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Art Commentary Digital Lifestyles Featured Profiles

The Well-Travelled Artists’ Book

travel-bk_250When my colleagues Charlie Jones and Ralph Petty decided to create a book together, I knew immediately I wanted to be involved somehow. Not that I’m a workaholic or anything, but I knew it was sure to involve 1- TRAVEL; 2- ART;  3 – GREAT FOOD; and of course 4– LOTS OF SERIOUS FUN. When I asked Charlie to include me (WILL WORK FOR LAUGHS!) he cheerfully obliged.

Charlie Jones is our local Renaissance man. He is a Regents Professor of Art in Printmaking at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX, with a very impressive international exhibition record. Currently he has numerous works on show at universities and museums in Russia. In addition to all that, he is an accomplished musician, so anywhere you go with Charlie, there will be music! Oh yeah – and PUNS – lots of groaners! In fact, here he is at the HARD ROCK CAFÉ, JAUJAC, FRANCE:

Ralph Petty is Professor of Art and Gallery Curator at the American University in Paris, France. He too has an impressive record of exhibitions, most recently having shown his work in Japan. He too is an accomplished musician. Put these two guys together and VOILA – PARTY! Seriously, I don’t know whether to say they work hard having fun, or that they have fun working hard. Let’s just say it’s a challenge to keep up, but too much fun to miss!


RALPH IN CENTER, LEADING THE TREK

This wonderful book project is a combination of poetry and prints by both artists. Ralph’s strong suit is his celebration of the vitality of the human figure, especially female, in drawings and paintings. He has worked for many years from the live model, and has also written a number of poems and songs, many of which have been recorded. Charlie too has worked with the human figure, and has produced limited editions of original artists’ books from his home studio, Carizzo Creek Press, and from the Lanana Creek Press which he established at SFASU. Their joint project is a limited edition of 40, with half the edition to go to the American University in Paris, and the other half to remain at SFASU.

Ralph and Charlie spent many months corresponding and collaborating to produce the finished publication, and Charlie set it to press at the Lanana Creek Press with help from his assistant Terri L. Goggans.

Our task this summer in France was to take the bound signatures of the book to Jaujac where Ralph and his wife Lisa Davidson, writer, have an enchanting ancient farm house in the mountains of the Ardeche. Here we would bind the signatures and leave them for Ralph to take back to AUP for the collection there.

Before the pages made their journey to France, in Nacogdoches Charlie and crew (Corinne Jones and Maggi Battalino, both artists) sewed the signatures and prepared them for binding.


Here Charlie punches holes in the signature folds using a precise needle punch that he made to measure for this project.


 

Once all signatures are punched, they can be sewn into what is called the Text Block.

Here I am (Robbie) sewing signatures in Nacogdoches for the SFA portion of the edition. Thanks to Michael N. Roach for these photos of me.

Simple sewing instructions for hand binding books can be found on Philobiblon.com. and in many books on handbinding.

Thread must sometimes be added to finish the set of signatures. A simple knot at the spine does the trick.

AND VOILA! THE SIGNATURES HAVE MADE THEIR WAY TO JAUJAC!

This absolutely beautiful location in the south of France is what Ralph refers to as “My Paradise!” We can see why!


Photo caption: Corinne and Robbie @ morning coffee – what a view!

It’s so easy to work in an environment like this. Each one of us, Charlie, Ralph, Corinne, Maggi and myself, will design our own personal cover for our own copies of the book, our reward for helping with the “labor”. Charlie first experimented with a bookcloth inlay design.

We all enjoyed this creative time, loosening up the right brain cells.

Maggi works away on her personal cover design.

Corinne works on hers, while my design sits to her right.

Robbie’s finished cover design for the book.

Ralph’s will become the design for the full edition to be housed at AUP.

FIRST STEP IN THE BINDING PROCESS– make Headbands for the signatures. This is very simply accomplished by taking heavy twine and wrapping it with glued strips of book cloth of your chosen color. If you sew, you know what piping is. That’s what you are making. A small tab of headband material glued at the Head and at the Tail of the Text Block will give a nicely finished look to the final product.

This is the title page of the text block.

While the glue dries, Corinne enjoys reading the poetry and savoring the prints.

The Colophon at the end of the text block gives all copyright information, and does so with grace.

STEP TWO – Time to glue on the MULL. This is a strip of gauze, fine paper or other material. Glued to the spine of the sewn signatures, it gives added support and strength to the Text Block.

Corinne preps a Text Block to receive the glued Mull.

Ralph smooths out the glued mull along the spine.

Corinne glues a Headband before attaching it to the Text Block. This may be done before or after gluing the Mull. If a long Mull is used, this should be done first.

STEP THREE –The Text Block size determines the size of cover boards, as well as the book cloth needed to cover them. Book cloth should be cut to leave at least ½ inch on all sides around the blocks and spine. Charlie measures carefully where his pre-cut Davey Board will be placed to be glued to the book cloth he has cut for the covers. He glues a Spine Support in the center of the cloth to guide him as he lines up the boards he will glue down

STEP FOUR – Gluing boards with PVA glue or Methyl Cellulose.

