It’s just 2 days until the King’s Hall Market in Stoke on Trent. Over 50 stalls will be selling a variety of wares much of which is hand crafted. There are lots of unusual items that you won’t find on the high street – great gifts for the hard to buy for. There is also a cafe and other food outlets. i’m looking forward to my cheesy North Staffordshire Oatcakes 🙂
This weekend I will be attending the Craft Market at King’s Hall, Stoke on Trent. I love doing these shows as I get to meet some lovely people and chat about art and craft all day. It also gives me chance to sell some of the items I can’t sell online as they are too fragile to post – mostly glass.
Coaster sets are one of my biggest sellers. They go for just £15 per set of 4 and as each is a unique work of art, this is a real bargain. I sell them at this price as I want them to be used as they should be without fear of breaking a valuable item. They are actually very hard to break (unless you drop a corner onto a tiled or concrete floor :-(). They are made with hardened glass (so suitable to put hot cups on) and decorated with a glaze which is fired when dry to form a durable surface which is even dishwasher resistant.
It would be great to see you there, please come and say Hi 🙂
Sometimes even the most experienced artist needs a reminder of these basic tips for good practice.
When I paint, I sometimes get so subsumed in the creative process that I forget some of the hard learned lessons of past works consigned to the “good idea but didn’t quite work” cupboard. Here are a few of my cardinal sins.
Don’t overwork – less is more. When you are focused on a detail and struggling with it’s representation it can be all too easy to “labour the point”. Practice that detail elsewhere – in your sketchbook or on some practice paper/canvas. Come back to your painting when you know exactly what you are going to do.
Know your colours – blue and yellow don’t always make green. I have a sheet that I keep to hand showing all the colours I use and their mixes with every other colour. There are some surprising results. To stop your mixes turning to mud, aim to use as few pigments as possible. To do that you need to take a look at the tube. Some colours are a mix of several pigments – these are best avoided to make your mixes from as they often create mud. Use them as they are or lightened only. Knowing your colours will help you use less paint too as you will know the mixing strength of each colour. The picture above is a link to an example of a ready made mixing chart with frequently asked questions answered.
Practice, practice, practice. Like exercise to keep you fit, doing a little every day will help you improve in leaps and bounds. I know how difficult this can be – four children, moving house more times than I care to remember, working long hours, caring for family. The list goes on. That’s when you need to set aside even the smallest chunks of time to keep your creative brain exercised. In the kitchen while cooking, waiting for appointments, travelling on public transport to work, doodling in those tedious meetings and so on. It will soon become a habit and you will reap the rewards I promise. The saying use it or lose it is never so true as in any creative endeavour.
Look for criticism from experts you trust who create work you like. And learn to take it. Your family and friends are all well meaning people and will enthuse about your work endlessly. If they are not critics though, it may not be helpful to rely on their input alone. I don’t recommend community groups either, especially those online as many are not trained to look objectively at a work. Also, many are looking to get comments on their own work and so aim not to offend. A good way is to join a class by someone whose work suits your genre or take one of the many courses that include a critique.
Copy work by great painters especially the great masters. Yes, I really did say copy. Of course, this is work for you only. What you learn from this is invaluable. You get to see how a picture has been constructed, the design, how the elements relate to each other. What has been left unsaid for you to interpret, how the eye is drawn to what the artist wants you to see, how illusion is created. This is your opportunity to “stand on the shoulder of giants”. You can look at a painting and see it, it’s not until you complete that process of creating it yourself that you understand.
I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand. -Confucius
As I mentioned yesterday, selling art shouldn’t stop with just your original art work. Putting it on various kinds of merchandise is a great advertisement and means someone who may not be able to afford an original just now, may be able to buy something more affordable, even if it’s only a card.
Doing it yourself will earn you the most per item but that means laying out money up front and you may be left with stock you can’t sell.
Zazzle are one of a number of printers who offer a free option for getting your work out there. You can have your design put on almost anything from cards to bags, t-shirts to phone cases.
I have set up a shop myself today. It’s very easy and gives you complete control over what your image is used on. All you have to do is upload your image and create your item from the huge selection. I have used my images on cards and canvas prints so far. The wizards will tell you if your image is not right, for instance if you try and make a small image much bigger on a product. Options on cards include adding text to the back which can include your contact details or website address.
You also set the amount of royalties you earn. This will of course affect the overall price. For my cards I have chosen a 20% royalty which earns me 49p of a sale cost of £2.60. Zazzle deal with all the customer service side of things so it’s money for almost nothing.
The copyright remains with the artist and the license is non-exclusive to Zazzle, meaning you can sell that image anywhere else you like.
You can see the card I designed using the above image here
It is easy as an artist to create a work, put it up for sale and that is the end of the story. Move on to the next work.
If you are a bit more savvy you can actually earn more than just the selling price of your work and you may even increase it’s value. On top of that, your work will be marketing itself.
