Thursday, December 31, 2009

Combining Shops

For those of you who shop or sell at Etsy - the number one site to buy handmade craft and art - you may know that some sellers run more than one shop with the idea that different types of items should be sold in apart from each other. A few years ago, I opened a second shop for my photography, pastperfect. I did this for two reasons - the first and foremost, was that I was interested in becoming a member of the Etsy photography "street" team called POE - Photographers of Etsy. When I had contacted them from my shop, qbranchltd I was told that only shops that sold only photography were admitted as members. The second reason to open the second shop for photography was the idea that I could direct galleries and other interested parties to that shop to see my photography - without any distraction of the other things that I sell.

What I have found since opening this second shop is that it is very difficult to promote two shops equally and the attention and effort that is devoted to one takes a great deal away from the other. Yes, the second shop made some sales, but nothing like my first shop makes. I almost said my "main" shop. This is what happens. It is very hard to treat two shops as equal children - giving them both the love and attention that they each deserve and must have to flourish.

I have been seriously thinking of taking all of my photography - as it expires (and a great deal of it has already expired) and move it to my first shop. There it will get the attention of my efforts that I put to promote that shop. There it may get noticed by those who come to browse - to those whose initial attention is attracted by other things.

If I do this, it will happen a week or two into the new year - which by the way arrives in about six hours. With the Christmas retail season past and the late winter and Spring holidays on their way, perhaps - just perhaps - things will change for the better in sales of my art photos, nestled snugly in their own little category at qbranchltd. Come around in a few weeks and see.

If you are thinking about opening a second shop, think long and hard about how you will promote it and the time and resources that you have to do that. Whatever you do now will then be split in two. It is something to consider.

And crazy me! I have something new and different for me that I am thinking of making and selling and I had the thought that it might do better in --- it's own shop.

Happy 2010 to all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

It is Christmas Eve. All the presents are now purchased and wrapped and should be sitting under the Christmas tree - or hidden in a closet waiting for Santa to find them and put them under the tree for the morning. Christmas customs vary not only by country but also by family. Some families like to exchange gifts on the night of Christmas Eve leaving Christmas morning for the kids, church, and a dinner that makes the table sag. Other families like to do it all on Christmas Day. Either way - gift buying is done for a while (or at least until all that Christmas cash is put together to start buying what you hoped you would get but didn't).

Never the less, we are not featuring any artists this week but taking this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Holidays - no matter what those holidays may be!

Peace to all from the Art of Craft!

Oh yes... If any of you have some of the holiday gift cash that you are itching to spend - come take a look through some of the featured artists on this site and treat yourself to something really, really nice!


Ho! Ho! Ho!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

This featured artist's work is unique. You really must see it for yourself. Let me introduce you to



Here is our interview with the artist...

Briefly describe what you make?

I don’t know the best way to label what I make, but they are basically painted canvases that would be used as home d├ęcor or wall hangings. They have a design along with a quote or personalized to include a name. My next goal is to make some pictures frames.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

I am really into acrylic paints right now. They have an endless possibility when it comes to colors and I find them to be the easiest paint to work with. Not to mention adding a little paint to something can make a HUGE difference.

How long have you been creating craft?

I have been doing crafts all my life. My parents always say that when I was little I constantly had a piece of paper and pencil in my hands. From then on I’ve always had to be busy creating things. But only until about 2 months ago I finally decided to try to sell some of my pieces.

How did you get started?

One day I was sitting at Barnes & Nobles looking through a book of people who make money from selling crafts and came across someone who used Etsy. Right when I got home I started looking through the website and fell in love. I started creating canvases and when I felt like I had enough to start it up, I created an account and opened a shop. From there I created a facebook page and twitter account to try and get my name out there.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

Coming up with a name for me was almost a nightmare. Once I came up with it I knew I would be stuck with it, and when you are a perfectionist that is a little stressful. My mom and I started emailing back and forth trying to come up with something and finally she came up with “Bellatina.” Both sides of my family are Italian (Longinotti & Ugolini…can you tell?) so it’s only natural that she had to incorporate some Italian in there and then she added on “tina” because that’s what some of my close friends call me, short for Christina. Put the two words together, add “creations” to it, and it makes a pretty good name!

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I put a lot of effort into it. I am such a perfectionist it sometimes drives me crazy, but as a result, all of my pieces are very nicely done. I would never sell something that I wouldn’t approve of myself. I love doing them and I hope others can see that.

What advice do you have to give to other artists?

Be proud that you are an artist. Not everyone is given this talent. As an artist you are given the ability to express yourself and at the same time create beautiful things for others to enjoy.

________________________

Good interview. Nice shop. Come and take a look at Bellatina Creations and then come on back here and comment and let this artist know what you think!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Something a Bit Different

I thought that with all of the promotion and presentation of other artists that I do on this site I might blow my own horn and share some of my work with you. I am an eclectic craft artist. I work in a variety of mediums. I have been creating craft for more than forty years and I have always look at new ways to express myself. What will happen is that I will see something that catches my eye - a medium that I have not tried yet and then start finding out all that I can about it. Almost all of my skills have been self-taught. I am a strong believer that if you are motivated and willing to put in the time to find out how something is done you can do it.

As I am blowing my own horn here I will say that what I have set my mind to mastering I have been successful at. I have had many exhibitions of my work. I sell in a gallery. I have won awards, both local and statewide. I have been published in craft and art magazines. And I have three pieces in a museum collection. All this in addition to selling for the past over thirty years at craft shows - and now on the Internet at Etsy and my own sites.

I present to you a sampling of my work. With it you will find links where you may purchase if you so desire - and if that link does not work, it means, happily, that the piece has been sold.

I have been turning pens for about six years. I work on a wood lathe and create the barrels for the pens and assemble the wood barrels onto high quality pen hardware.

This particular pen is of artistic styling - not a conventionally shaped pen. This pen is made of Goncalo Alves and interesting wood that is light reddish brown in color.


This pen sells at my shop at Etsy. If you are interested take a look HERE.





Here is something from my other passion - living history. I am a reenactor of the American Revolutionary War period.
I created this game to play at 18th Century encampments and thought it would make a great addition to my crafts for sale. I has proven very successful and is sold through a national catelog/website for living history. I also sell it at my shop at Etsy. In my shop this is called The Pirate's Box Game. It is a gambling actually played in the 18th Century. It was very popular at seaports and with pirates, along with those with a bit of coin to lose in taverns.

This is a fun game that may be played by all ages. The game may be played solitaire or with a group. If you are interested in this game - they make great gifts - come and take a look HERE. These are always in my shop so if this link does not work just go to my Etsy shop - Q Branch Ltd. to see one.


This is called a Lucet. This is another of my historic reproduction. This is an ancient cord making tool used for thousands of years to create strong, decorative cord. If you look at Cinderella's dress and see the lacing holding it up in the front - that is cord made on a lucet. Lucets were used commonly throughout the 17th Century through the 19th Century in America. They are still commonly used in parts of Europe today.

The lucet is fun to use and VERY EASY to learn. The cord made on the lucet today is made from any string, thread, floss, ribbon, yarn, and so on. The cord that is created is thicker and stronger than the string that it is made from. Today it is used by craft artists for jewelry, fabric embellishment, laces, and so much more. This is simple enough for a child to learn and create friendship bracelets, shoe laces, and such. These are always in my Etsy shop made from different woods and there are two styles - with a handle and without. This has no handle. The difference is just a matter of preference - as they make the same cord. If you are interested in a lucet look HERE. Also if this link is sold there will always be others in my Etsy Shop.

I am not going to overwhelm you all with too much but I should mention my other shop - Past Perfect and show you a sample of my work from that shop. This is my photography shop and I have been professionally taking art photographs for the past four years. Here is just one of my photos. This is a red tail hawk. This hawk was rescued by a wildlife rescue preserve. I was doing an indoor craft show and this preserve was showing some of their animals to the public. It happened that our booth was right next to their presentation area and I was so close that I could take photos that I never would have been able to get any other way. I am glad I had my camera with me that day.

