Monthly Archives: September 2013

Selling Art On eBay Part Two

art for sale sign

In part one of How to Sell Art on eBay, I discussed the reason why eBay could be looked at as a viable avenue for artists, in having another stream of income added to their marketing mix. In this post I’ll describe a little more about what I did and what you will need to do in order to sell art on eBay.
First set up your eBay account if you don’t already have one. When it comes to setting up your user name, don’t use something obscure. Such a name does nothing in helping to brand your artist name. So use your artist name. If it’s too long like mine I used the more unusual part of my name and that’s my last name Hagerman. So I used hagermanart which also coincides with my website address.
Next I decided I wanted to offer works only in the 9×12 size or smaller. I normally use linen for my studio works, but to keep canvas cost down and time spent on stretching, I ordered pre stretched cotton canvas from Sunbelt Manufacturing in Longview, TX. They offer a medium weave, portrait and gallery wrap styles at a fraction of what you would normally pay.
Next in order to make this eBay venture successful I needed to reduce painting time. To do that, I’m working with a technique whereby I block my work in with acrylic and over paint with oil highlights and embellishments. Again, this is a whole different product than my gallery work. Not only in materials, but, technique and time spent. I liken them to studies and sketches. Some of these have allowed me to experiment with ideas, and even try out different color schemes. They are still art works in their own right, but not on the same level as my regular stuff which is more detailed. Remember they’re a whole different fruit. However, in so doing these new clients have also become aware of my other studio works. I send a card along with their shipment featuring my studio work and web address and contact info along with a personal handwritten note.
Next you’ll want to get your shipping supplies in order. I ordered free regular priority mail boxes online from the post office (usps.com) to ship my work in. You could also pick some up at your local post office. You will also need a good postal scale to weigh your packages. I won a brand new digital scale from an eBay auction for next to nothing.  I also ordered from eBay some shrink wrap and some poly bags to package my art with. In so doing and paying promptly I got some positive feedback which you want. That’s imperative to establishing yourself as trustworthy. Vow to never receive anything but positive feedback. Think GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE as your motto whether you’re selling or buying. Negative feedback can be death to your business. You may want to consider separating personal purchases with another account and keep your business separate and not mix the two if you’re concerned with privacy as other people can look at your feedback profile and see what you’ve purchased.
Also when it comes time to list your work, take good clear digital photos. This is what viewers are going to judge your work by. Bad photos may mean no bids. There should be no camera flash glare. Square them up. Crop out any unnecessary background using a photo editor program. You’re a professional so present it professionally.
In your eBay account you will go to the section on selling. The category you will want to list in is art direct from the artist. Write a good description for the title using good keywords for your art so people can find you. Think about what you would do to search for a particular type of art and if you didn’t know the artists name, how would you search for it? Don’t write a “beautiful joyous day under the clouds”. The only valid word would be clouds. Someone might search for that if they wanted a painting featuring that. Use those other adjectives in the descriptive field where you will write about your work.
Also set your work as an auction with a starting bid of only a penny. Did I hear you gasp in horror? That’s right I said a penny. Don’t set a reserve amount or bother with a buy now option. Why? People who go to eBay are looking for a deal. Not to pay full retail. They are not there to buy but to WIN. Setting your auction at only a penny encourages bidding. When someone else notices a bid they sometimes want what other people want so they too want to bid, but then the other person doesn’t want to lose so they bid again and so on. This is what has the potential to drive the price up and up. So far in my own experience the results have varied in winning bids from $41-$400. I still consider this as being positive for just starting out. In part one of selling art on eBay I mentioned that within just the first 30 days, 13 paintings sold with a retail of nearly $2000. I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same results, but, if you’re prolific enough in offering several pieces each week you increase the potential amount of your earnings. Also set the time of your auction to run for 7 days and set the start and end time to 6PM Pacific Time. I first chose Friday evenings, but many people are out and about on Fridays, so I switched to Sunday. If you have multiple offerings, select the start and end times for each auction item 5 minutes apart. The reason is if someone misses out on one item they may have time to bid on another of your works.
If you were going to strive to use eBay as a primary source in your marketing, it would be best to have 4-6 artworks to sell each week.  I try to at least have something every week, but life happens and I may not get something out due to other priorities. However, if you’re going to do this, don’t give up or quit too soon. Do it with a mind set of sticking with it. In essence you’re trying to develop a side business with your art that can help get your name out, but do it just as professionally as your other endeavors and realize it may take some time to get noticed. Even if you do not want to develop it as a side business, you could look at it as a means to an end. For example: You want to make a painting trip or to scout out galleries in other cities and you would like to fund the project, eBay could help you to achieve that goal.
There’s a lot more to this and I’m not trying to write a book on it because there’s already one out there that’s very good. What I have just shared includes some of the points that I learned from the book “The Mystique of Marketing Art on eBay” written by Jack White. If you think selling art on eBay would be of interest to you I would suggest buying his book. I did. It’s an easy read and it’s short and gets to the heart of the matter. Reading it will help you from making needless mistakes that could hinder your success. The tips you will learn from this book will save you time and disappointment and help you decide whether or not eBay is a good fit for you. You can take a look here as well as Jack White’s other marketing books. http://www.senkarikstuff.com/books.htm
If I have something listed on eBay at this particular time, you can see an example of how I set my listing up by visiting http://www.ebay.com/usr/hagermanart and click on one of the listings. If nothing is listed, I’m probably working on a studio painting.
Hope this will help you consider selling art on eBay as an alternative to taking on a “regular” job should circumstances lead you to consider that as an option or simply consider it as an added revenue stream to your current art marketing mix or as a means to fund some other art endeavor.
If you have other thoughts about using eBay or you’ve had experiences with it, negative or positive, please share.

