Ilse Valfré and Donald Eley: How Love of Drawing Became a Global Brand
How do you turn your passion into a successful business? When Los Angeles-based artist and entrepreneur Ilse Valfré was just 22-years-old, she started a Tumblr blog that would propel her from preschool teacher to internationally sought-after artist.
Today, fans of her brand, Valfré, include Jessica Alba and Emma Roberts, as well as millions of girls and young women around the world. In this episode of our podcast, NOT REAL ART founder and publisher Scott “Sourdough” Power sits down with Ilse and her husband, Donald Eley, to discuss how they built a family business while raising two children. You’ll gain insight into the challenges and rewards associated with building a successful brand in today’s tech-savvy world and learn about Ilse’s passion for drawing. We also touch on the importance of starting a creative business while you’re young, establishing a strong community to rally around you, and what it takes to forge your own path.
Prompting young artists to view hardships as gasoline for their creative fire, Ilse believes the challenges she’s endured shaped her success for the better. Her quirky, irreverent characters reflect this philosophy, smirking in the face of adversity even as tears fall from their eyes. A modern-day internet success story, Ilse urges creative entrepreneurs to follow their passions, jump in with both feet, and make mistakes—you never know what might happen! We also dive into the Web 3.0 and NFT world, where Ilse and Donald have created Valfrélandia, a collection of 600 unique, hand-drawn NFT artworks
Though Ilse credits her success to the incredible community she’s managed to build online, it’s the artist’s sunny disposition and relentless optimism that propels her work into the wider world. In today’s episode, Donald and Ilse share their magic formula for modern success as they reflect on what it’s like to have over a million followers in their community: “It keeps us inspired.”
“Sometimes, not fitting in a box is your superpower, because it makes you create your own doors and your own paths.” — Ilse Valfré
Scroll through a few of Ilse’s fun designs before listening to the podcast here or on the player above.