Special Combo

Special Combo

Business

I love making sets of prints. It makes a lot of sense to get the buyer to want to complete the collection, but I’ve found that this doesn’t quite go down the way that I intended. I might have to change up my tactics a little.

My art is on the cheap side of the print world. Rock poster gods typically do larger prints for twice as much money – on the low end. So my pricing undercuts them by a lot, but I’m also not quite at the thirty to one hundred dollar class yet. My street cred is low and my talent needs shoring up in a few small places, but I figure in another five thousand hours I’ll start catching up.

In the meantime I’m hoping to build enough stock to bring in a steady stream of online sales and that might be purely volume based. That is to say: the more prints I offer the better sales will be. Right now it’s a small collection and the more popular earners on Etsy just have bigger collections.

In my head I think, “You can make up the difference by promoting sets”. Sell two or three at a time and it’s just as good as the higher end sales. Then I can keep building stock and have the previous prints pay for the new prints. Problem is, customers are only buying one at a time.

I’m not entirely sure why that is. Maybe they are only in love with a single print and not so much the rest. Or with shipping prices maybe they’re doing the math and thinking “I have to buy a frame too,” which adds to the overall costs of a single print. In any case people are not buying the sets so clearly my strategy needs some tweaking.

One problem is my inconsistent marketing. I’m still trying to get a feel for pushing product online and being socially awkward I’m not sure what to do or say other than be myself, which I think sometimes pushes people away. Nevertheless I need to a) take some social media dietary fiber and get more regular on my posting. People respond really well when I’m consistent. And b) be a little less advertisey. Recently I ran a bunch of posts that were heavy on the marketing lingo and I got ZERO reaction. Not that I’m surprised really, because I hate advertising myself. Lesson learned. Chill with that shit.

However, I don’t do a good job of showing the sets together and I need to start promoting the sets and not just the individual pieces.

Another issue could be that people are not quite impressed with my style yet – or maybe I haven’t fully fleshed out a style and people smell weakness. This will take care of itself in time, but I’ve seen worse things go out so I kind of think the problem lies somewhere else. Besides, I’m getting likes on my work, just not – what’s the word – conversions. Which tells me people like it plenty, just not enough to fork over cash-money.

One customer hinted that if there were framing options they might be more inclined to make the buy and that has been ringing in my ears ever since. I like to build crap with wood so if I can find a way to quickly and cheaply manufacture my own frames then I can sell the prints + frames as a package deal. I really want to believe that this will help sales, but part of me thinks it’s only marginal at best.

Ultimately I think it comes down promoting effectively. I loath advice that tells you need to chase down keywords and like and follow your way to the top. It feels sticky like car salesmen tactics and I get that it works, and if you want to make money… blah, blah, blah. It’s clear to me that going too heavy on advertising doesn’t work because people get turned off by it. You need to have a plain message that appeals to customers (which is still advertising) without sounding and looking like advertising.

One last thought: the stuff I’m making is pretty niche. I’m not sure how many people really like Cats with geometric shapes or 666 posters (which at this time has 1 view in the past 30 days – my worst performing poster to date – compared to my highest performer which has 43 views), so maybe I need to mix it up with a couple of prints with broader appeal.

Be more consistent. Spell it out for people. Don’t be a car salesman.

Hey thanks for listening. Sometimes I just have to work it out.

Copyright © 2016 Robert C. Olson

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Elenkoff

Fugscreen Studios

Videos
[vimeo 66652730 w=700]

Making screen prints can be an exciting and addicting process because it takes an idea that only existed in you head and makes it become a part of the real world. There is nothing more thrilling than seeing something come to life and like Elenkoff says, there are only a handful of these created. The community is really great too and I’ve had experiences – on a different level – with people who want to talk shop and share.

Take Chances

Steps Into Darkness

Random Thoughts

My beautiful wife has started setting aside time to work on herself lately – I’m so proud of her – and recently she has been thinking out loud about how taking risks is an important part of growth. I agree with her that risks are a part of life and the people that I see growing the fastest are the risk takers, but neither one of us is really a daredevil. So what does that mean for us?

