Closing My Big Cartel Shop, Re-Exploring Other Venues

I’m making some changes.

I have shifted between two methods in my on-line advertising; a focused effort with a goal of driving traffic to a small set of end-points, and a “shot-gun” method where I post stuff everywhere as much as possible. Years of trying out different venues and seeing the success or failure of each method has lead to what I consider a more refined approach.

artmonsteratx.com will continue to be where I publish the latest works. If you follow the site, then you will be privy to the newest stuff as I post it. That also means that you will be the first to know when new merchandise hits the Redbubble or Etsy shops (and technically where one would also go to see the newest stuff).

I have a self-imposed limit of 24 images per gallery here, simply for aesthetic reasons. As a result, older pieces are removed from the site and have been posted on the artmonsteratx Facebook page. I have decided to expand venues I present in with older works (with the hope of driving traffic here to see the new stuff). To that end, I have opened a Deviantart account, and will be exploring other familiar Internet haunts in due course. You may be seeing me on your favorite art sites soon.

I will also be expanding the venues where my merchandise is made available. The thinking here is that the venues I have selected each have their own communities of loyal shoppers. Redbubble has been my preferred “pay-to-print” shop due tot he options provided (like die-cut stickers), and the community their has embraced my works. The quality of the merchandise is marginally comparable to what I offer on Etsy (stickers bought directly from me through Etsy are better, IMO). I walked away from Cafe Press due to its image restrictions and limitations on product offerings, and Zazzle due tot he trouble I had with their interface. However, participation in those venues is free to the shop-owner and not having a shop their means not engaging those communities, so I am going back to those wells to try my luck again.

I have elected to close my Big Cartel shop. Unlike other venues, Big Cartel does not offer a buyer the option to browse shops and merchandise; you would find my shop through a direct link I posted somewhere else. I used Big Cartel exclusively for the sale of my original works, and feel I would be better served on Etsy where I have a following and my items can be found by casual shoppers.

Thanks to everyone that has continued to support me, regardless of your venue-of-choice. Just thought you might like a little “inside-baseball” information about what I am doing.

ART MONSTER Flyers

If you live in Austin, TX, and want a copy of one of these flyers, you will be seeing them around for the next few months. I am going to limit the run of these flyers to just 99, even the ones I post will be signed and numbered (it will be like finding free “fine” art.

The other way to get a copy is to be a $5-a-month patron of my Patreon Account for a year. It is a great way to support what I do here, and every year I put out some prints exclusively (sort of) for my patrons.

The other thing I wanted to mention with this post is that this is the kind of thing I could do for you, for your band, for your venue, or for your home. This piece is a mix of traditional and digital art, and I can apply those techniques to make beautiful artworks and advertisements for you. Check out my Commissions Page if your interested.

Thanks for checking ART MONSTER out!

Why Didn't I Get an Invite to Your Facebook Page?

This site launched on September 7th, 2018. At the time of this writing, roughly two weeks later, the site has had 83 unique visitors and the Facebook page has two followers. I am one of those two followers.

I am very okay with this.

One of my more lofty targets in this endeavor is to help other artists. Many of the blog posts I have scheduled focus on the process of creating art and managing the business of marketing that art. There is simply not enough information out there about strategies and processes for marketing your own art. Our modern communication methods provide a myriad of opportunities, yet many artists struggle to make something happen with their work.

So, 83 unique visitors in two weeks. The most interesting aspect of that number is that 76% of those folks came to the site by typing “https://artmonsteratx.com” into their address bar. They came directly. They did not click on a link in Facebook or anywhere else. While it doesn’t take a good deal of effort to copy-and-paste a link or type it in beyond simply clicking a link, the extra effort means something in our click-bate driven world.

That 76% didn’t just want to follow a link casually. They were interested enough in seeing the site to take a few extra steps.

That is what I am going for here. My last site I heavily promoted online. I opened page-after-page on various forums, often duplicating my entire portfolio in multiple venues in the hopes that people would go to my site. The facebook page for that site had several hundred followers, many of whom received a direct invite from myself. The numbers looked good, but they were artificial.

I had friends following me as a courtesy. They may have checked out the site once and then never again. That contributed to my reasons for walking away from having my own website in the first place; it seemed to make more sense to bring my art to the forums they were in rather than try to get them to come to me.

