SELLING OUT: How it’s going

In this post I declared my intentions to start uploading a ton of simple designs to my print on demand sites in the year 2022. After the explosion of AI generated images, I already can’t believe that I once wrote that I worried about the ethics of manipulating stock art that I bought the rights to use…what a difference a year makes.

Anyway… I managed to cram a total of 200+ designs into my two most frequently used print-on-demand stores before the year ended, and have been doing my best to shove more in as we enter 2023. So the question becomes: did it help?

The answer is yes, it appears to have led to a significant increase in Redbubble sales. Teepublic ended up being about the same overall, although it seems to be picking up steam this year with 7 sales already this month.

Hold up. “SEVEN?”

Yeaaaaaahh all of this experimenting I have been doing is with an E X T R E M E L Y tiny amount of sales. As much as Redbubble assures me I am “on the way to becoming a Redbubble superstar!!!!!” it’s more like an Andy Warhol “Factory” superstar, ie the title doesn’t mean anything in terms of mainstream folks knowing anything about your brand, or earning anything approaching a living wage.

That said, let us look at my pathetic efforts to increase my even more pathetic print-on-demand sales numbers.

There you have it, the above is all the money I have made so far through Redbubble and Teepublic. I have had the odd society6 and Fine Art America sale here and there, but I haven’t been as consistently focused on either of those stores.

ANALYSIS

Here’s what I noticed happening over the last year or so as a result of my increased relatable schlock-designing efforts.

  1. Both stores experienced more unique sales in 2022. In the case of Teepublic’s “33 sales” of 2021, 20 of those are the same sticker that were all purchased in one order. Hence, there were 13 unique sales in 2021, as opposed to 18 in 2022 with an additional 7 following close on those for 2023.
  2. Bumping up the margins on the stickers on Redbubble helped immensely. The first few years, I was making as little as $0.16 on a sticker or magnet. Now, you still can’t change the margins on Teepublic, so prepare to make $0.50 on your stickers and magnets as of this writing. But at least my margins on Redbubble are a lot better now.
  3. Roughly two thirds of the newer sales were the simpler/”sellout” designs I made, meaning one third was older and more serious art designs that got noticed now that new eyes were on my shops.
  4. When I designed for newer Redbubble categories like jigsaw puzzles, people bought ’em.
  5. People seem to be responding positively to art that has words and phrases associated with it.

Conclusion

Making a lot of simpler designs and updating with them often seems to be helpful. Not only did I make more money than in previous years, my more serious and older art pieces got a second chance! Now more of them have gone to a good home. I will definitely continue to make simple designs in between my serious commissions and passion projects.

I hereby declare the Sellout Experiment of 2022 to have been a success. Twelve dollars turned into thirty-six! Six sales became twenty-one! BOY HOWDY!

initial sketch of the fanged wight guarding his treasure
If I didn’t sit down, I may FAINT

further sellout goals for 2023

I have recently read that Redbubble favors artists who upload once or twice a week, but I haven’t tested this so I can’t confirm it. Sounds like the next thing for me to test out!

I have lost all respect for Twitter so I don’t mind spamming it with self promotion. Who cares anymore!

I figured out how to make things go on sale on Etsy so I’ll hold sales and promotions and things such as that, or let people know when sales COMPLETELY BEYOND MY CONTROL hit my print-on-demand shops.

I have started experimenting with tagging my work according to trends. I am not energetic enough to create art to follow trends, but at least I can shovel them into apropos trending categories.

What will come of it all? Will twenty sales turn into *gasp* SIXTY?!?!?!?!? I sure hope I don’t get a big head and forget all my friends when I strike it rich.

See you in a year, fellow kids!

OR YOU CAN…

when ai imagery destroyed my dream, it saved me as an artist.

All my art life (which is actually all my life now that I think about it) I have worked to become a better and better artist. At some point, this became practicing every day to become a more technically excellent artist. I wanted very much to have a more steady hand, more economy of line, better compositions, superior color combinations, more dynamic movement, a better grasp of anatomy, and a better command of an ever-growing box of tools, including digital tools.

Then AI generated images came along.

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Loving Your Rejects and Yourself

Sometimes, a piece I do won’t be used by my client.

Rejection can be surprising and downright disappointing. If I recall correctly, the two pieces below were actually declined right around the same time. It was very tempting to wallow and mope and decide there was no point in trying anymore because clearly, no one wanted me in their book ever again. Maybe you’ve felt the same if you got a rejection cluster.

Instead of giving up though, I got back up. I certainly allowed myself some wallowing and moping, sure! …But then I took a deep breath and got back to the business of making the next thing I was passionate about.

Here’s the story of how that went. Continue reading

More Internals for Pelgrane Press

These were actually completed back in November of 2018, shortly after I finally got permission to post my first couple of rounds of work for Pelgrane Press. I always have trouble keeping track of when publications come out and I can’t post the art until they do, so I frequently end up updating actual professional illustrations waaaaaay after I make them!

C’est la vie. I think these are awesome monsters though. I wouldn’t want to face down any of these fiends!! See them all below: Continue reading

Some Recent Work for Printed in Blood Artbooks

A detail of the red death himself, after Bernie Wrightsons style

Here’s the newest one, an AWESOME tribute to Bernie Wrightson! I’ve dug him ever since my friend Carl, guitarist and comic art lover and maker extraordinaire, introduced me to him. So of course I had to submit something to the book. I made it, too!

Can’t go whole hog since it’s not printed up yet, but here’s a detail, the placeholder book cover, and the background of the piece.

Before that, I got this beauty into the Aliens artbook.

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Two Book Covers with Female Protagonists

A strong female space marine rallies her troops during a bloody firefight on a distant planet their spaceship crashed in the background

First in chronological order was this cover for Battle Cry by Eric Glocker! It’s an exciting read and you can find it here.

A strong female space marine rallies her troops during a bloody firefight on a distant planet their spaceship crashed in the background

Secondly, at the beginning of 2022 I also did the first edition of what would later go on to become The Girl Who Dreams in Green by Adrienne Mayse.

A teenage girl uncertainly approaches a burning forest led on by a fox and a singed bluebird

She describes her gentle and thought provoking book better than I ever could, so I’ll give her the floor:

The full front and back cover for the first edition of Blue Feathers Bright Flames by Adrienne Mayse before it became The Girl Who Dreams in Green

Working on both was a real pleasure and both taught me a lot. Adrienne especially got me interested in different methods of making book covers, something I plan to experiment with in the future.

Commissions of this type start from scratch and involve communication between me and you throughout the process. I charge a flat rate of $500 USD for a front book cover commission. This is based upon my $35/hour freelance rate and the fact that book covers take me 20+ hours to make. The flat rate is a $200 discount.

A sketch, followed by revisions, and then a final piece, followed by one more round of (reasonable) revisions is included in this price, as well as formatting your files to the publisher(s) of your choice and customizing the text on the cover. If you need final revisions in excess of one (1) hour of work, I will begin charging an additional $35/hour in addition to the flat rate.

ADD-ONS: Back cover/wraparound +$70, signed 8×10 prints $10 + shipping.

The Goddess of Closed Eyes

This was the creepy phrase that a friend’s child recently uttered at the snack table (or something like that). My buddy forthwith wanted to see what a “Goddess of Closed Eyes” would look like. So, I did my best to oblige. I took a more muted and sepia horror magazine illustration I had done years previously and did my best to make it a psychedelic riot of eyes fit for a goddess! Hopefully I did my friends proud. Publishing on Christmas because…this is a Christmas present of course! Can’t you tell by how festive and merry it is?

Selling out…FOR FUN?! as a digital artist

bruh what r you doin or how I learned to start selling out and BRUH

In the past, I have bared my withered, jaded artistic soul to you all on the subjects of Popularity, Ambition, Commission Work, Spec Work, and Screw Ups. Today, I am going to tackle SELLING OUT. From a PRO SELLOUT STANDPOINT NO LESS! So strap in, sharpen your pitchforks, light those torches …or just scroll to the end for a wealth of tips on how to sell out efficiently so you don’t have to do all the tedious research I did.

Selling Out: An Overview

So first off, what do I mean by “selling out?” For my purposes, I’m not talking about making money from your own art, unless you’re literally making art you hate for money. Actually, I’m talking about completely phoning it in and using all of your painstakingly acquired design skills to quickly make stock art and fonts into designs you can sell. I am talking about the laziest, most money-grubbing (legal!!!!) use of your artist skills imaginable. 

WARNING: I’m going to talk about sellout art and sellout artists a LOT until you get over any kneejerk reactions you might have to that phrase. Because I might be a little sick of artists just …never being expected to make any money from their hard-won art and design skills, or only being allowed to make money in a certain way that is sufficiently prestigious or noble.

Generally, when artists decide to “sell out,” it’s a financial decision. Their pleasure from personal expression isn’t enough to offset their monetary needs, so they gloomily resort to selling out in order to survive. I don’t think selling out is automatically a BAD thing, as you might have guessed, but I’m not interested in doing it for survival. I’m interested in doing it for FUN. Continue reading

Juvenilia

I’m sure it’s hard to believe, but even I was a kid once. A very creepy and morbid one, as you may have guessed. And being the very obsessive and painstaking person I am (in some regards), I have preserved almost every scrap of art I have ever made in my entire life. This website in itself can serve as somewhat of a window into my journey as an artist, since I have been updating it since 2010. But even before that, I was making art. And since most of that childhood art is now irreparably damaged, I have been photographing and backing up every single lick of it before burning it in a series of bonfires with my best friends.

Here are a few of the pieces I have documented (there are hundreds, if not thousands, in total). Hover over each image to see the story behind it, or click for a bigger view with the description.

The Colour Out of Space revamp

Recently for the 2021 Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana Spooky Art Show, I redid a piece I have been meaning to revisit for a really long time: The Colour Out of Space.

Here’s the new piece I did in 2021:

And here is the first time I attempted to draw the story, back in 2012. At that time, I did a “down the well” view instead of the squirming mass of colors beneath, before all Hell broke loose and the alien evil emerged.

I took more of a “vexel” approach with the 2012 one, although I wanted to use strange colors and inorganic shapes in the new one too. Overall, when I went back to look at my old work, I enjoyed seeing the differences between the two approaches! I definitely think I’ve branched out more in the years since 2012.

Which style do you prefer?

 

 

 

What the Hell Are You All Doing: Or, How I Learned to Stop Fearing Twitter and Love the Bomb

a metallic purple space worm erupting from a surreal ruby red sandy landscape kind of dune ish but not scifi

So, it’s 2021. The world is in flames. Millions are dead. What are we all up to?

I’ll go first. I’m working on a book cover for a cool novel.

The novel, called Blue Feathers, Bright Flames, is one of three projects I’m really excited about at the moment. The second is illustrations for my own book, and the third is a bunch of leggings ideas I want to make for Whimsies Leggings. So that will all be a lot of fun, I expect. Truthfully though, I’m even more excited about watching my children flop around, so that’s what I’m doing most of the time. But this is an art blog so

I’ve also adjusted my expectations…a LOT.

A rainbow with the words no one cares above it
A lot-A lot.

For one, my novel needs a lot more work! It’s been stuck in Development Hell since April 2020, as the pandemic wreaked havoc on different plans I had for it involving collaborators. That has all had to be scrapped. No one is coming. But, I’m ready. Let’s do this, Me.

I’ve also recently realized that clients change over time just like I do. This was the year that I learned that a client who has needed my help in the past won’t necessarily need it going forward. I had to grieve for an old business relationship or two, but ultimately it just meant I had more time to help other people.

And I finally figured out how to do social media.

Continue reading

AMBITION: 25 YEARS OF BEING THAT GUY

As a part-time freelance artist, I’ve raised money for day trips and dates, medical help for family members and friends, art supplies, booth rentals, and presents. I even managed to raise some money for charity. I’ve had a pretty good run! I’ve been able to do many things I could not have otherwise done.

It is with these things in mind that I will now proceed to destroy my artistic reputation forever.

Lol destroy your what?

I’ve been a jerk more times than I can count, although I will attempt to count them for this article. But one common thread has united virtually all of my artistic knavery.

I speak of AMBITION.

Almost every (art related) act I’m ashamed of stemmed from my artistic ambitions. It’s not pretty! But if you’ve seen my gallery, you already know that “pretty” is not the goal here, so let’s get started.

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Inexpensive Tarot Art Commissions in time for Christmas!

A piece of original art of the tarot card The Moon depicting a woman's face floating over spider lilies in a line heavy style with neon colors
I’d like to help a friend with some medical bills and I feel like tarot card art might be a nice Christmas gift for someone out there. If you’d like one, they’re $10 in the style you see below. Your art file will NOT be watermarked but I will happily share a small watermarked version online with your links in the description.
https://paypal.me/sandpaperdaisyEmail reference pics to: sandpaperdaisy@gmail.com

A piece of original art of the tarot card The Moon depicting a woman's face floating over spider lilies in a line heavy style with neon colors

The word is Zain: Arthur Machen’s The Terror

A many armed angel of death descends from the moon in a cloud of scarlet moths.

I stayed up entirely too late last night making this. The funny thing was, I didn’t plan to make it beforehand at all. Not even earlier that day.

…I just up and made it. (While watching Pink Floyd’s The Wall.)

But, I think I can point to the reason I felt so compelled to create this piece in particular. I had an incredibly stressful weekend, coupled with an ever-sharpening sense of my own mortality. Locally, covid-19 cases and deaths continue to break daily and monthly records and yesterday was no exception. People got sick yesterday, plans were cancelled…and then I surprised myself by making a painting based upon Arthur Machen’s story of a deadly force of nature killing a family isolated in their house.

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Are You Ready to Build a Fanbase? Yeah, Me Too.

A terrified girl sprawled on the snow looking up at a menacing shadow covering her.

Let me start out by saying WE ARE IN AN EXPERIMENT TOGETHER.

I’m a prolific and modestly successful obscure artist. At the time of this writing, 251 people have a passing awareness of me on Twitter, 252 on Facebook, and 5 on Patreon. I think most of them overlap, so let’s call that 252 fans total. Weed out the bots and people who have abandoned the platforms and let’s call it 200.

I have been active as an artist online since 1995. This should tell you that I am not an authority on building a fanbase. You’re not here to listen to my expert advice, you’re here to observe me succeed or fail, and try some of the same things if you’re interested.

What could go wrong?

Ready to start experimenting? Let’s go!

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All June Sales Will Be Donated to BlackLivesMatter

A black hole surrounded by flaming petals against a space backdrop. Detail of the digital painting SUNflower by Heather Landry

Hey guys! I’ll be donating any art revenue I make in June to help out with #BlackLivesMatter. I’ll be making my decision(s) closer to when I have a more sizable donation pool, but I welcome any input on good organizations to throw money at!

Currently, I’ve gathered money from my patreon, society6 and a recent freelance job, and I’ll also be donating the sales of these two pieces at the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana‘s upcoming Unsheltered show (assuming they make it in).

And if I make any other print on demand sales, any of you guys email me for a print, or I do any more freelance work in the month of June, that money will be donated as well. I may or may not do commissions to reward people for making donations of their own, but that’s more “iffy” since I’ve been having some humorously strong headaches recently.

Either way, feel free to drop any links of deserving organizations in the comments below! And I hope you all have a very safe month of June, filled with love and unity.

Plague Doctors and Other Strangers

An excerpt from the comic The Ocean by Heather Landry, a comic about the black plague of 1348, depicting a plague doctor and the imploring necrotic hand of a plague victim.

The medieval plague doctor, with his waxed robes and beaked mask, has always been an important part of my internal horror landscape. So much so that when our own real-life pandemic hit, a plague doctor sticker giveaway was the first thing I thought of in order to try to cheer a few people (and myself) up in the early weeks of the tragedy. I’m happy to report that it did just that! I sent out lots of letters and everyone who requested them was delighted to get a little “extra” with their stickers: a little sketch of a plague doctor (often with a big heart on his robe or doing something silly like pushing a shopping cart) telling them to “Stay Safe!”

Now that the giveaway is over, I thought it might be nice to commemorate the event with some more glimpses of plague doctor madness. Continue reading