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Fine Art Print packagingIt’s been three weeks since the launch of my shop, Shellybee’s Art Studio at etsy, and the traffic is beginning to build. I’ve sold several art prints, not quite enough for a true test of what’s working — price, what’s featured, shipping, tags, titles, limited edition or no, keywords? — but just enough for me to find one thing in common among all the sold pieces: SIZE.

My artwork is diverse — at least, I’m featuring at least two distinct styles, arguably three. I have my black and white drawings of sea birds and seashells on rich background colors. And my beverage series prints of oil paintings, which includes two fairly realistic portraits of women and six more graphic profiles of friends sipping cocktails in silhouette with wallpaper-like patterned backgrounds. You can see for yourself what’s sold by checking “sold” in my shop. At first, it doesn’t appear as if there is a pattern. Sipping Sunshine is popular — two limited edition prints have sold, and one inquiry about the original — and people really love the shells, but only Wild Abalone has sold. Then, of course, I realized. Duh. They are all larger prints. The 5x7s are collecting virtual dust. Interesting.

Then my favorite photographer Gary had a suggestion — I turn to him for art direction whenever I’m stuck. He suggested turning to larger format paper, to easily fit in a 11 x 17 frame. The paper these prints are made on is really beautiful, and could be considered a mat all by themselves. The prints are more expensive to produce, as you might imagine, but I tried it for my last sale, and it really turned out beautiful. I hope she likes it!

Would you like to see larger format seashell drawings offered from my studio? Let me know!

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Someone commented in an Etsy forum on my art shop that she wanted to know how much the prints would be matted (I had asked for feedback). Currently, I’ve made them available without mats, because I thought people would prefer to mat the work themselves. Now I’m not so sure.art print of woman in tiki bar

I’ve recently received a ton of hits on my Orange-Hot Tiki Bar first edition print of an original painting. I’ve just added the mat to that listing.

What would you be more likely to buy — an archival art print with or without a mat?

Let me know in the comments section below! Thanks!

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snowy white egret print 8x10 (c) bowenI sold my fourth fine art print! This time, the buyer had a little trouble with Paypal, and abandoned the buying page, so I had to figure out how to resend the invoice for her. It’s interesting that out of all 21 or so art prints I have available, she chose the only one (at the time) that was drawn from a photograph of a snowy egret by her all-time favorite photographer, Gary Allard. I’ll have to send that news along with her bird, after it finishes curing.

Today I’ll be shopping for new brands of fine art paper. I’ve been using Ilford’s Galerie series of professional smooth fine art paper, and the results are truly amazing. Each one looks like it was inked right on the paper by hand. Actually, better than by hand. You don’t get any of the rumpled, rough edges that comes from handling a piece for as long as it takes to ink it.

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Artists, Keep It Real

My favorite marketing and life blogger Seth Godin just pointed me to Hugh MacLeod’s site, where he has a list of thoughts on cartooning. I love number “21. I have found the standard “struggling artist” myths and stereotypes mostly full of crap. Powerful magnets for Bullshitters, to say the least,” and number “27. Cartoonists who don’t like to think much about the actual business they’re in, who are fond of saying, “I just want to draw” deserve everything they get.”

Heh. I am so putting his widget on my blog.

My takeway: if you’re an artist, be an artist, goddamn it. Then again, as Hugh says, ” 25. I would never recommend to a young person to pursue a career in fine art. Even if she had a talent that was off the scale, I would be slightly hesitant.”

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For me, art isn’t just about what you see. It’s what you breathe, touch, smell, taste, feel. Facing an ocean breeze in autumn is art. Watching the sun reflect off ice in a glass is art. Listening to your baby nephew’s throaty giggle is art. You can find art everywhere, if you pause long enough.

Ok, this is more fartsiness than artsiness. Why am I really here? Sure, it’s about sharing inspiration. But it’s also about the business of art. Just last week I launched a little shop at Etsy called Shellybee’s Art Studio, and loaded it with my recent seashell drawing series and my beverage oil painting series from earlier in the year. Now. To find my biggest fans. And hone in on their biggest desires. And translate my latest obsessions into their desires. Can I do it? If I’m give myself a good dose of optimism, I’d say, “Sure!” But really, I’m not so.

In any case, I thought I’d chronicle my little entrepreneurial journey for anyone interested in reading. All three of you.

And maybe it will inspire you in some way. I’d like that.

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