The question is, am I try to accumulate likes or sell art? Obviously, it is the latter. That being the case, bringing my art to a social media site and getting a like is counterproductive. 300 likes are not worth nearly as much as that one person who leaves the venue they saw me at and seeks out my site.

That one Facebook follower I have didn’t get an invite. He followed my page because he is interested in my work. He wants to know when to go to this site to see new work. That is precisely what I need.

As I mentioned, in my efforts to promote my last site, I duplicated my portfolio in other forums. That is not the case with Art Monster. My new rule-of-thumb is to post no more than five related images in any particular forum. If you want to see more work, new work, you have to come here.

The Art Monster Facebook page doesn’t even have pieces posted, just notifications that new stuff can be found here, because here is where I need your attention. The people that find this website are the ones truly interested in my work, possibly interested enough to buy a sticker, t-shirt, or commission an original piece.

The strategy I am employing here is to achieve natural, organic, meaningful numbers, not hollow stats that look good but are ultimately meaningless because they were artificial. To those who have found there way here, thank you. I am going to be doing some special things for you in the near future to reward your interest and support.

Stay tuned.

Why I Have a Patreon Account, and What You Get Out of It

Patreon is a forum through which creators of all stripes can get financial support from their patrons. Patrons pay for access to content they might not get anywhere else, like being a dues paying member of a club that in return provides benefits and privileges to its members.

A friend of mine brought the value of a site like Patreon home one day when I invited him to go out to a museum to see a collection of Goya’s prints with my kid and I. He didn’t know Goya’s work, so I showed him online. He then asked, “Why pay to go see it when I can see it online for free?”

I know. I know. The value of seeing art in person is a point for another day.

On my last site, I tired to post everything. This included scraps and sketches, and this was without the benefit of the kind of framework made available by Squarespace. It was ridiculously difficult to maintain. My friend’s point came back to me, why pay for any of it when all my visitors can see it all for free?

Patreon is for me a venue through which I can offer my patrons access “behind the curtain”. It is like joining a special club where your dues get you benefits and privileges. Patrons who subscribe to my page get to see projects in development, sketches I am working on, and even read my short stories I post occasionally. In addition, they are given first notice of newly posted merchandise at my shops, discounts, and member exclusives like special prints.

The show of financial support allows me to purchase more and better tools to make art, and more importantly to set aside time to be an artist. With the launch of Art Monster, I am doubling down on the Patreon account, posting more frequently and reworking the available rewards. This week, for example, my followers on Patreon have seen four new tattoo flash design sheets that will not be released until October. Art Monster shows the 24 most recent graphic and fine art pieces I have made available to the public. On Patreon, you get to see my entire portfolio.

If you dig what I do and want a deeper look, check out my Patreon account. A good chunk of it is free to the public, with only the “really good stuff” being exclusive to paying patrons. Every little bit helps, and if you are already reading my blogs then you must be a little interested in what I do (thank you for reading the blogs, by the way). Become on of my patrons, and help keep my particular brand of creative lunacy alive.

My Perspective on Commissions

I am going to try to be delicate about this. Clear but delicate.

I am available for commissions, but I am in no way obligated to do commissions. I will take all requests into consideration, but I may decline your offer. This, to some, may seem obvious, but in my experience that needs to be spelled out.

When you request a commission from me, you are not just commissioning a painting or illustration. You are commissioning a work of art by Jason Sorrell. I know that sounds pompous, so let me explain. The work I create will be something unique, something identifiable as one of my works. Whatever you request, I will try to make personal, I will strive to make it a “Jason Sorrell piece”. If I don’t feel I can do that, that I can make you a piece that is representative of the type of work I do, then I will encourage you to find an artist who does the kind of work you are seeking and politely pass on your offer.

With this in mind, the commissions I do accept are ones that allow me the creative liberty to make the piece my own. Again, if you commission a design from me, you are getting a Jason Sorrell piece. That means if you come to me for a logo and you have specific fonts, a particular graphic, colors in mind, etc, I am probably going to suggest a good graphics program with which you can assemble to logo yourself. I am going to ask you a lot of questions and offer you a lot of options right upfront, but once we pull the trigger and I start working, we are committed. The nature of the project may require some revision, but mostly I am looking for projects where you are commissioning a design by me and I have as much liberty as possible.

The projects I accept will kick ass. I will make those pieces my own.

