In a Lioba Brueckner painting, the backdrop is as alive as its subject. The young women in her portraits live amongst vibrant butterflies, colorful roses, and baroque trimmings. Sometimes sci-fi and other times fantasy, whether you’re looking into the eyes of one of her mermaids, or someone you’d see walking down the street, you’re transported to an ethereal scene, a place where nature, femininity, and the beauty-of-self are intertwined.
“My surroundings strongly influence my art – I’ve almost painted every flower that I’ve ever owned and looking at my garden calms my mind while I paint and makes me happy,” Lioba told WOW x WOW in 2017.
Through a community on Patreon who connects with her take on nature, expressionism, and who love to learn from her educational tutorials, Lioba has found a way to navigate the art world that feels right to her.
“I am very proud to say that I’ve been an independent artist now for a couple of years, and I can completely sustain myself with my art and Patreon,” says Lioba, a painter and YouTuber based in Oberhausen, Germany. “Patreon was a very important step for me as it allowed me to have monthly revenue, which wasn’t possible before,”
Of course, that’s the short version of how the painter got to where she is now in her artistic career. The rest of the story, however, will be relatable to anyone who has ever followed a dream.
Lioba found her love for painting as a child, but while many children create art at a young age, only to stop as they get older, her passion never faded. This led her to follow the usual path, and study art at a university in Germany. However, the program didn’t provide her with the technical or business skills needed to become a professional artist. Upon graduation, she not only felt unprepared — she found the art world to be artificial and dishonest, leaving her to believe she had chosen the wrong path.
“I absolutely had to take another job to survive because I didn’t have faith that my art career would pay the bills — I just didn’t know how to do it,” says Lioba on why she took a job as a programmer after university. “I sold a couple of artworks, but it didn’t pay the bills.”
She ended up liking her day job after all, but still couldn’t shake a desire to focus on art full time. Continuing to paint when she could, Lioba also started building a following on social media through painting tutorials on YouTube and with her art on Instagram.
When she heard about Patreon through a friend, she had already built up a following on social media, so instead of relying solely on income from galleries or art collectors, she started offering her prints and tutorials through Patreon directly to that audience. In the end, she was able to quit her job and devote herself to her art and her community.
“Before I went on Patreon, I couldn’t really make a living off my art,” she says.
A difficult part of being a painter in 2020 is balancing social media with creative output. But through tutorials, advice videos, and time-lapses of her compositions, Lioba uses social media to actually get closer to fans. Sometimes, this leads to a fan purchasing a painting or a print through her website, and other times they support her through Patreon. By using multiple outlets to connect with her fans, she’s found stability in her career and the freedom to create art that inspires her and her community.
“There are some aspects of my job that I never want to lose control of. The freedom that I have to create artworks if I have something that I want to realize, and being able to do that without worrying if it’s going to sell at a high enough price,” says Lioba.
And, since many of her fans find out about her through her educational videos, her patron community is united not just by a love of her works, but also by their own passion for art and learning. In fact, her patrons even share their own creations with each other, something that inspires Lioba endlessly.
“Patreon feels different for me than the audience I have on YouTube or Instagram because they’re more personal friends to me, and we have more of an intimate relationship than with social media followers,” she says. “And my audience gives me feedback, and this is a very important part of my creative process.”
Since Lioba loves to share insights into her work as an artist, she couldn’t leave without giving some advice — she says one of the hardest parts of being an artist today is finding your niche. “There are so many artists out there. And to find them all on social media, you’re probably overwhelmed by the sheer amount of talent you see everywhere,” she says.
But what’s vital is to overcome and move past that imposter syndrome and believe that you can still make your mark.
“You don’t have to be the master; you don’t have to be perfect. You can have a little thing that makes you stand out from the crowd and makes your art special. In the end, you have to do what makes you happy and stand out from the other ones.”