Sunday, November 27, 2016

Etsy or Ebay....That is an Excellent Question????

Way back in 2010, when I had just begun to paint, I thought the thing for me to do was to open an Etsy Store.  I think I uploaded a total of 3 paintings, got a few page views and one comment and quickly I became disinterested in the whole thing. Frankly, the thought of paying $ .20 for each listing and the fact that poorly painted canvas pieces were not a good match for that platform.  Fast forward 6 years and today I'm chopping at the bit to get my artwork out there on Etsy. 

My artwork has changed a great deal and I feel that with these changes the pieces are much more suitable for an online marketing venue.  My illustrations and drawings are becoming more popular.  I have chosen Etsy along with FineArtAmerica.com, RedBubble.com and Zazzle.com as platforms to get my images out there.  Etsy is a bit different than the last three vendors I mentioned.  With FineArtAmerica, Redbubble and Zazzle I just upload my images and if that image is chosen by a customer to be added to some merchandise such as a pencil bag, pillow or a shirt, they handle the whole process and just mail me a commission check. This is pretty sweet way to make some money with just a little effort up front but so far I haven't made enough money to even blog about it.

Etsy is more like a real store that I am in control of.  I handle all the orders and inventory and I stand to make much more profit on each sale. It's constant work and needs weekly attention from me but I think it will be way more satisfying overall.   Again, like anything worth while, it takes time.  I understand very well that this isn't an overnight process but rather a slow building of a fan base.  

I am no Etsy expert so this past week to help my store performance I started to do some research. Why re-invent the wheel when there are some really successful stores out there who have all four wheels rolling at full speed?  I want to sell art prints, cards and magnets that feature my artwork.  So I found a store called Paper Llamas that had digital prints of baby animals along with a number of other subjects.  I checked their sales statistics and was very impressed that they had sold nearly 9500 sales since opening their store in 2011.  Compared to my 1 sale these guys are Etsy giants.  I noticed that I posted just a single high resolution image of my art while they often posted images that showed their work framed and matted hanging on the wall.  They sold their prints both individually and in groupings.  Having them framed and matted gives the buyer a chance to visualize the art nicely displayed on their own wall.  That was smart!

Yesterday, I set up a staging area and tried to get that same hung art feeling by adding a few Christmas props and a nice wooden frame.  I used the camera on my cell phone but for my effort I think I got a much better image to compliment my work and promote my listings.  My shop received 3 favorites just yesterday alone.  That is a good sign.

My titles were a disaster.  I thought they wanted the title of the artwork but I realized after studying this successful store that this is where I need to get creative and add as many searchable phrases as possible.  I just made the artwork title the first line in the description because the image is from an original piece of art that I have taken the time to give it a name I want to include that name in the listing, just not on the title line.

They also used a variation drop down menu that gave them the ability to offer different sizes and prices for their work.  Seeing this was like a light bulb going off in my head.  Why have a separate listing for a card, a magnet or a print when I could accomplish it all with one listing?  My store will forever be much tidier and easier to manage thanks to this light bulb moment. 

My goals for 2017 for my Etsy Store is 75 products in my inventory, 500 individual sales and 100 favorite rating for the store.  I am going to also give ebay a try and see if the potential for art sales is there also.  Some artists swear ebay is better than Etsy and so I need to figure this out for myself.  

As I learn from my experiences, I will be blogging about what I have found to be successful and what has worked for me.  To sell an original canvas painting for several hundred dollars is great and I surely appreciate those moments.  They just don't happen nearly enough.  I want to supplement our retirement income with art sales and perhaps even allow additional income to continue even when I am no longer able to create.  I want to never be tempted again to take an accounting or tax preparation job. 

I have come to the conclusion in my own art path that brick and mortar galleries can only do so much to get my work out there.  I have to take ownership of my own promotion and art destiny and those small sales, I believe will add up and surpass any sale of the original piece.  I am going to be building my business one greeting card, one magnet or one print at a time.

Here is the link to my Etsy Store if you are interested in checking it out.  Remember it's a work in progress and this progress has really just begun.

Here are some images I took yesterday for my Etsy Store listings:  


Thursday, November 17, 2016

HOLY COW! I Did It!

For several weeks now I have struggled to come up with a theme idea that I felt comfortable with for a n upcoming art show.  Themed shows can always add an extra challenge but with that challenge comes growth as an artist. This particular show is one that I am actually somewhat in charge of.  

The artists of City of the World Gallery located in the 18b Art District of downtown Las Vegas is having their first ever library show. Mr. Darren Johnson, the Gallery Service Coordinator for the Clark County Library District suggested a possible "Mob Theme" and with that it was decided to bill the show as "Vivid Las Vegas- An Artistic Review of the Historical and Colorful Las Vegas Past."


