I got my first sale through RedBubble!
At first this was just a hugely exciting thing because I've been promoting it like mad and eagerly awaiting the moment when that email notification would come through:
You've sold work on RedBubble!
I was thrilled to go check my account and see what had been purchased. It turned out not to be a single sale but two sales. Someone has bought the posters of 'You Are Worthy' and 'Untitled Buddha'.
This double hit seemed extra exciting until I scrolled down to see what I'd made. My heart sank.
Thing is, I pay for my art out of my own pocket and a lot of why I have to work for someone else is because art is expensive. There's the cost of supplies: Brushes, paints, pallets, an easel, canvases, pens, pencils.
After that there's my time, which can be five to eight hours per painting. Got to factor that in.
When the painting is done there's the fact that not everyone can afford an original so giving them options is a good idea. Why not have posters, canvas prints and cards available? Of course this means getting a high quality photograph of the work which can be reproduced easily. This is another cost and one which made me see the reality of why some art is so expensive. Unfortunately a lot of artist undersell themselves out of a sort of desperation and as a result they just never make enough for their art to be more than a hobby.
I want my art to be more than a hobby and I want people to be able to buy it easily and I thought I'd done my research properly and RedBubble was the way to go.
Before moving to London I found a company that took high quality photographs but also provided prints upon request. It meant I didn't have to pay for the print until I'd sold it and I could put it at a price that meant I got a reasonable profit. It also meant I needed to be able to pick up the prints and transport them to the buyer, which was fine when I lived in Calgary and I was only selling to people who lived in Calgary.
I've made myself a bit 'international' and I liked that RedBubble offered the ability to sell work in most major currencies. They also take care of the printing and shipping, which seemed like a bonus. Then I saw what it really means. Those posters have earned me a total of $11.
I guess we all have to start somewhere but this revelation has me thinking that Redbubble might not be the way to go after all since the cost to get those paintings imaged so they could be available as a poster was five times as much as I made from that sale. Of course I don't make enough off my artwork to have the time to make these sort of sales myself. And thus I'm stuck in a circle. The profits from RedBubble aren't enough to live off of, or even to purchase a single canvas with. I have to give most of my time to a job that has nothing to do with creativity whilst also keeping me from having the time needed to commit to getting more of my work sold and more of my stuff out there.
Or maybe this is just the first step. It's tiny and it's seemingly disappointing right now, after a long day in an office, but in a few months time it might be something entirely different. It could be a moment of 'I've come a long way from that first sale of RedBubble now that I've made my fiftieth sale on RedBubble.'
That is the thing about life. We can't really judge what's good or bad until the very end and even then, I suspect we might just realise that binaries don't work and life just Is.