Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Owl Collection

I think I may have an owl collection forming! Check out my recent acquisition ... I bought this lovely ceramic owl rattle from Tori Webb Pendergrass the other day when I went over to Pigment School of the Arts to sketch. I love this little fellow, he feels perfect in the hand and his colors are wonderful.

© Tori Webb Pendergrass
I will post a few more shots of other owls I own ...

This is my mantle at home ... the works on the wall do not change out much, but the 3-d objects on the ledge are always moving around as new treasures are acquired and squeezed in. The artists you see here are from top left:
Rebecca Collins, Susan Giller, Katrina Doran, Kim Wozniak, Tori Pendergrass, Jeff Soto, me again, Linda Stover, Theresa Douglas, Dave Stover,  Lola Cash.
© Linda Stover
ATC Mosaic 2.5x3.5
© Rebecca Collins
© Theresa Douglas
ATC Mosaic 2.5x3.5
Ok, so instead of just a post about "my shameful art hoarding habits" I want to throw out a radical idea for other artists: no subject is too popular for you not to try ... nothing is too trendy to avoid like the plague, and you are not so very special as an artist that you can not tackle a theme or subject that has been done, and then done again.  When I was admiring the owl at Tori's school she softly said, " I know owls are hot right now, but I love them".... or she said something to that effect. I then admitted my own unashamed love for the subject of owls in art and we went on to share our personal stories of having rescued a couple of injured owls. 

 Often serious fine artists will see a popular trend in the gift industry, or on Etsy, or at craft fairs and decide that they need to stay far away from that subject to avoid being seen as producing work that is derivative or trendy. If that sort of snobbish approach in art was taken by all artists then we would have certainly abandoned the nude after Michelangelo was done with the subject because after all, what is the point? I know an artist ( Cherie Bosela), that is currently creating a clown of all things in Mosaic and it is going to be one hell of a stunning clown because everything this Mosaicist touches turns into magic.  If you are an artist reading this and you think you are too good for hearts, clowns, unicorns or owls then I say you have a very limited imagination and the world is waiting for your spin on it all so go ahead and do something really hard ...  tackle a subject that has been covered a lot and then take it to a brand new place.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Working with Your Artist By Phone

Color me your color, baby.
Color me your car
Color me your color, darling.
I know who you are
Come up off your color chart
I know where you're coming from
Call me (call me) on the line
Call me, call me any, any anytime
Call me(call me) I'll arrive
You can call me any day or night
Call me! 
– Blondie

"Come up off your color chart
I know where your coming from" ... 

                  well not always, I do not always know where you are coming from.

Today's post is about the importance of communication when working with a designer or artist. 
I hope other artists will read it and find some valuable tips here, I also hope my clients will read it and understand why I am so picky about needing a phone call on design revisions.

Why a phone call for design change requests?

#1 Accuracy: E-mails are usually jotted off quickly and I skim them even more quickly which means I can miss something important. With a phone call I can ask very specific questions about the needed changes and it is really important when those changes concern color ... your kiwi green may be my olive green, and they may be two totally different shades.

#2 Respect and Relationship building: When I have worked hard on  a project and changes are needed that project becomes a collaboration. It is important to me that my clients understand that I am a person, an artist, and not simply a nameless service provider that is pushing buttons on the other end of some internet thread. By speaking with my clients by phone I enjoy the process a lot more and do not feel like I am just doing cart wheels, crossing fingers and hoping to please. I can explain to them the different possible design solutions to the issue they are wanting changed and I can get their feedback so I better understand their vision. With a phone call I can give my clients the respect they deserve and they can in turn respect my input and ideas about their project and where we can take it with new design time.

Policies and Procedures:

At Art Paw I try to always send a terms sheet to new clients that states my revision policy and the need to call with change requests. I also put that within the body of my proofing letter so people get the information twice. Still, clients often choose to shoot me their change ideas by e-mail. We have become a society that only wants to text and e-mail. It seems that people just do not like using the phone. If you are an artist reading this, keep in mind that it is your job to manage your business and sometimes that means managing your clients. Not in a negative way like they are cats that you are trying to herd or subordinates that need to be kept in line ... you need to manage them in a very positive way that manages "the process" so they do not become frustrated with you and you do not become frustrated with them.

Follow through:
My final step after a phone call conversation is to type up my notes that I took and e-mail them to my client asking them to review. I do this in the form of a bullet list. That way they see what we talked about and if I missed anything or misunderstood anything they have one last opportunity to correct me or remind me of any issues I did not write down. Then I print it out and use this list when I go back to the project to make changes. This way I have a very complete and formal process for doing design changes and there are no surprises. Everybody can be on the same page and know what to expect.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tutorial Thursday/ Finding Copyright Free Images

Today I want to talk about finding copyright free photographs. I have a handful of private Photoshop students right now and recently the question has come up about how to find attractive photographs on the web to use that are copyright free. My students usually start with photos of their own pets and then move on to their neighbors and friend's pets. At some point they run out of images or they want to try their hand at something besides dogs and cats.

I have 3 image resources to share today:
Flickr.com : look for the "advanced search feature" and choose creative commons at the bottom of the advanced search page. People that upload using the creative commons attribution are allowing others to build upon and adapt their photos under certain conditions.

Morguefile.com: This site has gotten better and better over the years. When I first discovered this free image archive years ago I found the image quality was pretty bad. Today you can find some very lovely photos there to play with. They also will show you some results from stock sites that you have the option of purchasing.

Wikipedia.org:  I used this site just this week. I have a client that wanted me to create a painting of a Monk Seal. She had found a random image on the web that she thought maybe I could use, however I explained to her that I had to search for an image that would be copyright free. Wikipedia was the answer in this case.

These types of sites are terrific for finding both critter subjects to work on and also background elements such as clouds, textures, and patterns.

It is almost weekend! Have fun creating in your spare time ... that is what I plan to do.