I used to have an online business selling reproductions of vintage illustrations such as maps, posters, Japanese prints and a huge variety of other materials. I gave this up to concentrate on my own work, but still have thousands of scanned images available. This post is simply putting down a marker for the future for anyone looking for vintage illustrations. I’m slowly going to add a selection to the site, but in the meantime I’m happy to talk about providing images for interiors and similar. In the past I know they have been used in bars and cafés, escape rooms, even tattoo parlours, but they are equally suitable for B&Bs, guest houses, reception areas or any public facing area. You give me a theme and I almost certainly meet your requirements.
Depending on the nature of the original, I’m flexible on sizes. Some can be printed almost to bedsheet size, others were originally tiny and don’t really scale up. Others again can be resized quite dramatically. Strangely, this is often easiest with the poorest quality originals, such as comic books from the 1940s and 1950s.
Here’s a selection to whet your appetite. They are not in the shop yet, but are available for sale. I’m going to post some guideline prices soon.
I’ve posted before about using my monotype prints as source imagery for digital prints. I’ve started adding some of these prints to the shop. You can find them here, but I’ve added a few tasters below. I’ve bitten the bullet and made them limited edition (they will all be in editions of 50}. I don’t like doing it, but every time I ask others, they seem to prefer a limited edition to open. They will be in a mat sized for a 50 cm x 50 cm frame, so will fit readily available commercial frames, or you can have one made.
I’m thinking about offering some of them in a portfolio form, perhaps with some additional material. I don’t know what the market would be for something like that, so any observations or views would be welcome. When I have a better idea of what I want to do, I’ll put up a form so you can register an interest.
I’ve now finished rearranging the menu structure, so the site update is almost complete. The menu bar is currently a bit messy, but it gives access to the items in the shop with fewer clicks to find specific pieces.
I’ve added Gift Vouchers to the menu as a distinct product. Terms and Conditions, Returns Policies, Privacy etc can be found under the About option. I have also added a specific Contact Form under that too, so if you have any questions that’s where to look.
I now have to continue editing the products I brought in from my Etsy shop to put them in the correct categories so that they show up in the right place, as well as adding more of the many I’ve been working on during lockdown.
Longer term, I’m going to set up an Exhibition of the Week/Month, which will draw together a selection of images to create an online show. This is likely just to be a slide show for now, but there are some exiting developments that allow creation of virtual gallery shows. I need to look into those in a bit more detail before I commit myself. In particular, I don’t want to have to do yet another site update.
I’m trying to set up a regular schedule of posts to the blog. I’m aiming to put up a substantive post every Friday. There may be short snippets at other times. The next post is already written and in the schedule for Friday morning.
I’ve written before about some lessons I have learnt about selling online. This post is about the more concrete aspect of getting a consistent and attractive presentation of your work.
The monotypes I’ve been making during lockdown now number about 70 with more still in progress. I’m thinking of setting myself a final target of 100 for the series. Making them has taught me a lot about colour and composition and I want to try to use those lessons in other print forms, especially collagraph. With so much work though consistent presentation is critical, not least because it raises issues of up-front costs in framing etc. Like any small business, artists need to minimise overheads
The cheapest option is obviously to offer these prints unframed and unmounted. However, I have noticed that there is a difference in perception between what you might call the ‘raw’ and ‘presented’ images. The simple act of presentation seems to be key in transform your work from just a piece of paper into an object of value.
By their very nature, gel plates are stretchy, so it can be difficult to get them accurately squared up before printing. Consequently, most of the nominally square prints are slightly distorted. Mounting them conventionally, with the edge of the print showing doesn’t look good because the gap between the print edge and the aperture edge is variable. The mount aperture can of course be cut to fit just inside the image. This gives a clean square look, and if the mount’s external dimensions are a standard frame size, gives a lot of flexibility in framing.
The print can also be torn down to a clean edge and ‘float mounted’. This needs a box frame to keep the glass off the image, which may be slightly more expensive. Here’s a video showing several ways of achieving this.
Instead of framing the print can be mounted on canvas or on a cradled wooden panel. This video by artist Bob Burridge shows how to do that neatly. I have to say I think this works best for larger pieces. Smaller works treated this way somehow lack ‘presence’, at least on their own.
I haven’t made my mind up yet. The float mounting technique in the video looks wonderful, but takes time to do well and would therefore be more expensive. I think in the end I will probably go for mounts cut to mask the edges. That way I can buy the mounts in bulk with bags and a backing board and to fit a standard frame size. Most of the images I’m talking about are 30 cm square so would look good in a 50 cm, but square frame. That’s a bit on the large size for easy shipping but should be possible. I have in the past sent 20″ x 16″ (about 50 cm x 40 cm) without problems.
