Common Scams for Artists to Watch Out For

scams for artists to watch out for

Hey guys! If you’ve been online pretty much ever, you’ve probably seen a scammer in action. But did you know there are scams specifically targeting artists and creatives?

I have personally encountered some of these scams and they can be very difficult to identify. I created this post in order to share them with you so you don’t fall prey to them.

Scammers are always coming up with new ways to take your money or intellectual property, so I’m sure this list will be outdated as soon as it’s published. However, I’ve also provided some tips on how to weed out a scam if you think you’ve encountered one.

Ways to Identify a Scam

It’s always exciting as an artist when people reach out to you and recognize your talent. Many people and companies prey on this and find ways to disguise their scams as “opportunities” for artists.

Read every e-mail or message thoroughly. If the language and grammar is very poor and sentences don’t make sense, it’s likely not worth your time and could even just be an automated message.

Whenever you are approached by a person or company find out as much as you can about them before proceeding. Google the company, and read reviews about them on websites like Better Business Bureau. Ask friends or other artists if they have experience with this company. If you can’t find anything about them online that’s usually a red flag.

When a company sends you an offer or contract, thoroughly read the fine print because there could be a catch. If you have to spend any of your own money up front, it’s probably a scam.

Always consider what’s in it for them. Why are they interested in you and your art? What do they get out of the partnership? Not to say your art isn’t good, but no one works for free or without motive.

Here are some common scams for Artists to watch out for

  • Companies reaching out to you for a “media feature” – Don’t waste your time. You will later learn you have to pay upwards of $5000 for this feature that probably doesn’t reach your target audience at all.
  • People asking to “collaborate” only to get free content from you, such as a photo of yourself using their product. Unless it is a big company which aligns with your brand, don’t give away your content for free.
  • Someone asking to use your art for their website or logo. Be very wary and do your research before sending them anything. Do not give it to them for free either. At least create some sort of contract saying they cannot re-sell your art and only use it for a specific purpose so you could take legal action if needed.
  • People asking for free art or products in exchange for a social media shout-out. I strongly encourage you never to give your art away for free. If the person is a legitimate social media influencer they probably would not be approaching you.
  • Amateur art shows that are paid for by the artists. These art shows sound exciting but you should not be forced to sell tickets or pay to fund the show yourself. Always research the company, read reviews, and consider what they are getting out of it.
  • So-called “gurus” trying to you sell you expensive courses to “help your business”. Some of them ask for $20,000 or more! Don’t give up your life savings for the same things you can learn online for free.
  • People asking to buy your artwork, but want to pay through non-traditional payment methods. ONLY accept payment through Paypal, Cards or E-transfer. Do not accept cheques. Never send files or ship art until after you’ve received payment and it’s in your bank account.
  • Sellers ripping off your designs to sell on websites like Amazon, AliExpress, TeeSpring etc. Google the keywords of your most popular works every few months to see if it shows up on websites that are not your own. Then submit take-down notices.

Have you ever been scammed or encountered an artist-specific scam? Leave your experience below for others to learn from!

Cheers,

Julie

Want to learn how to sell your art online? Start here!

What is a Mandala and How to Draw One

what is a mandala and how to draw one

What is a mandala?

The word mandala literally means “circle” in Sanskrit, but they are so much more than that. Mandalas are beautiful geometric images that represent the circle of life, the universe, divine power, synchronicity and more.

Evidence of mandalas date back to the first century B.C. However, they are likely much older than that. Mandalas have been found all over the world, from India to South America. They are a common symbol in many religions including Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity.

Christian Mandalas Rose Window Sainte Chapelle Chapel in Paris
Rose Window Mandala in Sainte Chapelle Chapel in Paris

Today, mandalas are used around the world as a meditative art practice. They utilize a combination of radial balance and abstract patterns to mesmerize the artist and viewer alike.

Why draw mandalas?

Drawing mandalas can be a tranquil and meditative experience. They are often used in Art Therapy as a way to disconnect from stress and anxiety. They help the artist concentrate on being present in the moment.

Drawing intricate patterns is also a great way to improve hand-eye coordination.

Drawing mandalas is easy and fun, and the end result is unique and beautiful.

