Ring in the New Year Right with These 7 Portfolio Readiness Tips

Have a Steampunk New Year by EBSQ Artist Susan Brack
Have a Steampunk New Year by EBSQ Artist Susan Brack

The new year is fast approaching. We thought now might be a good time to offer some concrete ideas on how to get your portfolio ready to rock for 2012:

Is your contact information up-to-date? Make sure we have your current private email address for lost password retrieval and public contact information for people who want to learn more about your art. We’ve often seen members post that they do commissions but don’t offer a contact method for potential buyers. If they can’t connect, you’ve lost a sale.

Are your website and blog addresses still correct? How about your eBay and Etsy IDs? Again, if we don’t have the right information, people aren’t going to be able to find you or your work at your preferred sales venues.

An addendum to the above: Have you linked to all of your current venues? And have you unlinked venues you no longer use? If you’re primarily selling at FineArtAmerica, but you only have a link to an abandoned eBay account, you’re squandering an opportunity to direct interested parties to work that’s currently available. We suggest you consider removing venues you aren’t actively using or maintaining. This includes placeholder websites and blogs that haven’t been updated in over a year.

When is the last time you took a serious look at your artist’s statement? Do you have a “Hi, I’m new,” message that you posted back in 2007 and simply forgot about? Or notes about your Spring cleaning sales from last year? Are you talking about your photography or sculpture when you’re now showing a portfolio full of abstract expressionism? Have you done any new shows or changed galleries? Don’t forget to add this new information to your CV.

Have your commission prices changed? If so, don’t forget to make these edits if you have pricing listed on your commissions page. Or maybe you don’t do commissioned work at all anymore–you can always turn off this feature by unchecking the “commissions available” box in your profile tools.

Are you showing your newest work? While we do have members that update their portfolio as soon as they have something new, others simply upload a handful of work when they join and forgeddaboutit, letting their portfolios collect cyber dust. When was the last time you added something new? Every time you add new art to your portfolio, that piece shows up on the front page of EBSQ, which in turn brings more people back to your portfolio.  For best success, we strongly suggest you upload new work monthly, or even weekly. “Post and Pray” does not work.

Is it for sale? If so, you can add in a PayPal “buy it now” button directly in your artist statement. You’re also welcome to link directly to other venues where a specific piece might be available. (Just make sure you update your information if it’s already been sold!)

Have another great tip for getting your portfolio into shape? Please share it in the comments below!


Artist Guide: Anyone Selling Anywhere?

The following is a guest post by EBSQ Artist Ron Jumper (aka Tolun) in response to an EBSQ forum thread on the same topic.

Art: internet cafe SOLD by Artist Mike Jones
Internet Cafe by Mike Jones

Unfortunately, it may just be a case of saying to yourself, “this too, shall pass.”

Art is a luxury item, when people are making money they are thinking of ways to spend it, redecorating, collecting and so on. But when money is tight they focus on the basic necessities and put off “I want that” purchases.

There are people buying, but fewer of them and more people trying more desperately to sell to them, so it makes for a more challenging environment.

This is a good time to focus your efforts on what you do best and what sets you apart from the crowd. Think about the kinds of art that sold best in the past and do more of it, focus on technical skills and push forward to improve your best work. Serious collectors develop an eye for the best artists so become one of the best in your field and they will find you.

Marketing-wise, getting your work in front of as many people as possible may not show immediate results, but it gives you the best chance to make a sale. Keep working on blogs and branch out into sites where people who might like your work go. If you do paintings of animals, for example, hang out on pet and animal lover sites and start interacting on the message boards there. Don’t start off saying “go to eBay and buy my stuff!” but just establish a presence, and mention your art if it comes up in conversation or put a link in your signature, if allowed.

Build a mailing list, and keep people updated about your art. If you haven’t done this, you might consider sending an announcement to previous customers but be brief and soft-sell, don’t sound desperate and don’t keep bugging them if they don’t respond. Invite previous customers to check out your website to see new work and/or sign up for a mailing list.

For selling venues, unfortunately, the buyers have to be there to make sales. It’s still mostly about eBay although some sites like Etsy and such are gaining. Spend your money wisely but maintain as much of a presence as you can afford on the sites where there are buyers. You’ll have to spend money to make money, which can be a difficult situation when you don’t have a big budget. But your time would be better spent blogging and seeking out new sites to find collectors rather than setting up items on a free auction site where no one is buying anything. Spend both money and time wisely.

If you don’t want to go with eBay or your funds are critically low, you might have to cut back on art in general and find other work for a while. If you have the money for supplies this is a good time to experiment and develop an inventory of art that you can sell when the economy improves. Even if you aren’t attempting to sell art right now, continue developing your mailing list and blogs etc. so that when you are in a position to sell more art there are people who are already thinking about your work.

