Saturday, July 28, 2012

String Theory and World Views

Last month I came across the blog and website of The Pixar Touch, A history of Pixar Animation Studios. 

The article of interest is Pixar Story Rules (Version One) - 22 story basics that storyboard artist, Emma Coats, compiled and tweeted.  The whole list of 22 is worth reading. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.

I take input from all different disciplines, two of my favorite topics are Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology.   Playing concepts from other disciplines against my career as a professional artist is how I put myself to sleep at night.  (Well, most times I don't sleep and that's a problem.)  So it's no surprise that I would want to take the 22 story basics and fit at least some of them into my "art" view of the world.

"String Theory"
 7 x 10
Colored Pencil on Paper

Here is how #2, 3, 5, and 17 might play out for an artist:

#2: If you want more art sales you gotta keep in mind what’s appealing to your collectors, not what’s fun to do as an artist. They can be very different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what your body of work is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now keep painting.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine or lose subjects and shapes. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later  (stands unchanged!)

Today's Nitty Gritty Nugget:

      "Visit" other disciplines and find ways to apply it to your art career.

NOTE:  (I subscribe to MediaBistro and the 22 story basics was a featured article.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Different is Good

When artists say "I've done all the right things.  I've got a website, Twitter, Facebook, Etsy, Ebay, Pinterest and scads of social media accounts . But I don't have any sales, what's wrong?"  Assuming you are creating saleable art, probably nothing, but that's all been done before.  

Today's Nitty Gritty Nugget:

     Create something different!

Here are two of my favorite blog posts from the last couple of days about being different. 

The Truth About Marketing (Online or Off) That No One Wants to Admit (Copyblogger)

"The more audiences become exposed to online marketing, the more blind they become to the latest tactics and techniques. What used to be captivating and novel soon becomes old hat. Just as people get ad-blindness over time, they also get a sort of “marketing tactic blindness” as those campaigns become more and more routine."

Strategy Matters More Than Ever  (Seth Godin)

  "Not changing your strategy merely because you're used to the one you have now is
a lousy strategy."

*Saleable Art = universally appealing subject, reasonably priced. (Advice from a gallery director several years back.)

"Cherry and Brown Bottle"
From my "The Chubby Cherry" series
Click Here to Collect this Painting

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

May I See Your ID Please?

I volunteer my free time (that should be an oxymoron if it isn't already) as the President of the National Governing Board for the Colored Pencil Society of America serving over 1700 colored pencil artists worldwide. Although I don't do a lot of colored pencil work anymore, it's my art family of choice.  Colored pencil artists are some of the most gracious and generous folks you will ever meet - not to mention talented.

Each year CPSA hosts a four-day convention somewhere in the US to coincide with the run of our Annual International Exhibition.  This year's convention and 20th Annual International Exhibition is in the Greater Cinncinati Area (Covington, KY to be more specific.)  If you are interested please check out the CPSA website for more information.

Which leads me to two topics today:

1.  I will be in Covington from July 30-August 5th, up to my kneecaps in responsibility and activities at the convention.  You probably won't hear from me while I'm out of town, but I hope to have lots to share when I get back. (OK..maybe a few FB pics.)

2.  In preparation for the trip I felt I needed to walk the walk, and talk the talk.  I sat down the other night with Vista Print and ordered new business cards, along with a few other goodies.  It was so easy to shop and they kept offering more goodies with my name splashed across them.  I HAD to have the engraved business card holder, but I did draw the line at the baseball cap with "What Are You Really Selling?" emblazoned across the front. 

Business Card and Note Card with Envelope
for What Are You Really Selling?

Mailing Return Labels, Magnets, Business Card,
Engraved Card Holder and Oval Labels
for Cynthia Haase Fine Art

There is nothing more embarassing than someone asking for your business card and you have to fess up that you don't have any, or the last two you have are in the bottom of your purse with dog-earred corners and some other fuzz attached to them.  Are you ready when someone asks?  They will, you know.

Today's Nitty Gritty Nugget:

    Be prepared!  You never know when opportunity will knock.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Expose Yourself!

I've recently discovered Empty Easel, the "online art magazine with practical advice, tips, and tutorials for creating and selling art."  Their articles are informative and easy to read.  Daily I read some of the biggies in blogging and branding, and am often left with a headache trying to figure out how to apply it to my own art marketing efforts.

I thought this link would be an interesting topic. The article is from 2009 and obviously dated material with a reference to MySpace. However, the creativity exhibited is timeless and leads me into my own social networking experiment.  Another experiment - imagine that!

Great examples of social networking success for online artists

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Can You See Me Now?

Is your artwork mostly seen by other artists?  This is a dilemma - you want your work seen, but preferably by an audience beyond your fellow artists.

Often times we join cooperatives and arts councils for the opportunity to exhibit our work.  For the most part though, the audience at those facilities are other artists.  I'm not saying you won't have sales, because artists buy art too. But unless you are represented by a gallery, paying a commission for them to do your sales for you, you most likely need to find buyers yourself.  Bottom line - to expand your buying audience you need to think outside the box. 

