Saturday, May 30, 2009
This morning Ned said - lets make something together, it's been a long time since he did any art or drawing with me. The hour afterward, I got sick, I spend all morning in bed with a sore throat and a huge headache.
The cool thing was was later that evening, I was feeling a bit better, and we decided to dedicate the evening clearing up the horrible mess in the studio.
While going through piles of old stuff, we came across some prints from a long time ago and decided to play around, we both spilled inks and paint on the prints then wrote and draw on top of them.
It was really cool.
As usual, Ned likes mine better then his and I like his so much better then mine...
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I love A5 magazine, I've been intending to submit artwork for it since it's very first issue, but somehow the whole experience was so daunting and intimidating that I never did, well, never till 2 issues ago when I submitted 3 pen and watercolor paintings and one of them was accepted and published! The topic was sex and so I needed very little adaptations or thought to make just what I wanted.
It was really a wonderful experience, I mean, any publication is awesome, but one in a magazine you are already a big fan of is at least double as wonderful!
Not only that, but the pieces I made for the magazine inspired me to draw more artwork in the same series and eventually, became the body of work to my solo show in Chicago.
So then, the next topic was published, it was "Childhood" and though I had every intention in the world to submit again, I never got around to it, I had a lot of ideas, but eventually, I think mostly out of fear of rejection, I never did. After the deadline was over, I felt like such a pussy - I totally let myself miss on a good opportunity not only to get published, but also, to be inspired and to make something cool.
I decided that whatever happens, I'm going to submit for the next issue, but then, when the topic came up, I was sort of disappointing, the topic was "Hero" which was very hard for me to relate to.
I don't believe in hero, a couple of years ago, I was in someone's birthday, and some guy who was doing inspirational lecture for a living, asked us, to prove some point or another, who are our heroes, I said that my grandparents were, but actually it wasn't true. I don't think there are or were any heroes in my life. I don't believe in salvation or being saved. I think that though I were in life threatening situations in my life, the largest difficulties I've experiences, were just dealing with everyday life.
It's been a couple of difficult weeks around here. Ned's in a bad mood, he's trying to crack some big emotional riddle and spend a lot of time doing nothing, it's hard to see him be so hard on himself and so sad and heavy for so many hours everyday. I'm working on some freelance design projects after not doing it for a while, I'm actually making some money which is nice, but dealing with client, putting boundaries and asking to be paid is really hard, and I think that also the tension between me being so work busy while Ned being in this non-busy state adds a lot of tension.
I decided to do the Hero project about me and how I had to deal with a lot of confrontational situations lately and tried not to hide and wait till it goes away but actually stand up for myself.
A note: With being busy with work and sort of down for different reason I've neglected my Yay Money series of article, I hope to go back to it soon.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I love this artist's pieces so much, it almost feels like she lives in a crazy fantasy world and her pieces are just snapshots she takes of her daily life.
Read the interview with Yoda at www.louchelink.com
Monday, May 18, 2009
I'm doing a store cleaning and sadly parting with some old pieces that somehow never sold. I'm storing some of the art work and toys for later use, but looking at those two items together - they looked too nice to just put in a box and be forgotten for a while.
So, I decided to celebrate summer (though NY feels like winter now more then summer) and the beginning of car races season with 2 rockabilly inspired item give away! I can't wait to take a big ride, watch the race, talk to some cool people and feel my horizon expended. This can be a really hot father day's present, if your father's into cars, chicks and playing cards (and if so, you have a very cool father indeed).
If you want to win this awesome prize, all you need to do is visit my store and let me know, in a comment, what is your favorite item by me.
Happy rockabilly summer!
Raffle will be held on June 1st. and the winner will be announced in the blog. Please leave an e-mail so I can contact you if you won.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
One of the things I like a lot about shooting fashion nudes is being exposed for a day or so to a totally new person, who I would, in most cases, never get a chance to hang out with otherwise. A while ago, we shot a 39 year old flight attended from France, it was really cool to get to know her and learn about her work environment, the difference between different countries' photographer and what drew her into wanting to model.
This is especially true for young models, Ned and I work with a couple of new faces departments in different modeling agencies and I can't really imagine any other situation in my life that will get me to spend half a day with a 15 or 16 year old.
Part of me is really enjoying it, part of me feels very old to hear about a person's experiences in high school as something that's going on now, and not as a long forgotten memory.
