Firstly, thanks very much to those of you who took the time to leave a comment on the last blog post, or who wrote to me via twitter saying how much you enjoyed reading it - I really enjoyed taking the time to write it, and Part Two is underway and will be up on the blog very soon. It's actually so nice for me to finally have the time to write properly again (writing is something I enjoy almost as much as painting), because for most of the year I've been so rushed, with a lot of work and many deadlines, and I just haven't had the time to update the blog as often as I would have liked.
Anyway, since I finished the work for the solo show and came to Paris on 30th October, I've had time to sit and think, and actually work on a plan for how I'd like to move forward in my art career and business over the next few years. Creating work every day, constantly focused on the next deadline, is fantastic of course but it also means that you're literally just going from day-to-day completely caught up in the current work, and it's hard to make a plan and see 'the bigger picture', as it were.
Seed Head 5 (Hand-painted plate, available here)
© Natasha Newton 2012
I've also been working on some pieces since I've been here - adding to the new hand-painted homewares collection (with many more pieces to come), a new collection of painted stones, and ideas for new paintings on paper are in progress. I've added a few of these pieces to the shop so far, but more will be added soon.
Seed Head 6 (Hand-painted plate, available here)
© Natasha Newton 2012
By the way, the hand-painted plates make excellent collectible gifts for Christmas - I've already had a couple of people buying these for gifts recently, so maybe keep that in mind if you're stuck for a gift for an artistic friend or an interior/home design fanatic!
So, back to business and some things I've been thinking about, discussing with people, and taking advice on recently...
How do I start when there's so much to say? I'll try to keep it as brief and to-the-point as possible so you don't have to sit here reading a super-long post! Basically, after a few discussions with different people (and I include in that some people who really know what they're talking about), it has been decided that I have been charging too little for my work. And when you have more than one buyer offering you MORE money for your work than you have quoted them, I think it's probably time to raise your prices!
My prices will not rise dramatically but you will see a slight change, and one thing that will be very different is that I will be running far fewer 'sales' of my work. I usually do them a few times a year for various reasons, and sites like Etsy actively encourage us to have sales at certain times of the year. But do you know what? I'm tired of keeping up with price-cutting, special offers, and feeling as if I'm almost being forced into reducing my work to compete with the other shops on there. So I won't be doing it any more. I may have a sale (or rather, a 'percentage off' offer) once a year, and I am thinking of offering free shipping now and again as a little bonus for my customers or mailing list, but these events will now be rare. I'm a professional gallery-exhibited artist and my work is now at a certain level; it's silly to even try to compete with art college students or those who make their work as a hobby rather than a career. There are, of course, also many professional artists on sites like Etsy, and I've noticed that they price their work accordingly. Etsy is still a fantastic place to buy my affordable unframed pieces on paper, new range of hand-painted homewares, and other items such as limited edition prints, postcards and notebooks - and I aim to offer more products featuring my work soon. But the work is now a little more expensive, and dare I say it: I think it's worth it, and so do many others. By the way, the new products I am considering include iPhone cases, a much larger range of prints, and - inspired by a young waitress who served us yesterday, who had the most beautiful black feather tattooed on to her inner wrist - I'm now looking into finding a company who can create high-quality, stylish temporary tattoo transfers from my designs, possibly featuring some 'pen & ink' style feathers and birds. The idea is to offer a wider range of products and price points so that everyone can afford some of my work, whilst keeping the originals at the higher price they deserve to be at.
Another recent development is that I'll be offering the larger, more expensive original paintings on canvas and wood (the ones that are not currently in gallery shows) through my new Big Cartel shop: www.theblackbirdsings.bigcartel.com
Buying from this shop requires no registration - if you have a Paypal account, you just add your item to the cart and checkout via Paypal. All pieces ship worldwide direct from my studio. If you're in the UK and would prefer to pay by cheque or bank transfer, please email me and we can arrange an alternative way to purchase.
Something happened recently (I received an unexpectedly large sum of money) that made me realise just how important and lucrative it is to license images of my work. I've been doing this in a small way for a while - I license through Moo Print Ltd, my work is used for book covers, CDs, and I often work with small businesses, allowing them to use my designs on their flyers, websites, business cards etc. I also sometimes design logos for businesses too. I want to do more of this. For a long time, one of my dreams has been to see my work used on fabric, homewares, wallpaper, and so on. So I will be looking into this and trying to make that particular dream a reality. Many people have contacted me in the past to say that my art would work well on products such as those, and I agree with them. So it's time to do something about it!
Another recent realisation is that it's very good for me to work on a large scale, and I also enjoyed working on a large collection of original paintings for the Ground & Sky solo exhibition - something I hadn't done for a while. My gallery / fine art work will always be hugely important to me, even if I gradually move a little more into the area of design and illustration, and so finding new galleries and taking the time to do more large shows is now also at the top of my list of priorities.
There's more I could say on this subject but I think this blog post is already long enough! I'm sure i'll talk more about these topics in the future, but I just wanted to share with you where I'm at and what I've been thinking about recently. Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have any comments, observations or questions I'd love to hear them!