One week ago a good friend of mine was married at a beautiful ceremony at Vancouver’s Van Dusen Gardens. Spring plants blooming in all their glory and all the guests were given full day passes to enjoy the gardens, overall a lovely way to spend Victoria Day.
Rewind three months earlier, my friend asked me to make her wedding thank yous. I was honoured, and it spurred a flurry of creativity that ultimately became a bestseller for me. After some discussion, several mock-ups and a browse of her Pinterest boards I was pretty sure I had the design down.
Eucalyptus, geometric designs and spring flowers led my designs and eventually brought the three different images that will be going out to guests very soon. This took me back to watercolours which I have not used often over the past ten years as I’m usually working with acrylics. There were quite a few late nights in March and April. Once I got the bug for these I kept going with the flow and more kept coming, not to mention I also signed up for the Etsy Artisans craft fair hosted by my local chapter. It may not seem like too much to accomplish in a month, but I already have a full time job so it required some careful juggling and sourcing of a good printer.
Then suddenly I was getting orders for these cards, and realized some areas of my distribution plan were a bit lacking. I didn’t really have packaging organized, or proper shipping costs, which because problematic when I got an order to ship more than 10,000 km away. I have most of the kinks worked out now, it helped that I discovered I could use my husband’s baking scale to weigh the packages. Needless to say, they have now traveled far across the globe as well as locally and are available through my Etsy page.
Over the Mothers day weekend I took part in my first craft fair. This particular one, hosted by the Victoria chapter of Etsy Artisans and was part of a broader national series of craft fairs happening in May. So, during the month of April I worked through new card plans, doing a few more plant based images and updating my birthday cards.
I was getting stuck for ideas and doodling away when it hit me. I have a set of nesting dolls brought back from Russia by my uncle ages ago on a business trip. I had only just found them again in storage, not to mention my Russian husband though they were beautiful. So I took my inspiration and set it down trying to settle on how best to represent them without directly copying the ones I had. In my initial sketch I had tried to make each doll different, with a sense of personality to each of them. While I think it would have been interesting to do, I ultimately went more simple remember that they are printed to fit on a 4.25 x 5.5 card so most of those features would be lost. Maybe that’s something for a future larger project. So my dolls when through a few phases of design before finally coming to the one below. Although I didn’t sell too many of them at the craft fair they were certainly the one that garnered the most questions and had people stopping at my table to see.
Start a business they said, sell your art they said, ship your art they said…..in this case it’s more I said, but same thing right?
So, recently I thought I would try to make my art more accessible in the hopes of selling more. Enter art cards! No just the hand drawn ones that I will happily make custom, but tiny versions of my paintings. In theory a great idea, and following a brief period of ads on social media I started to get significant traffic on my site and online store. And… Drumroll… one purchase! Hurray! I know it’s pretty small but I was still happy. Albeit rather caught off guard scrambling to get a bunch of cards printed and ready in the two day turnaround time I stipulate on my site. But it worked and they look great! On to the next obstacle, mailing them. Seeing as the person who bought the area was someone I knew I decided to get them there a little faster. Then things went downhill, these went out almost two weeks ago… with an est delivery of 2 days. I anxiously watched for tracking updates, things were going well and they were in the right province and might even arrive early. But then, radio silence. I called to see what was going on, logged a ticket and soon after got the update that they had been sent to Whitehorse by mistake. For reference, I was sending them to a town in south-central Alberta. So really not the right place. So I waited a few days and followed up, more tickets added to but no further ahead. As it’s stands two weeks later, it’s still sitting in Whitehorse. It’s a wait and see kind of situation, good thing this time I knew the buyer, hopefully this helps me iron out the kinks for the next person who buys something. Can’t move forward without some mishaps keeping you thinking and learning.
So art is a hard thing to sell if no one know you. I know that, and it’s even harder if those paintings are of people. Which brings me to a new way to get some of my art out there.
I’ve always been one for making cards, Christmas, Birthdays, Valentine’s Day I’ve done them all at some point. Up until now though, only my family and friends have seen them, which brings me to a decision about a month ago to make them on a wider scale. The one I’ve listed today I made for my niece’s birthday this year and hope to follow with more soon.
This means that I have to get a heck of a lot more prolific with my designs. I’m usually coming up with card designs the day before they are going to the person and not spread out throughout the year. Probably not a bad change though, means I might not be spending Christmas Eve up til all hours finishing cards for family.