Sunday, July 31, 2011

Three Sisters Marketplace - Shops

Three Sisters Marketplace - Shops: "Check out this incredible Shop at Three Sisters' Marketplace! See this artisan's crafts for sale online and also their local classes, workshops and events."
Become a fan of Angela's Artistic Designs and help me reach 20 fans!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

5 Photo Tips for Product Photos

Do you struggle with taking photos good enough to represent your products online?  Without good photos, you are doing yourself and your products a great disservice. Through several months of adjustments, here's what I've learned:

1.  Lighting is the single most important aspect of photography.  Choose natural light whenever possible. Figure out what time of day the sunlight streams into your house and set up a portable photo shop there.  For me it's between 2 and 4:30pm in my dining room.

Some recommend outdoor photos but, for me, that has it's own complications - wind blowing down my set, shadows, too many distractions to compensate for.  I  prefer my indoor setting.

2.  Set the stage.

         a.  Make a photo box.  Use a box larger than your items, cover the inside with white paper, add a lamp to each side and shoot.

         b.  Use a simple yet effective setup that can be put up and taken down in a few minutes.
  • Elevate the item being photographed.  I use a plastic container turned upside down on the table(any box will do.) This brings the item closer to eye level.
  • Place a foam board behind the container to block out the distracting background and create a neutral backdrop.
  • Drape fabric over everything. This eliminates horizon lines in the photo. A white sheet or tablecloth works well. 
3.  What are you photographing?  What is important in this photo that you want the buyer to see?
  • Get down to eye level and get a shot head on, get up above the item and photograph it straight down, turn it over and show us the back, the sides.  When selling online, the details are important. 
  • Fill up the viewfinder with the product your are photographing.
  • If you need something to prop up your product, slide it under the white fabric.
4.  Put your product in context.   Whenever possible show samples of how it's used.
  • Set the table with your plates.  Put flowers in your vase. 
  • Can someone model your product?   
  • Putting a ruler or coin next to smaller items gives a clear idea of size.  
  • Get more ideas from store catalogs. 
  • Research photos from other online sites, see what works and what doesn't.
5. Photoshop your photos.  Many sites to photo edit are available.  I've been using Picasa. It's free and simple enough for me to use. I can redo photos as often as I like.  Photo editing helps with the most important elements for better photos:
  • lighten your photos
  • crop your photos
To lighten my photos, the 2 features I regularly use in Picasa are Highlight and Fill light.  You can add as much or as little light as you need to brighten your photos and it's amazing what a difference this makes. Below are before and after photos using highlight and fill light.

Another tool that I like is the soft focus effect.  It's a personal choice and not everyone likes it for selling their items. Soft focus softens the edges of the photo giving it a dreamy quality which I like for some of my designs.  This is an example of soft focus:

For cropping, one of the best tips is to crop the main photo using CD square.  It gives the best thumbnail.  Cropping is also important to hone in on the details and give a nice close-up or clip out unnecessary background.

Other tips:  

For soft lighting, take photos with the flash off.  Check for shadows and move the item around in the space or move yourself around until the shadows are gone.

All of these tips assume you have a decent digital camera to take photos with.  The higher megapixels, the better photos.  Get the best camera that you can afford and make sure it has a macro on it for taking close-ups.

Before you know it, you'll be taking better photos, you'll find a system that works for you and you'll feel better about representing your products online.

Good luck!  Next up:  Describing your product. 

Angela Di Cicco

Friday, July 15, 2011

5 Things I've learned from selling online

I've been on a huge learning curve since beginning my online business in October 2010.  It was so frustrating in the beginning to have to learn so much.  I felt like I need to rush in order to catch up!  Here's a few insights I've learned in the past few months:

1.  Building a business is like building a house.  It has to be done one careful brick at a time.  It is a process.  Be comfortable with the process.  Take it one step at a time.  In no time at all you will have added to your knowledge pool.

2.  Take great photos.  This was perhaps the most frustrating part for me.  I am a photo hobbyist so it was disheartening to find my photos weren't good enough for my online store (, in my case.) Part of the problem for me was the conversion to digital photos.  Part of the problem was having a good enough camera.  When those issues were finally resolved, I had to figure out

-  How to get the lighting right.
-  How to upload the photos,
-  How to photo-shop them. 

The bonus is that now people comment on how great my photos are!

3.  Be patient and flexible. In the beginning I didn't have any sales.  I decided to add vintage to my shop along with my bouquets.  These brought more people into my shop and I began to make a few sales.  Maybe that won't work for you, but cover all of your bases.  While I want to sell my button bouquets more than anything, I need to bring in an income and I'm willing to make some adjustments until my bouquets really take off!

4.   Do your homework.  While there is much to learn, it is well worth the effort.  Set aside some time each day to learn about RSS feeds, SEO's, taking a great photo.  Every little thing bumps us up to a more professional status.  Once I began taking better photos, I was invited to join and display my products on a number of other sites.  The more sites that have me, the better my chances for sales.

