01: Retaining an Audience Through Changing Social Media Platforms with Black Abbey Studios

01: Retaining an Audience Through Changing Social Media Platforms with Black Abbey Studios

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Elizabeth of Black Abbey Studios joins us to discuss engaging with your audience and finding your niche. www.blackabbeystudios.com

You can listen to the episode here (or wherever you listen to podcasts) or read the transcript below:


Chain Assembly: In this episode we get to speak with the amazing Elizabeth Eleanor Davis of Black Abbey Studios. We talk about retaining your audience as your business transitions and we talk quite a bit about prints, which is something I want to discuss in this introduction. 

One thing I noticed early on is when I first decided to make prints of my art, I thought it made sense to try and go for a bulk discount. So I had maybe 10 illustrations that I got 10 prints of, all in the same size and I quickly realized that was a bad idea. If you're at an event and you have stacks of prints for sale, it's going to be pretty boring to the audience if you have multiple copies of the same print. That also tends to make it seem less valuable. So when you are doing your display, I find it a good idea to have just one copy of each print, maybe have it in a couple of different sizes. I try not to double up in my stack of prints which I do display in a folding print rack that you can find at any art store or on Amazon.

For the prices, I tend to go with my smallest ones as a 5x7. Those I notice don't usually sell on their own but once I decided to start adding a mat to them and turning them into 8x10s with that mat then the chances of them selling went up quite a bit. People tend to not want small prints unless they are already matted. That is a rule that I now model my business around. For each print, I put them on a backing board and in a plastic sleeve. And I also print my logo on a thermal printer on a whole bunch of pink stickers. And I put those stickers on the top left of each print. It tends to make the print seem more official, more prestigious, and more of a value product.

I also slip my business card into each one because if I'm selling these to people at an art market, there's a very good chance they will not remember who I am or what my business is by the time they get home and decide to start framing it. So by putting that business card in there, they always have something that they can also slip into that frame and remind them of who it was that made this art and where they got it. Those 5x7s that I mat to an 8x10, I price those at $15 each. Usually those cost me around 50 cents to a dollar to get printed and when I factor in the backing board, the sleeve, the sticker, and the mat it ends up being close to about $3 each so I'm still making a pretty good profit on those prints. Apart from that I also do 8 by 10 prints that I will Matte to an 11 by 14 size which I sell for $20. If I do an 11 by 14 print, that I will not matte and I'll sell those for $30 each. Some of my illustrations I'll also print at 12 by 18 and put them in frames with a black matte. So those are probably the largest that I do regularly. And those I sell for $80 each because they are framed. Those larger format size prints I get done by Printful.com under their poster section. I love the way those matte posters look. The other prints, I traditionally have gotten them from Shutterfly because I can do the pearlescent option, which is beautiful. 

Recently, I bought myself an amazing Canon 1000 Image ProGraph printer, which prints up to 17” by 22” in size. Still learning how to use it. It is a beast of a printer, but I am very excited about being able to make prints myself and even more of a reason to try and avoid bulk orders because I could just stick a large sheet of paper in there and turn that into a bunch of small prints if I crop them out.

So with that in mind, I'm now going to pass this off to my interview with Elizabeth Eleanor Davis of Black Abbey Studios.

A Conversation with Black Abbey Studios

Chain Assembly:  I am joined by the amazing Elizabeth Eleanor Davis, also known as Black Abbey Studio. If you guys are curious, you will be able to see Eleanor's gorgeous work at a solo show he is doing at Lil Indies in Orlando, Florida, September 15th of this year. And Elizabeth has been working as an artist since 2005. So, Elizabeth, thank you so much for your time. 

Black Abbey: Thank you for having me. 

CA: Why don't you tell me a bit about how you would describe what your business looks like? 

BA: Well, currently, I focus mostly on fine art, original prints. original paintings and prints. I have like a, I sell through my own proprietary website as well as on social media. I do a bunch of in-person, you know, viewings around galleries and art bars all around central Florida. I've been in a couple of museums here and there. And occasionally I'll do like an art market or two if I feel like my stuff kind of fits in that niche and it's a good opportunity. Well, awesome. So there's already a lot of things that you and I have in common as far as our avenues. 

CA: So I've got like a million questions now just off of that, which is good. Because I was worried I wouldn't know how to fill time. First off, I want to say also your website is beautiful. Is that like a kind of cool like Shopify or Wix or did you build the whole thing from scratch? 