CAREFULLY line up the boards to your measurement marks and press.

Both boards are now glued down.

Time to turn over the cover and smooth it out before the glue dries.

Corinne smooths the cover with wax paper. Glassine also works nicely for this.

STEP FIVE – Trim the corners of the bookcloth so that enough is still in place to cover the actual corner of the Davey Board when edges are turned up and glued. Do not cut right against the board itself. Leave at least the thickness of the board in the amount of cloth extending from the corner. This will fold up and cover the corner nicely when you glue up the side flaps.

Now you are ready to glue up your edges. Apply glue and starting from the spine, turn up the edges and smooth with a Bone Folder. Once all this is accomplished, the covers should be stacked with wax paper between each one, and left under a heavy weight to dry, overnight if possible.

Next will be the task of setting the Text Blocks into the covers. That’s another article!

TIME FOR A BREAK – on the river in Jauac, and at Ralph’s after dinner.

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ArtWorks Featured Profiles

Profile: Kristen Stein Shares Advice and Lessons


What are the most important lessons you have learned about being an artist and selling your work?

I have learned that creating and selling your own artwork as an independent, self-representing artist is truly a 24/7 job.  I am constantly working…..whether it be creating new works, chatting about the newest pieces online, updating blogs and online listings or simply daydreaminga about the next painting, I seem to always be thinking ‘art’. I would imagine that other artists feel the same way about constantly ‘bringing our work home with us’ and never really feel like we take a day off. So, in this way, being an artist is truly a full-time job….but I can’t complain as it really is a dream job when you get to create and sell works that are borne from your imagination.

What advice would you give to other artists?

Persevere…even in the slowest and darkest times. If you love what you do and the work makes you happy, it will likely bring joy to other people as well.  The business cycle can get frustrating…especially in the slowest of times…. but continue to create according to your passion, and eventually the market will upswing again.  Continue to learn from the world and people around you and this will help you grow both in your art and your business.


 

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ArtWorks Featured Profiles

Profile: Kristen Stein on Roots and Inspiration

What mediums have you worked in and which is your favorite?

I am a contemporary artist working primarily with acrylics on canvas.  I occasionally dabble in pastels and oils. I love working in mixed media and often add gritty, grainy textures to my paint. I’ve also created paintings using layers of newspaper, paper towels, tissues, string, dried flowers, leaves and more to add extra texture and dimension to the painting. I sometimes work on wood, but generally use stretched canvas.  I’m in the process of learning silk-screening and hope to ‘pull’ my own prints.  I have also worked in digital painting and creating images as scalable vector graphics.

 

How did you get started?

I have been creating art for friends and as gifts for several decades, but I started selling my artwork as a business about 10 years. It began as a part-time passion while I was working on my dissertation in Economics at the University of Virginia. I still use a lot of my economics background on the business side of my art career, but my creative side won out and I starting selling my artwork full-time in early 2000. I am not formally trained in art. I took one class in high-school and one elective class in college. I recall several of the projects that I made in these two classes and I know that they have fueled my passion to continue to learn and grow as an artist.

Who has influenced/inspired your art work?

Friends, family and other artists have all played an integral role in influencing my artistic visions and enthusiasm for ‘all things art’. My parents are both incredibly talented and I know that they have directly influenced my love for the arts.  More recently, I’ve met several new artists online through various social networks and I’m enjoying learning how to use the new venues to expand the reach of my art to new audiences. I’ve also recently approached other artists and photographers to work on collaborative projects. It’s a fun way for artists to share their talents and create an image that embodies their various interests or styles. That’s how the “Spirit of Autumn Fire” image (with Lyse Marion) came about.  As for master artists, I love the works of Picasso, Gris, Matisse, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rothko, Dali among many others.

 

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Profile: Kristen Stein on Marketing

Tell us about your marketing journey. How did you start?

My online marketing journey started in 1999 using a personal website and the auction site eBay.  I sold on eBay for several years and then started cross-listing items on alternative auction sites and various online venues. Most recently, I created online stores at Etsy and on 1000Markets . I have designs at Cafepress and I have images uploaded at ImageKind and ArtistRising that offer giclee and canvas prints of some of my work.

In addition to selling online, I also sell directly from my studio and at various local art/craft shows. I also have several pieces in local galleries, shops and restaurants. A few designs are sold at Art.com and AllPosters.com as well.

Do you use Social media online alone or do you combine it with off-line efforts?

I use Facebook and Twitter to keep connected with my buyers and new fans of my work. I tie these in with my online blog and current art listings. I love the quick access that Twitter and Facebook provides to individuals who share similar interests and passions.

What has been the reaction to your making your work available in non-traditional ways, like mugs, jewelry etc?

I have recently made my artwork available in more non-traditional forms like ceramic tiles and handcrafted jewelry.  I enjoy offering these smaller versions of the artwork, especially at local art/craft shows as they are easier for folks to purchase and carry with them.  I believe that having a wide-range of prices in your inventory allows buyers to work within their budget.  I’m not sure they these new items have directly affected the sales of my regular prints and originals, but I would imagine that it brings new buyers who might otherwise not see my work. Plus, I enjoy being able to offer more wearable and versatile ways to display my artwork.

