The Artist’s Guide to Using Bluethumb
New to Bluethumb? Welcome! We’re so glad you found us, and we’d love to help you sell some art.
Our aim is to empower Australian artists to build a sustainable career in the arts, as well as get Australian art into the homes of collectors around the world. Like most things in life, your Bluethumb profile will be most successful if you put in some time and effort. Read on for tips to hit the ground running, or to gain some momentum if you’ve been with us a while.
1. Write an Awesome Bio
Your profile gives collectors their first impression of you and your work, so you want it to appear as professional and clear as possible. First, you’ll need to write an awesome bio. Don’t be shy! Don’t be modest! Tell us everything. The more buyers get to know you, the more likely they are to buy your work.
What inspires you? What have you achieved? What are you good at? Where did you grow up? Where do you work? What influenced your style? What gets your creative juices flowing? What kind of materials do you like to use? All these things will give the public an idea of what makes your work so special.
Keep things concise and make sure there’s no errors in spelling or grammar. You can use spell check on Word or Pages and get someone to double-check your spelling and punctuation one last time. Poor spelling is poor marketing!
Read this post for all our best tips and tricks.
2. Take a Great Profile Photo
When it comes to your profile picture, we strongly recommending uploading a photo of yourself rather than one of your artwork. Better yet, make sure it’s a quality photograph (recent, clear and looks professional). Leaving your profile without a photo looks unprofessional and unfinished.
In fact, we recommend taking a photo of yourself in the studio with your artwork in the background. If you have a friend who’s a photographer, you could even offer an artwork in exchange for a photoshoot. If you’re serious about your art career, high-quality studio shots are likely to come in handy later down the line too.
Read this post for more in depth instructions, and you’ll be ready for your close-up in no time.
Here’s a great example:
2. Prepare to Photograph Your Artwork
Next up, photographing your work. This is perhaps one of the most vital ingredients for success on Bluethumb, so listen closely! You can also click here for a more recent lesson.
To start with, try to use diffuse natural sunlight. A room with large bright windows on a sunny day is excellent, although you should avoid allowing sunlight to shine directly onto your artwork. If you must use artificial light, use multiple indirect light sources rather than the one light source from the flash on your camera.
Use a tripod for your camera if you have access to one. If you don’t, use something firm and stable instead and use the timer on your camera. The most important thing here is that you’re not holding the camera, as the image could become distorted due to shake from your hands and even from your breathing.
Next, hang your artwork on a neutral and un-textured/un-patterned, light-coloured background. White backgrounds will avoid discolouration of your work. Hang/lean it as flat against the wall as you can.
Collectors like to see as much detail as possible, so use all your image allowance and include shots of the back (how it can be hung) as well as the sides (are they painted?) and perhaps one that shows the texture of the paint. If you’re selling your artwork framed, be sure to include the frame in the photo.
Click to enlarge the diagram
3. Take the Photo
Now it’s time to take the picture. Before you do, make sure your camera settings are at their best.
Firstly, photograph at the camera’s highest resolution. Refer to the manual if you’re unsure of how to perform this function.
Next, turn off your flash. The flash is your worst enemy when photographing your artwork. Using a tripod or stable surface will override the need for a flash and save your image from being destroyed by unsightly glare spots, shine and inaccurate colours.
Use the self timer and stand still while the photo is taken. This ensures that you avoid any accidental shake from touching the camera – believe it or not that really can affect the result! Refer to your camera manual if you’re unsure of how to perform this function.
Make sure the art fills most of the viewfinder without cropping off any of the sides or corners. You can crop out any background in post-production.
Point the lens squarely at the artwork; not a degree clockwise or anticlockwise. Make sure the lens and artwork are on parallel planes when you shoot. If you must tilt the artwork slightly, ensure you also tilt the camera so that it’s still at a 90 degree angle to the artwork.
As we mentioned, hanging the artwork on a wall will make it easier to avoid any distortion. If you have a large artwork that you cannot hang on a wall, lay it on the floor/ground and take the photo from above (you may need to hold the camera in this case – stay still!). Be careful with your angle and the direction of the sunlight as per previous tips.
Do your best to make sure your shadow doesn’t appear in the photograph.
If your images are looking warped or swollen, try stepping further away from the artwork and “zooming in”. This will create a more natural amount of depth to the photo and keep the edges from bulging outwards.
Here’s a bad example, obviously:
Here’s a great example! See how you get a real feel for the size and texture of the work:
4. Edit the Photo for Uploading
Now that you’ve taken a great photo, you need to upload it to your computer and edit it for the web. There’s plenty of free picture editing software available online. Many computers will have Microsoft Office Picture Manager or iPhoto already installed. Some others you can use are ACDSee, Irfan View, or GIMP and Adobe Photoshop for more advanced users.
Save your photo as a JPEG (.jpg) file. Select “Save as..” from your file menu to do this.
Then, using the crop tool in your picture editing software, trim the photo right to the edges of the artwork.
