Sunday, August 30, 2009

Monetizing one's art - What would you do?

Idea Mandala

I think it's finally time that I do something more with my art than posting it to the web - but I have to admit, I am completely overwhelmed with the thought of selling my work. My sticking point is that I never ever create my art (specifically my mandala art) with the intention of trying to make money from it. I create art as a form of spiritual self expression - a meditative release if you will, but I can't help but noticing that there are a few of my images that people seem to really like... a lot. Seeing that I do need to eat on a semi-regular basis, and that my husband would surely love me to generate more than hot air... I'm willing to consider my options.

When selling art, there seems to be a million different ways to do it. I can sell prints, t-shirts, greeting cards.... I can use do-it-yourself sites like Cafe Press, Zazzle, Etsy, or any of a number of other similar sites.

I know that no matter how I start, I probably need to have a clean digital image from which to work. My scanner is not capable of capturing such an image, so I checked with one company that would shoot my art with some kind of high end digital camera and then "clean up" and color balance the image. The cost- $75 per image. Hmmmm seems kind of high. Then I can't decide if I want the reproductions to be like the original, (showing the paper grain etc.) or vectored/rasterized so it can be used more like graphic art. Decisions, decisions...

There is part of me that would like to do something that's a little different than just prints & greeting cards, and after I completed the above image, I was thinking that this particular image would make for a really cool reverse lino block print on a t-shirt. But that would mean that I would have to figure out how to transfer the design & carve it out, then print them. A great idea in theory, but one that might take up more time and effort than I currently have available.

So I am at a loss.

If you were me, what would you do? Do you have any experiences that you can share with me on how you reproduce your art for sale? Or maybe how you prefer to purchase your art?

13 comments:

Marsha said...

Right off the top of my head, I would suggest looking into teaching. Whether it's at a spiritual retreat center, or a workshop at your local Cheap Joe's it would be a nice way to make an income and stay true to your meditative focus. Also, you could possibly create, advertise and host workshops in your town.

Ontheroad said...

If teaching is what you'd like to do...you can offer classes directly from your website--several bloggers so that. You could check out places like http://creativeworkshops.ning.com/
to teach...and you can start your own .ning

And you could sell your art as originals on places like Etsy.

You might want to open an Etsy shop and try to sell a few pieces to get some reactions.

Whatever you do....much good luck!

Gentian said...

I think making shirts would be cool! Your designs would look great on it. Maybe you can consider screen printing. It's not too difficult if you want to try, and you can make drawings and photocopy them onto a trasparency. It works really well! You might have to spend a little on a kit, but it might be worth it.

Also, Jacquard makes an inkjet fabric, and Golden has inkjet mediums you can paint onto surfaces, if you would rather make prints of your photos using a digital medium.

Vectorizing them would not be too difficult either, if you have illustrator. You can use your photos rather or a scanned image it works well. Since your mandalas are line based, it would be easy to translate. If you need help to it let me know. I would be happy to, and it really does not take very long to do at all.

Aaron said...

I don't have any ideas about selling, but, I had to comment on your statement about not creating art with the intention of selling it. I think that is generally the best art. Once an artist is in the mindset of making art for the sake of sales they make art that is more mainstream. Personally I would love to be able to make a living with painting and drawing, but, if that is why you draw or the only reason, then your art itself would suffer. If you can sell the art you make for arts sake then you are blessed, and good luck.

journalingarts said...

There are lots of ways of approaching it, but whatever you do, I would strongly recommend a digital image of your favorite designs as you will need these for most forms of reproduction. $75 seems high to me, too. Even so, you might get a better deal if you have 5-10 done at the same time. I would shop around for this service locally as well as online.

If you are looking to reproduce items that are not in the realm of fine art, you may find your scanner and digital editing software to be adequate. For example if you wanted to convert your images into embroidery, a super high-res image would be overkill.

With your background and love of journals and fountain pens, I could see some of your designs being awesome journal covers or even printed notepads. Mandala pens or pen case would be interesting and I imagine that some of your readers would be interested in these as well. There are manufacturers out there who will incorporate your art on to journal covers and pads. Some of them might even be interested in licensing your images for their products.

I don't have enough room here to throw out the many directions you could take this, but I would be happy to discuss it with you. If you would like to contact me email me at cynthia@journalingarts any time. I would love to help you figure this out. I have had lots of experience with illustration and reproduction would love to be able to put it to good use by helping out a fellow artist.

I am glad to hear you are considering this. Your mandalas are beautiful.

Cynthia

Maggie said...

I know this is a difficult thing. You might want to check into Henry Reed PHd and his mandalas. He sells small ones that he makes for specific people for $100..he sends them on a piece of board, wrapped in cellophane. He also lets people pick whatever ones he likes (he creates one and posts it online every day) on clothing and bags.

Another thing, since you do write, is to consider some type of book, with quotes in it...something along the lines of SARK is what comes to mind to me...but you could be totally original. Then you have to shop it around to publishers, or self publish at a vanity press. Getting published is hard...and even though I have several books in my field in my name, the last book I did for a major publisher I only made $6,000.00 and they never sold enough to get any royalties. THey only really promote the big name, A-list books. If you're b-list they pretty much expect you to do it....I like the idea of seeing you try out a booth at Mayfair or Musikfest or some smaller venue. The art could be original, adhered to come kind of fiberboard backing and again, wrapped in a clear cellphane-- would not have to be framed etc-- except some that you display on the walls of your booth,,,the others could be in bins. Just a thought...I think your mandalas are awesome and if I decide to run any more tours in this area...I would contact you and ask you to do a workshop for my guests. see my site www.walkforallseasons.com. I have been thinking for a couple of years I ought to have a local tour that includes my friends who do personal coaching, nutritional coaching, yoga/tai chi etc and something artistic...
Maggie

HTB said...

If I were to see mandala t-shirts of sale somewhere, I'd buy one (or two).

Janine Kozanda said...

Since many of your art fans are from the fountain pen, art, ink, etc. world, I think that paper items would be a hit.

How about some letter writing paper, matching envelopes, post cards, blank books with manadala designs on the covers, etc? :0)

You'd be able to pick wonderful fp friendly paper and this would make you even more of a goddess than you already are!

Rick Hein said...

Maybe talk to one of your drum groups and do a shirt design for their next show? CD cover for your favourite musician you hang with? I like the note card idea, but think you'd also need a venue to sell them - maybe as an add-on to a drum festival or music event?

You have great designs and a giving spirit - I know that the match will be made and I'm wishing for sooner!

Rick musorah on fpn

Anonymous said...

I agree with the paper items, though I would love to see your mandalas available on a mouse pad as well!

Also, a real odd suggestion, what about having the design transferred onto a writing surface/desk pad, like some of us fountain pen users use, or would that be too distracting?

Debbie W Mann said...

hello bean!
i love your work, how about a calender? or a colouring book? i also like the idea of t shirts too, good luck with whatever you choose, cheers, deb

colewardell said...

When it comes to preparing your art for print, I'd suggest online collaborations over taking it to a "professional" scanner. I know a lot of people would be happy to provide you with high quality cleaned-up images for a much lower price, especially if you give them credit on your site.

Best of luck! Let me know if you'd like some recommendations for cleaning up those images.

Titivillus said...

That's the same boat I'm in. For awhile I sold my notebook modifications on websites but it wasn't what I would call sucessful. Now I've branched out into woodblock prints so I am very interested in seeing the suggestions and comments in this thread.

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