Friday, October 23, 2009

Create a Web Presence


A lot of small businesses, among them self-publishers, craftspeople and artists, ask me how they can have a web presence without investing a lot of time or money. The easiest way is to post pictures of your work on the web using a photo-sharing site. I like Flickr. Why not add images of your art or creation to Flickr? Art directors use this photo-sharing site to search for images they might want to purchase.
See mine at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dinidesign/


A self-publisher recently told me she found a photo that was perfect for the cover of her self-help book. She asked for permission to use it, and in exchange is giving the photographer credit for the picture as well as copies of her book, when published.

The next best thing is to create an entry for yourself, a personal one, at Facebook. If you also have a business you should create a second entry under the business name, and make sure you add links to and from those personal and professional Facebook profiles. Add any external links (to your photo-sharing page, etc.) to both sites. Keep your profile photos professional and silly personal pictures off your Facebook pages. You don't really want your potential customers and old High School buddies to see you in a less-than-favorable light, do you?


I have a listing at the Maine Arts Commission site, and have links to my web site and my email there. So if you can add your profile and links to any professional organization, do so. ~ Geraldine

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Take Any Road You Want To

Not everyone reaches the same conclusion by following the same road.

Recently a client asked me to create a mock-up web site, but he wanted to see a static page. That meant designing in Photoshop. But I design web pages in Dreamweaver. It seemed to be a step backward to design in a flat program, especially when I wanted to show off a rotating set of images, a flash slide show. I went ahead and made a sample web page and posted it within my own site in a client section.

The picture you see here has a flash image with type moving across it. How can you see that effect in a jpeg?

I went to a jewelry-making class once in which the teacher told us to draw out a design on paper. Nothing came to my mind - until I started to work with the materials. What kind of sense does it make to create a 3-D object in 2-D? I need to touch the stones, feel the flexibility of the metal, play around with the parts.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, as they say, so don't let anyone dictate how you reach your conclusion. Just head on down that creative road in whichever direction that suits you.

~~ Geraldine

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to Write a Blog


I just looked around the web to see what makes a blog successful. The answer?

You need the three Cs: content that is unique and communicates to interested parties; consistency, which means frequency; and closeness, meaning you should stick to your niche. My niche is creative subjects such as art, helping people, and working with words and images. This is the perfect medium!

I've seen some artists put a painting a day up on their blog, but choosing to post something worth reading every day and keeping it up is not an easy task. For now I'll try to add a post once or twice a week and maybe it will become more frequent.

Tip of the day - when you send an article to a newspaper, copy the content into the body of the email AND attach the word document. Tell them right up top that you're attaching the doc. This way the editor can review the content and have a good idea where he/she can file it.

~Geraldine

Friday, September 11, 2009

Polyvore - Explore the Creative You


My old art school friend, Harriet, has a blossoming gardening glove business called Foxgloves (foxglovesinc.com). She asked me to take a look at a new (to me) and novel place for creative people with an interest in fashion to make online collages. It is called Polyvore.

Polyvore is for fashionistas who can choose any online image, such as a catalog picture, by using a tool provided that rests in your toolbar. A link is made to your own page at Polyvore, and you can use that image, plus any in their enormous image bank, to choose, edit, resize, layer, and 'publish' a set.

All of the linked items appear next to the published set so all viewers can, potentially, go directly to that vendor's site and purchse those fab shoes or overpriced skirt. I created a series of background patterns, put them on a new page on my aikmandesign web site and added the URL to my profile. I also added some of my photos and some clip I had. Within a couple of days, my 'clip art' backgrounds had been linked and used by Polyvoristas about 100 times.

The sets made are both fashion plates, reminding me of paper dolls' clothes, and also some more avante garde arty sets - clothes and cosmetics collaged to resemble a dog, e.g. And the link to my site appears on every one of those published sets.

Polyvore has encountered bumps in the road with regards to copyright, especially when people linked artwork from Etsy and used that art in their collages. You can search for discussions on the web about this subject. I did make it clear that all of my designs on the page I provided were to be used freely.

Go and give it a try- it can be addictive! These are some sets I made - using Foxgloves in most of them. Link Here.

Geraldine

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Creative versus Business


Blogging is only successful if you keep on top of it and I've been a slacker in recent months. Like many artists I am torn between the need to create and the time-consuming need to work the business side of art. How do you juggle the two? I find that I need to separate the two things or else I'm constantly bouncing back and forth and don't get a lot done. Or, worse still, I leave a trail of not-quite-finished projects in my wake.

My friend Steve puts aside one day a week to do nothing but self-promotion, and he regularly attends a networking group. The rest of his 'free' time is dedicated to creative activities. Although he has changed his direction from fine art to writing, the good habits and structured work plan remain intact.


I find that I prefer to dedicate a block of time to each project. I get involved in painting, or a photo-editing task, and so when I take a break for yet another cup of coffee, I'm thinking about it. So whether it's for a day or a week, I immerse myself in one project until it's done. Or, I should say, that is my goal! (I had to add that because I could hear everyone who knows me laughing.)

Break up large projects into smaller tasks. Write a to-do list and even if you don't look at it again, writing out a plan can help get your thoughts organized. Email me with your thoughts on this, or to tell me what you're doing creatively, or to promote your business!

This illustration was done for stock art by painting in gouache on paper. I then overlaid acetate, inked it, and scraped the ink away.

~Geraldine

Saturday, June 27, 2009

PR Needs Proper Titles

I recently read that a huge proportion of blogs are started . . .and then abandoned. It could be because if there isn't a lot of action one does feel as though one is talking to oneself. Luckily, I don't mind talking to myself.

I'm preparing to offer a short course in PR for artists - writing articles, preparing images, naming files. I recently spoke to some artists who never considered that newspaper editors have hundreds (or thousands) of emails coming in with ads, articles, PR and images.

Having been on the newspaper's side of the story, I can tell you it can be a nightmare if those incoming files aren't titled properly. For instance, calling your ad "Ad for the Courier.pdf" isn't going to win you any brownie points with The Courier.

Let's say you are submitting PR for your Clay Guild. You need to name all of your files appropriately: clayguild_julyshow_2col.pdf; janesmith_potofmanycolors.jpg. The same goes with your email subject line (Clay Guild Summer Show July 3-6 PR) and the word document (clayguild_showinfo_70309).

You don't need to keep files all lower case with underscores, but that's my preference. Just be short and descriptive. Add captions in a word doc (I save as .rtf). Copy the content of all PR into the body of the email as well as attaching it. That way the recipient can review the content quickly and file it in the right place.

And if you don't comply? Then the chance of your PR/article/image getting in the newspaper reduces significantly.
Hope these tips help you!
Geraldine

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Use Photos for 4x6 Promotional Handouts


Looking for a new promo idea? Considering the many online photo-processing sites that offer cheap 4x6 photos, consider making a photo-promo. This can be created in Photoshop or any photo program.
Start with a 4x6 layout, copy a picture into it, type your name and contact info on top, flatten layers, save as photopromo4x6.jpg (e.g.).
I upload to Winkflash, Shutterfly, Snapfish, Sam's Club photo, Target, York Photo, Clark Photo (clarkcolor.com) or any of the many online photos shops. Once you've signed up for any of their services, make sure you click on a box to indicate you'd like promo information via email. The week I'm writing this Winkflash has a sale on any amount of 4x6 photos for 6 cents each. Mailing costs are low as a rule (most photos come with the name of the file and the company in a line of text on the back).
TIP: You can also have your pictures printed on 5x7s or fit two per 5x7 and cut it in half yourself.
TIP: Make sure that your lettering isn't too close to the edge!
Great for handing out at shows or other venues.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

ALWAYS REPLY IS MY MOTTO


I've been emailing a whole slew of greeting card companies and small manufacturers over the past month, in the hope of finding a couple of clients who would want to use my illustrations on their products. I email them and send along a link to my Web site. It certainly is easier and cheaper than in the old days when I sent out packages of color copies and SASEs and had to wait months sometimes for a response.
But I've also applied to jobs or emailed people through Craig's List, which must work for someone or it wouldn't be so popular. I must send out 25 emails to one response, and even then those responses tend to be scammers or spammers disguised as job opportunities. The real people don't even bother to reply.
How hard is it for people seeking help or an artist to cut and paste a "Sorry but the job is filled" reply? But no reply appears to be the norm. Is this what the Internet has wrought? A culture of thieves and/or impolite people?
On the bright side, one of my emails to a potential client paid off and that one response has opened up a whole new slew of possibilities (hopefully lucrative ones). But all of this has taught me that no matter how badly others behave, I'm not going to succumb to the broad acceptance that because a 'letter' is in the form of an email that it's less valid and less deserving or a response.
So the bottom line is that if you write to me you WILL get a response.:)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

DON'T SUCCUMB TO THE COMPUTER WORLD


Just yesterday a local artist phoned me (note that she did not email me) to bemoan the unfairness of being forced to acquire an email address, perhaps a computer, and at the very least, some knowledge of the digital world.

Now, I adore working on the computer, for its speed, possibilities, and creative purpose, but I certainly don't expect everyone else to feel the same way. It is, after all a tool, and not a necessity. Or is it? Ads on TV constantly direct the viewer to theirstore-dot-com. You can't even read all of the articles at the New York Times or in Entertainment Weekly magazine (the two paper periodicals I subscribe to) without going online. There are many art shows today that require a digital image, sometimes to be emailed in, or on a disk.

But this artist friend, who is not of the computer age, but more accurately "is of a certain age," doesn't want to be the dog learning new tricks. Yet if she wants to receive newsletters, participate in group activities, be informed, and even apply to art shows, she must get with it.

Yet isn't she of a minority whose needs should be addressed, and even catered to, much as we do those with physical or mental handicaps? Shouldn't she force the art group to send her a real paper newsletter? Isn't that her right as part of the club, or even as a citizen of the world?

