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In response to my suggestion that you make a favorite person a T-shirt (and impress them with your creative genius) my friend wrote: “I got the most fantastic iron-on printer paper from Dharma Trading company. It’s super soft. I like it because I made the boys some t-shirts with basketballs and butterflies and rainbows and washed them a bunch so they look like old shirts – you can’t see the iron-on-ness of them at all. I also got some freezer paper and fabric ink but haven’t had a chance to break those out yet.”

This got me thinking — there are probably really cool art supply stores out there online that I don’t know about. What are yours? Add them to the comments below.

1. http://www.dharmatrading.com – Fiber Art Supplies and Blanks

2. www.dickblick.com – they have great sales; I shop here a lot

3. http://www.ecoartworks.com/ — anyone try this “ecoplanet” art store?

4.

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I’ve completed my Texas Trio of ink drawings — now showing at Shellybees.com — and shared them with two of my favorite artist friends. One said she loved the Great-Tailed Grackle drawing, and also the Papaya Passion from my Maui collection (of 2; the others flopped). She politely didn’t mention my Loving Longhorn.

Texas Duo of ink drawings by Shellybee\'s

And my Racing Armadillo hadn’t released yet. My other friend, who also happens to be my sister, and I were sipping bright-orange cocktails when I asked her about my Texas drawings. This was after her art opening at the Museum of the Living Artist in San Diego. Her family triptych was accepted. So you see why her opinion means more than just sisterly fluff.

“I love the bird,” she said, then glanced sideways.

“And the Longhorn?” I pressed, smiling, because I already knew, but I wanted her to say it.

“I hate it,” she admitted.

I waited.

She gushed: “It’s just so, I don’t know, it’s the composition, it’s elementary, I don’t like it.”

I laughed. What a fabulous strong reaction. I’d much rather love or hate than ambivalence.

So what do you think. Love it? Hate it? Is it the composition? The subject-matter? The color? Do tell!

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This woke me up: I had been neglecting my little art studio because my day job was going through a particularly intense few months. Then I received a request for custom sizes of seashell prints that were not even available in my online shop.Shellybee\'s art - custom size order

I didn’t think the ink drawings would look good as large as she wanted them — 14 X 11 inches, 100% + bigger than the originals — but I tried it and she was on to something. They looked fantastic. You could see every little detail, including traces of pencil and indented paper where there had once been lead and I erased. The finished art print was more tangible and real than I expected. I hope she loves them.

Something else dawned on me: because each print is made to order, they are ALL custom. So whether someone chooses from my shop or requests something personal, it’s all the same to me. I want the buyer to be thrilled, so I now encourage custom size requests in my shop.

Also, each print has at least a couple printer’s proofs to get the color and quality just right. It takes me almost as long to fulfill an order as it did to create the original drawing. Ok, so that might be a slight exaggeration, but to give you an idea of what I’m driving at, the prints you see here took me four hours to get just right, wrap up safely, purchase extra large packaging, and ship.

Which means, at the prices I had originally scoped, I was losing money with each order. Sigh. So Shellybee’s has refreshed its inventory and is raising the prices of its prints. But not by much. It’s a break-even relationship now.

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I need eyeballs. Lots and lots of eyeballs. But not just anyone’s eyeballs — I need eyes who appreciate the beauty of begging, brave seagulls, the light through the flesh of a cut lime in a cold cocktail, or the slick, iridescent home of a wild abalone you had for dinner last night.

Is it art if no one sees it? My little virtual art shop experiment in entrepreneurialism needs a party of people who love a well-mixed cocktail and the proverbial long walk on the beach. People who want to get a jump-start on their holiday shopping, who want kisses and hugs or simple nods of glowing appreciation because they thought to buy a one-of-a-kind, unique gift — a limited edition archival art print from an independent artist in California.

I need to get the word out: www.shellybee.etsy.com

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I wish I could develop a touchy-feelly “pat the bunny” screen so you could rub your fingers over my art prints before you buy.

A woman from Nashville who recently bought the second edition art print of “Sipping Sunshine” left this comment for me:

“I love this print! The paper is very nice, not what I expected for a print. Thank you for the quick delivery! I am very pleased with my first Etsy purchase!”

The paper and the pigments really make the difference. It’s not like a poster print at all. It’s almost difficult to tell it’s a print — it looks more like saturated paint hand-drawn on thick, textured watercolor paper. I’ll try to describe it better next time. But you might just need to touch it for yourself.

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Shellybee’s Seashells of the DeepJust when I say size matters, I receive an order for three art prints, two of which are the smaller size — the third is my signature print and most popular. I printed them on large paper, though, to give them generous margins and allow for framing without a mat. When I started to wrap up the package, I was really struck by her choices.

My latest art appreciator chose three seashell ink drawings on deep blues. Together, they have a very different impact than I had imagined, and I wonder what drew her to these in particular, and what the combination might say about my subconscious thoughts.

Showcasing different drawings or paintings from the same series did occur to me — and I think I might still have suggested pairings live at Shellybee’s. But her collection is really unique and somehow mysterious and ominous, and I wanted to share it with you.

Oh! I should mention that I experimented with a new, smoother paper for “Starfish Nightmares” (the lighter blue one above) and it really turned out rich and deep and fabulous. I used Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Satin and the pigments look like paint — like you’d see with a fine screen-print or dyed fine leather.

All images copyright (c) 2007 Shelly Bowen. All rights reserved. Thanks!

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Knowing of my interest in the business of art and the launch of my shop at etsy, my friend turned me on to this site called 20X200, an online art gallery that features two new pieces each week: one photo and one graphic piece on paper. The thing that caught my eye was “Great Art. $20. Really.” The $20 editions are a limited edition series of 200, and are smaller than 8.5 X 11, from the small selection I previewed. Something about having all the prices be the same appealed to me. Also, they listed how many were left, rather than what print number you would get if you bought right then. Interesting. Larger pieces are $200 and $2000. Now, the small print seemed like a better and even better deal next to these “pricer” options. I also noticed they don’t really give the specs on the printing — just “archival pigment print.” I would want more, but maybe most consumers would prefer less.

My takeaways? Try:

  • A universal price and size for all prints, so it’s easy to shop.
  • Increasing my number of limited editions and decreasing the price.
  • Reversing the limited edition number to show how many are left.
  • Offering the originals to show comparison value.
  • Less info on printing specs

What do you think. Any of these appeal to you? Do you spot any other opportunities they are using I could borrow for Shellybee’s Art Studio?

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