I kept thinking since I paint mostly still life with fruits and vegetables I needed to find a cooking blog or organic food website which would be willing to place an ad for me. You know like the ever-so popular Cooking Magazine.  Not that I have given up on that -  what I found in the meantime, through the Blog and Sponsor Connection Team, was a couple of really wonderful "lifestyle" blogs that were looking for advertisers.  They also refer to it as "sponsoring their blog." 

In June, I worked with April Starr, The Flourishing Abode, to place an ad on her blog.  I was pleased with the results.  For June the fee of $35 was half-price, and April designed four "clickable" buttons to my Etsy shop for $5.  When I checked my Etsy Stats for the month of June, The Flourishing Abode was number three on my sources of traffic right after Etsy and Direct Traffic.  It far out-numbered hits from my blogs, or the daily painting sites I belong to.  I don't think I can directly attribute any sales to the ad as yet, but fresh eyes looking at my work is a good thing in the long run.  I'm rerunning my ad for July at full price of $35.  My ad is on the right side bar.

I decided to try a second "lifestyle" blog, My So-Called Chaos for July.  Here are the particulars for advertising.  I'll report in the end of the month on how this one fares.  However, for right now my browser is having trouble with showing my ad.  I've had her check it, and it seems to be working just fine.  If you don't see my add in the upper right corner (big yellow pepper painting) hit refresh.

These kinds of exposure sites are all new to me and I'm not suggesting that this is a route you need to take. Just sharin'.  At some point I may try this approach (sponsorship) for this blog.

Today's Nitty-Gritty Nugget:

     Think outside the box for exposure sites - sites that provide backlinks to your gallery.

Ad for My So-Called Chaos

Ad for The Flourishing Abode

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Freedom..There's a Novel Title for Today

I've been reading my daily dose of artist and writer blogs.  Everyone is writing about freedom. How can you not?  On Independence Day!

With all the fires and talk of fireworks cancellations for the 4th of July holiday here in the Denver area, I'm hoping it will be a quiet day and night.  On the news we have heard those who are upset that there will be no fireworks (it's a tradition after all,) those that are desperate to see this fire season pass without any more loss of life or property (and, of course, those that don't care either way.)

We are surrounded by pine trees here in our little suburban area of the world, and believe me I will feel FREE to call the police if I see any illegal fireworks going off in our area.  If you feel free to endanger my home, I feel free to report you to the authorities.

I believe with freedom comes the responsibility to not endanger or disrupt someone else's space, property or well-being.  However, you know there are always those who think freedom means they are able to do anything they want regardless of the consequences for anyone else.

Editing this post at about 10 minutes of existence to add this quote that SOOOO fits this post.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”―Nelson Mandela

Today's Nitty Gritty Nugget:

     With freedom comes responsibility.

"Red, White and Blue"
4 x 4 Oil on Gessobord

As artists, we have many freedoms, in the subjects we paint, how often and where we paint, the style and media, where we exhibit, how we price. 

But what are responsibilities that come along with all this freedom? Especially when it comes to marketing and selling our art.

I'd love to hear what you think today...feel FREE!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Art of Fair Trade

As an artist who needs to pay bills, I've never been a fan of trading artwork with another artist.  I didn't quite see the point unless it was someone whose artwork I really admired. (I think I have made one, maybe two, of those trades.)  My standard answer when asked to trade was "I need the money, sorry."  I do buy artwork of some of my favorite artists when I can afford it.

Then last summer as I was in the middle of my "daily painting" craze, I rediscovered the fine art of trading - not artwork but other cool things.  On Etsy we have the functionality to "Favorite" items.  If someone favorites my art it shows up in my activity feed.  It's a very helpful function and gives you a good idea of what paintings people are responding to. (Most online galleries and shopping sites also give you this ability.)

I hate shopping in a brick and mortar store. Believe it or not my husband has to bribe me with lunch to get me to go to Kohls. I will, however, spend some "TV-Watching" time browsing jewelry and clothing online.  I came across some custom tops on Etsy one night, made from recycled t-shirts and knit tops, that prompted me to hit the "Favorite" button.  I loved the idea of recycling and reconstructing, and I thought the designs would be flattering on my "short hippy" figure.  They were quite expensive though. Remember - I'm a Kohl's shopper.

Next day, my fellow Etsian and creator of the tops, sent me a convo (short for conversation.) Her message was short and sweet..."I love this painting! I see you have favorited several of my items. If you ever are in the market to trade please let me know."  Aaaahhhh!  I jumped on that.  I now have 3 (soon to be 4) of her tops and she has 2 (soon to be 3) of my paintings.  I've also traded for some stunning silver jewelry, and luxurious bath products. 

While I still don't trade art for art, I love trading art for something I value, need and don't already have.  The fun part is realizing your art is also valued and "needed."

Today's Nitty Gritty Nugget:
     Explore trading as a way of receiving value for your art. 

Some things to remember:

1.  When someone favorites your items, take a look at their shop and see what they are selling.
2.  Be polite when "feeling out" the other seller.
3.  Don't take it personally if the other seller is not interested in trading.
4.  Some sellers will put "trade-friendly" in their bios.
5.  It may not be an even financial trade but it should be within the ballpark. 
6.  Rather than removing your item from Etsy (or wherever you sell), accept "other" as payment.  This keeps your sales records intact, but there doesn't need to be an exchange of funds.

"Pears on Blue Plate"
5 x 5 Oil on Gessobord