Specifically, it now includes a noticeable price reduction on larger items, and a far more staggering bargain available for any order of multiple items of the same size and medium. It’s occurred to me that my biggest cost as a seller on all such listings is in the process of shipping and that if I offer listings with two or three items made to order at once, not just one, well, I can reduce the per-item price considerably for customers simply due to the fact that in such a situation, multiple items can be shipped together in a single container. So, as I add this option to all my made to order art listings during this next week, think about the prospect of purchasing three items at once, for the price it’d previously cost to buy two. Great idea especially for situations such as Christmas. Say you’d like to order gifts in advance for a long list of family members, there’s now the option of getting handcrafted gift items, personalized in nature, focused on subjects that appeal to those specific people, an order of three of them, for a single, really stunning low price. These artworks can depict nearly any subject you want, so long as it is not extremely disgusting/obscene/offensive content wise.
That said, you could certainly ask for things like, say, a portrait of a person you care about, a landscape, or a portrait of a pet, a view of your home, indoors or out, or a view of a place you once visited, an imaginative sci-fi or fantasy scene, or something silly or unexpected, maybe fun and oddly specific, like penguins playing with a soccer ball:
You probably shouldn’t ignore the opportunity to do this, as it’s a fantastic idea for holidays or other occasions, but it’s also possible to order a set of two or three items designed not as entirely individual works to split up but as parts of a larger cohesive aesthetic display – a ‘diptych’ or ‘triptych’ that can be posted together along a wall in your house, or in a set of two or three rooms, as matching decoration!
Also cool – I’ve updated a LOT of the pages on TriumphantArtists.com, but the articles section is mostly notably absent from the revised structure. Well, that’s about to change, with a substantial overhaul of the articles area, plus new content in comics and a fun minigame all aimed for release by about the end of July. And there’s also some video production effort going on lately, which is a long way from making it online but I’ve got plans to get things online, batch after batch – dozens of elaborate videos I’ve made over the past two decades, revised and uploaded. Generally speaking, sales of handcrafted art are a big key to keeping those projects moving forward, so any customers who order here are greatly appreciated.
As mentioned (somewhat incessantly) I do have nearly 200 ratings now on my eBay account, all positive, and that’s a solid indicator of my integrity as a vendor. But I’d really love to see that expanded to my Etsy shop and to this shop on HornbostelProductions, so anyone willing to take that leap will find some great deals on both and will be glad they made the decision to try out my storefronts beyond eBay.
Some of my fixed price listings have been sitting for a full year without any orders. It’s been just over a month since the last sale I made on eBay.
So – all of that considered – I think it’s a good time to lower prices a bit.
So if you’re interested in an original work by Matthew Lyles Hornbostel, now’s a good time to order one.
Most of the custom made-to-order art on my eBay shop is now 10-20% cheaper. So go take a look!
Also – the Etsy items are also on sale still and cheaper than they were. An automated Etsy notification was sent to me actually warning me that based on the statistics for similarly sized items in the category, “you may be substantially underpricing your work” and that most other items in my category are priced higher, and therefore able to make a viable profit.
WELL THANKS A LOT ETSY, BUT THERE IS THIS LITTLE THING CALLED A “LOSS LEADER” BUSINESS STRATEGY.
I amwell aware of the fact that my prices are low and that I may be losing money on many of the items I make. That is intentional. I did that on eBay too for the first three years or so, so I could gain the first batch of ratings from customers and establish my shop as a credible, trustworthy venue with a positive reputation! After that I could start to incrementally raise prices over time – while still keeping them lower than almost all other vendors’.
Quite frankly, I would rather make under $3-6/hr doing painting or pastel work, or visual effects, video editing/post, game art assets, etc – than make the same level of income doing long strings of tedious tasks like transcription of audio & video recordings for subtitles or other purposes, or repetitively tagging the content of image files on Mturk so people can search and sort through them easily [on various websites, search engines, etc].
And by the way, I HAVE done those things, and they’re a mind-numbing waste of the [creative] talent I have. But they do pay the bills in times when nothing on my web network is selling, and they do keep the whole thing afloat and inching forward during rough stretches. I think it needs to be clarified that such income streams, while taxed by the government, are not applicable to [paying actors]. That should have been stated in the actors’ pay post, it was a detail I overlooked… the fraction of my income generated outside of and unconnected to my web network and unrelated to creative work is not considered ‘web network’ revenue and none of that goes to cast members.
ACTORS TAKE NOTE OF THIS FINE PRINT:
This distinction matters; it means that the total revenue generated by the web network I run is the baseline that determines the size of residuals in a given year for each actor on each video or other project.
