Over the last 6 months, I searched for people who are just as passionate about quality as I am as an artist. I work with these individuals and businesses to create unique merchandise in small quantities. I order only a few items at a time so that I can inspect the items and save on my cash flow.
Everything that I make from selling my artwork goes back into making more artwork. Usually just as one original sells, that money goes into my bank account one day and out the next for the framer or printer. I enjoy both the process of making art and then the designing it into useable objects.
As a full-time artisan felter I have created over 500 works of art over the last 10 years and they all have found homes to live in. They range from tiny pictures attached to greeting cards, to felted bowls & vases, to animal sculptures or to large framed masterpieces. Around year 6 of my business I started selling in Art in the Heart in Peterborough. It was a brilliant outlet for my creativity, and I was one of the top sellers there for a couple of years.
In year 7 I started to get repetitive strain in my right hand from the amount of stock I was making. The owner, Dawn, suggested I start making cards using photographs of my designs. Tiny little needle felted owls on a Christmas tree branch became the first card I sold of my felted work. I then started to take photos of more of my pieces and got them printed through various online printers. My cards sold well there, and it gave me enough profit to make lots more designs in cards. Over the last 3 years I have had to take more breaks from making artwork due to the pain in my hands. This made me want to explore the merchandise side more.
Last year I approached a local printer who I knew worked with a lot of my artist friends. The first print I ordered from him was The Great Barrier Reef which was a commission that I created last February. I could not believe the quality that he achieved with his camera and then the high quality giclee print that looked just like the original (just a bit smaller). I have since had more than 10 of my originals made into prints and now, I am using the high-quality JPEGs to create my merchandise.
Luckily, I used to do a lot of graphic designing in my spare time when I lived in the US to create badges and cards. This skill allows me to take the JPEGs and play around with them so that they work on the templates. When designing my lampshades, I was able to take the photo of my original and then electronically stitch together pieces so that the image would fit seamlessly on the product. I also like to use snippets of my originals to highlight different parts of the artwork to create unique stand-alone pieces like the glass coasters.