Story behind the art : The seashell pattern

4:13 PM

 


On this edition of "Story behind the art" I'm showing you the first ever design I uploaded in my Society6 shop back in April 2017 when I first took the plunge to sell my art. 

On Instagram I was explaining that back then I had no idea how to make a repeat pattern in Photoshop, so I was drawing every single elements on an A4 sheet of paper and scanning it at a high resolution so it could go on all of S6 products. 

I also mentioned that it was before I invested in more professional grade supplies too. This artwork was drawn in a cheap student grade sketchpad with  very basic student grade color pencils and a gel pen.
But guess what? The turquoise variation of it was my first sale on Society6 a little under 2 months after starting : 


 
I sold it as a beach towel and I still remember how excited I was, because it was my FIRST SALE EVER! 

While the original blue never sold, the Turquoise one ended up being my first Redbubble sale as well, as a mug, 6 months into selling my art. And, all of last year, that very same design ended up selling like crazy as a Redbubble face mask, there were several sales of it every week.
 
The story of the sales alone would make for a good blog post. Many of my IG followers found the story encouraging where taking the plunge to sell art online came. But, the real interesting story is how this artwork came to be in the first place. 

It all started with a nasty cold

Back in January 2017 I rang in the New Year with a cold, that had me go through an astronomical quantities of tissues. I think as far as colds go, this one was one of the nastiest on record. It was the type where I could not go 2 minutes without blowing my nose and I had boxes of tissues, toilet paper rolls and carry packs of tissues at all time with me. There was not enough decongestant in the world to dry me up, and I stayed off antihistamine because they make me sleepy. 

Anyway, the pack of tissues I had around was supposed to be "Ocean scented" which ironically no people with a severe cold could even smell, and the wrapper had seashells all over and I decided to draw a pattern of seashell on paper. 

Back in January 2017 I was already working toward the idea of uploading my art to print on demand, and it sounded like cute pattern idea. So between sniffles and sneezes and too many nose blowing, I first drew a million seashells and star fishes with a pencil, then inked them all in black gel pen, and finally colored them all one by one with a bunch of blue color pencils. I had no idea I was creating a bestseller there. 


I scanned it a few weeks later if I remember correctly and when I did, I knew about cleaning up the artwork and removing smudges in Photoshop, but I didn't know just yet how to make several color variation and why it was an essential skill to have when you are uploading art to be sold commercially as what is essentially surface design. 
I learned it shortly after uploading it because I took several classes to get better at creating art that sells on PoD platform, one of which was Cat Coq's first ever Skillshare class. For those of you not knowing her, she is a top selling artist on Society6 and all of her art and classes are just plain Amazing, so if you are getting started as a commercial artist, do check her out! 

Thanks to her advice to create more than one color version of the artwork after you digitised it, I ended up selling the Turquoise palette while none of the others, including the original ever sold. 

The reason I did the original in blue, is that I had a lot of blue pencils around (but none turquoise), so I really worked with what I had. 

The artist tips

I still look at Quora questions related to PoD, especially Redbubble, but I no longer answer new ones because it seems everyone just want to find a way to crack the SEO code to instant riches with print on demand companies. 
I said it a million time, it's not easy money, it's not a get rich quick scheme, and there is no formula that says that if you upload X amount of designs in Y amount of time you'll get your first sale quick. 

There is also no amounts of "likes" involved in the process of making that first sale. All you need is to have a dedicated audience that will resonate with your work and drive them to these shops. As far as audience is concerned, you don't even need a big one. I had less than 400 followers on Instagram when I started selling. 
You just need to keep going at it, produce work you are proud of, do it regularly and keep showing up everyday. There is no instant magic formula to selling quickly, you've got to do the work. 

I wrote a bunch of blog post on the topic of sales that you might want to check out if you are new at selling art on PoD platforms : 

 

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