What's really nice is to realize that though age, as a number is a definite, maturity and adulthood is mostly a matter of choice and life situations, in the past year I met a 16 year old who had such a practical and focused attitude to life it left me jealous at her maturity, a 27 year old who was acting as a rebellious and totally irresponsible teen and a 40 year old who's as warm and fun and trusting as a 10 year old - and probably just about everything in between.
Friday, May 15, 2009
I'm so tried, we had an evening shoot tonight and one yesterday. it's 4:00 AM and I just finished editing my photos, editing Ned's photo with him, and making chilly before the beans we
sprouted goes bad. For the past few days (weeks?) I feel like all I want is to sleep all the time. I'm not sure if it's allergies, still getting over being sick or just stress and the weird dreams I've been having lately.
I'm happy with the photo I took though.
I hate feeling like I'm not doing everything I want, I feel like I'm missing opportunities and messing up stuff by not keeping in touch with people and follow things though.
I'm not sure if it's really the case or if that's just a feeling, I don't know if I'm really messing up or not.
I'm just so tired of feeling tired, and hate feeling so aimless and unfocused.
Monday, May 11, 2009
While looking through different stores with no sales, I was trying to figure out why do some stores have great success on Etsy, and some doesn't at all. it feels to me like there are a lot of really awesome artists out there who makes beautiful stuff and still don't make any sales, and so this is another part of my "You'd be making more sales if only..."
You'd be making more sales if only I know what you were making!
Sounds strange, right? stores who make stuff you don't know what it is or what you'll be getting, however this is a pretty common phenomenon and a mistake I actually tend to do sometimes as well, even though I know it's a stupid thing to do.
For this review let me introduce first the super cool shop called COUNTER CULTURE CRAFTZ, which makes T shirts. The store is opened since July 10th 2008, but all the listings are from May 11, so either I caught the store on it's debuted day or they just renewed everything. At any rate, their designs are fresh, funny and very well design, I especially like this cool shirt:
Shirt?! where is the shirt? all I see is a super cool design, but this listing only have one photo and this is it. The listing text specify that they use reclaimed T-Shirts, and so, if buyer specify their size and preference of color, they'll do what they can to match it.
Why is this a problem? because it is. Because I'm not just buying a design, I'm buying a product, and the product is a combination of many things - a cut, a design, a color, the price, size, general feeling toward it and the photos of it on the site.
I understand that doing the design is the most fun part that take the most time and effort for an artist (or T shirt designer) and that the practicalities of buying shirts, producing the shirt by printing, washing and ironing the shirt both before and after the printing stage, taking photos and editing them, which with fashion means finding a model is a lot of hard work and a investment of money that might or might not repay itself - however, I've seen so many great designs for T shirts in the past that due to bad printing or bad color combination or just use if crappy materials, looks like shit. And I wouldn't want to own them even though the design of the print might be very cool.
More then this, I like wearing "reclaimed" t-shirts (which, lets face it, a kinder words for I bought those shirts for 1$ in the salvation army store) however, when I got to the salvation army store, I don't like all the shirts I see there, some are too old, some are too stretched, some T shirts cut just don't look good on me, some have holes - each of us have their own pet peeves about reclaimed cloths and it's impossible for me, as a buyer, to know whether I want to buy the shirt or not without seeing it before hand.
Because COUNTER CULTURE CRAFTZ decided to focus only on the design in their listing, I'm missing a lot of other information - how is this printed? is this done in that horrible printer iron on paper that wash away after 3 days? is if silk print? is it gocco (which means the printed area is going to be really small) If this is silk screen is the ink water or oil based (some people have allergies), is it printed in black? can I have a different color print if I want a black shirt? and so on.
While the artist puts most of the effort in the design, for the buyer, the design is just a part of the reason for why we buy something. Especially while selling online, it's super important to give all the information you possibly can or you will not make a sale.
What can they do to fix it?
There are a few options - the first is to do this right - designate a certain budget for this project, make the screens for silkscreen, buy 10-30 T shirts to start, get the inks, and print the T shirt, either shoot this yourself or get a pro photographer, and a model and get great photos of a beautiful person wearing the shirt, list every shirt separately, using the design as it is now as one of the images, and promote your store like hell to cover your expenses and make some money.
If it's too expensive to do this with all the designs focus on your 3 best designs and print in different colors \ sizes.
This is not always possible, so a few things that can improve things as they are.
1. Skip the "reclaimed" shirt and use ones from a known brand (I know American Apparel sells cheap when you buy bulk) - the advantage is that people can go to their store and look at the colors \ sizes and know the manufacturer. The downside of this is that even in bulk, the price per shirt will not be 1$ - the seller will have to spend more money per shirt and so the price of shirts sold will have to go up.