BA: So I use like a little plucky kind of upstart company called IndieMade. Yeah. And I, you know, they have very reasonably priced tiers. And what I like about them is it's kind of easy to use. I'm not very tech savvy. And so you can pick templates, but it's just enough so you can kind of make it your own, put your own flavor to it, but controlled enough that you don't have to code a whole thing, right? The other thing I love about them is their customer service is just really kind of outstanding. So if something's not working or gets pulled down, I'm not waiting like 72 hours to hear from some bot, you know? I just, I got turned on to them by another artist friend of mine. And it's just been so easy. I've just never switched. 

CA: Okay, cool. So how long have you, I guess, had your platform up that way? 

BA: God, when did I switch to IndieMade? It's been a few years now. Maybe a good four or five years. Before that, I was with Wix. And then before that, I was just kind of on social media. Um, and a friend of mine also kind of, so when I got kind of started, um, you know, certain things were working back in the day, my, my space, I'm dating myself a little bit. Um, I had a big following, but like everybody moved to Facebook, right? So I kind of lost that audience. And so then I was building it back up on Facebook and then Facebook would to change its algorithm and like, you know, stifle posts. So I was losing my audience. And I was getting really frustrated. So I took a couple of local art marketing classes here and run by another artist in town that I really respected. And she had pointed out, you know, the importance of having your own space because everything else is just rented space. You know, Facebook can change at the drop of a dime. We've seen it happen. Instagram can change. TikTok can change. So it's, I'm on there and I do have... followings there, but it's nice to have something that's my own and it's controlled and you can go to it and it's always going to be dependable and the same. So that's kind of why I decided to switch over to IndieMade and just have like a whole website.

CA: I totally see where you're coming from. Like, a good example that I see kind of matches what you're saying is I started off by selling things through Etsy for a long time. And I did decently, especially tarot decks that I make, they sell really well on Etsy. But the problem is anytime somebody would buy a product from me on Etsy, I know in my mind, they're showing it off to people and their friends are saying, where'd you get that? And they're saying, I got it from Etsy, not I got it from Chain Assembly. So that in itself means you're just driving more sales to the Etsy corporation. Rather than building a following, building an audience of people who wanna support you as an individual. So by bringing them to your space where you can communicate with them on your terms and develop that loyalty, from my experience is the most important thing. Like the most valuable thing is to have someone who likes you enough to give you money and then wanna come back and do it again. And that's really hard to do through a platform like Facebook or... selling through Instagram or anything like that. You kind of want them in your space because it's the same as if you had a shop, you know, you want them in your shop to get a sense of who you are as a person. So, yeah. And that also builds out branding, too. And I know branding seems to be kind of a big thing for you, at least with I often see. On your posts, Black Abbey Studios, the art of Eleanor Davis, rather than focusing on your name first versus the brand first. Is that an accurate assessment? Would you say?

BA: Yeah, yeah. And that was kind of deliberate in the beginning because, well, first of all, like, my name is, my name, Elizabeth Davis, is so common. So if you Google it, you're never going to find me. So, and then my middle name, Eleanor, I've been named, I was named after my grandmother when she passed. I had a lot of nostalgia for her. It's a very pretty name. So I decided to add that in because of, you know, sentimentality reasons, but also because I thought it would make me a And then that still was people were having trouble or because it's an E name and an E name, they'd flip flop them and put them in Google opposite. So I was like, well, let me name the studio something. And then, and if you remember either E name and you remember the studio, like you'll find me. So that's kind of where my logic was there. And I think that kind of worked in my favor. Yeah. Sometimes the anonymity is nice, but like, you know. Yeah. 

CA: Well, like for me, I like to promote Chain Assembly as the author of my products rather than myself, because in my crazy imagination, 30 years down the line, some big company is going to want to buy the brand and all the IP for me and I'll be able to retire. So nobody would buy Nick Ribera, but they might buy Chain Assembly. So that's one of the reasons I've done it. And again, I think it does help it. it makes it seem like you're way bigger of an entity than you are, or at least in my case, that's how I feel. 

BA: It is, and it also kind of gave me the opportunity for future growth because right now, you know, it looks like I've focused mostly on fine art and I don't know if that's going to change, but I started dabbling recently in like miniatures or I'll double a little bit in photography. And while I don't have any of those products like currently on the website, like with a studio's name, like I could branch out and do that if I wanted to. 

