5 Tips For Starting an Art Print Business
When I set off to begin my journey as Kimposed, it was just a fun idea. As you may or may not already know, my trade by day is digital marketing analytics and strategy.
In short, it’s a lot of charts, testing and crunching numbers. I just wanted to be creative again. It had been so long since I had really put down any paint on paper, and I missed it.
I was inspired by modern calligraphy and handlettering, which then got me hooked on Tombow markers. I think I bought 60 different colored markers in a matter of a few weeks.
Anyway, with all things, it took time and practice, and I wanted to hold myself accountable, so I started posting my practice on Instagram. Before I knew it, it was 6 months later, and I had a full-on legitimate business with a website and an Etsy shop.
So what did I learn along the way?
1. Know Your Goals.
This seems like a no-brainer; make a little extra cash from something I enjoy already, right? It’s actually so much more than that.
When you start a brand, even if it’s just to represent your works, you have to establish a clear picture of what exactly your main goals are. To start I had to ask myself the following questions:
- What are you trying to sell?
- Who are you trying to sell to?
- How will you measure success?
Once you get these basic questions out of the way, it’s much easier to develop the brand and voice.
2. It’s Okay to Start Small.
I’d love to open a cute little art boutique where I can go to everyday, but realistically, getting to that point can take quite some time.
Start small. Start with one piece of artwork.
Then think about how your next piece might relate to your last. Before you know it, you’ll have your very own collection.
3. Legalize It.
I used this tip for inventory too. After creating about 10 fully composed (or should I say Kimposed???) pieces, I didn’t go straight to the print shop to grab bulk inventory. To be honest, I didn’t know which artwork would speak to people, and which wouldn’t. So, I used this online service called Printful.
They handle one-off print jobs and will ship it directly to your customers with your branding, and everything! They even print t-shirts, hats, mugs, totes & more.
Although your profit margins are a lower using this service, you’ll gain learnings on what sells. Then you can go make more (and cheaper) prints at a local print shop.
Do your due diligence to make your business a legitimate one. Starting a business isn’t as tough as you think it might be, you just have to do the research. For me this meant:
- Establishing a DBA Fictitious Name
- Getting an Federal & State EIN
- Getting a Business Tax Certificate (Local)
- Getting a Resellers Permit
- Investing in some kind of accounting help (From a professional, Quickbooks or Xero)
This may sound like a lot, but there are plenty of resources that are available to make this easy. It also wasn’t as much of a huge investment as I thought it would be – I was fully set up and ready to go with all of the correct permits and licenses for about $200.
- Federal EIN - the application is free and takes 5 minutes to do on the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online
- State EINs are a bit trickier, so research your state requirements.
- Local business tax certificates and requirements vary by city, but here’s where you can apply for one in San Diego: https://www.sandiego.gov/treasurer/taxesfees/btax/btaxhow
Just trust me, it’s much easier to get all of the legal business stuff done in the beginning, than trying to reel it in later. So just do it!
4. Use Your Network
At first, I didn’t want to bombard my friends with my new business on social media. Something about saying, “Hey! Can you follow me on Instagram and like my Facebook page?” felt too salesy.
In the end, I ended up asking my closest friends to follow me on my artistic journey. Surprisingly enough, I got a ton of support, and many were my very first clients!
You never know who may be paying attention, so it’s better to say something than nothing at all. Just don’t hound anyone, because no one likes that.
5. Track Everything.
Okay, I have to admit, this is the digital marketer in me. Whether it’s visits to your website, clicks to your store or even likes on Instagram, track performance. You never want to put in effort into something blindly, and hope for the best.
If you measure your results, it’ll be much easier to see where and when things are working AND when they’re failing. Tracking your performance will allow you to not only be more efficient in your work, but also more agile when you need to pivot in a new direction.
So there it is! What I’ve learned so far since I’ve started Kimposed. I know I’m still new to the game, and have plenty more to learn, but that’s the fun in owning your passions! Get after it.