I’m so excited to share this interview with you today! My long time readers may have already heard me mention Adri Luna, as we met in an art class in 2007 and have been close friends ever since. We’ve also worked on several projects together over the years (from afar — Adri is currently in Kansas City, MO and I’m in Portland, OR), and she is my trusted business and art accountability partner each week. But she’s also a successful and talented artist in her own right with a thriving Etsy shop, so I’m happy to share her words and advice about the business of being an artist, as well as her art, here in this interview.
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Meet the Artist: Adri Luna Studio
Jules: First, please tell my readers a bit about yourself (since I already know you! 😉)
Adri: Well, I’m an abstract artist living in Kansas City, Mo. I attended the Kansas City Art Institute and loved Kansas City so much I decided to stay. There is a really great culture in the city supporting makers and artists. I started selling online in 2014 with an Etsy and it took a few years for me to figure out what I was doing wrong and slowly make changes and grow.
Jules: I have loved seeing your art evolve through the years. When did you decide to take your art – as a business – seriously? What habits do you strongly believe contribute to your success?
Adri: I really decided to take my art business seriously after I set up my Etsy shop and didn’t sell anything for a year. When I did get a sale I was so surprised and shocked! The reason I wasn’t getting any sales was because I had built my shop in a week, had weak photos and basically didn’t really put in a lot of effort.
After that first sale I decided to start focusing on creating a shop that really focused on my paintings instead of every print, painting, drawing, collage and paper sculpture I had ever done. I believe once I started focusing and tackling problems my shop started to improve and sales started happening. I can mark this change from the time I started using an accountability partner and checking in weekly with my goals.
Jules: Ha! I think I know that accountability partner well! 😉 Did you always paint abstracts?
Adri: I did not always paint abstracts. I used to love painting landscapes and buildings (think Edward Hopper) but when you live in a city that has extremely rough winters and summers, painting outdoors can’t happen. I slowly started working smaller with inks and watercolors due to space limitations. Abstracts are perfect for me because I love to manipulate the ink, adding to it while it is drying or blotting it away after a minute to discover what reticulations are left behind.
Jules: How long have you been selling online? Was that the first place you starting selling your work online? And have you tried other platforms?
Adri: I first started selling on Etsy and I have tried (and left) several platforms since the beginning. I have been on Aftcra, Shopify, Squarespace, Society6, Tictail and Redbubble. Society6 is nice because you can upload your work and get a paycheck once a month without doing too much but the other sites were costly and did not bring in any sales so they were eventually cut.
Jules: Ha! I’ve been there, too! Looking back, do you think you could have done things differently or better?
Adri: I believe if I focused more on each site and narrowed it down I might have found success on another site. I still might be able to do that but realistically I can drive traffic to my Etsy store and earn potential sales from random Etsy shoppers. It seems like a waste of time to set up, promote, and track another shop when it’s all available on Etsy.
In the future I would like to sell bigger paintings and paper sculptures on my website and prints on my Etsy shop.
Jules: How often do you add new artwork to your shop? If you sell on multiple platforms, do you have a system for keeping track of what sells and where?
Adri: On average I add work weekly. What I usually do is take a pile of paintings and scan them when the pile is getting too big. Over several months I will edit and add the images to mockups in batches and then upload them to Etsy. I try to space it out so every week I am either adding one item to my shop or opening a random listing and editing it.
This shows Etsy I’m an active seller and I have found so many little typos or phrases that I can change. I have 130 listings and many of them have the same exact text from when I first started so it has been a slow process changing and tweaking the wording to make my listings strong and more SEO friendly.
Jules: Do you have a social media strategy for driving traffic to your shop?
Adri: I do not. I post updates from the studio on Instagram mingled with shots of clouds because they inspire me. My only plan so far is to post consistently and show people who visit my socials a glimpse of my artwork and studio life.
Jules: Do you drive traffic to your Etsy shop in other ways? Or do you mainly rely on Etsy search to bring you buyers?
Adri: I mainly rely on Etsy but I do put a lot of work into spreading my work on Pinterest with beautiful imagery and links to my website and Etsy.
