Answering Your Concerns About Me Selling Art Online

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See, I do listen to you guys. 🙂

In this video I hope to ease your minds about my new “selling art online” venture – specifically, why I chose not to sell my paper mache sculptures in my new business experiment, in addition to the reasons I gave you in my last video.

The numbers are important, but that’s not the whole story. Watch the video to see what those reasons are.

There are two things I forgot to mention in the video. I’m too lazy to do it over, so I’ll just mention them here. First, when I said that one of the reasons why I make sculptures is so I’ll have something to  show you on my blog, what I really should have said is that I get “paid” for my sculptures because I get to teach you how to make them yourself, and I really love teaching.

I don’t get paid in money, of course, (except for the few patterns that I do actually sell in order to help support the website), but I still get a lot out of it. In fact, teaching paper mache sculpting techniques is my real hobby. The sculptures I make for the blog and my videos are a nice side benefit for me.

I get ‘paid’ when you add comments to the blog or on my video channel, and when you show off your own work on the Daily Sculptors Page. I even receive emails from people who tell me how much their new sculpting hobby has changed their life. That’s all the reward I need for keeping the website online. Some things really are worth more than money.

And I get to fill up my house with original wildlife art. Win, win. 🙂

There’s also something I should have mentioned when I talked about making copies of paper mache sculptures. The easiest way to do it would be to use Li-Qua-Che, a pourable paper mache product. It isn’t available in small quantities, and it isn’t always easy to find. Because of the price, it might seem more expensive than using paper strips and paste, or even if you used my paper mache clay recipe.

However, it works with plaster molds, just like ceramic slip. Plaster costs a whole lot less money than a silicone mold, so building up a nice collection of sculptures would take a much lower up-front investment. It takes way less time to make a copy using the product than it does if you use traditional methods of paper mache, and in a business time counts. Plus, the Li-Qua-Che reproduces every tiny detail, something that’s really hard to do with other forms of paper mache.

No, I don’t have a recipe for it so you can make your own pourable paper mache (believe me, I’ve tried!) but you can find it on amazon.com.

(That’s an affiliate link. If you prefer to search for it on Amazon yourself, be sure to include the hyphens, or you won’t find it.)

You can see a video of me using this product here.

If I did enjoy making the same thing over and over again, that’s probably how I’d do it. Someday, maybe I will. But not right now.

31 thoughts on “Answering Your Concerns About Me Selling Art Online”

  1. Jonni, I’m looking forward to seeing your new venture. I’ve been researching and educating myself for my own jump into the business of selling my art on-line and was excited to see you are as well. Among my many road blocks …little computer savy, getting past start, worrying about posting my art on-line….many people don’t honor copyright law (I thought of the experiences I’ve had in the past and of the day I saw your exact bunny rabbit sculpture on a planter, selling at a large grocery store chain here in my state… the fear and worry others might make a copy of my work off my FB page and make their own prints, had me rushing to delete that page. Fortunately FB doesn’t delete immediately and follows a time frame before taking it off the site messaging me constantly that I had X amount of days before my site is removed. Time enough for me to past a watermark smack dab in the middle of the print, which eased my worry. I’m hoping my concern is now taken care of and decided to leave my FB page up and running for now.
    You know we work so hard and put so much of ourselves into our work, it feels like theft when people copy it without permission.
    I did register a new business name….last year. I think I might have a snail in my DNA.
    I’ve found there is a lot of information available and some of it pricey. At this time I’m not in the position to take advantage of it. Forever stuck at the kindergarten level. My neighbor has been pestering me to get on with it already. For more than a year he has been dogging me to let him set up a site on Square Space. He runs his business there. I’m almost at the point of telling him…DO IT.

    • Hi Sharon. I’m so glad to hear that you’re thinking about doing this “selling art online” experiment, too. You do beautiful work, so if you can find the right audience, your new store should do well.

      I do understand the worries about copyright, but the with Pinterest and file sharing sites and the rest of the Internet encouraging people to “share” other people’s work, it’s pretty hard to fight it. I’ve decided to not worry about it, and call it free advertising. On the few sculpture patterns that I sell instead of giving away for free I do ask for a referral if someone uses the design for their own business. I don’t know if anyone reads that line or not, but I can’t worry about it.