If you are interested in this photo it is HERE. There are many other photos - and another hawk too - at my shop Past Perfect.

So there you have it. A small sample of my work. I thank you all for looking and appreciate any comments.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

We have another artist who works in unusual medium for craft - soap, but never the less, craft it is. Come and meet




Here is our interview with the artist, Jackie -

Briefly describe what you make?

I handcraft soap, bath and beauty, and home fragrance products.

What product do you enjoy making the most?

I truly enjoy making my hand milled soap the best. I find the hand grating process to prepare the soap base to be therapeutic and I like fussing over the Crockpot the 4 hours it takes to cook the soap. It’s fun! It is also neat to add exotic ingredients like emu oil and pumpkin powder and watch them magically transform the soap.

How long have you been making bath and beauty products?

2 years now.

How did you get started?

I did a year’s worth of Internet research and joined soaping forums and read everything I could on making soap. I tried to learn about every aspect of soapmaking from the different ingredients to business legalities.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

Twice in the past I have partnered with another Virgo making business cards. I like the name and people know me by it and maybe in the future there will be another Virgo who will join me in this venture!

What would you most like people to know about your work?

I have done and still do a ton of research so my products can be the best they can be and be safe and enjoyable to use. My soaps and bath and beauty products are very high quality for the money! I am also greening up my line and am now using all natural glycerin soap bases in my glycerin soaps. My hand milled soaps are pure soap, no chemicals in them other than the colors I add and sometimes the fragrances.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

You are only limited by your imagination! If you love doing it and have determination, you will succeed!

________________________

Like puppies - come check out the puppy soaps - their for people, not puppies. Come take a look at Jackie's shop!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER

First, Happy Thanksgiving to all!

We have another great photographer to feature. Come and meet



Here is our interview with the photographer...

Briefly describe what you make?

I make fine art photographs. Mostly I focus on nature photography, but I also have some whimsical and some industrial subjects.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

I am adoring digital photography because I take A LOT of pictures! Digital allows me to try angles and styles that I might not have with film because of the expense.

How long have you been creating craft?

I've always been interested in photography. My grandparents gave me my first "real" camera when I was about 8.

How did you get started?

When my grandfather passed away a few years ago, my grandma gave me his circa 1970 Olympus and all the lenses and things he had acquired over 30 years. Since then I've switched to digital, but I haven't stopped shooting!

Where does the name of your shop come from?

The name of my shop comes from my desire to show things the way they actually appear. Nature photography is my main focus- hence, the "stone." Presenting nature unaltered, unPhotoshopped, unposed is where the "unturned" part comes from. I don't turn the stones I photograph!

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I show people what I saw. I rarely alter photographs beyond cropping, and perhaps changing to black and white. I really only use Photoshop to put on my watermark! I like people to know that what they are seeing is real, not the result of tweaking in a computer program. I think that's important to show people real nature before it disappears.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Doing something you love is so important. It's such a thrill to open my new images and find something that makes me proud. I wish that feeling on everyone.

______________________

You know the expression that a picture is worth a thousand words - check out this shop!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

We have an artist that has taken some time off and is now returning with her work for all to enjoy once again. I would like to introduce you to -



Here is our interview with Tara!


Briefly describe what you make?

I am best known for my OOAK vintage pieces that combine found pendants, charms, and Lucite. Other items I create are scrabble, domino, and glass pendants, rings, earrings, and bracelets.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

Since I have an appraisal certificate in antiques/vintage, I really do enjoy searching for my vintage finds. Creating OOAK necklaces and earrings is truly rewarding. Lately I have reintroduced graphic design to my shop and I am really having fun with that too.

How long have you been creating craft?

I have been creating for a lifetime and selling online/offline for almost 11 years now. The first piece of jewelry I ever made was a friendship pin, very popular in the 80's. I remember that no one showed me how to do it and I severely damaged myself with the safety pins and pliers. From then on I was hooked!

How did you get started?

I've always been crafty and full of endless hyper energy. I constantly needed projects to entertain myself when I was little. No computers, bad T.V., and small New York City apartment = the need to express yourself creatively. I used to make Barbie little soaps from larger bars, and I had rigged up an actual little shower for her in her house.

I started selling when I realized it was getting too hard to leave the house every day and try to cram in a part time job, dogs, kids, errands, and housework. I was doing random craft shows but found it equally as hard to commit to certain times. My husband was extremely supportive and didn't want me to work at all. I felt I needed to occupy myself and since I already had tons of handmade jewelry, the next step was naturally to sell it. Plus, you need to make money to buy new supplies!! LOL

Where does the name of your shop come from?

Honestly, it's not a really meaningful story. About 5 years ago I was looking to buy a domain name. It seems everyone in the universe is also named Tara. I purchased jewelsbytara and thetaracollection. I didn't like it at the time and wanted to make it more specific. Eventually jewelrybytara came up for sale and I grabbed it.

What would you most want people to know about your work?

That I take it extremely seriously and put a lot of effort and time into each piece. I inspect everything before it leaves my workshop and I redo if necessary. I try very hard to label correctly and give out specifics on pieces. I am always keeping my designs fresh and enjoy bringing everyone new pieces. Customer service is a huge thing with me and everyone gets their problems resolved ASAP.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Searching out answers to questions yourself can actually lead to more knowledge than someone just telling you. I started with absolutely no knowledge of accounting, web design, graphic design, marketing, and selling online. My husband refused to help me when I was setting up my first site and gave me the speech about figuring out everything myself. I was so angry then, but I thank him now for letting me find my own way. I believe that learning by doing is the best way to retain knowledge. Also, DIY (do it yourself), should become your new motto. Everything that you can buy so far as supplies, packaging, etc. Can be made by you for a lot less money. I learned website coding and graphics on my own too.

______________________

Great interview - come an take a look at Tara's shop and of course, come on back and leave a comment for Tara!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

We have an artist that works in a very different medium - fragrance. I would like you to meet




Here is our interview with Karina -

Briefly describe what you make?

My name is Karina, and I live in New York City although I'm originally from Toronto Canada. I moved to the States in 2003, and love living in such a dynamic and exciting place like New York! My American-born husband, Richard, helps out greatly with my shop and has now become a soap addict too.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

I love working with different fragrance oils and blending "odd" ones together to create a fantastic new scent. There's something wonderful about a buyer smelling my soap at a show and going "Oh wow this smells REALLY good" --- to give them a scent combo they wouldn't have perhaps experienced elsewhere is very special to me.

How long have you been creating craft?

Since 2001...I went full-time with Soap That Makes Scents in 2006.

How did you get started?

I went to England on a business trip, and in-between banquets and conferences, it became pretty boring just hanging around the hotel. I discovered a soap-making class not too far away and went on a whim just to have something to do. I didn't believe in love at first sight until then. After I returned to Canada (where I'm originally from) I took a few more locally-based workshops as well as some business classes, and my dream began.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

I would love to say that I thought long and hard about this and then had a great vision in the middle of the night as it would make a fantastic story..but, alas, it was just a moment of quick brainstorming one rainy afternoon. The name definately fits, wouldn't you say?

What would you most want people to know about your work?

A bar of soap is the simplest and most environment-loving way to get yourself clean.
At Soap That Makes Scents, we believe in minimal packaging. We believe in small batches to ensure freshness. And we believe that using high-quality ingredients should not mean that we have to sacrifice low pricing for you.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Do not expect a flock of buyers in your store the moment you list your first item. Networking is extremely important all of the time, but even moreso in the beginning stages of your business. It does take time to build a customer base, and things won't happen magically overnight no matter how original and exciting your items are. Promote to your target audience instead of just everywhere you can---you'll save a lot of time, energy and money this way.
____________________

Very different and a craft product that everyone has a use for - and great gift items too! Come and take a look at this shop - and then come on back here and leave a comment for Karina!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

Here is a artist making very nice decorative pillows for your home. Come and meet



Here is our interview with the artist, Cheryl -

Briefly describe what you make?