CA: So that actually is a good segue to your point that you had mentioned since you've been working on this since 2005 and your focus has changed twice. Can you tell me what you thought you were going to be doing in 2005 and how that's changed for what you're doing now? 

BA: So it's kind of crazy. You know, I've always been an artistic person. I took art all through high school. I was creating my own little superheroes and notebooks instead of paying attention to math class. But then when it came time to a side hustle for some reason, I just didn't think fine art was going to make me any money. I don't know why I thought that, but I thought that. So I started doing hair extensions. Big goth hair was in at the time. So I was making these giant big dreadfalls and hawks and all this stuff. And I noticed that those were selling. Those were selling really well. And I kind of thought I would just continue to do that. But... fashion's change and whatever, and my wrists couldn't take it anymore. I was getting carpal tunnel making these things. So I shifted over to jewelry for a little while. And I liked that, but I just found the market to be really saturated and it wasn't quite what I wanted to do. And then it was like, I found a box of paints in my closet that my parents had given me years before and I popped them out one afternoon just to paint, just for something different. And I was hooked. And so within six months, the entire business had pivoted. And I probably for the last time, I don't, I don't really see it. I see it maybe growing, but I don't really see it leaving here. And then people responded to it, I think, because it's very personal and people see that. Um, so yeah, that's kind of how I got here.

CA: The, the, the personal aspect is something I definitely see too, because you share a lot of work in progress. Um, media, uh, socially on social media. which is something I'm personally not good at. I mean, I'm not good at sharing, period. But if I do share something, it's usually not something in process. So I applaud your courage. I mean, not that you have to be courageous to see your stuff. So it's beautiful at any stage. But what I'm saying is, I think that really does help show much you enjoy the process and you enjoy showing off the process.

BA: Yeah, thank you. That's it's interesting too because some people say it's not enough. They're like, well, we want to see a live stream of you painting. And I'm like, you're going to just see the back of my head because I'm like right up here. Like, that's how I eat. Like, but I'm glad the in progress shots are get there because.

CA: So I think in general, I applaud also your just use I saw that you're now recently on TikTok. I watched a bunch of your videos.

BA: Oh, thank you.

CA: I do some TikTok too, but not that often because I just feel like to make a good TikTok video is very time consuming. And I would usually want to spend my time creating a product rather than creating a video about a product. But it's just something I know I have to get better. And in general, all artists have to be good at marketing themselves. So what's your experience with the engagement you're getting on TikTok?

BA: Uh, so I, I should add that I felt the same way. Um, my sisters, I have three younger sisters and they have, so they're all more tech inclined than I am. And, uh, for years, they have been. Barking at me to get on YouTube and to get on tech talk and, you know, put videos, videos. And again, like I didn't want to invest in lighting. I'm not a video editor. I want to paint. I don't want to put all this time into making videos. So they kind of dragged me kicking and screaming to tech talk. But I'm glad that they did because the engagement there has been really kind of humbling in a way. I get so many more eyes on it on TikTok than I ever did on Facebook. And I guess that's just because that's where the audience is currently. That's where everyone's on it.

CA: I've noticed that too. Like I'm a huge TikTok consumer and I know I'm personally way more likely to engage in a video I find interesting. on TikTok than if it was YouTube. Like if I see a video on YouTube and I think it's great, I'm not gonna comment. If I see a video on TikTok that I think is great, I'm probably gonna comment, I'm gonna share it with people. And I also know anytime I share a video that has some helpful information, I get a lot more engagement. So. Yeah, yeah.

BA: Yeah. I try to be of service to people. Right. Because I think that's a good way, not only to get engagement, but to share what you know. So. I don't have too many of those kind of things on TikTok yet. I think I have like six videos, but along with my work in progress shots and stuff like that on Facebook, like I'll write a blog about how to frame artwork, right? And share that with people because that trips people up sometimes or how to build a gallery wall in your home, you know, stuff that maybe they can use and that is of service to people and keeps them entertained, but also shares a little bit of what I've picked up over the years. Yeah, I've also definitely noticed that TikTok is great when you are actually sharing something useful. People will engage with that for sure.

