Saturday, October 3, 2009

Art vs Commerce.

Yesterday, a thread was started in the Etsy forums about the many, many sales, tips for sales (packaging) and promotions that Etsy admin seem to be pushing. Based on the length of the thread, it would seem a lot of sellers think it's gone way too far. I haven't read the whole thread yet, but I can understand where they are coming from. That said, I'm not in complete agreement with the majority of the posters. Here's what I posted which is somewhere on page 51 I think:

"I haven't yet read all 50 pages of this thread, though I will try to later. Therefore, my comments may be somewhat random...

However, it seems to me this is just yet another example of the art versus commerce argument that has been around for the last 150-200 years.

Artists have always had patrons, struck deals, and sold their souls in order to produce the work they love *and* make a living at it. The stereotypical starving artist is a product of the Victorian times and, IMHO, does no one any favors.

In this case, I think it's more a question of finding the right balance between what *you* think you can stomach and what your 'patron' (Etsy!) is pushing. I for one, love nice packaging and consider the whole process an opportunity for artistic expression. I can totally see how others would not.

I do think that in the current economy, Etsy is somewhat justified in pushing a lot of promotions. And as a brand new seller, I, quite frankly, am willing to do quite a lot to get my name out there and sell.

That's just my 2 cents of course. I'm sure many of you will disagree."

Just curious if I'm alone out here? I'm sure I'll get some feedback on the thread, too! Let's hope they can keep it polite...


  1. I agree with your posting 100%. It was well said and very thoughtful. I also consider the packaging to be just another creative outlet for myself, and like to have fun with it.

  2. I agree with what you said to an extent: I have to say that I absolutely love getting beautiful packages from Etsy sellers. However, someone somewhere in that massive thread made a good point too: often during the weekend deals sellers will get convos from buyers who assume that *everyone* is offering free shipping or some sort of discount. It's unfortunate as it can lead to lost sales when it's just not financially viable for the seller to say, "ok, I wasn't officially doing a deal but, because you asked, I'll do it". Especially if the seller's products are not unique and the buyer has the option to go to someone else who maybe can afford to do the free shipping or the 15% off or whatever.

    Just my 2 cents!

  3. I am a new Etsy seller as well and believe there is a place for selling and then there is a point that I am not willing to cross just for a sale.
    I like a neatly packaged item to send or to receive, but am not willing to lose money to go the extra twenty miles they seem to be pushing. I definitely am not willing to allow Etsy Corp to push me into anything that compromises my art or my customers. If I have to raise my rates to accommodate pretty packaging, I am not willing to do that to my loyal customers. Just neat and tidy is fine with me, and hopefully with the buyers. If not, oh well...

  4. Good points! I think what I was trying to get across was that these arguments are nothing new. I basically got shot down for comparing Etsy to patrons of the past, but in today's world, IMO, that *is* sort of what they are. Yes they rely on us as well, and we 'rent' from them, etc etc. But I think the analogy still holds to a certain degree.

    Anyway, I also love beautiful packaging... but I do agree that perhaps Etsy could clarify their position and word these promotions better when it comes to free shipping, special sales, etc. As a former graphic designer, I also know that I can create some of that 'special' packaging pretty inexpensively. I know others can't though and buyers should not expect anything other than neat and tidy. Anything else is just a nice little extra!

    I just think there is a certain contingent that is always going to moan, too. You can't please everyone all the time!