I am always on the lookout for fun items that can enhance my art business. Earlier this year I designed a handpainted canvas bag. I know what you are thinking ... "Why on earth did she do that?" I promise I had a good reason! I applied earlier this year to be a vendor at the 2016 Pasadena Showcase house and they encouraged me to have a wide variety of merchandise available, i.e. not just paintings. They emphasized different price points (which really means lesser priced items). So I hand-painted canvas fabric. I used stencils for the design on some of the bags and painted the canvas with a brush and fabric paint. I purchased the stencils on Amazon but really wished I had been able to paint my own designs. I hand sewed the canvas and made these bags with zippers, lining, embroidered tags and a piece of seaglass on the zipper pull.
The biggest issue with the bags was sewing them. I am a very good seamstress (in my previous life, which is referred to as BA (before art), I made my own wedding dress and used to regularly sew coats and complete outfits on a regular basis.) So a canvas bag shouldn't be that hard, right? It wasn't that hard, but very time consuming. It took me forever! I made 20 sample bags and really like how they came out but the labor was crazy. Fortunately my cost of goods to make the bags is low (other than the sewing labor!!!) so if I decide to pursue them I will head to the LA garment district and find someone to sew them for me. There is no possible way I can sew all of these myself.
I did some research about designing my own stencils and came across a really cool product called a Silhouette Cameo. Here is where I found it on Amazon Silhouette Cameo -- Starter Bundle. It's basically a printer that cuts (and prints). It makes perfect stencils and was exactly what I needed. I put it on my Christmas list and am happy to say that I must have been good this year because I got one!
(At this time I should probably come clean and say that I had already taken all of the tutorials on the internet to learn the software and ordered (and received) a few accessories for the machine even before it appeared under the tree on Christmas morning.)
I made ten 12" x 12" stencils yesterday and I can't wait to paint some of the fabric. I am thrilled the designs are my own now that I have the new stencils cut with my new Silhouette machine. And the reason for the stencils instead of hand painting each bag? So that eventually someone else can help paint/stencil my designs on the canvas. (Please note, this is a very important thing. As artists we can rarely delegate. Anytime you can figure out a way to delegate, then do it.)
Offering merchandise that enhances your art (especially at different price points) makes a lot of sense. Anytime you can expand your client base you are creating potential buyers long term for your art. Be thinking about offering prints, calendars and all of the "print on demand" options that don't require you to do more than upload a photo. Because using a sewing machine should be out of the question. Trust me.
I have a lot of great workshops scheduled in 2016. I will be teaching in Cape Cod, Richmond, Atlanta, South Pasadena and Ventura. Click here for more information!
I am also offering Online Studio painting classes every month. Join me each month as we paint traditional oil paintings and abstract paintings with a palette knife. Click here to sign up.
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