Prints of Prints of Prints

(Disclaimer-- this post contains affiliate links. I do receive a small commission if you sign up with Printful) I've been absent from here for a while, but am back! I love that I'm able to offer prints of my work now so easily with the Printful integration with Etsy. Back when I was a practicing artist, over ten years ago, offering prints was a costly gamble. You had to front the money, and there was no guarantee you would sell the prints....let alone being able to afford the money to print different sizes of the same image. Now, there are a plethora of Print-On-Demand (POD) sites, and it's SO easy to offer prints. Printful integrates with a ton of e-commerce sites, like Big Cartel and Woo Commerce, but it also integrates with platforms like Etsy-- in fact, I think it's the only print on demand site fully integrated with Etsy. 

This integration is awesome. All I have to do is upload my images, pick what I want them printed on (Printful offers a wide range of things to print on like T-shirts and mugs as well as art prints), pick the sizes, add my markup price, and list it! All the up front cost to me is the Etsy listing fee and my time. When a customer places an order, It's all taken care of on Printful's end. 

My work works so well as prints. Because the cyanotypes and collages are small, they're very easy to scan. I do have to do all the color editing in the morning with daylight, to get the correct color matching, but that's the only hiccup. What I love is that I'm able to offer prints of pieces that I want to keep the originals of. (reminder to self: remove original Wandering Flowers cyanotype)

 

 

These two collages are ones I made years ago,  and have kept ever since. I love that I can now offer them as prints! It's also super interesting to me to see how my style has changed so much, even though I wasn't really making work between the time I created these and today. Almost as if a separate self was running parallel...... 

Cyanotype Leaves

Although I've mostly stayed away from plant material for my cyanotypes, I've been really inspired by other artists also utilizing the #wetcyan technique with plant material. Check out these artists on Instagram: 

@atwaterdesigns
@hlisasolon
@sstaldermansur
@tone1s
@lindaclarkjohnson
@sue_reno_studio

 

If I've forgotten anyone I shouldn't, let me know! Go to Instagram and search the hashtag #wetcyan and you'll find a wealth of them! I love the way the maple leaves have printed, with that blue "halo". I'm sure it's a chemical reaction that I have no idea about, or basic with acid or....I was terrible at science, but the ones done with actual plant matter really come out differently. I like the surprise, though!  

Let me know how your #wetcyan experiments are coming along and if you have any favorites! 

Why Artists Need To Start Blogging NOW

All over the web, there are articles and posts with social media advice for artists with titles like, "Grow your followers by 1000 in 10 days!". There are other more real life advice ones, but a lot of them are professing to help artists aim towards the goal of selling on IG and Facebook. There's just one problem. It won't work. 

I'm exaggerating, but not too off the mark as it might sound. The reason is that almost all of that advice was given before the algorithms of Facebook and IG changed. Frankly, the only social media advice I come across on how to strategize with these new challenges are sites and podcasts and blogs for the business world. So it's time for artists to really look at marketing on social media from a business side of view, not just the pretty visual side of view. 

I'll go in depth more on Instagram and Facebook in future posts, but artists need to realize that organic reach is only going to go down. Followers and likes don't really count anymore in terms of getting your page or feed seen. In some ways, this levels the playing field. In some ways, it's incredibly annoying if you're an artist just starting out on your marketing journey. (Like, really annoying.) Let's face it, Facebook is a pay-to-play site now for businesses, and Instagram is becoming so as well. Not surprising, because Facebook owns Instagram. 

The biggest takeaway I have from what I've been reading and listening to is that your email list is gold. Your focus shouldn't be on just getting likes and followers, your focus should be on directing traffic to your website and getting subscribers to your newsletter. Also, focus more on SEO. That's something I'm still learning about; it kind of makes my head hurt, but I know it's important. My partner has been working on Google ads for his business, and I'm hoping I can recruit him to write an article.

That's where blogging comes in. That is, blogging on your website. Luring people in with good, interesting content. (That sounds so awful and sneaky. But true.) Using SEO (search engine optimization) to be found more easily in searches. I see so many artist blogs on their website where the last post is dated January 16, or 2015 and 2014 dates in general. Social media has taken the place of blogs for many people in the last couple of years, but it's time to think about going back to blogging. Social media traffic is useless for you if it's not funneling traffic to your website. It's kind of like art school art show openings where all the students show up for the free food. 

We'll go into ideas for writing in another post, but get your blog out of the deep freeze...or if you don't have one, start one! 

You're going to be hearing a lot more from me on social media marketing for artists, because all this information is important and I just am not seeing it anywhere else. Let me rephrase that. I'm not seeing it anywhere where I don't have to buy an e-book or buy and e-course. There is nothing more annoying to me to click on a Pinterest link that sounds informative only to find a few sentences and then the e-book I'm supposed to buy if I want to learn that information. I don't know about you, but I am a little fed up with every website (for artists, specifically, but for non-artists, too) trying to sell me something. 