The secret is to put your work on merchandise for free. Well this is the site that aims to get you selling with the minimum of outlay.
One such opportunity is with Zazzle. You upload your work to their site, choose what merchandise you want it displayed on and set your royalty rate. Zazzle do all the printing, customer service and payment details and send you your royalties. Of course, you will want to promote your works, but you can do that at the same time as you promote your e-shop, exhibitions and shows.
Each of the items that sell is marketing your original works. A customer may buy a printed tote, for instance, then their friend may love it so much they want the original.
Why not give it a look – all it will cost you is a little bit of time 🙂
It wouldn’t matter what month I tried the ultimate blog challenge, I would always be away for a few days or have other commitments. This month is no exception and 3 of the five weekends are filled up. This weekend my youngest daughter visited, next weekend I travel to Wales to visit my son and the following weekend I have a show.
The best thing to do would be to write some posts in advance which will be the plan for next weekend. Keeping my goals in mind, I will not stress too much if I get a little behind with the challenge – more important for me is to be ready for the show.
One picture that won’t be going to the show is this one of Durdle Door, a natural rock arch on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. Rather romantically, it is going to a couple who became engaged at this spot. I hope they spend many more happy years together.
It can be very easy sometimes to be distracted from your goals and when that happens you are much less likely to reach them. It is also easy to drift along if you haven’t vocalised to yourself what your goal is.
My own reason for blogging is to leverage search engines so that I get more visitors to my shop. The blogging is not the goal, selling my artwork is. I am something of a reluctant blogger, not after affiliate monetisation or thousands of readers waiting for my next installment. What I do want is dedicated customers who will enjoy finding out a bit more about my products and my methods. I want to connect, form a relationship.
I also want to give something to other artists who want to find their selling niche by letting them see what results I’ve got and how I’ve got them. It is all too easy to hold successful methods close to your chest and not share them because that knowledge was hard won.
Your goal is probably something completely different. Perhaps you have experiences you want to share, services you can provide or maybe you want to create a community of like minded people. Whatever you are doing needs to support that goal so ask yourself the question. Does what I am doing move me forwards?
The important thing is to keep your goals in mind and make everything you do count towards it. Don’t get distracted, but do enjoy the journey.
Today’s pictures are tiny abstracts that are ideal for gift giving. I am making a few of them for my craft stall at the end of the month. They are aimed at those people who would like to have some of my art but can’t afford the larger pieces. Those customers may be future collectors when circumstances are different.
Would you like to take complete control of selling your own work online? Are you an Etsy seller and have to keep relisting your products to get them seen? Or do you spend hours favouriting and sharing with other sellers so you get on the top pages of trending? Is your work lost in the hundreds of thousands of works on Artfinder so most of your views are from people you drive to the site yourself. All the hard work is yours and you have to pay commission.
Are you ready for something different?
I am. And I’m going to share with you what I have done and the results this brings.
Just a few days ago I set up my own shop using WordPress. I have never worked with wordpress before and I am a self confessed technophobe. I didn’t expect to get so far so fast but it really is very straightforward.
There are 2 options. The first option costs a small amount, the second is completely free. I chose the first as it gives me more flexibility but the second option works well too and you can upgrade if you wish.
Today I will talk about the option I have chosen, the next post will be about the free option.
Step One Choose your name and buy your domain.
Choose your shop name carefully. For the purposes of getting people to your site, I recommend the title includes what you are selling eg Art, Craft, Photography etc. I include my name because it is short. Try and make it easy to remember. Now go to a Domain name checking site and see if it is available. If it isn’t the site will often show alternatives that you might like to choose.
Once you have chosen your name, register it with a webhost such as Blue Host. Make sure it can support WordPress – pop along to WordPress.org for a list of their recomended hosts. I registered with Blacknight simply because I already had an account with them. My domain cost me less than £10 for the year. You will also want the site to be hosted so that you can build your shop. This can cost as little as $1 per month. In comparison, that amount of money would get me just 15 items listed on Etsy for 3 months and commission would be taken on any sales.
Once you have your Hosted Domain, you can move on to the next step.
Step 2 Add wordpress and a commerce plugin.
Go back to WordPress.org and download wordpress. The wizard will take you through the 5 minute process. once that is completed you will have a dashboard and some ideas of what to do next.
To get the shop part, go to plugins on the dashboard and search for e-commerce. I chose woocommerce because it had a good rating, lots of users and it was free :-). Woo Commerce now appears as an option in the dashboard along with a product icon. Click on it to add new products and away you go. You get a number of options for payment, I chose to allow only Paypal which takes a small transaction fee and payment by BACS straight into my own bank account.
There you have it, the bare bones of your new shop. You can now take as much time as you like to get it looking beautiful knowing that everything will work.
Let me know if you have a go and share your site with us.
PS thanks to Paul for the terminology correction 🙂