Finally, examine the way you sell your art. It’s a good idea to have work available in several price points, as people who can’t afford a large painting for $500 might buy a smaller piece for $100 and people who can’t afford that might buy a print for $25. If you can’t do prints on your own this is a good time to look into low-cost options for getting prints done of your best work.

Remember, this isn’t the first time this has happened, and won’t be the last. The buyers will return, it’s just a matter or riding out the dry spell and positioning yourself to take advantage when things get better.



[Have selling/marketing tips you’d like to share? Drop us a line!]

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Artist Guide: Not Taking Risks Is Foolish

by Natasha Wescoat of NatashaWescoat.com

When you think of risk taking, you can see some person throwing all their money into an idea, losing their job, their family, their “riches” and ending up on the streets. Risk taking shouldn’t equal foolishness. Planning is part of risk taking. Planning and risk taking can work together. I explain how many of us artists make it work in the online world, amidst a struggling economy and evolving web. I explain how NOT taking risks is FOOLISH…

I was watching a video by Gary Vaynerchuk (WineLibrary.tv) about how too many entrepreneurs try to plan out and predict the future and in turn continually lose out. I see business owners base their moves, their actions on what it may or may not do for them. They obsess over whether it will work or not, and miss out on the possibilities their ideas and businesses could bring out.

It reminds me of a topic I’ve wanted to discuss for so long on how an artist/creative business should go about promoting and selling their work.

How do I do it?

I don’t ask questions.
I don’t research for months before I try something.
I don’t wait.
Continue reading “Artist Guide: Not Taking Risks Is Foolish”

Tips of the trade: on shipping art

by EBSQ Guest Author Aja Trier

Ok. Since my Quit Your Day Job article was published on the Etsy Storque I’ve had a number of inquiries on how to ship paintings from new sellers. I’m going to post this here (mostly so it’s easy to find as I get more inquiries) but maybe someone will come across it and find it to be useful 🙂

I know the shipping aspect can be intimidating at first and can seem rather daunting. I actually go back and forth between shipping through a local shipping place and doing it myself, it depends on the time I have and the size of the painting. I’ve built a repertoire with the place I ship through over the past 4 years or so and finally took the plunge a few months back and it’s helped to have someone who can wrap up and take care of the really big ones instead of me fooling and fussing with it at home. When I do it I buy frame boxes and bubble wrap from them, there’s a bunch of sizes to choose from and I buy a good amount at a time. I have an account with FedEX and USPS.com and I have them pick the packages up. The accounts were easy to set up and it’s really convenient. You can also print shipping labels through paypal – hee’s there help explanation on their site – https://www.paypal.com/helpcenter/main.jsp;jsessionid=KT0DSyptYvvv5wHXdQynbdQplDtrc4WJGzS52hfKb4G8KJQn5ppC!-685170754?locale=en_US&_dyncharset=UTF-8&countrycode=US&cmd=_help&serverInstance=9004&t=solutionTab&ft=searchTab&ps=solutionPanels&solutionId=10773&isSrch=Yes

It’s really quite simple. You do need a scale – I got mine at Walmart for 10 bucks.

Larger paintings should really go through FedEX because of the cost and the shipping “zones”. 16×20 I’d send through FedEX. 11×14 can go just fine through the postal service.

For all of my small shipments (anything up to 12×12 or so) I use the free boxes you can get through the post office. You can order some online for free – they are for Priority shipments though so if you plan on sending your paintings first class you can’t use the free boxes. I always send Priority when I use USPS because it looks more professional and is faster for the most part. Here’s a link to order free Priority boxes – http://shop.usps.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductCategoryDisplay?catalogId=10152&storeId=10001&categoryId=13354&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=11820&top_category=11820&WT.ac=13354

The place I go to for my other boxes orders theirs from uline and sells them to me at cost. It’s good to start a relationship with a local place cause there can definitely be perks! Take a day and shop around. A really large box for me costs 16.00 – that’s for a 36×46 box, unfortunately sometimes you gotta cut um down since they don’t always have the size you need) I have heard some people go to Michaels and get their boxes on garbage day, but you have to be there at the right time – they wouldn’t hold them for me and it was like 20 miles for me so I just broke down and bought them outright. But that is an option.

When I am wrapping it myself I wrap the painting in plastic and tape it to secure moisture from compromising the painting. Then a layer of bubble wrap is tightly wrapped around and taped. Another layer of bubble wrap is then wrapped around the first, bubble to bubble, creating a “pillow” that is extremely effective in securing the painting from damage. The pillow is then placed in a sturdy mirror box for shipment with more bubble wrap or paper if needed.

