etsy / Etsy Treasuries / Handmade

Visual collating – creating treasuries and boards that work.

A major drawcard of websites and platforms such as Etsy and Pinterest is the ability not only to collect beautiful things to enjoy and share, but also to collate them.

And it’s not just for showcasing your finds. Getting the mix right is an important part of promoting your online shop.  It’s the visual equivalent of having your own gallery – so does yours look like somewhere to linger about and enjoy a coffee? Or is it more the digital version of a floordrobe? Erm… excuse me whilst I move some things around.

There are people that collate really well, and people that do it really badly. Personally I think I fit in the middle, I still have a lot to learn. However, having said that, I have had at least one of my treasuries make it to the Etsy front page. I draw a lot on my photography composition skills when collating, and I hope my tips come in handy for you.

Please note that WordPress has squashed the pictures up a little so they look fuzzy. Sorry about that!

Let’s start with the melon treasury below. The treasury was inspired by the round cushion, which popped up in my favourite shops feed.

Have a good look at it and jot down what you think about it.

First of all, I had to find all the items to go into the squares, thinking about the colours and tones around the fresh, relaxing feel I wanted to give.

The treasury above has been collated in a balanced way, but it’s done so fairly subtly. Take another look.

Starting with my hero item, the green cushion which started the Treasury. You can see that it’s slightly angled towards the right. So it looks into the frame.  I almost always structure the ends of my rows to point in towards the middle. It’s a compositional tip taught in portraiture – look into the frame.

Square 2 is almost the same shade of green. What a find! See how it’s angled to slightly draw your eye into the centre? And the cut in the slice of mini pink cake is almost like an arrow. Square 4 is almost like a fullstop. Weighted towards the right of the frame.

Squares 5 and 6 are obviously tied in together with the same shade of pink. But if you look carefully, they also tie in with squares 3 and 4. Just a darker shade. Square 7 is a bit of a wildcard based on it’s watermelon colours, but it does still tie with frame 6. Square 8 ties back in with the greens in the top row. Squares 6 and 7 gently lean towards each other.

Square 9  is possibly the strongest  of the board. It looks into the frame and has a bold punchy colour. It’s followed by a couple of ‘static’ squares (ie they don’t point in any particular direction,and rounded with another full stop – A right weighted image that ties back with the top line.

The bottom line softens the heavy tones of the row above it by moving into gentler shades of rockmelon. Peta’s scarf ties it together by incorporating the green shades from the top row. Sally Anna’s wrap is boldly angled to point you back towards the centre.

Look back at your original notes about the top treasury. Have you changed what you liked about it or got a better understanding about how it works visually?

Look at the chocolate treasury below. This is one that took quite some time to find items and keep it balanced. You can see that the items in the middle squares of each row have slightly lighter background shades than the ends of each row. In doing this I find my eyes go to the edges then are drawn in to the middle.

Balancing your Treasury is a great tool and a very good way to get noticed, but be aware that your top 3 lines need to have the strongest visual composition. That doesn’t mean just throw anything into the last line though (although I’ll admit I have been guilty of this). Only 12 lines get displayed on the Front Page, and it’s not always the 12 you might expect.

It can be a little disappointing for the artists in the bottom row, and the composition is a little different, but apart from encouraging visitors to click the ‘handpicked by’ link, there isn’t much we can do about it. Just be grateful for the attention, I guess!

Anyway, back to talking bout building a Treasury. Treasuries can have all sorts of themes or titles. Over my 5 years on Etsy I’ve illustrated song lyrics, focused on clothing styles, chosen topical holiday themes and sometimes just used colours. Some are harder than others and really take some lateral thinking to fill in the blanks.

For the melon treasury I knew that if I just typed in melon I would probably get a lot of bath products or candles and not much else. So I brainstormed the colours and feelings I got when I think of melon. Some of the things I searched for were:

Honeydew, light green, spring, tangerine, peach, ombre, watermelon, rockmelon, cantaloupe, citrus, lime, melon, orange.

A better example is my Lazy Breakfast treasury which made it to the Etsy main front page and has had over 560 views.

Whilst I did type in ‘breakfast’ as a search item, it didn’t get me very far. So I had to think about what I would have around me at breakfast time or what I’d want in a cafe. This was a case where well styled product photos came into play, such as the chocolate from Cricklewood Chocolate (which admittedly, I probably would eat for breakfast). I can’t recall exactly how it came up in search (perhaps via their green tea choccy which is very nice) but if i hadn’t been searching for things to have with breakfast (tea), I would never have tried their amazing wares.

For this treasury, some of the things I searched for were:
tea, coffee, museli, citrus, grapefruit, bacon, eggs, fruit, breakfast, toast

I remember the Treasury took  couple of hours to put together, pretty tough one, but it was fun! The idea was to create a nice feeling like you get when you open a lifestyle magazine or browse for your home boards on Pinterest.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading through my tips and have picked up some ideas for your next collation. Feel free to experiment with some of my shop items!

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