Print

Become an Artist >> Browse Articles >> Life as an Artist

+5

Selling Your Work Online: The Etsy Option

Selling Your Work Online: The Etsy Option

Imagine a place where you could sell your art to an international audience. A place that was friendly and easy to work with, whose commission fees were small, and where you were able to control what the audience saw and read about your work.

Such a place is not just a figment of the imagination! It is real, and more and more artists are finding it to be a useful venue for selling and marketing their work. The place is Etsy.com.

Some may be familiar with Etsy.com as a website for craftspeople or those who sell vintage items, but Etsy also is a venue for fine artists looking for new ways to reach broad audiences and sell work.

My Story

My own venture into the world of Etsy started in the summer of 2007 when I was looking for a way to fund my project, The House Museum. The project consists of transforming my house in rural Newfoundland into a tourist attraction as a way of exploring how tourism can shape local culture – in this instance, a culture that is strongly based in hospitality.

A major aspect of the project is the fact that everything about it is free and open to the public. I don’t charge admission or have a gift shop (except one where I gave free gifts to visitors). It has created a conundrum as I have tried to figure out ways to keep the project running. At the time, I did not want anything I did as a fundraiser to be directly related to the experience of visiting The House Museum. Then, I remembered a friend showing me a website named Etsy. I found it again, did a little research and a plan began to hatch.

Within weeks, I had opened my own shop on Etsy, Wee Ball Yarns. I sell hand dyed and handspun yarn that I make while spending time between visitors at The House Museum. The shop gets its name from an island in the Bay of Islands where The House Museum is located.

Screen_shot_2011-03-02_at_3

One does not need to have an MBA to realize that selling handspun yarn by the skein is probably not the quickest, most cost effective way to make money, but I like it because it meets my criteria for not involving the Museum while still being part of Newfoundland culture, where hand spinning has strong roots. It’s also a good way to use my time when the Museum is open but without visitors. As my work takes on all media and ranges far and wide conceptually, this kind of adaptation feels appropriate.

As an added bonus, I have discovered a community of artists and craftspeople who share my love of making things by hand — and, who have shown a generosity with advice and ideas that is not usually associated with the art world.

In some ways, however, I adapted my goal to suit the prevailing emphasis of the site. Is Etsy.com really a good place for artists who want to do straight selling of their studio work? I asked several people who have a presence on Etsy and work in a variety of media and styles for their opinions.

Continue reading on the next page→


Find the right campus or online art or design program for you!