Since discovering Gumroad two years ago, she’s made six figures selling digital art products, and she’s earning a living from her lifelong passion.
We asked Flo to reflect on her creative journey, and here’s what we learned.
Digital Art: the Obsession, the Detour, the Return
Flo’s interest in drawing stretches back to childhood. At age 20, she discovered artist Bobby Chiu and was mesmerized by the practice of digital art. “My boyfriend showed me one of Bobby’s pieces and said, ‘Whoa, you can make this on a computer.' I was amazed and I remember saying, 'Is that really possible?'” Soon, Flo immersed herself in drawing on a Wacom tablet and studied everything she could about the art and science of digital drawing. Her lifelong passion for art had found direction.
That is, until life intervened. Rather than pursue art full time, Flo studied psychology at the Open University of Amsterdam. For several years, Flo’s interest in digital art took a back seat to a desk job — and her drawing became a hobby.
“I always wanted a creative career,” she told us, “but I never thought I’d able to make a living from creativity — and a desk job is boring if you’re a creative soul.”
In her free time, Flo continued experimenting with digital drawing, and she needed a way to make reference images for her art. To do that, she bought a DSLR camera and a new career path emerged: guided by their mutual interest in photography, Flo and her boyfriend leapt into the wedding photography business. The business took off in the Netherlands and began to win international awards. It was such a success that Flo left her desk job to work creatively full time.
In 2017, while photographing a wedding, Flo and her boyfriend noticed that one of their clients was successful on Instagram, and they talked about the platform’s possibilities. Not long after, Flo resurrected her idle account and began to use it as a creative outlet for her drawings — a moment she credits for her return to digital art.
She started posting a drawing a day, consistently, and her audience grew.
“It was less than three years ago, but it feels like yesterday,” she told us. And that’s when the breakthrough occurred: she started posting not just the images, but the process she used to create the images.
As she put it, “I struggled reaching 8,000 followers, then a post went viral and I was in the tens of thousands. That first viral post was a process shot of a drawing. I showed what happened at ten seconds, one minute, ten minutes…how does a drawing progress?”
Flo doubled down on the winning format and continues to use it to this day. “Showing my process is when I started to grow, and that’s when I started to think maybe I can have a career in digital art. I didn’t know exactly how to do it, but I thought, ‘At least this can be a start.’”
When Flo first started experimenting on Instagram, she didn’t have a grand plan. “I grew my Instagram account by posting regularly. I looked at what was popular on the Instagram Explorer page and figured out how I could change that content into something that was mine. I took those successes, started experimenting, and started to see what was working.”
“Looking back,” Flo said, “I hadn't thought of a business model for it yet. I just thought, ‘Let’s grow an audience, and once you have an audience, it’s easier to monetize it.’”
Six months after Flo’s instagram exploded, she started a YouTube channel to share her drawing process. “I did it all by myself, and the videos weren't that great.”
She kept at it — and after another six months, Flo discovered Gumroad. “I was looking at other Instagrammers and other successful artists. I saw them selling their stuff and I said, ‘Hey, maybe I can do that too, because I was already creating my own brushes.’ I thought, ‘What the heck, I'm just going to try it and see what happens.’” Despite her success these days, Flo told us, “I still remember those first few sales, when I made 60 bucks in a week. Back then I was celebrating and the money was a great help."
Flo’s first Gumroad product was a set of basic brushes designed for Procreate on iPad Pro. The product sold (and still sells) for three dollars. Each brush can be used for a different purpose: sketching, deepening shadows, adding color variation, and making highlights.
When Flo started selling the brush set she designed, she was also teaching her audience how to use it on YouTube. This combination of educational content and utility became a virtuous circle: people were appreciating the effort she put into her videos, and in return they were supporting her work.
Today Flo sells more than 20 products on Gumroad, including her popular Procreate megapack, and each product is integrated into her personal website.
The Creator Lifestyle — and Not Giving Up
We asked Flo about her average day. “There’s no rhythm, it’s total chaos,” she said with a laugh. Her creative career gives her and her boyfriend tremendous flexibility. “I just go with the flow: whenever I have time to work, I work. Whenever I have time to draw, I draw. It's very important to spend time with family and friends, so I always carefully balance work and social life. Almost every day, my boyfriend and I go for a walk together outside, and we talk about growing our business together. We really don't have a schedule.”
In Flo’s words:
The secret is not giving up when things aren’t going your way or when things are not looking too good. We’ve made many mistakes in my videos. I jumped into a ditch once for a video because I thought it would be fun and successful and it got a hundred views — it was the biggest mistake ever, but afterwards we continued and we moved on, trying to look at the statistics and look at what we could improve. We still have a good laugh about it and it goes to show: sometimes you need to jump in a ditch to learn a valuable lesson!
My boyfriend and I said, 'If we don't give up, if we keep doing this, one day we will hit success and we'll get there' — and now it’s already happened. It could have been that we were still struggling, but we would just continue going and one day it would happen. We were just convinced of that.
Flo told us she’s convinced that anyone can learn anything. “I want to encourage people to continue drawing and to not give up, because when I was younger, I always wanted a creative career, but I never dared to go to art school because I thought that won't make me a career, that won’t earn a living.”
Flo focused on reaching people who want to be creative, but don’t know how. They want to draw, but feel they aren’t good enough. Her audience ranges from 10-year-olds to followers who are in their eighties and nineties. “I want them to build their confidence. It’s about where do you set your goals, and it’s about having fun.”
Right now, Flo’s primary focus is creating content for her YouTube channel and community. “Every week is all about launching a video on Friday,” she told us. “We usually record on the weekend or at the beginning of the week, then my boyfriend edits the video and I'll focus running other parts of the business.
Her goal is to reach one million YouTube subscribers. “I want that gold play button,” she said, smiling. “I could have never dreamed I’d be here right now…. I just want to continue bringing drawing joy to more people and teaching them to just have fun making digital art.”