New Kickstarter project is up!

Zoology: Create Your Own Animal!

Watch the video here!

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Currently working on…

currently working on

I’m currently working on a 12″ by 12″ painting for the Kickstarter backers.
Banana

I also just finished this banana for a friend. I traded it for a Groupon worth 75$ in wine!

Last Saturday night I had a small art show in the home of some friends who are collectors, and it went great. I sold several paintings and a good time was had by all.

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Late night of painting

big bang paintingThanks to a viente Pike Place Roast at 4pm (what was I thinking?) I am still awake at 4am and counting. The good thing is A) I don’t have to work at my day job tomorrow, and B) I’ve been getting a good deal of work done. I grew up with an artist dad, and based on my memories all-nighters are kind of normal. You can concentrate much easier without as many distractions. One of the things I used my Kickstarter funds for was good studio lighting, and now I’m really  seeing how valuable it is.

One of the paintings I completed tonight is a 12″ square called Big Bang. I’m running out of my standard paint colors and having to branch out into non-standard ones. But maybe this is a good thing. It’s so exciting to see this series evolve and change. I have a bright orange one on the work table right now. I have at least 8 or so of these to make (I’d like to give my backers some choices and I had 3 choose this size) so I’ll be picking up more paint before I finish them, but I am loving the bright colors. I already completed ten paintings in the 8″ square size, and the brightly colored ones are some of my favorites.

In other somewhat related news, I have all my new limited editions up on ArtByChristel.com now, and I am planning to put up all the available new paintings next week. Yay!

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Listia

I discovered Listia.com* back in March. and I love this site. Basically it’s an auction site where you can list things you don’t want anymore for “sale” but instead of money you get credits. You can then use your credits to bid on other things. I have mostly used to it to purge my closets and drawers, and I have also put up a few paintings I made several years ago to clear out my stock. Recently, however, I made an auction for a custom surprise painting, and finished the first once tonight. I just worked on it in between waiting for coats to dry on the other paintings I’m working on currently. This one is 4″ by 6″ and it probably only took an hour to an hour and a half total to finish it. (Maybe I shouldn’t admit how fast I get these things done… hmm.)

I choose what to paint based on the winners answers to several questions, such as their favorite color, and favorite genre of movie. I use their answers to get sort of a sense of their personality and what they might like. The final size of the painting is based on the final bid amount. The higher the bid, the larger the painting. I have a new auction up now for another one because it was just too much fun making this and can’t wait to do it again.  I am so in love with how this one turned out. I might have to sell it as a postcard at some point in the future. It’s pretty darn adorable.

I’ve gotten some great things from Listia since I joined, and mostly for stuff that likely wouldn’t have gotten a minimum bid on ebay (like some handmade hats I crocheted, old costume jewelry, and an envelope of vintage magazine clippings). Everything from coupons for free Cokes to gently used clothing, and even a brand new pair of Crocs flats for work (way better than spending 50$ buying them online!) You can choose to pay for shipping or have the buyer pay, but you tend to get higher bids if you offer free shipping so it pretty much evens out. It’s a great way to stretch a dollar and get stuff you need for stuff you don’t. There are also many other people using it as a vehicle to barter handmade goods for other items, including a few other artists.

*In the interest of full disclosure, if you sign up for Listia through this link and list an auction I will receive some credits per their referral program. You will also get 500 free credits for signing up, and you can use them to … cough, cough… bid on a surprise painting. 😉 If you want.

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Kickstarter.com

I mentioned Kickstarter in a previous post, and wanted to talk more about it. If you are an artist of any kind, Kickstarter.com is an amazingly useful resource. I recently used Kickstarter to fund my newest series of paintings.

In a nutshell: Kickstarter is a platform for funding creative projects. It allows anyone to become a “backer” of your project for as little as $1.00. Funding is only awarded if you reach your funding goal by the date you choose. That way you are not stuck trying to fulfill rewards with less than the money needed. You, as the project creator, then set reward levels at varying dollar amounts and at the completion of your project you use the funds collected to complete your project and fulfill the backer rewards.

For example, I am sending a signed 5″ X 7″ print to anyone who backed at the 10$ level, an 8″ X 8″ original painting to anyone backing at the 50$ level, and so on. In 30 days I raised $1060.00. With the money I raised I was able to purchase a bunch of canvases and paint, a new easel and lighting for my studio, scanning and printing for limited editions, business cards, post cards, and a bunch of other miscellaneous business costs.

About half of my backers were friends, or friends of friends, while the rest are just general users of Kickstarter. It is important to promote your project yourself as much as you can, but if you have a solid project with some good rewards you can expect to get some support from the Kickstarter community as well. I have personally backed two other projects so far, and neither of them were done by anyone I knew. I found both of them just by poking around the site.

I received my reward for one of them so far, and I have to say, there is something about this process that is very exciting to both the project creator and the backer. You really feel as if your are a part of something. You get to read the story behind the project, what it means to the creator, how your support will help them to complete the project. Then you get to read updates as the project progresses, even after the money is raised. Sure, I could have just gone to Etsy, and paid 25$ for an already-made art print of my choosing, but it wouldn’t have that same anticipation factor, or the knowledge that I helped bring something about that may not have been able to happen otherwise. That’s a cool feeling. It’s also a VERY cool feeling to know that other people, some you may not even know, like what you want to do enough to put down their own money to help you and get their own piece of the action.