How to draw a mandala

There are many different ways to draw mandalas.

You can draw them completely free hand, or use a template. You can create your own template by using a compass and a ruler, or you can download the templates I created here.

Generally when drawing a mandala you start from the center and work your way out.

mandala drawing template
Drawing a mandala using my template

Incorporate different geometric patterns into your mandala as it expands outwards.

You can use many different materials to create mandalas. Pen and paper is the most obvious. However, people create mandalas from sand, rocks, leafs, crochet, yarn, and many other materials.

yarn mandalas diy craft project kids
Mandala made with yarn. aka Ojo De Dios or “God’s Eye”

It’s a good idea to keep a sketchbook or even a Pinterest Board with different patterns to refer back to for future mandala drawings.

Learn more about the history and religious uses of mandalas here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about mandalas, and how and why you should draw them!

Cheers,

Julie

Beautiful Colour Palettes to Inspire Your Art

Tropical sunset colour palettes blue purple lilac

Hi guys! Today I’m sharing a collection of beautiful colour palettes I made using my own photographs. Feel free to use them as inspiration for your art or colouring pages!

I always find myself struggling when it comes to colour schemes so I thought making a few of these would be a great resource to refer back to.

Turquoise blue summer water swimming pool colour swatches

Feel free to share these colour swatches on Pinterest or anywhere else you like to collect this sort of thing.

Crocus flower bright purple colour palettes

Another way I like to use these is for coloring mandalas. There are many more ways you can use these including inspiration for home decor!

Color swatches from a lake in British Columbia Canada

Make your own colour palettes using the Canva Color Palette Generator!

Sunset in Mexico colour scheme

Let me know which one of these colour themes is your favourite by leaving me a comment below!

Want to see more of my photography? Check here!

Use these colour schemes to colour in one of my free colouring pages or even to draw your own mandalas using my template!

Cheers,

Julie

What to do When Sales are Slow in Your Print on Demand Store

What to do when sales are slow print on demand stores

Hey guys!  Today I’d like to share with you my thoughts on what to do when sales are slow in your Print on Demand shops and online stores.

In retail, whether online or brick and mortar, there are sales cycles.  This means that sales slow down at certain times of the year and peak during other times, like at Christmas.

It can be frustrating and confusing to go from making several sales in a month to barely any, but that is totally normal and just the reality of retail. It does not mean you’ve failed, so don’t get down!

Think about how you personally shop. What times of the year do you spend the most money and when do you save? You will most likely find this reflected in your sales.

Here you can easily see the cycle peaks and lows during the year from my Redbubble analytics:

sales cycles on print on demand online retail stores

You can see my sales peak in November and December and drop down in the spring. Then they steadily climb back up until August when people shop for Back to School.

Now this sales cycle is totally normal and something you will need to get used to and prepare for, especially if your sole income is through online retail shops.

Instead of getting frustrated and throwing in the towel, there are lots of things you can do during these low times to get your shops ready for when the sales start to rise again!

Here is a list of ideas:

  • Work on your website or blog. Start one if you haven’t yet.
  • Continue creating and adding new designs to your shops.
  • Find new ways to promote your shops. Start using Pinterest for example.
  • Grow your social media followings.
  • Go through your stores and fix or delete under-performing designs.
  • Go through your designs and update keywords.
  • Enable new products you haven’t offered before.
  • Do a brand overhaul: new logo, banners, etc.
  • Promote sales. If your sales are slow, so are the websites you sell on and they will often have really good sales during slow times to get people to buy.
  • Ask others for feedback. You could ask friends or other Print on Demand artists for feedback on your stores and/or designs.
  • Network. Find and join support groups with like-minded individuals. There are lots of Print on Demand groups on Facebook.
  • Learn new business and marketing strategies through YouTube or other sources.
  • Take a break. Sometimes we need some time away to replenish our creativity.  Go on a holiday or spend time with friends and family and come back with new ideas.
  • Open a new store. There are lots of print on demand sites out there, perhaps there is one more suited to your style. Here is a list of Print on Demand sites to try.
  • And most importantly don’t give up!

Looking for more? You can find lots more tips about selling your art through Print on Demand websites in the resources section of my blog.

Happy selling!