2. Offer those as a Custom order shirt - a person interested will send a convo to the seller, they'll make the shirt, list it as reserved and if the buyer likes the way it looks, they buy it.
The problem here is that this is not only a risky business (try selling a magenta XXXL T shirt with banana yellow print to someone else cause your original buyer didn't like it) and also, a lot of people who might like the design would not want to bother going into the interaction of ordering, waiting, looking at the design again and so on. They would just buy a different T shirt from someone else.
3. Fake it - find a good photo of someone wearing a blank shirt (or shoot one) and impose the image on the shirt in photoshop. The problem here is though it will indicate some information, like the color, placement and size of the printing, it still doesn't indicate any information about how the actual shirt will look.
4. give me more information - explain the process, explain where you get the shirt what what you do with them to make sure they don't have that old lady smell you get buying in thrift shops, let me know that you only pick shirts with no holes or stains on them, if using reclaimed shirts is a part of your philosophy, explain it to me. It might not insure all possible buyers, but it might insure some of them and you'll make more sales.
I do home that COUNTER CULTURE CRAFTZ will overcome their listing problems, because I think their designs are really cool and finny and I hope they'll make a lot of sales in the future.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Happy mother's day everyone! I hope you all had fun, it was a bit of a strange day for me, since I don't talk to my mom and I don't have any kids of my own, the whole notion of motherhood doesn't really imply a lot of good things to me and having everyone around me talk about what they are getting for their moms or their visited to home or different brunch plans made me feel sort of left out.
Ned and I did celebrate Non-Mother day by sleeping in late and having morning sex, which I guess, at least for me, is more fun then getting a painting to hang on the fridge!
I hope you all enjoyed it and had fun, if you did anything special or you had a rotten time and hated it, I'd love ot hear about it.
And so, without father a due, the winners for the mother's day print raffle.
The 2 lucky winners are Janil and Aik. I hope you'll enjoy the prints! happy mother's day!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
My first shopping spree item arrived today! Horay!
One of the things I've learned (yet again) from this experience is that I really really really HATE to shop, online or offline it doesn't matter. It's OK when I'm buying art or craft supply, groceries or even cloths and props for shoots, but when it's something for myself, I have to think a 100 times before "do I really want this?" and "is this going to be useful?" and "is this a waste of money?" On a whole, not a bad habit, but when being pressed to shop, it's very annoying. Last month I gave a 200$ gift certificate to a friend because spending the money before the expiration date was too stressful.
But when I saw those, I knew I wanted them right away!
The artist that make those is called Julie Scheffer. She is listed on Etsy since 2007, but I think she only started selling at the end of April. she makes really nice ceramics and the coolest thing is that since I bought those she already made another sale.
I made my order on April 30, and the package got to me in May 6th, so basically a week long delivery time, which is pretty cool. I got an Email from Julie a day after I placed the order telling me it will be shipped in the next couple of days, which was very nice.
The cups were packed really well in bubble wrap and tape and the package contained a business card with a hand written thank you on the back side and... an extra cup! the listing was for 2 and I got 3! how cool is that?! They are beautiful, all made it safely and looks even better in reality then they did in the photos.
The price was 19$ and shipping was 5$ - which to me seem very affordable - there is something about 19$ that is really appealing to me somehow, I know it's "almost 20" but somehow the fact that it's less then 20$ makes it easier for me to spend money. Since I send pottery, I was amazed at the low price of shipping for this, more about that - in a sec.
I recommend everyone on checking Julie's beautiful shop and buy everything! (there are only 4 other listings so it won't take that much time...)
A couple of things that Julie and actually everyone can learn from this transaction:
The first thing, which I'm actually really bad at is how important a personal e-mail is upon receiving a new order. I don't buy often on Etsy and getting the e-mail, even if it's a simple "thanks for the order, package will be out on Saturday" line makes the buyer know that there is actually a person on the other side, it makes you feel like that person is professional and nice for letting you know. I often, as a seller, feels like I don't want to pile the buyers with junk mail and I don't write those e-mails and simply send out the package, as a buyer, waiting for a week without hearing from the seller would be really annoying. I would not treat this simple "Thanks, package will be out on a couple of days" massage as junk mail at all.
As suspected, the price of shipping, especially for 3 cups instead of 2, was not 5$ - not even close! by the postal stamp it was 13.65! I feel so bad for Julie! she charged 24$ for the whole thing, shipping included, and out of that, had to pay almost 14 for shipping! that means that she made about 3.5$ per cup - before expenses. That's really isn't enough for the work she put into it and it really sucks!
What can be done?
Julie send her package using Priority mail, it's great, but it's expensive. The cheapest way I found to send stuff is USPS first class mail. Sometimes with Priority over a certain price, it evens out, but still first class is cheaper. I'm not quite sure how it added up to 13.65, but each cup weigh 9 oz. so the whole package, with box was about 2 pounds with the box. On Priority mail - that's about 12.40, but on first class, that's 8.12 - a third less! when you start making more sales this becomes a big difference. If Julie would use First class (even with insurance which for this price range is about 1.60$) she'd still be making 4.5$ per cup instead of 3.5$.
I LOVED getting the extra cup! usually I'm not a huge freebe fan, especially when those are cheap and irrelevant gift, but giving a third anything for free is cool, especially because she already know I love her cups (cause I just bought 2 of them) I don't know if Julie intend to give a 3rd cup with every 2 cup purchase or if this was on account of me being her first sale, but it was super cool.
However, at first, it made me feel a little uncomfortable - it seem to me like a really huge gift. I actually checked the listing again after opening the package to try and figure out whether I didn't notice and order 3 cups instead of 2. But it was a wonderful and huge gift.
A while ago, I took part in 2 truck shows for Christmas, I had a bowl full of mini notebooks and a bowl full of inspiration cards - both those were freebe gift, through both shows, people took a lot of cards, but not even one book was taken, I think people felt like it was too much for a freebe to take a notebook and didn't want to appere greedy. The extra cup, though making me feel really happy and very special, also made me feel a bit imposing, like I got something I didn't deserve.
This made me feel especially bad because of the high shipping price. Julie should have made 9.5$ for each cup, but after the extra cup and extra shipping - she only made 3.5$ - about a 3rd of what I wanted to pay for them (and even at 9.5$ though are cheap!).
If I were Julie, I would reconsider her freebe policy, there are a lot of small things she could make and give as a giveaway which would be smaller and still cool and won't make shipping more expensive. Like maybe a small ceramic tags for instance maybe on a leather lace that can be worn as a nacklace or a key chain, or a small ceramic plant marker or even book mark.
I'm still really happy I got a 3rd cup! it's really really cool!
Since julie already made 2 sales in her short Etsy experience I'm sure she'll go on doing well! A couple of other things she can do to generate some more views and sales:
Built an inventory
Right now there are only 4 listings in the store - 2 cup sets like mine, and 2 nesting bowl sets (which are really cool!) it still feels like the store is pretty empty, I like stores with 20 items or more - it makes me feel like there's a veriety to choose from.
Have a larger veriety of items
There are a lot of items ones can make with the basic "cup" shape - make a hole in the bottom and sell them as planters, make them taller to be used at toothbrosh holder or pencil holder, get a cork lid and sell them as a sugar bowl or honey jar and so on. The bowls can work as soap dish, pasta strainer (if you poke holes in it), a larger bowl can be used as a fruite bowl or salad bowl or to store anything in really.
A lot of times somebody doesn't like a style for kitchen but would love this style for office or bathroom - it's good to spread out.
Also, the listings only allow buyers to get sets - the cups comes in twos, the bowls in either 4 or 6. It might be a good idea to make listings with just one items in then.
Good Luck Julie! I hope your store makes a million sales!
Look at me! I'm famous!
Tea & Talk
I'm so excited about interviewing for Melissa's blog! I've read a lot of those interviews and already wrote answers in my mind several times before.
This makes me feel so great!
Thanks Melissa! you rock!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
As a part of my "Yay Money" project and researching stores with no sales I thought it might be cool to write about some of the stores I'm getting to see but don't buy from (by the way, I ordered 3 things already and waiting for them to arrive so I can write about them). I feel a little strange criticizing other people's business choices without them even asking for it, and I'm sure different things works for different people and also that people use Etsy in different ways. However, I think this is a good way for me to review some of my own Etsy experiences and share what works and doesn't work for me.
Saying that, I've decided to start with a topic that's especially difficult to write and talk about but that a lot of people think of which is:
You'd be making more sales if only your prices were lower
For this review, I'm proud to present the work of Dick Haakman from HaakmanGallery. Dick is a super talented painter, I love his style and sensitivity, and his work is excellent. I especially love his still lives. The store is in existence since March, have 12 beautiful paintings in it and haven't had any sales.
The reasons for it to me is pretty clear, the cheapest item is a 1,000$. I don't know about other shop owners, but in my experience, any single piece that is priced at over 60$ is hard to sell. It's a bit hard to hear, I know, but really, I have not manage to sell a painting for more then that.
Isn't it strange that we go to art galleries and see paintings that sells for thousands and tens of thousands of dollars and yet, we go online and beautiful pieces doesn't sell for a 1,000$ or so?! this have a few reasons:
1. Artists makes only a fraction of the gallery sale price. I just had the luck of getting a piece ready to be in a gallery show, Ned got a photo in an art book and a show, we had to do the math to price it. printing was about 150$, though we were lucky to claim a favor and get the print for free. Frame was 300$, the gallery takes 50% of final sell price. Basically, we priced the piece at 1,200$ and after gallery fee and frame, made 300$ of it, if we had to pay for printing it would be even less (or we'll have to push the price up) If we had an agent or manager, or signed up with a gallery, we would be getting even less. It really sucks, but that's how it is, after expenses, materials, gallery fee and so on, the artist makes about 10-25% of the sale price in a gallery.
2. Galleries appeal to collector while Etsy, mostly, target people who wants something cool to put in their apartment. Why is this important?! because A collector is a lot more likely to spend a lot of money on a piece they think (and mostly because the gallery endorse the artist) the piece will be worth more in the future, most people don't have a 1,000$ to spend on a painting if it's entire purpose is decorate a room.
When the artist is more famous and successful. It's a strange and pretty unfair vicious cycle, but that's the gallery business - when a gallery show an artist in their space they are basically saying "We think this person is worth taking notice off" the more the artist does this, the more they get attention and the value of their pieces go up.
It's strange to think about it, but the same piece can be worth 10$ or a million dollar depends on the history of the artist's fame and exhibition history.
So - what can be done?
What can Dick Haakman do to make sure he does generate some sales?!
Even though I read his profile, I can't really know how much his art worth as far as investments goes, if a collector do goes on Etsy, it would be helpful to have his exhibition history and, if possible, contacts in those galleries and links to those galleries so they can check if this is a good investment, lets say his last show was super successful and every painting sold for 10,000$ - then suddenly paying a 1,000 for one of his pieces seem like a great idea.
If Dick is targeting collector, he would need to draw them to Etsy on his own, as far as I know, most of those buy things through galleries, because that the gallery endorsement of an artist means that they stand a better chance of making money of the investment and because each piece that sells in a gallery makes the artist more incline to succeed in getting exhibited more and selling for higher prices in the future, which means the collector again, stand a better chance at making money of their investment.
And so - if Dick already sold some pieces and he is in connection with the collector, this is a good time to send them e-mails referring them to his store, also, it might be a good idea to look for galleries that show the same style of art and send them e-mails or letters urging them to check his online gallery.
Lets say both those plans doesn't work, it means Dick will probably have to find a way to lower his prices, if he wants to make any sales.
I know it takes a long time to make a painting and he might not want to, and so there are a few ways to create a product that would not take as much time and so he can price them cheaper:
1. Make smaller pieces - this is what I do, when I started selling paintings on Etsy I priced them at 70-60$ - non of it sold, one day I took a piece of paper I was about to start drawing on and cut it to 4 - it took me about the same amount of time to make 4 small paintings as it took me to make 1 big one - the painted surface was about the same, I priced each at 20$ - overall, I made more money of the sale of 4 small painting, but each buyer paid less for an original painting.
Strangely enough, a lot of people who saw the smaller cheap paintings bought 3-4 of them, they paid the same amount that they would for 1 big one, but I think the feeling of getting a good deal - a few paintings, made it easier for people to spend 80$.
Like those - some of those paintings are slightly larger then a postcard, but are strong enough to change a room.
2. Make Digital prints - either get a great scan or a great photograph of the painting, and do either a limited edition or an open edition of the artwork. The benefit of this is that even if you sell them for cheap, you only have to do the work on one - if you make a closed edition of 100 prints, and sell each for 20$ (if they all sell, which will be awesome) the artist get to make the 2,000$ AND keep the original painting to sell later or for himself. Like Peppermint - those are awesome (and cheap!)
3. Art Prints - this means learning an new method of work and maybe change style, but either doing block printing, etching, silk screens, gocco or monotype, means you can produce a work of art that have multiple copies, which means you both retain the artistic mechanics of work and can sell each copy for relatively cheap. Like Marissa's beautiful shop - she has a very successful Block prints shop, that sells beautiful and very affordable prints.
Whatever Dick Haakman chooses to do, I hope he gets lucky and sell everything in his shop! do check it out, his art is gorgeous!