Please copy and paste this URL in your browser to see how these “pillows” look just before shipment – http://tinyurl.com/5ws4ah

Note that with international shipping, to most countries the largest stretched canvas you can send is 22×28 through the postal service. The postal service has strict dimensional guidelines – length+girth (a tape measure wrapped around the middle of the box gives you the girth) can’t be any larger than 79 inches. This includes Australia, a popular shipping destination. For places with the 79 inch cut off I offer taking the painting off the stretchers and rolling it in a tube. This doesn’t always work though. I can’t do this with gallery wrapped canvas, only with canvas that has staples on the back – I can take staples out of the canvas. Can’t rip it from that groove the higher end canvases have, and I won’t cut the canvas from the stretchers. It’s best to advise your patrons of these things so they are aware. That’s why in my shop I only show US and Canadian shipping prices for larger works. Canada has a 108 inch cut off, so pieces up to 24×36 can go through USPS. Any larger and it has to be sent through FedEX or UPS – which for an international destination can be a couple hundred easy. If a patron is willing to pay the actual shipping cost then by all means. But it really is exorbitant!

It looks like a lot to take in, and initially it is – but after doing it a while you’ll become a pro and it will be second nature 🙂 Best of luck!

Be sure to check out Aja’s blog at Sagittarius Gallery

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Artist Guide: Streaming Video For Your Audience

by Natasha Wescoat

One of the best inventions of the internet being used today is live streaming video. The viewer can watch as the broadcaster does things live over the net, and chat with them via the chat interface offered on the particular channel.

Sites like Justin.tv, Ustream.tv, and Mogulus offer free streaming video channels to people who sign up. There are many creative ways artists can utilize streaming video for their audience.


– Have a chat session. offer a time and place to have collectors talk with you. Do a Q and A or candid chat with fans.

– Create art live. Creating art (no matter what medium) live on video can be a bit of a challenge for the artist who’s trying to focus on their work, but you give viewers the chance to see the work created. Collectors LOVE this! You can even watch as they give their input in the chat room. Maybe you can be creative and allow the watchers to participate in choosing how the work is created.

– Live Auction. Sometimes you could offer a studio sale live. Let viewers bid on pieces you show them live on video.

– Studio Cam. Just have a live video feed of your studio going on 24/7. May sound boring but people love the ability to watch your studio and see what your up to. Set it up so you aren’t partcipating in the conversation but give the viewers a camera feed to view your everyday work. Simple as that.

What are some ways you can think of for using streaming video to promote and share your work? What do you feel are the pros and cons of doing so?

5 How-tos for Artists

If you take a gander at the Learn section of EBSQ, you’ll find several years worth of how-to articles on specific art-related projects like Cigar Box Purses and Felt Making. But did you know we also have how-to articles that address the business of art as well? Here are five of our most popular how-to articles:

How to Write an Artist  Statement

An artist’s statement is a short document written by the artist which provides a window into the artist’s world. It offers insight into a single piece or an entire body of work and by describing the artist’s creative process, philosophy, vision, and passion. It enlightens and engages while at the same time giving the audience – potential buyers, exhibition curators, critics, fellow artists, or casual browsers – the freedom to draw their own conclusions. An artist’s statement reads easily, is informative, and adds to the understanding of the artist. (read more)

Image is Everything:  How to Photograph your Art

Probably the single most important thing you can do to sell your artwork is to post good photos on your auction listing. Many of the photos I see on eBay have glare from flashbulbs, focus problems or poor color. The method that has worked best for me, whether taking digital photos or film photos is to shoot artwork outdoors. You will find that outdoor light is the best, even on slightly overcast days, and you won’t risk a flash glare on your work. (read more)

The Importance of Online Presentation

The importance of pictures shown in your auction is vital puzzle in the outcome of the sale.

Most people like to feel like they are actually holding that piece of art. They want to see the texture, the size, the edges; they want to be able to investigate the piece like it was in their hands. This refers to the art on stretchers, but close up details still apply to cloth canvas artworks too, of course. (read more)

The Lighter Side of Pricing your Art

There are so many facets to consider about when creating a work of art, because this category and subject can get very detailed and is quite broad based on each individual and style of medium. Whether you sculpt, paint, sketch, weld, to the many mediums and styles of painting, colors, textures media etc., you can spend more time in trying to determine what the final masterpiece will be priced at that what it took to create it.  (read more)

Artist Business Cards

 A professional business card can be a useful marketing tool for artists, and well worth the investment if you are trying to get your name out there. So, do you have a business card? If not, then it’s time to get on the ball and do something about it. (read more)

What other business topics would YOU like to see us address in the future?

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Latest Mashable Guides for Artists

by Natasha Wescoat

Tweetable Art: 10 Twitter Tips for Artists

The Artist’s Guide To Flickr

The Artist’s Guide To Youtube

Be sure to share your input, ideas, comments, or share with us your experiences using these social media tools to promote and expose your work. Alot of artists out there don’t realize the awesome potential of the net to get their work out there and seen. 🙂


Like what you see here?  We hope you’ll consider leaving a comment or subscribing to one of our feeds. Never miss another cool post from EBSQ. Subscribe to EBSQ: Art Meets Blog v2.0 by Email today!