I taught my second Illustration class tonight (well, technically it's "Art of Ideas" to fool the students) and I only have one kid that's really turning up a red flag. You know....messes with his phone when he thinks I'm not paying attention, is a bit defensive and seems distant while never getting his work done. I always hate having these conversations with students, because obviously I hope they really want to BE there, but next week I'm going to have to address this issue and tell him that my job is not to convince him to be there- either he wants to or not. Honestly, if he'd rather be home on the couch, I want him there, too, because having his in my classroom does not help.
On more of an Etsy note, I'm hoping to soon join the Rhode Island Etsy Team, but according to their profile I need 10 positive feedbacks to qualify (I only have 3). Oh, RI team, don't you see that I need you to make these sales?? No, I'll get there eventually but it'll just take some time.
All etsy sellers have their "other" identities. It could be a middle school teacher, stay at home mom, bartender, serial killer (well, hopefully not that one). Anyway, I have several including freelance-editorial-illustrator-hoping-to-bust-into-children's-books. I got back from meetings in New York a couple of weeks ago after some successful talks and discoverd that Art Directors prefer me for the "tween" market for book jackets (I actually prefer this rather than a year-long project at the moment).
One day down in the city I wore my great kitten heels and was trying to keep up with all the New Yorker traffic. By the end of the day my feet were killing me. And now one toe has been acting funny days later. Popping? cracking? I don't know how to describe the feeling. I was actually concerned that I had broken it after I was told that thing sort of happens sometimes without major bruising or pain right away. Of course, if that's true there's nothing that can be done- no tiny casts or anything. Oh, how we artists suffer sometimes... well, okay, I do get to sleep in and take court TV breaks whenever I want to, so maybe I don't suffer THAT much.
Oh look, it's 2 o'clock. I think Judge Marie Lopez is on...
My first sales came out great. They were not easy, but my customers got good products.
Friday Morning I wake up to do the prints that have come in (1 more from the previous night). The test prints are good. Two weeks earlier I was printing like mad to get a children's book portfolio ready for some meetings in New York and it was a piece of cake, so why should there be any problem? The prints are coming out, but something is funny...do they look off? Am I just paranoid? Looking a little too closely? I don't feel good, and after a few more funny prints (and wasted watercolor paper) I pull out the barely used ink cartridge and switch in another one (painful, yes, but my top priority is to get these prints done). I clean and align and clean and align and now it looks even worse! I start worrying about my promise to send them out by this afternoon. I also start worrying that maybe my printer has for some reason died and that I may have to declare "Sorry folks! Wasn't ready like I thought!".
At this point I need help. My tech-savvy friend is busy until 6 pm. That will be too late. So I call the man I usually do whenever SkyNet decides to cause my technology to misbehave.
Our conversation goes something like this:
ME: "yeah yeah yeah no Dad, there's no paper jammed in it. I'm feeding each sheet in separately."
DAD: "well open it up, is there anything that's sticking out or looking weird?"
ME: "*heavy sigh* Dad, it ALL looks weird. I mean, this is the first time I've looked into this thing. I don't know what I'm looking at."
DAD: "okay okay. I'm just trying to help-"
DAD: "I know I know Ijustneedthisthingtowork!"
Bless his heart for dealing with me. As we're talking I decide this calls for desperate measures. I call a former instructor and friend, Jon, who lives a few blocks away. He has a sweet printer due to the fact that he's a mega illustrator and sci-fi artist. We're talking serious shit. I'm a little nervous, however, because I haven't seen him in the last six months even though I keep leaving messages about getting coffee, etc. You know...being neighborly. Be a good neighbor, Jon, and just meet me for damn coffee. I know you're sitting there eating peanut butter out of the jar again for breakfast.
I call and am amazed that after the first ring a low, scruffy "hello?" comes from the other end.
This is a sign from the the Etsy gods.
"Hi Jon! This is Lauren. I know I've been calling about us getting coffee and catching up, and I'm sorry to pop out of the woodwork like this after so long, but I have a little bit of a crisis right now." Jon invites me over even though he warns me he is low on ink, so there's a chance we may not finish. I'll take that chance. I get a notice about selling another print and it's not as exciting as before...this better get figured out. Luckily I'm optimistic.
Before I head over I decide to shower and take 10 minutes to chill. I quickly wash up and slap on some foundation before heading over. Jon is wearing an interesting ensemble of his fire skull cap and his adobe/Southwest inspired pull over. He's probably getting up into his mid 40's if I do the math, but he and his wife, Melissa, look more like 35 still. I'm use to being over here. Melissa has a fondness for skeletons and Jon has his figurines upstairs (my favorite is Ellen Ripley from Aliens in her yellow techno suit. What is it called again?). Their two dogs want a lot of attention and I give much love their way. Jon looks over my previous prints
"Hmm. maybe a plugged nozzle? I don't know." However, we're not here to solve the mystery of my printer, so I head upstairs so we can get the prints done. I give him the files on my thumb drive and we print.
It came out. It looks great, actually.
We print out a few more and I'm thankful and surprised how easy it is. No surprises or mess ups or "oh, we just ran out of ink." I put my prints sealed in their protective sleeves for the ride home. Before we leave I ask Jon a quick question.
"If I get this fixed do you think they (future prints) will be fine"
"Oh yeah. The quality is fine, something is just off."
The prints get mailed without any problems. I hope my customers like them.
That night my friend takes a look at the printer. He fiddles with some things and then I notice he's holding something good in his hands- a perfect print. Turns out he fiddled with some settings that were more appropriate for the watercolor paper I was using. It seems obvious now- during the printing for my children's book portfolio the paper was different, and the ink was settling more to the surface, so there were no problems. Now I know what to do. We print out a test of the newest order and I'm happy to see how wonderful it looks. crisis avoided.
I was lucky enough to get some advertising on the etsy site for my new shop. Very cool, because obviously the traffic is good, right? So far I'm really organized. I put up paypal with no problems and all my printing supplies came in days earlier. I even have a filing system that works well for me:
1) one file on the computer contains all "raw" images scanned for my prints. These are scanned images at 300 dpi that haven't been messed up with. I always have these in case I screw up a file somehow.
2) a second file contains all "etsy images" particularly for the website. All of these are resized for the site's size requirements.
3) The last file has "etsy finals". these are the 300 dpi images from before but tweaked for the relationship between my computer screen (well, my boyfriend's) and the printer (his as well). This way once I figure out the best setting for saturation, color, etc, I save that image and don't have to test and guess the next time.
I check traffic on the site every few minutes Wednesday morning. I'm currently obsessed with the "I heart this seller" option. I see how many people mark me as a favorite. Slowly, the numbers go up until I have roughly 13. Not bad for my first day I think. Nothing exciting happens. Thursday rolls around and I know my article is going up. I'm actually busy sending a portfolio to an art rep when I see two emails I don't recognize. Then I realize they are...payments? have I sold something? Yup. 4 prints! I realize my day suddenly got busier. I go online and see the article. One image has 300 views and I have about 60 "heart this seller" icons. I send out emails confirming the orders and when the items will be shipped. Tomorrow I say. That night I buy some more ink and look forward to my first batch of sales not knowing that it will end up being more difficult than I thought.
I'm probably like most people on etsy.com right now, a great little (well, not little) online marketplace for handmade goods, from original paintings of nudes and swearing broccoli to every thing you wanted to see on a piece of jewelry (funky beads? got it. plastic red guns? got it.). I had some friends tell me about the site and they eventually convinced me that I should take the proverbially whack at the pinata.
So I decided to.
I should explain a little about my background. I graduated from The Rhode Island School of Design in Illustration and balance being a teacher, freelance illustrator, gallery artist, and entrepreneur. Etsy is the recent roller coaster I've forced myself onto. My art is "whimsically awkward" or "awkwardly whimsical" as I like to put it, full of pattern, quirky characters including robots playing keyboards and little girls smoking. I live with my boyfriend (also an artist) in an apartment where we both have studios. He's a clean freak and I'm...flexible with my cleanliness we'll say. He gets a paycheck versus my living from art accomplishment to accomplishment. I work from our apartment and he comes home in the evening. My family has dogs; his cats. He'll eat anything and I'm a picky eater (hey, I'm getting better).
Etsy was something I joined to hopefully get more exposure and of course make some serious profit. This blog is a look into the world of etsy from behind the scenes: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Maybe you're reading for entertainment? Maybe you're reading out of curiosity? maybe you're another "etsyite" who takes comfort in knowing that other sellers are facing the everyday craziness of trying to make it on etsy, too.