Exciting Saturday Spotlight News everyone! I am so pleased to announce that I am officially a collector- of fine art! I’ve known today’s guest now for over ten years and her talent, enthusiasm, dedication and passion for her work never ceases to amaze me. Please welcome to the Lady Janey sofa, the inspirational Melanie from Fine Art by Mel.
Hi Mel, please tell me all about your company and its history
In the 90’s I took a Fine Art Painting degree in Cheltenham. I then went on to happily teach in secondary school for 20 years. I rediscovered my artist’s voice painting in Devon and the Cotswold woodlands close to my home, where I fell in love with the possibilities of creating evocative artwork that mirror the energy and emotion I feel whilst painting.
Before setting up my business, I had been painting for myself, which had in turn led to several large commissions. The response to my work was incredible and quite a surprise. This made me question whether I should be brave enough to approach a gallery, which I did. It was the right decision because In September of 2017 I turned professional when I was offered a solo exhibition at Chapel Arts in Cheltenham. In May 2018 I was selected to exhibit at Saatchi’s ‘The Other Art Fair’ and have just been awarded Artist in Residence at WWT Slimbridge which begins in October, I also have my paintings on permanent display at Mercia Fine Art in Winchcombe. My love of teaching has led me to run my own 3-day, retreat style, painting workshops in my beloved Cotswold landscape at Hawkwood College.
However, the arm of my business we are talking about today is one I am very proud of. FineArtByMel is my online Etsy shop which sells Fine Art Prints of my contemporary landscapes, seascapes and Cotswold woodlands. All prints are from my original studio paintings.
I launched my Etsy print shop about 3 months ago. It was very clear to me that my audience for my artwork was significant. However only a small proportion of people who would like to own my artwork could afford to buy an original. I was therefore passionate about the launch an online Fine Art Print shop. It was simply a matter of time. Prices and sizes range from £75 to £195.
Why is good customer service important?
Customers are often taken my several prints and find it difficult to choose. I include a section on my website and my Etsy shop that gives them some advice on how to choose. For example, I encourage them to find their artwork by thinking about how it speaks to them. Whether it be the colour palette or the atmosphere the painting evokes. Every painting has its own narrative but does not aim to tell you my story instead I know the customer will find their own. However, trusting the instinct of attraction is probably the best measure because that way their artwork will always speak to them and give them more.
I know that I am offering something very special and unique to every one of my customers. They often select their print because they have connected with my artwork on an emotional level, because it triggers a memory, or conjures up an emotion. That’s a pretty powerful response and a huge sense of joy to me as I am always seeking to give this gift through my artwork. To date ‘Hushed Presence’ from the woodland series seems to touch the most people. It comes in two sizes but by far my largest print at 100x84cm is the most popular. ‘A gentle roar in the sea’ is the next most popular. Customers seem to have intense connections to woodlands or the sea.
My customers emotional relationship with my artwork is the reason for their purchase. It means that once framed their print is often hung in an important space in their home, where it takes, “pride of place.” I am always delighted that each of my customers have had the same sense of connection to my artwork. It means that every time a purchase is made I feel that I have already built a relationship with them. Therefore, it is of the upmost importance to me that each customer experiences a caring, bespoke service from me. At the very least that extends to the personalised touches in the packing and the messages.
How would you rate the quality of customer service you deliver and why?
It is very important to me that (I can by my own high standards) rate the quality of my customer service as high.
Behind the scenes I work closely with a local printer to ensure that the colour match and texture of my Fine Art Prints are faithfully reproduced from the original painting, so none of the intensity is lost. This means I am delivering the best quality product possible. The artwork is printed onto Archival Quality Platinum Etching Paper. The weight of paper is important, so my printer uses a heavy gauge paper at 285gsm and 25% cotton. The process is called Giclee printing, the inks are incredibly sophisticated, even down to the lightfast quality which is guaranteed for over 100 years.
Customer service to me means conversation. Therefore, I invite conversations about my customers purchase via Etsy and often Facebook too. Through private messages, I find myself having lovely chats with customers where they tell me why they feel compelled to live with my artwork. It really is a wonderful experience for us both.
Each Fine Art Print is signed and titled by myself. I wrap each one in acid free tissue paper and secure it with bespoke labels, cards and a white ribbon. Each postage tube is decorated individually with paint, sealed and delivered to the post office by myself. Once posted I send a message and the tracking details to the customer via Etsy.
How do you deal with any complaints?
I’m glad to report that I have had no complaints so far. I know that customers find me approachable and I often have conversations with customers prior to or after their purchase. Through my Etsy messages and the information in my shop I encourage customers to contact me if they have any problems. There is usually an open dialogue going on through Etsy or Facebook anyway, which would make it feel less difficult for customers to contact me if any problems should arise.
How do you encourage customer loyalty?
I publish a newsletter called Art Life, which gives my customers the opportunity to find out about events and offers prior to social media launch. It’s nice to give those that support me and follow me the heads up. When I launched my shop I even had a customer (who had bought 2 original paintings from me) purchase at 1.30 in the morning. This was because I had let my newsletter subscribers know that my shop would be open from 12 midnight. She just couldn’t wait because she was so happy that she could buy a print of another of her favourite paintings of mine, ‘Soft Sigh.’ That was a wonderful moment for me. I’m also pleased I worked so hard on this print back in April, as the original sold on the second day of the Saatchi Art Fair in July.
Why should people choose you as a company?
Because they can live with affordable artwork in their home, which will catch their eye and make them smile every day.
Where can people find you?
You can find me via my website where there are social media tabs, links to the Etsy shop, workshops and newsletter. Alternatively, links to social media, newsletter and more can be found by clicking this link.
It has been so lovely to chat to Mel today. She’s an absolute breath of fresh air both on and off canvas and I am so excited to now be a collector of her work. Melanie’s artist’s bio below is just as beautiful as her artwork and I cannot wait to commission another piece for our home.
Until next week everyone! Cin cin!
Lady Janey x
Melanie Cormack Hicks – Artist’s bio
Melanie’s studio at home in the Cotswolds is located only moments away from the woodlands she walks daily and paints within. A getaway in Devon allows her to explore the diverse Jurassic coastline regularly where she can be found on the beach in all weathers, surrounded by paint splattered pebbles.