CA: So you mentioned your blog. Tell me a bit about what kind of topics you cover in that and what kind of engagement do you see from your blog? Yeah, oh my gosh. I don't do it as often as I should. So it's not I think with any of these things, we're talking about YouTube, TikTok, social media, a blog. And so maybe the blog doesn't get the same amount of love because I am not consistent with it. But it's there for people to use as a resource. And it's always nice to have the blog to redirect people to something. So sometimes people will just message me out of the blue and say like, you know, I love your artwork, you know, but I have this piece and I don't know how to frame it. And I was wondering if I could pick your brain. And so I'm glad to talk. them about it, but then I can also direct them to the link of the blog and says like, well, here's my thoughts, but if you want to go read more, you know, so it's a good resource to have for that as well.

CA: So I also want to discuss, so you mentioned that you primarily sell the original paintings and prints. What is your process on getting prints made? I know, so many things up there.

BA: Yeah, I went through a huge journey with that because there is one local fine art printer in town and like that's it in Orlando. And I took some works there to have them scanned, like digitally scanned, and that was expensive. And I am really picky with the fidelity of the final product. So like if I'm going to sell a print of my work, it needs to look as close to the original as possible. I mean, I get that.

CA: You're you're reproducing oil paintings, right?

BA: Yeah, acrylic airbrush, yeah. And I just wasn't happy with the results. The blacks weren't black enough. You know, the contrast was off, the colors were off. And I felt like it was a game of telephone because it's just another person who's doing it. I'm trying to tell somebody and then they're trying to interpret what I want, right? And all that. So I taught myself Photoshop and thankfully my husband is a pretty talented amateur photographer. So we started, photographing the prints at home in the studio, I'll set up like a whole photo setup thing. He'll snap the photos, I'll put them into Photoshop, and then I'll do all the post-work myself, making sure that the colors, the tints, the hues, the vibrance, all of that is good. I don't know if everybody needs to do that, like that's a lot, but like I said, I'm kind of a perfectionist with it and... So that's my process. And then I send those files to the printer to have them printed.

CA: I've been eyeballing this $500 screen calibrator to make sure that the colors on my screen are going to be the most closely aligned with what I'll get out of my printer. So I know what you mean about like you can always go deeper, but at some point you got to be satisfied. So I've gone through the same thing. I've got a local place that does fine art printing and they specialize in dealing with artists. I got some prints made from them. They were terrible. So I'm like, okay, let's see what's out there. I've done Printful just with their simple poster prints. Gorgeous. Love those. I've done Shutterfly because there are usually coupon codes flying around. Their pearl prints are gorgeous. And I've tried Mpix and they refused to print my stuff because it was too erotic. So, okay. So I'm good with them. But I recently bought a beast of a $1,200 large format fine art printer. So I'm slowly learning how to do that. I'm very excited about that thing.

BA: Oh, nice. Yeah, yeah, I thought of, I've dreamt about those. I don't even have the space in my house for it, but that would be cool.

CA: It was very hard to find a space for this thing. So what percentage of your sales for your business would you say is Prince versus originals?

BA: That's a good question. I think I'm very fortunate to have it probably be close to 50-50. I guess it'll just, it just really depends. And most of the originals do sell now. Sometimes it's a slow burn. I just sold a piece last month that I've been sitting on since like 2019. So that's like what, three whole years. But yeah, I think it's about, well, I had some educational, I had some trouble with education in the beginning about prints because I was receiving a lot of pushback. of, oh, well, I only buy original art. I don't buy prints. And I was like, well, the painting is $500. And they're like, well, I don't have $500. And so you don't want to print for $35. So I had kind of a real big stopgap with that. And I just tried to show the value of a fine art print. I signed them all. I number them all. I send little thank you notes with them. I try to do it all on museum quality paper so they don't fade and all that kind of stuff. So that so the print part took a lot longer to kind of for people to get it. You know, if that makes sense.

CA: That that's definitely something that I've noticed with my own businesses. The more I make a print look like I've treated it well, the more it's going to be likely to be sold. So I've got a thermal label printer and I print my logo on like little labels that I put on each print. I put my business card in there. I do really thick backing board and plastic sleeves and I present them very nicely at markets and like a portfolio flippy thingy. I don't know what you'd call it. Like little print flipper dealy. And also I find them just a lot easier to use too. When you are. going to be hanging art at a event, at a market or something like that. So I, I since I only do digital stuff, I don't really have originals to hang, but I hang all my prints and I paint my larger format prints. That'll get people into the booth. So with that in mind, tell me a bit about what your booth setup is when you do markets.