However you do it, having a consistent and attractive presentation of your work is an important factor in achieving sales. If you are at all serious about your work it deserves that effort.
Let me know in comments how you do this for your work.
There’s a link via the menu, so this is just a reminder.
If you sign up to my mailing list you will get notifications of any shows or galleries where you can see my work in the flesh and advance notice of new projects. From time to time I will be offering subscribers discounts on purchases from my shop or other special offers. I will also use it to give subscribers a foretaste of the novel I’m working on. So, if you want to be kept up to date, please sign up.
Because I’m still finding my way around WordPress and its various plugins, I haven’t fully implemented searches. At some point I will be adding the ability to search by price and probably also size and medium. Until then, here is a selection from the shop of what is currently available. There are lots more in the Lockdown Series, and I’m adding more all the time.
Once we have got past the COVID-19 crisis I would very much like to hold a physical show. Follow the blog or better still sign up for my mailing list to be notified.
I’m continuing to add new items to the shop. My intention is to do that every day, but I don’t always make it! The shop structure is now much simpler, although I’m working on improving the search to allow for searches on price and size. For now, I’m concentrating on adding work made this year, the ‘Lockdown Series‘, with some older works.
Have a look. I’m quite pleased with it so far but I would appreciate your comments. The image below is ‘I Ching’
I’m still working away in the studio on some ideas for more ‘pared down’ images. There’s nothing to show yet though. I’ve learned a lot making these prints, especially about colour, and I want to transfer that experience to other print forms, especially collagraph, probably at first by revisiting some old plates. I also want to explore ways to take these monotype images into screen prints.
The best way to do this is probably by creating colour separations in software. These would then be used as the base image for the screens. Working in collagraph and screen print will also mean the images can be offered as genuine editions. I know of course that I could print directly from the scanned images, but that would then be just a reproduction, not an original print and I don’t do reproductions of my own work.
Selling your art online. Easy enough surely? Well, yes and no. I always wanted this site to be both shop and a blog. I enjoy writing so I want of course to write about my own work but also about art in general. That’s the easy bit. The shop though is, to say the least rather more complicated. I’ve sold online before, in a small way on EBay, but mainly on Etsy. That arcane art called SEO or Search Engine Optimisation, is however much more complex on your own site than on market places like Etsy or Folksy. That’s an issue but also an opportunity of course, but it still takes time.
I’m slowly adding new items to the shop but it is much slower than I hoped. So please bear with me for now while I work my way through the listings I’ve brought over from Etsy. For that reason I’m retaining the links to my other online venues for the time being. Eventually I will move them to the About Me page because I want this site to be the centre of my online existence. One of the wider lessons I learnt from selling on Etsy is not to dilute your brand. It’s my art I’m selling, so my brand is me. When I talk about selling your art online, I mean my art of course, but if I have any lessons to share I will try to do so.
Lessons I’ve learned
I don’t feel comfortable writing a blog post that claims to offer the answer because I don’t have the level of expertise to do that. I will however post from time to time to talk about what I’ve done and why. So bear in mind this is not advice. I’m the one following the advice!
This post title has links to other parts of this site and to external sites. As I understand it a good variety of internal and external links helps persuade search engines the site is reputable. Bearing in mind my comments about brand, those other sites also use variations on the same artist name.
There’s a relevant and unique key phrase used in the title, in the text (including near the beginning which gets more weight in search engines), in the page meta description and in the SEO title. This last took me a while to grasp but it is what shows up in search engine results. It needs to be long enough to explain and short enough to show up in its entirety.
A good chunk of the key phrase should also appear in the url.
I’m slowly starting to add items to the shop. I’m doing this slowly to make sure I have everything set up correctly. I’m aiming to make it possible to browse by medium, price, subject and size. I’ve added the last because I know sometimes thought how a little corner of a room would benefit from just the right piece of art and I can’t be alone.
I’m also working on setting up Virtual Exhibitions from time to time. My next real time show is not until May 2021 and who knows what will happen between now and then? For the moment this will just be a custom selection on the Shop Page but I’ve seen some wonderful examples since lock down using Virtual Reality so I’m looking into that too.
The featured image is called The Moon Goddess and the Sun. It is a collage made several years ago with prepared papers over a colour wash on watercolour paper. I had it framed for myself, but it will soon be added to the shop. The frame is very heavy solid wood so it will probably be added to the shop minus the frame.