So while transcription and other similar grinding non-creative ‘in between’ work have generated around $1260/year the past three years, for me, on average… that doesn’t add onto the other income made elsewhere.
The only numbers that count for actors are the other revenue sources that now constitute the majority of my income:
-eBay sales [avg. $360/year the last 4 years but generally trending upward over time]
-Art sales I make locally at craft fairs, or elsewhere, or on this website shop, including DVD/Blu Ray releases of video collections and video games. [booming like crazy – over $400 the last 12 months locally, but no success on this website shop yet]
-Etsy sales [none yet despite a strong effort to list items and promote them there, at really low prices.]
-third party or affiliate ad revenue if ever applicable [negligible – under $5/year the past 5 years]
-Freelance work involving creative effort; i.e. videography, vfx, 3d game assets, web graphics, previz, etc. [$240/year on average, over the past 3 years.]
-printed swag like T-shirts on Zazzle/CafePress [minimal so far]
Do keep in mind that most of the art I’ve sold on eBay ‘made to order’ has resulted in enthusiasm, even ecstatic responses, and that if you buy something there you’re likely to be happy with it [judging from past patterns] but that while I am able to do fantastic pet portraits and landscapes, cityscapes, water scenes, still lifes, fantasy/sci-fi work, etc, lots of things I work on turn out well but portraits are a bit of a risky thing to ask of me as the depictions of the people involved will often look a bit ‘off’ from the real people I’m trying to paint/draw, despite my best efforts.
PROBLEMS PAINTING PEOPLE
It’s well known that the human face is generally the hardest image for artists to recreate correctly by hand, due to the enormous portion of our human brains that is wired specifically for the purpose of recognizing who other people are and identifying their emotional states. Our minds are finely attuned to facial recognition of [humans] and that’s why the phenomenon of pareidolia is so common [seeing faces in randomly patterned things like clouds or wall textures] and why we can tell hundreds of people apart very easily but can’t tell individuals apart anywhere near as well when it comes to other species. If the image of a non-human subject is very slightly off, nobody will notice. If it’s an image of a person, though, the image will seem ‘wrong’.
For example, there’s this portrait of my sister Sarah and her new husband (they got married a few days ago – as of early June 2017 – and it was a beautiful wedding. We jokingly called it the Sarah-mony.). The portrayal of the couple in pastel looks a little odd and most people will say so but few can say exactly why; it simply doesn’t quite capture the appearance of the two people I was trying to depict. It’s close but not close enough to break through beyond the uncanny qualities.
So yeah – keep all of this in mind. There are amazing bargains on custom, made to order work on my eBay shop. However, there is a risk that portraits (in particular) which I make may, despite best intentions and a lot of careful effort, may not look quite like the people I am attempting to draw. But I’m generally getting better at it over time.
And to all those of you who want to see my video work, I’ll begin posting it on a little domain I’ve acquired (HornbostelVideos.com) well before the end of summer 2017. There’s also another new domain – SpiralSkiesGame.com – showcasing the new minigame I’ve been developing, and while nothing’s loaded onto either domain yet the websites will both become active soon enough with a bit of content at first and more posted over time.
Items such as the kitten artwork [colored pencil, faved a lot on Etsy but not bought by anyone there] and the Easter chick sold, so it seems my depictions of animals were well received as usual.
I’ve also sold a spectacularly large item on eBay, made to order for a customer there.
That was a colossal 5′ by 8′ item on canvas, I’ve shipped it and it’s on its way to the customer. It cost them $108.
So – all told – I’m in good shape to push things beyond where they were before. I’m ordering a new GPU (video card) for my computer and will try to set that up soon. I’ve also acquired a few other smaller things that I need, and much of that is related to a virtual tour of the former Church of The Redeemer meeting location. That’s one of a handful of Unity 3d projects being developed in tandem, so any shaders, plugins, etc, used for this will also be useful elsewhere.
The Redeemer DVDs were generally very popular and the Blu Rays less so even though they look amazing on a high-def TV. 1280×720 video may not be flawless resolution but it’s well above 720×480. If you’re online asking for a copy, keep in mind that aside from a teaser for the virtual tour, pretty much everything on those discs is church service footage only of interest to the aging people who attended the church prior to 2011.
It’s not exactly a seat of your pants, high octane thriller.
But – it may well lead to some exciting videos making it online, ones that are shorter but way cooler looking and faster-paced, than a church service.
