Sunday, December 18, 2016

My Etsy Journey Part 8 - The world just got smaller.

I'm ending the year with a high. I started in January, with absolutely no idea if I'll make it through the year. But this has been truly one of the best in my life.

It's one of those years that has really pushed my confidence, my art and my general outlook towards life. It has taught me many valuable lessons of which I might have shared through my previous posts, but my biggest misconception has been busted - People will PAY for your art. You just need to ask, put it out there, stop selling cheap and stop working for free.

But this post is about the people I have met on the way through my shop, customers, well wishes, supporters. And people I have managed to touch in a small way through my artworks.

The print of the Truman Brewery, was for a father whose new born son was named Truman. A brewery print? He said when his son turns 18, they could share their first pint together, and fondly remember this print.


Steppenwolf- personal commission for Mark as a gift for his best friend, who also shared 'Steppenwolf' as his favourite book. He told me that he has been searching for months for someone to interpret these lines from the book, which was special to the both of them. My talented husband Ram worked with me on this illustration.

The Old Highbury Stadium. I have had half a dozen orders of this print from residents of this very spectacular building. The Barbican Conservatory, from a resident of the Barbican. The Hoover Building, from an architect who is working on restoring this art deco beauty. The Stoke Newington print from a guy whose grandfather established 'Gino's Barber' years and years ago- one of the shops featured on the print. Brixton Village - an order from a lady for her best friend moving to New York, to remember the good times shared together this village.
I received a very touching note from a father who received the Pink Floyd print as a gift from his daughter, saying that he completely 'got' what I was trying to do. (An interpretation of a very old drawing by Nick Mason, the drummer)





But perhaps the most funny one so far- A lady ordered a print of the Balfron Tower as a Christmas surprise for her husband. And just a couple of days later I get a message from a guy asking me for the same Balfron Tower print, as a Christmas surprise for his wife. I mean- what are the chances of that? Two people thinking of buying the same gift for each other, and from the same little shop online. You would think the world wide web has made this world larger, when in fact it is so small, rather so sharp. I have been so lucky to have been able to reach out to such specific people, those who seem to have a direct connection to the subject of my illustrations.
(I didn't want to ruin the surprise for the couple, but I will offer to replace/ refund the print)


My personal fan-girl moment was getting back- to -back orders from Droga5 New York. I couldn't contain the excitement when I saw that address- Madison Avenue! My absolute dream agency. I have admired the work of David Droga even before I got into the advertising field. If not in person, I managed to get to Droga5 NY through my work! It validated everything I was doing so far. Any doubts on quality, design, aesthetics ...or what the hell am I doing-  those orders from Droga5 put all of that to rest!

It has been a non stop exhausting journey, trying to pursue a passion alongside a day job. Starting my day early racing to the post office, running to the printers on lunch breaks, late nights and weekends on new illustrations. My best friends are the postmasters and the printers, also my regular critics! 'Not many orders this week huh'... Josh at the post office would laugh.

2016 is ending on a sweet note. I received a mail from Not on the High Street to join their platform! So the next chapter begins...

And lastly- a message to anyone out there, complaining about their day job, poor salary and no time to pursue their dreams... have a chat with me. I was you until a year ago!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

8 David Bowie Iconic Costumes as Minimal Illustrated Art Prints for your home.

A collection the best of David Bowie's costumes from the 70's. Early years of Ziggy Stardust, to the Union Jack by Alexander McQueen, and my latest... Bowie as the 'Space Samurai'

Glad to share that my Bowie series is going strong, and someday I hope to illustrate all of his iconic costumes.

From the Eye for London Prints Shop on Etsy

David Bowie: The Cat from Japan

David Bowie: Return of the Goblin King

David Bowie: The Cape from Japan

David Bowie: The 70's Ziggy

David Bowie: Never Look Back

David Bowie: The Cat from Japan

David Bowie: The tiger lives on...

David Bowie: Space Samurai



Friday, August 5, 2016

My Etsy Journey Part 7 - the new buzzword SEO

The last couple of months have been super duper busy. May was one of the good months for me, exceeding 30 orders. It inspired me to push harder, to put in more prints into the shop. I also started experimenting with printing on ceramic mugs, badges and fridge magnets. A fairly decent response so far.

I attended a London Local Sellers meetup. It was great to meet my Etsy peers, quite a few of them in a similar stage in their Etsy journey as me. A few months old, still grappling with marketing, promoting and the new buzz word SEO!

Although at the end of the day, it's the quality of the product that needs to stand out, but it could always use some SEO help. To let people know you exist in the first place, you need google to know you exist. A very useful tool called EtsyRank really helps in fixing all your tagging, seo and keyword issue up to an extent. I brought up my ranking from a low D and Es to healthy A and B.

It also shows how your listings pop up in Etsy searches. If it appears on page 1 (ideal) or comes up somewhere in page 10....completely useless. Even if you might have the best product, I doubt too many people have the patience to browse more more than 5 pages. Also keeping in mind that increasingly buyers are using their mobile phones to browse, and it can get quite cumbersome after a couple of pages.

I realised it's very important to pay attention to descriptions. Google hates generic copy paste, so I try and make sure that every listing has a different story. Also makes for interesting reading for any buyer. Another good tool is 'Google Keyword'. It shows you the trending and popular keywords that people search while looking for a particular kind of product. So make sure all your 13 keywords on Etsy are optimised and not wasted.

Here are some of my latest prints up on the shop.
www.eyeforlondonprints.etsy.com







Saturday, June 4, 2016

Brutalist London makes it to TimeOut London

Excited and humbled to be featured on TimeOut London. Take the whistle- stop tour featuring London's most famous Brutalist structures- The Spacehouse, Balfron Tower, The Barbican and The National Theatre. This illustrated series of prints is indeed very special.Would love to hear your comments!


I have also added a set of new prints called the 'Brutalist Brothers' featuring the once notorious Balfron and Trellick Towers, upon which the High Rise movie was based on. 
It came as a surprise to me, to see that Brutalist Architecure has a huge faithful following in the UK. Love it or hate it, it surely creates an impression.





Some striking examples of Brutal architecture in London.

Imperial Hotel


 The Barbican

Brilliant books to read, for anyone interested in Brutalist Architecture in the UK 


Hitlon Metropole- Edgeware Road






Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My Etsy Journey Part 6: Pricing on Etsy.

I met Anne Marike Pit on one of the Etsy group threads. Anne is an artist based in the UK, and her work is absolutely stunning. The detailing on her pen and ink artworks are beautiful. Check out her work here. 

I had put up a new Pink Floyd inspired print, and was hoping to get some feedback from the community. She loved the print, but she reamed me about my pricing.

How can you sell this for £15? I would love to buy this but I'm not going to pay £15 for it!
I was like...whaaaa??



She then explained how my pricing was completely bonkers. 'I would be willing to pay around £50- £70 for this...' You are just undervaluing your art by under pricing it. Price it right, and the sales will come.

Of course this makes total logical sense. But for me, it wasn't the world I came from. I come from India, and worked with Indians all my life, and even here in London.

I have to admit it, but Indians are by nature are looking to bargain. Heck, they even nag a poor street vendor to throw in a few extra vegetables for free- this is a common practice back in India. They carry the same outlook to professional work.... 'oh we just need this quick thing to be done... can you do it for free? I want to make a million changes on an artwork and I need it right now, but of course we are a multinational corporation with no money to pay the designer.' 

I know people who pay their child minders and cleaning ladies per hour more than they pay a designer. For some reason they think logos or websites are just things that can be whipped up in a second. The Fiverr.com client. Probably one of the biggest reasons, that pushed me to start my Etsy shop was to break free of the frustrations of working like that. But what did I do? I was offering my original work up for the same peanut price I had been crying about all these years.

And on this forum I was pulled up for it in an instant. Because it's just not me, I'm doing a disservice to all the artists around me. I'm setting a standard and telling everyone 'Hey we are ok getting less than a minimum wage for this piece of artwork'

It got me thinking about pricing. I looked around shops on Etsy. There were people selling their digital artworks for £5, and there were those selling prints for £80+.
So it came down to 'Who am I'  'Where do I want to be?' 'How accessible do I want to be?'

How much time did I spend creating this piece of work? Research to the actual crafting. My printing costs. Packaging costs. Post office runs. Time and more time. 

The nature of what I sell is slightly different, as I sell prints. Once I complete an artwork, what is the minimum number I need to sell to recover base costs. After selling how many prints should I start counting it as a profit? If I price it too low, I will probably need to sell about a dozen to even recover time costs, doesn't make sense. I had to hit a sweet spot somewhere in between.

Eventually I did price my prints a bit higher. To make it accessible to all, I offered a range of sizes and quality, so it would appeal to an art lover who would pay £50 for a high quality signed Giclee Print, to a Bowie crazy college kid, who just wants a pin up on the wall.

I think this is a good place to start. To be honest, increasing my prices haven't really affected my orders. I am getting close to the same before and after raising them. 

I have to thank Anne for making me rethink my general outlook towards my art. She even tutored me on how to sign an art print :-) Here are some of her brilliant pieces. More on her website.




 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

My Etsy Journey Part 5: New Friends on Etsy and The Etsy Resolution 2016

I briefly mentioned on my previous post about making friends on Etsy, It is in fact a huge deal. 

It all started with the Facebook group called Etsy Resolution 2016- UK. To someone like me, or probably most people who are new to online retail, setting up a shop can be a daunting thought.

Or maybe it's just a 'creative' thing. We creatives are more often introverts, shy, self doubting and terribly sensitive. Was I generalizing? On joining this group I realised I wasn't alone. 

We all had the same questions nagging us...

'What if I set up a shop and nobody buys my work?'

'What if this is because my work sucks, therefore I suck and now my entire self worth is shattered'

'I see a lot of shops on Etsy, selling stuff that are a lot better than mine, so why should I even bother?'

'What will my friends and family think? Will they look at my work and make fun of me? I may never be as successful as some of my other friends on Facebook who have brilliant online businesses!'

And this was just the beginning, my poor husband bore the brunt of all my nagging doubts. He was trying to be supportive, and instead I was looking for every excuse in the book.

I can across this piece of creative which to be honest completely changed my outlook. I was happy being the cynical pessimist, but this somehow spoke to that tiny 'optimist' bug buried somewhere within. 


Having finally gotten over myself, I finally set up my Etsy shop in the end of January. The Etsy Resolution FB community, then became a sort of a lifeline. I was just learning so much. Discovering SEO and 'tagging'. I always thought hey- if my work was good enough, people will come. WRONG. Not gonna happen. I needed to figure a way to lure them in, keep them interested, keep them coming back.

But how do you get the first followers, the fans? We (the Etsy FB group) started by helping each other out. Lets like each others pages. Let's favourite our shops. Let's follow each other on Instagram. Let's build Pinterest boards together. Lets build the momentum. Thus began the 'Likeathons' and the 'Favethons'  (The cynical me was thinking again- what's the point of this mutual admiration club, how is it going to lead to sales)

I was proven yet again terribly wrong! In fact now I have sold to quite a few people from within this Etsy group. And I didn't even know it, till they happened to mention that they saw my work on a post in the group. When I looked up customer's FB profiles, I noticed that some of them were friends of friends of someone in the group.

I made it point to thank them personally. For liking, sharing and supporting. Anne Marike Pit, a fellow artist from the group was the first who bought one of my prints. It's a funny story, which I will share in my next post. From online to offline. I met a fellow Stokey resident, Marie Remy. A successful Etsy seller : 'The House of Celeste'. We have hung out a couple of times, even did a life drawing class together.

I think this whole process is going to be a slow burn. No instant flash successes. On an Etsy webinar hosted by Patricia Van Den Akker of  The Design Trust, she stresses the importance of social networking, and we should be spending a minimum of 40% of our time marketing and the 60% creating. Setting small weekly, monthly goals and following a social media timetable is a good start- I hope I can keep up the discipline.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My Etsy Journey Part 4: New Prints New Places: The Conservatory at the Barbican


It's been quite a busy couple of months on Etsy. The sales have been steady, been getting a lot of appreciation and recognition. The sweetest surprise was when TimeOut contacted me for an interview and feature!

Bowie has been a best seller- no surprises there, but there is always that little extra thrill, when I get an order for one of the more unusual prints. Like the 'Kafka on the shore' or even The Barbican. Excited to know of other people getting excited about the same topics as me.

I have made some great friends on the way, signed my first prints, learnt so much about printing techniques. I discovered Giclee! The best part about I think is being able to connect with your customers in a very personal way. Having a chat or a conversation, and even get some useful insights like where they saw my work.... for example just the other day I got one of my biggest orders of three prints from a Londoner who saw my work on Instagram.... something that was posted over a month back. 

Here is my latest print. The Conservatory at the Barbican. Another one of those offbeat subjects to pick up, but that's what made it interesting.

Available at www.eyeforlondonprints.etsy.com





It's always sunny at the Barbican Conservatory. Such a happy place even in winters with people relaxing, sketching, practicing watercolours or just having a wander about with coffee. This illustration took me a good while to compose, but I absolutely love it. The abundance, the colours, the warmth.

It's amazing how the Barbican has so many surprises within. One of the most iconic examples of Brutal architecture. The conservatory wraps around the huge fly tower that supports scenery for the theatre beneath your feet, and while the concrete of the Barbican is still very evident, it adds to the overall effect.

It feels like a part of a dystopian movie set, where the plants have taken over the concrete! This is the capital's second biggest conservatory after Kew, and quite a hidden gem.






Saturday, February 20, 2016

My Etsy Journey Part 3: Discovering Giclee

So it's been a great start to the weekend. I designed a fresh print for David Bowie, and I got an order the very next day from New York.

Happy Days :-)

The Giclee Prints look lovely, and that's anther discovery for me. I love Giclee. The light texture paper made of organic cotton rag. The archival inks that stay bright for years, unlike a digital prints which eventually fades over time.

And, for me it was the first time I actually got to 'sign' something. Actually I was instructed to :-)
It was a bit daunting. I was nervous, even googled on 'how to sign an art print'. Seriously didn't want to ruin a print with lousy handwriting. Practised it a hundred times with different pencils on all kinds of paper.

My Etsy experience has been pretty great so far. I will be sharing many more posts on my journey. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, here are some fresh Giclee prints.

www.eyeforlondonprints.etsy.com

David Bowie: The Tiger lives on...


Pink Floyd: A Bizarre collection of Curios