Mariana Durst is an educator, painter, mother, podcaster, website designer, and brand strategy expert. We are so fortunate to learn more about branding from this expert who has collaborated with artists and designers like Amy Taylor, Bonnie Christine, Louise Fletcher, Ben Seaman, and many more. Mariana claims, “I’m ready to help you cut through the noise of the art world to uncover your authentic voice. You bring your story and values to the table, and I’ll distill them into a cohesive, irresistible strategy—the magnet that draws your dream collectors right to you.” If this seems like something you would like to learn more about, you can join our live call with Mariana Durst in the Textile Design Lab on November 13th at 1pm EST. Let’s take a peak inside Mariana’s studio and learn more about how she works her magic.

What advice do you find yourself repeating the most to your clients developing their website? 

After a significant amount invested in the strategy, development, and design of a website, one would think the job is done. However, that’s not the case. A website is only a part of a grander ongoing strategy. One that involves many other tasks and elements, such as driving traffic to the website, nurturing genuine relationships with the audience, keeping the content relevant and updated, SEO, etc. 

Tell us how you approach your newsletter, how often do you send it out? It’s nice that you don’t bombard visitors to sign up on your site, do you get lots of sign ups still? 

I love writing newsletters. I have so much fun and I avoid writing emails “because I have to” at all costs. I don’t have a set schedule, because part of what makes sending the newsletter worthwhile to me (and hopefully to my audience), is when I feel compelled to share something from that place of lightheartedness and not obligation. This way, I can show up 100% authentically, share little quips and stories that tie back to whatever I want to talk about, and I get great responses. The other day, for example, I got this response to an email I sent: “This was the funnest (that’s a word, right?) email to read!!!!! It was the best email I received all week! Thank you for finding a way to get me excited about a website audit!” And I get those types of comments often and love them!

I believe reciprocity is important, which is why I strive to make it worthwhile for my audience to sign up because its truly an honor that they chose to invite me to their inbox. Would I love to have more sign ups? Absolutely! But i’d rather have a more engaged list than a large number of subscribers who don’t open my emails. My open and click rates are above average and that’s priceless to me.

You have one of the nicest “about” pages on a website, is this the page on your site that gets the most traffic and time spent by visitors? Aw! Thank you! I just recently went through my website analytics numbers and was pleasantly surprised to see that people stay on my website a lot longer than the average. My homepage definitely gets the most traffic and after that, my site visitors tend to wander around, spending a good amount of time on the pages they visit, including my about page.

You have a family of five with three boys, run your website design business, and sell abstract paintings, do you have any tips for work/life balance? 

It’s a challenge striking the perfect balance on the day-to-day. Some days I’m in my office for 12 hours working on a project and other days, I don’t open my laptop at all. I strive for harmony over longer periods of time. For example, after finishing a Website in a Week (which feels like an exciting sprint), I try to schedule an entire week off client projects afterward so I have time to replenish. Knowing where the edges of burnout exist and setting soft, yet solid boundaries there is a must.

What is your favorite part about coaching artists to market themselves better?

I love that every artist has their story, their unique approach, and artwork. We’re all so different in what nourishes us and what drains us, and so one of my favorite things about mentoring my clients is to acknowledge their boundaries and strengths and help them optimize and develop what’s already working so they can market from a truly genuine place. I love helping them find their brand voice, and their positioning in a loud market, using their uniqueness as the roots of a healthy marketing ecosystem. 

Do you have any tips for networking and finding clients? 

Do great work, be genuine and generous, nurture your relationships, and just be a good human. Be the most referable person in the room.

What has been the best piece of advice you have received over the years of creating and selling art? 

I was so thankful to be a part of Nicholas Wilton’s Creative Visionary Program, where I learned something that I knew deep down, but had never brought to consciousness—becoming an artist is the process of becoming yourself. I think about that every time I’m in my studio. With every painting I make, I learn something about myself. It’s a fantastic journey.

How much time is involved with producing a podcast? What podcasts or books are you loving these days?  

A podcast is such a labor of love. It’s one of those things that may look easy, but involves a lot of work behind the scenes. Luckily, I ended up hiring an audio engineer to help me put the audio together, so I could focus on content and recording. From start to finish the process can take a week per episode from concept to published podcast.

These days I’m loving listening to books. I’m into non-fiction works that inspire wonder and bring me a bit closer to nature: An Immense World, Braiding Sweetgrass, The Hidden Life of Trees. I occasionally also love a good celebrity bio, like Britney’s or Prince Harry’s. 

Learn more from Mariana with our LIVE presentation on November 13th at 1pm EST in the Textile Design Lab, join in the fun! And you can follow along with Mariana here on Instagram or find her website here to learn more about her brand coaching.

At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and our private design community, The Textile Design Lab.

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Dries Van Noten Spring 2012