We’re reaching out to some popular creators to get their best tips and tricks for success and better understand the ups and downs of life as a trailblazer on the internet.
This week, we caught up with Sienna Gonzales, aka somewhere_in_june, over email. Gonzales is a content creator and illustrator based in Los Angeles. She is known online for her drawing, painting, print-making, movie review, and makeup videos. Her content often touches on mental health, trauma, and her experiences as a queer person of color. She has cultivated a community of over 50,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram and has recently launched a Patreon for closer connections with her followers.
Gonzales spoke with the Daily Dot about the emotional rollercoaster of being a creator, her fundamental opposition to the term “cancel culture,” and the vulnerability of showing her true self online.
The interview below has been condensed and edited.
What’s the first thing you do to start your day online?
I usually make time to reply to comments and DMs. It’s a fun way to interact with my audience and show them how much I appreciate them!
What do you wish you knew when you were first starting out as a creator?
I wish I knew how much of an emotional rollercoaster it can be. On the days when my content does really well, I feel a massive rush of adrenaline and joy. I feel appreciated, inspired, and ready to make more work. However, on days when my posts “flop”, I tend to feel very discouraged. It’s essential to understand how to separate your value as a person from the likes/shares you get online. Otherwise, your sense of self-worth will go up and down with engagement levels, and that can get really exhausting.
When did you realize you’d broken through and become a successful creator?
To be honest, I still don’t really feel like I’ve “made it” as a creator. I’m constantly surrounded by people getting bigger brand deals, making more money, getting better engagement. So the “finish line” always feels elusive. But, if I had to pin down when I became successful by my own definition, I would say this year. I’ve finally been able to balance my time and better manage my relationship with social media as a whole.
If you hadn’t become a creator, what would you be doing right now?
I’ve been drawing since I was a year old and posting art online since I was 12, so I would say content creation has always been my plan. Outside of TikTok and Instagram, I’m currently a freelance artist and have worked in a wide range of different creative industries. If I didn’t show my work online, I would definitely still be a practicing artist.
What’s one thing you do to manage your relationship with your fans?
I’m a small creator who makes art content, so interacting with fans has been pretty seamless. For the most part, people are kind, respectful, and genuinely appreciative of the work that I share. I make sure to reply to folks when I can, because I don’t want people to feel like they’re sending messages into a void. I also plan on creating a Patreon very soon, so I can build an even smaller community that I can interact with on a more regular basis.
What do you think of the idea of cancel culture?
The outcry for people to get “cancelled” is due to decades of never seeing justice for the harm marginalized people have both witnessed and experienced firsthand. As a queer woman of color myself, I understand how disheartening it is to watch big creators do horrible things over and over and never face the consequences. What I think is often ignored in the conversation about “cancel culture” is that people with privilege — especially white cis people — are never actually “cancelled”. A few thousand followers may unsubscribe, merch might not sell as well, brands may end contracts, but most of the time, those people in power remain on their respective platforms. They still make money and still have fans. The only people who are successfully “cancelled” are people who are already marginalized. I am fundamentally against the term “cancel culture” and would prefer we call it what it is — a demand for accountability.
How much of your true self do you show online?
As someone who shares artwork about trauma, mental health struggles, and my queer identity, I would say I show a lot of my true self online. Showing the images I create is an intensely vulnerable act for me.
What’s one of the best interactions you’ve ever had with someone who follows you?
I did a Q&A livestream sometime last year about navigating art school, and one of my followers (a person of color) said that the information I shared was super helpful and validating. It was just one comment among many, but seeing that I made a difference in one person’s life meant a lot. It was definitely my first taste of building a community online.
What is your most treasured tool?
My iPad! I use it to edit, draw all of my digital work, and take notes to plan out my videos. It’s one of the most versatile tools I own.
What holds you accountable?
My wonderful partner (@billscutolo)! They have been the main reason I’ve even stuck with social media this far. The past two years have been full of self-doubt, sleepless nights, and tearful declarations that I’m “leaving the internet”, but they’ve been so steady and supportive through it all. They are always there to remind me that I am capable and smart, and that I deserve to go after every opportunity I want. Before I saw any success online, they bought me a brand new Canon printer to make my prints. When I asked them why they would spend so much money before I had even built a following online, they said, “I’m investing in YOU and I’m not worried.” And, hey, I suppose it worked out 🙂
Thank you, Sienna, for speaking with us!
We’ll be featuring a new Q&A with a creator every week, so shoot an email to [email protected] for a chance to be included.