My name is Cheryl and I have a passion for pillows. I design and sew decorative pillows in small collections to ensure a quality one-of-a-kind pillow. I also have a children, tween and teen line. I have a signature “pocket” that I have used on many of my children’s pillows and expanded into my pocket stockings for people and pets. I like the idea of having little extra hiding places for notes, etc. My original design, the Sleep-n-Stash Pillow, takes this to the extreme by having a complete internal “secret” pocket. This was originally made for a soldier’s return to Iraq to keep his letters and photos inside. Now it is popular from children to teens to stash their special items inside; trading cards, music players, etc.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

I love working with many types of fabric from decorative to soft fleece and flannel. My process starts when I place all of my fabric on my cutting table and start matching up the complimenting fabrics and begin dreaming up its design. I like to have some traditional sizes and styles and end up with a few “wow” pillows.

How long have you been creating craft?

I have been happily designing for 6 years now. This all began after I was searching store after store for pillows for my sofa. The pillows were uninteresting, weren't the right color and of poor quality. So, I decided to make my own. I received so many compliments that I began a business creating one-of-a-kind decorative pillows.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

The name is literal, I step into my sewing studio, take a look around and my stress melts away and I am then “inspired”. Sewn Inspirations.

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I want to make a difference in the way you view your home. I believe that by adding a few pillows to your sofa, beds & chairs, you can create a whole new look without the high cost of buying new furniture. I design, sew and deliver the pillows right to your doorstep, all without the hassle of searching numerous stores for the "perfect" accessory. All you need to do is decide which style and size best suits you and the quantity needed to make your room look distinctive.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Once you find your passion, do what it takes to keep it in your life. I have done at-home parties, craft shows, selling in brick and mortar stores, my own website and Etsy. If you find a perfect location for your craft, approach the owner. Every owner I have approached, has accepted my offer.

______________

Great interview and really nice work. You must see this shop! Then - come back here and leave a comment and let this artist know your appreciation for her work - then go buy something nice! Nice gift ideas, too!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER

Here is a photographer on Etsy with some great Fall themed photographs - and more. Come and meet


Here is our interview with the photographer, Ezzy!

What do you make?

The short answer to that is Artwork! I shoot with a Nikon D40X - digital - then use photoshop to enhance, change, and edit my work. My subject matter mostly includes landscapes, but I also take a few still lifes. I do some portraiture outside of my etsy shop.

What mediums do you enjoy working in the most?

Well, photography in all aspects of course, but there are, after all, many different aspects of photography. I was never much good at taking pictures when I was young. I can't tell you how many photos I have of people from the neck down that I took with my first camera. But eventually I started working with film - and I fell in love with it! Nothing makes a better sound than the swish and click of the shutter on a completely mechanical old camera. And then there is the darkroom . . . the acid smell of the developing chemicals and the weird light. But digital has been a fun experience as well. The convenience, ese adn versatility of digital is a great addition to the world of photography. And then there is photoshop. It took me a lot longer to warm up to that than anything else, but now that I have learned it, it is so much fun to create in it!

How long have you been crafting?

Well, as an artist, I have been drawing as long as I can remember. I ghad an old Sunday school teacher who used to tell me she knew I'd become an artist because when I was two and in her sunday school class, she gave all the children crayons and paper. And while all the other children were eating the crayons and throwing them at each other, I was sitting quietly, drawing little circles on my paper. I started painting with oils when I was 11 and continued that through college. It wasn't until my sophmore year of college that I discovered photography, but I fell in love with it. I'm 26 now so I have been photographing for about 7 years now.

How did you get started?

I was reluctant to do it, but I signed up for the photo class offered at my college. I borrowed an old Canon camera from a family friend, never intending to like photography enough to want to buy one of my own. I was just taking the class because I needed the credit for my art degree. I wasn't very good it at first - I actually had to reshoot my first assignment and stay after class for some one on one tutoring with my teacher. But when I finally got the hang of it, I excelled. I stayed late after class and came in to the darkroom in the evenings afer work. Eventually I grew to love it enough and gather enough skills, I presented my senior art show in photography. I now own 2 35mm fil cameras, a yashika medium format camera, a holga, and a Nikon D40X.

How did you name your shop?

The name of my shop comes from my name. In case you are curious (cause it's kind of a strange name) there is a story behind "ezzy." I have a younger brother who I am very close to. He is two years younger than I am and when we were little, he couldn't say my name - Sara. So, he called me "Sever" and I hated it! That's how little brothers are! And of course, since I hated it, he did it even more. As we got older "Sever" went way until I was in middle school and he started calling me that again. Then, one day out of the blue, he started calling me Sever again. A couple weeks later, he mixed it all around and called me Ezzfur. I was mortified and made him promise to never call me that in front of anyone ever. So what does he do? He calls me that at a birthday party in front of friends. They liked it, latched onto it and shortened it to Ezzy. And it stuck! So when I first discovered etsy, I created an account under my name. I have named my shop "In Other Words, Photography." My husband is a writer on the side and he actually helped me come up with it. It goes along with the old cliche that a picture is worth a thousand words.

What would you want people to know about your work?

I guess what I want people to know about my photography is that I never really feel more like myself than when I am behind the lens. It's a natural high - I find myself smiling every time I lower the camera after taking a picture. Beauty is all around in the big and in the small. When I am behind the lens, I get to explore that beauty, single it out, give it a voice. My portrait work, for example, is very rarely posed. My best photos are when people aren't paying attention to me - when they are relaxed and natural. I don't create wuth the sole purpose of making money - I create for the joy of it. For the sound of the shutter opening and closing, for the excitement of downloading a shoot and seeing what came out, for the smell of photo chemicals and the feel of the camera in my hands . . .

Any words of advice for other artists?

To other artists, I would say be true to yourself. Create what you love and the work that comes from it will be a true reflection of yourself. Do it for the right reasons, for the love of the yarn sliding through your fingers, the feel of the clay spinning on the wheel in your hand, the paint beneath your finger nails, and dropped beads glittering in the carpet. Don't create to make a living - live to create. Know that what you leave in this world is a little more beauty a piece of yourself that can never be erased.

_________________________

Ezzy does some very nice work! You must go and see Ezzy's shop -and then come back here and your appreciation!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

I would like to introduce you to an interesting artist that works in hemp! Come and meet



Here is our interview with the artist, Courtney...

Briefly describe what you make?

I must admit to being yet another Etsy jewelry designer, but I like to think I have a different take on design than other sellers! Personally I love taking a concept that others may think of as drab or boring and making it come alive. For instance, I base all of my design ideas on things I've seen in nature. I've had many people convo me saying that they love how my designs are so bright and full of different textures since they think of nature-inspired items as being a bit monotone in both color and texture. However, I feel that the natural world is full of different colors, shades and textures that many people just never notice!

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

In particular I love macrame because I like taking hemp and dressing it up to be more than a "teenage" accessory, which I feel is how many people think of it. I also enjoy the feel of the fibers in my hands and how easy it takes on any shape or pattern I envision.

How long have you been creating craft?

I, of course, began tying hemp jewelry as a teenager and later began to expand my designs to include beaded and wire jewelry.

How did you get started?

I started designing jewelry because I needed a creative outlet and felt that I had no artistic talent, which I recently realized isn't true! It actually turns out that the OCD control freak in me was just afraid of the lack of control I feel over the paint and the canvas. I originally began selling my designs to make a little money on the side for groceries and extra spending money. Then a couple of months back I began to realize how much I love to create and that if I took my work more seriously I could actually turn it into a legitimate business, which it is well on its way to becoming!

Where does the name of your shop come from?

My shop name was created while I was on one of my hippie chic fashion kicks and derives from the word eco-friendly. I thought I may end up regretting the name, closing shop and starting over, but as my design aesthetic has developed I have realized just how much I believe in being "green" and using as many earth-friendly materials as possible. After all, the rest of the world shouldn't suffer just so you can look fabulous!

What would you most want people to know about your work?

