Art Lessons

Art-ing is a hard business, and decisions about how and where to show and sell your creative work can be daunting. Should I do shows? If so, which? What about selling in galleries? Different factors but same question.  Online venues? Again …  you get the idea.

Even after you’ve done the research and made choices, you have to keep working to make the best of where you’ve landed – market yourself AND the shows, galleries and stores your work is in.

Sadly, sometimes despite your diligence and efforts, things fall apart. I just learned that my beloved greeting card sales rep is leaving rep-ping for greener pastures. And then another blow; the local gallery where I show my artwork and hold workshops has replaced the paintings in its windows with really big “For Sale” signs.

Village Shops and Galleries

Ouch! But I don’t think the lesson is that I should not have agreed to have Tam rep my cards or to show at the Village Shops and Galleries. I got many wonderful benefits from both, and even looking back I would have made the same decisions.

Greeting cards

But there are lessons in failures. First, don’t rely on one source of income from your art. If you only do shows, what happens if you break your leg, your car conks out, or you don’t get juried into the biggest show on your list? Or say you’re selling only online through one website and they shut down, or change their rules or procedures in a way that cuts your sales in half (hello Etsy).

Zazzle zebra sneakers

Zazzle stopped making sneakers and cancelled all of the sneaker designs artists had uploaded

What to do? Diversify! Look into the many different ways artists sell their work, ranging from in-person to on-line, in stores and galleries, to licensing or having sales reps, and more.

Second, be careful not to invest too much money or time in an uncertain venture. I could have rented space in the Gallery rather than accept a split from my sales, but without a proven track record of customers, sales and good staff support it just didn’t make sense. And I was careful not to pre-order too many greeting cards from the printer, so I’m not left with a mountain of unsold cards.

Finally, go in with your eyes open. Do the research, ask for references, talk to others  familiar with the situation you’re thinking about. Spend time at the shows you’re thinking of entering, or at the gallery you’ve got your eye on. Are people buying art? Are the fees or costs in line with similar venues?After that, weigh the risks and benefits and either back away or jump in and go for it.

Have you had an art situation explode on you? Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

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Learn to sell your art online

Are you an artist or crafter who has been thinking about finally taking the plunge to sell your artwork online? How long has starting an Etsy shop been on your “To Do” list? Are you stymied by not knowing where to start, confused by all of the options, uncertain where you fit in?

Smugmug home page

Bay Area artists, this workshop is for you! Introduction to Selling Your Artwork Online is my overview class designed to teach you the many different options to market and sell your artwork and/or crafts on the internet. Learn the pros and cons of having your own website, selling through print-on-demand websites, selling your handmade work on Etsy or similar sites, using blogs and other social marketing tools, and much more. This information will save you countless hours you’d have to spend to do the research and experimentation on your own, and save you from wasting time and money on the wrong kind of venue for your situation.

Product shot example

The workshop will be held on Sunday April 14th from noon to 3:30 at The Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Ave (between Stockton and Eureka), in El Cerrito. The cost is $65, which includes an extensive handout.

Facebook business page

Facebook business page

If you have a smartphone or laptop, you can bring it, but it’s not required.  We’ll cover what has been preventing you from beginning to sell online, what kinds of skills you need, how to keep yourself motivated, social media marketing, and much more.

Twitter page

Twitter page

Space is limited and pre-registration for the workshop is required.  If you have any questions or want to pre-register, just email me at heidirand[at]gmail.com
If you’re not in the Bay Area, check out my book. You’ll find links to see a preview of it at Amazon, and to order it in pdf format, kindle format, print, and more!

August Workshop: Sell Your Art Online

Etsy shop

Etsy shop

Are you an artist or craftsperson who has been thinking about finally taking the plunge to sell your artwork online? How long has starting an Etsy shop been on your “To Do” list? Are you stymied by not knowing where to start, confused by all of the options, uncertain where you fit in?

Zazzle shop

Zazzle shop

Bay Area artists, I’ve put together a workshop just for you  — Introduction to Selling Your Artwork Online is my overview class designed to teach you the many different options to market and sell your artwork and/or crafts on the internet. Learn the pros and cons of having your own website, selling through print-on-demand websites, selling your handmade work on Etsy or similar sites, using blogs and other social marketing tools, and much more. This information will save you countless hours you’d have to spend to do the research and experimentation on your own, and save you from wasting time and money on the wrong kind of venue for your situation.