BA: So I haven't honestly done all that many, and I have tremendously the worst luck, like the worst luck. Um, there was one time I was like, there was, nobody was out and I was like, why is like nobody coming to this market? And then someone reminded me that's the day after St. Patrick's day, everyone's hung over and they're asleep at home. It was like, Oh God. Um, I've done some and like the minute the market opens, just colossal thunderstorm and you get rained out. Like, I just kind of have bad luck that way, but, um, what I've done recently, uh, I asked my audience, I said, I have a market coming up. I don't have a lot of time. It's only a two hour market. What would you kind of buy? And it's a small space. So what if I did, I don't know, what do you guys feel about mini prints? Would you be into that? Little five by sevens, little eight by tens. And I got quite a response. And so I thought, okay, let's try that. Let's try little tiny tabletops. And they sold it crazy. They sold it crazy. And I never would have really thought of that if I hadn't asked about it.

CA: That's great. I love the engagement with your audience because that gets them to want to be a part of that sale too. So that's great.

BA: I think so. Yeah. I mean, I think in the past, I'd be afraid to ask because you're the artist, right? You're supposed to know it all. And you're supposed to be the expert. And so if you're asking questions, then I guess maybe one would be afraid that you sound unprofessional. But I don't know if you ask people what they want. They'll tell you. It's funny.

CA: So I've learned over the years that you're never an expert until somebody asks you a question and you have an answer for them. And then you realize you're the expert. So it's kind of funny how that happens. It's like your confidence only occurs when you have a response that someone needed. 

BA: That's kind of true. Yeah, that's funny. Yeah, but what you were saying about having the big ones up in the back of you, I think that's a really good idea too. I don't always have the ability to have a behind. But I did at this market and I hung some originals behind me and that drew people into the table. And then when they saw the little tabletop five by sevens, they just snatched them up. 

CA: So one thing I've absolutely noticed is the more niche the theme of the market is, the better I will do generally sales-wise. So like if I do just a general art event, I'm probably not going to do as well because it's usually going to be attended by older people. And they're not used to seeing the kind of subject matter of my art. But if I do like a punk rock-themed thing or a metal theme or like a spooky theme, then it's going to attract more of an audience that would be interested in my products. 

BA: Yeah, I think that's such a good point you make too. It's finding your audience where they are right. And getting their eyeballs on it. Yeah, there are some art markets here in Orlando that are great. And then there's some that there's like, you know, their landscapes and their palm trees and their gators and Florida stuff. And I don't really that's not my audience. So I'm not going to do well there. But like at the Fringe Festival last month I was at, those are the weirdo art theater kids. They get it. 

CA: Right. I've also noticed, too, that the more regularly the event happens, that'll translate to lower sales. So if it's like a monthly event, I'm not gonna do as well as if it's an annual event. And maybe that's just because they'll spend more time marketing an annual event. People get more excited. They might lock off their calendar, more likely to come to see it. But if it's something that'll happen the following month, they're like, I'll skip it this time. 

BA: Now, do you find, what do you find too without the outdoor markets because of we're in Florida and it's hot. In the summertime, do you find a decrease in like people that come out and how well you do in the heat or do people still come out because I don't do the heat man?

CA: That's a good question. It's kind of hard to say for sure because I feel like in general, there are fewer markets in the summer than there are in the winter around Florida. So it's kind of like a limited data set that my judgment would be based on then. Uh, so whenever I do an indoor market, I always try to bring my full booth anyways, cause I like to rely on hanging stuff from it. So, um, the next one I have coming up is the oddities market in Tampa, which I'm very excited about because it's an annual thing and it's all spooky gothy stuff. So I feel like I'm going to do pretty well there. But there is like a $15 cover charge, which is always kind of weird too, when someone has to pay to go to a place and then there's going to be vendors there. 

BA: Yeah, it's not my favorite either. I know, I know. 

CA: We'll see how that goes. But I mean, most of all the other points seem to be lining up to that it will be a good market for me. 

BA: Yeah, yeah. And I think oddities are good for artists too, because people are looking for something really unique and bespoke. They're not looking, you know, when you go to an oddities expo, you're not looking for something that's off the rack. So, yeah, original art should work in that niche, I would think. 

