Canadian artist Ryan O'Neill creates free-form and abstract paintings that are inspired by everything from nature to urban graffiti. Ryan, who sells his work online at Ryan O'Neill Studios, talked with IndieMade about finding his niche and the importance of building an online home for one's business.
Want to see how other artists and crafters are making the most out of their IndieMade sites? Check out our Featured Artists series on the IndieMade blog!
When did you first identify yourself as an artist?
I am a self-taught artist, so it took some time. Even after I sold some pieces, I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life; I just did not consider myself an artist. But now, as I sell regular pieces, both retail and wholesale, and I do this on a full-time basis, it starting to sink in. Wow, I am an artist.
Who or what are the biggest influences of your work?
I try very hard not to be influenced by other artists so I can create very original work. But that is so hard, because there is great art being made and I love all types of art — painting, pottery, sculpture, jewelry and even design. What influences me more are the colors and texture in both urban living and nature.
What is your favorite piece of work you have created, and why?
By far it is "Graphic Noir" (pictured at right), a piece I painted for a contest and won last year. I was the winner of a Talenthouse creative invite to collaborate with U2 as part of the 20th anniversary of the "Achtung Baby" album on a collage, and my painting was included. It was an amazing moment for me. This painting I have never sold; it hangs in my studio.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I am mainly inspired by color and shapes of things, so it can come from anywhere, such as nature, graffiti on a brick wall, fashion, or other art. I am inspired all the time. This is why I need to paint every day, and I do.
What piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in the art business?
Find a niche today and get known in it. It is hard to duplicate other people's success, because so many people are trying. Find different ways to market yourself and your work. Create every day, and show people every day what you create.
How did you start selling art online, and where do you sell your work now?
My wife pushed me to sell on Etsy, because it was easy and cheap to get started, and then it grew from there. I sell on Etsy, Ebay, Storenvy, and IndieMade, of course. My main niche now is wholesale to gift stores, museum gift shops, and design shops.
What inspired you to expand your business beyond the marketplaces and launch your own site?
I felt that, as I started to sell more wholesale, I needed a proper place for stores to visit and see my lines. I needed a place to call home so I can grow my wholesale lines and market them without spending too much time. So IndieMade came along at the perfect time for me. It's easy to set up and use, and you cannot beat the price. I can make changes easily, and it is socially connected, which is so important for today's artists. I also like that it is connected to my Etsy shop so I can load products on IndieMade and Etsy at the same time. (Editor's note: For more information on how to connect your IndieMade site to your Etsy shop, check out our Etsy Connect handbook page.)
How are you promoting your business online and using social media?
I use a lot of social media, like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I'm not sure you can market today without it, especially if you're trying to get noticed as an artist.
Do you have any future projects in the works?
Now that my abstract work is selling well, I am creating a new line called Art and Soul, which is a new line of original abstract paintings for yoga and spiritual gift stores. The new line will be launched in the next few weeks and will be available on my IndieMade site.