Friday, April 16, 2010

Internet Artisan Interview - the painted brush

I am just amazed at the talent of some people I meet on Etsy. Shauna is one of those people. Everything she touches is a work of art. I first noticed her books, which have her artwork on the covers. Then I started looking at her acrylics and prints, which are very lovely and oh so colorful. When I saw the furniture she creates, I was hooked. She has three shops; two are currently up and running. Hopefully, she will have items in the third shop soon. Even though her blog has been left alone for some time, you can learn more about Shauna from her website. Here's a little intro to her artwork:

  • What's the name of your business/shop?
I currently have three shops. The foundation shop is “The Painted Brush” (.etsy.com). Since my artistic voice is akin to having multiple personalities, I decided to open the other shops to streamline my designs and simplify the shopping process for the buyers. My second “art” shop is “Vivyx.etsy.com”, featuring my more vibrant and whimsical works. The third shop which will hopefully be fully active this week is “Coffeespotcards.etsy.com”. This shop features just fun items created from paper such as notebooks, coasters, bookmarks, binders, photo albums and of course cards.

  • Do you have a registered domain name and/or a blog?
My fine art is can be found at www.shaunamorrissey.com. My blog started, then stumbled…then stalled. I am working on redefining my blog's purpose but until my vision crystallizes it will just hangout in cyberspace.

  • What type of handmade products do you sell?
Primarily I am a painter…a fine artist would perhaps be another definition. While I love working with canvas and paint I understand the changing parameters of the buying public. Original canvases do sell but for many at a much slower pace. I love my creations and decided to find a way to present the art to the public in a more approachable way. My journal line is currently my favorite. Each journal is created entirely by me with great care. I think they are clean lined, well crafted and a wonderful alternative to buying larger scale art. I do have two distinct painting styles that lend themselves well to other creative home décor items such as clocks, coasters, spiral notebooks, bookmarks etc.

  • Show us a piece you recently finished
– This piece will be moving to Vivyx.etsy.com just as soon as I find the time! [it's over at The Painted Brush, the last time I looked!]
  • What are you working on right now? Any sketches?
Right now I am trying to get my two other shops off the ground. I did meet a wonderful young man this past week who has requested a painting of a coke bottle. At first I humored him a little saying I would do a painting when I got the chance…but now, I am intrigued by the thought of a still life featuring his very weathered antique coke bottle. Who knows what will come of it! Other than paintings I have just perfected my new affordable clocks. I just love them! They remind me of little pieces of candy. They will be featured in my new shop vivyx.etsy.com this weekend.
  • If you have a website or blog, what do you use for advertising? What do your avatars look like?
Right now I am trying to get my two other shops off the ground. I did meet a wonderful young man this past week who has requested a painting of a coke bottle. At first I humored him a little saying I would do a painting when I got the chance…but now, I am intrigued by the thought of a still life featuring his very weathered antique coke bottle. Who knows what will come of it! Other than paintings I have just perfected my new affordable clocks. I just love them! They remind me of little pieces of candy. They will be featured in my new shop vivyx.etsy.com this weekend.

  • If you have a website or blog, what do you use for advertising? What do your avatars look like?

I am new to online selling. To be honest, I was a little naïve as to how it worked and if making a living was even possible. Since starting on Etsy in the middle of December I have sold 23 items including some more expensive pieces! I was very surprised…and encouraged. I have focused primarily on free advertising such as craftgawker.com. This definitely increased my traffic. I post in forums and amazing individuals, such as yourself [I guess that's me, the storybeader], have found me and featured me in their successful blogs and treasuries. Other than that I twitter…with only small success…and relist a couple times a day. My avatar is one of my favorite paintings. The new shops don’t have an avatar yet…maybe today?

  • If you have a website or blog, tell us about your favorite widget.
Now you have surpassed my knowledge. I am slowly learning about widgets but haven’t gotten far.


  • Are you involved in social networking? What's your favorite and why? If you're not involved, you must have a good reason!
I do twitter but find it a strange world. Many people that I follow and that follow me seem to only want to post what has sold and then relisted. I will get 30 posts in 2 minutes from some. It feels spammy and gives me no idea of who the creator is. I have deleted some of these people from my following list because honestly they bore me! I do want to know what they sell but within reason. I would rather see posts about what they are currently working on, or even more personal messages (within reason).

