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Selling my art and some craft pieces

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  • Selling my art and some craft pieces

    Now as you may or may not know - I'm currently studying a Fine Art degree and I've just finished my first year .
    As you would imagine, I create a fair few pieces within the year (mainly paintings). Now I personally don't think they are amazing - but I am heavily critical of myself. My OH and best friend, on the other hand, think that they're really good and are trying to persuade me to start selling the things I paint and make.
    I would love to be able to sell my paintings especially because I work hard throughout the year on them, only to see them put away in the loft because I don't have the space to display them. I would also love to make a small amount of money to support myself whilst at Uni.
    Having said all this - I now don't know where to start. Having my own or .com website would be a dream but I have no idea if anyone would even be vaguely interested in my stuff. - And I don't know where to start!!
    And so I'm looking into etsy and folksy etc.
    I would prefer an english site because I'm scared of converting money and posting abroad and generally online transactions in general so would like to ease myself into it.
    So - I have signed up for both misi and folksy - which is better? (I'm interested in people's personal experiences and especially if anyone sells paintings on either).

    I'm sorry for the long post! But ideas have been running riot in my head for days - just trying to sort things out! Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for any help!!
    ReganLottie x

    Art Blog:

  • #2
    I don't know which is better, but I think etsy is longer established than folksy and misi. One way to get an idea is to look at how much people are selling on each, by looking at their feedback.

    You should find working in $ and posting abroad easier than you think. The currency conversion is done for you, (well, certainly through paypal, and I would think others to) all you have to do is convert your selling price into dollars. And the post office produce a leaflet with posting costs for the whole world, so you'd need to work out what you need to charge.
    I can't be creative and tidy too for beads, findings and threads
    The Occasional Sheffield Bead Shop
    Jencel on Facebook


    • #3
      as a student on a limited budget maybe look into mrsite you could have your own website for under £20
      if your nervous of starting a site im sure you are in the right place (uni) to find a friendly geek to help you
      go for it


      • #4
        To put your mind at ease about posting abroad....

        PayPal has proved, for me, to be very reliable.
        You sign up with them, your customer can use their credit card, everyone feels protected, and the downside is PayPal take a cut.

        At the Post Office you can ask for a leaflet with the costs of sending parcels abroad or they are on line on the Royal Mail website.

        I'd be more worried about packing up your paintings safely. There are loads of office supplies companies that sell strong cardboard boxes and bubblewrap. I use Viking. The packing can turn out to be surprisingly expensive and I did start out using recycled boxes but it does look tacky.

        You might want to think of trying to sell closer to home first. Does your University not put on exhibitions? Your town or village or county should have an arts club. They will be clubbing together to hold regular exhibitions (your style might not fit in though). You should have an Arts Council for your county producing glossy magazines (avaiable in the library?) where there'll be people to contact who could advise you on exhibiting your stuff. The other places you could approach are arts and crafts centres (the kind like disused churches or maltings converted into a cafe surrounded by little workshops). They often have a display space with ever changing exhibitions.

        The nice thing about the Web is you can have your own website for £6 if you can DIY it or put your stuff on someone else's and not pay until something gets sold. But watch out. If someone is selling for you expect them to ask you for money for their work in promoting your things, it's only fair. On the other hand if you shop around you can find freebies.

        Best of luck


        • #5
          Complementary Marketing

          Furniture retailers are a great complementary business to approach. Your paintings make the furniture look better and the furniture helps people place one of your pictures in a relevant visual environment.
          We sold lot's of paintings within the furniture chain that I worked in.
          Just make a list of the closest 10 or so and start knocking on doors.


          • #6
            Thanks for everyones help. I think I am going to list one or two items (similar) on each of the sites and see which sells best and then take it from there. My own website would definitely be the next thing to look into but I want it done properly, not rushed, so that will happen gradually.
            Craft-Biz - Great idea about the furniture shops, never thought about anything like that.
            The one thing that concerns me is that my paintings are generally fairly dark and I'm not sure if people would go for that.
            I do paint animals though - might have to investigate what the public wants versus what I actually want to paint. I want to be able to make money from it but I also don't want to just be painting things I don't particularly enjoy. I've run out of rep for the day but thanks everyone!
            ReganLottie x

            Art Blog:


            • #7
              I think you make a valid point - would someone else be interested in your stuff.. I am not for one minute suggesting that it might not be good!! but "where" you sell governs "what you sell" to some degree.. Yes it is good tobe unique, but when picking "craft" sites to sell on, do they sell something vaguely associated with your work?? if not, you may find it a struggle to get customers..

              I am surprised if you are doing Fine Arts that the Uni doesn't organise end of year shows.. most seem to.. and for folk interested in "art" theyoffer a fantastic opportunity to buy while you are relatively unknown.. and thus affordable!!

              As well as web sites, and the suggestion of furniture retailers (independents may be more interested than big chains!), I would look at trendy cafes and cafe bar type venues, or restaurants.. often they will have rolling exhibitions, and often happy to take a small commission as they potentially get more customers buying food and drink too...

              Failing that, your fellow students may well be in the same situation, why not get together and stage your own exhibition??


              • #8
                We do have end of year shows but I have unfortunately missed my first year one as I had exceptionally bad tonsillitis/ear infections plus more - Oh I had so much fun that week But anyway, I love the idea of these end of year shows but I will now only have 2 left, and I want to try and fund uni between these times. I don't go out much (drinking wise) but I love to go to gigs and I'm constantly buying craft stuff. Between crafting in my room and doing my art work I don't have time for a job during term time which would bring me in this 'pocket money' so to speak.
                I have been considering the idea of a small exhibition held by a few of my fellow students.
                The thing with my crafting is; I love it, I love making things. Problem with that is I end up with lots of things I don't have the room for which is why I'd like to sell some of it, not to make a large profit, but to fund the next project iyswim.

                Cafes and restaurant s are great ideas - I just wish I wasn't such a scaredy cat about talking to people!!
                ReganLottie x

                Art Blog:


                • #9
                  Never assume

                  Originally posted by rainbowcentral View Post
                  Craft-Biz - Great idea about the furniture shops, never thought about anything like that.
                  The one thing that concerns me is that my paintings are generally fairly dark and I'm not sure if people would go for that.
                  The one thing I have learnt in retail is never to assume peoples taste.
                  Interior design is so much about complementaries and contrasts. Dark needs light and visa versa.
                  I sold some plastic pink pineapples on a 12 inch red stalk once and still cannot imagine the house that that would have gone into.
                  Have faith in yourself. Your art is unique and I am sure of good quality. There will be buyers - rinse and repeat - there will be buyers:-)


                  • #10
                    This is the piece I am working on at the moment, it is unfinished but due in tomorrow plus I have sketches to do oh dearr....
                    It is about 1.5' by 1' I would guess - I'm rubbish with measurements though!!
                    Like I say it is unfinished, but just to give you an idea of the sorts of things I do. It's oil, acrylic and some pen work.
                    ReganLottie x

                    Art Blog:


                    • #11
                      Some excellent advice on here.

                      Websites are not as scary as you think - you've already got a blog, so it's only a few steps further!

                      I did my art website with and I can highly recommend them on a few counts. It's dead easy, they even sort the Paypal out. They list your paintings on their own site, and promote your site in search engines etc. I've sold stuff on there, despite not having an awful lot on and not doing much promotion myself. They have their own forum too. Oh, they provide all the webstats as well. I am viewed in virtually every country you could name! They were doing a free two-week trial when I signed up, so it's worth a look, even if you just want to try how a website would be. I had no experience of websites or anything similar, so if I say it's easy, it is!

                      The negatives - it's a bit limiting, as it's a very simple setup. There is no shopping cart, just a buy now button, so if someone wants to buy more than one, they have to go through the process over again. But they do - one woman bought three paintings from me, and just went through Paypal three times.

                      I'm just getting ready to publish my gift site, and have been amazed by how simple Paypal is and what it can do. The standard website service lets you personalise your checkout (which is their checkout really). I am quite excited by it! My new site is a bit more complicated to set up (heart interent).

                      I've sold abroad through Paypal, and you don't even notice you are selling abroad, because Paypal converts it all for you and them.

                      If you went on etsy (might be good for selling small pieces or sketches, I know of artists who do this and sell bigger stuff in galleries and websites), you might need to know conversion rates so you didn't sell yourself short, but this will do it for you:
             - you just download it (free) and it sits on your desktop, so so simple to use!

                      Also, there are loads of free galleries on the internet. They may work better for you if you have your own site as well, because each of them can promote your own site.

                      Does your area have an Open Studios event? Maybe you could take over a room in your house for the weekend if you don't have a dedicated studio?

                      Good luck! Original art isn't the easiest thing to sell, but it does sell, and there are loads of ways to do it. You do need to get used to promoting it, which is possibly the hardest bit!
                      digital stamps for cardmakers:
                      hand painted personalised plaques, clocks, canvases, etc:


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rainbowcentral View Post
                        Cafes and restaurant s are great ideas - I just wish I wasn't such a scaredy cat about talking to people!!
                        Well. often a great way to break the ice if you feel a bit low on the confidence thing is to write.. Do your research beforehand, go have a nosey to see what different venues are like, and then telephone and ask for the name of the manager or owner. Write your letters - you can use the same letter over and again, just remember to make each one "personal". Keep it brief, explain you are a local artist, looking for an opportunity to display/sell and willing to give a commission on sale price etc.. I would also enclose a separate flyer about you and your artistic style (rather than just writing it in the letter). Dont forget to put your contact details in, though ideally I would put something like "I will telephone you on... and look forward to speaking to you then".. By making that tacit appointment you effectively flag up to expect a call, and they will be at least more receptive to the call, even if the answer is going to be no. Make sure you do call on the correct day/time... Dont be disheartened by a "no" - there are all sorts of valid reasons why they maybe can't or dont want to help you at this time, so thank them for their time, ask if it would be appropriate to contact them again, and be cheeky... ask them if there is another person or place they would suggest.. Psychologically, having said "no" they are more likely to want to help you as a compensation.. Oh, and send all your letters in one go!! then you can't wimp out if you feel a little rejected. Even a small set back can put you off trying the same technique again, so mail 20 venues, and follow up!.


                        • #13
                          With the scaredy cat thing - it gets easier the more you do it .
                          (I used to be shy - ho ho ho, how that has worn off!)
                          Just something to think about: out of the fifteen students at my son's end of degree show thirteen hung back and were shrinking violets. Two put themselves forward, smiled, greeted visitors, talked about their work. Those two got agents are are making a living from their art (yes my son was one of them ). His friends ended up stacking shelves in supermarkets. (Actually that's par for the course for art students, they tend to have sorted themselves out after 6 months.) But the sooner you can not care about being shy, the better.
                          It doesn't matter if you make a fool of yourself because you don't see those people again. You only keep seeing the people who like you.

                          What Sparkysdad said about sending letters - we've had this conversation before. Just to say I've just sent out 60 cards and got one reply.
                          I'm sure you'll do better than that.

                          Go for it.


                          • #14
                            Well I have now finished Uni for the year - A long summer so lots of time to make things (although it's going to take me a week to sort out my room!!).

                            Quick question, I'm going to put a few things on either etsy/folksy/misi in the coming week. This of course is making to sell, I just need to know what I have to do to make the tax man happy Thanks
                            ReganLottie x

                            Art Blog:


                            • #15
                              Basically you find your local tax office and phone up and say "Hello I'm going to sell things" and they take you on from there.
                              They should be very nice and offer you tea and biscuits because they want you to pay tax and the last thing they want is to scare you off.
                              And you don't have to fill anything in for a year.
                              So just register (get your number) then relax for a year.

                              If you are bored and want to know what you really should be doing have a look at
                              It's pick and mix but maybe start with 'Starting Up'
                              Just watch out. A lot of what they say applies to big businesses or the contruction industry etc. So don't give yourself a heart attack. Read the words - and just look for stuff about teeny weeny arty crafty starting upping enterprises.

                              You should start a book: Money in - Money out and keep receipts.
                              The tax people will tell you what to do when you go on one of their welcoming afternoons.

                              That'll do for now.