Friday, 9 October 2015

A New Path, Wordy Work In Progress...


As many of you know I have been heading off into all sorts of new directions this year. I made a deal with myself during treatment for cancer to take opportunities and just see where they led me, so it has been quite the ride in lots of ways. I have taken on lots of illustration projects... some huge, some small, most challenging, some I could share, like the amazing teas which are shown below, which totally fell into the fun side of the illustration ledger, and lots of others weren't shareable which has led to there being a lot less work shown on the blog etc. Most of the projects have been fun and challenging and the learning curve was really steep at times, an ant jogging up a mountain steep, but it has been pretty positive, except for one thing... it takes a crazy amount of my time. I work ridiculous hours now and life is one huge juggling act, and I cannot juggle people. I can barely catch one ball let alone the five squillion I have in the air all the time. Add to that launching a website and the opening of the etsy shop and some cracks have started appearing... not little cracks either, more like gaping canyons that need ladders lashed together to get over. I have not been an easy camper to live with at times, and while I still believe I have managed to be the innately charming soul I think have always been, it may have been a stretch to say that I haven't been prone to more than a few moments of behaving like a surly sod.

I am just going to say it... I am not a huge Etsy fan...not because I have only sold one print since it opened a few weeks ago, because I do believe that I would have sales in time because I have sold so many prints over the years, but it is lots of little things... these things are too numerous to discuss as this is wordy enough already, and I know a lot of people have a lot of success there, but it doesn't sit so well with me. I had set up a website as a hub for illustration, classes etc, and the Etsy store doesn't fit easily within it... the pricing structures don't encourage the really high quality prints I would want to buy myself etc... and don't get me started on the need to bombard your Instagram feed etc with your products... it just doesn't feel like me... and I was stressed... seriously stressed... I was finding I had little no time to make any art for myself, for blogging or visiting blogging friends, and I have so many emails waiting for replies I considered actually turfing the computer in the pool and saying it was hit by a freak wave. Instead of painting and doing stuff that makes me bearable to the people who have to live with me, I found myself working on marketing plans and the like, and I am crap at all that... I just don't like it, but I was rolling along sort of half hanging in there, busy being stressed and thinking this is the path at the moment etc. But then in quick succession a few things have happened to make me question that it is the path.


Just for the hell of it I got some professional standard scans and prints done, and the quality was just so lovely, like perfectly lovely.... They were just so much nicer and I was proud of them, and would happily hang them on my wall. Are they pricier....yep... would they be hard to sell on Etsy... dear god yes... do I care... nope... I love the higher quality. I was madly wondering how to go about restructuring etc when an opportunity to apply to sell through a great platform that I love came up... the downside was they require only professional quality prints, which is hardly a downside after seeing the difference a great quality print makes... I can sell through my own website as well, so I was starting to feel a bit excited. I may actually have found the perfect platform... well as perfect as it can be in a commercial setting. Will I look like a bit of a goose because I just set up the Etsy shop, and all that.... probably... but I would rather be a happy goose, than a miserable one so the application process has begun. My nerves are shot, and I am juggling three illustration jobs at the same time, but it is all exciting and it feels more right if you know what I mean.



This was promptly followed by an out of left field opportunity to do with my painting... like a once in a blue moon chance that made my heart beat faster and has started an avalanche of painting ideas erupting out of every orifice like crazy. I have spent months saying I will have time for them soon, and taking illustration jobs, but all of a sudden I have to choose. I have to decide whether to wind back illustration... I have some contracts I have to honour, and there are some companies that I love working with and wouldn't change that for the world, but I can't do anywhere near the number of jobs I do now and chase the painting opportunity. It isn't really a contest and even though the chances of pulling it off are kind of slim-ish concerning this new opportunity I am taking it with both hands baby. Paint is starting to fly, my brain is fizzing and I actually feel happy... well happy and scared shiteless all rolled into one. So I have been playing with Inktober when I can squeeze it in, doing some watercolours like the coral and leaf above. These are very much works in progress at this stage, but I want to play a bit and start getting some painting mojo back while sketchbooks are filling with thumbnails and ideas and canvases are being primed. I am facing very little sleep in the next few weeks, but what else is new... So I am now a new path, work in progress, happy goose facing possible failure and creative humiliation on an epic scale... which adds up to all being right in the world in my books... 
happy painting all.. xx

34 comments:

Valerie-Jael said...

Love the tree, and the inky pieces are great, too. Happy PPF, hugs, Valerie

Nic McLean said...

Well, it all sounds like the universe is conspiring to bring you everything you deserve - not the stuff that's making you crazy or cranky or like an ant climbing a mountain sheep (because yes, I saw the word sheep not steep!!) but all the crazy exciting stuff like being approached to paint and being approached by another online platform (don't keep us in suspense who is it?!) As for Etsy, I loved it a few years ago when I first set up my shop. I'd have a little flurry of sales, well, two, and then nothing for several months but I'd dutifully renew my listings every time they ran out and still kept adding more items. I didn't really sell prints as I only had the ones I printed myself and never felt they were good enough quality (although that was reflected in the price) The problem with Etsy is that they stopped it being just for unique handmade craft and art and opened it up to the mass produced Asian markets so now you have artists discovering their designs being ripped off and sold on cushions from China etc and you just can't compete with their prices and most importantly the whole ethos of what Etsy stood for doesn't exist anymore. I have just been letting my shop run out of stock. There are perhaps 4 things left in it and I've just put it into holiday mode until they also expire. I don't think it is a great platform for artists but Artfinder for example is. I've sold more original work there in the 7 months I've had my shop than in the whole 3 or 4 years I've had my Etsy shop. Anyway, it's all incredibly exciting for you Tracey and you do right to stop the things that aren't filling you with joy and embracing the amazing opportunities that are! xx

froebelsternchen Susi said...

I love your fantastic illustrations - wonderful art !
Happy weekend to you!
oxo
Susi

sirkkis said...

I hope all the best to your new path!
You create interesting art.
Happy creating,Trace ♥

dkatiepowellart.me said...

I hate Etsy. Am i using it to sell the rest of my jewelry line this year? Yes -- but I have a following. I think they are sell-outs who ruined the original idea of the company and most of the sellers are no longer small artisans. They change rules and contracts and platforms like the wind and do not listen AT ALL to their sellers. I don't know where else to sell but I think a paypal button on your own website is a better idea, and I have played with that and think it might be the way.

Just saying. I hope the very best comes to you and it'll all work out!

dkatiepowellart.me said...

I hate Etsy. Am i using it to sell the rest of my jewelry line this year? Yes -- but I have a following. I think they are sell-outs who ruined the original idea of the company and most of the sellers are no longer small artisans. They change rules and contracts and platforms like the wind and do not listen AT ALL to their sellers. I don't know where else to sell but I think a paypal button on your own website is a better idea, and I have played with that and think it might be the way.

Just saying. I hope the very best comes to you and it'll all work out!

My name is Erika. said...

Love your coral piece today Tracey. I agree about Etsy, and I think it has gotten so far from what it was started out being. I've also gotten back to your class that I ran out of time with over the summer. Enjoying painting my vegs and fruits! Have a great weekend.

sheila 77 said...

It's difficult to balance trying to do lots of interesting things with having a non-stressful life. We have to try some things out, but if after a while they are boring or stressful, getting out seems like the best option. Then of course we have both our "Virtual" Life and our "Real" life - two lives to manage.
Good luck with all your ventures. Life is too short not to be enjoyed.

Studio Kaufmann said...

Sounds like.you have some very exciting times ahead. Yes maybe Etsy was not the right place for you but can't wait.to see you settled in your new online home. I rather like doing marketing on instagram etc so maybe that makes me weird !

pauline said...

oh Tracey, you are SO on the right path and i am so fucking excited for you. The projects you're working on sound fabulous & stressful & thrilling & challenging & did I say fabulous? I totally understand your decision re: Etsy and who the hell cares if you decide to pull out & look like a goose? It's not about anybody else. It's about you. ;) So GO for whatever your gut tells you is right for you. It sounds to me like you've already made the right decisions. I support you 100%. Your work will be the same beautiful wherever you decide to sell it. xx

Christine said...

Lovely pieces today Tracey! One piece is a few weeks is not bad I think.

Linda Kunsman said...

a brilliant variety of illustrations! Although I haven't tried any place to sell my art my son keeps pushing me to do it and mentioned setting me up on Etsy-but I'm not liking what I'm hearing or reading about it either. Perhaps putting a PayPal button on your own blog is the way to go? Best of luck with your endeavors and moving forward!

alarmcat said...

Thanks Tracey (and everyone else) for clueing me in about Etsy. I was seriously considering opening a shop there but now...probably not.

Sounds like you've been crazy busy!! Take a deep breath and keep on painting!

Lynn Richards said...

Wow, just wow. I love your honesty about juggling. I was so happy to read I'm not the only one with too many balls in the air and having to pick and choose which one to catch. Not that I'm happy that you are loosing sleep, but it's kinda nice to be able to be so busy with ART!!

Molly Freibott said...

Praying for vision, for Clarity and for Peace....go forward sistah!

Beth Niquette said...

What beautiful artwork! Your work just fills my eyes. I enjoyed reading your post, too. Have a lovely weekend, my talented Friend!

stefanie stark said...

Wow, this was so useful for me to read about your experiences and considerations. Many thanks! I'm thinking about selling art sometimes as well and did some researches also on etsy but I do not like their way of web presence. It appears impersonal and frigid to me and I came to the same conclusion as dkatiepowellart said... most of the sellers are no longer small artisans. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you on your forthcoming steps and I love the blue tree and the colorful tea bags and your stylish inktober sketches!

Carin Cullen said...

Follow your guts Tracey! If they take you away from Etsy, so be it. I hardly ever use it. I wish you all the best on your new path and have lots of fun painting!

Jennifer McLean said...

C-granny says she's so proud to see you following your path. I totally agree, to me you seem just like a hound dog following a scent. You really do know where your bliss is so go get it girl! I couldn't be happier for you and although I know I don't have to say it, I do NOT expect an email any time soon, K? Put me on the back burner, we'll talk when you're not underwater so to speak,lol. Hugs my sweet friend. Go get your bliss.

denthe said...

wow, exciting and busy times ahead! I'm sure it'll work out for the best. I'm with you on etsy, I have a bit of a love/hate-relationship with it and am thinking about closing my shop there. By the way: I absolutely adore that tree in the first picture ....

Gillena Cox said...

that tree is the start of something lovely

happy PPF

much love...

Giggles said...

First off, Breathe....then go with your gut. You are so right about etsy...I read an article that pretty much says what Nic was trying to get across. I know a few local artist that really find the marketing a nightmare that takes them away from creativity. I imagine the pressure really is tough! I agree with Nic about the universe providing you what you need! Don't worry about answering emails...you are one woman, you can't do it all. Answer the ones that are imperative! Eventually you may want to hire a little helper to do the paperwork, mailing, pickups, cooking, or what ever you tell them too!! You'll know when the time is right. You have your blog, facebook, and instagram to send out mass messages to your, fellow bloggers, admirers, followers, friends!! Be kind to yourself...do what you love!! Prioritize....everyone will still love you....I promise!! So excited for you... this is a much deserved opportunity!!

Big hugs
Giggles

Stacey Vadaj said...

awesome for all of the opportunities coming to you. you worked very hard for them. only you know the path you need to take and it sounds like this is the right one for you. love your drawings.

Arnoldo L. Romero, MLA said...

I love that lively tree and those fashion forward black and white watercolored sketches. I'm a true believer in experimenting with my artwork too. Blessings!

Rita said...

How exciting! I hope this new venture is the thing for you. Sounds like the pavers to a new path are just lining up before those dancing feet!! Much love and good wishes for great success!! *hugs* :)

Nicole Beadwright Campanella said...

First that tree is amazing. As for Etsy, it has changed so much since the beginning. Everyone needs to find what works and then go for it. I know with your talent, and go-get-em attitude you will succeed in what ever you try.
Happy weekend
Nicole/Beadwright

Lisa Isabella Russo said...

I love that tree and the teas are lovely! You are such an amazing artist, I'm glad you're making some time for your paintings. So much going on in your world right now! I hope it goes really well for you.

Faye said...

The tree is just fantastic! And the pen/ink drawings, as well. I don't sell anything so I'm not really all that familiar with how Etsy works. And I don't really buy anyone else's works since my house is overflowing with my own stuff that in a few years my children will have to divvy up. I love how you keep doing those delightful illustrations in spite of the stress you have been under. Have a great weekend and relax with a good glass of wine.

jillholmes.me said...

If you can pay the rent and still have a regular meal while doing what you love--GO FOR IT! I am so excited for your new opportunities! I know how it feels with a stressful full-time job, family needs that are also urgent at the moment and still wanting to take time to do the things I personally enjoy as well. It is tough keeping the right balls far enough up in the air all at the same time. No. I don't sleep much either these days.... :-)

Nordljus said...

Even if it's all a bit crazy, it sounds just absolutely wonderful! And interesting to read about the Etsy experience. I've always thought about opening a shop there, for years, but was put off slightly when they changed their policy some time ago. It's all about what's right for you and your products, and it sounds like you've found the perfect thing that works for you. Now I just feel like wanting to go to my studio!

Ginger said...

Wow, you do have a lot going on. I am sure it must feel so overwhelming but it sounds like you are doing a fine job letting it fuel you and keep you going! Love your art as always. It is interesting to read others' perspectives on Etsy and other ways of selling. I have had the thought in the back of my mind to try and sell but just cannot seem to get past the fear to take the plunge. I really appreciate hearing the journeys of others in different online platforms. Best wishes as you continue to figure out your path and work on some exciting projects!

Sandra Busby said...

I didn't get on with Etsy either Tracey... didn't work for me at all and I sold sweet diddly-squat on it!! I closed my shop last year as it just wasn't worth the hassle! I think it will all fall in to place... It's just trial and error!! :0)

Indira said...

I always enjoy reading your blog, Tracey. Looks like your art life is going the way you want it. Good luck and great success.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Sandra Busby said...

'Less work to show on the blog'???? Um... You are still posting more than any other blogger I follow, lol! I never got on with Etsy either. In fact I thought it was a complete wast of time! I find Artfinder to be much better but you do have to up your prices to cover their commission. It's such a huge task to get a new website up and running along with everything else you have going. But at least we have it all ready for the new year! You are doing such a huge amount and you are still getting so much art done too! I just don't know how you manage to spin so many plates!!! Xx