The past several days have been a whirlwind. I don't know if it is busier than usual or if I am slowing down. Sometimes it is just too hard to tell. There are days that I feel as if I am a circus performer that is spinning ten plates at once and hoping that none of them fall.
I don't think that this is an altogether BAD thing. Nearly all the things that I am doing are good. Keith and I are preparing for another site update and besides finishing up the instructions for the new patterns that I am putting up, I have been working on answering emails and filling orders for wood pieces. I had some nice orders recently and I remember just how much I like that part of the business. It gives me a chance to spend some time at the saw and do one of my favorite things – cutting. I also like the way that I seem to get to know my customers who place wood orders. I take a great deal of pride in making sure that the wood pieces they receive are quality and created with care. It makes me very happy that people want to create my designs and it is very rewarding to fill orders such as this. It's all good.
Besides the wood part of the business, I am doing some other things for the painting side as well. This week I began receiving some of the prints that I ordered from New York of the Snow Leopard Pair painting that I completed last month. After I finished painting it, I had some inquiries as to if I was planning on selling it. While I do like to do this type of "fine art" painting for myself, I really don't have the heart to sell the original paintings. Perhaps I feel that way because I tend to sell everything else I do or maybe it is because I truly put my heart and soul into these paintings. But whatever the case, most of my original painting still remain here with me. Not all of them are hung, but I still can't manage to part with them.
I did find a good answer though. I found a wonderful printer in New York that creates absolutely beautiful work from digital photos. Not only do they create posters and prints, but also books, cards and any other types of printing imaginable at reasonable prices. I had purchased prints of my other artwork previously, and I have been very pleased with the results. In the past however, they didn't ship to Canada, so I had to have my order shipped to someone in the United States and then have it forwarded to me. That was (as you could imagine) not a great arrangement, and very costly. It was impossible for me to actually sell anything for a reasonable price because of the multiple shipping charges. The prints would not only need to be double-shipped to me, but then shipped again to the customer, resulting in three shipping fees.
I did sell several prints at our local farm market several years ago when I used to sell my things there. People were very happy with them and they actually sold well. But as I said – life got in the way and there were other things that took priority and I don't use that venue to sell my work at all anymore.
But recently, I noticed that the printer has updated their policies and have included shipping all over the world, as well as drop shipping. This means that I can order prints and have them shipped to my customers directly from New York, which results in only one shipping cost. The thought of doing this is rather exciting to me and I am seriously considering putting some prints of my artwork up for sale at my Etsy store. I have had several inquiries as to if I were selling prints of my snow leopard painting and I think that is the first one I will try.
But in order to do so, I first wanted to order some prints myself and make sure that the color and quality would be correct. If an item were going out without my seeing it, I needed to be assured that everything was perfect.
I began last week by taking a high resolution photo of my painting. I needed to be sure that the photo was clear and the color was correct. Since all monitors are different, I felt the best bet was to order some prints in various sizes for myself first to see if we are all on the same page.
Here is a photo of the original painting:
I made sure that it was as close as possible in color as the original painting. The original painting is 11" x 14", but I wanted to try some different sizes and media to see how it would look.
I ordered a 16" x 20 poster print as well as a 11" x 14" print. These are both done on Kodak Endura paper using archival ink. They are guaranteed to last – even in daylight and will not fade much over time. I also decided to try something new – a metal print – in which the image is bonded to metal. The metal is light, but it is extremely durable and resists scratching and fingerprints, is waterproof and you can even use glass cleaner on it. To me it seemed like an elegant way to display my painting.
On Monday, my 16" x 20" poster arrived. I was absolutely thrilled at how closely it matched the original. The color was slighly different – mostly on the rock that the leopards sit on, but the faces and overall tone of the picture was excellent. It excited me a great deal to see my work displayed in this way and I was thrilled with the outcome.
Yesterday, the 11" x 14" metal print arrived. Since I had never seen a metal print, I was also very excited about this. Since both the metal and the poster prints were done off of the same uploaded photo, I was sure that I would love it as well.
I must say though, that I was a bit disappointed when I opened the box and saw it. It appeared that the brightness was much more intense than the original or the previous print and the chest and knee, as well as the tail of the cub was somewhat 'blown out'. Overall too, the cats looked lighter. While the print looked good on its own, to me it didn't represent my own artwork accurately.
Here is a comparison of the three. The top picture is the 16" x 20" poster print, the lower left picture is the 11" x 14" metal print and the lower right picture is my original painting. You can see how the large poster is much closer to the original painting than the metal print.
And here is a comparison of just their heads:
Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed.
Now you all need to remember that this picture of the three isn't color corrected at all. I just wanted to show a side-by-side comparison so that they could see the differences between the three. Actually they are all a bit lighter than what the pictures here represent.
While the lighter leopards are pretty, I felt they lost a lot of the detail because they were a bit too bright and blown out. If no one had the original to compare it to, I think it would be a nice picture, but since I had the original in front of me and I want the prints to be as close as possible, I felt there was room for improvement.
I called the company and sent them the above photos and they agreed with me. As a result, they are reprinting the metal print and sending me a new one. I have hopes that they will be doing a better job with it and hopefully they will send something that I will feel good selling.
I know that I have a great deal of artists that read here as well as woodworkers. Even though these adjustments need to be made, as I said – this company has an excellent reputation for doing wonderful work and my dealings with them in the past can support that opinion. Even with this issue, they immediately offered to reprint for me. So we shall see . . .
Things just take time. I know I am picky, but that is why I feel good about the work that I do. I would rather put out less work and have it at a higher level than if I would crank out many projects that weren't up to par. To me it is about quality, not quantity.
I will certainly keep you all posted as to how this turns out. I feel confident that it will be better the next time and then I will be able to sell these with confidence that my customers are getting the best representation of my original work that they can. It may open some new doors for me on the painting side of my business, and that is very exciting.
As for today, I am finishing up writing a couple of pattern packets in getting ready for the site update tomorrow. Hopefully we will have everything ready by then.
In the meantime, I will enjoy the sun and warmer temperatures we are having here in Nova Scotia. It seems that spring has finally arrived. That makes everything better.
Have a wonderful Wednesday.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"