Where do most of your sales come from?

The majority of my sales come from eBay, etsy and from local art/craft shows.  I would love to be able to branch out and create a wholesale business for my images. This is something that I am considering as a business expansion in 2009.

 

Kristen Stein tile tryptych

 

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Featured Gadgets Hardware Photography Tutorials

Lighting On A Budget – Pt. 2

My 6-light CFL fixture worked well in the studio, but I wanted more light and the option to add a light modifier.  I decided to move up to 3” PVC and install eight lamp sockets around the outside of the pipe.

We’re going to call this fixture a SPIDER, you’ll see why in just a moment.

Here is my original collection of parts.

A 3” clean-out plug serves as a hub for the sockets.  My original idea was to attach the clean out plug to a 3” bushing that would be attached to the front of the 2” tee fitting.  The power cord would run out the back of the tee and the light stand would attach to the base of the tee.

I measured and marked the clean-out plug and drilled it with a 5/16” bit.  I made a simple jig from scrap wood to hold the fitting in place.

Using a 2” lamp nipple and a pair of channel locks, I carefully cut the threads for the shorter nipples.  This is where the working characteristics of PVC came into play.  You can cut threads into PVC with a bolt and a little patience, instead of using a tap and die.  I chased the threads all the way through the side of the fitting.

Here is the clean-out plug with all of the lamp nipples fitted.  I chose a clean-out plug as opposed to a regular cap so that I could access the wires more easily.

Each socket was wired and the wires passed through the hole of the mounting bracket.  The design of the bracket and the lamp nipples allowed me to keep all of the wires hidden.

Above is the front of the SPIDER WITH the wiring in place.

Above is the back of the SPIDER with the wiring in place. The sockets were wired in pairs, then the pairs were wired together.  I used wire connectors instead of soldering so that a socket could easily be replaced if it failed.

LOOK; it works! 

At this point I realized that my original design was way too front-heavy.  I needed to move the center of gravity farther back.  So, I’m off to Home Depot yet again.

I found a 3”-3”-2” tee fitting that solved my problem of balance nicely.  I added a 3” to 2” reducer to the back of the tee fitting and a 2” to1.25” threaded reducer to that.  A 4” circle of plywood and a 1.25” male fitting is attached to the reducer and this holds the speedring to my Paul C Buff OCTOBOX™ firmly in place.  A 2” to .75” threaded reducer is mounted at the bottom of the tee for the light stand fitting.

Here’s the light inside the OCTOBOX™.  It throws a very even lighting pattern, even without the diffusion panel.  It’s well balanced and easy to handle in the studio.  I’m working on an improved version for my still photography.  Stay tuned…

Kirk Draut
Director of Design
Aarthun Performance Group, Ltd.
281.580.5705

 

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ArtWorks Featured

Marketing Monday: The Art of Being a Beacon

 

marketing mondat good stuff weekly the art of being a beacon

split_rock

Last week we talked about the importance of knowing who is likely to buy your work and  what it is your work does for them that makes them want it. The importance of really getting down and working out something that reflects both you and your work, helps you by giving you a strong understanding of your market and the beginning of a real tool to help you both stay focused and remain flexible in changing times.

The other main purpose of knowing your Who and What is the foundation it gives you when you actually start finding those folks who are gaga over your work. It is like having your own crib sheet handy at all times. Today we’re going to cover this in more depth  as we talk about how you let people know you’ve the stuff they are looking for how you can be a beacon guiding their search.

So what does this have to do with the price of beer on Sunday? Well, it is the all important key stone to expanding your Who & What into a way of describing the problems you solve and who you solve them for. This what we call “Marketing Sytax” a concept made popular by Robert Middleton and Mark Silver. The concept consists of boiling down all of the information you have gathered thus far about your buyers, their problems and how you help them.

Have a message

Identify the problem your buyers face, you described this in your What descriptions.

“I help young couples who are looking for unique locally handmade tableware”
Or “I help families who want to memorialize the key events in their lives but don’t want the standard portrait style.”

Here’s the key and important part of this…a problem oriented statement whether it stays in your brain or you use it answer questions about your work will, 99.9% of the time if worded right lead the person you are talking to to ask a “how do you do that” kind of question. And that is where the  the solution based followup comes in.

Focus on benefits when you followup so the statement above would look like this when benefits are added:

“I help young couples who are looking for unique locally handmade tableware. My pots are designed to make you smile when you dine and be great conversation starters when you entertain.”

“I help families who want to memorialize the key events in their lives but don’t want the standard portrait style. We create visual conversations of your families important events by  capture you as you are and building a story of the event. By building a memory book   families will always be able  to relive the event through the conversations the memories stir”

As you can see this is a whole lot more thought provoking and curiosity generating than the simple Who and What and that is the goal…you want to engage people so they eventually identify or not identify as a member of your fan club. You can expand the statements above for use through out a conversation by including stories of how your work helped someone, or the effect your work had on their lives. For example, your painting might have just the right feel to a neglected room that it is now a favorite. Or your pots may have create such a fun entertaining experience that the couple bought a custom table set.

