A 13-YEAR-OLD Cork artist has become a social media sensation and now has a remarkable 600,000 followers on the TikTok platform.
Edie Collins, of Ballinspittle, is dyslexic and decided to use the pandemic lockdown to focus on the things she could do in school, such as art, instead of what she couldn’t.
The result has seen her become a huge success on social media, with a further 8,500 followers on Instagram and 14,500 YouTube subcribers.
Posting content on ‘Edie Does Art’, the first year student in Kinsale Community School is already earning decent money for her age – an average of €100 a month – from subscriptions and affiliated links.
One of her award-winning drawings of the singer Billie Eilish, took third prize in the 2020 National Texaco Art Competition and is on display in the city's central library for the month of October.
But just two years ago, Edie, who has dyslexia, says her life was completely unrecognisable and she could never have imagined how things would have turned around.
“I didn’t play sport, I hate it, and because of my dyslexia I struggled to learn,” she says. “My life just seemed really boring to me.”
It was during the first lockdown, back in March, 2020, that she started to really nurture her love of art, and with the encouragement of friends, started sharing some of her work on the video-sharing app TikTok, as well as giving tutorials, and doing fun challenges.
“By that August, I had 10,000 followers from all around the world, which I thought was really amazing,” Edie remembers.
And by last February that had grown to almost half a million, but what followed was devastation and disappointment for Edie, who was only 12 at the time.
“I remember going to bed and feeling so excited that I was about to hit that magic number, of half a million. And then I woke up to a notification from TikTok saying that my account had been banned, and everything I had worked so hard for was gone,” she said.
Her mum Orla, who takes a very ‘hands-on’ role in supervising all her daughter’s social media activities, emailed TikTok and was told that while the app can be downloaded by 12-year-olds, videos can’t be posted until someone is 13.
Edie gathers that someone, through a fake account, had reported her.
“I was so upset by that, and was literally crying every day. At that stage, TikTok had become my life, between coming up with ideas, doing my art and making videos. I was just so sad.”
Orla says Edie ‘rose above it’, and after starting a new account, she had reached half a million followers by April.
“That day, I posted a video to thank everyone for their support; but that night the very same thing happened, and my account was cancelled,” said Edie.
When she turned 13 in April, Orla sent the company her birth cert and the account was reinstated in what was “the best birthday present ever”.
She now has 600,000 followers, which is incredibly impressive.
Edie is now regularly approached by various art suppliers to trial products on her sites, which is a regular income stream, and she has also started to sell stickers brandishing her own designs on a website designed by her mum.
It’s has been very much a mother-daughter journey of discovery.
Orla said: “I left school when I was 18 and really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I fell into a good job and worked in pharmaceuticals for 22 years but it wasn’t until I was in my forties that I found what I really wanted to do, which is working in working in reception at the Old Head Golf Club in Kinsale.”
Edie has two sisters. Nickki, aged 30, spends half the year in Europe and half in Florida as a horse groom and trainer. She was at this year’s Olympics with the Irish show jumping team. Bo is 16 and a talented singer who won the top prize at the Cork Teen Idol competition in 2018.
Edie was also a finalist in that competition, but like sport, she says singing isn’t for her.
Orla says: “My three girls are all so different, but I think what Edie has shown is that there’s something there for everyone. Like I always say, there’s a sock to fit every shoe.”
Edie added: “Art is everything to me. It started out as a hobby and now it’s like a little business and, 100%, this is exactly what I want.
“I found it a little hard initially, transitioning to secondary school, as a lot of my friends would have known other people through sports, and I struggled a bit, but this is where I’ve found my place and my people.”
Orla added: “TikTok has given her great confidence in school. Where before she was inclined to focus on the things she couldn’t do, now she’s after discovering her niche.”
Edie’s ultimate ambition is to study fashion in Paris and New York, and for now she’s enjoying her rising profile among fans.
“I was coming out of Lidl recently with mum and a young girl ran towards me and was like ‘Oh My God! You’re Edie Does Art!’ That was just so nice,” she said.