My Business Referral Notecards & Panda Piano Notecards are now on Etsy

I’m interested to see how it goes listing some of my illustrated notecards on a big platform like Etsy. As I wrote in a previous post, I’m finding Etsy to be very efficient and time-saving in terms of selling my original art products. I’ll write updates as to my success on the site as time progresses. 1etsy_thankyouforsendingbizmyway_3

I drew my ‘Thank You for Sending Business My Way’ notecards when I was a member of a small business support group, to thank the colleagues their who referred me to other businesses. It depicts a traffic cop character waving on an eager gaggle of business people, women and men of various races, and the inside of the card is blank, so the sender has plenty of space to write a personal note of thanks. Full description at my Etsy site.

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I drew my melodious little panda cub as part of a series of whimsical animal musicians, for piano teachers or piano students — or for panda fans! — to use for thank yous, congratulations or any other noteworthy occasion. The inside of the card is blank, so the sender has plenty of space to write a personal note. Full description at my Etsy site.

Both of these are easy to order online here at my shop.

Board Game for Hoteliers

The latest article I’ve illustrated for Lodging Magazine explains the dilemma some hoteliers have when presented with a PIP – that’s a Property Improvement Plan – which can be expensive and time-consuming. Some hotel owners opt to sell or ‘flip’ their property to a new flag (hotel brand) or sell it at this point, processes which have their own issues. The editor wanted me to illustrate the quandary of choosing between these options.

Two fun ideas quickly came to mind and I sketched them roughly in pencil – a game show harkening back to Let’s Make A Deal, with Curtain Number 1, 2 and 3, with an agonized hotel owner on the spot:

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– and also a board game idea, with owners losing a turn or skipping ahead to win at their dizzying run at Pip or Flip:

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The editor liked the game board and so I drew it up a bit tighter, with quotes and tips from the article:

1lodging_piporflip_sk3With some suggestions from the editor, I drew it on illustration board in prisma pencil, and started painting in bright gameboard colors in acrylic washes –

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and splashed in a loose color background for the finished art –

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The Artful Badger, Finished Illustration

I painted this animal version of Dickens’ memorable character for the ’40 Art Show’ at my favorite art store, Phoenix Art Supplies & Framing. I used prisma pencil for drawing and then painted over it with acrylic washes, on illustration board. The show was this weekend, and my piece was not among the sold, but I’m happy to have painted this little fellow for my own entertainment! I described my sketch process in my previous blog post here.

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Dickens Character

I really enjoy the stories of Charles Dickens, my favorites being Nicholas Nickleby (saw the Royal Shakespeare Company perform their version on PBS when I was in high school, then read the book over & over), A Christmas Carol (love Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations) and 1artfulbadger_7aOliver Twist, which was made into the movie musical Oliver, a favorite of mine when I was in grade school.

One of the indelible characters of these stories is Oliver Twist’s pickpocket mate, the Artful Dodger. In the movie this character was made into an entertaining urchin who wore
the ragged castoffs of a typical Victorian gentleman: dented top hat, dusty morning coat and vest, pinstriped trousers, and often trailing a silk kerchief he had nicked from a passerby. A truly memorable look!

1artfulbadger4bI wanted to draw my own animal version of the Artful Dodger for a special project and so decided on an ‘Artful Badger.’ I sketched a quick figure leaning against a London mailbox, then traced it and refined the drawing of his face a bit more. I also realized that the pint-sized Dodger of the story was too large as I originally drew him by the mailbox, so I sized him down a bit.

The final tracing before the finish is below, and I’ll show the finished painted piece a little later this week.

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For Artists: Comparing Etsy and Zazzle

1etsy_eaglecardhilltop1My experience of ‘opening a shop on Etsy’ to display my Eagle Scout congratulations cards has been a very good one.  I would recommend Etsy to other artists, and I’ll explain why for me it is a better fit than another popular platform for selling product art, Zazzle.

At Zazzle you can also open a ‘shop’ page, but a big difference is that Zazzle actually does the production work on your items – whether you wish to sell your art printed on cards, t-shirts, mugs, etc.  So when someone orders your Zazzle item, it ships directly from Zazzle and you don’t see the finished product – therefore you cannot judge the quality of the print job. Because Zazzle does the heavy lifting of production and distribution, you, the artist, receive a very small percentage of the asking price.

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My photo display of my Eagle Salute card on Etsy.

With Etsy the artist herself has to have the products made and in stock, so she gets to monitor and approve the print quality – I like this aspect better even though it means I have to do the production myself. (I have a terrific printing partner in Cortineo Creative, here in my hometown of Doylestown.) When a buyer orders my cards, I receive the full asking price that I list on my shop page. Etsy also estimates, from a form I filled out on the dimensions & weight of my product, what the postage will be on the package, and that is added onto my asking price so the buyer pays that postage as well. Etsy provides a customized shipping label and packing slip that I can print out and put on the package; when Etsy deposits my earnings, they deduct the cost of the postage from my total earnings, since the buyer initially paid that postage cost to me.

The tradeoff in payment between the two is this: I can list my products on Zazzle for free; with Etsy there is a charge for each item in my shop. The charge is 20 cents per item per quarter of a year. So I do pay 80 cents per year for each card on Etsy – so far this seems like a good tradeoff, since I am being paid the full price of my cards. Another disparity is, Zazzle has a threshold you must pass before they will send you your earnings – I believe it is $25 – and it takes a number of sales to accrue that amount since you are making a small percentage of the payment on each purchase.  Etsy, on the other hand, deposits your earnings into your associated bank account once a week.

One other detail, on Zazzle, there is an option to allow your buying customers to ‘customize’ the item they are purchasing.  These custom changes range from changing the color of the t-shirt and ink color, to adding their own words to your design. While this may be attractive to buyers who want the item for a very specific purpose, as an artist I hesitate to let others adjust and modify my designs. I have complete control with my Etsy products since I do the production.

I’ll also mention, I have done no advertising at all – until this post – to promote my cards on Etsy and yet I’ve made a number of sales, and have received great reviews from my customers, without even soliciting reviews.

I’d be happy to see comments from other artists giving your pros and cons in selling products on Etsy and Zazzle, as well as other online platforms.

 

Latest illustration for a trade magazine

The most recent article I illustrated for Lodging Magazine deals with a much more serious subject than usual: human trafficking. Unfortunately the hotel industry sometimes becomes inadvertently connected with this crime because traffickers use the anonymity of room rental to escape law enforcement. The article suggests ways to make hotel staff conscious of suspicious behavior by room renters, while staying within regulations of privacy.

1lodging_traffickingtypes_sk1One such suggestion is inviting local law enforcement to present information personally to the staff, so questions can be answered directly. I tried going with this angle for the illustration – my initial pencil sketch:

The editor approved it and I did a rough color sketch in colored pencil, also approved.  1lodging_traffickingtypes_colorsk1The editor did make the comment that everyone looked ‘too happy in my sketches for such a serious subject, with which I agreed. So I gave everyone more thoughtful expressions in the finished art.

This illustration, like most of my others for these assignments, is drawn in black prisma pencil then painted with acrylic paint washes, like watercolor.

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