CA: So aside from paintings and prints, what are the kind of products have you been looking to make, if anything? Well, I recently got on, I'm also on Society 6 and Redbubble. Those are the two sites they manufacture. art for you. And for two reasons, I do have some clients that live overseas and the shipping from me to get to get a print to them is more in the shipping than the print actually costs. So they can go to those sites in order. But also for some people who, you know, don't have a lot of wall space or they live in a city or whatever, they can get like a tote bag off of Redbubble or Society6 or little, you know, coasters or something. So I've branched out to that for those reasons. But again, very carefully curated, because I'm very picky about what my stuff goes on and how it looks. As far as physically what I've been doing in the studio, I don't know, I started working with model miniatures and that was kind of fun, but that's very time consuming. So I don't know if I'll offer that in the future. I'd love to do some more kind of 3D fabrication with like either clay or some kind of thing like that. But I just haven't gotten there yet. And then occasionally I do dabble in the photography. 

CA: I know as artists, we're always looking to experiment with something new. So I totally get that. So, I mean, maybe you could do like photos of your models and sell those as prints just a thought. 

BA: Also recently my husband and I started DJing which is a lot of fun that has kind of nothing to do with art, but it takes a lot of time and we're you know. Yeah, so we're doing that. 

CA: So speaking of that, I forgot to ask, what did you think of the IAMX show? 

Oh, I mean, so if anybody knows me, knows that like you will never get me to shut up about IAMX. He is my favorite band. I have had the incredible fortune to meet him a handful of times. He's the nicest guy. They're always amazing. I just feel completely transported when I'm at an IAMX show, it's like nothing else. It's my favorite thing. Like my favorite thing about being a human being is being able to stand in front of a stage with IAMX on it. 

CA: So for anyone who's listening to this, that's I guess how Elizabeth and I me,t was through the IAMX fan Facebook group. I just asked, is there anyone else in Florida? And Elizabeth chimed in. We were trying to meet up at the show last Tuesday, but didn't happen. That was my third time seeing IAMX. Yourself?

Oh, seven, I guess. But my friend Leanne was there from England. She follows them on tour. She goes to all the shows,sSo she's got me quite beat. 

CA: I've met Leanne at each one of the shows I've been to. 

Well, that's the other kind of cool thing about IAMX in general is that the fan base is so cool. And the people, again, they're always a little off, a little weird, a little neuro-spacey. And so I've just made a lot of really great friends through shows and through Facebook groups. And I'm not like that with other bands. It's really just an IAMX thing. Really cool people you meet just. 

CA: So what are some kind of do you have any, I guess, ultimate plans or visions for what you want your? studio to look like in the future? 

BA: Oh, my goodness, that's a good question. I want it to look like? Like, physically?

CA: Sure. I mean, like, are you envisioning there being like- so I guess an example would be, years ago, I was in New York City, and I went to Alex Gray's studio. And he has two studios. The one I went to was the Temple of the Moon, I think it was, I don't remember exactly. But he had like, events that happened there, it was a gallery, but it also had events like book readings and signings and public art classes and meditation and stuff like that. So different kind of, it was an event space plus his gallery. So as Black Abbey Studios, do you picture there being more of like an audience interaction in the future? Or do you just want to kind of build it as the virtual space and just but still engage on your own terms? 

BA: Yeah, that's a really good question because by nature I am very introverted and I share pictures of the process, and I try to open myself up, but I don't know if I'd want that. There are events in town that where people go and you can attend a live painting and there's an artist in the corner and they're painting while everyone's having coffee or whatever, I don't know that that's me. And I kind of like being able to do it in goblin mode. Like, you know, I throw on some yoga pants and I have no makeup on and no eyebrows and my hair is pulled back and I can just kind of go to town. But I also liked the component of people asking me questions about it and, uh, kind of sharing my thoughts and inspiration. I like that component of it. And I find that when people know the story behind a piece of art, then they form a connection with it. Um, So I don't know, private in the studio and the public in the gallery. How about that?

CA: It's funny you bring that up. Have you looked into Twitch at all?

BA: A little bit. Like during the pandemic, we did a little Twitching with our DJ friends. How about you? Have you thought about that?