Cheers,

Julie

How to Fill Out the W-8BEN Tax Form for Print on Demand Sites

print on demand tax forms and information


Ah tax forms, one of those annoying administrative tasks we have to do to sell artwork online through Print on Demand websites. Many U.S. based Print on Demand companies, like Zazzle, require a W-8BEN tax form to be filled out and submitted in order for payments to be processed.

This form can be confusing, and if you don’t submit it or fill it out properly your royalties can be subject to a whopping 30% withholding tax!

As long as you live in a country that has an income tax treaty with the U.S. (such as Canada) you do not need to pay this withholding tax, or may have to pay a reduced withholding tax. Here is a short list of countries with tax treaties with the U.S. and their withholding amounts. A more comprehensive list can be found on the IRS website.

To get started, you will have to download the W-8BEN form from the IRS website.
Below I have provided an example of how to fill out the form as a Canadian.

how to fill out us tax withholding W-8BEN form

Things to note:

  • The SIN number (Line 6) is the same as a U.S. Social Security Number. I am assuming most countries have an equivalent personal identification number for tax purposes.
  • The ____% rate of withholding (Line 10) may differ depending on the withholding tax rate of your resident country. This is where you will use the list provided at the link above.

I hope this guide will be helpful to those of you who are getting started selling your art through Print on Demand websites and are required to submit this form.
Let me know your thoughts or questions be leaving a comment below.

Cheers!

Julie

Looking for more information about selling your art through Print on Demand sites?

Check out these posts!

How to Design for Print On Demand Websites

how to design print on demand websites

If you’re just starting out selling art and designs on Print on Demand websites it can be overwhelming!  How do you decide what kinds of designs to make?  How can you optimize your artwork for all the different Print on Demand sites?

Below I’ve compiled a list of tips to make it easier for you.  I’ve been selling my art through Print on Demand websites for over 4 years now, and I’ve learned a few things in that time.  I use Photoshop and Illustrator mainly, but these tips can work with whatever software you use.

So, read on if you need help with designing and optimizing your artwork for sale on Print on Demand sites such as Society6, Redbubble, Zazzle, Teepublic and others!

(Here is a list of 10 print on demand websites I recommend)

Designing for Print on Demand Best Practices

  • Research trends. Use Pinterest or a search engine to see what kind of art is currently trending, then use this for inspiration to create something in your own style.
  • Start with a large file size (10,000 pixels covers most products).
  • Keep your designs in layers to easily make changes or re-use elements later on.
  • Design with the products you want to sell in mind.  For example, most Print on Demand sites offer products like t-shirts, throw pillows and cell phone cases.  Keep these products in mind while you create your designs.
  • Keep images crisp (300 DPI), and colours relatively saturated (more saturated colors tend to look better when printed on fabric).
  • For drawings, use a scanner if possible (rather than photographs) and use the available settings to scan a large, high DPI image file.
  • For line drawings or black and white drawings, use Illustrator to make your lines crisp.  Check out my tutorial here for instructions.
  • Don’t up-size your artwork if possible, this leads to a pixelated fuzzy look on the final product (this is why you start with a large file size in the first place).
  • Depending on what kind of artwork you make, you may need to adjust the size or medium you use in order for them to look good on the computer. Play around.
  • Don’t use copyrighted images, text, logos or anything else, or you risk the image being taken down, or even your account being suspended.  Some sites allow “fan art” but make sure you follow all the rules.

Now that you have some designs to work with…

Optimizing your Designs for Print on Demand

  • Each website has it’s own file size and type requirements so make sure to check that before you start uploading.
  • Curate designs for each platform. Some designs might work better in different stores depending on their audience.
  • Save layers separately if you sell on Zazzle because you can layer different images and text on that particular POD site.
  • Create the same design in different colors and variations, especially once you have an idea of which designs are popular with your audience.
  • Adjust designs for individual product types. For example, use a transparent background for a t-shirt or sticker, use coloured background or make the design into a pattern for tapestries and pillows, remove text for leggings and apparel where it doesn’t work, etc.

Extra

Here are some more posts to help you sell your art online:

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you’ve found these tips helpful.  If you have any other ideas or questions feel free to post in the comments below!

Cheers,

Julie