Right now I’m slashing prices on all of my Etsy listings by 20-35% (until May 10) so that’s worth a look. The eBay listings also have mostly dropped by 5-10% as sales there have slowed down slightly lately. A lot of that kind of stuff ebbs and flows. Sometimes I see 3 or 4 people all commission unique artworks in a single week, other times I can go a month with nothing much selling. So it’s hardly consistent and right now I’m expecting a boost in activity, partly due to the sales and reduced pricing, and partly because I have launched a bit of advertising this week. So if you like an item I made, that you see on Etsy, buy it before it sells to someone else.
Okay – a few notes. One is that after a great deal of frustration I’ve gotten my PC working again. I backed everything up and then it went from bad to worse, from ‘blue screen of death’ to ‘black screen of death’ in which I could not even reach the command line. Fortunately I found a way to get back to BSOD, then from there I wiped the C: drive and reinstalled Windows, followed by copying the backed up data back onto the C drive.
The day or two after that? Mostly spent reinstalling a long list of utilities and software packages. Then and only then, could I resume work on a range of projects that had been unfortunately on hold while the computer was screwed up. This has been a huge hassle and I’d like to replace the aging video card as I’ve long suspected it as the root of my PC issues. I know what other better cards are compatible with my desktop, and I am planning to get a replacement, as soon as I’m able to factor it into my budget. To that end:
I’ll be attending a crafts fair at 5700 Lawndale, Houston, TX, this Saturday April 22nd from 9 am to 3 pm. This is the Redeemer Lutheran church buiilding and they’re hosting the event and organizing it, plus some Redeemer Episcopal and Missio Dei Houston members are also involved and participating.
Anyone who wants to meet me there can do so, I’ll have a booth and will be selling handmade art and will also have some great freebies available. Some of those free items may run out quickly so it’s advised to show up on the early side of the event, ideally during the first hour or two.
There’s a massive crafts fair there, plus garage/yard sale and bake sale, bbq, etc. It’s basically one of those huge fundraising deals, which I’ve attended in the past. The booth fees are $25, which gets you an 8 foot table, although it may be too late for anyone else to sign up now.
The vendors keep whatever’s raised, generally, and I am hoping to sell a few handcrafted artworks at this event. I will also have some other stuff like stickers, pencils, prints, push pin buttons, and DVDs/BluRays which are going to go fast it looks like. I’m still agreeing to hand them out for free on a ‘pay what you want’ basis. My dad says they should cost $20 but I’m fine with just handing them out.
Those are mainly of interest to people who have been a part of the Redeemer Episcopal community, but the handmade stuff has much broader appeal.
I have sold a set (triptych) of three artworks at one of these old events, at a price of $90, which was later appraised at $150 by an art dealer. You might find similar bargains here; many items will be marked 15% lower than on Etsy, given the local nature of the event and the fact that they won’t need to be shipped, so shipping isn’t built into the pricing.
What is? Well, materials, plus a rate of about $3 per hour for my creative work on each item. Some items are a bit more if new, or less if old.
Why is next Monday, April 10 – and every Monday after that for the next 15 weeks – going to be epic? Here’s why:
Comics. New T4 content – the Troop 4 Uncensored, pt 4 comic book [divided into 10-12 parts] -and the first portions of Another Road Taken, which have been delayed way, way too long, will be posted during this span. Not that anyone has complained. Most of you either don’t know what I’m even referring to – or do know but have been really patient with me.
Game news. Spiral Skies sees actual up-to-date media content [new stuff to see on a new website specifically chosen for the project – SpiralSkiesGame.com – posted on one of these Mondays. This is something that actually has gotten a bit of response which is great… though at this time nothing is visible on the new domain, just on PanoramicWorlds.com.
The video channel. It’ll be on TriumphantArtists.com. I’ve put some substantial effort into this launch but my friends/actors mostly have yet to sign a digital document I sent them, which, in effect, stalls almost every video I really strongly want online from actually being placed online. When they ask about the videos not being online, I turn the question around and ask them why they have been unwilling to sign the documents I sent them. I tell them that THEY are holding back said releases. Most of them seem genuinely surprised by this. Perhaps once I am pulling in thousands of viewers these holdouts will actually notice, and respond to, the messages I sent.
More artworks on Etsy in the lead up to the mid-April launches. This is the only way that some of the launch content can actually [realistically] materialize faster. If you audience members like the items I list on Etsy then buy them, knowing that those sales [if made in the next few weeks] will finance completion of more videos, etc. So once again, please take a look at my Etsy shop.