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How to Sell Art on eBay Part One

It’s undeniable that eBay has all but become a household word with a worldwide audience. Many are making their livelihoods through it or using it as a means to unload what’s overflowing in their garage or storage. But, can an artist make a living or supplement their income by selling their art on eBay? The answer is yes, but it will likely take an adjustment in attitude as it did mine for any hope of success. Read on to find out.

No Yes Maybe sign with art work background
I never considered eBay in selling art; after all I’ve been a professional artist for 30 plus years, I show my work in galleries and I’ve had one person shows in a museum setting with my landscape paintings consistently selling for several thousand dollars. So why would I consider it? Because it’s another potential stream of income you can add to your marketing mix.
Another reason is this: If you read my other post titled Pricing and the Value of Art, I mentioned the art market. As with any type of market it too will fluctuate. Sometimes an artist can’t keep up with the demand, other times the market slows for various reasons such as a downtown in the overall economy, and those wonderful sales have now slowed to a crawl, but your bills haven’t. They just keep on coming and seem to multiple like rabbits all the while your savings are disappearing like green grass during a drought.
So what is an artist to do? Some artists feel forced into taking on a “regular” job to pay their bills, or other part time work, knowing this can often leave little time for their art and sap their creativity. Or they can look into other potential streams of income using their art. Many artists, teach art, write art books whether hard print or electronic, have prints, cards and so forth,  or they even start hitting the art show circuit in an effort to put their work before more people. Each of these has their own costs involved and some more so than others to make them pay off.  However, in making choices, try to work smarter, not harder.
I knew for myself that I already had a full plate, but I wanted to add another source of income into the mix, so that if one income stream slowed I could fall back on another for a time to compensate. I think that’s called not keeping all your eggs in one basket. What I wanted was something that could be done without a lot of cost in overhead, time or leave me spent of my creativity, but at the same time advertise my work and get my name out there before a larger audience.
This is where eBay entered the picture. You might think; “I don’t know how to sell art on ebay,” or “Oh I could never do that. That would be beneath me to put my art on eBay. That’s selling out!” OK fine. Go fill out a job application and take on extra work as your other income stream and one which you’ll probably hate. Or you can adjust your attitude towards eBay as I did.
Maybe this will peak your interest. In just a little over the first 30 days of my eBay experience, I put up 13 small paintings, sold all 13 and retailed nearly $2000.00. I now have new collectors, I’ve shipped work out to two different states and within the local area I have sold to new clients who have never purchased work from me before. Additionally in reviewing the bidding history,and the bidder’s area codes I have seen bidders in the United States from the North, South, East and West. This means my art work and name has been put before others that I have not met or who have unlikely been in one of my galleries, but who are now familiar with my work.  Instead of spending $2000 on advertising hoping for a return on investment, I felt like I was getting paid to advertise instead! Also the amount of time and cost to my creative energy was less than what it would have been if I decided as an alternative income stream to take on part time work that’s unrelated to art.
However, I was not going to sell my regular gallery work on eBay. That I knew for certain. The materials and time I spend on creating those would make my overhead too high with not enough return, plus I did not want to undermine my gallery sales. So I decided to create another product which kept my costs down, but still produced a great product that would be a good match for an eBay audience. I liken it to a sketch, study or plein air work, that is not a part of my gallery work. Some of you artists may already have alternative works in the way of sketches or plein air studies that are not a part of your regular studio work or that you would be selling in your galleries, yet are nice art works in their own right. We’re not comparing apples to apples here. They’re a totally different fruit and you may already have a studio full of them.  If they’re not of a particular use to you anymore why not sell them? Shouldn’t you at least be able to get something back from your labor and have the advantage of creating a little more studio space in the process? Would you give a thumbs down to a sketch by Rembrandt just because it wasn’t his “regular” work? I don’t think so, so don’t give a thumbs down to your own work. Alternatively, can you use your talent to make a product that differs from your regular if you don’t have a studio full of alternative work that can help advertise your name while still providing a great value to your eBay audience? Think about it.

