Today continues my collaboration series as we talk with Bill, owner of House of Six Cats. Imagine my surprise when I found he hails from Oregon, one of my favorite places. The Japanese garden pictured in his original print above was a favorite weekend destination of my husband and I during our brief time living in the Portland area. It is my great pleasure to share Bill's profile with you and his thoughts on collaborations and what makes them work.
My love for photography started when I got my first 35mm camera for my 16th birthday. It was a minolta X700, and I still have it! Fast forward twenty-seven years; that includes a burn out with a ten year hiatus from shooting, three cross country moves, a marriage and birth of our daughter.
It was the birth of our daughter that reignited my passion for photography, that's why she is my shop's avatar [picture that appears on all shop communications]. Because of my renewed love for photography, I finally decided to try to sell my art. I opened my Etsy shop in June of 2007, and quickly became the leader of the then dormant POE (Photographers of Etsy), street team. Now it is the biggest team on Etsy and is approaching 2000 members!
Over the past three years, I have developed a knack of finding unique and functional ways of using my images. Some of these ideas have been more successful than others. I currently offer ceramic art coasters, night lights and jewelry, as well as prints. With the coasters and night lights, I also offer collaborations with other Etsy artisans.
Beside Etsy, I do local craft and art shows. I am in six local Portland shops including a gallery, and I am also in a new, Wichita, Kansas shop that just opened!
I love how these artists work together building on each others' strengths. For example, House of Six Cats offers five incredible ways to enjoying his art: print, pendant, coaster, locket, and night light. Four of these offerings are his own creation, but the locket was a collaboration with another shop, Polarity.
Bill was gracious enough to provide advice to others seeking collaborations. I've edited his replies only enough to place them in conversational form. I asked him to describe how his collaborations formed, what he enjoyed best, what posed a challenge and advice he might give to readers in forming their own.
Initially, I formed collaborations by contacting members on the POE Team list that I had some contact with in the past. Now, people come to me asking to collaborate. I'm always open for new artists who are interested in a collaboration. Either with me and their art, or my art and their creations.
For my collaborations, artists typically give me permission to use their images for the coasters. I can sell them in my shop and they can also sell them in their shop. There have also been times where I have made direct off Etsy sales to friends and family members. For each sale the collaborative artists make a percentage, and we both sign a simple agreement. In addition to the listing, I utilize social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to promote each new listing or new sale.
I truly enjoy getting sales from the collaborative shops! It's exciting and rewarding. The only downside to the process is seeing artists that don't get any sales from the collaboration, that is always a bummer.
When forming your own collaboration, if possible, work with shops that you have a relationship with, or fellow etsians they know. Second, make sure they write up a simple contract/agreement to help protect both yourself and the artists you collaborate with. Third, use your common sense and don't collaborate with someone you don't feel comfortable with.
The biggest joy I've discovered in my new on-line presence is the wealth of learning and sharing that occurs within this community. As a final note, Bill is generously giving away a set of coasters, you can find out more at Bee's Go Buzz, and take advantage of an excellent opportunity to enjoy one of his creations. You can also learn more about this incredible artist at the following sites:
Facebook Fan Page
Facebook Personal Page