      My new site is on Squarespace. I think I’ll get to show it off tomorrow (fingers crossed.) I got so many good referrals to Squarespace that I decided to give it a shot. Plus, it turns out to be quite a lot less expensive than WordPress, because you don’t need to buy a lot of plugins, and you don’t have to constantly worry about security or hackers. They take care of all that, and a storefront is included along with the templates and the hosting. I’m now a Squarespace fan. I wish I could switch this site to Squarespace, but I can’t. They would change the URL of all 485 posts, and Google would not be happy.

      I dithered for weeks before starting my new site because it looked like so much to learn. Then I watched this video while doing all the steps right along with them. I couldn’t believe it was so easy. The best part of the video is watching that kid be so incredibly patient with his dad.

      What kind of artwork will you be selling? Sculptures? Paintings? I can’t wait to see what you’ll be selling.

      • Jonni thank you for your compliment Perfectionism gets in my way and that critical negativity will pick my work apart every time. I came head to head with that voice after painting my Outlaw. Close to a month on him, I was done. Took a close look and that Critical Voice told me it was Junk
        I thank my Creator for granting me “some” common sense because I took a picture of him right before I destroyed my painting.
        When my daughter saw what I had done she told me for zillionth time, “Mom, when you finish a piece bring it over to my house then look again at it after a couple of months”. For once I really listened to her and staged war on my destructive perfectionism.
        Thank you jonni for the link on YouTube. Just viewed most of it. Will watch it again and again and AGAIN until I learn it.
        To answer your question, No I don’t plan on selling my sculptures. I feel the same as you about that. I only create what I love and have put my soul into. They are mine, expect for the little pieces like the “Happy Faces” I sculpted on the ornaments I had put on Etsy….which soon ended when they became a chore rather than my joy.
        I do plan to use my sculptures tho in prints as I did with my Apache. . . overlapping the piece against a painted background. I’m already thinking of how I’ll paint and set up my Horse Head when I get it completed.
        Looking forward to your completed site. Actually I can’t wait.

        • Your daughter is a smart lady – I’m glad she talked you out of destroying your work too soon. I’ve done it myself, I admit, but I try not to think about it. 🙂

          I think you have a great idea for your prints. Eileen mentioned an idea like that just the other day – I know I could never get it to work, but I’m so glad you figured out a way to do it right.

          It’s been a long time since we saw your horse. Is it almost done? And did we get to see your Apache? (If we did, forgive my empty brain. I now get to blame it on my age.)

          I certainly understand about your ornaments on Etsy – doing the same thing over and over again is not fun!

          My site is now officially ready, and although it does need a photo of me at the top, and I don’t yet have one, I’ll post a video tomorrow and let you all in on it. I know I’ve already learned some things that you might be able to use in your new online business venture. Putting all the pieces together takes time and a lot of searching on Google to figure out how to do it, but now that everything is in place I can see that none of it was really all that hard. I just didn’t know how to do it.

            • The image worked, and it’s looking great. What amazing detail! Have you considered having it bronzed when it’s done? (I have no idea how to do that, and I know it’s expensive. But gosh – your horse is fabulous.)

  2. Jonni, I can relate and I totally agree with you. Money isn’t ISN’T EVERYTHING though you wouldn’t know it to see the attitudes about acquiring it nowadays! I hate to bring up the age factor ( me, 73) but the labor of “mass production”, packing, shipping, etc, is something I no longer would have the energy for. Talk about taking the fun out of it! I prefer to use my energy on the love of creation and enjoyment of the experience. You have the gift of sharing your experience and methods in such a personal, professional, and relatable way in your books and videos. All your fans love what you do RIGHT NOW. You’ve thought this through very well and I know you have made the right decision.
    Keep up the good work, and thank you so much for all that you share with us!

