I’m yet another one of those countless artists who claim to have been born with a pencil or paintbrush in my hand. But apart from a short spell of selling my pastel paintings in solo exhibitions about five years ago, I’ve never ‘done anything' with my art – until now! Other things have always got in the way, mainly earning my living as a primary school teacher. But last year, at the ripe old age of 65, in a sudden fit of ‘it’s now or never’, I decided it was time to take my art seriously – which, of necessity, means making some money from it in the not too distant future!
So far it’s been a huge learning experience and the money has only just started to trickle in. So I’ve decided to post notes on my new ‘journey’, a concoction of tips and health warnings that I hope may be helpful to artists who are just starting out - with a generous sprinkling of images of my artwork thrown in. Much as I enjoy writing, this is an ‘artist’s blog’ after all!
Having spent nearly a year of sending my greeting card designs to publishers, with nothing but a ‘near miss ’ in the summer to show for it, money was beginning to get tight. So about six weeks ago I decided to look into something that had been on my mind for a while - selling my artwork and designs through online Print-on-Demand websites. It seemed like such a simple idea, leaving me free to get on with the bit that I'm best at, creating the art!
Six weeks later my head is reeling from all the new and, to me, alien vocabulary that I've had to acquire in order to set up my 'online stores' and promote them! A very steep learning curve and I'm sure I haven't really 'got there' yet. Meanwhile I haven't had time to produce a single piece of art or design - but on the other hand, people from all over the world have been buying greetings cards that I've designed and that's great!
Maybe it was a mistake to sign up for four different 'PODstores' at once - but once I'd successfully set up the first one, my enthusiasm got the better of me. The thing that has most challenged my little old grey cells is that, although all the sites work on the same basic principle - sign up, upload images, make them into products and sell them! - they each have their little individual quirky differences! And that's enough to thoroughly confuse a 'newbie' (or should I say 'oldie' in view of my age? Or maybe an old-newbie?) like me!
I was fine with the first two, Greeting Card Universe and Zazzle requiring me to 'select categories' for my cards and gifts - though some of the categorisation rules on Greeting Card Universe were beyond my understanding! Why, for instance, was I not allowed to put a card for congratulating someone on passing their driving test in the 'Driving Test Congratulations' category? The note I received said that nothing in the image or text referred to passing a driving test. Well, what was the girl with car keys in her hand, scattering torn up L-plates and heading for a car, with the text 'Congratulations, you've passed your test' all about? I did query that one and it was allowed through. But there were others that totally dumbfounded me and I just did as I was told! For instance, a picture of two boats on a lake in Wales had to go in the 'Places/cities' category. Crazy! On the whole, though, it all seemed quite straightforward.
But when I joined Printfection, not only was the order of doing things so different that I got in a complete muddle, sometimes even forgetting to add the commission I wanted because it's done automatically on the other two sites! And I kept getting stern-looking messages about not having created any sections in my store. So what are sections, I wondered for a few days and then decided to take a guess that they were the same thing as 'categories' and I'm still hoping I guessed right! I don't much like the fact that my 'images' are classed as 'unorganised', especially since I know I can be very disorganised so it's rubbing salt into the wounds. If only I knew what I have to do to 'organise' them....
It's all very exciting, though, if somewhat bemusing, and every time someone buys one of my cards and $0.56 is added to my account, I'm straight onto a dollars to GBP conversion website to work out how much I've earnt! Designing greeting cards is something I've wanted to do ever since I was a teenager - didn't go to Art College because my mother was sure they were full of Beatniks but I've always painted, drawn, screenprinted, designed scenery for amateur dramatics and so on and so forth....so, even though the money's not exactly going to make me rich, there are other rewards.
Today, however, I really depressed myself. Some really organised person had bought one of my Valentine Cards from Greeting Card Universe so I had a look on Zazzle to see whether my Valentine Cards came up on the first couple of pages. When I got to page 60 and still no sign of them, I checked how many Valentine Cards there are on the site - only 52,000+ - I'm sure that if you visited all the card shops in my nearest city, you wouldn't find as many as that! So what chance is there that mine will ever see the light of day, poor things?
Unless, of course I give them a break and post some quick scans of them here......