Personally I believe the most important aspect of my work is the fact that it is all environmentally friendly. I use locally made materials, materials I create myself and scour yard sales and rummage bins for things to take apart and reuse by incorporating them in my designs. I feel that it is extremely important to keep as many items out of landfills as possible and this environmental consciousness definitely carries over to my designs.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

The most influential advice I ever received both as an artist and a person is to be true to yourself and let it flow through everything you do because that is the only way to be truly happy.


______________________

You have got to go and take a look at this very different jewelry. Go and look at this shop and then please leave your comments here and let Courtney know that you appreciate her work!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

The work by this artist is adorable. You must come and meet
THE FAIRE GLEN



Here is our interview with the artist, Ruth -

Briefly describe what you make?

I hand crochet a lot of women's accessory items, such as capes, shawls, and neckwarmers. I especially love sculpting faeries, and have many of them in The Faerie Glen. Three years ago, I discovered needlefelting and just had to make some tiny bunnies and it evolved from there.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

Of all the mediums I work with, I get my greatest pleasure from sculpting with polymer clay.

How long have you been creating craft and how did you get started??

All of my life I have been creative. When I was very young, my mother showed me how to make a kite from twigs and paper and flour glue. Next, she taught me how to make dolls, and I have never stopped creating. There have been many flea market type booths in my life, and then along came Ebay and Etsy.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

Creating a name for my shop was easy since I began with only FAERIES. Where do faeries live? In a glen of course. Thus THE FAERIE GLEN was born.
What would you most want people to know about your work?

Of utmost importance to me is that People know that when I create, from any medium, is that I am totally absorbed in what I am doing and always do it right. If it is not right, it goes to charity. And I have tried purchased knit and crochet patterns that were not up to my standards.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?


My advice to new artists is practice, practice , practice until you are good enough that you would purchase your own product. Do not get discouraged. You will improve and so will the sales.

_______________

You have got to see these cute, little fairies in Ruth's shop. Come and visit - and then leave a comment here to let her know what you think!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER

This feature brings you a photographer who sells her work on Etsy. Come and get to know



Here is our interview with the photographer, Gina -

Briefly describe what you make?

I shoot photography in black and white as well as color. My photos range from architecture to nature to anything that really catches my eye.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

My favorite thing lately has been black and white photos with a splash of color. I like to hand color a photo when I can. Other times I will use Photoshop to get that color to pop.

How long have you been creating craft?

The minute I developed my own film and made my own prints in high school, I was hooked. I loved that I could take something from start to finish by myself. So, that makes it about 12 years.

How did you get started?

I guess this question can be answered in the question before. That would be high school.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

I'm more of a visual person and less of a words person. So the name of my shop is just my name and what I do: Ginaphoto.

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I have a different perspective on things. I hear a lot of people say "I never would have thought to take that" or "You definitely have an eye for things". I love that. I love taking the ordinary everyday things and looking at them differently and putting that in a photo.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Words of advice would definitely be to keep trying and to get yourself out there. I kept thinking that people would just find me, which in some cases is true. But you really have to put yourself out there to get noticed.

_________________

What is not said in words, Gina says with her photos. Come and take a look at her shop and see her work. It is not the same old, same old.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

We have a jeweler to feature. This is another Etsy shop and all of this wonderful work is for sale there! Here is



Come and meet the artist -

Briefly describe what you make?

I design jewelry and then handcraft it using beads, gemstones and metal wires. My aim is to create more earthy and yet sophisticated jewelry that would not only accessorize an outfit but also make a fashion statement. While some of my pieces are subtle and understated, others are more bold and chunky. I like designing jewelry for everyday wear that can take you from work to into evenings and would work for all seasons as well as love to create focal pieces for parties and formal get together where your jewelry will attract attention.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

I love working with silver wires, pearls and gemstones. To me silver and pearls are very versatile and can together create jewelry that can be chic or ornate; modern or vintage and everyday or occasional. However, very recently have started using brass findings too. Brass helps me create pieces with a more vintage feel to them. I have also worked a little bit with gold filled wire and you would find a few pretty gold pieces in my ETSY shop too.

How long have you been creating craft?

It has been only 3 years that I have started jewelry making but have come long ways in this time. However, I have miles to go. ETSY has always succeeded in inspiring me and when I look at the immense talent pool in ETSY, I always think of all the various jewelry making techniques that I would love to master and use for my designs.

How did you get started?

I was deeply inspire by a friend of mine who makes beautiful jewelry. When I met her initially her handmade necklace created from bright red seed beads and chunky silver Bali beads caught my attention and that is when I started reading up on handcrafting jewelry, buying cheap beads and wires to do experiments with. In the last 3 years now, it has grown to be a shop in ETSY.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

I call my shop 'Echos of Spring'. The name came from the colorful jewelry that I strive to create so that all through the year my jewelry can remind you of spring and echo its seasonal colors in your wardrobe.

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I am always striving to create new and more attractive designs created with quality raw material. Though I tend to use local bead stores for all my jewelry supply needs whenever I am visiting places I go on a bead and raw material hunt looking for interesting beads, stones and crystals. Also, my prices are very reasonable and affordable as I take my shop more as a passion. My aim is to make the buyers enjoy what they purchased as much as i enjoy creating the piece. So keep checking http://echosofspring.etsy.com for more jewelry and great sales. Currently offering free shipping on all pieces.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

I am probably too new to creating art and may not have advice for other artists. However, would like to add that creating art is a passion and let us all keep creating beautiful art.

______________________

This is beautiful work and you must see it. Come and visit this shop now and then come back and leave some comments for the artist!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

Our new feature is a shop on Etsy that is a must see for new mothers or anyone needing a gift for a new mama. Here is



Come and meet the artist, Amy -

Briefly describe what you make?

I make a variety of items, just based on whatever idea strikes me, or something I see that inspires me. I started up shop in April of this year with some Baby Bodysuits & cute boutique Baby Wipes Clutches, but have since branched out into Drink Coasters, and beautiful Sparkling Hair Pins & Hair Blossoms. I use only the best designer fabrics, Swarovski crystals, and other ingredients for my items.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

My favorite right now are my Wipes Clutches & my Sparkling Hair Pins...I've found them almost addictive! Every time I see a cool fabric, or a pretty finding, I rush home from work to start making something new. My head swirls with ideas constantly!

How long have you been creating craft?

I have been creating things for friends and family just about forever, but I just decided to open up shop in April. I just couldn't find the right outlet before, but when I found Etsy, I knew I had found a new home for my shop!

How did you get started?

My desire to create started long long ago, as a little girl. My Mom used to sew beautiful things for us to wear, so it started with sewing little projects of my own, cutting patterns, picking materials. I then moved on in college to creating gift baskets for weddings of my friends and family using my crafting skills & premium gifts, but couldn't find a way to translate that into a business that would work for me. I then started making baby gifts, including my Bodysuits & Night Lights for friends & family, and people told me I should set up shop so it would be easier for them to purchase things to give, and to tell others about my items. So in April, I opened up my Etsy shop, and have had so much fun since then!

Where does the name of your shop come from?

One of my other favorite things to do is work in my garden, and though I have many favorite flowers, Camellias are one of the most hardy and beautiful that I grow. When I decided to open up shop, I wanted something that reflected not only who I am, and what I love, but something beautiful and sort of catchy. The Pink Camellia was inspired by my "In The Pink" Camellia plants, a gorgeous hot pink ruffled Camellia. I tossed it around for a few days, and the name just sort of stuck.

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I would mostly like to say that my work is a labor of love. I don't sell anything I wouldn't be happy to buy or give myself, and I'm proud of every single item I've created. Each item to me is special, and I work extremely hard to make sure they are of the best quality. I also take pride in keeping my prices affordable to just about everyone. There's nothing better than giving a gift that is original, and can't just be picked up at the local big box store! Nobody else will have what you have purchased!

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

My advice for other artists would be to just follow your heart. Sometimes you create something and think nobody else will be able to see what your inspiration was, or nobody else will love it as much as you. I have to say that I have been proven wrong every time! We are always our own harshest critic, and I think people need to believe in themselves and in their own talents, and share them!

__________________________

Great interview!!! Come and see this shop! Leave some comments for Amy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

This featured artist creates all types of beautiful hair bows and has a shop on Etsy! Come and meet



Here is our interview with the artist -

Briefly describe what you make?

I make luxury headbands and hair accessories for fashion minded women. They're eye-catching and are crafted to stand out in super thick, curly, or kinky hair. Definitely not your standard everyday hair accessories! These are for your divas, drama queens, fashionistas, pin-ups, and glam girls.

What materials do you enjoy working with the most?

I definitely have a tulle addiction! The other day, my baby niece found a scrap of tulle in my pocket. She held it up and said "princess?" That's exactly how I think of tulle. It's so feminine and dreamy. Even though it's light and airy, it has the ability to make a elegant, regal statement.

How long have you been creating craft?

I've been doing crafts since I was a child. My mother is a fine art painter (marvalousartandtile.etsy.com) and always encouraged me to explore my creative side. I was even named for a famous fashion designer. Naturally, I studied fashion design in school and now I use those couture elements in my hair accessories.

How did you get started?

When I started wearing my hair in an afro, I couldn't find any hair accessories striking enough to stand out in my big cloud of hair. I began making my own and then friends of mine encouraged me to start a shop on etsy.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

My friends and I wanted a name that would reflect the high fashion aspect of the hair accessories. You can buy headbands anywhere, but we wanted to differentiate ourselves from the competition by highlighting it's runway style. After brainstorming, we settled on the haute sounding "La Petite Boutique de Bandeaux."

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I realize what it's like to get a brand new shiny headband only to have it shatter apart after it's first use. That's why at La Petite Boutique de Bandeaux, we use quality materials from around the globe. Our headbands are made from a study yet flexible metal wrapped in satin ribbon, tulle, organza for comfort. You won't find any cheap plastics here!

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Finding a mentor has been key for me. You can always learn from someone more experienced than yourself.

_____________________

You have got to come to this shop and see these hair bows!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

This feature is on a jewelery craftsperson on Etsy. Come an meet



Here is our interview with the artist, Lindsay -

Briefly describe what you make?

I create one of a kind beautiful pieces of jewelry. My jewelry is vintage inspired and created using repurposed vintage materials in combination with other lovely beads and gemstones. Because of this, each piece is very unique and is made with a great deal of love.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

Obviously, I'm a jewelry maker, so I love working with beads, but my favorite thing to do is the days that I go to antique stores or go rummaging through my grandmother's old jewelry to find unique vintage components to use in my jewelry creations. Some of my favorite non-vintage materials to work with are turquoise and freshwater pearls. I love anything with pearls. ♥

How long have you been creating craft?

I have always loved arts and crafts from the time I was very young. When I was little, I could sit for hours and just color in a coloring book or draw pretty pictures to go on the refrigerator. I loved craft time at school when most kids would have rather been on the playground. Though I've loved crafts almost since the time of birth, I have only been creating jewelry for around 6 years.

How did you get started?

I got started creating jewelry after searching for a unique Christmas present for my sister one year. I ended up making her 10 pairs of earrings. After that, my friends and her friends started asking for them and I realized that this could become a business for me. I began to sell only earrings in boutiques and salons in my hometown. Now, my jewelry line has expanded to include necklaces and bracelets as well.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

The name of my shop came from the idea that while each piece is unique and one of a kind, it also represents me. I have never made a piece of jewelry that I wouldn't personally wear, so you are getting a good sample of my style by looking at my shop.

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I want people to know that my work is not just a business to me. It is something that I absolutely love doing. I take pride in every piece. Honestly, it's hard to decide which pieces to sell and which to keep for myself because I love my work so much.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

If your craft is something that you love, don't give up just because you aren't selling as much as you like. Loving what you do is the most important thing.

__________________

Come visit a great shop! The jewelery has a vintage look and "retro" is hot!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

Here is another great artist and shop on Etsy. I want to introduce you to



Come meet the artist!

Briefly describe what you make?

I'm a fashion design student, still learning about many creative possibilities, I make all kinds of cute accessories, at a low to mid-low price range :) This includes Kawaii origami handfolded earrings, Handpainted wooden jewelry pieces (my current favorite: The Salima Earrings), and clutches (designed by me, very unique, and texturally intriguing).

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

I ADORE fabric, it is my pleasure to incorporate and play with fabric in as many ways as possible. I use fabric scraps in jewelry as a creative eco-friendly way to add interest, in my bag designs, you will sometimes find cute and funky elements (in one of my designs I incorporate the elastic part of a floral sheet as a detail on the back). I also really enjoy origami, I just find it so adorable!

How long have you been creating craft?

I am still young, I have been sewing for maybe only 5 years? I actually did not start making jewelry until this summer, but I feel that I am learning quickly, cannot wait to get back to school to learn more techniques and ideas :)

How did you get started?

I got started by just taking sewing classes at school, my interest was then furthered when my parents bought me a Husquvarna Viking a few years ago. Everytime I learn a new technique, I feel that I create one more "dimension" into which my work can expand, I love mixing ideas. Took a class at school this year based on painting, and am now enjoying being able to use those abilities to make jewelery :)

Where does the name of your shop come from?

Honestly, there is no real amazing story. When I was a little bit younger my mom stressed the importance of not using numbers in my Flickr account name, she said "Just pick two things you love". We had recently been on a trip to China, which I found to be just beautiful (no really, I am slightly obsessed), and I have a problem with my love of the color blue (I currently own 13 blue dresses, some of which I made myself). Blue wasn't really very interesting so I went with Azure, and AzureChina was born.

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I am still learning, and when I do learn something I go back to improve upon pieces which have already been completed. For example when I first started making my origami star earrings I was just using thread to sew them to the earring hooks, since then I have learned to wire wrap and went back to fix all the earrings, did a photo re-shoot, etc.) This is just one example!

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Promoting is key.
Photos are THE key. You might know your work is beautiful, but if your potential buyers are looking at a photograph that is dark or that detracts from the beauty of the image, they will immediately move on to another seller.
Posting and running in the forums is not attractive, unless the creator of the thread asks you to post and run, it is not polite to ignore the posts of others, and assume that they will still be interested in yours. On the other hand, if you show interest in another's work and idea's, generally they will reciprocate the favor :)

_____________________

Wonderful answers! Great shop and things that you must see. Come and visit with AzureChina. And if you want to learn more about her - read her blog!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST

I am going to start featuring some on-line shops again on this site. This is a site on Etsy. I would like you to meet



Here is our interview with the artist, Leslie!

Briefly describe what you make?

Illustrated greeting cards, pocket mirrors and recipe cards with friendly, happy animals and creatures.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

I love Adobe Illustrator - the program I use to illustrate. I also love the 100% recycled brown bag envelopes I provide with my cards.

How long have you been creating craft?

Since October 2008.

How did you get started?

A co-worker turned me on to Etsy, and I decided I wanted to have my own shop. I'm a graphic designer, so it seemed like items with my own illustrations was a pretty good idea. I started with my beaver illustration, and many of the other animals and critters just kind of flowed from there.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

It was just a silly nickname I used for my boyfriend - not even sure where it came from. It was just one of those goofy things that stuck, and it seemed like a good name for a shop containing mostly animals!

6. What would you most want people to know about your work?
That I love it! I just really love illustrating and coming up with new ideas - it makes me feel, errr, sparkly! I think that's so important. When you love what you do, it really shows. And it also gets you through the hard times.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Find something you love, and do it! When there is passion and love behind your art, you will succeed.

__________________

Great shop and great cards. Be sure to check out the mirrors! Please do visit Leslie at her shop!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Selling at Shelf Rental Stores

In the 1980's shelf rental craft shops were opening all over. It was a popular way to sell crafts as an alternative to craft shows and this was when the Internet was in its infancy and there were no sites like Etsy, etc. There are still shelf rental shops, but many fewer than there once were.