In Part Two of Selling Art on eBay, I will discuss what I did and what you would need to do in order to sell your own art on eBay. Plus I’ll tell you about a great book I read that helped change my point of view as well as serving as a valuable guide to eBay selling.

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Small Landscape Painting for eBay Auction September 15 – 22, 2013

A Field of Red Flowers is my latest small landscape oil painting for my eBay auction running Sept. 15-22, 2013. The auction starts at 6 PM Pacific Time. To view the listing once it starts you can go here: http://myworld.ebay.com/hagermanart

Hagerman Oil Painting_Field of Red Flowers_ copyright 2013

A friend of ours gave me a few photos from around the Fredericskburg, TX area a beautiful part of the Texas Hill Country. One of them caught my eye of a field of red Indian Fire Wheel or Galaridia’s and decided it would make a nice small landscape painting. However, the manner in which I painted the flowers gives me more of the idea of red poppies which I like. So, I’ll just let the viewer decide which flower they like best, thus the generic flower title of “A Field of Red.” I really liked the vibrancy and the color resonates with the surrounding greens which is the complimentary color of red. I haven’t had opportunity of late to experiment with such vibrant reds so it was a lot of fun.

As an update, I’ve painted a similar composition titled: “Scarlet Pasture,”  based on one of my own photos. However, the flowers were yellow. No problem. This painting will go up on my eBay auction starting Sept. 22, 2013 at 6 PM Pacific Time. The above painting has already generated several bids, so if you miss out, here’s another option. Plus whoever, wins, this would make a great companion piece!

William Hagerman small landscape oil painting titled: "Scarlet Pasture" featuring red poppies

Working with these vivid red colors makes me want to do a larger studio painting featuring these beautiful flowers! Perhaps I will since I’ll soon start on some studio works having had several canvases stretched for me. (I decided to delegate instead of doing it myself to give me a break!) One landscape painting planned will be of an old German farm house. Another painting will feature some old barns I saw out in California. I’ll post them as I get them done. I’ll try to share the stages of the paintings as I progress as well. So check back.

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Some Do Not Do’s When Selling Art

Another title for this post could be “Prairie Dogs Can’t Sell Art.” Please read on.

My wife and I attended Septemberfest in Midland, Texas, which is an annual outdoor art festival on the grounds of the Museum of the Southwest to enjoy an afternoon of art and music. We also enjoyed watching a young child of about 6 dancing his little heart out in front of the stage. He wasn’t a scheduled performer, but he still took a bow and received clapping from the audience. That held our smile longer than anything that day.

As we made our way through the booth exhibits I couldn’t help but think about some of the Do Not Do’s when it comes to selling art that I learned from two marketing books written by Jack White, titled: “The Mystery of Making It” and “The Magic of Selling Art.” Before I elaborate on these books let me first tell you about what we experienced at the art festival.

