The path of the market artist is rewarding but full of challenges.
Since 2013 I've drawn and sold character artwork at such venues. This fostered my passion for engaging in real life with others over art, rather than being trapped in the digital realms. One of my goals for the future is to own a gallery/studio/shop for such illustrated products.
Being a self sustained illustrator is a hard task, so, do you think you're ready to take on being a market artist?
It is an art form in itself to turn the digital to physical. I have created my own at home mini-studio as opposed to relying on outside services. I invested in a machine from the American brand Silhouette Studio, which allows you to cut all sorts of paper.
My process starts with drawing the original image in Photoshop and then preparing for the appropriate badge or sticker shape. It is then imported into the program for the Silhouette Studio machine. I then define the cutting lines using the software.
It requires my near immediate supervision to load the paper and make sure it's cutting properly. After the cutting is done, it can be any number of items, from a paper circle to be then used in a badge machine or a finished dye cut sticker.
This is capable of making ample stock for casual selling. It has the added bonus of being able to create a vast display of unique products, without unnecessarily buying 100s of stock of each item, as they can instead be printed and cut according to demand. Although it is a physical task to hand craft badges, keychains and other products, it is immensely satisfying work to see the art become a physical product that people can wear/use/decorate with etc.
My products also go through my own rigorous quality testing and therefore, often happen to be more sturdy than overseas outsourced products.
If you are pursuing the path of a home studio, consider what items are necessary investments for your business. When it's something more complex than an Officeworks stapler, it can take some time to research.
With the formidable giclée printing process, it depends not only on having a beast of a printer, but the right ‘artist quality’ paper and ink alongside it!
This investment may be worth it if you want to sell a unique variety of art prints, as opposed to 100x one image. In my experience, my badge machine, cutting machine, EPSON Artisan printer (artist quality but not giclée one) and so forth have been massively profitable investments for me, where other artists rely on a printing service.
It is best to make up a spreadsheet with all your costs for everything bought, for ink and paper but down to staples bought. Then price your artworks accordingly. It may bring the price up because you have done it 'by hand', but people are likely to pay for the quality and unique home-made nature.
Being any artist requires a sense of crafting a material brand of yourself. I have noticed through observation of other artists and market sellers, this comes down to how you label your products' prices; whether hand-written, typed and printed or elegantly embossed, all these tactile decisions represent the brand. They can be emulated online to give a sense of cohesion to the entire product you are selling, which is me as an artist!
I have learnt that people love to grab free stuff! I have printed out little 'business card' stickers with my Instagram handle on it to direct flow where I think casual viewers are more likely to go, rather than my formal website which nobody usually knows what to do with! Being an illustrator requires thought put into the consistency of your work and brand, which is a challenge for me.
On the artistic side, there is a demand for artists to be constantly changing and growing. Every day I attempt to sketch from life in order to put in effort towards honing my craft, one way I do this is getting back into formal life drawing in Adelaide.
Lastly, to be behind a stall you have to be more than an artist, but a business woman, like my late mom was. She always had a new idea on something to make. I learnt from her to keep my chin up, to always greet the customer and try to make them feel at ease. It is a job where you aren't simply sitting behind a screen, but requires people skills.
The path to owning my own shop may seem like a distant fantasy, but it's a dream I will make it happen someday. By working on my branding, manufacturing and business skills, I hope to make my mom proud.
(Post done for MDIA 1020 at Adelaide University)