For most of today, I have sat here doing my tax return - this dull but essential annual task has made me ponder the dilemma of selling your artwork. (Selling my art requires that I register as being self employed, and hence, complete a tax return each year). In my experience, selling your art brings benefits as well many negatives. Let me describe both the struggle and the successes I have had.
Without a doubt, the worst part of selling your artwork is all the unbelievably boring activities which go along with this. Packaging! Creating listings on a website! Editing photographs to certain sizes to fit on the various forms of social media! All of these tasks I resent, all the more so as the time you spend doing them takes away precious time available for being creative. The way I have addressed this is to do these tasks at times when I know I would not be able to be creative anyway, when I am tired and it is late in the evening. Another challenge for me is the self belief and confidence in your work in order to sell it - sometimes my lack of confidence can be crushing. Over time, I have learned that for me it is best to sell online, rather than in person. Finally, I have found it stressful selling my prints, only for the process to go wrong - such as it getting damaged or lost in the post. I have learned that it is best to pay the extra for insurance to cover this sort of incident.
However, I continue to sell my work because the benefits DO outweigh the negatives. It is thrilling when a person buys your work. It buoys your confidence and encourages you to drive on and create new works. The Swallow Statement Print above, for example, was created in response to a customer's request, and I think it is one of the most beautiful things I have produced. It can develop relationships and create opportunities - such as getting to know a business mentor, or working on collaborative blog posts. Working with Dannell's and Spoonflower for example, led to the huge Canadian Geese lampshade above. For me, writing a weekly blog post has been a useful discipline - it makes me feel more accountable and stretches me in terms of setting artistic goals. Although I resent some of the skills I have had to learn, nonetheless it has been instructive for me to learn some basic website coding and marketing.
As with many things in life, I see selling my artwork as a bit of a journey, which unfolds unpredictably. I have reached a compromise with it all. I sell enough to cover my costs of my artwork and maintaining this website. A lot of it is generated through passive income through selling my fabric, which means, once the initial design has been produced and the listing made, there is no more work to be done. If I work on collaborative blog posts, the materials are free, and I like to give away what I make. I know I would be creating all this art anyway, and it feels more meaningful if it is purposeful. There are other benefits - by having this website, I'm able to share my knowledge with others for free, such as how to sew the half apron above. I know that I would never want to be an artist full-time - I am happy with my compromise of having a day job which I very much enjoy, and selling my art I create in my free time. I’d be very keen to hear how other artists and crafters approach this difficult topic of selling their art.