Hang with them

This stuff is important when you are out mixing with with potential fans, it you identify you as the one and only person who can solve their problem. I t does this by giving you a way to engage them as the nice person you are instead of the way that used car sales man in the polyester ‘70s vintage suite can’t even imagine.

Now that you are fully armed with the best tools you can start to really hone in on finding the best places the hang and hang with them. So what might these places be? Everybody likes to hang out with people who they identify with. Brainstorm all the places you think these potential fans might hang out for example:

On the internet

Forums
A  jeweler who has identified young professional women could look for on-line forums where these women hang out. They  could be everything from Mommy oriented forums to professional societies or clubs. Painters and potters identifying homeowners interested in redecorating might hang out in home improvement or decorating forums.

Blogs
There are a lot of specialty blogs out there that might match up with your fan base or be aimed at helping them but don’t do so for what you have to offer. Finding those blogs and commenting on posts relevant to the problem you solve will go a long way towards driving potential fans your way and help establish you as the nice creative person you are.

Your blog
Set up your blog in ways that let people learn about how you can solve their problems. For example, don’t just limit yourself to describing and showing your process show how your work can be used. So if you are a fiber artist and your work can be used for walls or table tops write about and post photos that show how your work can be used to solve decorating problems.

decorating_ex

Off-line

Teach a class
This may not appeal to all but it does work for finding potential fans and buyers. Most folks taking classes at art centers aren’t there to learn how to compete with you they just want to do something creative. Teaching them how to do that and including how they could use the work your are teaching them create will help them identify with you or at least spread the word to their friends.

Talk to groups
Talking to groups is not an easy thing, in fact I hate it, and it does work pretty much in the same way as teaching does because you are actually teaching folks about both your medium and your work and how your unique has helped others resolve their problems. So you might talk to ASID (association of interior designers) if you are a potter, painter, photographer or any type of artist producing work that can be used to improve the environments of home or office.

Write
Quite often magazines are on the look out for articles that address problems and issues you may be intimately familiar with. It doesn’t hurt approaching them with a problem/solution based article like how hand made work is better than stuff bought at K-Mart.

Draw a map

Once have stirred interest you need to help these folks find your stuff AND buy it. No, I’m not talking about being a pest I’m talking about making the paths to buying your stuff obvious and easy find and follow. So here are some simple ways to do that:

E-mail
put all of your contact information on your e-mail signature and include your statement we just talked about. Include links to your web site/blog, facebook, twitter etc.

Your biz card
First don’t print your own business cards unless you don’t want folks to really take your serious. Design the card to have two sides one that gives your basic contact information the other that has your problem/solution statement on it.

Selling on-line
Design the page that shows only the work a customer is interested in to also show other items they might like, check out the way Amazon does this. Don’t give your customers to many options at one time generally anything more than three wil tend to freeze their brain causing them to wander of in a trance. Finally, put a clear call to action on your sales page like “buy now” or “click to purchase” or “learn more”. Your call to action should only give them two ways to go… buy or don’t buy.

Become visible

The point of all of this is to light yourself up in such a way as to be a beacon for all those  with a problem you solve better than anyone else. You don’t have to spend a lot if any money to do this here are some easy ways to get your marketing message out there.

Videos & photos
Put photos on your blog that illustrate how you solve the problems your fans face. You can turn those photos into slide shows and post them on your blog whenever you talk about that particular problem. You can also create a Youtube channel and link the videos on your blog to that channel. Flickr is a great place to show your work especially if you use their photostream which can be easily embedded into your blog. To see what this looks like check our featured artists.

Business card
Make it fun and make it reflect not only you but also the problem you solve.

Web site
In this day and age a web site is imperative and it needs to reflect you and who you work with. If you are thinking of using some freebee lame set up don’t even bother because you’ll waist your time. Blogs are the best format for getting and growing your visibility,  there are a lot of options available. Remember… a blog is just a web site that has more flexibility  and ease of use on your end than a static web site.

Images of work courtesy of Kristen Stein and Jane Campbell

 

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Marketing Mondays: Don’t miss the real costs


The final step in this part of the game, kind of involves looking backwards. See, the venues and the details required to turn them into winners is not free, and I’m not just talkin’ about money either. There is something equally important as money here, in economics it is called “opportunity Cost” or the cost of choosing a course of action that when added to the monetary cost tells you the actual cost of what you chose to do.


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Featured Software

Snow Leopard: One More Installation

Since the uppermost thing on most Macintosh users minds lately is the upgrade to Snow Leopard, and since this is a Mac-centric website, the least I can do is report on some of my own Snow Leopard Experiences.  Is it a radical change?  No, as others have reported, it is a tightening up and customizing of OSX’s Leopard.

The best anology I can make regarding my feelings after I installed Snow Leopard on my MacBook Pro is that it is a bit like taking a new, off-the-shelf mens’ suit to an expert tailor for alterations.  You know—shorten the sleeves; cuff the pants to the right length; remove the belt loops and sew on suspender buttons—making it just right for the wearer. What was previously certainly wearable simply becomes custom-fitted to the owner. That’s my feeling after my Snow Leopard installation.