This workshop will be held on  Saturday August 11, 2012 from 11 to 2:30 in Pinole. The cost is $60.

Facebook business page

Facebook business page

If you have a smartphone or laptop, bring it along, but it’s not required.  We’ll discuss what has been preventing you from beginning to sell online, what kinds of skills you need, how to keep yourself motivated, and more.

Twitter page

Twitter page

Space is limited and pre-registration for the workshop is required.  If you have any questions or want to pre-register, just email me at heidirand[at]gmail.com
If you’re not in the Bay Area, check out my book. You’ll find links to see a preview of it at Amazon, and to order it in pdf format, kindle format, print, and more!

New book: Sell Your Artwork and Crafts Online

One New Year’s resolution down! Actually, it was a resolution I made New Year 2011, but who’s counting? I finally finished the book that I’ve been working on for, oh well – way too long. Enough buildup, here it is …

Book cover Sell Your Artwork & Crafts Online

I was teaching a workshop to help artists and crafters figure out how to sell their work online. When I decided to expand the written materials into a book, I had no idea that the 6-page handout would grow to 72 pages, with 28 photographs and screen shots to show readers what their options are and how to decide what venues are best for their work, like this shot of the front page of my Etsy shop:

The homepage of my Etsy shop

Or this illustration about how to resize the images you post online so they’re not as easy to steal:

Resized photo to post online

I also included profiles of six of my favorite artists: a photographer, painter, mixed media collage artist, printmaker, natural perfumer, and writer — who are all at very different places on the continuum of using the internet to sell and market their arts and crafts. I’ll be posting some of the profiles here, so you can meet them and draw inspiration from their art and the work they’re putting into showing and selling it online.

In conjunction with the book, I started a Facebook group where artists can network and support one another in selling their work online. You’re welcome to join it, whether you buy the book or not.

Facebook page for selling art online

And now for the tip of the day, which isn’t in the book (already working on the second edition!) Yes, you may sell the same items in your Etsy and Artfire shops. If it’s a one-of-a-kind piece it can be nerve-wracking to list in both, because if it sells from one store you need to immediately remove it from the other. But I list my ebooks in both shops. If you have duplicates of anything that you make, it’s good to get the exposure in both venues.

And a related tip: don’t use the same description in both listings. From my research, people advise that you change at least 30% of the language, because Google’s search results ranking, released in February 2011 (called Panda) penalizes duplicate postings.

I listed the ebook on Etsy yesterday, and just now put the listing up on Artfire. If you’re curious, you can check out how I changed the descriptions. I’ll check my Google Analytics to see whether I’ve been Panda slapped — that’s what they call it when your traffic goes way down because the Google algorithm is displeased with some aspect of your website.

Get motivated: set yourself a deadline

I teach a class about selling artwork online, and one aspect of the subject that I think about a lot is how to help people get themselves moving.  I believe that a lot of artists and crafters probably wonder how in the world they can get started selling online. Even taking a step back from selling, do you often think you should be more productive with your art? Ever feel guilty about not painting enough, or about leaving so many photographs unprinted, or not submitting your work to magazines or to galleries?

I guess this interests me because I often need help getting myself motivated. One of the methods that works best for me is to set a deadline. Self-imposed deadlines with no accountability (“I will design a scarf this weekend”) don’t work as well for me as external ones, where not finishing a piece is not an option. When I find myself stuck creatively, I get myself moving by signing up to participate in a new show at my local gallery, by entering an art swap or contest, by agreeing to donate a piece to a charity I support … you get the idea.  How do you get yourself working? Have you ever missed a deadline that you had committed to?