5.  Network.  I joined teams on Etsy, Linkedin, Stumbleupon, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr.  It's time consuming, but that's part of marketing. Each day I spend several hours marketing my products.  There is so much competition out there that we have to be diligent.  We have to tell as many people as possible that we have a shop and it's the best shop with the best items!

Stay tuned for the 5 best ways to take better photos. 

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Angela's Artistic Designs: I love vintage? Don't you?

Angela's Artistic Designs: I love vintage? Don't you?: "I love vintage. It's been a lifelong journey. When I was a little girl, we used to go for rides on Sunday with my elderly Italian grandf..."

I love vintage? Don't you?

I love vintage.  It's been a lifelong journey. 

When I was a little girl, we used to go for rides on Sunday with my elderly Italian grandfather.  We'd stop at the Berlin Mart in New Jersey.  I don't know if it's still there, but the inside was like a cement mall.  Open shop fronts, knockoffs, comic books with the front page torn in half.  Pepperoni and cheese hanging from strings at the deli!

When we finished making the rounds inside, we'd go out to the parking lot where a huge flea market was taking place.  That's where all the good stuff was, the "vintage," although that's not what it was called at the time!  To me it was a lot of junk.  Greasy tools, worn lamps, rusty chains.  Why would you want this old stuff?  At 12, I didn't understand, but my grandfather and my dad loved it. 

Now, I can fully appreciate both vintage and antique and have decorated my home with them through the years.  A sparkling pair of hurricane lamps with crystals adorn my front window and I think about my dad whenever I light them.  He picked them up at a flea market for an unbelievable price!

So here are a few vintage listings from my shop.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Angela's Artistic Designs: I'm back!

Angela's Artistic Designs: I'm back!: "Well, I took the holiday weekend off....and kept going! Our friends have a lovely cabin in West Virginia and I am fortunate enough to be in..."

I'm back!

Well, I took the holiday weekend off....and kept going!  Our friends have a lovely cabin in West Virginia and I am fortunate enough to be invited to visit there several times a year.  It's a relaxing and peaceful log cabin (when it's not crowded with folks!) with a lake off the back, a porch with a tin roof to hear the pitter patter of raindrops, lots of canoeing, tubing, chatting, eating, having fun and friendship. And at the end of the day, a bonfire.

When I'm in the canoe, I feel like Katherine Hepburn in "The African Queen" with Humphrey Bogart, sailing up the river.  Or down the river.  Anyway, it's lovely and I can pretend I am the queen while my hubby paddles upstream.  I do help, of course!  But I prefer to enjoy watching the turtles sunbathing and, when the waters aren't muddy, following the fish.  

So today, it's back to work.  It's a typical Monday in that I'm unfocused and want to crawl back in bed.  I have always said when I had my own business, I wouldn't work on Mondays.  When my business is profitable enough, that's the plan!

Today I listed a vintage LIFE magazine featuring Margaret O'Brien, with plenty of old Ford ads and a spread on Richard Nixon.  If you are creative, take the magazine apart and decoupage!  Or frame up the old photos and decorate an office or family room.
You can find it at:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Daffy Duck quotes & facts

The well-loved Daffy Duck was certainly Daffy!  What I remember most about him is his voice!

"Go on! Shoot me again! I enjoy it! I love the smell of burnt feathers and gunpowder and cordite!"

"I think you're pretty tough, don't I?"

"You're dithpicable"

Daffy's first appearance on TV was in 1937! He starred in over 40 films!  His first was "Porky's Duck Hunt."

Here is an original Daffy Duck cel from Chuck Jones.  It is from the animated Chuck Jones movie, "A Connecticut Rabbit in King Arthur's Court." The cel has been appraised at $800.  I'm parting ways with it after 30 years.  Let me know if you are interested! 

It comes with a certificate of authenticity stating that it is an original artwork from a Chuck Jones Production.

This Daffy Duck cel was made when animation was drawn like a flip-book, with a drawing for each movement. There are no duplicates of this cel!

Friday, July 1, 2011

How do you define your days?

I define my days by how much I get done.  I judge myself by how much was accomplished on my list. I define my life by how many things I can complete.

On a day that I feel scattered and I don’t get much finished, I don’t feel very good about myself.  When I get calls it breaks my concentration and I feel pulled in too many directions. 

I've started to ask myself, "What do I need to do today to feel good about myself?"  If I can accomplish that very small list of one or two items, no matter what else does or doesn't get done, I feel like I've had a productive day.  Sometimes, these are things I'd rather put off doing. And doing those things is a great accomplishment indeed!

So today's accomplishment is adding this mini-bouquet.  I also scanned 2 important documents (now to send them off!)  But what I REALLY want to get done is to send off my children's book to one publisher.  Just one.  One publisher.  I can do this.  One thing. Well, maybe not today.  Maybe Monday.  For sure on Monday!

Etsy mini

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