Etsy predicament

  • Hi,
    Im 16 and I recently opened an etsy store for pet portraits and it turns out my first client was my dad. I know not all artists have parental support but it feels a lot like having your mom go to the school dance with you. Not to mention that the listings were for pet portraits and he just wanted me to draw random Instagram photos to hang up. It feels odd but should it. Money is money but I want my first experience to be one of integrity. I probably sound spoiled but I really need an opinion from other artists. I hope I don’t sound like a douche.


  • SVS OG

    @Ari-Sorokin There’s really no shame in that. I know a number of artists on Etsy whose first buyers are family and friends and that’s totally alright. You start small and once people see that you know your stuff, more clients will come along. Also, my very first children’s book client was my mom. 😂 she asked me to illustrate a short book for her class.

  • I think it's great, though I totally understand how you feel. I do pet portraits as well. I was really excited for my first sale but then realized it was my cousin LoL. And I did feel a little dissapointment. I've since had lots of family sales but it gave me more practice and a bigger collection of images to display. I now sell to lots of people, not family. And occasionally that's still family, for example my aunt commissioned me this year for her cat , it turned out beautifully and I leveraged that image on social media and got paid! It takes time to build up....a few years at minimum unless you're really lucky so one needs patience and practice. And one sale for your shop is better than no sales.
    I'd do something that you knew you have permission to display though. So get permission from the photographer or use a reference image Library that already has built in permission for example wet canvas image reference library so there are no copyright concerns if you want to display any of the images as part of your portfolio of work. It's fine to just hang them on your walls but having more in your portfolio would be a bonus!

  • Pro

    @Ari-Sorokin I understand how you feel, but we all start somewhere! You're only 16 and have an online shop, that in itself is amazing. In a few years when you've had dozens of clients this will hardly matter anymore 🙂

  • @Ari-Sorokin I will echo everyone else here. I totally hear where you are coming from. I have been selling my art for a couple of years, and to this day, the first person to buy every new product is my mom. Every product! I've told her time and again that she doesn't have to, but it's her way of showing me love and support.

    Also, look at it as a good way to get practice and hone your business without making a "real" customer angry. I have found numerous issues with packaging, mailing delays, etc. and because the first customer is my mom, I can fix it without anyone caring too much!

    I hope you have great success in starting your store and I commend you for starting so early. I didn't start until my late 30's and wish I had started much earlier!

    Hope this helps!

  • I understand how you feel. I started putting real effort into my shop last year. My first sales were friends and family and even now they are still a big percentage of my sales. Every time I make a social media post for new items in my shop I always have those overly supportive family members that purchase them in less than 10 minutes after I made my post. But to Etsy a sale is a sale and the more sales you get and good feedback you get the more Etsy boosts your listings closer to the front pages of customers searches. It's a good way to get honest feedback and help support your shop. Hope this helps.

  • My family and friends are banned from buying any of my art. Not a road I want to go down, no matter what they say

  • @Ari-Sorokin I say go with it. He's proud of you and wants to show his support..that's nothing to feel bad about. Keep working and improving and your customer list will grow far beyond supportive family..but one day that first sale will be a sweet memory. [missing my Dad today 🙂 he was my biggest fan as well.]

  • I definitely understand how you feel I painted something a while back and had really only tried to sell it once when my mother in law called and said she knew someone’s who wanted to buy it so I have her a price, later she told me that it was her who wanted it but wanted to pay full price for it so that’s why she didn’t ask it for herself. I felt a little deceived but after swallowing some pride and then guilt I was ok with it of course I would have given her a discount if not for free. But she’s always so sweet and just wanted to be supportive.

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