How I’m Breaking the Mold as an Artist

Hey guys! Today I’d like to share with you a little bit about how I’m breaking the mold of being an artist in the 21st century.

Throughout history, artists have had to fit certain molds to have their work accepted by galleries and the art community.

But the greatest artists were the ones who broke the mold.

In Medieval Europe, art was controlled by the Church. Artists had to create work featuring religious characters and stories in order to sell. Artists found ways to work around these limitations by inserting the faces of their patrons into religious scenes.

The great art of the Renaissance was a rejection of these restrictions. In fact, there has been a constant back and forth throughout history, with each art movement being a reaction to the one that came before.

Impressionism was a reaction to Realism. Monet and the Impressionists were originally shunned by the art community in Paris. Of course they are now widely loved and celebrated (not to mention, the art is worth millions).

In 1917, Marcel DuChamp submitted an upside down urinal as an affront to the so-called “Society of Independent Artists”. This move has gone down in history and gave rise to Dadaism.

Marcel Duchamp Fountain 1917

The greatest historical artists we know today were the ones who broke the mold and pushed back against the establishment. These artists were ahead of their time, controversial, and often under appreciated until late in life or even after death.

Artist Gustav Klimt The Kiss

So how can I follow in the footsteps of the great artists of the past?

Today, there are once again pervasive ideas about what being an artist should look like.

Many of my professors at University scoffed at the idea of selling art online on fashion and home decor products. They held the belief that a true artist should suffer for their work, and should only show in established galleries, otherwise they’re “selling out”.

Another pervasive idea is that art should only be understood and accessible to an elite few. I think that idea is bullshit and needs to be smashed like the patriarchy! I hold the belief that art should be accessible to all.

The internet and the ability to self represent has completely changed the landscape of being an artist today. We can spread our work around the world all on our own, and become business men and women in our own right. We can create any kind of artwork we want and find a market for it.

All artists should be taking advantage of this and starting a new movement. Our movement doesn’t have a name yet but one day people will be reading about this time in history. Just like we read about the “Renaissance” “Impressionism” and “Dadaism” movements of the past.

This is how I’m breaking the mold as an artist and doing what every other great artist has done before me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what being an Artist in the 21st century means to you. Leave your comments below! Please note: I’m not an art historian and have definitely over-simplified some aspects here, so feel free to point out if I’m completely wrong.

Thanks for sticking around long enough to read my rant! I really appreciate it. Head over to my gallery to check out my artwork, and make sure to subscribe to my blog if you want to follow along on my journey.

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

How to Increase Your Sales on POD Websites – 15 Tips

how to increase sales on print on demand websites 15 tips

Are you an artist trying to sell your work on Society6, Redbubble, Zazzle, or another POD (print on demand) website?

Well I’ve been doing it for a few years now and have some tips to help you get more sales!

If you’re just getting started or haven’t set up your store(s) yet, you may want to check out these posts first:

Read on to find out how to increase your sales on Society6 and Redbubble specifically, but many of these tips can be used across other POD platforms such as Zazzle, TeePublic, CafePress, Fine Art America and many others.

Tips to Increase your Sales on Print on Demand Websites

  1. Try to complete at least one business or social media related task per day. For example: one tweet, one Instagram post, one new design, one update to your website etc. If you can do more than one task that’s great, but just that one thing will help your business without being too overwhelming.
  2. Comment and like other artists’ work. This does not apply to all PODs but can be especially helpful on Society6 and Redbubble to get more eyes on your designs.
  3. Connect with other artists on social media (Facebook groups for example) or forums where available (Zazzle). Ask for feedback from them if you feel comfortable doing so!
  4. Upload as much high quality work as possible. The more designs you have, the more chances you have of making a sale.
  5. Research the latest trends and use them as inspiration to create new designs in your own style. You can use Pinterest or check the top selling designs on your chosen POD platform.
  6. Have social media pages, even just one or two and focus on them. Instagram and Twitter great for artists. On Facebook it’s challenging to get likes on your page, but it could get your real life friends interested. Try using new tools like Facebook or Instagram stories, or even Snapchat if you are adventurous.
  7. Don’t forget about your stores or leave them alone for long periods of time. Try to stay somewhat active and consistent on all of them (uploading new work, commenting/following etc.) I’ve definitely noticed an increase in sales/activity when I’m active. If you have too many stores to stay active, maybe pare it down to the few that you have been most successful on.
  8. Don’t stretch yourself too thin.  Going off the point above, if you have too many stores you might feel overwhelmed or too lazy to upload work to all of them, so I suggest deleting those ones you don’t like or don’t have much success with.
  9. Read up on other sellers tips especially top sellers if they have shared these tips online. CatCoq, for example, has shared some great information on her website. See what these top sellers are doing and figure out how you can get where they are. Use them as inspiration for your brand.
  10. Make different versions of the same designs that are well received. Different colour variations of a popular design or rework an element of that piece so it can have more mass appeal.
  11. Have a website or blog external to your social media, like this one! It helps with your visibility and to show up in Google searches.
  12. Tell your family, friends and coworkers about your stores and they might support you! You could even gift them stuff from your own stores for Christmas and birthdays etc. to get them excited about your work.
  13. Something I’m currently working on – Go back through your old designs and either delete ones that aren’t working for your brand or update titles, keywords etc.
  14. Always keep learning.  There are lots of great sources online for marketing your brand or honing and learning new skills.  Check out Skillshare for some free or paid courses in marketing, design and many other skills.
  15. Subscribe to my blog!  I’m always posting new content on selling your art on POD websites so make sure you don’t miss out.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful.  Let me know if you have any other tips to add in the comments below!