Here’s what I’ve been working on, thanks to a deadline I’m under to put up a display in the front case at my local library. The display will be at the El Cerrito Library from June  2nd (eek, that’s only a week away!) through mid-July. I want to show people how to attract butterflies to their gardens, so one focus of the display will be my photos of the life cycle of some local butterflies.  From my hundreds of photos of butterflies that George and I have raised and released, I made several photo collages of them from egg to emerged butterfly.  This is the one for the caterpillar stage of the monarch butterfly:

Monarch butterfly caterpillars

Monarch butterfly caterpillars

And here’s the collage I made of the chrysalis stage for anise swallowtail butterflies:

Anise swallowtail butterfly chrysalises

Anise swallowtail butterfly chrysalises

I’ll include information about what kinds of plants people can use in their gardens to attract butterflies and provide food for the caterpillars.  Oh, of course I’ll be showing some of the artwork I’ve made from my butterfly photos, and I hope to get motivated to make some more pieces just for the display!

Workshop: Introduction to Selling Your Artwork Online

Etsy shop

Etsy shop

Let me guess — was one of your New Year’s resolutions to open up a shop on Etsy? Have you been promising yourself that this is the year you’d finally look into how to make your paintings or photographs, jewelry or knitted goods, available for sale on the internet?  How long have you been thinking that you really want to sell online, but you just weren’t sure where to start, and you found yourself confused by all of the options?

Zazzle shop

Zazzle shop

Bay Area artists and crafters, I’ve put together a workshop just for you  — Introduction to Selling Your Artwork Online,  Saturday March 19, 2011 from noon to 3:30 at the Pinole Art Center, 2221 Pear St., Pinole.  The cost is $60.  I’ll give a thorough explanation of the many different options to market and sell artwork and crafts on the internet.  You’ll learn the pros and cons of having your own website, selling through print-on-demand websites, selling your handmade work on Etsy or Artfire, using blogs and other social marketing tools, and much more.

Facebook business page

Facebook business page

I’ll have my laptop, and there’s wifi at the Art Center, so we will get online and look at all of the sites. If you have a smartphone or laptop, bring it along, but it’s not required.  We’ll discuss what has been preventing you from beginning to sell online, what kinds of skills you need, how to keep yourself motivated, and more.

Twitter page

Twitter page

The information will save you much time in doing the research on your own, and will save you from wasting more time and money on the wrong kind of venue for your situation.  Space is limited and pre-registration for the workshop is required.  If you have any questions or want to pre-register, just email me at heidirand[at]gmail.com
If you’re not in the Bay Area, I’m writing an ebook on the subject — let me know if you want to be notified when it’s ready.

Demise of a gallery

This is for local readers, my loyal local patrons and friends who have taken the time to come see my work at the local art gallery, or to visit me when I was working there.  If you’re not from around here (Northern California) or just not interested in the topic, then you’ll stop reading, or push on for a cautionary tale. 

For a bit less than a year I’ve been working on Saturdays at a gallery in El Cerrito.  The space is beautiful, well-lighted, with creative displays and a great variety of artwork and crafts.  It’s owned by the family of an artist who used to have only his work in the gallery, but generously opened the space up to other artists less than 2 years ago.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the gallery until after the holidays last year, so I couldn’t take part in what was a successful holiday season for them.  Shortly after that, though, I started working every Saturday (on top of my full time job).  Even though it was hard giving up my Saturdays I wanted to see how my things sold, and I really looked forward to this year’s holiday season.  I also looked forward all week to going into the gallery — if people came in to buy art, that was fantastic.  If they came in to look around and chat (or not), that was wonderful too.   And if no one came in, I got my work done.  Since most of the work I do involves the use of a computer, printer, sewing machine or other large equipment, it was always a challenge to plan what I would work on, and make sure everything I needed fit into the box that I carried back and forth every week.

Most lately I had been using the time to coat lutradur or metal sheets with Golden Paints’ digital grounds (see my articles on that product).  I also took advantage of the great natural lighting in the gallery to take photographs of my work.

The few of us who worked there were volunteers, who in exchange for our time got a larger percentage of any of our work that sold.  That was great for me for several months, but when the economy tanked, sales dried up.  Lately only a few people were even coming into the gallery on Saturdays (usually the busiest day of the week).  I was committed to staying, though, and thought that my work, often popular as gifts, would do okay during the holidays.   Well you know what I’m going to say next.  The gallery is now closed.  The artist whose family owns it couldn’t keep it open through the holidays.  He’s evidently thinking of getting an artist or two in there with him to pay rent.  I hope that works out – we need all the venues for art we can get!