In October I decided to take a cyber-plunge and start a web site featuring my miniature and little paintings and offering them for sale. It's up and certainly running at www.pollypowellart.com, and I invite you to visit it often and sign up for updates on new art. Well, one thing leads to another, so if I had a web site and paintings to offer on it, I might as well hit some in-person sales before Christmas. So I found Handmade NW (www.handmadenw.com), a cooperative who do very good things and was accepted as a vendor for one of their shows. It was suggested to me by my fellow artisans that I explore ACEOs and - gasp - reproductions of my work.
Brick Wall: I have this view (nurtured in art school) that there's "fine art" and then there's the whole world of business and craft and catering to a buyer and -- worst of all -- utilitarian items. There is a huge chasm separating the two, and we all know which side it's best to be on. Reproduce my work? Prints?
There's another side to this brick wall, and that's is my art worthy of reproduction? If you're running off a batch of these you have to have confidence that a batch of people are going to want a copy of it, are going to make a place to display it or give it as a gift. But I've had this pain when some of the paintings I've really liked and felt were milestones for me have sold and I can no longer visit them at will. What to do? Why not do both, pursue those juried art shows in real galleries, reach for that masterpiece, and at the same time paint the necklace, spice up the reproduced ACEO, do the quickie painting to keep the cost down? They are only separated in my mind. I could have another web presence.
I started my Etsy store yesterday: Miniscapes. I chose the name because I paint landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, whateverscapes in miniature, and because I love miniatures because to really appreciate one you have to stop a minute, step close, and allow yourself to go into the world portrayed in it: a mini escape. I love miniatures because they're never quite reality, they always show the creative hand of the artist, so I am the miniscape artist, kind of like a little Houdini.
I've already learned some things by experience. Number one is I can waste a ton of time taking, transferring, editing, choosing, moving and then uploading and arranging photos of my products. I need to develop a system of what views of an item I need and where it will be stored on my computer with what label. I'll have to spend some time on that.
Lesson Number two is to choose a lead photo of an item that focuses closely and clearly on the strongest feature of what I'm offering for sale. I put on a photo of a necklace (my first and only item in my Etsy store so far) that displayed the piece draped over a vase. I thought it looked quite artful on my computer screen by itself, but when it was displayed on a search page it looked like I was selling the vase. No one who clicks on that photo is going to be interested in buying the necklace. I need to focus the seekers' attention.
So organization and efficiency. And a schedule. This is quite an undertaking. I have two web sites to maintain, two e-mail locations to check, and an awful lot to learn and to manage.
And now added to the to-do list is letting people know about this blog, linking everything together a little more tightly. It's almost too much for a fifty-plus-year-old technical underacheiver, but I know how good it feels when it all works.