by Carolyn Edlund
Quite a few artists earn income from multiple sources, including selling products bearing their art or design.
I recently spoke with three artists who share their art-related products, how they are made and how they are being sold. There are various reasons to create product lines of this type. Artists may add a much-needed price point spread, or even attract an entirely new audience who are not prospective collectors of original art. Let’s take a look at several artists who have done this in various ways.
Boston-based photographer Jeffry Myers specializes in shooting panoramic images using a special photo “blending” technique. Each panorama can be displayed either horizontally or vertically, and are sold as canvas prints from his website. But he also offers several other products that include images from this portfolio, which gives him access to new customers and markets.
Panoramas are available as boxed cards, featuring his collection of 39 images in sets of 13 cards each, which he sells wholesale to stores and gift shops. He creates card layouts in his studio, and explains that he literally has them printed at Costco for a very low price (about .35 each). This enables him to offer the boxed cards at an attractive wholesale price, and sell them outright to retailers.
Myers’ photos are also used in a printed hardbound book titled “Mystery and Meaning in our Universe” that retails for $39.99. The book contains inspirational messages, which complement the presentations he gives as a public speaker on motivational and inspirational topics. His books are self-published, and were printed in the U.S. Book publishing can be costly, but he has sold a considerable portion of his original inventory and it has worked well for him. Book sales are made at his speaking events and are also sold from his website.
Panamanian artist Elsa Canto offers a number of different products bearing her whimsical art, including prints, jewelry, magnets and even “totumas” which are painted gourds. When she decided to scale her business by creating new products, she learned the techniques to make these items by hand in her studio.
She has also used her illustrations to create a children’s book titled Mrs. Polleras: Picoso Gets an Adventure, which is self-published. Paper copies of the book are printed in Panama, while a digital version is available as a Kindle e-book sold on Amazon.
Canto explains, “I sell the printed books from my website, in a bookstore, a couple of museums, hotels, and also at fairs. This week my book is participating in the Taipei International Book Exhibition 2017 with other Panamanian authors, so I’m very happy about this achievement.”
Another source of production is through the use of print on demand. This type of provider gives artists the option to sell products using their images without the hassle of studio production or outsourcing to a manufacturer to build inventory. Print on demand is an easy and low-risk option that involves uploading digital images of art, which are later produced and shipped to retail customers when they are ordered.
Canadian artist Shandra Smith uses print on demand services to offer products such as shoes, wall murals and lampshades with her colorful designs, which are sold online.
Smith says, “I try to keep up to date and see what’s trending in the home and fashion industries. Then I find companies producing the products I think might work – like wallpaper, shoes or lampshades. I email or call them, and in these cases, they agreed to collaborate. Both the wallpaper/wall murals and the shoes have been a steady stream of income for me (the companies pay monthly or quarterly royalties). This is the direction I want to take because I feel my designs are quite versatile, and work well in a variety of settings on a number of different products.”