The Artist’s Inspiration

Wait for it…

…Keep waiting… or not. I do believe patience is a virtue, but as an artist, I’ve always wrestled with the idea of waiting for inspiration. Sometimes it’s just too easy to say “I don’t feel like it right now.” However, you’re supposed to write your way through writer’s block, so isn’t it the same in other media? Still, a lot of the time it feels like waiting for the perfect storm of the right mood, a good idea, and the time to execute it.

artist inspiration sketchbook

Sketchbook

The Inevitable Lull

I recently was creatively and Etsy-ly inactive for about a month after going through a wonderful ordeal of having a nightmare roommate, apartment hunting in Los Angeles (again), moving, and then being evacuated from my new apartment for a weekend after living there less than two weeks. Yes, I was stressed and exhausted and not in the best way to build a “one drawing a day” kind of habit. However, I do think self-expression (and I don’t mean bitching about my old roomie) is really important and I find drawing to be particularly relaxing. Looking back, I think I could have better kept up with my doodles just to help with my sanity level.

Business or Pleasure

That is, of course, all about my personal life and not my business. So there’s another question – do you just make whatever you feel like, or do you let the market influence your choices? I started off entirely in the former camp, but if you really feel that way, why start a shop at all? I have to admit that I would like to make a profit from my Etsy store – shocker, I know. So while I still draw things I like and hope other people like them too, I research what’s popular, as well. As long as I’m still putting my own spin on things and not just churning out copies of other stores’ bestsellers, then I’m happy.

What’s your take on it?

creative inspiration blog post

The Right Sticker Paper

I’m not always spontaneous, but when I am, I do things like move to the other side of the country. Abruptly buying sticker paper may not be quite on that level, but I have tried out several products that I am happy to discuss.

vinyl sticker paper sheets

Stickers on vinyl paper

Avery Sticker Project Paper

My foray into sticker-making included buying this introductory matte sticker paper. With illustration, I find printing on matte is a lot easier than glossy – the colors are more predictable. (Strangely it’s the opposite with photography, so maybe I’m delusional. Or maybe it’s my printer.) This paper is easy to work with but does have the Avery logo stamped on the back, so it’s not a good choice if you’re selling your stickers. And the matte finish on its own is of course not a good idea for any stickers that are going to be out in the elements. Perfect for planners, though!

Finish: Matte
Price: $9.50/20 sheets
Best use: personal, planner stickers

Online Labels White Gloss Inkjet

Next I found Online Labels. They’re good for buying in bulk but the prices aren’t too bad even if you’re just buying 20 or so sheets. At first I thought the paper was too thin but it’s still good quality. It comes in letter-sized sheets with no branding on the back, so you won’t have the problem you had with the Avery paper. I would definitely suggest exploring the website – there are SO many options! I also tried the weatherproof paper, and it unfortunately still faded over time. However, I’ve wondered if it’s related to my printer ink, which is a combination of pigment-based and dye-based ink, more than the paper quality, since the paper gets great reviews. Still, I would add a protective coating on your stickers rather than leaving it up to the paper.

Finish: Gloss, but they have everything
Price: $17.49/20 sheets
Best use: labels for your products, small stickers

Photo Paper Direct

I was STOKED when I found this paper, since it’s actually vinyl. It’s a little thicker than the Online Labels paper, though it’s mostly the backing that makes it feel sturdy. That has also made it easier for me to handle when I cut by hand, though it works on a cutting machine too with higher settings for the thickness. This is what I mainly use to make my stickers. The paper is durable though still needs to be coated. You can buy it on their website for a potentially cheaper price (they have sales and coupons all the time), or you can buy it Amazon if you have Prime and you’re impatient.

Finish: Gloss
Price: $20+/20 sheets
Best use: laptop stickers

I mentioned protective coating a lot in this post. Stay tuned for a post with all of those that I’ve tried!

Ready, Aim…

Hello audience. Have we been introduced yet?

Focusing in on a specific demographic has definitely been an obstacle for my sticker business. I’m aware that knowing your audience is a key to success, but marketing such a small item with no obvious utility is a bit of a puzzle. (My answer to life’s problems is usually “Google it” and searching “who buys stickers” has not been super helpful so far.) A large part of my production is still a creative outlet just for me, so I guess that means my target market is twentysomething women who like quirky cute art and want to support independent artists with a couple bucks.

messy desk with stickers

Making stickers

That may sound specific at first, but is it, really? To be honest, sticker culture is fascinating, to say the least. If I were going to generalize sticker fans into Mean Girls-style groups, I’d say that you have:

  • the street artists out there slapping and swapping,
  • the overachievers (I mean that in an admirable way – I tried to have a bullet journal once and it lasted a month) with their planner stickers for literally any occasion you can think of,
  • …and children. Kids still like stickers, right?

So that observation left me wondering, where do I fit? It’s been very tempting to try my hand at each genre, but I know that would become a messy web of inconsistency. So I looked at shops that sell similar products to mine, thought about what uses my stickers could have, and imagined who might be buying them. If I had to pick something (and I did), I would say that my stickers naturally fit in the sort of card/stationery shop category. However, I have been very adamant (with myself, no one else is arguing with me) about mastering stickers before considering any other products. But that’s about where I’ve landed with my target audience at this point.

Who are you aiming your products at? Have you hit a bullseye yet?

Pin It for Later: Finding an Audience