So what is a shelf rental craft shop? This is a store that will rent you space on a shelf - or the entire shelf - or several shelves - in the store to sell your crafts. The store handles all of the business transaction of the sale. Some retail stores set aside a part of their store and rent shelf space to craft artists or there are stores that are completely shelf rental.

Does this work for the craft artist? In our experience, No! We tried a number of shelf rental shops. We made very few sales in most. Only in one shelf rental location did we do well and this was in a large indoor flea market store. I will relate that disaster story later in this article.

The problem with shelf rental is that the shop owner has no advantage as to whether your work is selling or its not. Most shelf rental shops just charge a monthly fee for the shelf space with no commission on top of that. Some do tag on a commission - and actually, though it is more of an expense to the craft artist this is a good thing for the artist. The management (or owner) attitude we encountered at all of the shelf rental shops we were involved in was "if your work does not sell and you leave I can quickly rent your space to someone else". All these shops did was display your work and IF someone found the work and purchased it they would act as the cashier, hold your money, and settle up with you on a schedule. None had salespeople who would work at "selling" the various crafts on the variety of shelves. Now, in the shops that had a commission taken on each sale, the shop had a reason to work at selling what was on the shelves.

To want to try shelf rental you want to only rent at shops that are local to you. A number of shops will seek renters across the country. The problem with this is you must ship your items to that shop - at your expense. If you never walk into the shop, you will never really know if your items actually ever were put onto a shelf. I am not saying that all shelf rental shops are dishonest or unethical - but I have heard of this happening.

When you rent the shelf space, you go to the shop and put your items out on display. You need to check in regularly to see if work has sold and if items need to be replaced. You then come in - at a time arranged with the shop (to not be disruptive to business) and restock your inventory.

The shop is making the sale, collecting the money, and collecting the sales tax. If the shop is giving you the purchase price and the sales tax and you are sending that tax into your State, fine. If the shop is collecting the sales tax and submitting it to the State for the shop - which is what usually happens, you MUST get the shop to completer your state's sales tax resale form, signed with their number to collect state sales tax - just as if you were selling to them for a wholesale sale. The shop should not object to this. It is standard operating procedure for retail stores. If they make a fuss, move on because something is wrong there.

So what happened at that successful shelf rental shop. At the time we were selling baby quilts. We actually were renting a wall that had hooks that would hold bagged baby quilts with room at the side for display of what each looked like. These quilts sold well. They sold so well in fact that the shelf rental owner of this shop inside the indoor flea market decided that his wife could make these quilts too and he would then get all of the income from this hot selling item. He told us to leave. We were told that we took up too much space. I offered to pay him more for the space and he said no. About a month later we were walking through the flea market and and there on the same wall were a "variation" of our quilts, not quite as well made. Such is the problem with shelf rental.

Should you absolutely not do shelf rental to sell your work? Not necessarily. Visit the shop a few times to check it out before even talking to the manager/owner. When you are ready, don't agree to any long term commitments. Rent one month to see what happens. Make sure your work is on the shelf and stop by unexpectedly to see what is happening in the store. See what happens. If you make sales well above the amount of rent you are paying, then rent another month and go along from there. Remember, this rent is an expense that you need to cover in the prices of your items. If you don't you might as well be just giving your work away.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A New Concern for Wholesaling Your Work

In my last article I provided links for the new CPSIA law that effects anyone creating items for use by children 12 and under in the United States. This law includes specific labeling requirements - which you will see a link about in that article.

Many retail shops that buy wholesale will often remove the label that the craft artist placed on the item. They do this for a variety of reason - the most common of which seems to be not wanting to identify the source of the item to their customers for fear that the customer will go directly to the artist/craftsperson to buy directly. This has happened to my work at several stores I have sold to in the past. I had not concern about this because I already made my sale to the retailer. Under CPSIA this becomes a problem. Now, the manufacturer's label (YOU) must remain on the item - and that label must be permanent. A retailer clipping that label off will place you liable under the law.

This is something that you must discuss with any retailer you are selling wholesale to. You may need to have the retailer sign in your wholesale agreement that the retailer will under no circumstances remove the label that you permanently attach to the item being sold to them, in compliance with the Federal law, C.P.S.I.A.

The idea of what happens to it after it leaves my hands no longer apply under this law. Of course, this only applies to items intended or marketed to children of the age 12 and under.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

CPSIA - Links You Need to Know

The Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act, CPSIA, a law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in August 2009 effects any artist or craftsman creating things that are intended for, used by, or appeal to CHILDREN under the age of 12. This law has wrecked havoc on the craft community. This law is currently in effect. The law covers everything for children that will be sold, donated to charity, or given away, with the exception of personal gifts to family or direct friends. The law is enforced by both the C.P.S.C. and each State's Attorney General. Violation is a Federal Offense punishable by very large fines and imprisonment.

To learn what you need to know about CPSIA here are some links to give you all of the information that you need -

Consumer Product Safety Commission

ABOUT CPSIA

Guidelines for Small Businesses and Crafters

THE LAW REQUIRES SPECIAL LABELING OF ALL ITEMS - LABELS GUIDELINES

LABELING FAQ

FOR RESALE SHOPS AND THRIFT STORES

Friday, July 17, 2009

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER

Here is another in our features of wonderful photographers who sell their work on-line. Come and meet -


Here is our interview with Andrea -

Briefly describe what you make?

I make photographs, mostly of everyday objects utilizing bold color and shapes, but I also have a few pretty flowers and landscapes available for sale.

What photo mediums do you enjoy working in most?

I always use a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera for my studio work and most everything else. However, lately I've been trying to use more film and to focus more on black & white. I'm trying to get back to why I fell in love with photography in the first place: just looking around and taking pictures of what I see instead of "creating" or "styling" a photo. When I do this, I use a Nikon N65 (my very first camera), a Holga, and a small accordion-style medium format camera called Wester Chrome-Six NKK.

How long have you been creating?

I having been taking pictures regularly since my freshman year of high school, about 8 years ago.

How did you get started?

I can't remember how I got started in photography. I've always been an artist of some kind, either painting or drawing and everyone always knew me as being very artistic. My guess would be that I've always liked looking at photographs and when I actually tried my hand at it, I liked it much more than drawing or painting. For me, it's much easier to make beautiful art with photography. If you mess up, you don't have to erase or start over, you can just take another picture. Which probably means I wasn't that good at drawing in the first place!

Where does the name of your shop come from?

The name of my shop IS my name!

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I would want most people to know that I put a lot of time and effort into my photography, especially the studio work. I know that my style is very different from the pretty, dreamy, flowery, neutral-toned work that seems to be most popular on Etsy, but I don't mind being different. Hopefully the people who like my work will find it and support it.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

I'm so bad at giving advice... really all I can say is: if you love it, then do it. And don't let anyone tell you that you should do it a certain way or not do it a certain way. The best part about being an artist (as with everything else) is if you honestly stick to it, your art will grow and become stronger in time. Believe me, I feel I've come light years since I first picked up a camera!

_________________

Come now and take a look at Andrea's shop on Etsy. Andrea is a member of POE - Photographers of Etsy.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER

We present once again another of the great photographers to be found on ETSY who are selling their work. Let me introduce you to


Come meet Anne -

Briefly describe what you make?

Fine art prints

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

Photography

How long have you been creating?

I got my first camera when I was ten.

How did you get started?

I always loved anything art related and having been drawing for years. I was an art major before I went into nursing. I became interested in photography specifically because it's the only color medium I feel really comfortable with. I love photography because it enables me to capture a moment the way I see it and to be able to share that with people.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

Too easy...my name ; )

What would you most want people to know about your work?

How much I really love capturing the intense beauty of Mother Nature and that I hope that they experience the same sense of peace and wonder I do when I am out shooting.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

I'd pass on the best I was ever given and use often... Just keep going. Whatever you're working on, in whatever medium, may not look exactly as you'd like at the moment but just keep working because you never know where you'll end up. You may be surprised, sometimes it's the process that matter not the product.
________________

Please visit Anne's shop - AnneClarke. You will be delighted to find some wonderful nature photography including underwater scenes. In addition to prints Anne also offers her photos as pendants and greeting cards. Anne is a member of POE - Photographers of Etsy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Prices Reduced!

