Friday, January 23, 2015

Finding an Effective Platform

Silhouette in Field
6x8" Acrylic on Canvas Panel
©BEDeuel Bronson Hill Arts 2010

As artists, the most difficult things are to get enough studio time in our everyday lives and finding a way to get our creations out to the rest of the world.

We can look at other artists' works and truly appreciate all the time, effort, and love that is applied to our artworks. We can realize the value of everything done by any other artist, and are grateful for the reciprocal realization.

But how do we find the audience beyond our (not-so-) little cloister that can also grasp the value of our passion? Especially an audience willing to compensate us for it.

Don't misunderstand me: I'd do this even if I never made a penny on it. I wouldn't trade the tranquility I experience in the studio for the proverbial million dollars. But, it would be nice to make a bit to supplement the income, or even enough to not have to work at the "day job". 

3.5x3.5" Water Soluble Paints on Canvas
©BEDeuel Bronson Hill Arts 2014

There are the Etsys, the Fine Arts Americas, the Zazzles. And a few hundred thousand other artisans on the sites. What I've noticed is that the truly successful shops & sites have the investment of scads of time in both the marketing and the production of items. 

That, unfortunately, is not a commodity that most of us are able to lavish. I learned this the frantic way around the holiday season.

It was so exciting to receive my first orders from the Etsy shop! And, to boot, it was for note cards that would help Another Chance Pet Rescue! Then a couple of more orders followed for large & multiple pieces. Wow!

Kitty Minions
5x7 Watercolor on 140# Canson Paper
©BEDeuel Bronson Hill Arts 2014

And, then reality hit hard: between full shifts at the "day job", I needed to print, assemble, and package the orders. And while I had done some prep work on the items, I just wasn't satisfied with the templates. So of course, I had to redo them. It took the full 3 days to get things done and shipped. And shipping packaging presented a challenge, too: do you have something to ship a flat 16x20" matted print right in your house or studio? I sure didn't! Never even crossed my mind. It's the little things that make you stumble at times. And stumbling can be exhausting.

Digital Photography
©Mike Deuel Bronson Hill Arts 2013

Throw all this together, job & art business, with the holiday season, and try not to feel very overwhelmed. 

Happy Holidays
Digital Drawing
©BEDeuel Bronson Hill Arts 2014

I decided at that moment that it was time to go with a POD (print-on-demand) site. I just couldn't keep pace, especially since sites like Etsy are very demanding in regards to timelines. I also realized once the payments hit the bank, the money didn't come close to covering the costs involved. Etsy is in business, too, and knows how to make a profit. Being a newbie, I was naive in how I set things up. POD seemed so much easier since you only need to upload your images, add your margin & their cut to the base price, and they would do all the heavy-lifting. Yea... no. Not only would the cost to the customer be exorbitant for an "unknown" artist, the process of uploading the images would require reshooting all artwork and trying to guess what sizes your work would be printed based on the large number of required pixels. 

What exactly is an 8x5.73" print? Who will want that? I cropped it to a 7x5". And I can print a 7x5". Back to the starting point!

The odd thing is that of the orders I received, only 1 was through Etsy directly. The rest were from connections on Facebook (which is a whole other issue of late!).

So, why am I on Etsy, then? Why am I paying fees to them for minimal exposure & for me to do all the work? Yes, the name of Etsy is a "be-all/end-all" of online markets, but, it's a huge pond with a few large fish and a whole lot of little fish. Pretty sure that I'm just plankton right now.

After a good amount of reading, and contemplation, & consultation with my marketing cohort, I've come up with a plan on how to do this. Will it work any better? I don't know. But, it should create some extra time & money so that I can get back into the studio. 

Which was the whole point of all of this anyway!

What are your experiences with sites like Etsy and PODs? I'd be interested to hear about it.

Covered Bridge
4x6" Water Soluble Pencil on 140# Strathmore Paper
©BEDeuel Bronson Hill Arts 2011


  1. Beautiful painting, I especially like "Kitty Minions." There's so much that goes into the marketing of art that I'm just not good at, I'm glad you're thinking of ways to work that are less work... I wish I had some suggestions, but I haven't dipped a toe in the Etsy marketplace except to make the occasional buy...

  2. Wow, your paintings are beautiful!!! And yes, OH YES, I can relate to all you said. It seems like I have been at this part time artist/full time day job stuff my whole life!!! When I finally got layed off my last job after 8 years, I was happy because I thought now is my chance to try my luck at doing the art full time, NOT. Its been over 7 months now and my hubby is looking at me with those sad eyes saying "Honey, 20 dollars a month isn't gonna pay the rent". So its back to looking for another day job and then there won't be all this time for promoting on facebook and blogging, ect. Luckily both of us should be able to retire in 5 years and then I'm gonna paint, paint, paint and not worry about selling any of it,lol! Thanks for such a great post. Never stop painting, you are very talented! Hugs, Deb

  3. Etsy also has some business practice issues - letting mass-produced goods be sold without interference, mostly. I have a zibbet store and haven't sold anything that way, but I haven't been promoting myself either.

    And that is a very strange print size. I thought it might be the same ratio as 14x11, but that would be 8x6.27 if I'm doing the math right. Weird.

  4. gorgeous art projects- I am especially enamored with the first scene! Your experiences and thoughts on the selling are pretty much why I haven't ventured into it-outside of selling to some friends and at a few local (small) craft fairs. It hasn't stopped me from painting my heART out and it shouldn't stop you either.

  5. I was completely perplexed as to why FAA offered such odd print sizes. As said, I'd cropped it to a 7x5 & they computed it completely differently. I'm not at all thrilled with Etsy, either, Caitlyn. Lisa, in the next week or 2, I'll see how far I get with my new plan & let you know if it fits the need. And, Deb, I know exactly what you're saying! My hubby has dealt with some sporadic employment issues, and, he really wants me to pursue the art, but also wants to be able to retire some day. So, it's off to work I go!

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Hugs! Barb

  6. Your work is so beautiful. I have only sold one painting for profit in my 80 years of life so I am not the one to answer your questions. However, I do donate paintings to the church bazaar and they get sold that way, with the church benefiting financially, not me. The result of not selling is that I have a houseful of paintings, on the walls, in stacks under work tables, in closets, etc. I have put names on the backs of the painting I want to will to my family and friends. My art exposure to the world is done through the greetings cards I paint and send out to people, as well as what I show online.

  7. Sweet paintings and beautiful kayak photo! Ugh, it's that old problem of not enough time in the day. FOR SURE. I think Etsy used to be a much better place for artists, and though I continue to list there just because it's the only online place I have items available right now, it is not the same place it once was. It got too big for itself, and I feel like its reputation has suffered. People don't think of it as a place for great art, I don't think. Though there is certainly some great art there! It is hard to find, though.

    I have thought about the print on demand options you mention, and I just haven't decided on anything. On the other hand, I feel like the most important thing is to continue to draw and paint and improve my work so that if I do ever gain an audience, I will have my best foot forward. So to speak. :)

  8. Hi, Cindy & Faye! Art is such a mysterious thing in that it is so satisfying & yet so frustrating. We will never stop, though, will we? :D



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