Friday, March 10, 2017

on double identities and stuff

Here's something I've been struggling with recently, well, struggling is probably too strong a word. Here's something I've thinking about. It's this kind of double identity I have going on. When it comes to my business, that is. I've just had some lush new art prints (above) created of my new drawings of buildings. Theyre quality art prints and cost a pretty penny to get made.
Now, I also have another set of products that I sell. This is my merchandise. This is part of my income. Quite a big chunk of my very small income to be honest. Basically, I need to sell this stuff. It includes my cards, badges and other cute little bits and bobs. The smaller cheaper items that people buy without thinking too much about cost.
I take a lot of time and pride over making these things. I don't ever want to put anything out there, whether it's lower or higher cost, that isn't a lovely product. I love these little things even though they're hugely time consuming and the return is small. But, as I said, they bring in a much needed wage.
(photo by Rob Whitrow)
But here's the thing I've been thinking about; do these products take away from my more serious (or, at least, the stuff I'm more serious about) work? Do they devalue the other work, eg, my buildings etc?
And, more to the point, should I separate the business? Should I have a shop for my merchandise and a shop for my other artwork? I have already started doing that in various places, for example on Instagram I have created a separate account as @northernquartersketcher and on Twitter @NQsketcher. And, actually, I feel especially on Instagram that is working for me.
Thing is, I can't totally separate these two sides of my work as they both are MY work. And, over the past decade or more, I have built up a following and lots of those people become regular customers (and I love and appreciate them), so if I were to separate the businesses then will I lose people along the way? Will it just be loads more work? Can you sell high quality high priced art prints alongside Thug Cats badge cards??? So many questions.
Hmmm, very interested to hear your thoughts, folks. Maybe you've been through this before|? In the meantime, I'll keep on creating.


Jason Das said...

It all feels like the same work to me! I would assume they strengthen each other, but I'm hardly a marketing expert.

On the more practical side—what happens when/if you feel like have three or four (or more!) different markets/identities. Unless you enjoy promoting and maintaining multiple brands (some people do), maybe best to keep it all together.

In any event, seems like a pretty good problem to have!

Unknown said...

I love all your stuff. Part of what has been fun about following you all these years is watching your style change. I think you can sell it all side by side. Make your life easier so that you have more time to make art. Your buildings, etc., are dynamite. I think a lot of us are wondering when some of them will show up in your shop. Also people buy your smaller stuff because it's affordable and it is quality. We can see the care you put into the smallest thing, so I don't think that is wasted effort; it's really become part of your brand. It's one of the things we love about your work. I admire artists who make their living from their art. I know it is very difficult. I think a lot of the work is underpriced. Artists aren't very good at assessing their own worth. I think the smaller stuff probably sells too because it is humorous or light-hearted and very cool. It makes people happy and damn do we need that. Good luck, Andrea. Please keep at it. You have a very unique style that should be out there in the world. P.S. Please talk to Sketchbook Skool about doing a class using ink and dip pens...that would be killer...and of course it's a no-brainer for your next class.

Unknown said...

I too have a "dual personality" in my art work... the fun quirky stuff ... that sells... that is affordable... that is fun to make... and my house portraits that are intense yet useful. I think people like to see our scope of talent and interests. And maybe find one of the more involved paintings catches their interest that they would never have seen before ! And sometimes they feel they have a "piece" of your art that is affordable that they wouldn't otherwise get to have ..and lastly i use the small pieces ... like cards etc as "paid" advertising . They buy a card i have my website etc all over it . Who knows where it will end up and those folk will go have a look and BUY!

dinahmow said...

I'm not on Instagram or Twitter, but if you are generating sales of both kinds of work on sites other than Etsy then I'd say stick with the system.
I think those of us who have any of your work and want more will find you.(cue evil cackle bwahaha...)

Icy Sedgwick said...

I think you could totally have two pricing tiers. In fact, the higher priced work could even help to add a sense of value to the affordable products.

Suhita said...

Andrea, from the little I know of doing a few shows years ago and selling online through Etsy currently: yes, both lines/styles are yours. But probably with different audience. They're best show separately , not mixed: especially if the price point on the sketch prints is very different from your other stuff, they're just not going to sell when shown right next to them. And buyers like to see a cohesive body of work. But two names, 2 etsy stores, 2 separate labels, 2 different places to sell the 2 sets of work... those would all work. Good luck!

Polly said...

What's the difference in price point from higher end stuff to bits and pieces stuff

Anonymous said...

I don't think one detracts from the other. Keep them together. I am just as likely to buy a cat button along with a great architectural print. It is true that some people will be put off, but then, some people will never ever want you to do most than your ball point pen drawings.

Helen said...

I, personally think you should keep it all in one place! It all makes up your identity as a artist, plus someone may come to your store just to buy something cute and inexpensive, see some of your other work, and save up the pennies to treat themselves!
In the end, everything being all in one place gives you the opportunity to show off the variety of work you produce.

KRCampbellArt said...

Hi-Just saw your wonderful work on Facebook so I am visiting your blog for the first time. IMHO your fun art does not detract in any way from your 'serious' art. I do a similar kind of thing and the different types of work go to different markets. I have done a couple of art fairs and if I hadn't had cards and bits I would not have done very well. It is difficult to sell a large painting at an art fair. The bottom line for me is I do what I enjoy, as you do I'm sure, and as long as that is the case I am fine. If anything becomes a chore I will rethink. Thank you for posting your beautiful work.

andrea joseph's sketchblog said...

Thank you all so much, this is really REALLY helpful. I think for now I probably will keep to the one shop. It's easier, and the other option would take up a huge amount of time - I'm sure we all know how it is just checking in on one shop and account.

Candie, this dilemma was the reason for not putting my building prints in my Etsy shop; I felt that because the prices would be inconsistent with other prints and products (because they're made with inks and therefore, to me, it is important to get the best colour match, I go to a really high quality printers to get them printed off individually). Oh, and I think Sketchbook Skool have had enough of me! Joking aside, I will speak to them. Thank you.

Anyway, I thank you all so much. You're input is really great - as always!

MyLittleBlueDog said...

I would hate to offer advice about how you should set you your marketing enterprise. Just wanted to say I love your art especially the ballpoint pen drawings, they are mesmerising. I would really like to know how I get my hands on one of those cat badge cards. He looks like our dear departed cat and I just love it.

enricap said...

I'll be going againste the current here. I am a jewellery artist, not a visual artist, but from talking with friends the experience seems to be similar. The thing is, the bigger and more expensive pieces bring more attention, and value, and sales, to the small ones; but the presence of the small ones tends to hinder the success of the bigger ones.
I recommend looking for Luann Udell's article called "Respect Your Collectors Part 4" about papa and baby pieces because she explains it much better than I could. I would put a link but I'm afraid that would get the comment marked as spam?
In the end, there is no perfect solution; you have to find what works for you. Where do you see yourself in two years? In five? Where do you wish you could be in five years? There's nothing wrong in choosing to go for smaller and more affordable work... if that's what you want to do and it makes you feel good. If not, it's a recipe for burnout.

Joan said...

I think it's fine to keep one shop, but you might want to micro-focus your social media, like Instagram, where folks are pickier about ALL the content being of interest to them.