Numerous others have commented upon Snow Leopard and their experiences, and not all of the aforementioned installations went without some problems so in preparation to the installation I first backed up my MacBook Pro with Time Machine just in case.

I’m using a MacBook Pro 17 inch 2.5 Ghz C2D with a matte screen, 4 GB of Ram and a 320 GB hard drive. I forgot to turn off Little Snitch and that produced some events (more on that later).  Let’s look at the installation.

INSTALLATION   
Time in minutes (rounded):

  • 00.00    Begin installation by inserting the Snow Leopard disk (family pack, 10.6) purchased from Amazon.com.
  • 08.00    After the disk copied some of its data to the computer hard drive, it restarted.
  • 11.00     Finished restart; the install screen begins with the installation ribbon active.
  • 41.00    The install ribbon finishes (this includes about 12 minutes with the message “less than one minute remaining”).
  • 46.00    The restart begins and computer asks if I want to install Rosetta. I answer “yes” and Little Snitch asks if Rosetta can connect on line. It asks this a total of seven times with my answering “yes” each time. Little Snitch is the culprit I discover later.
  • 53.00    Restart finishes. Total installation took about 53 minutes.
  • Going to the Software Update and clicking on it produces seven questions one following another as to whether I want to install Rosetta.  Obviously, this is somehow related to not having switched Little Snitch off before I began.

FUNCTION

I did not experience the screen dimming or black screen that has been reported by some individuals, but this may be due to the fact that in my System Preferences I had chosen prior to my beginning the installation not to allow dimming or sleep for the unit.

All in all the computer felt snappier and I checked the amount of space on my hard drive.  Prior to the installation there had been 134.75 GB of space available; after installation there was 166.25 GB of space available for a gain of 31.5 GB.  However remember that there is a change from counting megabytes as 1,024 terrabytes to a base of 1,000 terrabytes.  This can add up to a significant “apparent” change in free space.  There is no question that Snow Leopard frees up significant space on the computer, but not as much as it appears.

As the computer restarted it told me that my version of Snapz Pro X required a serial number and that I was running in demo mode; my system had lost the registration.  A trip back to Ambrosia software via my email address gave me back my serial number and Snapz Pro X was satisfied to run. I began to test my installed software base and found only one program that would not load.  This was NeoOffice.

Since I teach workshops in Adobe Photoshop I was extremely happy to see that Photoshop CS2, CS3, and CS4 all worked properly.  This included all of the Photoshop plug-ins that I have reviewed on DigitalAppleJuice.com over the past year.  Wacom tablets, Graphire 3 and Intuos 3 both work properly though going to their control panels in System Preferences requres System Preferences to switch from 64 bit to 32 bit.  At least that is my assumption as the message you first receive when you click on the Wacom tablet controls tells you that the screen must do a restart.
My X-Rite Eye1 Display 2 unit recalibrated my MacBook Pro screen with no difficulty as the previous color profile was lost in the transition and required a new screen calibration.

For those who use Main Menu regularly to run maintenance scripts on their computer, you will be happy to know that it works nicely after the Snow Leopard upgrade.  Spotlight required a re-indexing of my hard drive, but since this occurred right after I used Main Menu I cannot tell you whether it was Main Menu or Snow Leopard that caused this necessity.

I have not yet attempted to add Snow Leopard to my MacPro as I have read several places that my wireless keyboard and mouse (Logitech) do not yet work on Snow Leopard and that an upgrade to their control center is in progress.  So I can not report on installation on my Mac Pro.

LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT

A couple of small things that appear differently now mean a lot to me as I explore Snow Leopard.  Since I prepare tutorials that require screen grabs I sometimes use Snapz Pro X, but I also use Apple’s own CMD-shift-4 to select parts of the screen. Previously, using CMD-shift-4 gave an image labeled “picture 1”, “picture 2” etc.

The problem with that the numbering tops out at “10”, after ten images the application begins numbering at “picture 1” again and overwrites the very first image in the series.  Since most tutorials need more than ten images, i have to stop, rename the first set of images, and then continue.

Using CMD-shift-4 now produces an image named “Screen shot, year, month, day at time” such as “screen shot, 2009-09-04 at 12:57:44”. This means that there can be an unlimited number of screen shots without overwriting the first one.  For me, that is a big Whoopie!

Another small change that is meaningful to me is that now in the date and time function in the menu bar. It can read day, month, date, time so that it can say something like “Fri Sep 4 1:05 PM” having added the month and day to the line. Thus there is no need to go to the time and click on it to find the date.  This is a new choice in the preferences for Date and Time.   As someone who works from a home office and often goes from bed, to breakfast, to computer with no breaks in between, then having a direct reminder of what day and date it is as well as time, starts the day off a bit more organized. At least for me it does.

Oh, one thing, don’t forget to upgrade your Flash and Java applications; this is something you need to do as well.

So, it’s like getting that suit fitted by the tailor; things just fit a bit better, run smooter, and make me happier.
Oh, and the computer shuts down somewhat faster, seemingly in about half the length of time it took before.  I can work faster and stop quicker!  For me, it’s a smooth and happy installation, and I’m glad to welcome Snow Leopard into my workspace.

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ArtWorks Featured

Marketing Monday: 6 must know things for pricing

 

marketing monday good stuff weekly

Know what your costs are

This is very simple and yet a lot of folks disregard it because they think it entails a lot of left brain machinations. I’m here to tell ya if that was the case I’d never ever address it…because while I grew up as the tail end of the slide rule generation I’m lucky to add 2+2 and get four if I have to do it in my head. Thankfully, I don’t have to any more due to the advent of those funky things we called Goesintas ( as two goes into four or calculators).

While it may seem obvious that your prices must at the very least cover your costs and if you intend to support yourself with your work the price must also include something extra to help you move out of your van. This process is called knowing your “Cost of Doing Business”. In its smallest form it amounts to adding up all the things you need to spend money on that

  • Cover the costs of the stuff you need to have to make your stuff… in other words supplies, expenses like costs associated with firing a kiln load of pots.
  • Let you move out of your van, like PROFIT.

    To do it the short way, just add up your studio related expenses to get a base number that will show you the least amount you need to make to keep your credit card bill down and your studio working. That’s your Cost of Doing Business.

    If you then subtract that from the income you receive you will have the minimum you need to at least break even.

    However, I would suggest an easier way that would give a good idea as to what you need to make to cover all your costs while factoring in a desired profit (for moving out of the van). There are a couple of tools available that I have used in my photography business.

    • NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) Cost of doing business calculator which is an online tool.
    • ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) Cost of doing business calculator which does the same thing as the NPPA one only in more detail and as an Excel file. It is also designed to let you determine your annual income
      You can download it here: cdb_calc_06
    • Art Worth Calculator

    Know what you need to keep you in your studio

    Ok…now you know how much it costs to make your stuff and to at least keep you from either living in your studio or out of your van. It is probably safe to say that you’d really like to have living arrangements that at least gave you a kitchen and your own bathroom, so now you have to figure out what you need to make to get those tow important things. It is called profit and amounts to income that isn’t eaten up by other costs.

    This part is more art than science and subject more to your own preferences than anything else. I generally, list out the things I need… like paying myself, upgrading computer etc. And then prioritize them by their order of importance and NOT by their cost because cost can lead me down a rabbit hole. Once I’ve done that, I add what I call contingency which can be anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent to get the profit I need to make. The details of pricing individual products will be covered later.

    retro_buyersKnow your market and its buying habits

    Before you attempt to set pricing strategies you gotta know they have a chance of working with your market. So spend some time now reviewing your perfect buyer profile and both your market demographic and psychographic descriptions. What causes them to buy? What type of stuff do they buy? How do you really fit into their buying habits?

    Know what you are really selling

    Instead of describing what we make in a way that would put even the most ADD among us to sleep in seconds, we are going to look at how to REALLY describe what we make and when to use that description. For now just starting thinking of your stuff the way a chef might describe a sensuously luxurious meal.

    Know which three types of buyers you attract

    There are generally three types of buyers and it is important to know where yours fall. Knowing where your buyers fall will be key to your ability to price and sell without discounting. The three types are:

    • Those who willingly pay full price for your stuff because they know and trust and they know the value of your work.
    • Those who shop for cheap stuff because they really can’t afford much let alone your premium prices but they do recognize your value.
    • Those who are hunters, always pursuing the lost price possible as a trophy without regard to quality. These folks proudly brag about how they “saved” five cents on a whatzit despite using up $10.00 of gas hunting and bagging the prey.

      Knowing this information can help you with your pricing strategies by helping you understand what triggers their desire for your stuff.

      Know your market position

      Go back again and check your business model as well as your USP and make sure you are clear on how you are positioned in the market. Does pricing play a major role in your market position. So if you are positioning yourself as a true artiste aiming at the luxury market low pricing may hurt you. Your pricing must be consistent with your position.

      Related posts:

      1. Marketing Monday: Human Behavior & Pricing Traditional or /classic economic theory has held for centuries that…
      2. Don’t miss the real costs Research done by folks working in the field of behavioral…
      3. Marketing Monday: The Artsyfatsy biz model What exactly is a business model and why is it…

       


       

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      Categories
      ArtWorks Featured Profiles

      Featured Artist: Jane Campbell

      JC_featured_artist

      Jane Campbel is a Folk Artist  liveing in Northern California right in the heart of Gold Country. Her  home is just miles from where apples are grown, wine is made & gold was first discovered. She was born in South Carolina & spent her early childhood there before moving to Japan , Arizona & finally California.  Her  travels add to her varied taste in art. There isn’t any style that she does’t like! I love painting angels, mermaids & mermaid angels.

      il_430xN_7In her words

      Full-time contemporary folk artist, wife & mother of professional musicians and 2 spoiled poodles. After many years in the mortgage industry I found myself unemployed Nov 2007. I took this opportunity to do what I love!

      il_430xN_3My house is full of music everyday, My husband & both sons are musicians, I don’t like to eat a lot of things that start with the letter A with the exception of apples & artichokes, I love shoes but hardly wear them, I have impossible to curl blonde hair that is below my waist, I like to paint late at night, I like boating but get sea sick on the ocean, I like cats but have bad luck when it comes to owning them, I appreciate gardens but hate to garden, mustard yellow is one of my favorite colors, I am basically a shy person but I can hide it well, I am legally blind in my left eye, I would like to have a gypsy wagon, I do henna tattoos, I have lived in a house with ghosts, I used to catch & collect dragonflies when I was a kid, my friends and family call me Jana.

      My art is inspired by sweet things in my life, my loving family , my friends and sometimes by my goofy sense of il_430xN_8humor. My life is filled with music, artful things & loving people. I have enjoyed painting for 37 yrs. I am basically self taught but have studied art on my own & taken classes. After losing my job in the mortgage industry I decided to devote myself to my art.

      In addition to my love for painting, I am a crafter. I learned to crochet at age 7. I was mesmerized by Japanese sparkly yarn! This was the beginning of a lifetime of crafting! I enjoy crochet, knitting, sewing, embroidery & other needlework, perfume making, cake decorating, wood crafts, clay work & decorative painting. So in addition to my paintings you never know what you might find here!I am a member of the Folk Art Society of America & Swell Sister Society, a new group of Sacramento women artists. **I’m also a member of the Etsy CAST Team

      il_430xN_4

      My art has been sold all over the US and internationally.

      www.folkartbycampbelljane.blogspot.com
      www.alteredpages.blogspot.com
      TWEET! www.twitter.com/folkartjane

      il_430xN_2

      *Recent Exhibitions*

      Marco Fuoco Gallery, Sacramento, CA June 09
      Cafe Refugio, Sacramento, CA Feb 09
      Tangent Gallery, Sacramento, CA Nov 08
      Marco Fuoco Gallery, Sacramento, CA Nov 08
      Coffee Garden, Sacramento, CA Dec 08

       

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      Categories
      ArtWorks Featured

      Marketing Monday: Human Behavior & Pricing

      Before we jump into the meat of pricing there are a few things that need to be understood because they form the foundation of any pricing strategy and they reflect the results of recent research on consumer behavior by leading behavioral economists.

      Markets/buyers don’t behave rationally

      Traditional or /classic economic theory has held for centuries that buyers and sellers in any market will always behave with their own best interest in mind and in so doing provide a level of equilibrium to the market place.

      Significant research is showing that neither buyers or sellers always act with their own best interests in mind and often do so without any conscious knowledge that they are acting against their own self interest. Recent remarks by Alan Greenspan stating he was “shocked” that the previous market assumptions of rationality were not working. This research can help us understand not only the behavior of our potential buyers but also how we can break through it and help them towards better value driven buying decisions.

      Buyers and sellers generally operate within either social norms or market norms but never both

      Social norms

      Defined as unwritten social contracts create a level of interaction and trust that is more like “family” and is often the best way to create loyalty and trust based on a common cause, goal or connection. Examples are a commonly understood but unwritten agreement that you as a seller will trust your buyers to pay you if they can’t at the time of purchase (something many artists do). Or an agreement that you will ship their purchase with in a reasonable number of days. Social norms are often based on perceived or real value and respect with sales being more interactive than transactive, the focuse is placed on the ability of the product to meet the needs of the buyer and not on its price.

      Market Norms

      Defined according the traditionally understood ways of doing business in a strictly transactional manner…I sell something for $xxx.xx you buy that something for what I set the price at. Your desire to buy can be manipulated by me by applying certain rules of pricing that are known to make you want to even when you don’t need or want what I have to sell.

      Recent research has shown that once an interaction moves from operating under the rules of social norms to those of market norms interactions change drastically and cannot return back to a social norm way of interacting. For example: You have set pricing for your stuff but informally you are willing to mutually agree on a price your reputation for this has let sell more and average higher income over time. If you were to change that to strictly sticking to your set price you would then be operating under market norm rules and would likely see a decrease in sales.Those who bought your stuff under the old way of selling will revert back to their market norm way of behaving and will only see your price and since you are no longer flexible they will move on to find  someone who is.

      Another example of these two in action would be different pricing strategies, one that takes the focus off price and puts it on helping the buyer by not manipulating price to force a purchase. The other, strategy would be using Market Norms to manilulate price to entice a buyer to buy something even if it doesn’t meet their needs. For example, it is well known that buyers will always choose something that either is free or includes something that is free even if the “free” thing has no value or even the combined value/quality of the purchased item and the free item are less that of the same item that doesn’t have a “free” secondary thing with it. So people will always pick a two for one deal of lesser combined value/quality over something that more adequately meets their desires.

      Opportunity cost must always be included in your cost analysis when setting pricing strategy

      Briefly an opportunity cost is the cost occurred when we choose between alternatives or what is given up in favor of a particular course of action. The cost is found in the cost mostly in non-monetary terms of choosing one alternative over another.