CA: If I didn't have a day job, that would probably be one of the first things I would try and dedicate time towards. I have a bunch of friends who do Twitch rather successfully. And by that, I mean, I mean, one of them I graduated from college with, he's now crazy successful. He does printmaking and he'll film the process on Twitch. By the time he's done with the Twitch, he's already sold all of the prints that he made. So he has like an assistant who is actually like, you know, marking off the sales, like home shopping network style as he's making them. In my mind, that is kind of the best way to utilize Twitch. But then I have other friends who write role-playing games for different scenarios, they'll play those scenarios on a Twitch stream and then use that as a way to segue into selling the books of the role-playing games that they've made. So I just love it as a tool to engage while you work on your own terms. That's something that I would love to go to allocate time towards. But it is tough just because you have to have designated time and a regular schedule that people can count on you for. 

BA: Do you think the other barrier to entry would be like making sure you have a good webcam and good lighting and everything, too? Like my webcam, you can see, is not the best. 

CA: So tell me a little bit about this little indie show you have coming up.

BA: I'm really excited about it. Little Indies is a really cool spot in Orlando. I don't know if you've ever been, but it's connected to Will's Pub, which is like one of our bigger, like kind of, not bigger, but independent music venues. And it's lady owned, which is cool. And it's just a really cool little space, really good drinks, really good vibe. Um, and I've been trying to get into that space for a number of years. And then, um, I started working with a curator, uh, at a different bar. And she said, Hey, I'm the curator over at little Indies. Would you be interested? And I don't even think I let her finish the sentence. I just like, it jumps up and down and said, absolutely. So that will open September 15th. Um, I'm super excited to, to hang there. Um, I'm trying to pick the pieces and figure out if I want to do a curated theme or if I just want to do whatever. I kind of have currently I'm trying to see if my husband will DJ it because I like his spooky tunes. So yeah, if everyone anyone's in the area, come say hello, it'll open on the 15th and it'll probably hang for a month. 

CA: That's exciting. It's very exciting. Have you done a solo shows before? 

BA: I have done two solo shows before. The first one was at the LGBTQ center actually in Orlando. They were very nice and I love that space too. And I loved working with them. And then Melissa over at the Falcon Art Bar, she's been very generous. I've been both in juried shows with other artists and my own show with her as well. I'm getting used to it, but it's, in the beginning it was incredibly nerve wracking. Like I could barely walk in the door. I was so nervous. Cause it's, you know, it's one thing when you're going, and to an art show with a bunch of different artists, you know, but when it's just you, like it's just your stuff. There's a lot of pressure. You really do a lot of you, at least with my work, I reveal a lot about myself through it. So it took me some practice to just like. Not shake or not bolt and hide in the bathroom. Remember to talk to people, you know, remember to breathe that kind of thing. So do you regularly hang stuff at local places, I guess, alongside other artists? Yeah, I try to get into as many shows as I can because I don't know if you would have the same, if you've discovered the same thing, but I feel with visual art, it always works better when it's in front of people's eyeballs. You know, like I, you can sell certain things on the internet and you can have a website, but it's seeing it in person, it always looks different and it always looks better. Yeah. So I try to get out there as much as I can.

CA: I know exactly what you mean. I've got this design that I got printed as a Risograph. And like I have it up on my website and I have photos of it as a product for sale. But the photo of the print doesn't look nearly as good as the actual print because it's Risograph. When you get in close, you see all of the individual dots that are made by the machine. And it looks so great in person framed. 

BA: I took a trip to Italy a few years ago, and we went to Florence and in the art museums there and the same paintings that as an artist I've been staring at my entire life in every art class and every art book, like Botticelli and Caravaggio. You would think they'd be so passe because you've seen them so many times before. And I literally had tears in my eyes. They just look so different in person. And that's like that. I'm not trying to compare myself to those artists, but I just think art in general is meant to be enjoyed in person if you can, right? If you can. So with that in mind, I do try to get it out there and try to try to put it in front of as many eyeballs as I can. 

CA: I'm glad you brought that up because I didn't even realize this. But since I do all my art digitally, I always imagine how it's going to look framed or how it's going to look printed in a tarot deck or something like that. I don't ever really imagine it just existing on a screen for its entire life. Yeah. And I guess I had, I never even thought that that's how I envisioned things. Interesting. I'm glad you brought that up. 

BA: And you know, everybody's monitor is a little bit different. Every phone is different. And so sometimes, you know, a lot of your stuff has so colorful and the vividness of it might look different on a monitor, but in front of you, it's going to just like really pop. 

CA: So how much success would you say you have with solo shows or having pieces in jury shows? Is that something that like you I don't want to say you rely on, but it is something that you always look forward to for the sales, not so much as the exposure. 

BA: It really depends. I think every time it's every time it's just kind of a real a crap shoot, really. And I find at least with my work, either it sells immediately or just doesn't. I don't know why. So normally if it hasn't gone, at least within the three, the first few days of a show, I'm thinking like, I'm probably taking that home with me when it's over. But again, it really, it depends on the people and it depends on the audience. So again, I love the Orlando Fringe Festival. It's predominantly a theater festival, but it happens every May in the city. And there's a big visual component of it where they have an undue gallery. You can submit up to three paintings. And then this year they added an art market. And I sell out there every single year. I'd put as many pieces in that show as they would let me. If I could put in more than three, I would put in more than three. But I just think that it's because they just have a lot of people going through. People are there for entertainment purposes. They're there to see shows and spend money. And they're weird theater kids, so they get what I do. They get quirky and whimsy and even the dark and spooky. So I think it just, it really depends. It depends who you're hanging with and it depends where you're hanging, I think. 

CA: So first off, I definitely need to get in that show. I've been wanting to do stuff in Orlando for a while, but there are so many things happening in St. Pete and Tampa Bay where I am. I haven't really needed to leave the area, but I do really wanna do stuff in Orlando.

BA: I'm a little jealous of what you guys got going on from St. Pete, from what I understand, It seems like it's like really popping. 

CA: It's delightful. For me, a big part of my income. OK, maybe not a big part, but at least 10% of my monthly income comes from consignment or from breweries and stuff in the area that are hanging my art. And just like you're saying, sometimes a piece will take forever to sell. Sometimes a piece will never sell. Sometimes a piece will sell the same day you're hanging it up. And what I tell myself is there's always someone out there who wants to buy your piece. They just haven't been to that brewery yet or they haven't gone to that coffee shop yet. Right. So one thing I learned pretty early on is as an artist, you have to be, you have to be okay with storing lots of stuff, storing things for years. And then you have to be okay at some point realizing I should probably throw this out. Just because I've gotten like It took me a while to recognize and appreciate my growth as an artist into a place that allows me to throw away things from when I wasn't as good. And only you can make that judgment on yourself really. 

BA: That's a really good point. I'm thinking of doing something kind of similar soon where I reassess what I've got on my website and maybe like put some prints like in the vault as it were, because it's kind of like far from where I am now, from where I started. And I have painted over a few paintings too, but that's like, you got to really be sure at that point. Yeah, I know what you mean. 

CA: Growing up, my dad, who's a painter, told me that I should always save every drawing I've ever done my entire life- save everything. Because in his mind, you know, as a little kid, I'm going to grow up to be Picasso and a scribble on a piece of paper is going to be worth thousands of dollars. But obviously, that is not the case. So it was very hard, but it was very freeing to throw away half of my sketchbooks. Half of them were only half filled anyways. And looking at them, I'm like, I thought this drawing was the bee’s knees when I was 15. Now it just looks like crap. So it is freeing to throw that stuff out to make way for pieces that I know are much more likely to sell. And if they don't sell, I'm much more proud to hang. 

BA: I totally get that. And no one can really judge you as an artist and judge your growth as an artist except yourself. So it helps to, I find, look back at your old stuff, laugh at how you thought that was good, and then kind of move on from it. 

CA: Yeah, some of my early ones looking back are kind of rough, but. All right, well, I think we covered a lot of stuff. Elizabeth, it was wonderful speaking with you. And again, people can find you at www.blackabbystudios.com. You nailed it: you got Black Abbey Studios on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Society6. Well, Society6, you're the Black Abbey. But I'll post all these links in the show notes too. So thank you so much for taking time to talk to me. 

BA: Yeah, thanks for talking with me too. It was really fun. 

CA: Thank you. It was wonderful. And I'm glad we finally got to meet and chat about how great AIMX was. 

BA: Oh yeah, always. Thank you. 

CA: Alright, bye bye. 

BA: Bye. 


Chain Assembly: Art for Profit’s Sake is recorded through Riverside FM, edited on Adobe Audition, and distributed through Spotify for podcasters. The music is provided by Old Romans. If you found anything helpful, interesting, or useful in this podcast, please rate and review us 5 stars. If you want to learn more about Chain Assembly, head on over to ChainAssembly.com.

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