Cheers,

Julie

Check out these other posts for more information on selling your art on POD websites:

Selling your Art on POD Websites – Redbubble vs. Society6

selling art online print on demand society6 vs redbubble

Hey guys, I’m back with another comparison post about selling your art on POD (Print on Demand) websites!

This time I’m comparing 2 popular websites I sell my artwork on, Society6 and Redbubble.  I’ve broken down my comparison into sections to make it easier to compare and hopefully find what you’re looking for more easily.
So read on to learn more about selling your art on POD websites and find out which one might work best for you!

Store Front

As of this time, I prefer Rebubble’s store frontStore fronts are easily customized with a header, profile photo, bio, optional journal entries, and collections.  Your latest art works are also shown this page.

On the design page you will see the default product you chose when uploading the artwork, and below that is a button to show which other products are available.  You can also see reviews (of the product, not your art) and comments people have left you.  [Pro tip – leaving comments is a great way to connect with other Redbubble artists!]

You can also “like” designs and “follow” other artists on both websites, which I recommend doing.

Society6 has recently updated their store front. Right now (as of April 2019), you can click on edit shop then choose “Sort By” and then choose either Random, New or Popular. I recommend choosing “Random” so it shows a good assortment of your products and designs.

You can also customize your store front with a banner and a logo or profile image.

Audience

Both Society6 and Redbubble cater towards a young, hip, and trendy audience.  Think festival gear, college dorm or first apartment decor, stickers, and unique accessories. Trendy pattern designs and sayings are popular on both websites.

The audience on Redbubble seems to be slightly younger than Society6 as they focus more on stickers which are popular with teenagers and young adults.  However, Society6 recently introduced stickers too which are gaining in popularity.

Overall I think the target audience for both of these sites are young adults (20s and 30s) and their parents buying gifts for them.

Ease of Upload

Redbubble’s uploading tool is the easiest of the POD sites I’ve tried.

It’s great because you can upload your main design and then customize it for each product type.  There are options for tiling the image (to create a pattern), or you can replace the image entirely if neither of those options work.
You can also change the background colour on Redbubble, which is handy when working with designs that have a transparent background.

As of April 2019 you can now “copy” the settings of an existing design to make uploading a similar design even easier!

Society6 has also recently updated their uploading tool to make it more like Redbubble’s, which is great. However, it still has a few issues and lacks tools like tiling or the ability to change the background colour.  It’s not a big issue – you just have to adjust your image accordingly. Also, transparent (png) images don’t work well except for stickers.

In general, both are pretty easy to upload but Redbubble has the edge in my opinion.

Products

blue gold mandala pattern scarf redbubble

In terms of products, both offer a similar range which includes apparel, electronics cases, and home decor items. The prices are about the same as other online POD stores and they often run 20% off or other similar promotions.

Redbubble has some unique products that are not on Society6, such as mini skirtsdresses and scarves among others.

Society6 also has unique products such as furniture and yoga mats.

The quality is pretty good on both sites and varies depending on the product.

I have a really nice tapestry from Society6 that I used as a bed sheet in the warmer months. Friends have purchased mugs and beach towels and were very happy with what they received.  T-shirts and hoodies can be hit or miss.
Both websites add new types of products from time to time so look out for that.

Earnings and Payment

Redbubble earnings are paid automatically around the 15th of every month (to Paypal, or direct deposit), and there is a $20 minimum threshold.

Similarly, Society6 pays automatically to Paypal, with whatever balance you have on the 1st of every month.

Both are reliable and I haven’t had any issues getting paid from either.

Marketing

The folks at Redbubble and Society6 are pretty good at marketing and driving traffic to their respective sites, so it’s mostly a matter of getting your own designs out there (which is easier said than done).

Check out my post on Social Media Marketing Tips for Artists to learn more about marketing your designs.

Most products have nice display images that you can screenshot and use for your own marketing initiatives.  You can also find some nice promotional tools on the Redbubble blog, such as fun templates like this one:

throw pillow mock up template selling art redbubble

Society6 also has a curator link on each product page, so you can receive extra royalty not only on your own products but other’s as well!

Another nice thing that Society6 does is they will send an email out before a sale so you can prepare, and they provide you with an overlay to create your ads. Usually it’s just text containing the discount and promo code so you can layer it over or within your own images.

Example:

society6 sale promo template example

Shipping

Redbubble and Society6 both have reasonable shipping costs which varies depending on the product and package weight.

Redbubble has headquarters located in San Francisco (U.S.) and Melbourne (Australia) so the products are shipped from one of those areas depending on your location.  Also, you get a free sticker with purchase and their packaging is super cute.

Society6’s headquarters is also in California but some products are manufactured in different locations within the U.S., so you might get multiple packages.  Sometimes they offer free shipping worldwide promotions.

Shipping from both stores is pretty quick, and you can choose a faster shipping method if required.

Note: Some products take longer to manufacture than others so it could take longer to ship and receive!

Summary

Both Society6 and Redbubble are great options for selling your artwork online, but overall I prefer Redbubble!

However, both have great things to offer and it all depends on what you feel comfortable with and works with your art style.

Personally, I use both because, as they say, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket 😉

Want to learn more about selling your art online?  Here are some more great posts to check out!