Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Etsy featured artist & giveaway: Mullaneink

I am totally happy to be featuring this blog's second giveaway, and the first official one from our etsy contest team! Our shop this month is MullaneInk, who creates unique housewares, handpainted mirror and votives and more. You can find her at mullaneink.tumblr.com or on Twitter at @mullaneink.

She will be giving away this set of hand painted votives to one lucky winner! Entry details are below:

Votive Candle Holders Small Hand Painted Light Blue with Gold FlecksVotive Candle Holders Small Hand Painted Light Blue with Gold Flecks
by MullaneInk

If there's anything else in her shop you love, you can use coupon code FAVORITE15 for 15% off the item price for the rest of the month!

Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am currently living and working in NYC. I work in fashion (9-5) but my true passion is when I leave the office. I often go for a quick bike ride to unwind then head home to get my creative juices flowing! I have been making art since I can remember but I am always trying new ways to express myself. Currently I love working with leather. I think the texture created when paint is applied to leather is beautiful. It is so unique and always different, I can't get enough of it. Right now I am busy creating mirrors and jewelry using this technique. Outside of making art I love both cooking and eating out. I enjoy weekend getaway trips Upstate, what a way to inspire creativity! A little secret about myself... I may work in fashion- but I still consider going shopping torture!

Original Painting Green Circles with Black Stripes: Acrylic - Beach ThemeFeatured July 15th, 2012
Swanky Sunday! Items from $75-$124.99.

Original Painting Green Circles with Black Stripes: Acrylic - Beach Theme
by mullaneink

What's your home like? SMALL. I live in New York City in an apartment on the west side. I have a light blue livingroom, which I filled with all of my white/cream paintings... trying to make it look larger! My favorite part of my apartment is my accent wall in my bedroom- which is a bright coral. It makes the whole room "pop" always brightens my day. My work space in my apartment is a desk/corner area. I am jealous of everyone I see who has a studio space... someday I will also be there!

White Mirror, Striped Leather Acrylic Paint  RectangleFeatured July 8th, 2012
Swanky Sunday! Items from $50-$74.99.

White Mirror, Striped Leather Acrylic Paint Rectangle
by mullaneink

Coupon code: FAVORITE15 15% off

What inspires you?
My main inspiration is nature. I love all of the natural colors, shapes, and textures seen in organic items. Growing up I always loved the artwork of Arthur Dove and Georgia O'Keeffe. I thnk that some of their influences can be seen in my artwork. I also love creating anything that has texture! I want people to touch my pieces!

Seafoam Green Leather Knot NecklaceFeatured July 1st, 2012
Swanky Sunday! Items from $32-$49.99.

Seafoam Green Leather Knot Necklace
by mullaneink

Coupon code: FAVORITE15 15% off

Tips for other etsy artists?
Stick with it! Etsy can be frustrating for me- but when I see one of my items sell, and have a happy buyer, it makes it all worth it!

Blue Fabric Floral Necklace, Denim Fabric NecklaceBlue Fabric Floral Necklace, Denim Fabric Necklace
by MullaneInk

Most important thing you've changed about your shop or products since starting on etsy?
My biggest change was to incorporate jewelry into my shop! WOO HOO! I am still working piece by piece, but I really love it. My leather pieces are my newest addition and I consider them truly wearable art.

Painting Mandala Circle  Abstract: Pink and PurplePainting Mandala Circle Abstract: Pink and Purple
by MullaneInk

Contest Info

You must complete two steps to enter:

First, favorite her shop on etsy: etsy.com/shop/MullaneInk

Second, let us know! Pick any way you choose, one entry per person:

1) Follow this blog & leave a comment on this blog entry along with your etsy shop link so we can contact you.

2) Post a twitter status update that mentions something like "Entering to win an artisan bracelet by @MullaneInk from http://etsycontest.blogspot.com/"

Must enter contest by Friday August 31th and winner will be announced September 1st (extended from the original deadline of the 28th)! If selected as a winner you'll be asked for your Etsy account so we can verify that you favorited her on or before the 31st. You will have six days to claim your prize. At least 10 people must enter for giveaway to happen, and after 100 entries the contest will end regardless of date. Winners can be from anywhere in the world. For questions contact spacefem@spacefem.com. Thank you for entering and good luck!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Treasury challenge 5 winner: MrsGlass

Our August treasury challenge ended on the 10th and the votes are in - our winner this month is Mrs. Glass for her very creative container treasury.

Her prize is to be featured in the September treasury challenge, so feel free to go favorite her items to prepare a bit!

Here is her winning treasury:

'I can't be "CONTAINED"' by MrsGlass

AUGUST (etsy contest team) contest!!! I did my best finding items from past treasuries that have some kind of container. or something that is contained.

