy my Wacom Cintiq 16, and here I am now.
Your story is such an interesting one. From flight attendant to a digital artist, how did you decide that you wanted to take that leap?
I guess you could say I didn’t actually get to make that decision, the universe made it for me. I had only recently gone through the long and gruelling training process to become a Certified Flight Attendant and had managed to squeeze in ten months of air time before the big and scary COVID-19 hit us like a ton of bricks. As mentioned above, New Zealand went into level four lockdown in April and I had made the crazy decision to purchase my Wacom with no real idea what I was going to do with it. Fast forward one week and I found myself signing up to create the Done By Bronte Instagram account. Come May, I got the dreaded call that my role with the Airline had been made redundant. So finally, I said to myself “Ok, let’s really give this a go”.
Was changing your career a hard choice to make? What do you feel like was the driving force behind that decision?
Call me cliché but I’ve always lived by the motto “What’s meant to be will be”. At the time I felt a huge sense of loss, having come from a job I had only ten short months at, it felt like the end of an era. But because I had been working on Done By Bronte the past month and it has been building a really interested and supportive following, it felt like a new door had opened and like the decision had been made for me.
Also, I think for so many people it’s encouraged from a young age that you find your job or craft and you stick to you. But we live in a time where there are almost infinite job titles and things to try, so why not try as many as you want? That is something I like to remind myself, that I’m not limited to one thing forever.
What was the biggest challenge in building an audience for your art on Instagram?
Just starting was the hardest for me! Having the courage to put my first work out there and wait to see how people would receive it. I think it helped because we were in lockdown and let’s be honest, none of us were used to having this much time on our hands! It gave me that creative outlet and ability to connect with a multitude of amazing and creative people.
Once I started I’d say the next thing in line in terms of challenges is constantly showing up. I’m lucky to have a dedicated and loving audience who want to see my work, what my process looks like and even day to day life. I’m human and with that comes bad days, days you might not be in the mood to create or document your life. It took me a while to find a healthy balance between creating content and engaging with my audience but also realising that it’s ok to not share everything. And that just like experiencing an artist block, there is such a thing as Social Media Block, don’t rush or beat yourself up, it will return.
How do you start your art process?
Never the same way. Sometimes I am only halfway through my current project and all of a sudden I get an idea or urge to start yet another. Sometimes I feel the need to physically draw out my idea before starting work on my Wacom. It can take me days to even think up an idea for my next project. Another thing I tend to do is find the colours I want to use before even thinking of an idea. That way it challenges me to find an idea that will sit nicely with the pre-chosen colours. Once I have either the palette or concept ready, I just go for it.
How would you describe your art style? How did you find your art style?
Different. I think typically most artists are known for their one or two signature styles, I like to go against the grain and aim to be an artist who works within multiple styles. There are too many colours and textures out there to choose and then stick with. By default I think I found my style by the classic idea of trial and error, I quickly found what I loved and what I didn’t like.
What inspires your work? Where’s your biggest inspiration?
I’m sure everyone would say this, but Pinterest truly is a girl’s best friend. For me, the biggest thing I will pull from Pinterest is colour ideas. From a fun colour mix in an interior design shot to being exposed to a new texture, I haven’t ever used. Along with Pinterest, I have to say my day to day experiences are a massive inspiration. Small things I see, I find myself thinking about how I could include them in my pieces.
Every piece you do seems to have a particular colour palette. Are the colour palettes inspired by anything in particular?
Commitment issues? There is something about sticking to one specific colour palette that gives me a strange amount of stress. I think also it simply comes down to the fact I am indecisive and I change my mind constantly. I’ve always looked at it like why would I limit myself to one colour palette. We live in a truly magnificent and unique world full of colours and textures of every kind, and how lucky am I that I get to use a handful of those in my art? So put simply, I’d say travel and exposure to different cultures and sites I’ve seen play a hugely vital part in how I settle on a colour palette. Not to mention how thanks to my wonderful Wacom, accessing all the colours in the world has never been easier.
What was your favourite project/artwork to work on?
It would have to be a commissioned illustration I did for a lovely lady based locally in Auckland. The story behind the piece was incredibly beautiful. Her closest friend originally from South Africa had only a single photo taken with her birth mother who sadly passed away when she was only 11. My client wanted to have the illustration done with the idea of giving her friend a second “image” with her mother. Once the commission was completed, I hand-delivered it and got to meet both of these incredible women who were really touched by my illustration. That feeling of creating something for someone exactly how they envisioned it was the best feeling possible.
How does your Wacom device fit into your workflow?
Seamlessly. I still cannot believe how huge a part my Wacom plays in my day to day life, let alone my creative process. I link my Wacom Cintiq 16 up to my Lenovo C740 and run it through Adobe Photoshop. And I take her everywhere! To my In-laws house for the weekend, to local cafes and even on little vacations away. I’ve found little spells of creativity hit me and I have to make sure my Wacom is close by to document them on. But like anything, it took me a while to find my feet and my new way of creating art. Because it really can’t be compared to physical art forms or any other way I’ve created previously. And I would happily be the first to admit that I don’t think there is any going back for me, digital art it is. And now, I’m already planning on what Wacom Device I want next.
Every artist goes through art block. Do you have any tips for how you deal with it?
This is something they must have left out of the Artist Instruction Manual! It’s real and sometimes it can be hard to get out of. First things first, never beat yourself up. As an artist, you are constantly putting pieces out into the world that means something to you, and that takes up a lot of energy. For me, these are the things I’ve found to work a treat: Get outside and get off technology. Turn your gorgeous little mind off and focus on the here and now. Try something new, literally anything, your next spout of inspiration might come from going to a pottery class or that really aesthetic smoothie bowl you had at brunch. And don’t worry, that sense of creativity will always come back to you.
You’ve mentioned that you started your business in early 2020, what has been the challenge of starting up your own art-based business during COVID-19 pandemic?
I had so many ideas and things I wanted to start doing under the Done By Bronte umbrella. And because I set up shop at the very beginning of Lockdown, nothing was open! I wanted to get the ball rolling on test prints, source my packaging and meeting with suppliers. But it all had to go on hold. It was a frustrating feeling because, at that point, I had a small handful of people who wanted to support my business by purchasing an art print.
That feeling went on for about 4-5 months until we could finally leave our little caves and venture back out into the world. However, even though I viewed it as a negative aspect at the time, in hindsight maybe it was a good thing? I had that time to really hone in on my craft, figure out my strengths creatively and create connections with people well before my online shop opened.
What’s one thing you wish you knew while you were getting started?
To not give up. There are definitely going to be times that are tough and you’ll want to throw in the towel and go back to working how you used to. Not many people talk about the struggles of owning your own business and the trials you’ll face. But when you get to connect with countless beautiful people who truly do want to support you and your brand and have your art on their walls, you’ll quickly be reminded of exactly why you are doing what you’re doing. There is absolutely no feeling like it.
Going forward, what are your art goals?
It’s crazy to think how far Done By Bronte has already come since BC (Before Covid!).
Here I go again with the clichés but I had only ever dreamed of running a digital art business full time and day by day it is becoming reality. Going forward I have huge dreams and goals for my business and all the places it can take me. Over time I want to introduce a multitude of new products and services that I can offer people and businesses.
Once COVID-19 has been dealt with worldwide (if that ever happens!), my partner and I have always said we want to travel the world. We want to live in many different countries and eventually spend a year in Japan and call it home for that time. I feel incredibly lucky that I work in an industry that allows me to take Done By Bronte with me wherever I go. So long story short, I want to continue to see Done By Bronte internationally grow into its full potential. And of course, my Wacom will be with me every step of the way.
Do you have any advice for anyone who’s looking to change their career and pursue something in digital art?
I have a pretty short and sweet answer to this one: Do it. Oh my gosh just do it! It’ll be scary and there will always be uncertain times. But if there is something you love and that sets your soul on fire, you won’t regret it. And remember, good things take time. But yeah, you live once, go and do it.
You can see more of Bronte’s work below:
Curious to find out more about the product used in Bronte’s workflow?