Around 2 years ago, I interviewed TEKSTartist (a.k.a. Jason Markow, the artists who creates stunning graphic designs out of words) where he told us about his art, online stores, projects and future plans (aka Derbby). I thought it’s time for another refreshing interview, and another set of questions were sent to Jason’s inbox, and he being the nicest artist you can get to know, was kind enough to take the time and answer all of my questions (Thanks Jason!). Without further ado, I give you Jason Markow.
Q: in your previous interview, you said that you’ve got 3 other online stores currently in development. Any updates on that?
Back when we last spoke I had three potential projects I was exploring, but hadn’t committed to any of them. One was a digital goods marketplace (which I may still explore down the road). One was a t-shirt site (which I decided not to pursue because I wasn’t passionate enough about it and really didn’t want to take on the tremendous overhead associated with it).
And the third was Derbby.com. This one was special. In short it was the next iteration, an evolution of sorts, of FiveSpotDerby.com. The idea behind the site was to take all the parts that worked with FiveSpot, scrap all the parts that didn’t, rebuild the site from the ground up and open the platform up to a hand selected group of artists from all over the world.
Derbby currently focuses on art and photography. We release 1 new design and 1 new photo every weekday. Just like on FiveSpot, we’re rolling with an “incremental pricing model” where the price of each design starts low and increases with each completed purchase.
We raised a small amount of money, assembled a team, and got to work. We started working on Derbby in November of 2014 and launched almost exactly one year later in November of 2015. We have not yet recouped our initial investment, but I anticipate that we will be profitable by early this summer. So far we’ve released 50 designs on the site and our top artists has sold 40 prints.
Q: How do you manage your time creating art while manning Derbby and the other online stores?
Hahah! Great question. Here’s the thing- I created one piece weekly from April 2013 all the way through October 2015. As soon as we were about a month from launching Derbby I made the decision to pump the brakes on creating art so I could focus 100% of my time on getting the site ready.
I knew after 4 years of creating I could safely switch gears, let the content I’ve created continue to sell. I do still create commissioned pieces here and there, but largely am focusing on the business side of art at the moment.
Q: Is the T-Shirts online store still running? Is this type of stores profitable? How do you see this experience?
It is not. Although it was profitable in the long run apparel is no longer a focus for me. Most of my headaches were related to overhead and inventory. It felt like I needed more inventory on hand than I cared for and I hitting the right inventory levels seemed to be a moving target I didn’t care to keep chasing.
Q: Tell us about your numbers in 2015, on average, how many units were sold and did you reach “best ever” revenues?
Since we last spoke I did see my best revenue numbers ever. To date I’ve sold over 5,000 art pieces to fans across all 50 US States and 25 countries around the globe. The single biggest day in sales I’ve had was a holiday sale where we moved 580 art pieces in 5 hours. On that day I just happened to close two major commissioned projects. At the end of the day I had moved over $22,000 of product in under 24 hours.
Q: Your biggest mistakes in 2015?
Not switching gears to focus full time on Derbby soon enough. I pulled the trigger a month from launching Derbby, but probably should have done it 2-3 months sooner. The countdown to launch was absolute chaos and I feel the project could have benefited from the extra time.
Q: Your big achievements in 2015?
Launching Derbby. Hands down. I stand by my previous advice to “launch quickly, then iterate” Although there are still so many things I want to change about the site, I’m still so incredibly glad that we’re already live and collecting data.
If we waited until the site was perfect we would STILL not be launched, but we’ve already been able to make major changes based off actual data from dozens of artists and hundreds of customers.
Q: Your plans in 2016?
For the foreseeable future, I’ve got my head down and I’m focusing 100% on Derbby. I have other e-commerce projects, and an app, and other art ideas on the back burner. But I’m going to give Derbby everything I’ve got first.