Here are the different videos [definitely] making it online in the next 15 weeks. Longer projects are often split into multiple webisodes and I currently estimate between 24 and 36 videos being on the channel by the last of the 15 weeks. 24 is the likely outcome if nobody signs off on the legal documents in the next few weeks. 36, potentially, if a bunch of the signatures are collected soon.
DEFINITELY RELEASED IN NEXT 15 weeks:
–House Trek: The Original Series – this is a reworking of an old video series from 2001-2004 that had a very silly take on space travel, badly going where much better sci fi series had already been before. The fifth episode, the longest one, is now a two parter, and there’s also a short new episode tacked on to the end of the series to bridge the gap between this and the upcoming House Trek: The Next Generation.
–Storm – an old 2003 art video short depicting a rainstorm.
–Storm 2 – new short video two-parter in which I find myself alone in the house unprepared during a severe hurricane.
–Relativity – Escheresque 2004 art video with cool [and recently somewhat reworked] imagery that messes with your perceptions.
–Send in The Clones 1, remastered The brief first  video in the aging ‘Clones’ video series.
–Creativity – 2005 art video short.
–Awakening – new eerie short video in which I find myself struggling with persistently trippy and creepy nightmares which affect my judgement and sanity even when I’m awake.
–Refuge – new 3-episode sci-fi short with some freaky horror-ish surprises. It’s the year 2202, Earth is a poisoned wasteland and the surviving humans have traveled to another world to keep going. But now people are going missing at an alarming rate!
–Sheol – psychological horror/mind bender. Brand new short. After an internet troll interrupts a video chat, and threatens to kill me, I wake up the next morning imprisoned in a horrific death trap.
MAYBE RELEASED IN NEXT 15 weeks:
“Matthew’s Portal” (2005) a classic family mind-bender with a fun and clever story.
“Send in The Clones 2” (2002) My clones rapidly transition from laziness to rebellion.
“Duel 2030” – Recorded in 2007-2008, it’s a dark post-apocalyptic action mini-epic.
“Snow Siege” – The first of the videos I recorded with my cousins, in 2003. A kid-friendly holiday classic.
“Tinyville Disaster” (2003) – A classic comedy made with stop-motion animation.
“Fortress Siege” – a 2009 medieval comedy that is equal parts visually impressive and wackily absurd.
If you’re at all interested, over the next week I am about to start posting a batch of new listings on Etsy and ArtFire. Just FYI, there have been a number of people with bad experiences selling & buying on these platforms, so if something goes wrong and, for example, one of these shops runs into a glitch or the shop suddenly shuts down for no good reason, just know it’s the platform’s decision and their screw-up, not mine. I’ll do my best to handle my shops here with integrity but realistically there are some things I cannot control, like the other sellers [who may cheat you in some cases, or sell shoddy knock-off items that are mass produced in China and not really artful or ‘handmade’] and the decisions of the venue owners. So be careful to buy carefully from vendors within these markets who you know have some sort of good track record – either positive ratings right there or elsewhere. In my case? I do not yet have a clear track record on these shops but I DO HAVE A SOLID 170+ RATINGS ON eBay. And they’re all positive, 100% of them.
You should expect similar outcomes on my other shops, great items, inexpensively priced, with good customer service. And if I do somehow screw up, and overlook something, I’ll do what I can to rectify the mistake. This – delays in shipping or other screw-ups – can happen once in a while due not to malicious intent but simply because I am busy with many customers and things occasionally fall through the cracks.
I have actually been rated negatively on eBay a handful of times but in each case I managed to resolve the complaints involved. I ended up refunding the sale amount, apologizing profusely for the late/damaged item which had trouble in the shipping process… or in one case an item was not quite what the customer was looking for visually. All of these were issues I did try my best to resolve and on these rare occasions, the customers ended up retracting their negative ratings of my shop, usually replacing them with positive ones. The same willingness to exceed customer expectations, and resolve problems even if it means I lose money on the sale, will apply on every shop I run, whether it’s Etsy or ArtFire or eBay or my own shop here on this website.
I am also aiming to post new stuff on my own shop the week after that. This should include some really cool things that I’ve put a ton of work into. Watch for that. Oh – and by the way – there are a couple of amazing eBay auction this week too and they end in a couple of days.
They’re for custom made to order art and the opening bids are under $3 on both listings. You might want to jump in on that!
UPDATE: eBay auctions relisted and the first of the new art items has been posted on Etsy.
All of the video archives in the ‘Stock Footage’ section of TriumphantArtists.com, now have little .GIF previews so you can see what you’re downloading before downloading it.
Here are some great examples of this, in the ‘pyrotechnic’ category:
All of this is free and royalty-free and you can use it in your own video projects. Please, however, don’t try to sell the content or pass it off as your own work. You can, however, redistribute it for free by sharing links to TriumphantArtists.com. Okay?