  3. I totally agree with you not wanting to sell your sculptures!
    I make mine for myself and not for anyone else, firstly bc they are not as good as yours, believe me! Also I do them as a hobby and can’t be bothered to make more of the same thing in what could become and endless supply/request. Then there would be that one person that would like to alter it in some way which then makes it NOT mine, or they have a different opinion about the value of the item.
    I appreciate fully your views and can’t help but agree. Thank you for your time and effort – priceless! The inspiration that you offload through your videos/teachings is immense, inviting and extremely friendly. I usually sit down with a coffee and biscute to enjoy the video – like sharing a cuppa with an old friend (unbeknownst to you).
    Please don’t stop! I get so much from your time, in more ways than you could know.

    LisaH (frenzied fan/friend in South Australia)

  4. Jonni you are an angel!!! I can’t thank you enough, for all the videos and blogs you make. Just for taking time to teach us to do something! Just want to say thank you! And keep going!!! You’re awesome!!!

    All my love from Mexico city!!! XOXO

  5. Jonni,
    Getting attached to your sculptures is NOT irrational or unreasonable at all! We all do. There have been sculptures that I swore I would never sell….until I make one better. There is a joke in my house, every time I make a new sculpture and show it to my family, invariably one of them will remark that it is their favorite one to date. Cute, but also true. I have my favorites until the next favorite comes along. Then I will show the old favorite and sometimes sell it. I must admit that my favorites are usually the ones that do sell.
    You make very good points about all the regulations and drawbacks of some of the suggestions and ideas people have. Most of us don’t truly think it through enough at the time. You have really put thought into this idea and you were very thorough in your conclusions. I am super curious to see what you have come up with though.
    Here is another thought. Have you thought of taking good photos of your sculptures and making them into cards or calendars and the like? That could be interesting, even using “used” sculptures.
    Looking forward to see what you have come up with.

    • Funny – I was asked to do a Skype talk to a class of 13-year old students in Australia, and the talk happened yesterday. One of the kids asked me which sculpture was my favorite, and I just grabbed the one that was closest to my desk because it seems to change every day. But the last one I make is usually the best one (I do learn from at least some of my mistakes).

      The card and calendar idea is certainly interesting. My photography skills are pretty lame – for some reason, that’s one craft I just never get better at, no matter how much I practice. But it’s not a bad idea. Shelbot once sent me a link to a site where an artist sells photos she takes of her slightly creepy dolls. (I like her work, but it is a bit strange.) I can’t find the site now – maybe he’ll post it for us.

      I think your work would work well as prints, because you so often have several critters interacting with each other, and the bases you make provide an environment for them. Have you thought about making cards and selling them when you do your shows?

      • I know what you mean about the photography, we need Christine to live closer to us so she could do it for us! I do not think it would be too expensive to have a professional photographer taking pictures for us, or maybe a student who needs to expand their portfolio. It is a thought.
        No, I have not thought of it as an adjunct to the shows I am in. I only thought of the idea last night when replying to you. I don’t know if it would work with these particular shows but it doesn’t hurt to ask sometime. Both shows I am in are fundraisers but that would only mean more money for them, one would think. I should ask. I have seen lots of sites where prints or cards are made of sculptures…don’t know if a lot are sold though.
        I can picture a whole bunch of your sculptures grouped together and made into a poster for any animal lover. Did you ever see the movie ET? There was a scene where ET was hiding in a child’s closet and blended right in with the stuffed animals. It was cute. When my daughter was young, we got her a kitten and I set up a bunch of her beanie babies for a photo shoot and put her new kitten into the mix. It was hard to get a photo because the sweet kitten did not want to sit still but I did manage to. I then had the photo enlarged to be the size of a poster for her room. It turned out really cute. If you wanted to do that with your sculptures, at least you wouldn’t have the problem of them trying to escape!

        • I think if Christine was here, she’d have to do all the photography stuff herself. She’s given us some great advice, and I have tried to follow it. Really, I have! But it just doesn’t seem to help. I don’t think my camera likes me. 🙂

          And yes, I remember that scene very well. The poster you made for your daughter sounds wonderful. Is it still around?