I’ve known for a long time that I wouldn’t fit into a certain mold. I’m not a wheeler-dealer, or fast talker. I’m not able to sell the pants off a chimpanzee or bring people together locked in kumbaya arms even for free hamburgers and beer. At one time I thought I could pull some tabula rasa shit and force myself to become a different person and I actually had some success. Although it was a lot of work and I just ended up feeling like crap and fraudulent. I’ve decided that it’s time to pull back and focus on the things that when distilled, boils down to that brown-black, crusty essence of Rob that’s left after all the water burns off. In a way the riskiest bet you can make is to lay down your identity. That thing that gives you a Spiderman origin story and helps you bind together all the mismatched jigsaw pieces of the world that forms your perspective. If you lose that bet you’ve gambled everything you’ve ever known about the world sending you silently screaming into in a psychopathic dissociative meltdown. Quite a lot to risk.

Generally speaking I think the United States has become culturally risk averse. I hear a lot of talk about crime and there seems to be an abundance of anxiety about it, but when I think about it I can go outside right this minute and freely walk in places that twenty years ago I might have been shot or mugged in. We have warning labels on things that should be obvious. We worry about the tiniest details to the point where young people are now becoming defensive for other people, whether it’s needed or not. People fear government overreach even though nobody has really threatened anything that drastic – well, nobody currently in power that is. The future is uncertain and it’s almost as if we don’t know how to be happy unless we have something to be worried about. In reality things have never been as good as it is right now. It might feel like desperate times, with Paris, San Bernardino, and now Brussels under attack. My heart goes out to Brussels, so I don’t mean to make light of their suffering, however if you ask any Syrian refugee to compare their lives to ours I’m pretty sure you’re going to see a huge dichotomy.

In a previous post I talked about having good people around you and more than a few times I’ve found that to be true. I was born with more bone in my skull than brains so it can take some time before lessons get hammered into my head, but keeping good people around is one condition that has saved my ass time and again while taking risks. Without that firm ground to stand on, without the confidence of being able to retreat into a safe place, and without a cheer-leading section to keep your momentum up it can be difficult to grow.

For those people that I count among my friends all of them live with varying degrees of risk taking. Some have gone more or less solo, chasing down that dream of being your own boss. Something I aspire to. Others are locked in jobs that make them feel like their life is a waste. Something I’m sympathetic to. The best of us find hobbies and interests that make us real people outside of work instead of cardboard cutouts that get propped up in cubicles and storefronts. Wasting away. Trapped in the chains of the economy. Public policy. “Synergy” and oceans of pointless vomit, piss, and shit built up over the centuries and sold as gold bricks by previous generations. We all crave something better, but it can seem daunting to take on massive institutions.

If I look at people who have built a solid business they don’t look like me. Outgoing, gregarious, smart with money, well invested, and well planned. I don’t really see those qualities in me. Others might, but impostor syndrome is a real thing. What I’ve realized though, after a couple of years in the working world, is that no one knows what the f**k they are doing. We are all just making this up as we go. That realization was an empowering moment. It’s as if I was given permission to learn by screwing up, which really is the best way for a thick-headed ape like me to learn, because everyone else is screwing it up right alongside. So when risk goes from something that keeps us up at night to transforming into a life lesson in disguise then it develops into an important tool for growth that you can kind of manage.

Fear, and fear of failure, is a significant factor to overcome especially if you are like me and risk averse. The wife shared an Instagram post with me from designer, Nathan Yoder of Yonder Studios, who points out that sometimes that fear might just be laziness, or as he says, “… sometimes I’m merely too tired to even try failing.”

View this post on Instagram

Lunchtime sketch in the park. The other day I was thinking about the whole "fear of failure" idea. It struck me that, though at times that fear is very real, sometimes I'm merely too tired to even try failing. I think at times we can get so caught up in the stresses and burdens of our days that we don't even allow ourselves the first steps towards something worth fearing to fail at. This can come from past failures which have caused us to become tiresome and cautious or simply from our obliviousness to all that we are capable of. There is so much in life to be thankful and excited for. I don't know about you but I think a world of excited people sounds like a more fun place to be a part of than one filled with pessimistic people and I don't want to be one of the later bringing down the first. I hope that if you haven't found that thing that gets you jazzed that you will soon and, if you find yourself tired of trying, I hope that you will find once again that childlike curiosity that sees the best in others and constantly wants to go, ask, try, and do.

A post shared by Nathan Douglas Yoder (@nathanyoder) on

It’s worth noting that fear might be hiding under the guise of stress so that if you are running from place to place, plugging holes, barely keeping your head above water, its is very, very hard to justify the necessary risks when you are draining your resources on other things. You only need to go as far as the nearest poverty stricken nation to see what desperation does to taking risks. But this rings true for us as well since we work full time during the week, fighting for space to work on side hustle projects.

The United States government and Small Business Administration like to say that it takes five years for a business to sink or swim. I’d be willing to bet that you can tell in three. In the first year you are going to lose money. Just plan on it. The initial investments alone are going to set you back more than you’ll earn. I’ve had to put money down on a press, some screens, ink, paper, websites, Etsy fees, shipping costs, advertising and on, and on. So far I’ve spent more money than I’ve made by a margin so wide it probably makes the Grand Canyon resemble the G.I. Joe sized rivers I made in the backyard with a garden hose when I was a kid. Until my Mother would come out yelling at me to turn off the damn water. The second year you break even because you’ve figured a few things out, but are still learning to walk. In my case I now have a stockroom full of work that I can sell either in person or online. By year’s end I expect to break even after a few sales, recovering from previous purchases. By year three you can actually turn a profit because you’ve developed into a mature business with your shit kind of in order. Hopefully all the ground work that I’ve laid today will translate into stability going into the future that will allow the business to support itself. So that’s what financial risk looks like. Not too bad if you think about it.

Fear, time and lack of energy, all gang up against your hopes. I don’t think it’s hopeless though. If you can schedule an hour a day, a couple of days a week then you can start building steam. That’s something you can decide to do right this minute – one hour during lunch, or after dinner, every Wednesday. Commit to a schedule and do the work whether you feel like it or not. If it’s something you enjoy then you’ll probably turn your mood around anyway, just by taking the first steps. Sometimes I don’t want to draw, but if I force myself I find that I don’t want to quit because I’m having fun. Don’t stop there though. You have to put your work out there. Post it on Facebook and watch people’s reactions. You’ll probably be surprised at what people appreciate and while it’s implausible to please everyone you might find the confidence to take another step further out onto the stage exposing yourself a little more each time. That’s how I did it. And from that seed grows the knowledge that risk is nothing more than a teaching tool to make life better. Because every time you push out a little further, things become more exciting. Packed with potential. We can train ourselves to push the limits, not because a motivational poster told us, but because we have found the intrinsic and extrinsic values of being in control of our lives.

Over time that step out into the darkness will feel less like an abyss and more like an adventure.

Dino Beer Poster: Tricerahops IPA

Products

Dino Beer Poster: Tricerahops IPA now available on Etsy for 14.99 USD

from Etsy http://ift.tt/1ixFcNM

Printing With Uncle Rob

Videos

A short process video. Because I think some learn better visually.

I take you through the process of making a single print color and while it is the short version leaving out many smaller details, I think it’ll give you and idea of what goes into making a print. Remember, I have to do this process for each single color.

Yosemite Haunting Me

Feature, Graphic Design, Illustration

Glacier Point Yosemite National Park 

Yosemite…

What can I say that would do justice to the majesty I have witnessed. When people asked me how our trip was I didn’t have words. The best that I could muster was, “I’ve seen pictures of Yosemite and thought, that’s pretty, but what you see when you get there blows your mind.” The best works of Ansel Adams don’t even come close to expressing the feelings you get from experiencing it first hand. You have to see it in person.

We drove in from the south. Nearly seven hours total through the means streets of Orange County, to our friends’ place in the desert, past the vast wastelands, and into the gates of the park and there was silent excitement as we waited to see what came around the next corner.

Something about the woods strums up heartwarming memories of running through the parched trees of Big Bear where as a child I would explore and learn. The shushing road and warm air scented with pine lulls me as we skim over the winding Wawona hills. As we start to see the rock heave up to form the corners of the mouth that opens up to the valley and find ourselves peering down into the steeply formed river bottom, I sleepily come to realize that this dream is about to become real.

 

We explode into the valley with what is one of the best ways to start your adventure. “Tunnel View” doesn’t begin to describe the spectacular scene that unfolds before you, but after many hours on the road it was the golden treasure at the end of a long journey. I could have gone home right then and there.

Tunnel View Yosemite National Park

It is overwhelming. It’s bigger than life. It makes you curious and tickles that exploratory itch. We couldn’t just look. We had to dive in and feel the water go over our heads. We were immersed in Yosemite’s power for almost a week. And we left wanting more.

Afterwards it haunted us. Not just because of the vacation withdrawals we felt being back at work. So when I sat down to tackle some artwork I was blinded by memories of what I just experienced. I had something stirring in me that needed to escape.

While inspired by our trip the image I came up with fails to come anywhere close to the experience I shared with friends. For those of us who have made the pilgrimage these images link to that part of our inner being that like a film negative has been permanently exposed with those memories of our experiences. Perhaps we can keep the memory alive with these artifacts. Maybe it will only feed that craving of the most addictive drug, adventure.

The beauty is with us still and continues to nourish our souls.

Yosemite Print 

Velocity Raptor Now Available

Graphic Design, Illustration, Products

Velocity Raptor

Get ready kids ’cause Velocity Raptor is coming for your guts. My new 11×17, two-color poster is on Etsy, so get out your credit cards and grab the first poster from the upcoming trilogy for only $14.99.

There are 50 handmade prints and will soon start prepping the next batch so be sure to look out for Pterodact Ale and Tricera Hops.

Pterodactale

Faux Beer Label No. 2

Illustration

Pterodactale

Second in my series of dinosaur themed beers that don’t actually exist. This 100% hand-drawn illustration will be sliced into two colors and screen printed – hand-pulled – hopefully sometime this month and made available on my Etsy site.

This is one of three ideas that my adorable wife helped my come up with over delicious beers on the beach. We were rather amazed that no one (that we know of) has thought of this yet which makes me the first! Suck-it!

Hope you enjoy and stay tuned for more. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook for updates and random garbage.

 

Copyright © Robert C. Olson 2015

Velocity-raptor Faux Beer

Dino-Beer Faux Branding

Illustration

Velocity-raptor Faux Beer

This week Jurassic World launches and I’m going to see it tonight! However, I’ve been sitting on an idea for a while now that fits perfectly into the dino-frenzy you’re about to experience: dinosaur themed beers!

With microbreweries spreading like a delicious plague it occurs to me that no one has yet melded the perfect coupling of dinosaurs and beer (my idea first muthaf***ers). Therefore my wife and I came up with a list of fake beers and today I’m releasing the first of three poster designs I hope to complete this month and get into printing soon.

First up is “Velocityraptor”: with specialty beers on the rise you may have come across the term “velocity” which loosely translates into a blend of stouts, but can sometimes come in strong IPA format – which is very popular in today’s market.

Stouts being among my favorite styles of beer this one had to be a part of the trio and when I walk out of the theaters tonight and tap into a stout I will be thinking about how sweet that Thunder Lizard Beer would taste.

This is my first attempt at a 100% hand drawn image where I even developed my own typeface. While I did straighten out my grade school lines via technology everything was born from the sexy love-making that my hand and tablet made for this design. Inspired by Aaron Horkey’s and Key Taylor’s far superior talents this mutant afterbirth of a tribute to their skill demonstrates both how hard it is to mimic their talents when you are a hack like me and how many hours go in to the detail for such intricate images.

For a useless glue-sniffer like me – I’m guessing it took 100+ hours to get to this point. Stronger artists can do better work in about 120 hours, but I’m working on it, already seeing a big improvement from previous works.

Two more rad designs on the way and I hope to start printing before July. If you are interested in getting a print, let me know and I can start pre-sales on my Etsy site.

Be sure to stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter for updates on the printing.

Oh and let me know what you think!

Info Art From Phone Booth Gallery

Events


Photo from Phone Booth Gallery

Phone Booth Gallery (of recent Adventures In Design Podcast) has posters designed by gig-poster super-stars Kevin Tong and Tom Whalen until September 17, 2014. These are really great limited edition designs so be sure to check it out fast.

If you are in the area visit Phone Booth Gallery at 2533 East Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90803. Open between Thursday and Sunday,  12:00 to 5:00 pm.

 

 

Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson