When you first start out, as I did a few years ago now, you make art badly, and keep it under wraps for ages.
Then you get a little confidence, and practice makes – not perfect – but less bad. So you still keep it under wraps.
Then, one day, you think you might go public, so you let people know, and they say, practically in a chorus “hey, why don’t you sell it???”
So, why don’t you sell it?
Why don’t you sell it?
Primarily, I’d say it comes down to the fact you don’t think anyone would want to buy it. Simple as that. I also remember thinking as well that, you know, I “wasn’t making art to make money, man.”
But that’s a flawed attitude, because unless you’re mad, or a genius, or a self-flagellating type, why would you toil over something visual and then, right at the end, put it away for no one to see? Maybe there’s a purity in that, but purity is a scarce commodity when there’s more white ink to buy…
I don’t know, I’m rambling. It’s confusing and the motivation gets all muddied. But long story short, I’ve been trying to steer a course through these waters and so recently began selling prints, to no one’s greater surprise than mine.
Yes, people have actually been buying the odd one. Nothing that means I can quit work, or buy a new car or anything, but enough to think, wow, that print is on a wall in Chicago, or London, and I made it, and I have money in my Paypal account as a result. It’s bonkers.
But the online methods of selling I’ve been using differ a fair bit, so I thought I’d write about each. There’s basically Etsy and Artfinder so far, and both have yielded results.
Artfinder is an art only site with a weird ‘jury’ policy to accepting new work, whereby you put a proposal forward and get ‘accepted’. Also, the main issue I think I have with it, as a new user, is the fee. The site claims you get “exposure” (and I did get a retweet from the company CEO, no less), but it charges a 30% commission, which, especially when compared to Etsy’s 3.5%, seems absolutely chronic.
Uploading work to sell is also mildly more difficult through Artfinder’s site, and I’d guess that fewer people have heard of it. But still, it’s another iron in the fire.
Etsy meanwhile is more friendly feeling, although it could be argued its lack of specialisation – users sell everything from old phones to art to clothes – might mean art falls half way down a long list of “stuff available”.
But it does seem to have Craft at its heart, so my suspicion is the kind of people I’d like to think I’m selling to (you know, really cool people like you and your mum, rock stars, supermodels, athletes, astronauts) might already be shopping there. Artfinder can feel a bit middle-aged by comparison.
That said, both services offer really good help and forums, and Etsy have regional meet-ups and sales which I’ve attended in Brighton (not as a seller – yet – though).
What the whole debate’s taught me though is that I might as well stick stuff up there to sell. If I sell nothing more, the novelty of having sold the few pieces I have already is lovely, frankly. The important thing is to keep creating for myself, not some unseen mass. That’s a new challenge I hadn’t anticipated. Wish me luck.
Go shop, life’s short, you don’t need all that wallspace.