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!

Where to Sell Your Art Online

where to sell art online

Hey guys! I’ve compiled a list of some great websites where you can sell your art online!

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these are sites that I actually have experience with and that I know to be legitimate.  I also know that they provide good quality products and customer service, which is definitely important if you want to have happy, repeat customers.

Not all websites are created equal and some are straight up scams so be careful out there, and start with one or more of the ones on this list before venturing into unknown territory!

Pro Tip: Generally speaking, avoid Chinese based websites.  All the ones listed below are US or Australia based companies.

1. Zazzle 

Zazzle is where I first started my journey of selling my art online.  It is known as a POD website, which means “Print on Demand”, ie. a product is printed and shipped only after it has been sold.

It’s free to open a store, multiple stores in fact, and upload unlimited designs. There is also a helpful forum with supportive members which is a great place to show off your designs and get tips and feedback.

I have had minor success so far on Zazzle, with nearly 1000 products in my catalog to date.  They carry a huge range of products to design on, but it can sometimes be overwhelming and cumbersome to upload each design individually.

Read more about creating on Zazzle in my post, Selling your art on POD websites: Zazzle vs Society6.

2. Society6

Society6 was the second website I uploaded my artwork to.  It’s also a POD site like Zazzle, but they have a smaller range of products.  However, the look of the website is more like an artist’s portfolio.

It’s free to upload unlimited designs to Society6, and the only downside, in my opinion, is the lack of a forum to connect with other sellers. (However there are groups on Facebook for this).

It took a good while for me to start seeing sales on Society6 (compared to Zazzle) but lately it seems to be gaining momentum.  My advice is to just keep at it.  It’s fairly easy to upload and add new designs to Society6 so I generally upload my new designs here first.

Read more detailed info and my full review of selling on Society6 here: Selling your art on POD websites: Zazzle vs Society6.

3. Redbubble

I started selling my work on Redbubble in 2016.  It’s another POD website but they have a few different kinds of products than the others. Scarves, dresses and mini skirts to name a few!

I find Redbubble to be quite artist focused, and they do a lot of advertising for you.

It’s free to upload unlimited designs, and they have a forum full of supportive members.

I got lucky so far on Redbubble and had one of my designs “featured” so I got several sales out of that!  It was this design.

4. TeePublic

TeePublic is T-shirt focused, as the name suggests.  It works best to upload .png images (with a transparent background), so graphic and vector styles do well here.  All over patterns only work with some products.  The uploading process is really quick and easy!

If you create fan art, typographic designs, or other styles that work well on t-shirts then Tee Public might be perfect for you!  It is free to create a store and add as many designs as you like.

Get some design ideas from my own Tee Public store.

5. Fine Art America

I had a store on Fine Art America for a while but didn’t sell anything so I wound up closing it down.
Don’t let that deter you though, it is more fine art based, so if your art style is painting or photography then you might do well on there. You can also sell original art works which is pretty cool.

It’s free to open a store and to upload your first 25 designs.

They also have a lot of opportunities to enter contests and other ways to participate in the community which is great for exposure.

6. Design By Humans

I had a store on DBH for a while but I was stretching myself thin with too many stores, so this one didn’t make the cut.

It seems to be fairly similar to Redbubble, and they have a small range of good quality products.

It’s free to open a store and upload up to 500 designs.  It’s aso easy to upload designs.  I noticed you can choose a model for each category which is kind of fun way to customize your store.

They also have a forum, and contests which I have yet to check out but should be great for exposure!

7. Etsy

I have sold on Etsy in the past but I do not have any products on there currently.

This is not a POD site but it is the most well known website for selling hand made goods.  You can also sell download-able graphics or print-ables.

This is a great place to post your work especially if you are into selling hand made clothing, accessories, paintings, jewelry etc.

There is a small fee to upload, 20 cents per listing I believe, but you do get 20 free listings to start off with.

8. CafePress

CafePress is another well known POD website, similar to the ones mentioned above.

They have a large range of products, like Zazzle. I don’t have much experience with it yet but I know it’s legit.

9. Casetify

This is another POD website, focused on customize-able electronics cases and iWatch bands.  I have tried applying several times but have not been accepted to become a designer, but I suggest you try as perhaps your style is more to their liking.  Let me know if you have any luck!

I will update with more info if/when I get more experience with selling on here.

10. Amazon Merch

Sell your designs on T-shirts and other products through the online sales giant Amazon!  Currently only available to U.S. buyers, but anyone can sell after being accepted to the program.

I currently sell Popsockets through Amazon. But you can also sell T-shirts and other tops.

Well that’s it guys. If you stuck around this long, I applaud and thank you for taking the time to read all this information I’ve compiled for you.  I hope you have found something useful here and I wish you the best of luck with selling your art online!

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below πŸ™‚

Shop my own art that I sell through the websites listed above.

Cheers,

Julie