Pricing will be determined before I start the piece, with 50% due upfront and 50% due upon completion of the project. Pricing is subjective. It is determined by the materials involved in creating the work, the amount of time I calculate it will require, the limitations you set on the design, the number of revisions we agree upon (if any), the intended use of the work (private vs. commercial), and (honestly) how interested I am in your project. The price I set for one project is not indicative of prices I will set for future projects.

I welcome and encourage everyone to contact me with their requests. I appreciate everyone’s interest, and will offer any suggestions I have if I am unable to take your commission. I am looking forward to making you some epic art.

The Weird Road to this Website

This is my second website as an artist. A few years back, I made the decision to chuck my old site and wander the internet using various social media (Facebook, Patreon) and market (Etsy, Redbubble) sites to share my work. For years, I had written and maintained my own site from the code-up. I wrote in HTML and Java every page of what became a massive, sprawling site. Adding a new piece to the site could often take hours depending on what I was doing with it, and I simply was not seeing a return on my investment. One day, I found myself asking “why?”

Why have a website to display my work if I could accomplish that goal on Facebook? Why try to sell my work on my site when more people were buying direct from one of the market page? Why have a website at all? When I could not answer these questions, I decided it was time to shit down the old site. I had that site for almost a decade, and while letting it go was tough, it ended up being a huge weight off my shoulders.

It also provided time for me to discover why I needed a site.

In the interim between the old site and the new, I learned some things. Social media is useful, and in marketing necessary, but ultimately I am just a voice in the wilderness on Facebook, or a blip on someone’s daily news-feed. I got a bunch of people to follow my artist pages, but my theory is that the did so because they know me, and not so much because they are interested in my work. Many were, but just as many I believe followed my primary artist page as a courtesy. I have since seen more organic growth on a couple of other pages by not inviting people to follow. Instead, those followers I have discovered my page through some other site; a blog or a shop. These are people who are interested in my work on some level.

Art Monster has a Facebook page, but no invites are going out. There is a Facebook link on the bottom of every page on this site, and I am hoping the followers I get there come from here.

I was using every shop site I could find. My art on merchandise was at places like Cafe Press, Zazzle, and others. With the old site, I would offer the best products from these venues, reselling the pay-to-print item direct. It was, again, a lot of effort for little return. Being out of having a site for a while taught me that it made more sense to just point people interested in my work to the shop sites themselves. I also learned the value of using bulk printers like Sticker Mule and investing in the product. I found a shop were my work seems to do well (Redbubble), but prefer the venues that require that I am closer to the means of production (Etsy).

I found myself doing art-shows without a website. My business cards and promotional stickers pointed people to my Patreon site (another tool I had to learn the purpose of). I was not offering commissions as I am now, and I knew I was missing out. Each show was an opportunity to get the word out about my Redbubble and Etsy shops, my Facebook and Instagram accounts, but to avoid bogging people down in a half-dozen URLs I needed to point people to a central source. That was something I did not have anymore, a single online location where you could find it all.

That became the primary drive to creating a new website. I needed a central landing point for those interested in my work. In addition, I needed to offer my services for commission. I could do that through other venues, but a website would tie things together. Getting here required one other thing, changing my business philosophy and creating a new brand.

The last site was created with the idea that I would not be the whole show. I have friends who were artists also trying to figure things out like I was. I believed that a collaborative effort would be best; we would work together, market our common venues, and build on our mutual efforts. Sounds good in theory, but it proved to be impractical. This new site is all me, no additional “studios” involved, just my own creative output. This change in direction required a new brand and new logo.

“Art Monster” was inspired by a design I did years ago for an event at a tattoo shop I worked at. The design featured a hulking beast with tentacles coming out of its head. The creature was also the power-supply for his tattoo machine, which plugged into his temple. “Art Monster” is descriptive of the work I do; no kittens and bouquets here, no rustic and charming images of dilapidated barns, no concerns at all about being accepted in some fashion by mainstream art. My work is intentionally graphic, lowbrow, and prurient.

Odds are your will not find my paintings in a dentist’s office anytime soon.

The logo further reflects this, my spider-demon. I am spinning a web of creative works. There is some aggression in these efforts, some open defiance of what is considered acceptable or “normal”. I am inspired by tattoo art, comic book art, skateboard graphics, rock-and-roll and metal art from the 80s, horror films, pinup art from the 50s and 60s. You know, the good stuff. I believe that you, my friends who appreciate that kind of work, are a rarefied breed. I am honored that you are here, and delighted to create things for you.

Welcome.