ArtWorks Featured

Design Elegance: lessons from Don Norman


I stumbled across this series first when watching the TED talk and as normally the case I followed links to other of Don’s Talks. Don addresses a theme that is very critical to us as a culture and that is the role of design in our lives. I remember reading Don’s book “The Design of Everyday Things” back in architecture school and have been captivated and driven by the importance of good design in our lives ever since.

Design Elegance

Design touches in every part of our lives from simple kitchen appliances to cars, and the ability of those objects to help us, is linked to both functionality and aesthetics. How often have you used something that functioned “ok” or performed the basics of what it was “supposed” to do…and yet felt like something was missing? That something more often than not was elegance or as one of my professors used to say “elegant simplicity”. It is that elegance that takes those everyday things out of the realm of industrial tools and moves them into happy appreciation and anticipation on our part.

A recent example is the Dyson vacuum cleaner, by re-thinking the nature of the vacuum cleaner and human interaction Dyson took a household tool and turned it into a piece of workable art that had the happy side affect of driving more men into house cleaning…because it felt and looked cool.

chairs Design Elegance: lessons from  Don NormanCharles Eames did the same with his famously designed Eames chair as did Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick for Herman Miller’s Aeron Chair.

The point is good design and artistic elegancane mixed together in  everyday stuff don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and we as artists play a foundational role in helping to ensure that the two are always united. We do so by making art and raising the awareness of everyone to a level that the absence of elegance would be painfully obvious and unacceptable.






pixy Design Elegance: lessons from  Don Norman

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Tech Tips: cool software and other stuff


tech tips trasp Tech Tips: cool software and other stuff


macheistbundle Tech Tips: cool software and other stuff

One of the best software bundles released for Mac users over the years has been the MacHeist Bundle. Pretty much on an annual basis MacHeist pulls together the best and most user friendly applications for the Mac for a “Fire” sale which really isn’t one but it seems like it. You can always count on at least one extremely saught high priced app to be included. This time around they have out done themselves by including six applications over $50.00, the total actual cost of the bundle if bought separately is $930.00. The bundle cost is $39.00…not a bad deal. The really great thing is that they donate 25% of every purchase to the following charities:

  • Action against Hunger
  • AIDS Research Alliance
  • Alliance For Climate Protection
  • Direct Relief International
  • Humane Society International
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Save the Children
  • Save Darfur
  • Prevent Cancer Foundation
  • World Wildlife Fund

Here are some of the applications that I think will really be useful especially for artists


A simple photo editing software that is almost like a scaled down Photoshop. While its’ tool set is limited it does seem to give you the ability to make your photos pop and it includes some batch actions that allow you to apply the same treatment to more than one image. I’ll be testing the software so check back for my full evaluation.


Is another very promising graphic editor that goes a little further than Picturesque.  Acorn’s feature set includes many of the same tools in Photoshop but much more oriented to the non-photoshop user.


If you have ever wanted to make a really cool presentation that screams professionalism this is the tool. Kinematic gives you 3D animation tools that can turn any 2d presentation into something extremely unboring!

Wire Tap Studio

If you have ever had a hankering for recording well…anything you can hear this is the tool. Audio clips are extremely important for anyone who blogs or has a web presence because they can easily become viral, meaning lots of traffic back to your site. Of course you can use Garage Band but I find it extremely counter intuitive and not very user friendly and I’m kind of a Geek!


I haven’t tested this application yet but it looks promising if you want to easily make professional “how-To” videos of your work, or if you just want to show a tour of your studio.


For the Code Geeks or “I know enough to be dangerous..” types this application helps you create,find and save code for web applications.

The bundle has only 8 days left before it goes off the market, to read more and purchase the bundle go to

Tips & Tricks


the artistscenter e280ba edit post e28094 wordpress 1 Tech Tips: cool software and other stuffHow do you get that little image thingy to show up on your browser, you know the one that always shows up for most web sites? What’s it for anyway..?

Well that thing is called a favicon and is basically an image that is sized anywhere from 16×16 to 32×32 pixels.

Having a favicon is very important because it shows up in bookmark lists and helps identify a site if you use tabs in your browser. More importantly it is one of those small things that lets people know you are serious about what you are doing. As artists every little thing that can help us be seen as professional is one more thing that moves us up a notch in our buyers minds.

Anyway, before I show you how to do it there is one caveat, you will need to be able access the root folder that holds your site or blog. If you are using a service like TypePad, you will be able to access this folder in the “files” tab of the control panel.

typepad control panel Tech Tips: cool software and other stuff

typepad files 1 Tech Tips: cool software and other stuff

If you are using a self hosted Word Press site like this one, you’ll need an FTP program or other back end access to your server.

So to make your favicon first create a square image using a photo or other graphic then go to one of the favicon creating sites like this one  favicon maker. You can upload your image and the site will generate the appropriate size choices which you can then download.

To upload access the first level directory that holds your site and upload the generated favicon into that directory.


Make sure that the file is named “favicon.ico” otherwise it won’t work. Next just sit back and wait it can take a few hours before the image starts to show up.

There is another way for self hosted Word Press sites to get a favicon and that is by using the MaxBlogPress Favicon plugin it pretty much does it all for you.

Universal Avatar

With so many sites asking for your mug shot one of the easiest ways to only do it once is to use Gravatar a service similar to OpenID. Gravatar allows you to upload you mug shot or avatar image and then autmatically distributes it to when you make a comment on a blog, sign up for a social networking site or anything else that is linked up with Gravatar.

Here is what you do:

Go to the Gravatar site sign-up and Select the location of your avatar

gravatar globally recognized avatars Tech Tips: cool software and other stuff

Upload it or insert the requested info

gravatar globally recognized avatars 1 Tech Tips: cool software and other stuff

Crop your image

gravatar globally recognized avatars 2 Tech Tips: cool software and other stuff

Select and confirm it

gravatar globally recognized avatars 3 Tech Tips: cool software and other stuff

That’s it and your mug/avatar will be automatically used wherever it is needed!

 Tech Tips: cool software and other stuff

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ArtWorks Featured

Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!


wresler1 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!

I saw The Wrestler a couple of weeks ago and have been haunted by the images of Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson the broken down wrestler trying for a comeback. While the gritty nature of the movie was difficult to watch at times I couldn’t help but see similarities between “The Ram” and the difficulties we as artists are facing today…or at least we think we are. There are three major take-aways that Randy “The Ram” left me with…

Giving up vs. sticking with it

On the surface this seems obvious…we never give up, we are taught to always stick with it no matter what. It doesn’t take long watching “The Ram” before we ask “How’s that workin’ for ya?” A couple of months ago I talked about knowing when to give up, when to walk away, and how to recognize when it is time. Seth Godin talks about knowing when to walk away in The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by pointing out that life and business are a series of ups and downs some are short and some are long, we need to know the difference to be successful. Hanging in there  to long can turn us into our own version of “The Ram” while giving in to the impulse to give up when things get hard can lead to missed opportunities. Sometimes “staying the course” is good sometimes not so much…we need to be awake to know the difference.

“The Ram” chose to stick with it because of any number of reasons not the least of which was not knowing anything else…he made the mistake of thinking his body and his glory days could last for ever. How many of us felt the same way when we decided to become artists? Did you ever imagine your body would give out and you could no longer throw pots or “break iron”? In the end Randy “The Ram” was left ( he thought) with no choice which brings me to the second take-away.

wrestler2 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!The one trick pony

As the movie came to an end Bruce Springsteen asked

Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the field so happy and free
If you’ve ever seen a one trick pony then you’ve seen me
Have you ever seen a one legged dog makin’ his way down the street
If you’ve ever seen a one legged dog then you’ve seen me

Bruce Springsteen “The Wrestler”

So I ask …how many artists are one trick ponies? How many of you rely solely on art fair sales or gallery sales to support your art making? For years we could get away with it, because our bodies let us and we were buoyed up by a sense abundance. We stayed in our studios, quite content to remain where we were and smugly told ourselves we were doing just fine we were above the need to sell our work. Until we noticed we were becoming the “one legged dog” and then……….

A recent survey by the NAIA reflected this tunnel vision  quoting artists blaming the public when the real problem was their own failure to recognize themselves as businesses and businesses sometimes need to diversify in order to grow and succeed. Many of the artists interviewed voiced a concern that they would have to get a “real job”, that may be true for some but not for all especially for those who have paid attention and did not become one trick ponies locked into their false sense of permanence.

Nothing is permanent, we always have a choice

This brings me to the final take-away, and that is we have a natural tendency to think that our world will always remain in it’s current state. We will always be able to throw pots, heft iron, or work a loom, people will always  flock to us ready to buy. So we don’t see a need to anticipate change because everything is great..that is until the trek from the van to our booth site starts hurting, or we have failed to catch a trend change.

wrestler3-331x400 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!

So when you start to think about  giving up take a look outside your world and inside yourself and try to see if your lens is focused, and ask yourself…

  • Are you Randy “The Ram” hanging on because you don’t know anything else?
  • Are you that one trick pony?
  • Is the world as you see it now going to be the same way next year, or 5,10 years down the line?

These things that have comforted me I drive away (anything more)
This place that is my home I cannot stay (anything more)
My only faith is in the broken bones and bruises I display
Have you ever seen a one legged man tryin’ to dance his way free
If you’ve ever seen a one legged man then you’ve seen me

Cover of "Working on a Dream (Deluxe Version)"

Cover via Amazon

Lyrics from “The Wrestler” featured in  Working on a Dream (Deluxe Version) Bruce Springsteen

 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!

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Are ANTS keeping you stuck?


ant Are ANTS keeping your stuck?

How often have you gotten excited about a new body of work or a new show and in anticipation of instant acceptance  and sales said to yourself ” this is my best work yet everybody will love it and I’ll sell out” . And how often have you met with disappointing results leading you to thoughts like these:

” People don’t buy my work because they are dumb”
” Nobody likes my work other wise they would buy it”
” People are idiots…they wouldn’t know good work if it hit them in the face!”

We call these ANTS or Automatic Negative Thoughts and we all have them and to some degree we all allow them to run our lives. They come from living, from experiences, and all the people and environments we pass through as we live our lives. ANTS can and often do appear out of nowhere to take over…they start directing what we do, how we think and are the primary factor in keeping us from moving forward. ANTS are largely

To the extent you can stay focused on the Positive Intentions around your work you will be able to avoid being stuck and move forward with your business. Recent studies in Neuro-Science are confirming the fact that our life tends to go wherever we put our focus…our happiness, success and attitudes will go wherever we give power and focus. In other words, your life manifests according to your focus, if you focus on ANTS you can become stuck, you will find it difficult to succeed and even start allowing anger, resentment and resignation take over your life. On the other hand if you focus on positive intentions you experience the opposite…you experience more success, more happiness and more overall satisfaction. The funny thing about ANTS is that you cannot use your willfulness to overcome them, doing so will only give them more power, ignoring them will also let them run rampant with your life.

We will be talking more about ANTS as part of our series around Planning for 2009.
Next will be ways to exterminate your ANTS geared specifically to creatives.

Please join the conversation by completing the form below


 Are ANTS keeping your stuck?
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