          • Hi Jonni, your camera loves you very much. It is all about lighting and set up. If you have a nice bay window, the early light that come through will give you great colors. I have made set up with Barbie dolls using a small point and shoot. When it gets warmer, outside in the shade will give you a great close up. All you need is a small table, background made of fleece and a wall to lean on. It is not hard but I too have limited space and I found out that DIY skills done with practice have given me a nice small and compact studio that takes up little space. I could give a small series once a week on how to set up a tiny studio for very little money. the big expenses for me were lighting, but nothing near what a pro lighting system will cost. One yard of different colored fleeces make for a nice background for little money. Black, blue and green and gray depending on which is the dominant color of your sculpture. sheets, blankets, poster board bought at Walmart make good backgrounds and have used them extensively. This one example is this paper mache bowl I used a poster board on a bench outside and shot from above to include all of the bowl in the background.

            • Here is another example:
              This shot is the set up I made to show how I made the bowl skin to make it feel like an orange. All I used in the background again on the deck on a bench with a piece of black cloth.

            • Christine, would you like to do a guest post for us? You know so much more about this side of things than I do. It’s lucky I’m not going to be selling my sculptures, in fact, because good photos are essential for online sales. (And I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on lights – it really hasn’t helped. Perhaps my camera doesn’t hate me – it just wishes I’d hurry up and figure out how to use it. 🙂 )

              Even if we could just see you set up even one shoot, from beginning to end, and then seeing the final result, would be really helpful. I’ll bet you’d get a lot of questions about specific problems, and it would be really nice if you could help us with them, if you have the time.

            • Hi Christine- we haven’t heard much from you lately…glad to hear your voice(?) Anyway, that is exactly what I fell upon when taking pics of the sculptures. Not all of them fit into the light box I made(per your instructions years ago!) so I put a fleecy blanket on a bench in the shade and take the pics. A bit tough when there is snow on the ground but I have done it! Wind is not a friend though because it wrinkles the blanket. Your pictures are lovely…wish you did not live across the country from me! By the way, please do a post- it would be much appreciated by many members of the Jonni fan club.
              Jonni, I do still have the poster, I will dig it out one day and take a pic and post somewhere…daily sculptors page????

            • Yes please! DSP would be a perfect spot for it. I haven’t even seen it yet, but I love it already. 🙂 And Christine – what Eileen said. Post, please.

          • This is one of my Barbie doll photos just to prove my point.
            The floor was made of black construction paper and the ugly tile floor was also of construction paper(it was done on the fly) and the background was white poster board shot outside on the deck. It looks blue as the shade changed the white to blue. these were experiments but as you can see, I did not spend a fortune for making the props for the shot.

            • It looks great, Christine. I have trouble with the colors, even when I set the white balance. And I also get glare from the lights (or underexposed photos if I turn the lights off). the values on your dolls is perfect, with now burned spots, and the colors are very clear. Nicely done.

  6. Jonni, I think you are wonderful. You are a great artist. I have kept all your blogs and put them in a older thinking I will reread all of them and do something that I would be excited about. I have written you sera times about what I have tried to do such as makings mold in cement of shells , the putting paper mâché into the cement mold or cast. When it drys I have a pretty shell of paper mâché. I use linters that I order to make paper mâché. It is beautiful…white, but expensive. I wish I had just a tiny bit of your talent.

    Some people from my church went on a mission trip to Cuba. They told me the way the people made paper mâché to make items to sell…beads, cards.

    I would like to tell you about how they make paper, but don’t have time just now.

  7. Jonni, I always enjoy your videos and this is no exception. I especially love when you talk about not wanting to part with your sculptures. Perfect and poignant. Said it before; you need a TV show.

  8. Jonnie, I love your web talks even though I work in clay and don’t make animals! They are so positive in spirit and a reminder that making art should be fun — whatever else it is. Thanks!

  9. Jonnie; I stumbled on your blog two years ago and have enjoyed it ever since. I worked up three batches of your air dry clay – two successful one dismal – and spent many happy hours playing after work, and housework was done. I get enormous pleasure from seeing the work you and the other artists do, as well as dabbling myself. You are an inspiration to me, thank you for sharing your journey and your adventures. Whatever you decide to do, I will be along for the ride.

    Take care


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