ArtId Art Blog
Subject: Thanks for your terrific response From: Lisa Pastille Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006
I gotta say, I'm impressed with a company whose President "gets their hands dirty" and actually speaks to the little people. It says a lot about your operation. Thank you for taking the time to answer me.
Let me share with you my response to the ebay offer to artists. I'm not an ebay junkie so it could be that I just don't understand the whole thing. However, it seems to me that, in effect, an artist's piece ultimately gets sold to the lowest bidder rather than the highest bidder. Consider this; an artist places a real world price figure on their piece. No one goes for it. Why? Because most items on that web site are way, way below a real world figure and that's the whole premise of ebay. Great stuff for cheap, no? So what does the artist do? They start the bidding at a super low price to accommodate the web site's unspoken premise and the site's "viewership". The art is ultimately compromised. In the end the artist is the one who doesn't make out. Don't get me wrong. It would be a great situation under other circumstances like selling stuff you'd take to Salvation Army or anything else that would otherwise be sitting in the attic collecting dust. Where am I going wrong here? The scenario I give seems too obvious to me so I figure I must have it wrong. Help.
If in fact, I don't have it wrong, wouldn't it be great if there is something like a "Sotheby's" for the common folk where the art pieces go for a more reasonable real world price as an opening bid. The buyers would be people who respect art in all its forms and would be willing to pay reasonable prices that would be cheaper than going into a gallery to buy but more expensive than anything you'd see on ebay. I don't know. There may be something out there that already exists but it seems that ebay is more trouble than it's worth. I went to the site to see the different kinds of art work. OK, some of it is not my style and I don't see the appeal. For instance, I saw a huge multi panel wall unit which was hand painted and it's going bid is $11!! It costs $35 just to ship it. My God, that's a travesty!!! Talk about an insult! Someone painted their heart out to do that piece and they're only getting $11!! Is this really the environment that the artists on your web site want to try and sell their stuff? The Mind's Island site is a class act and getting better. So when I go over to the ebay site it just seems like I dropped 100 floors of "class" and entered a place where toy hats and used tire wheels are being sold. I don't want to insult ebay because it really is a cool place to get stuff but I just don't see that the environment is respectable enough for "works of the spirit". It's like trying to sell fillet mignon at a Wendy's. Tell me where I'm going wrong. OK, this is long enough. Thanks, again, for the opportunity to share this stuff. I think Mind's Island is terrific and I'm glad to be a part of it. We're all works in progress and, so too, is this site. It's great not to be alone in the journey. Sincerely, Lisa
Subject: Conversations with Lisa :-) From: Betsy Davison Betsy@MindsIsland.com Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2006
Again, thank you for taking the time to send us your thoughts on our newest eBay service and how that may affect who and what Minds Island will become. Yes, we are definitely on a journey - as we grow our goal is to continue to provide excellent service and keep in contact with each one of our members. I can tell you that the Internet is cold and impersonal enough. Our job will be to keep close to the artists and make sure we are headed in the right direction. We have to take chances but when we do, our intent is to go in the direction of offering our artists exposure beyond their local geography, gain traffic, potential clients and ideally - sales.
We want to stay professional and a class act so let me address the reasons why we chose to offer this new service and how eBay stores are treated differently than eBay.com. I have had Dawn, our resident in-house expert on eBay take a look at your email below and much of her input is included in my response.
First, I think you went to ebay.com which in fact does have a bit of a reputation as more of a flea market. There is a huge difference between the auctions on eBay.com and a private eBay store. The new service we are offering is the ability to enter your art item into our store and the price you set for the artwork is the price it sells for. No bidding! Our eBay store doesn't offer you anything but one set price for goods. It's not really a "deal" site. There are stores that sell things cheaply and there are art stores that sell pieces for next to nothing. That is a travesty....I agree! This isn't the norm though. Each store is different. People can browse all of the eBay stores or they can go to just one Minds Island eBay Store.
eBay.com does have auctions and items do sell to the lowest bidder. That's why we wanted to take out a store on eBay so we could separate ourselves and have our artists showcase their work AND set the price as they saw fit. The other thing our artists are always aware of is that their work does sometimes hang on a gallery wall and you can't undercut your galleries by placing an item for sale below market price.