Open your photo editing software and go to the photo’s properties (example below). This will tell you how long the sides of the photo are and the file size. We recommend high-resolution images (at least 300 DPI) approximately 2500 px wide. Resize the photo if necessary and remember to make sure that it’s the right way up!
It can be tempting to use a nice filter or brighten the photo, however, this can make the artwork look very different from the real thing. If the photo is too dark, take it again in better light. Misrepresentation of artworks leads to buyers’ complaints and returns.
Finally, save your photo again and upload it to Bluethumb!
5. Describe Your Work
Now for the upload process. This is an important step – a lack of information can cause a loss of interest, whereas accurate information and an interesting story can convince someone to take the leap!
Make sure to note any important details in the description. Is the artwork framed? Does framing cost extra? Are the sides painted? How can it be hung? The description is also where you can tell collectors the story behind the art. What are you trying to convey? What was the inspiration for the piece? You could also capture the imagination and talk about how the artwork might lift a room.
Here’s a bad example:
This painting is of the Northern Territory landscape.
Here’s a great example, from Katherine Gorge by Helen Komene:
“When you make your way through Katherine Gorge in the Northern Territory – known as the Nitmiluk National Park – you can explore the sandstone gorges by boat or foot. From the water you get the stunning view of the ancient rock towing over you in all its majestic beauty and sheer size. This is what inspired me to paint this view, I wanted to capture the sense of perspective and the beautiful array of oranges contrasting with the sky blue.”
6. Add the Details
Measure the height, width and depth of the piece in centimetres (not millimetres!) to one decimal place (eg. 150.6cm x 140.0cm x 2.1cm).
You’ll also need to weigh your artwork. This is necessary for us to calculate postage and is also helpful for the buyer when considering how to hang the work. The easiest way to do this is with your bathroom scales. Weigh yourself, then weigh yourself holding your artwork. Take away the first weight from the second. This leaves you with the weight of your artwork alone. We need to know the weight to one decimal place (eg. 2.4kg).
We also need to know the medium. Canvas? Board? Paper? Did you use acrylic paint? Watercolour? Charcoal? Mixed media (and if so, what kind?)?
If the piece is ready to hang, make sure you tick the box! This is another factor that can make a real difference for people when deciding whether to purchase.
Finally, choose some keywords to help people search for your artwork on the website. This is where you describe it word by word, quite literally. Use words that describe what a person will find in your artwork. For the example given above, keywords might include “outback”, “Australia”, “landscape”, “red”, “dusty”, “tin shed”, “gum trees”, “Uluru”.
7. Value Your Work
There are many things to consider when valuing your work. This is perhaps the most difficult thing to do! Here are some things to consider when placing a price on your efforts.
- The cost of the materials you used when making it.
- The time it took to create your masterpiece.
- The quality of the work.
- The condition of the work – has it been damaged in any way?
- The value of similar artworks on the market.
- Your historical success in selling your work at the prices you’ve set.
- How much it will cost you to package the work in preparation for freight.
Don’t include the cost of freight, as Bluethumb will calculate and add this on. You’ll be able to see how much this is when you enter your price.
Valuing your artwork can be a difficult and subjective thing and may take a few goes to get right. If your artwork isn’t selling at the price you’ve set, give it some time. You may want to consider the quality of the photograph and information you are providing on the website, then consider reducing the price if you’re still not having any luck.
8. Market Yourself
Next up, you need to get some traffic to your profile. While we do our best, we have over 8,000 artists, so a bit of self-promotion really helps you stand out from the crowd. Click here for 5 tips on appealing to as many collectors as possible.
In addition to sharing your profile with existing friends and family, posting your art on social media is a really important step.
Read this post about using Facebook as a marketing tool to get started.
Don’t forget to include a Bluethumb link, and if posting on Instagram or Twitter make sure to use the hashtags #nonudewalls and #bluethumbartist so we can find your posts and give them some love!
9. Package Your Work
Once your artwork is sold, Bluethumb will contact you to let you know it’s time to get your artwork ready for shipping. You’ll have five business days to get all this completed.
There are a few things you need to do:
1. Make sure the artwork you’re sending is the right one! If you’re not sure which artwork has sold, check your profile to find the title in our email.
2. Package your artwork well. You can watch this video for a quick overview of how to go about the process. If the artwork is of significant value, a timber crate is best. Otherwise, use lots of bubble wrap and thick cardboard or a sturdy container (eg. a tube for paper works). We’ve just opened our very own art supplies store, so you can easily restock on boxes, tape, certificates of authenticity, stickers and thank you notes. Alternatively, Pack and Send will pack the artwork for you. Make sure you fill any void or gaps inside the packaging so that there’s no movement inside at all.
3. Finally, get out your permanent marker and in big bold text on the outside of the package write: FRAGILE – Handle Like Eggs!
4. Attach the labels that we sent you and let us know when you can be home to supervise the courier pickup.
10. Get in the Know
Any questions that haven’t been answered above? A good place to start is our help centre. If you can’t find the answer there, reach out to the team via [email protected] or the blue chat bubble in the bottom right corner of the site. You can also give us a call on 1800 122 486.