I don't often write much about my own shops on Etsy but I would like share with everyone that I have just reduced the prices of all of my prints at my Past Perfect shop. I am doing this for special summer savings. (Shh! Don't tell the gallery that sells my work!)

Now, my prints were not all that expensive before but I have brought the prices down 20%. Take advantage and decorate your home with some beautiful floral and nature prints - along with a little whimsy thrown in.

If you look down at the bottom of this page you will see a sample of what you can find at Past Perfect.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Choosing a Camera - Part 2

In my last article I started talking about what to know when choosing a camera. Now we are going to get a little more specific.

Let's start with Megapixels. Every digital camera will boast about how many megapixels the camera has. What does all of this mean? The larger the number of megapixels, the larger the image file size will be and the more detailed (supposedly) the image will be in the photograph. I say supposedly as there is some debate in the photography world that there are just so many megapixels the sensor in current camera technology can process and exceeding that makes no difference or can even have a negative impact. Never the less, the newest models are always more megapixels than last year's model. The newest models are at 15 plus mpx. But these are also the most expensive cameras. Expect to pay more for more megapixels no matter what category of camera you are looking at. Also keep in mind that high megapixel cameras can often be set to shoot photos at lower megapixel settings to save file space, but if you are going to never set your 10 mpx camera higher than 5 mpx, why pay that much more for your camera? I am not saying don't get as many mpx as you can afford - I would, but this is something to consider if you are on a budget and anticipate limited use of your camera for web photos (which need to be small anyway).

What brand camera is good? I am not going to say that any one brand is bad, but I will tell you that some brands are considered the top by serious photographers. At the top of the list are Canon and Nikon. These companies have been making film cameras for many, many years before they started making digital cameras and they bring their expertise and quality to all of the cameras that they make. Nikon has always had a reputation for one of the best lenses. Canon also has excelled in some of the features that they build into their cameras and thier lenses are also quality lenses. I have found the features in Canon digitals to surpass those in Nikon. Either one is going to take an excellent photo. Sony has been giving both companies competiton. Their expertise is electronics and they are concentrating that into their digital cameras. When I was looking for my last camera, Sony was my second choice, but Canon had more "camera" function in the model I was looking for.

I am going to jump off here to talk a bit about Canon. Many recommend the Canon Powershots - I agree with that recommendation but must add pick a model with IS in the name - IS for Image Stabilization. I spoke about this in this article. Canon has exceptional image stabilization in their IS models. This can eliminate the need for a tripod in many situtations. This can help anyone with "shaky" hands when trying to hold the camera still. Another create feature in many Canon's is "super macro", a macro mode beyond macro that will allow you to get so close to the subject that you have to be careful that you do not hit the lens with what you are taking a photo of. There may be other camera brands that do this, but from experience I can recommend Canon - as do many.

Is this going to just be a Canon ad? No. I have owned a number of cameras. Fuji has had nice features on thier cameras. Olympus has as well. But Fuji, Olympus, and Kodak, while capable are not up there with the leaders of the pack. The Lumix - made by Panasonic is an up and coming camera moving into the realm of Nikon, Canon, and Sony. They have been inovative in thier DSLR's offering a realtime and movable display on the back of the camera before the other companies did. Now, the others are also offering this on their DSLR's. Interestingly this is standard on the most inexpensive point and shoots.

In Part One of Choosing a Camera I spoke about the camera class that I am calling a hybrid - the camera that is a Point and Shoot with the look, shape, and features of a DSLR. Since starting this article I have done some research into the various brands that offer this type of camera. If you look in the photo department of your local electronics store you are going to see cameras made by Canon, Sony, Lumix, Kodak, and Nikon that look like DSLRs but are priced less than $400.00. Examine them closely and you will see that unlike the DSLR the lens is fixed to the camera and is not removable - but everything else looks so much like a DSLR. When you look through the electronic viewfinder you are looking through the lens - just like a DSLR. I am not going to repeat what I said in Part One, but I am going to tell you what I have learned looking at these cameras recently. If you want the most DSLR function in one of these "point and shoot" cameras you are going to want one of the Canon SX series. They have model numbers like SX10IS. The newest is SX1IS which adds High Def Video to the SX10IS model. Last years model - 8 mpx rather than 10 mpx, but in all other ways the same as the SX10IS is the SX5IS - still available and discounted. So what makes these Canons different than the other brands. One thing is that you can very easily add photographic filters and lens additions to the Canon. All that is required is an adapter sleeve which sells in camera shops for about $40 more. A ring on the camera lens unscrews and this sleeve screws on. The camera will now take standard size lens filters. Just screw them on to the front of the sleeve. The same sleeve accepts telephoto lens extenders and wide angle lens extenders which increase the already super range of telephoto function and wide angle function that are already built into the camera. Some of the other brands can do this but not as easily. and some only take filters and extensions made specifically for that camera. The view finder sceen on this camera can be flipped out of the back of the camera from its side and turned at various angles. This makes taking shop photos that you want to come straight down on a breeze when you set the sceen at 90 degrees to the camera. There is not a function on a DSLR that I have found that is not duplicated in some way on the Canon SX series. One I am asked to recommend a camera, this is the camera that I recommend. If you do not want any of these features, don't want anything that is the slightest bit complex, or want to not spend more than $200 to $250, then look at the Canon Powershot IS models or the Nikon Coolpix with Image Stabilization models.

Another factor to consider is whether the camera has a rechargable battery or uses regular alkaline batteries. The small point and shoots almost all have rechargable batteries. Some use regular batteries. I prefer cameras that use regular batteries - the ones that are available almost everywhere you go. For one thing, if you want rechargable you can put rechargable AA or AAA batteries into the camera. For another, if you run out of power and are near a convenience store they are going to have batteries for you to get your camera working again.

Here is another tip! If you are attracted to one camera or another in a store, go home and go online to that camera companies website. It is more than likely that the manual for that camera will be online as a free download. Download the pdf file manual and read through it. You will see how the camera works, how each feature is operated and know for certain what it can do and what it cannot do.

One thing that I must say is that you should not buy "cheap" because you want a camera that will last and one that will give you good photos when you need it. There are many discounts available on cameras. Almost every holiday has cameras being advertised at great savings - pre-Christmas, Fathers Day, Graduation season, vacation season. The store circulars are full of camera discounts. You may also find a good discount online - but don't buy online until you ahve held and played with that camera in a store. I was able to get a camera on a Pre-Holiday sale at a great price at a chain electonics store that would match prices. Right before the Holiday a local camera shop ran an ad that beat my great price by almost $40! I went into the store that I purchased the camera with the ad and got that price - the difference refunded to me! Don't be disuaded by the first price that you see. Cameras are often greatly discounted.

When you purchase your camera and bring it home the first thing you need to do is take out the manual and read it. Learn your camera before you take your first photo with it. You will then not be intimidated by your new camera in anyway and you will be able to easily use all of its functions. And don't lose that manual! I keep my manual with me in my camera bag so that it is always there should I not remember how to use a function.

Have fun with your new camera!

Choosing a Camera - Part 1

When you taking product photos of your crafts or art, you want to have a good camera, but very often the question comes up - "what camera should I buy?". What to buy is most easily answered with another question. What do you intend to use the camera for? When plunking down a hundred dollars or more, most of us want to buy a camera that will take good photos of a variety of things. Serious photographers often have more than one camera - each for a different application. Most of us have one. For the most practical camera in 2009 we are going focus only on digital cameras. Film is great but not very practical.

Before purchasing a camera you really want to think about what you might be using it for - in addition to taking photos for your online shop or sales catalog. Do you travel and take photos of the sites that you visit? Do you have children and want to take photos of all of those "special moments"? Do you take family snapshots? Would you like to start to get serious about photography as a hobby and an expression of art? Do you just want to take photos of your crafts? Or any or all of the above in combination?

How complicated a camera can you handle? Will a camera with a lot of dials and settings intimidate you? Would you just like to pick up the camera, turn it on, point it at the subject and push the button? More questions! But you need to answer each one even before you start looking. Oh yes, one more question - how much do you want to spend?

There are basically three basic categories of cameras available right now - Point and Shoot, DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex), and a new breed that has popped up in the last few years - a cross between the two. Point and Shoot cameras are fully automatic - yet they do offer you some setting that you can control when you are taking a photo. DSLR camera's have automatic features but you will need to turn the lens tube to zoom in and out to get the photo that you want and while most have auto-focus, you will want to use the lens to focus the lens yourself - again by turning it - which is one of the most prominent features of this type of camera. With a DSLR you will also be able to take the lens off easily and replace it with a lens of a different focal length giving you more options for wide angles, telephoto distances, macro photos, etc. The lens on DSLR's also allow you to place filters over the front of the lens. Filters change the light and create various effects on your photo. Most of the DSLR's, if not all, require an external flash to be attached to the camera for all flash photography. DSLR's are for the really serious interest in photography and while these are exceptional cameras, they are not for everyone. The third category of camera I have been calling a DSLR hybrid. These cameras look like small DSLR cameras. What you see through the eye piece and on the display screen is exactly what is coming through the camera's lens. Some of these add the abilitity to attach an external flash but also come with their own built in flash. Most models also allow you to add lens attachments - similar to the DSLR - including filters and various attachments that change the lens focal distance - again wide angle, macro, and telephoto. The main lens is not removed, but these attachments are screwed on to the lens on the camera. These hybrids also allow you to change the various auto settings on the camera very much as you can on a DSLR. You also have the ability to manual focus - though instead of moving the lens, you will do this electronically with a variable motion button.

Let's talk about cost. Frankly, they are all over the place. Point and Shoot camera's start at less than $50 and can go up to $300. DSLR cameras will start at about $450 and go into the thousands. Many DSLR cameras are sold without a lens - you buy the lens of your choice (generally always made by the same company that makes the camera). Many are packaged with one or two lens - of course, at a higher price. It does pay to look for those packages if you want a DSLR camera. The, so-called, Hybrids sell between $300 and $400 but are often discounted less.

When shopping for any camera you ABSOLUTELY want to look at, touch, and play with the camera. Do not buy a camera from a website - unless you have already gone to a brick and mortar store and played with it. When you go to a store, you can pick up the camera and feel it in your hands. Often the stores will have them plugged in so that you can try them turned on - try the focus, try the zoom, try the macro mode, see the settings, look at the menus, etc. You can't do this on a website and no matter what you read and learn about a camera you want it in your hands before your buy it.

I will continue this article in Part 2 talking about various brands, etc. Before that, I recommend that you read this article (if you have not already done so) to learn what you want in your camera if you are taking shop photos.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Basic Product Photograpy - The Series

For the past six weeks there have been a series of articles on this site about the basics of taking product photographs to be used on a website, a web store, or in print in a catalog. To make it easier to refer back to these articles I will list the links below. If new related articles are written in the future, those links will be added as they occur.

BASIC PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY

Part 1 - Cameras, Equipment, Etc.

Part 2 - Shooting Outdoors

Part 3 - Shooting Indoors

Part 4 - A Better Way to Shoot Indoors - Light Tents

Part 5 - Editing Software

Part 6 - Image Editing

Choosing a Camera - Part 1

Choosing a Camera - Part 2

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Basic Product Photography - Part 6

When you look at your image on the screen of your monitor you are looking at an image that is the result of the settings and profile of your particular monitor, your graphics card, and your operating system's color profile. What you see may not be what I see. What may look like a yellow tone on your monitor may come across with an orange tone on mine. What is light on one monitor may be darker on another. This is just a fact of computers.

You can adjust all of this using software and a set diagram of colors to match from print to monitor, but if my monitor is not adjusted the same way, I am still going to see something different than you are seeing. So the basic rule of thumb - make it look good on your monitor with your preferred image editing software - as we spoke about in the last article - and hopefully what I see will be close to what you see. You can't worry too much about this - if at all.

When you look at your image, you need to decide first, does it have anything in the image that you do not want to have in your finished photo of your product. Is the product where you want it - do you need to center it? Are there dust spots that were on your background or ground fabric? Let's correct for this first.

Go to your cropping tool and set it on freehand or freestyle. This will allow you to crop without restriction to any particular size. When the cropping box comes on the screen you can move it around and make it bigger or smaller. Usually the part of the photo that will be taken out is darkened while you do this so that you can see exactly what you are going to get. If it is not check the crop settings because you should be able to have it do this. Got what you want. Crop it with a click of the check mark or whatever your software has to click on.

Now look at the photo again. Is there dust on the cloth? The clone tool will take this out. But be careful and do not over do this. This tool works by clicking on a good part of background close to the dust spot - a place that is exactly like the background under the dust. Then by clicking on the dust spot you will replace it with the background sample. Use a small brush point cursor and always remember that your sample selection will move each time you move to a new spot to replace. There will be an X on the screen that will show the sample spot. Make sure that is always what you want it to be or just select a new sample as you did the first time.

So now you have an image that is clear of stray marks. The next thing to look at is the image itself. Is it too dark? Too light? Do the colors of the product in the photo match the colors of the actual product? PS Elements, Corel Paintshop Photo Pro, and Picassa have autocorrect tools. These are generally found in the menus under Image. Open that tool and you will see a screen with slider bars and a sample of your image. There is another tool called quick fix that will do everything in one step without any input from you. Try that first if you like. If you do not like the result, then click on UNDO in the edit menu to get back to where you were before that correction. In the more extensive tool you will see a box that says PREVIEW. Click a check mark into Preview. Your corrections will now appear on the full image on your screen. No permanent changes will take effect yet. If there is an auto box, click on that. It will set the image to how the software thinks it should look. This is the same as clicking on the quickfix tool. Now go to the sliders - there may be one for color, brightness, contrast, highlights. shadows, focus/sharpness and if you open advanced features on this tool you may even have a slider for white balance. Move each of these sliders around until you get the image that you want. You should not need to do to much correction if your camera is doing its job. When you see what you like then click the finish or done button and your changes will be saved to your image. Now what you see on the screen is what you are going to get. If you hate what you see go to the Edit menu on top and click UNDO and start again with this last step.

The final thing to do is get your image to the size that you need it. This actually may all you need to do if your image came out of the camera exactly as you want - which is should. Go to the Image menu and look for Resize or Resize Print. You do not want "Resize Canvas". You will now see a box open where you can put in settings to resize your photo. Remember this - always make smaller - never make bigger. Unless you are very experienced with your image software you will get a poor image if you try to enlarge it. If you are shooting with your camera set at a high res/high pixels you are going to be working with a large image, so you will not need to even think about enlarging the image. Make sure that the box that says Constrain Proportions is checked - otherwise your resize may distort your image. Sites such as Etsy have a maximum number of pixels for a photo that you may upload and have displayed. The Etsy maximum is 1000 pixels in width. I always use that and let the software determine the length. Put 1000 into the top width box. A number will appear in the length box automatically. Make sure that the box next to these shows Pixels. You do not want anything else in that box - especially not inches! Click on resize or done at the bottom of the box and your image is sized for the website. If I have an image that is long and thin, then I will put the 1000 in the length box instead and resize that way. This will work too.

Look at your image. Your result could be that when uploaded to your shop the image will go beyond the thumbnail image box but it will look perfect when viewed on the item page. If this bothers you then when you crop, you must crop as close to square as you can. This is not always possible to get what you want into your image. It is a trade off as to the thumbnail view exactly matching the full item listing view - or re-shoot from a further distance to be able to crop square.

When you have completed all of these steps save your image using the SAVE AS command and not SAVE. You want to keep your original, at least until you upload your image to your shop, just incase you want to come back and recrop.

There you have it! All of these articles and all of this time, but you have a great product image in your shop, on your website, or in your print catalog!

Future articles will cover other suggestions for taking good product photos. Keep watching for an article just about the different types of tripods.