Why did we take on this new service? Bottom line - traffic and sales. eBay has become the largest online retail marketplace on earth! They created stores for exactly the reasons you so eloquently pointed out. Even Google is hot on their heels to come up with a counterpart to eBay.
Our thoughts: Where else would our members have an opportunity to place multiple items for view and for sale to such a broad audience? We're talking about even your local customers. You can advertise that you have works for sale and don't have to worry about taking payment or bad checks - we (and ebay) do all of that for you. Now you also get to show your work to non-traditional customers. These are people that do not live near you but maybe know someone who has mentioned your work or people who would never in their life have heard of you but stumble upon your work because they're searching for canvas paintings of homes in Umbria on the web or on eBay (by the way I was in Tuscany in October and I love this piece).
We are updating our site so that if you post artwork for sale in our eBay store, there will be a button that appears next to that art image in your Minds Island Studio that says "buy it on eBay". This is one more way for our artists to take payment through their Minds Island Studio without having to pay for a merchant account (very expensive). We will also be adding a PayPal button to your studio so you can take payment for one of your items via paypal directly thru your studio.
My goodness, now I'm writing a book! I think I'm going to copy and paste our conversations and make it into an article on the site so others can join in with comments. Blogging will be the next service we introduce so we can invite many others to join in this conversation!
In the end, it is our job to bridge the gap between marketing and selling your work in the traditional fashion and marketing and 'selling' your work on the Internet (I use quotations around 'selling' as we never guarantee that we will sell your work). I find that being 'alone' with your own website on the Internet is much like having your own studio for painting but you're still trying to find the right gallery to help you market your work. Somehow, the art industry just seems to work better when artists work together and not alone. Unless you___'______________™re a well known artist, there won't be too many galleries that can afford to represent one artist! Thus, Minds Island vs. the bricks-n-mortar gallery. We'll keep trying new services, developing and growing to gain the most exposure, traffic and potential clients through advertising for our members and yet we won't be for everyone. It all depends on how artists view their business.
So I hope Dawn and I made sense to you and addressed so many of your good points. I see you've added another studio page to the site and it looks terrific!
Thanks and look forward to your response. Very Best Regards, Betsy
Subject: Conversations with Betsy :) From: "Lisa Pastille" firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2006
Dear Betsy, What a great way to wake up, reading an informative and upbeat e-mail from you! I would be happy to be included in your new blogging feature (as an example of an artist who doesn't have a clue about the great things you're offering your Mind's Island clients).
I'm going to print out your e-mail and file it in my Mind's Island folder. Thanks for filling me in on all this stuff going on at eBay and Mind's Island. When I get an unhurried moment, I'll sit down and digest all that you said. I really appreciate the time you took to accumulate this info and type it into a response to me. Yes, let's not leave out Dawn.
Thanks for your compliments on my work and artist's page. Flattery gets you everywhere. It wasn't until I upgraded my membership that I was drawn back to Mind's Island to take another look at what you offer artists. As you know, some of us artists out here don't have the luxury of ONLY pursuing their art form. I have been a performing musician and singer all my life and have had to do a lot of different things to scrape together many nickels to pay the bills. I have unwittingly followed in the steps of the masters, being a modern day "starving artist". Hard knocks have their place in life. If you're smart, you learn from them as I continue to do.
My point is, because it's human nature to become complacent and distracted with things like, oh, paying the bills, for instance, I wasn't looking at Mind's Island last year when I signed up, as the practical selling tool it is. It was more of a place to direct my prospective clients to see my stuff, kind of legitimize my seriousness as an artist and also it saved me time schlepping my portfolio to each and every client. Mind's Island is great for that, not to mention the affordability, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Upgrading really opened my eyes to the different memberships that Mind's Island offers and all the progress and changes you're making in 2006 (now who's flattering who?). You've got my attention with this upgrade and new avenues are opening in my mind as to how I can market my work. Isn't it funny... just giving a little tweak to old information can give you a new perspective on everything. It's just like the process of creating art.
Thanks for all the work you do for all of us out here. You know what they say, for every one person who speaks up, there are at least 10 more who feel the same but don't speak up, a paraphrase, obviously, but you know what I mean.
OK, motor mouth is done - for now, ha, ha. Talk to you soon, Lisa