I have ordered a video camera capable of recording 720p HD video at 120fps. That is, when played back at 30 fps, it’s 1/4 speed, slow motion footage. So the blasts of fire and sparks will look HUGE but they’re really quite small – the nature of high-speed video means that at this framerate everything should move as if it were 16x larger.
The collection will be a modest batch of ‘zero-gravity’ pyrotechnics elements for all your indie sci-fi blockbusters. These are also great for exploding aircraft shots and other explosions that are in the air.
I’m shooting these essentially the same way Hollywood would, but with somewhat cheaper supplies on a smaller scale, and no salary involved.
There’s a little remotely triggered bundle of explosive material, ignited electrically from a switch & radio setup – when the switch is flipped, the radio signal activates an electrical charge and that ignites/blows apart the rest of the materials like coffee creamer, debris chunks, etc. The whole explosive rig is hanging beneath a fireproof black backdrop [Duvetyne cloth] and the surrounding area is sprayed in advance with Fire Gard, a fireproofing liquid, to minimize risk of other things catching on fire. I’ll also have two fire extinguishers on hand, and three containers of water, two of them with spray nozzles, one is basically a large bucket.
I’ll be triggering this from a safe distance wearing a protective mask/goggles. I’ve read up on relevant precautions and will do this as safely as I am able.
The ‘zero gravity’ recording will be captured with an HD camera and telephoto lens; these won’t be under the explosion for obvious reasons, so I’ll be using an acrylic reflecting surface [like a big cheapo mirror] positioned at a 45-degree angle directly under the blast, with the camera viewing and recording the reflection of the explosion off the surface.
I’ve plugged in the physics numbers for the sequences and can say fairly confidently that the main portion of each fire burst effect will last about 2.5-3.6 seconds when played back at 30fps. Maybe some drifting smoke and haze after that but not much else. There may be about seven or eight of them in all. They’re, as I’ve said, small effects by necessity, but the high speed photography will help with that.
This recording effort may occur within 2-3 months, and other supplemental effects for a few of my video projects, a few months after that. If the idea of highly affordable pyrotechnic and other useful video effects elements at under $1 per clip, sounds great, then by all means keep an eye on the TriumphantArtists.com stock media page.
Recapping the recent events of February 2017, just the last month, to remind everyone that despite appearances, a lot of updates do actually happen on my web network if you keep looking:
-eBay auctions with low starting bids continue. Look at these three in particular, especially the top two as they’ve gotten relatively few views so far compared to the third but are nonetheless impressive value:
-The new batch of polls continue to go largely ignored by website visitors. I’ve gotten *hundreds* of visitors to my websites in the past week, over 700 actually, but the polling page seems to be a bit hard for them to find for whatever reason. It’s a shame, too, given the amazing opportunity for the few who actually take a look at that page.
-Membership options just launched. There are some stupendous perks to being a subscriber and signing up for a Premium Membership status here.
The most obvious is free shipping while a member and 15% or more off all HornbostelProductions.com store items. You could get some great bargains on handmade art doing that right now. $4.99/year for 15% or more off everything, and a list of other extras. Really reasonable.
-Ground work laid for some big stuff updated in the next 30 days. As in, major news related to ‘Spiral Skies’, release of House Trek content, and a new batch of HD stock footage, as well as more comics stuff, finally a new vlog entry, and continued expansion of the articles section with even more valuable information. There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes and it’ll be publically revealed over time.
-That goofball auction of five hours of my time. Nobody bid, but I am not really surprised given the brevity of the auction. It was kind of an experiment and it failed. Time to move on. Maybe I’ll try that idea again later on with a longer build up beforehand.
-The Vineyard Video Leisure Group is now moving closer to fruition. I posted a teaser image for it just this evening. [See previous post]
I know, I know, the auction thing I tried last week didn’t go well. I figured it was worth a shot. Maybe I’ll try it again in a month and see if anyone is interested then. A lot of ideas have been suggested to move my creative work forward – and most of them have been underwhelming. Ad revenue? Less than $2 per month at best, even with a few thousand regular visitors, so not a viable option. Art sales work great, on eBay, but that fluctuates wildly and eBay’s fees aren’t great. The subscription option I’m opening up for you here right now, plus the poll I mentioned earlier, seems like a good way to smooth that out – encouraging people to buy on the HornbostelProductions.com shop instead of eBay, by giving everyone great deals. It’s worth a shot and I’m optimistic about how it’ll end up playing out.