26" Corked Via...


Moss Terrarium Natu...




Primitive 64 Drawer...


Littlest Round Coin...


Vegan Gluten-Free C...




Vintage turtle pock...


ESTATE SALE - Vinta...


CERAMIC fish/lotus ...


Soap - Goldfish in ...


1 Kittens in a bask...


Crystal Pendant Nec...


Blue Woolie Whale -...


Hanging Air Plant T...


S2. Indian pink fel...


Treasury tool supported by the dog house

Friday, August 10, 2012

Photo tips: Getting a white background with GIMP

My last photo tip post was about good things to use in backgrounds, and I posted that up mainly to appeal to the other side because, I hate to say it, I am a white background person. I just think my shop items stand out better on white, treasury curators tend to agree, and based on the comments on that background post I am not the only one!  I once heard a tip about job interviews that you should never wear perfume, you never know who you're going to offend or create allergy issues for, why risk the distraction?  Well, same with backgrounds.  You can't go wrong with white.

The problem is that I'm cheap. I have two digital cameras, one's a Casio that cost around $70 and the other is an older Sony Cybershot that I got off ebay for $40 because my kid broke the battery holder on the casio... long off-topic story there. But honestly, both cameras take about equally "okay" pictures.

I have a light box that I made myself from PVC pipes and clip-on lamps from Lowes that were around $6 each. The lamps have full-spectrum CFL bulbs - that was important to me, and expensive, I special ordered them from 1000 bulbs and really wanted CFLs because they don't generate as much heat (and they last an awfully long time!) I have five of these 23-watt bad boys shining in my lightbox. The inside of my lightbox is a posterboard surface and I use white ripstop nylon inside to reflect light.

After all that effort, here's what my camera churns out for my lovely little nebula zipper pouch:

It's an okay image! But clearly not white, and the colors aren't as bright as they are on the real thing. That means it's time for some post processing.

My favorite image tool EVER is the GIMP. It's free and open-source and runs on all kinds of operating systems.

First I brighten up the picture by quickly adjusting the white balance, because my cameras don't have great white balance adjustments (and who wants to spend hours messing with that anyway?) In GIMP, this is done with the menu Colors > Auto > White balance. And here's the result:

Notice how much easier it is to mess with an image on your computer, rather than on your camera?

Now that the image looks like it's "supposed" to be on a white background, I use the magic wand "Fuzzy Select" tool with threshold 50, feather edges 20 or the tool next to it (select similar colors) to select the gray-ish background and hit "delete" to make it white:

The result:

Then finally I crop the image to Etsy's 10x8 ratio so I know it'll look great in the thumbnail view and no edges will be left off (refer to the awful examples in my post about thinking in the thumbnail to catch what I'm talking about).

Wasn't that fast an easy? Thank you GIMP and the open source movement for giving us such a great tool!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Team treasury contest ends August 10

I restarted some fun in the team lately... the etsycontest team treasury challenge. This one ends August 10th and the grand prize, as always, is to have your shop items featured in treasuries for the next challenge. Coolness, right? You can use any theme you'd like, just put together something lovely that showcases our featured shops and contest items.

More challenge details are in our team thread.

I've tried to put together some nifty tools on the contest website just for treasury curators. Besides the basic daily and monthly winners pages, there are two treasury searches:

1) Basic Treasury item finder lets you do all the filtering your heart desires, by keyword, by background lightness, by contest score. And it shows tons of results per page.

2) Treasury maker 2 lets you type in a keyword and then it searches for items in different categories, because everyone knows a great treasury spans all sorts of items. For example, if you type in "yellow" it will show you the top three yellow bags, yellow scarves, yellow hair accessories. It came from one of those days when I noticed that nearly every etsy front page treasury tends to have a scarf, and a bunting banner, and thought "well heck I can find those automatically!"

Here's a treasury I made to kick off the excitement, be sure to join our team to jump in yourself.

'sparkle on!' by spacefem

a sparkly collection of items found by etsycontest.com to kick off our fifth treasury challenge! showcase winner from challenge 4: welchva

Shabby Chic Vintage...

Viva Glam Sequined ...

Sparkle Clippies: ...

Keep Calm and Spark...

Earrings Stacked Cr...

Glitter easter bunn...

Pink glitter hair b...

Rhinestones Earring...

Borosilicate Boro G...

Risque Business Col...

Gold Glitter Chevro...

Recycled Paper Kusu...

1.5 Inch X 1 Inch S...

Pink Heart Wonderla...

Rhinestone bracelet...

Pink Cheeks Mineral...

Treasury tool supported by the dog house

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Good examples of Etsy photo backgrounds

I have to admit I'm one of those white background people. It's just the best way I've found to make sure my product gets seen, my colors are bright, and there's nothing distracting around the edges.

It's not for everybody, some people like to (or need to) have a different background, and that's okay!

Unless it's not okay! Every day I see photos that make me feel like I'm playing "where's waldo" - crowded backgrounds with strange edges, bad "frame" sort of ideas, you get the picture.

The problem is that people's eyes naturally go towards the darker, brighter, bolder colors. So you always need to ask yourself, where's the attention focused?

The worst violators I see are:
- Other not for sale stuff in the photo. It's fine for photos 2-5 but not for your primary one, people are trying to scan these too quickly.
- Artificial, photoshopped-in "frames" that add a border or decorative elements around the edges of the picture.
- Busy, bright colors or patterns that distract from the product. A simple stripe might be okay, plaid almost never is.
- Multiple lines - like walls, shelves, doorways. The eyes go to intersections of lines, remember. Every dark contrasting line "costs" you attention.

The more involved your product is, the more you'll have to work on this. Maybe a big plain skirt can draw enough attention against the business of the great outdoors. But if you're selling kids birthday hats with rainbow stripes, any background line will give the viewer a virtual headache. You can only get the lazy browsing-shopper human mind to process so much information, so don't make it all your background.

Here I found some GOOD examples of non-white backgrounds that keep you focused on the right thing. They're all very simple... and that's why they're good. The product is the most noticeable thing and you have an instant idea as to what it is:

Teal Earrings, Teal Artisan Glass and Gunmetal - Evergreen1st place July 27th, 2012
July 27th! Items from $27-$27.99.

Teal Earrings, Teal Artisan Glass and Gunmetal - Evergreen
by WildWomanJewelry

Recycled Earrings Vintage Flower Findings Boho Chic FLEURETTE2nd place July 20th, 2012
July 20th! Items from $20-$20.99.

Recycled Earrings Vintage Flower Findings Boho Chic FLEURETTE
by BeeKaiArtisanJewelry

Pendant, Dichroic Glass, Colorful Abstract. DGP-2044th place July 27th, 2012
July 27th! Items from $27-$27.99.

Pendant, Dichroic Glass, Colorful Abstract. DGP-204
by DichroGem

ON SALE 20% OFF Flower Jewelry Silver Circle Necklace Flowers and Lace Tiny Handmade Designer Fashion Jewelry - Unique Petite1st place July 12th, 2012
Theme Thursday! Lace items from $1-$50.

ON SALE 20% OFF Flower Jewelry Silver Circle Necklace Flowers and Lace Tiny Handmade Designer Fashion Jewelry - Unique Petite
by JenniferCasady

Women Wallet Small Wallet - Fabric Trifold Peacock Quilted - Ready to Ship3rd place July 23rd, 2012
July 23rd! Items from $23-$23.99.

Women Wallet Small Wallet - Fabric Trifold Peacock Quilted - Ready to Ship
by MarilynnsCreations

Baby Mary Jane Shoes / Slipper Bootie - NB to 6 months - ready to ship Pink and Brown Crochet2nd place July 16th, 2012
July 16th! Items from $16-$16.99.

Baby Mary Jane Shoes / Slipper Bootie - NB to 6 months - ready to ship Pink and Brown Crochet
by BlackCatStitches

Coupon code: MOM12 12% off

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why would you split up your etsy shop?

I swear, every day there's a new thread in the etsy forums by a shop owner trying to decide whether to open a second shop. Ninety-nine times out of 100, I think it's an awful idea.

I mean, I just blogged about how the best way to promote your shop is to have more items for sale... when you split up your shop, you're diluting your efforts exponentially. Why do you think Target is so successful? Because people run in for a box of detergent, and right there in front is a fabulous new dress they never imagined needing today. But they buy it! That's what you're missing out on, the serendipity, the combining.

I've even seen people suggest that you post links to your other shop from the listings in your first one... what a mess. Those links should be around to show people around to things you think they might be interested in. If you start a second shop, you're basically assuming that they're not interested in your new product line. So what's the point?

And don't get me started on the etsy functionality headaches... customers at your second shop won't be able to see the feedback you've earned from your first one. When you post in teams, people can't see that you have multiple shops. Customers can't combine shipping on orders from multiple shops... that's a barrier that can DEFINITELY cost you sales.

I think people try to split off shops for all the wrong reasons... they want a new banner, or they want a different color scheme in their new products and don't want the backgrounds to clash. Puh-lease. 90% of your shop sales come from the search anyway, customers don't get to etsy through your shop unless they're your friends, and they care even less about your color scheme.

The whole point of etsy is that shoppers buy from people. There is only one you. Don't try to be a conglomerate, be yourself. Keep your shop as your shop and have it reflect all the dimensions of your wonderful personality. That's what people love about buying handmade.