It's a chilly, windy 31 out there but St. Louis revelers will let the bon temps rouler. Our Soulard neighborhood, just south of downtown is home to one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in the world, number 3 I have heard. My husband and I are not going because we have out-of-town friends to meet for dinner elsewhere this evening. But my sons and their krewes will participate in style.
Here is a painting that expresses the excitement and energy of a Mardi Gras day. It won an Honorable Mention from juror Don Getz in a juried exhibition sponsored by the Saint Louis Watercolor Society in 2004. Prints are available in my Etsy shop or on Bonanzle.
I have just passed my one year anniversary selling art on the Internet. A fellow blogging artist, Trevor Lingard, happened to comment on my last post and started me thinking about it. He said, "I have never tried Internet selling. Can it be successful?" My answer is, "Hmmm, yes." (This is going to be rather long, so in keeping with always showing a painting, I will show some of the first pieces I sold on the Internet.) I started on Ebay last January and I sold some household items. I was running out of things to sell when I thought to myself, "Good grief, I have about 300 paintings around here! I wonder if I could sell them on Ebay?" I dove right in, read the Ebay discussion boards on art, selling, and shipping, and did quite well for a few months. Then, as Ebay sellers know, and many of you have heard, Ebay started making changes left and right.
As a result, sales were decimated and fees shot up. Other Ebay artists started talking about moving to other sites and I followed them. In July I opened my Etsy Shop and listed for sale on ArtByUs. And as you read in the last post, I just opened a booth at Bonanzle. I still sell on Ebay and sales there trump the other sites, but diversity is a good thing and the other communities are supportive and inspiring.
So in my first year, I sold about 200 paintings and prints on Ebay and 28 on Etsy. Almost half of the Ebay sales were in the 1st 4 months, before the most drastic changes sunk in, so I don't expect to be able to repeat last year's results. But I am hooked on the internet art community. In fact, a downside is lost time to paint.
After my brief exposure to the many, many sites for artists I see 2 major categories; Exhibiting and Selling.For exhibiting only, with no check out cart or online payment, you will find private studios (your own website or blog) and shared space. Artspan, Paintings I Love, TrunkT and NoBullArt are great places to be seen with other artists. These sites provide a boost in search, web designing services, and inspiration for your work. Some are free and some charge monthly fees.
For selling, there are 3 concepts; your private website, the fine art gallery, and the mall. You can set your own website up for direct selling through Paypal and other payment systems. (But you will need to work extra hard to promote your private space - search engine optimization and all of that stuff)
Now we come to the malls. What do you get at the mall? Traffic. I categorize Ebay, Etsy, ArtFire, 1000 Markets, and Bonanzle as malls. There are many, many fellow sellers. And with many, many, sellers you get many, many buyers.
Where do you fit in? I know some artists who have divided their work among sites, with higher priced pieces here, and prints and smaller works there. I am still finding my way. The sites I mentioned are just a few possibilities. I'm sure many of you know of other great sites and I would love to hear about them.
But here is one thing to remember. There must about 10 million (billion?) works of art for sale on the Internet. I am pleased that someone found and loved 230 of mine.
I have opened a "booth" on Bonanzle. It's a neat site for shopping and selling; a venue for all products, not just art. I found it very user-friendly and easy to set up. You can import listings from Ebay and Craig's List as well as individual listings. The basic booth is free except for a small sales percentage. Upgrades are available for $10 or $20 per month, but I am sticking with basic to start. My next expansion would be Art Fire, if and when I decide to take on any more venues. For now, Ebay, Etsy and Bonanzle are enough to keep track of.
Here is a screen shot of my Bonanzle Booth. It has a nice look, don't you think? All of my listings are on the same page as you scroll down in my booth.
I painted this landscape this afternoon. The process was exhilarating; a broad brush, wet on wet, no pencil work, just paint, paint, paint. And I love the result because it is the very definition of America, glowing with promise and pride.
Here is The Range, 15" x 20" original watercolor painting