I want to sell my art, of course. However, I also want you to have the information that I'm learning, and I want you to have it for free. 

Print on the wall is Flaming Flowers.

 

Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? 

 

6 Social Media Marketing Podcasts Artists Need To Listen To

Ever since deciding to really tackle my art career, and to treat it as a business, I've been doing tons of research about social media and marketing. A big part of that has been listening to podcasts. 

I wish I had gotten into all of this two or even 3 years ago, before all the algorithms started. You know, when Instagram was chronological. When organic reach was easy.

But, to quote Michael Stelzner, "Those were the good old days. The good old days are gone, and they're never coming back." 

So, in no particular order, are the main podcasts I've been listening to:

Artists Helping Artists This is one of my favorites, specifically geared towards helping artists market their work online. Leslie Saeta, the host, is a delight to listen to, and has mad marketing skills. She always has a co-host, who can differ, but always add value to the show. 

Social Media Marketing Podcast Michael Stelzner, who I quoted at the beginning of the post, founded SocialMediaExaminer.com and also has created the Social Media Marketing World conference, the largest social media marketing conference out there. He has fantastic interviews, and his knowledge and wisdom about social media today is unparalleled. He also has a fantastic voice that I've developed a bit of a crush on! 

The Science of Social Media This podcast is produced by Buffer, which is designed to help you manage all of your social media on one platform. I haven't tried them yet, but they do have a free version you can try out. This podcast also has great interviews, including ones with Michael Stelzner, with social media experts. It's smart, to the point, and enjoyable. 

The Strategy Hour is a podcast by Think Creative Collective, and the two women are always incredibly fun to listen to, have great advice, and are up front and honest about all the good and the bad of being in business for one's self. Some of the episodes are just them talking, but other ones have interviews. Their interview with Nathan Barry of ConvertKit is one I've actually listened to twice, and made me decide to use ConvertKit for handling my email marketing. 

Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield Although this podcast is aimed at entrepreneurs launching their own online courses, there's still plenty of information that anybody can use. It's another interview style podcast, with a great range of experts interviewed, including Michael Stelzner. (Ok, I really like the guy.) 

Manly Pinterest Tips Podcast It's got a quirky bit to it, "adding testosterone, one pin at a time", but it's not nearly as male dominated as it sounds like it might. Humor aside, it's another interview type podcast, with the same great content as the other podcasts I've mentioned. It doesn't stick to just Pinterest; in fact, Pinterest doesn't seem to be its main focus, social media in general is. Fantastic guests as well, including, ahem, Michael Stelzner. 

There are a lot of podcasts out there on social media marketing, and a lot of podcasts skewed more towards visual artists, but these are ones I've actually found the most helpful, and the most enjoyable to listen to. I've learned so much that I had absolutely no clue about before, and continue to learn more with every podcast I listen to. One thing to be aware of is that there are a lot of podcasts that sound great, and I subscribe, only to realize that the last episode was in 2016 or 2015. They may have been great, but with social media changing practically every week, I need to know what's going on today.

The best thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere. Car, gym, vacuuming (just did that one today), walks, you name it. The ones I've mentioned here, too, have built up quite an inventory of episodes, so you can search and listen to the ones that you think you will most benefit from. 

Do you have any favorite podcasts that you learn or have learned from? What are they? I'd love to hear them. 

 

 

6 Reasons Why You Should Sell on Society6

When I was last in the art world, Print On Demand (POD) sites simply didn't exist. The amazing internet options for artists didn't exist. If you wanted to sell prints, you had to shell out the money up front and hope you could recoup it in sales. POD sites are a game changer. 

There are tons of POD sites out there, but my preferred one is Society6. Why?

1. The layout. Like most artists, visual aesthetics are important to me, which is why my partner and I will always disagree about Macs and PCs. (Hint: I'm the Apple lover.) It's clean, attractive, and dead easy to navigate, from both the consumer and the seller side. 

2. It costs nothing to get started. Literally. 

3. You set your own profit scale. When it comes to art prints, there is a base price, and you can markup how ever much further you want to increase your profits. That's not the case for the other products, though. Those have fixed markups. 

4. The options. You can sell far, far more than just art prints. You can have your images available on everything from pillows to totes to phone-skins to clocks to window curtains, to t-shirts and leggings....

5. You keep the rights to your artwork. The copyright always remains yours, which means you can sell the same image on other sites and platforms if you want. 

6. Exposure. It's an added way of getting exposure. You do have to work at it, but it's a way of getting your artwork out to an audience that might not otherwise find you.  