Part of my job is to help those people who can't figure out computers, so I've volunteered to go with this artist to the library, to help her set up a simple, free email, and to guide her through her tentative new steps into the cyber world. I hope, for her own sake, she doesn't get sucked in.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

FREE DIRECTORY LISTINGS


I finally took a few minutes and sent in my information to obtain a listing at the Maine Arts Commission. It's free and I'd bet all states have a similar type of directory. When I initially looked at some of the entries I noticed most didn't have any photo to go with them, which seemed to be a total waste of free PR space.

Link here to my Maine Arts listing

So the lesson of the day is take advantage of free listing wherever you can!

The image you see is for my picture disk of stock art for businesses. I did the paintings in gouache and used an overlay of acetate, inked it, and scratched off some ink line to create a woodcut look. Visit my web site and see more samples under Illustration- Stock Art.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Combine Pictures into One

Knowing some photo editing can come in handy when you are only allowed to send in one image to a site, or don't want to pay for extra images when creating an eBay auction, for instance. In this picture you'll see a variety of poses and close-ups of a vintage action figure I was selling on eBay. It's pretty fancy editing for an auction, but by composing two or more pictures in one jpeg, you're saving space and possibly money.
I use photoshop but these days most digital cameras come with an editing program that will allow you to combine several images into one final picture. If using Photoshop remember to flatten layers and save as a jpeg to reduce the size!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SHOOT THAT ARTIST!

It's important to have a PR photograph of yourself on hand, whether it's to add to a flyer, to send to a newspaper, to add to your web site or to hang near your art at an art show.
Images of you from the back - painting or working on your craft - just don't work. Clients need to see your face! Show them what you do, what tools you use, what a messy studio you work in.
People are interested in why you do what you do - your motivation.
They need to find some connection with you. Look the camera (and your potential buyers) in the eye.
Folks want to be you. They desire to be the one who is creating and if they aren't artistic, they still love to see artists at work.

Monday, January 26, 2009

CAN YOU FIND THAT FILE?


Like many people, I don't take the time to organize before I jump into a project. However I did stop and reorganize my computer when updating and have come up with a few suggestions I'd like to share with you. First - CAPITALIZE the folder names. It's easier to see them.

I have posted a sample of a folder hierarchy to show you. If I'm working on a project and need to go back to a folder several times over the next few days I will create an alias for it, then drag that alias to my desktop. That way all I have to do is double-click on that alias and it takes me straight to that folder.

Files can be lower case (such as kportriverjan08_1.jpg), and I try to give my files the name they're going to live with, names that are going to make it easy if I have to search for them. None of that DSC00494 for me! I use Photoshop's batch rename or Bridge's batch renaming tool (my preferred method) as soon as I download new pictures from my camera. If you don't do it right off, chances are it won't get done.

If you have Bridge and haven't tried its renaming tool, give it a try now!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How to Add a Blog


You may ask, "How do I add a blog to my web site?" Well, this blog has been created through Google. The first step is to acquire a gmail email account. Gmail is Google's own email service. Having a gmail email means you have a Google account.
Next, go to the Google main page. Use the pulldown menu and click on MORE -- then BLOG. Follow the steps that lead you through choosing a template and creating content. You can change colors and more later on.
One of the good features is your blog's name can be different to your gmail account. TIP: I often use tutorials shown on YouTube.com. There's a lot of handy information at YouTube.
You then add the link to your new blog to your static web site. Tell people about it, add the URL to your business card, keep adding entries to the blog, and folks will come...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Writing a Self-Promotional Article


PR Time. . . This is a great time of year to revise any PR, articles, or bios you have on file for the press. What? You don't have any of these on file, ready to send out? You really need to keep at least one article about yourself, to promote your art or your product, on hand at all times. This PR should not be your resume or a list of past gallery shows in which you've been involved. What should you write? You need a short article about yourself, a description of your work, and at least one quote. Type this in Word, save as a RTF file. Do not double-space, do not style (no bold or colors, e.g.). Put your contact information at the top. When you send this out in an email, copy the content of the article into the body of the email AS WELL AS attaching the Word RTF. This way the recipient can preview the content of your PR. Email me with any questions or if you need a review of your article. ~Geraldine

Monday, January 5, 2009

Design Your Web Site


Although I have been creating Web sites as a hobby for several years, it wasn't until I sat down with another person and really dissected other people's sites that I reached a better understanding as to what made a good site - and a great one. I'm in favor of keeping it simple, text and images with an occasional rollover. Unless a multi-column site is very well organized the viewer is going to get easily distracted. Huge banners, an overly-large viewing area that forces you to scroll to each side, varying sized text are problems I notice at many sites. I suggest that when you are deciding what you want your site to look like you should not just view, but dissect a site you like. See how many columns it has, how many colors, if there is contrast, the ratio of images to text, the layout. Take an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper, hold it horizontally, and pretend it's your home page. Draw out where you want text and graphics to site. Use post-it notes to represent the parts and move them around. It's just like designing your living room and choosing where to put the furniture.