One of the first booths that we went to was by an artist working in graphite pencil with western subject matter. We said hello to the artist first. My wife asked if she was the artist. I asked where she was from. The conversation was one sided. I took a liking to one of the small works of a well drawn horse head located at the bottom edge of her exhibit. I said out loud how I liked it. My wife also mentioned out loud which work she liked. I continued to look at the other artist’s work and then went back to the horse head drawing and said to my wife again out loud and pointing with my arm extended and finger pointing “I like that one!” The artist never got off her perch she was sitting on, nor offered to pick the work up so I could see it better, nor told me anything else that would tell me about the work, or why it was created or if it had any special meaning. NOTHING!! Helloooo, anybody home?? I can just imagine the artist saying in her mind “Oh I hope he buys it.” My wife did buy a set of $5 note cards from her to send to her brother. Actually she didn’t buy it from her, she just selected something off the card display rack and handed it to her to purchase it.

Another exhibitor was talking on her cell phone. She momentarily stopped to make some mention about her jewelry work and that it was done in sterling silver (I think) at which point she went back to her conversation on the phone.  OK. Bye, Bye.

Then we came upon an exhibitor with handcrafted wood boxes with different inlays of wood. We like boxes. Boxes with lids and drawers oh my! You can’t help but lift one to see what’s inside. The artist was sitting back in his booth. Never said a greeting, hello, welcome, thanks for stopping by, get out of my booth, drop dead. NOTHING!! However, I did learn he wasn’t mute because before we left his booth I did over hear him say to another artist, “Well, it looks like things are slowing down.” Good grief Charlie Brown.

Another exhibitor exuberantly popped forward and said “If there’s anything I can help you with, let me know,” and then quickly retreated into the recesses of their exhibit booth. Kind of reminded me of a Prairie Dog, who popped his little head out of his hole in the ground, sensed danger and retreated. Prairie Dogs can’t sell art either.

The above examples are of what NOT to do if you want to sell your work. My wife bought the note cards and I also bought a necklace for my wife at the festival, but that’s because she already has a good eye for jewelry, when it’s well made, at a good price and even better when it’s at a bargain price. I like that. But, the sell didn’t happen because of any special assistance on the part of the artisan.

I wonder how many of the above artists belly ached over how awful sales were and that they’d probably never be back to this festival because of people who have no appreciation for art. Where’s the appreciation of those who paid their fee to attend the festival, have to park a considerable distance and then walk some more through the maze of tents on a hot afternoon and then when we do come to a particular booth, we’re ignored? I know it costs artists to go and do these kind of shows, and it’s a lot of work to set up, but they decided to be there, so drop the attitude that those who attend should all bow and hail booth number 10 in the southwest corner. (Don’t know if there was such a booth, but sometimes you get that feeling of attitude floating around in the air although you do get some pleasant breezes by artisans who at least try.)

Perhaps this comes from artists who are gifted at their craft, but terribly lacking in knowing how to sell or jump-start a conversation. We’re not talking high pressure used car salesman tactics. No one likes to be sold. No one says, I’m going to go and be sold a car. Or I’m going to go and be sold a painting. No, they say I’m going to go and “Buy” a painting or I’m going to go and “Buy” a car. Effective selling is helping a person to buy what they want and be happy about doing so while giving them reassurance that they’ve made a good decision and that the art is going to enrich their life.