Currently Kickstarter is open to residents of the US. The site uses Amazon Payments to process payments to you. Kickstarter takes 5% of the money you raise, and Amazon takes a small portion in fees as well, typically a bit less than 5% overall. Kickstarter does have a submission process for projects, and not all projects are accepted. I have found that the painting and illustration categories are consistently underrepresented (as opposed to, say, comics, and music projects) and thus I think you may have a better than average shot of being accepted into these two particular categories provided that is where your project fits.

I have some more ideas for projects to use Kickstarter for in the future. It is perfect for anything that is going to require a bit more in start up costs than you are likely to have lying around in your sofa cushions. I would love to get into producing some new and exciting things as my business progresses. Things that require equipment I don’t currently have, and expense outlays that would be very unwieldy without some outside funding. Kickstarter will be instrumental in making that happen.

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Working on the website

Lately I’ve been working on getting a website set up. I have a very quick one up now that I put together with Websitetonight, which is not the best looking thing ever but it got the job done for very little money and effort. My new one is now functioning and looking pretty nice, I think. If I have done everything correctly then within a day or so artbychristel.com should go to it. I’m crossing my fingers. This stuff is not really my forte. I have to say am really glad I took the time in college to teach myself some basic HTML though, because having a bit of base knowledge has made this experience far less of a headache.

In the past I have sold my art through Etsy.com, and while I think Etsy is a great service, I decided this time I’d like something more flexible and customizable, but still as easy to set up and maintain as possible. After researching several options I decided on Bigcartel.com. I think for the monthly price it is a very good deal. Big Cartel doesn’t charge any listing or transaction fees, it integrates easily and seamlessly with Paypal, and your site is fully customizable if you wish, but also set up to be simple enough for a total idiot like me to be able to use. You can add as many pages as you like to your store and put whatever you want in them. This is probably my favorite feature because that means you don’t have to host the rest of your site elsewhere. You can have it all in one place for one very reasonable price. I also like that the pricing structure is tiered depending on how many products you want to have, and which features you want to use (though most features are available with any level of paid account) so you don’t have to pay for more “store” than you need at any given time.

They also have a very thorough and detailed help file that explains how to customize your store, and they must have done a pretty good job because I was able to get things working like they should in one try so far. I have this magical ability to “break” pretty much anything involving a computer just by touching it so that is pretty impressive to me. Seriously, I can’t even go into Kinko’s without needing help every five minutes. I wish that were an exaggeration. If you’d like to see the new site, it’s currently available at artbychristel.bigcartel.com and I have to say I’m very pleased with how it’s looking and working right now.

There are just a couple of features that I wish they had, like the ability to sell gift certificates through their platform. You can use the Paypal gift certificate feature with it, but I’m not overly fond of how it works and you can’t really make gift certificates to use for use as, say, giveaways and such because someone has to actually pay for a GC in order for it to exist. And then you don’t get any money until the gift certificate is actually used, which is a pretty sweet deal for Paypal, but not so much for the business owner. Also I’d like to see the option to accept other forms of payment. But overall it’s the best blend of functionality, price, and ease of use that I’ve seen yet. They also seem to be good about listening to what their customers want and adding new features. So maybe someday I’ll get those capabilities I am wanting anyway.

I’m glad I’ve finished working on it for now because I’ve got plenty of painting to do. Right now I am working on backer rewards for my recent Kickstarter campaign, which I will be posting more about soon.

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What is Art*O*Mat?

Art*O*Mat was founded by Clark Whittington in 1997. Art*O*Mat machines are retired cigarette vending machines that have been refurbished and redecorated to vend pocket sized pieces of art. There are, I believe, over 80 machines installed in 32 different states and 3 different countries. In them you will find miniature sculptures, paintings, drawings, photography, jewelry and more for just 5$ each.

Group Shot

This is Clark, myself and another Art*O*Mat artist Nikki Wheeler standing by the Art*O*Mat machine in Seattle, WA at the opening a few years ago.

Art*O*Mat is always looking for new artists. Here are the submission guidelines if you are interested in making art for Art*O*Mat. I have personally made 285 little paintings for Art*O*Mat (all of the first 140 I made in 2006 were sold within a year) and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is interested. As an artist you get your artwork out there into the hands of people all over the country, and you also get 50% of the sale price of each piece sold. Commissions are sent out quarterly. Although it does take time and a small amount of materials to create your Art*O*Mat pieces, I tend to see it as basically advertising that you get paid for. I also like that I can easily experiment with different styles and techniques without committing to a full size painting. You can try out lots of things and see what works and what you’d like to try on a larger scale. My experiences working with Art*O*Mat have been quite positive. It’s a fun experience and I encourage any artist to try it out.

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These are the 50 paintings I most recently completed and am currently packaging up for shipment. Each painting is done on an HDF block, matte varnished, and includes a business card and some information about the series. If you want to see my paintings in an Art*O*Mat machine near you your best bet is to contact the machine host and let them know. Once the pieces leave my hands it is rare for me to find out where they will be placed until after they have sold. It is always fun to see where they have wound up though. Mine have been sold everywhere from New York City to Tacoma so far.

I can also vouch for what a cool experience it is to buy a piece of art from an Art*O*Mat as well. There are so many great artists out there making Art*O pieces. If you have a machine host near you it is well worth it to take five dollars (or fifty) and buy yourself some brand new art.

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