How I Started A Successful
Side Hustle Creating and Selling Lino Print Art
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Mark Lord and I have set up a lino print business called Lino Lord. I make limited edition hand-printed lino prints to display in people’s homes or places of work.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I’m a professional photographer with 20 years experience and generally, if I’m photographing people, animals and plants in our countryside then I’m very happy. I have a passion for handmade and traditional crafts and skills. Throughout my career, I have photographed many creatives. I have always enjoyed making and creating things myself and early last year we created a lovely studio area at home. I was unsure what it was exactly I wanted to do but do admire some lino print artists so thought I’d give that a try!
I want to create handprinted artwork that is affordable but gives me an income. The great thing about printmaking is, once you have carved your block, you can then print a small number of limited-edition versions of the work, which adds value in comparison to something mass-produced.
Importantly for me, I want to use traditional skills, with little use of technology (ideally nothing electronic in the making of my work), use the best ink, print on the best handmade paper and ultimately produce work that I’m proud of.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
I would consider time as the biggest challenge I face, in the sense that I don’t have much of it! My full-time career is photography, and running my own business means that I have little time for my lino print business. Whatever field you are starting in it can often be an overcrowded market. You must do all you can to stand out from the crowd. I have tried to make my style individual and to share images of my work in a way that shows it off to its best but also distinguishes my work from other people’s.
If you’re a new artist, it can be difficult to find outlets for your work. Approaching galleries can be daunting but with Instagram and Etsy, it is becoming ever easier to connect with the public directly.
Who is your target market?
My target market consists of discerning and individual art lovers who don’t necessarily want to have the same art hanging on their wall as their neighbours! In general, people who are interested in high-quality, handcrafted art with limited availability.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
My work is marketed through Instagram by organically growing my following. I do this by posting regularly with well-considered hashtags and promoted posts. I also hold the occasional competition in which my followers introduce their friends and followers to increase my engagement. In addition to this, I have a shop front on Etsy which promotes my work to those looking to add a lino print (or two!) to their art collection.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
Upon first impressions, I think the visual presentation of my work through my photography helps to attract new clients and encourages initial sales. Post-sale, I believe that the high-quality of the artwork and the personalised attention I take when in contact with my clients makes them want to come back for more.
Being a photographer I am visually aware so understand composition for my work as well as being able to photograph it well. Being able to light your work well and create visually stimulating images of it help in selling it. Also as I have been a freelance photographer since 2004 I am experienced at running a self-employed company during the highs and lows and keeping myself proactive all of the time.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
The company is just me, so what I say goes!
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
As stated earlier, I try to use as little technology and external tools as possible in my business. It’s simply the materials that I work with to create the art. Of course, I do use my camera to take photographs, and I can immediately upload them to Instagram and edit from there.
We have a SumUp for taking payments which is useful for when you are at shows etc. There is no monthly fee and you only pay a small percentage of the transaction to them as a fee. I do use Excel spreadsheets for my accounts and also logging my print sales and edit them.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
Do not try to run before you can walk. And this one is particularly for artists and creatives: do not pressure yourself to make every piece of art perfect. For every print that has gone wrong, I have learnt something valuable for the next time.
I would suggest, if you can afford it, dedicating a day or two a week to it if you intend for it to get serious. I am busy with my photography but I am trying to give one day a week up to printmaking and then build on that. Ultimately, I want to strike a balance of photography and printmaking.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Freedom to produce what I want, people enjoying my artwork and being answerable only to myself!
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The anxiety of releasing a new limited edition and worrying that people won’t like it as much as the last one.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
Pressing Matters magazine, is an excellent resource for inexperienced or experienced print makers alike.
Instagram is an excellent platform to meet, be inspired by and engage with fellow artists and galleries. There is an excellent community and I have connected with some fantastic fellow print-makers. My favourite Instagrammers are loutonkin, greglinocuts, angelaharding11 and inkydogstudio.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
Selling more of my prints, having solo exhibitions and producing artwork for book covers.