That’s where the above mentioned books were eye opening and instructive. The author, Jack White is a professional artist and was selected as State Artist of Texas in the 1970’s. He’s also husband to artist Mikki Senkarik. The first book I read was the Mystery of Making It. The heart of the book is the story of how with his guidance he catapulted the sales of his wife’s paintings starting in 1990 and went past three million in retail sales for her before the year 2000.
I also learned something about how much work to show at a time that actually helped to increase sales and what number of works caused sales to drop.
Then I read his Magic of Selling Art.  This is where he teaches you how to ‘soft sell’ and do so without ever resorting to lying to your customers. Basically it’s how to engage visitors to your exhibits or shows by asking them questions that can’t be answered with yes or no. Too many artists and even gallery personnel will greet a customer with “Is there anything I can help you with?” The general reply is “no we’re just looking.” They cut you off so as not to be sold. But if you ask them a question such as “Where are you folks from or with so many attending the festival where did you find a place to park? That’s a lovely necklace or handsome watch, where did you get it? Essentially people like to talk about themselves when someone else genuinely wants to know. A dialogue is started and in the process you may get to know their likes. They see you smile at them. They start to like you. Ask another question. What kind of art do you collect? If they linger looking at a piece ask: What do you like about that piece or where are you thinking of hanging this little gem? Essentially you’re working them towards closing a sale without their being “sold.”

I liken the advice from Jack’s books, not to that of a bald headed man trying to sell amazing hair growth tonic, but to someone with true to life examples in the art of selling. His and his wife’s experiences and what worked for them, written by an artist for artists. By the way, Jack also has a full set of hair.

Here’s the link to review his series of books on his wife’s website that if you’re an artist or in any field in which you have to sell something, you’ll benefit from reading.

http://www.senkarikstuff.com/books.htm

In an upcoming post I will write about his book “The Mystique of Marketing Art on eBay” and my own recent experiences following the advice I learned in this book.

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Teaching Art

Teaching art has been a part of my life since the age of 15 when I taught my very first art lessons. Throughout those years and into the present, I’ve always endeavored to share what I know and what I’ve learned along the way. I just had opportunity to share some of that accumulated knowledge with a nice group of people on September 6, 2013 at the Ginger Lily, a small studio and gallery in the West Texas town of Lamesa.

In regards to the class, owner Ginger Witte, said this:  “I learned more about oil painting today, than I’ve learned in the last 40 years, combined! THANK YOU! Your entire presentation was phenomenal!”

She also stated this on her Facebook page. “An amazing amount of information, wonderful presentation with examples, continuous personal attention and consistent help. Great demonstrations – a FULL day of oil painting! William Hagerman is a Fabulous teacher! WoW!”

I appreciate those comments, but I also really appreciate the students and the questions they ask. This is what makes it special for me. I never consider any questions as being stupid ones, even if they think so. Teaching forces me to translate the why’s and what’s of oil painting, often using verbal illustrations to help the students grasp certain concepts as well as offering encouragement and motivation to continue in their artistic pursuits. Plus, it reminds me of the reasons I do what I do in my own paintings. So teaching often teaches me!

The following is me reviewing and discussing some of the basics of oil painting such as how to analyze color and mix it with the classes rapt attention. Thankfully no one fell asleep during the morning lecture!

William Hagerman Teaching Art at the Ginger Lily in Lamesa, TX

Here, I’m discussing and preparing to do a small demonstration to assist a student with the beginning stages of their painting as others also look on.

William Hagerman Teaching Art at the Ginger Lily in Lamesa, TX

All in all, It was a fun filled day of art instruction and painting for everyone. I look forward to the next months session and see their progress.

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An Experiment in Color

Lakeside Cabin 9x12 oil painting by William Hagerman for eBay auction

This new little 9×12 painting listed on my eBay auction ending September 8, 2013 was a fun little experiment. Not that the subject matter was unique as it’s a simple little scene of a lakeside cabin at night. What is different is the color scheme of which is not generally associated with a night scene. Nor is it one that I have ever used before.

The technique although not a new one, but one that I seldom employ in which an under-painting in orange tones was first applied. This underneath layer influences the upper layers. I primarily wanted the effect to appear in the sky. After the first layer was dry, I over-painted with a yellowish green of low intensity. It was brushed on in a somewhat translucent application. I did not want to obscure the tone underneath. The result is it created a great mood to the painting. I hope to explore this color scheme more in depth in the future and apply it to one of my gallery or studio paintings once I hit upon the right subject and composition.

Again, you can catch my eBay paintings at: http://myworld.ebay.com/hagermanartI will try to have some painting offered each week, depending on my schedule. If nothing is posted, check back.

Also I will be teaching a full day art class in oil painting in Lamesa, TX at the Ginger Lily at 316 N. Austin Ave. I’ll share that experience in my next post.

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