Updated: Mar 18
I remember when I first started out, the thought of doing prints would have sent me into anaphylactic shock. I was so anti anyone advising me to 'commercialise' my work. My mantra was/ is / always will be- that I am paid so much more than money for doing what I love; I feel much richer now than I ever did earning a decent salary in an office job. So I refused to entertain the idea of selling multiples of my originals. Not only for the reasons I just mentioned but also because I didn't picture my work translating well into a print. Maintaining authenticity, quality, paying tribute to the aesthetics of nature and getting better at what I do are my main motivators. So making prints just didn't make any sense for a long time.
Christmas of 2019 was fast approaching, and I was getting more and more enquiries from people who couldn't fit an original piece into their art budget. Most people (myself included) don't have the luxury of spending money on art, and yet my small but loyal following on social media have supported me and brought me to where I am today. However being the annoyingly sensitive person I am, it would sadden me every time I would reply to an enquiry, and then never hear from them again. So in an effort to include a wider demographic, I starting thinking of ways I could make my art more affordable. That being said I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that the financial struggles of January 2019 were fresh in my memory, and the bleak english months of the new year were just around the corner. And so yes - absolutely! This too played a role in inspiring the idea to make my work more affordable and easier to sell online.
From buying pre-made glass frames online, to embellishing feathers, I tried and tested many things that never made it onto my instagram or anywhere else for that matter. I eventually decided to have a go at printing an image of my work when I realised that the individual Fortnum & Mason Hummingbirds made quite nice images of their own. Skeptical and ready to consolidate my irrational fear and allergy towards making prints, I took the JPEG files to the printer....
PLOT TWIST (you guessed it)- the prints came out much better than I ever imagined. SO MUCH better. This definitely comes down to my amazing photographer and his mega pixel camera- but the detail was epic, and looked amazingly 3D! I really wasn't expecting them to be little pieces of art in their own right. I know that sounds confusing when the whole idea is to make art, but have you ever seen prints of textile 3D looking birds? Because I haven't and I immediately became SO excited and inspired.
So while the idea came from wanting to make my art more accessible, I was not anticipating how this was going to give my business and whole new lease of life. It meant I could run two sides to Lily Adele Art. My commissions/originals which will carry on as normal, and then the prints! Which means every other month or so I can make what ever I feel like making; what ever I am inspired by or what ever I think you guys might like. Then have them photographed and made into Lily Adele Limited Edition Prints 🧚🏻♀️. And no- commissions are all one off pieces made specifically for private individuals, and unless they volunteer them to be made into prints - they will remain unique.
So I launched The Fortnum & Mason Hummingbird prints in November of last year with a post on social media- and within a day they SOLD OUT! I couldn't believe it. I guess they made good Christmas present gifts? Who knows... but it injected me with a crazy amount of energy and I couldn't wait to see where I was going to take this side of the business. I received so many messages from people exclaiming how they had always wanted a piece of my work but couldn't afford it, and how grateful they were that I had done this. I was literally walking on cloud 9 at this point, as its always so nice to know you are making people happy right? Not only that - I realised the business potential, and yes I am aware how this goes against the altruistic picture I painted of myself at the beginning of this post - but trust me when I say I'll never commercialise Lily Adele Art for the sole purpose of making money. Integrity, aesthetics, nature and love of what I do is my driving force. That being said there has always been a little fight inside me to prove people wrong about the stereotype of the "starving artist". I am so used to people asking me how much I charge for a picture, and watching them calculate in their head how much/little I earn. I find it pretty bizarre as with any other line of work - it's seen as rude (anyway rant over). My dream and goal is to just get my business to a comfortable place where I can basically do what I love independently for the rest of my life, and after the success of the first round of prints - that dream suddenly became a little more tangible.
Fast forward to January 2020. Unlike the previous year - prints totally aside, it was strangely one of the most successful months I have had to date. I sold The Fortnum & Mason Peacock and the original Fortnum & Mason Multiple Hummingbirds, and got a whole bunch of commissions. So my plan to save money for the perils of January by selling prints was in no way necessary- but boy am I glad I did it! Anyway I was really looking forward to my next round of prints - and decided to do three Cockatoo Portraits. Upon completion I was really happy with them and went through the whole process of getting them photographed etc etc. However when I received the images- I really didn't like the third cockatoo picture. In the flesh I liked it- but it just didn't look great as an image. So I decided not to use it- which is always a bit devastating when you have poured all that work into it. I think I have learnt a few lessons now with the photography and editing process- and maybe I'll use it in the future if I get a picture that I am happy with. Anyway I decided to launch the two Cockatoo Portraits- and whilst I sold them, they didn't come close to doing nearly as well as The Hummingbirds. Now this could be for a number of reasons, but I came to the conclusion I was making it pretty difficult for people to purchase my work. I was relying on them looking at their phone at the time of my post on social media, and then messaging me, and then me giving them my bank details etc etc. Basically all the no no's of anyone trying to sell something online. And so (lightbulb) the idea of an e-commerce platform popped to mind. Seems like an obvious option I know - but its a big step adding this kind of thing to your website. If you know - you know!
So there we have it- my Print shop is about to open (I am writing this the week before I plan on opening it) but if you are reading this it means I have already pressed live! Fingers crossed its going ok- probably the worst time in history to ever try and launch anything with the uncertainty of the virus ... and like many others, I will undoubtably suffer financially from the economy grinding to a halt. But this is bigger than all of us, bigger than our businesses, our livelihood. It is a time where the whole world unites against a common enemy. We can only carry on, even in isolation and quarantine - staying safe and positive!
Sending all my love to everyone during these uncertain and scary times. All I can say is don't panic but take it seriously and be responsible, if not for your own health then for your neighbour's.
Love L x