While I may have been instrumental in coming up with that theme, it is the last thing that I really would consider painting for myself.  So I have been sketching a vast number of Las Vegas characters including Wayne Newton, Elvis Presley, Oscar Goodman, showgirls and gangsters trying to come up with something I could get excited about.  

Then just the other day it hit me.  I really only needed to combine my painting style with something that reflected Las Vegas history.  HOLY COW!  The idea hit me like a herd of stampeding Holsteins! What could be more down my alley than painting cows or in this case a long forgotten casino that was remotely associated with cattle.  The Holy Cow Casino and Brewery that once stood on the Northeast corner of Sahara and Las Vegas Blvd.  

I can only recall going in there once and that was to walk around their gift shop full of cow memorabilia looking for a unique gift.  I don't recall if I purchased anything but I do remember that I thought it was one of the more interesting casino gift shops I had walked through.  Of course that is probably because even back then I liked decorating in a farm motif.  I always said that my decorating style was "Barn Yard" and that way the dirt and dust seemed more natural.

So this is the composition I came up with.  A replica of a bottle from the Holy Cow Casino used to display some freshly picked daisies.  I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  Painting glass may look hard but it really isn't and I like the soft mottled background so commonly used in still life compositions.  I considered adding several different varieties of flowers but in the end decided that the simpler the better for this piece.  I'm not even trying to think of a creative title and am just calling it "Holy Cow Bottle with Daisies".  Pretty original I think.

So I hope that if you are in Las Vegas on December 15 you might consider making a stop at the Flamingo Library and checking out the show.  This piece will be there along with a number of others.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

In These Months as Winters Watch Unfold




I painted this piece as one of the several entries I need to have for a number of upcoming holiday themed art shows that I want to enter.  The last few pieces have been of cute little chickadee so this trio of white tail deer was a nice change.  I was so inspired that I even wrote a few lines of poetry to go along with it.

You know as a child, I remember snow being so much fun and I enjoyed many a day sledding, building snowmen and winning a snowball fight or two.  The best days were those when school was cancelled due to road conditions.

As an adult snow doesn't offer the same appeal to me.  I'm very happy to live in an area that snow is all but a non-issue and in 38 years I have only had to really contend with it once and for any seasoned winter driver, my stress I felt that on that day would be laughable.

It is beautiful however and painting it is enjoyable.  So I've been painting my share of snow scenes these past few weeks.  This particular piece I'm calling "Winters Watch" It is painted in acrylic on an 18 x 24 inch gallery wrapped canvas and will be making it's public debut hopefully at the gallery at Lake Las Vegas during December.  I will keep all my art show participation information current on my social media and website.

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Winters Watch
By
Julie Townsend

Dreams of coming spring are covered thickly
Under a sparkling blanket of fresh fallen snow
Pine needles glistening frosted and no longer prickly
Bowing to the ground in a white splended show

The trees are a cast robed for a part in the icy scene
The moonlight adds drama and suspense as the curtain begins to rise
Nothing but twinkle and glitter to fill each gully and ravine
Such beauty spread softly that you scarcely believe your eyes 

The sounds of the hooves breaking through the ice crust
Are muffled by the thickness of the surrounding bitter cold
Their each step is exaggerated by the added effort and thrust 
Life is full of drama and conflict in these months as winters watch unfold

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Z is for ZINNIA


  








One of my dreams has always been to have a cutting garden.  Alas in Las Vegas growing anything takes an extra amount of work that I just never seemed to have the time for.  Oh I have some flowers every year growing in pots around the front door but nothing like the flower gardens of my dreams.

I plant the usual geraniums, pansies, and chrysanthemums but a new favorite has emerged.  I tried to find zinnias a few years back at all the local garden centers and all I
could find were a pack of seeds.  I planted the seeds that spring and while they don't look like the pictured bright red flowers, I did get a sturdy plant full of orange blooms. They have successfully reseeded themselves every year after that.  They grow kind of tall (about 3 feet high) and spindly but they are a nice splash of color by my front door.

What is it about Zinnias?  I mean there are lots of great flowers but I just find them so cheerful, colorful and they just make me happy.   Add it to the fact that they are SO easy to grow makes them a favorite for many flowerbeds.  I was mildly surprised to find they are part of the daisy family but the information I was reading also said they were part of the sunflower tribe.  I didn't know that flowers were classified in tribes.  I mean family and species classifications I remember but I don't recall "Tribe" as a scientific classification.  Of course biology has been a number of years ago so maybe this is just unique to flowers or something new.








When my much awaited mega large set of Prismacolor colored pencils arrived the first sketch I did with them was that of Zinnias.  I absolutely love all the colors I now can choose from.  Just look at all those oranges, yellows and pinks.  The choices made for happy little zinnias.  My original artwork is a 5 x 7, matted to 8 x 10 and is available for purchase.  I can also make prints, magnets and greeting cards if you just love the design.  Send me a message and I will be happy to get you prices.

I love filling up my artistic journal pages and maybe this is cheating because I've gotten where I just add copies of my sketches into the pages and add my thoughts about each of the piece or share a poem that I wrote to go along with the artwork.  I know I'm really supposed to draw directly into the book but I just find that I enjoy this so much better.  It's combining my finished works that I like and yet I'm journaling about things that are important to me.  I thought I would share my Zinnia journal entry from last week to close out this blog post.

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Zinnia Journal Entry in my Sketchbook Journal

Monday, November 7, 2016

Chickadees Galore


The season is changing outside here in Las Vegas but it has been slow coming with November temperatures still in the upper 80's but in my studio there is snow all around.  Winter and the holidays has arrived in full force. With December approaching I am finding that every gallery I affiliate with has decided that a holiday themed show is the thing to do and I have 4 of them I'm busy trying to create for not to mention my recently completed ornament that is on it's way to Washington D.C. to be hung on the National Christmas Tree.  I've been one very busy artist!  This ornament features the Mountain Bluebird, which is the state bird of Nevada.






After finishing the ornament, I focused on creating more unique Christmas designs including a painting.  As you can see this week has clearly been a Chickadee kind of week.  I finished this 12 x 12 acrylic snow scene and what fun I had painting it.  I'm calling this one "Chickadees in the Snow" and I'm thinking of hanging it in the Boulder City Art Gallery for December.












Then I decided to add a couple of more sketches that featured a similar pair of birds and those adorable red berries by having them appear to be stringing garland or decorating their nest.  I thought it was a cute idea and the "Stringing Garland" piece looks really great on a greeting card.







Speaking of greeting cards, I have also been working on improving the look of my cards by adding a border around the 4 x 6 print with a slightly larger rectangle of Christmas designed card stock.  I bought a pad of 60 sheets at the Michaels Store  just to see how I could spice up the design on my cards and I think they have turned out really nice.  I'm looking forward to filling card orders and making these available at a number of local area galleries and hope to take some out to the store in Pahrump.




A final design created this past week is more in a cartoon style but those little Chickadees are still going strong.  This one I have called "Decorate to Impress".

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Zazzle Your Holiday

Check out how awesome this coaster puzzle looks with my own  "Except For the Mouse" Christmas design that is now available on my Zazzle store.  I think these coasters add the perfect touch while protecting your beautiful wood furniture.  Because of the puzzle aspect, they offer an element of entertaining for the younger members of your family.  These would make great gifts and stocking stuffers.
Here is a link that will take you to this item in my Zazzle Store:
http://www.zazzle.com/holiday_cheer_coaster_puzzle_set_puzzle_coaster-256636727658322620?CMPN=emc_ProductCreationForStore_Html_blogger&rf=238584376346894601&lang=en

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Just a Can or Two of Red Spray Paint


My display set up for the night
I have had this old bakers rack for years but recently it has been come a very handy addition to my art displays. I'm almost certain I bought it at Ross maybe 14 years ago. The really cool thing about it is that all the shelves are hinged and lift up. This allows the sides then to fold in. The whole folds down completely flat which makes it great for transporting. It is also pretty light weight. Brad has added addition perforated metal sheeting to the back and sides so my magnets stick to it like a charm. It holds plenty of cowbells, greeting cards and matted artwork.


I had him paint it red the other day and I'm just loving it. I picked red for a couple of reasons 1. Red is a favorite color of mine and 2. I think it draws extra attention to my display.
Here we have it set up at the gallery in Lake Las Vegas. I'm thinking of asking him now to add 2 wheels on the bottom back and a handle so that it is easy for me to drag along behind me when folded up.

All you would have to do is add a couple of grid display panels and I easily could display close to a thousand dollars inventory in a very small space.




Looking in to the gallery from the village street
Here is the view of the gallery from outside looking in. I'm so happy to be part of this great location. I believe this gallery has much potential and how exciting to be involved from the very start. We just have to get the word out. There are 3 galleries located right in the village area. All three of the galleries run by artist Peg Lozier. My work is displayed in the North Gallery, nearest the Lake.

Great art and beautiful surroundings make for a winning combination. Now we just need to increase the visitors to the gallery, the hours of operation (volunteers like myself work in the gallery so we are only open on the weekends at this point) and of course the sales. There is really impressive artwork hung on the walls and it would be well worth your time to take a drive out there and check it out.