I have a personal facebook page that I like a lot. It keeps me in touch with fellow artists that I might not see or talk to on a regular basis. I tried to set up a fanpage the other day but somehow it got lost. Like I said before, I am really new to this and not the most tech savvy! I also love Flickr. I love to see the pictures of other artists and their artistic process and studio spaces. It makes me feel more connected to the creators of such amazing products. The creativity out there is awe inspiring!


  • All of us can use a helpful business hint once a week. What's yours?
Belief in yourself is the number one tip. Negative self talk is the biggest creator of perceived failure. Doing what you love and being true to your individual artistic voice is what this world is all about, no matter what you create.

I started 10 years ago selling a wonderfully creative furniture line, all built and painted by me alone. (Go to www.shaunamorrissey.com and click on furniture to see a sampling). I started small and grew rapidly. I sold wholesale for 8 years. I went to the Buyers Market of American Craft in Philly. By all intents and purposes I was very successful. Then the market tanked and things got bleak. I had to stop selling wholesale when the shops stopped paying their bills. I thought I failed. My self talk got very negative. One day I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to redefine myself; to create a smaller more intimate product line. Etsy and places like it are the perfect venue to help redefine my business philosophy. Regardless of where you advertise or social media you participate in, you can be successful if you maintain your faith in yourself…and have good picture.

  • Do you have a "modus operandi" for computing the price of a handmade object? Tell us your formula?
Basically, cost times 4. To some this may seems steep but there are tons of hidden expenses that most people don’t include. Also, if a wholesaler is ever interested in your work you need to be able to offer them a discounted price; usually half retail. Wholesalers don’t like it if their customers can find you on the internet and purchase cheaper direct from you.

To create my cost: I time myself when creating just one piece. My labor is billed out at $12 per hour. Materials are calculated carefully i.e.: how much paper, how much ink, can I make other products from the left over material etc. Then I add an additional 10% to cover what I didn’t think of such as mistakes that require I start over.

Hidden costs people often overlook: babysitting if you have kids to give you time to work. Monthly internet fees, utilities for your studio space, rent if applicable, gas to and from post office, gas to get supplies, wear and tear on vehicle, shipping supplies, product development costs, photography equipment if applicable, wear and tear on tools and the list goes on. While you can’t figure out to the penny how much these incidentals cost having a buffer in your pricing is necessary.

I see people all the time who sell similar items and their prices are SOOOO low. I know that they are just trying to sell and make a living. At the end of the year however they will find that they paid their buyers to take their products instead of making any money. Having been there myself it breaks my heart but they will learn in their own time.

  • We'd love to see your little corner of the world, where you create.
I recently posted my studio space on Flickr. Just go to www.flickr.com/thepaintedbrush. I just redid my studio and love how I am finally organized! And it only took 8 years!

  • Where do you see your artwork in one year? Any plans in the works?
I hope to be creating for the rest of my life. In one year I would like to see my sales become steady, preferably a sale a day on average from each store would be ideal, of course more would be quite acceptable! I don’t really have any set plans in the works. I have learned that having a path but keeping it flexible works best for me. My life this year is unrecognizable from last year. I am doing things I never thought I would. I think I like the unpredictable nature of things, so for the time being I will just go with the flow.

  • OK, it's the storybeader's turn to pick a favorite!
This was very hard to do, because there are so many different ways Shauna presents her artwork. First of all, I love the colors. And I'm a practical person, so the books and furniture really appeal to me. I had to search around, but found my favorite print in her new shop; it's called "Waiting and Watching." This reminds me of our labs, when they used to look together out the window! Would be a wonderful present for DH!

4 comments:

memoriesforlifescrapbooks said...

She has such a great mix of pieces! Love the colors too :)

BeadedTail said...

I found her shop awhile back when searching for items to feature on my blog. I just love that dog print and her journals! I enjoyed reading her interview too!

Splendid Little Stars said...

very interesting painter! And just look at her lovely studio space!

Beth said...

She has great items!

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