This portion of EMG, the original source of the name "Ellen Million Graphics", later the "Giftshop" and finally the "Fantasy Art Shop," was the first bit that came about, though it's changed significantly, particularly in the last year or so. It's the part with the most baggage, the most history and probably the most visibility. I'll spare you the long version of the history, as it goes back more than 17 years, but start with last year, when I threw up my hands and closed down the bulk of the merchandise site. I had a lot of reasons for doing that - a lot of really good, solid, common sense reasons that I can't find flaws with, and I don't really regret that choice. I look at other people doing shows and selling things, and mostly I feel one big sense of relief that I don't have that on my plate any longer.
But, unwilling to leave my artists entirely in a bind, and with a desire to continue to fill the fantasy art needs of my customers, I tried something a little different, and built a place where artists could list their own work for sale, including at outside sites. I set up some affiliate services, and coded in a completely new submission system, and... it was a flop.
Some of this was me, I will not shirk that part. I didn't get the site up to my own personal quality standards, so burnt out this year on the project (and personal health problems) that I could barely stand to look at the code. After I was hacked, I put in the security settings that were necessary, but otherwise pretty much shunted it aside and didn't pay it much attention - I had no motivation to continue improving it, and no real support with the content: artists didn't really leap forward to put up their work. I sent out nag after nag after note, and a few - maybe 5% of my original artist pool - came forward and put up a few pieces. In words, there seemed to be good solid interest in the project, but in actual use, not so much. And I didn't push it very hard, after a while, just poked at it once in a while, updated the news once or twice and then did nothing in my big fat 'do nothing' November. (Do nothing except write a novel, that is...)
I look at the site with loathing. It never lived up to its potential, never turned out quite the way I wanted it to, and when I think about the sheer work it would take to get it up to steam, it's pretty overwhelming. And at what reward? I haven't made a single dime off the affiliate end of it, and it's one of those black holes for time and maintenance. I could toy with a new business model for it, maybe charge people to post to it... but who would I be kidding? People aren't posting their work now, when it's free. Charge for advertising? Unlikely and against my general nature.
Nothing stands between this site and the executioner. The remaining stock of oracle decks will go on clearance tomorrow. The bulk of the site will be shut down at the end of the month.
Please note: The coloring books are a separate topic and will be addressed independently in another chopping block post. Stay tuned!