Jules: Your Pinterest feed is beautiful! But tell me, is there anything you find particularly challenging or frustrating about selling on Etsy?
Adri: Etsy is always changing the game and that makes it hard to figure out what the best strategy is for my shop. It used to be that you should fill the title of up with as many good keywords and phrases as you could fit (without being spammy… somehow…) and now they are changing it to be more Google friendly which means shorter and concise titles. This means constant revamping and making sure what you are doing is actually going to benefit your shop.
Jules: Isn’t that the truth! Do you remove any old art that doesn’t seem to sell as well?
Adri: Yes. I have removed a few pieces that I had up that sell but i hate them! Just because you make it doesn’t mean it’s amazing and at some point I was just putting anything I had into my shop to get up to 100 listings. Now that I am past that I am starting to cull and remove paintings that are not that strong. Usually I revamp the text and tags and if they still have no views after a few months then I change the images.
Jules: That’s a really smart plan. Do you set any sales goals for your art?
Adri: I set goals and I usually meet them. I used to set crazy high goals and I still do but I set smaller goals that I can cross off my list every every day, week, month and quarter. My sales range from $200 to $1400 any given month so my main goal right now is to get that fairly stabilized. I would like to make at least $500 a month in profit for a whole year before I start moving onto other platforms like selling from my site or tictail.
Jules: What advice would you give to artists hoping to sell work online?
Adri: I have so much advice for you! Too much really! I will give you some of the bigger things that have helped me grow…
Take your time to really learn about your selling platform – if that means dropping $200 on a course then do it! I spent two years trying to learn Etsy and finally took a course and things were so clear. If nothing else you can do what they say to do and then change what isn’t working for you. What Etsy requires is completely different from Society6.
Picture, pictures, pictures. Always have wonderful pictures and if you can’t then get someone else to do it. Pay them, trade them, learn how to do it yourself because they are what will sell your product.
Track your progress. I thought I made a lot more than I did one year because I was NOT counting how much I spent, just ballpark guesses. Good or bad, you need to know if something you are selling is selling for 150.00 but you are only making 4.00 in profit!
Don’t be everyone online. Pick a few platforms (like Instagram for visuals) and make it wonderful. If you go to my Instagram you see my whole world and all the colors and clouds that represent me and my brand. My facebook page? Some sales and an article repost from four months ago. My twitter? Images or art, contest entries and a live tweeting from a storm while I was dog sitting. Whoever sees that Twitter is most likely not going to buy art from me.
Jules: Great advice! I like sticking to 2 social media platforms: one YOU love and one your PATRONS love!
And finally, some quick and fun questions:
If you could collaborate with any other artist, living or dead, who would it be?
Adri: Tie between Wayne Thiebaud and Edward Hopper. Their paintings make me feel homesick for a time and place I have never been and I would love to give people that feeling.
Jules: What is your favorite music/song/band to listen to while making art?
Adri: Stranger Things Soundtrack and melancholy mixes on Spotify. There is a mix called Deep Focus that really makes time fly. Also, I just discovered Esbe and it changes the vibe of creating.
Jules: What is your favorite art movement/period of art history?
Adri: American Realism.
Jules: What/who/where inspires you most?
Adri: Ugh, I don’t want to be corny here but my husband. He is my biggest cheerleader and when I explain my art and ideas he brings a fantastic non-artistic discussion to the table that changes how I think.
Jules: Aww! That’s so cute (and lucky you for having such a supportive and engaged partner!) Who is your favorite artist to follow on Social Media?
Jules: And last but not least, any final thoughts?
Adri: I have this quote on a sticky note on my desk, “Life is full of rejection, big and small. Hiding away won’t get you far. Choosing the path of least resistance may seem like the easy way but it is a road to nowhere. Choosing to make your art into a career means putting the most intimate pieces of yourself out into the world for all to see. It is a warrior’s path and requires a warrior spirit.” For the Silo, Brainard Carey
Jules: Wow! I love that quote! Thanks so much for everything, Adri!
You can find more of Adri Luna’s art as well as more about her at: