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.

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 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

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.

David Bowie: The Tiger lives on...

Pink Floyd: A Bizarre collection of Curios

Saturday, February 13, 2016

My Etsy Journey Part 2: A Valentine special Art print of London's sweetheart - Amy Winehouse.

It's Valentines. It's a busy time on Etsy with everyone tagging 'Valentines gifts' or 'Gifts for her'. Jewellery, clothes, flowers, cupcakes, heart shaped cards...the whole shebang. 
I'm embracing Valentines in my own way, with my Valentine. My wonderful husband of six years. He is a brilliant writer and illustrator, and the guy who kicked my butt and pushed me to get on to Etsy. 

We made this print of Amy- the sweetheart of London. 

Those eyes....

Amy Winehouse. The Camden sweetheart we all fell in love with. Amy's voice continues to sing about love, heartbreak and such bitter sweet joys. Forever remembered.

So we watched the Amy documentary together the other day, it was a beautiful candid insight into her life. The swift rise to fame, and how it all began to unravel towards the end. Sad, sweet and scary unpredictable. Complicated, yet tender, her struggles around family, fame and addiction. It captures the very heart of what she was about, a true musical genius.

Limited edition Giclee Prints of Amy Winehouse 'Tears die on their own' now available on Eye for London Prints on Etsy

Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Etsy Journey Part 1: Launching Eye For London Prints

Unusual graphic Art Print and Posters of London

After two whole years in London (to the day), I still find myself falling in love with the city a little more everyday. Kicking off year three, I have launched my own Print Shop on Etsy. This personal project features graphic illustrations through stories in architecture design and pop culture, exploring the often overlooked yet interesting facets that lend character to the city of London. From Bowie and Brutalism, to the books people are reading on the tube. This is London through my eyes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Owlthulhu

East London: Shoreditch and Bricklane are some places fromm where I derive my greatest inspirations. The street art- the best in London is so fresh, current and deliciously bizarre. It's ever- changing, and in every visit I see new work that didn't exist before.

One piece of work I absolutely couldn't get out of my mind, were the paintings of Alexis Diaz. The weird- steam-punk lovecraft-ian creatures are those you cannot 'unsee'

So I was super excited when I got an opportunity to design a logo for 'Bedlam & Boss', a designer boutique label.

My clients were Lorna and Kay- a creative couple who design eclectic furniture and furnishings. I rarely come across 'dream clients' , but both Lorna and Kay love 'weird and steampunk'

The idea was to create something that brought alive both their personalities:

Lorna: the wise half
Kay: the wild and crazy

So here goes.... My 'Owlthulhu'

works of Alexis Diaz in Bricklane

Friday, January 30, 2015

Legal Alien

As I was walking back from lunch, I was stopped in my tracks by a gentleman.  He asked me if I could help him, and had 50p to spare. I usually try and avoid these confrontations, and end up walking away with an awkward nod... but this man held an expression so full of hope and anticipation, and I didn't think twice before fishing out the 50p from my bag.

He told me that he was living in the streets for the past month or so. He had moved to London from another country and since then it had been a struggle. 

I don't know, maybe I could empathise with him in some way.  As an immigrant here today, I find myself feeling the same helplessness. It's not the struggle for food and shelter kind of helplessness, but it the feeling of 'where will I be in the next six months'.

London is cold, and not just this winter. 

It's not a city where jobs are accessible to foreigners.

It's not a city where they have the luxury to shop, bargain or negotiate for the 'dream' position.

To an immigrant, this city is a drug, an addiction, and they will do... close to anything to stay afloat, survive and hope to catch a lucky break, in a few months.... a few years.

I hope the man I met today, finds a home, finds some place warm, and is one of the lucky ones to catch that break.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rich Door- Poor Door

As one lane takes you through canvases of beautiful art, another hits you with a whiff of warm Bengali spices, and you walk down to marvel at a massive chimney of an old brewery or you wander away losing yourself in alleyways of street boutiques and vintage markets. What more would you want? A charming little factory what makes bells, or a narrow gully home to the largest anarchist bookshop in the city. Or perhaps a mysterious night walk with Ripper tales.

Aldgate East, Brick Lane, Whitechapel.

Brick Lane

It is the London I want to be a part of, proud of. A meting pot of cultures, free thinking, free people.

That's until it became an 'investment opportunity'. 'One Commercial Street Tower'-  twenty one storey eyesore. There is no better way to describe that, but then again I hate tall glass characterless buildings. They seem to lack a soul.

But that is not my issue. Sky scrapers seem to be the answer to growing population in super cities. What's disturbing is what I read at the 'East End Howler', a local newspaper I picked up from the Freedom Bookstore. Apparently developers are 'sometimes forced' to provide housing that could be passed as affordable (still beyond reach for the average Londoner). The end result, the developer is faced with a situation where the desired residents will be living in the same building as the undesirables. (cringe)
The solution devised by Redrow (the builder) is to have two separate entrances.  The main entrance (rich door) has a vast lobby and security guards and an upscale reception, while the 'poor door' is around in a dingy side alley with nothing welcoming in the narrow access except mailboxes.

This has not gone unnoticed. There have been protests every week against this ridiculous hypocrisy. The protesters have talked to residents of both doors. One of them coming out of the rich door did not even know there was a poor door. (.really?) Some of the poor door residents have revealed more details of the discrimination. The lift frequently breaks down and they are not allowed to use the rich lift!

This is no longer about 'abolishing' the two doors. Maybe the builder will eventually be forced to do it, but what is really happening here? The bloody immigrants? This area has been the heart of the Bangladeshi Bengali community for decades, so what next... The Apartheid in East London?

Rich and poor entrances

Latest update(Nov 27): Round 1 goes to the Poor Doors. Richie Rich have agreed to 'talks' regarding the abolishment of the poor door. I walked around this building today, and there were quite a few cops lurking at the entrance, but no protesters.

Voices of the working class. Newspapers at the Freedom Bookshop

I admire the will and the dedication with which people are writing and publishing such journals for free distribution. What's the motivation? Maybe 10 people will read it. Maybe five will blog about it. Being aware and being alert. It is important for the information to be shared and passed on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Posters of Protest- Talk to the hand!

On a recent visit to the V&A, I came across a very interesting section of posters. It was called 'Posters of Protest' - a collection of posters from the last 100 years. I am still trying to articulate how and why, they still have that powerful magnetic effect that draws you towards them, mildly hypnotic?

What was it about the design, that makes every poster still look fresh? The fonts? The colours? The cut- colour, the silhouettes? black-white- red?  Or the hand?
So strange, that posters and art from all over the world, had these many things in common. So what was the formula?

It is easier for people to stand for what they are against, than what they support. No. Stop. Resist. 
I read in an article, that the use of silhouettes was deeper than just cool 'graphic design'. It was a technique used to condense a group of people into one unified body.
Iconography: The fist. The arresting hand. To me, this was it. All summed up, the clenched fist shouted power, shouted resistance, shouted unity.

What happened to this kind of art? Why don't we see these anyone? Why am I not designing anything like this? No burning issues for protest today? Or is this the new mantra? 

let's keep calm and shut the fuck up.

Fists to Fingers

I was reading this book '100 ideas that changed graphic design'  by Steven Heller, and the pointing finger' idea is No 6.

'When a finger pointed directly at a word or a sentence it was a benign command to read whatever was pointed out.'

 The pointing finger acquired more gravitas when in 1914, at the outset of WW1, British designer Alfred Leete created the famous recruitment poster featuring a picture of the secretary of state of War, pointing directly of of the poster to the viewer above the words 'wants you'. this was the first of many wartime and post war recruitment posters.

Designed to unite or designed to divide, to bring together or break. I absolutely love the power of design.