Create a print business selling your art in 4 weeks or less (even if you have a full time job)

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When I was working at my 9 to 5 I remember the exact moment that changed my life

I stumbled into a book store after a long crappy day at my desk job. I noticed a book that almost jumped off the shelf at me. The 4 hour work week. I remember thinking how ridiculous it sounded but sure enough after reading the first chapter I was hooked. This book was all about choosing the most logical path given your talents and how to go about becoming financially independent and secure with them.   It was time to figure out how to live the life I always wanted which by this books definition, was to start with my first product. After a lot of thought and paying with a bunch of ideas the product that seemed the most clear to find a way to sell my art.I had the passion for it and had been creating it since I could remember so the next question I had to ask my self was how. “The 4 hour work week” didn’t talk much about art and I couldn’t find anything on the market for how to do this at-least  nothing that didn’t take a life time to achieve.  So I finally decided that if I was going to do this I was going to do it without a guide-book. I would need to do it on my own and pave my own path and create my own Blueprint. Here’s how I began.

 

 

the_4_hour_work_week

 

Step 1

Choosing my product

I decided to start with Landscape paintings and figured if I didn’t make it selling the prints I could at-least use them in my portfolio for matte painting or concept design (this is what I wanted to do with my career at the time not believing I could make it on my own). at the time my website brianleearts.com was a free WordPress site I set up. But it might as well have been just a Behance or Blogger site. I hadn’t touched it since school, and it got me my first art job (rotoscoping at a small post production company). My first question to myself was what are people willing to buy? It took me a long time to figure out that the only way to find out was to try. One thing I did to give myself some motivation and direction was looking at sites like national geographic, researching their top-selling photographs and most popular settings. I started saving a lot of reference photos to paint from. Next was taking action. I gave myself a strict goal of creating 100 paintings in 100 days.

 framing_productexample
step 2

Limiting distractions and creating the time:

I feat that doing this I would find out what people liked.  The problem was that I had a 9 to 5 job that would not allow me to do any of it. so my options were simple, work in the morning or work at night or both. How on earth was I going to find the time to do this? I knew the only way to do this would to make the commitment to myself. I feat that if I committed to doing this that I would. it’s funny when you have a goal set its a lot easier to say no to other distractions like going to the bar or waking up late. One thing that has gotten me pretty far in my career was my stubbornness. If I get an idea in my head I go for it whether it’s a bad idea or a good idea. After a lot of bad ideas I started learning how to choose good ideas instead. I dealt that this was one of them so I began getting up earlier going to be later anything I could do to keep pumping out my paintings.

 

Step 3

Building an Audience

I produced one painting a day Consistently, how did I do that? The power of digital art is amazing, working from photo reference and being able to sample colors from the reference was huge in being able to crank out finished paintings daily. This regular output allowed me to grow a large audience very quickly as each painting I created was posted on my WordPress website which also had capabilities of sending the post from the website to other social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin ect..

 

 

homa again, society 6 product

— One of my early paintings from the 100/100 project. I sold it on society 6

Step 4

Setting up a 3rd party shop

After finding that people were starting to get into my paintings s and asking where was the next one I decided it was time to try to see if anyone would buy one. I did a lot or research coming across sites like redouble, society 6 fine art America, and after looking at al the numbers went with society 6 because of their base pricing model. That means that every painting you post costs a base price at they collect and you can prove as high as you want above that which is all yours, that was in 2014. I took a day or two to get most of my 100 paintings up and after that it was all about marketing them, which I knew nothing about. Had I know then what I know now I would have had my shop set up before the 100 painting challenge. That way I could have sold and marketed at the same time while producing content each day. Content is the king of marketing. Although knowing nothing about marketing I had built up a decent following so when I did announce my shop opening there were interested customers. I sold 7 prints and made a few hundred bucks which gave me the confidence to keep going. It also made me see how much I was losing to society 6 ever time I sold a print. Never satisfied I decided to build my own shop.

 

print products, example for digital art nomad, teaching people how to sell their art

– Print product from one of my latest shops for kids: WIP

 
Step 5 Building a Personal Shop

WordPress being the powerful platform it is had limitations in the .com version, the version where you didn’t need to buy a domain. But .org version allowed for me to add a free plugin to my website called Woocomerce. For the price of a domain (12.00) I switched over to the WordPress.org  site and signed up with Bluehost to register my domain and host it. This allowed me to plugin Woocomerce and gave me full control over my pricing and my profits. I also found out about Etsy around the same time and between selling prints on my site and through Etsy I began to see a much better system of running a print shop. Things spiraled and snow-balled from there and this is when I began learning about starting a business. But that’s another discussion. If your interested in learning more about setting up a legitimate LLC business let me know. If you want to learn more about building shops for free let me know. Otherwise for a monthly fee that builds a shop for you, you can use Shopify. But, call me selfish I like to keep my outgoing cash to a limit so I invest the time to learn how to create my shops for free.

 

 
Step 6  Taking what I learned and finding new direction

In my next project I will choose a subject that’s more colorful more commercial and more sellable. But I never would have known what that was unless I did what I did and received feedback. The most critical advise I received was that my painting were great they were just dark. I learned that although I may think something is beautiful that doesn’t mean they will buy it and hang it up on their wall. Once receiving this critique I began trying different things, I loosened up more played with color and brought in more light and started selling more sketchy types of content and things picked up, then I created a painting for a friend who had been hiking through the Rockies I did a quick and loose painting based on one of their favorite pictures of the trip. This has been one of the number one sellers in my print shop and funny enough it took the least amount of time it usually takes me. Paintings I thought would sell never sold and paintings I thought would flounder I sold the most of.

 

Your turn to get started

I encourage you to try this self challenge, if it’s not 100 paintings or drawings in 100 days see if you can do 4 paintings/drawings/ect. in 4 weeks. maybe try a series like spring winter fall summer theme. maybe you could make one for each approaching holiday. whatever it is, do it with passion and heart, people will resonate with that and give you feedback you need to take the next step. when submitting your art to social media be descriptive and ask questions like, “what do you want to see next? what do you like about this painting, what don’t you like about this drawing etc.”

 
It was these discoveries that lead me to my next blog post, How and Why I began selling colorful children’s books (coming soon)

 

Did you like this post? Have a topic you’d like me to cover? Let me know, by leaving a reply below. It gives me a ton of inspiration when i find out I’m helping others. That inspiration is what fuels the Digital Art Nomad blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to “Create a print business selling your art in 4 weeks or less (even if you have a full time job)

  • Jeanne Henrry
    2 years ago

    I am so proud of you and Jess. I very much enjoyed the digital nomad. Especially you sitting under the waterfall at the end.
    Are your 100 digital art pictures still for sale? If so How does one view them. And order?

    • brianleevfx@gmail.com
      2 years ago

      Aw thanks, that entire series can be found at http://www.brianleearts.com, just click on the painting you like and a blue shopping cart will appear (lower left). Please feel free to send me an email or give me a call 9517770654 🙂

      P.S a new series is coming soon all about Thailand.