Eeeeh! I got to paint a bunch of hedgehogs last week!
Usually I sketch out very basic shapes lightly with a soft pencil which I rub out later but this time I used WATERCOLOUR PENCILS!!! How didn’t I do this earlier? The marks disappear as I paint so I can be super messy 🙂
I filled in my hedgehog shape with water and splooshed in some sepia, yellow ochre and cerulean blue. Apart from the black ink and white highlights I only used these three colours. Oh and a sprinkle of salt to see what it would do.
This is part 3 of my etsy as a beginner round up and it gets into the nitty gritty and uncomfortable subject of prices. I am still very much learning my way but this is where I am.
Description and price
If I was putting up a new kind of item on etsy the first thing I would do is see who else is doing the same sort of thing. It’s also an opportunity to discover new people and get new ideas (like I just did and got completely distracted).
Reading their descriptions helps to give the listing a skeleton that I can then flesh out. It can also show what makes the item unique.
Pricing is the most uncomfortable part for a lot of makers I think. Putting a price on you, your time and what you’ve done is difficult when you’re mostly a bundle of self-doubt tied together with string made of hope. Seeing what similar items are going for helps.
Price = materials + time is a good start to working out the minimum amount I need to make back from something. Add to this the cost of selling. Etsy takes a cut of 3.5% as a selling fee and the 16 pence to list. A gallery would take 40% and the shops I sell to want to make a nice profit as well. So I work out the retail price to cover these and that’s what I sell at.
You can always change the prices later but if something isn’t selling then reducing the price doesn’t make any difference from my experience. I don’t think people base their decisions on the cheapest on etsy unless they are between two very similar items. Sometimes people like what you do but right now they don’t need it. Like this guy!
I put him up a year ago and he has likes but I just don’t think anyone but me really needs a gravy boat with a whale on it. I’ve just tweaked the postage which was way off but this guy will not be relisted and once it expires and may end up mine.
Carrying on with my round up of what I learnt being on Etsy for a year. This is a tricky one for me though but by writing down here I can come and re-jig my memory and hopefully take my own advice!
Dammit Jim I’m a painter not a photographer!
Taking good photographs is my biggest weakness but I think they are are also the key for online success. When a customer searches for something they are usually presented with hundreds of thumbnails fighting for that precious click so I’ve been swotting up using sites like Skillshare and Makelight for tips.
A phone is fine! You don’t need the most expensive tech to make interesting photographs. The most vital step is taking a photo at all. The photo below I took just after opening my first box of stickers and just grabbed my phone.
Nothing beats natural light. Most light bulbs shine a warm yellow light which completely changes the look of a painting. I’ve bought white lightbulbs and camping led lights and nothing works like natural light. As long as it’s not direct! It’s good but too much light will bleach it! Below is a painting I finished late at night but I really should have waited until the next day.
Grab all the things. Dressing a photograph is a skill I’m only really starting to get to grips with. Putting items around a painting adds to its story. I started by adding the brushes and paints I used and now I’m adding natural items to portray my interests and my shops ethos. I want to start thinking about how, why and where I see my things ending up.
My etsy shop has been up and running for almost a year now and I finally feel like I know what I’m doing! Kind of? Maybe?!
Here is a step by step of how I get an item on etsy with what I have learnt on the way.
* Ok I wrote too much and instead of cutting down I will continue on next week xx
I imagine most makers first get the idea of an online shop when a friend tells them they would buy their stuff. My first customers were my lovely and supportive friends and I really value their opinion when thinking what to add to my shop. They are incredibly helpful when I post a question on facebook and they really steer me to the final product.
Instagram is also great for feedback. Somethings get more likes than others and that gives me a guide to what may prove more popular. Some people even suggest things and it’s a good way for me to keep an eye on what’s trending.
As you can see my things is painting, mostly wildlife. Painting is great because even though the original piece may take days to create I can sell prints, make cards, and my favourite thing: stickers! These are much more affordable to buy, but I do plan on putting up some originals on etsy and a listing for commissions like this one below.
I’m always looking for a new thing to put my designs on. My idea for stickers came from selling greeting cards to a local nature reserve who mentioned they needed more things for children. I discovered Awesome Merchandise and got hooked on creating stickers!
It takes a bit of a gamble but you don’t know until you try! I would love to hear your ideas on what to try next. I may already be looking at how to create pins 🙂
Next time I will be talking about photography! It’s definitely my weakest point so I have read so many blogs and watched courses upon courses.
Hello! I had the zippiest trip to London last week and the very first thing I did was head to the Natural history museum.
Museums are a great source of subject matter that you can draw from life. The first thing that caught my eye was a cabinet full of humming birds. It was mesmerising, but trying to get a view where I wasn’t in the bustle of other visitors was impossible.
I kept walking. The next corridor was full of natural light which bounced off gigantic fossils and hallelujah! A bench facing them. The sketchbook was whipped out, and my lovely blackwing pencil made soft abstract lines of a pliosaur. My little watercolour set sat next to me and I used cerulean blue and yellow ochre to dab on cold shadows and the warmer highlights of the bones.
I kept correcting my proportions but still I made the skull and flippers far too big. I find it happens when I really enjoy studying one part of an image over another.
I tried to correct this on the next scribble. I made a box so that even if I did go overboard again at least I had room to correct it. This stegosaurus is near the entrance and I had to lean against a wall, sketching different corners as people passed me and took selfies.
Birds coming to the garden sparked my love for wildlife. My grandparents would throw a crust of bread out of the window and we would guess which bird would be the first one there.
As you watch them you get a bit of drama between the species. Greenfinches seem to claim feeders and bully others off, but the tiny blue tit is feisty and darts in for seeds anyway. A group of chaffinches calmly circle underneath, hoovering up dropped food while the robin seems alert, dashing in for a morsel. Sparrows appear on mass, hiding the bird bath in mass of feathers.
The RSPB hold the Big Garden Birdwatch at the end of this month. Make yourself a cup of tea and just jot down how many birds you see in one hour. Easy. Over the years the results have shown rises and falls in what we see. Tiny birds suffer in colder winters and a disease can cut the number of greenfinches. You can get a free pack here.
Thank you for reading! I wish you a wonderful, colourful and feathery new year.
I’m trying something new today with this abc stuff. My goal is to communicate through images and my last entries are so wordy! I’m going to work out a style to present these amazing facts in a more fun way. More like how I would have taken notes in University lectures (those were the days…)
So here is H… fo Hoatzin
I always had hoatzin pegged for H since I found out about the wing claws! It’s like seeing a dinosaur! And I know birds are descendants… but this is stuff that I thought as lost in the sands/fossil beds of time.
If you know of any good H animals that can compete with the hoatzin then comment below 🙂