Thursday, November 5, 2015

Handmade at Amazon, Perhaps Hard to See

The Oh Mighty Amazon hath brought upon this earth a new opportunity for artisans to sell their wares in the Bezo's Heralded Realm. The new part of Amazon is to be called "Handmade at Amazon".  This is not out of the kindness of Bezo's heart, he simply saw that Etsy had a lot of business and declared - "If they can do it, I can do it better".

Always trying to find a new venue for my work, I applied to be a vendor and was sent this long application that required me to give my business name, my name and address, grades I made on coloring in kindergarten, at what age did I learn to balance a checkbook, if I owned a Kindle, how often I shopped on Amazon, my shoe size, and much more - oh and what I was selling. Four weeks later I get an email that apparently all my initial information checked out and that I needed to complete the attached form, make sure my answers were thorough, and attach photos. Yes, this was the essay section.

Now remember I am a landscape photographer. I take pictures- a lot of them, edit them to find the 1 of 1000 I think is THE ONE, enhance it if I wish it make it look more like a watercolor, or an oil, or just make sure it is the best it can be. Then I send it off to be mounted on canvas. I have no loom with an alpaca in the backyard, no potter's wheel for my clay with a kiln in the basement, no wood shop with rare wood, nor area in the garage where I create works of art by soldering large pieces of metal together.  

The first 2 questions were fairly mundane. The third was Tell us why you think your products should be considered for Handmade at Amazon. In a very long polite paragraph I basically in other words said "Because my work is damn good, I think folks will buy it, and I need the money."

Describe in detail the setting of your studio or work space. Are you kidding? The world is my work space - I'm a landscape photographer. Everything else is done on my lap top. Of course I politely explained this and how after a shoot I came back to my home office where all my equipment was (which it is) and downloaded everything on my laptop (which I do) and worked from there. Once again, no loom, no kiln, no saw, no torch - just me, my camera, my computer, oh, an Ellie, my Norwich who is usually asleep under my feet as I work.

Provide detailed information about the roles of each person who works for you. Uhhh, I'm a lone landscape photographer. I went on to explain this politely in as many words as I could adding that the only other entity involved was the professional processor that did the final canvas.

Walk us step by step through your production process starting with materials to finished product. If your product process differs by product category, please list out by category. I carefully went through as much detail as possible what I did from soup to nuts making sure they understood it is a process, it does take time both in the field and back at my desk. That there is a lot effort that goes into making sure I have taken and selected the "best" shot, ect.

Describe the quality controls and inspection procedures you have put into place to ensure your products are of high quality. Here I went into full detail of how I found and selected the professional processor I use, how long I have been using them, their quality, ect. . . .

Provide up to 8 images that show your studio/work space, how you make your products, materials used, and finished products. Please group the pictures by product category and consolidate all pictures into one file to upload. File cannot be larger than 16MB.  Whoa, whoa, pictures? Of my studio? This was jumping the shark. There wasn't anything to see, just my desk, my computer, and of course Ellie's bed. Then I realized I had just put my extra canvases in storage and finally put up all my camera equipment that had been strewn about. So I brought the canvases back, pulled out of camera equipment and my office looked just like it did last week before I spent a good day cleaning it up. 

So I guess I do have a real "studio" even if I do not have an alpaca in the backyard. But then there are two prairie dogs in the room formerly known as my living room and flying squirrels in my den. Just saying. But I digress.

I photographed my studio/office. Even got a shot of Ellie in her regular spot, figured I needed to document she was real. Found pictures my DH had taken of me in the field taking pictures, adding one of those to show me in "the workplace".

After it was all done and sent it in I knew I had done my best. They said it would take 6 months before I would hear from them again. I doubt I will qualify. I think they are looking for very hands on artisans where they can showcase their studio and them hard at work over a potter's wheel, wearing a welder's mask, using a skill saw, or skillfully working on a loom. With photography, all one sees is the "product". Based on what Amazon has said, I think they want to sell the romance of the "process" as well.

Isn't that ironic, my work of all they are looking at doesn't photograph well. It is hard to SEE the process - so much for the final product.

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