      This effects artists in setting prices and in their own profit and loss analysis. For example: You decide to design your web site your self even tho you don’t @#$$% about how to do it, because you think  doing so is “saving” you money since otherwise you’d have to pay someone to do it. Doing it yourself would mean time away from making art, or working on your marketing. That time has a cost in both emotional terms and monetary terms, the cost in dollars is your hourly rate ( because your don’t work for free) and the lost opportunity of creating more inventory together with the loss of profit from fewer sales.

      So just as you would add the  dollar cost of building the web site to your overhead costs, if you had someone else do it, you also need to add the hourly rate you pay yourself plus  the objective cost “value” of lost happiness in having the profits from producing the additional inventory and the joy you get from making your art.

      The point is just because you choose to do it yourself don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t need to pay yourself. That combined cost needs to be added into your costs when you create your pricing strategy.

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      Categories
      Featured Photography Photoshop Software

      Photoshop Plugin: Topaz Simplify

      During the last month I took a trip back to Topaz Lab’s webpage and downloaded another of their interesting programs. (Topazlabs.com) If you remember, they make imaging enhancement software for both still and video photography. This time I thought I’d try their Simplify 2; it’s a $39.95 program that can be downloaded in minutes—there’s a fully functional 30 day trial version also. All you have to do is request the 30 day key and you can play with any of their software for 30 days. Replacing the trial key with the purchased key clears your trial for permanent usage.

      What does Simplify 2 do? It is an application that allows you to turn a photography into a painting or a drawing on any one of a number of variations; Topaz’ advertising says it this way "Simple and elegant photo interpretations." Download the program and douple-click your unstuffed file—you’ll get a dmg file for Mac and an Exe file for PC, and the application will install itself into your Photoshop Filter folder under a "Topaz Labs" heading. See the ilustration below for a quick visual example.

      Image 1 Topaz flow chart-600.jpg

      When Simplify 2.0 opens you will see the following window. Along the left side are twelve presets. Clicking on any one of them will directly move you to a still adjustable image because each preset will open with SIMPLIFY, ADJUST, and EDGES as slider-bar adjustments.

      Image 1a Simplify-600.jpg

      Here are the twelve general presets that you have to choose from. They are (1) BuzSim, (2) Cartoon, (3) Image CrispEdge, (4) Painting colorful, (5) Painting Harshcolor, (6) Painting oil, (7) Painting watercolor, (8) Sketch Color, (9) Sketch hardpencil, (10) Sketch softpencil, (11) Underpainting, and (12) Wood Carving. Remember, each of these presets has slider bars under the categories of SIMPLIFY, ADJUST, and EDGES.

      Image 2 Topaz Simplify-600.jpg

      Image 3 Topaz Simplify-600.jpg

      Looking under SIMPLIFY we can choose our Colorspace from RGB and YCbCr; now experiment by moving the sliders back and fourth to examine the subtle variations of the presets. Work your way through each of the menus under SIMPLIFY, ADJUST, and EDGES. At any time you feel like you would like to undo an adjustment, a RESET TAB, will allow the resetting of one adjustment, or RESET ALL will reset all of the adjustments in that particular third of the image adjustments.

      Image 4 Topaz Simplify-600.jpg

      Image 5 Topaz Simplify-600.jpg

      Image 6 Topaz Simplify-600.jpg

      Here’s an image of one of the windows in a New Mexico church.

      Image 7 Topaz Simplify-600.jpg

      Applying Sketch color to the image produces this result. All that is necessary to select the preset is to click on the appropriate selection to the left of the preview window. Click and observe as you move down the options available.

      Image 8Topaz Simplify-600.jpg

      Here’s a larger view of the results of choosing Sketch color.

      Image 9 Topaz Simplify-600.jpg

      Here’s the results of choosing Wood carving.

      A little more complex is making two identical original layers one above the other, and applying Sketch color to one layer and Wood carving to the second. Then these two layers are blended together by using the opacity slider in the upper layer and causing the Wood carving to blend into the Sketch color layer.

      Here we have the original image on the left, and BuzSim on the right.

      Here we have the original image on the top and the Watercolor effect on the bottom. I find BuzSim, Watercolor, Sketch color, and Wood Carving to be the most interesting effects to me personally. Your mileage will probably vary; play with all of the effects with a varied selection of of images. It will become obvious that certain effects/presets work best on certain general types of images. In general, I have had the best luck with scenics.

      A simple sand dune in the original is simplified with the Wood Carving preset again.

      A ray of sunlight outlines a set of leaves in an otherwise darkened arbor area followed by the same scene run through the Painting colorful preset

      One last example is a photograph of the gondolas in Venice, Italy, followed by the Painting oil preset followed by adding (via a merged layer) the Wood Carving preset.

      This is the third of the Topazlabs Applications that I have added to my toolkit and I’m actually looking at a couple more. I have found the approach that Topazlabs uses to be very innovative and a very good value for the money. Having put in a lot of time developing certain looks and effects in Photoshop I find that many of my multi-step processes can be duplicated by choosing a Topazlab application and making a few personalized adjustments. In the long run that saves time—a lot of time—and in this business time equals money. I’m very pleased with the value received for the reasonable cost of each application. Bundles of some of the most used applications can produce significant savings. Check out Topazlabs.com and take a look at the selection; I think you will be pleased.