Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Etsy Shop Up and Running

This past June I officially gave up on the T-Shirt side business.  While this was a fun hobby and creative outlet that started as something to do while trapped in doors for 6 months during the Minnesota winters, the amount of space and time needed to run this successfully (at least how I would define successfully) was no longer available.  First of all, I moved to Scottsdale AZ 3 years back and am no longer trapped inside by weather so cold it can literally burn your skin.  With that, I dumped the remaining stock of blank shirts and screen printing equipment on craigslist and actually got back a good portion of what I had invested.  Sales on the anti-Oklahoma football shirts I had ended up specializing in were steady at 2-3 shirts every week, but they were no where near enough to warrant the massive over-head of supplies that always having each size available necessitates.  If anything I am left with an appreciation of what goes in to producing a quality item from start to finish, especially when produced in small limited runs (i.e. not in China for Target or Wal-Mart sized retailers).  And finally let's not forget that tax ID needed for is a pain in the butt.  Moral of the story, I learned a lot about screen printing, had a lot of fun, and maybe broke even in the process.

That Said, my willingness to let go of the equipment hinged largely on the somewhat unexpected success of the newer focus of my Etsy store.  Where this had been the shop where I hocked my somewhat mean-spirited T-Shirts to moderate success, I had slowly stopped re-listing items after they had been sold.  Making the shirts had become a pain in the butt and something I wasn't having any fun with.  I would dread the prospect of actually selling one and having to produce the item.  My hobby had become a chore.  The new shop focus almost happened on accident thanks to my mother (from whom I inherit the desire to lurk in seedy antique stores).  This past Christmas, her pinterest addiction at it's peak, she sent me a link to some art prints of vintage cameras that had been printed on vintage dictionary paper wanting to know if I knew how they were doing it.  Given my experience with photoshop, I had a hunch, and it turned out to be correct.  I was able to produce similar prints for her and on a whim posted a few in the shop to see what would happen.  Close to 200 sales later, I am having a lot more fun with creating, designing, and making these prints.  

In addition to the vintage book prints, my interest in mid century, post war America has driven the second focus of the current shop, that of gathering and selling vintage printed advertisements.  Selling these is definitely more of a labor of love and interest in the subject matter than one of seeking profit.  Right now I have posted and will be posting 100's of vintage ads taken from October-December newsweek magazines from 1946, so be sure to check them out!  This period is the start of the golden age of advertising in America that has recently been popularized on shows like mad-men.  What is most interesting to me about these pieces is that nearly every single one features etchings, paintings, watercolors, and/or drawings from some incredibly skilled artists vs. just featuring a photograph.  Also of note, at this point WW2 had recently ended, the war machine economy was transitioning back to consumer products, and thousands of GI's were returning home and heading out to the suburbs with their families.  We see in this era the first ads for civilian vehicles from the Jeep company, the start of ads for commercial airline travel, the end of ads for train travel, and the utter lack of rules for as to how you communicate your product, most evident in the "9 out of 10 doctors recommend camel cigarettes" pieces.  

If you are interested in checking any of them out the shop can be found by clicking here or following the link to an item on the right side bar.