I also love that I can upload images to my website and then just add the clickthrough URL of the individual image's Society6 page on my Buy Prints page. 

My Society6 page

 

 

Ive got the blues

I've been bitten by the cyanotype bug again. I was hit by it hard last spring and apparently it's a spring thing for me! Cyanotypes are (according to wikipedia, since they do it better than me) "a photographic printing process that produces a cyan blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century (i.e. blueprints) as a simple and low cost process to produce copies of drawings. The process uses two chemicals: ammonium iron citrate and potassium ferricyanide."

You don't have to become a temporary mad scientist to use it. Kits are easily available online; Jacquard makes a good one called Sensitizer Set and I know there are other ones too. All you have to do is mix equal portions of the two bottles, and you're good to go. I use a foam brush, but a Japanese hake brush is often recommended. It really doesn't matter, as long as you get the results you want. You paint it on whatever paper you want. Use a paper though, that will hold up to the washing. I like to use medium weight printmaking paper, but almost any printmaking paper will work pretty well. 

You can prepare your paper inside, best under low light, I prepare a bunch, then let them dry in a couple of cabinets that have shelves. I can store them there until I want them-- you do want to store them in a lightproof area. Next step is to place the objects or transparency that you want to use on top of the paper, and sandwich it between a bottom layer, like plexiglass or cardboard, and place another piece of glass or plexiglass on top. I like to use glass because it's got some weight to it, so it really keeps the image tight against the paper. 

Place it in a sunny spot outside, and wait! When it turns a tan color it's ready; check the instructions on the kit for better info. I like to mess around with exposures and paper, so I'm not going for a crisp image. 

Once done, submerge the exposed paper in a pan of water and agitate it gently. Adding a little hydrogen peroxide to the water will help hasten the blue along. When blue, take it out, blot it, and let it dry. That's it! 

 

 

You can take it a step further with toning. Essentially you bleach the image to your desired state, and then immerse it in a bath of whatever you've decided to tone it with.
For bleaching, washing soda, baking soda, and ammonia all work, but you'll get slightly different results with all three. Some things you can use to tone your images are coffee, black tea, green tea, and tannin. Jacquard has a really great downloadable PDF on toning cyanotypes, here

The length and concentration is up to you. I like messing around with the process, so at the moment I'm just experimenting with combinations. I'm not very scientific at it...I don't make notes. I'm just trying to make new papers I can use for my work. 

Here are some links to more about cyanotypes: 

christopherjames-studio.com
He has a really in depth PDF about the process, including the history of it. 

mikeware.co.uk
Apparently there are two cyanotype processes, the original one, and the New
Cyanotype Process. Photographer's Formulary has a kit for that one. I don't really know the difference. The explanation starts to get a little too technical for me. I've ordered one, though, which I just received today, so I'll keep you updated once I've tried it. 

cyanotypestore.com
There's a whole store with cyanotype materials. I just stumbled across this, so I haven't looked through it, but it looks like you can get pretty much anything you need there. 

Welcome To Reality

 

 I've started a journey. Let me introduce myself. I'm Krista McCurdy, 35, and I live in Portland, Oregon. I dye yarn for Pigeonroof Studios and also am a Pilates Instructor at Studio Blue. Although I have a BFA in Printmaking, for the past ten years I've only done art sporadically. Moving to Portland gave me the space, both physically and mentally, to start making art again. 

It's a very different world for artists now than back then. The whole online marketing one's art and the many choices available, is completely new and a little bewildering to me. What I've come to discover (and been told) is that nowadays as an artist, one needs to brand themselves...and to get one's art as visible as possible! 

Using social media to help brand one's self is a wide, wide new world. I come across many artists with thousand of followers, who sell instantly the works that they put for sale on Instagram, and are generally very successful. These particular artists are always pictured perfectly coiffed and made up, in a carefully "artsy" clean outfit. Their studios are large and light filled and airy and magazine looking. Their work ranges from the good to bad usually leaning towards the latter. They are extremely successful. 

The usual state of chaos.

The usual state of chaos.

But that's not reality. Reality is my cluttered worktable, in my office in my house which does not have picturesque hardwood floors, but carpet. My materials are strewn all over the place. I do my printmaking in my dye studio, which is two cards of our 3 car garage. This studio is definitely NOT picturesque! Total chaos. 

Reality is me, as an artist beginning again, so to speak, figuring out how to brand and sell myself without losing my soul. Join me on my journey down the rabbit hole. I'm going to be completely open about the setbacks and worries and, hopefully, joy. Selling one's art online, becoming noticed, doesn't happen overnight. 

That's reality. 

Much love,
Krista McCurdy.