From the EBSQ Archives: Best Practices: How to Successfully Write About Your Art by Melissa Morton

We will be looking at writing about our art and ourselves.

First, let’s look at why we should even want to write anything about what we do. The main reason is to connect with the people who view your work. People like to feel connected. This is true in all aspects of society and it is a valuable tool when it comes to promoting ourselves and selling our art. When I was working in a gallery, I can not tell you how many times people came in and asked for information about an artist or a particular piece.

If you are thinking, “A connection…thanks for the general and not very helpful bit of information”, let me elaborate.

When someone sees a piece of art that they like, they often want to know about the person that created it. A general bio on file takes care of the basics but often people want to know more.
When someone is looking at a collection of marsh scenes and they know where the artist went to school, how long they have been painting, and what part of the country they are from, that’s good.
If you add that they are paintings of a local spot and the view is from the porch of friends that they were visiting, that’s better. Add that it the artist visits these friends and this spot every year and obviously the view and the place have more meaning than “it’s pretty” and that is even better.

It provides a background, a history. It can make the difference between a looker, a consider-er, and a buyer. People want to know the history of the people they meet and it is often the same with the art that they own.
Something else to consider is what are people looking at? If a piece of art is conceptual or abstract, they very well may not know. It may be obvious to you. It may be obvious to your best friend. It may not be obvious to everyone.

This doesn’t mean that they are unable to appreciate it, just that they may need a little guidance or a nudge in a particular direction. Not everyone thinks the way you do or sees things like you do but that doesn’t mean that they can’t go where you want them to go.

What you say about your work is particularly important if it is going to be viewed online. A computer monitor flattens and strips much from your work. Scale, depth, texture… all are diminished or removed. Then there are the differences in monitors. Colour, light, dark and contrast will all vary. The visual impact your work makes will be different online than in person. This makes communication with your audience even more important.
If your work is online, it is most likely because you want to be found. The more you say, the more likely you are to be found. You have to give search engines like Google something to crawl so when someone types something relevant to you and your work into the search box, your name will come up.

Another good thing about being able to express yourself with words relates to shows and exhibitions. EBSQ shows are not the only ones that require an artist’s statement. Being able to submit with confidence, not only your art, but what you have to say about yourself and your work can only work in your favor.
Now, for the hard part… how do you know what to say? How do you know how to say it? There are several angles of approach that may make things easier.

First, let’s talk about what to say about you and how to say it. Who are you? What do you do? How long have you done it? Why do you do it?These are the main points that you should address. How much or how little you say is up to you.

I would suggest that you go beyond, “I am an artist. I paint in oils. I have been doing it for 20 years. I do it because I like it.” Some feel that it is very important for them to communicate their feelings about art and their life in detail. Others do not and will just touch upon it. A few why’s and where’s will go a long way to fleshing out who you are, but to what depth you go depends on what feels comfortable and right to you.
How you say what you say is also up to you. Some people write in a chatty manner. Some prefer to communicate in a more spare way. If you feel comfortable with words, you may write more than someone who does not. Regardless of what you say or how you say it, you are trying to tell a little bit about yourself to complete strangers. Make sure that it is a true reflection of who and what you are.

When you are dealing with the art itself, it can be hard to know what to say. It can be more difficult than describing a nebulous feeling. Just how do you get a handle on it?

One way to start is to describe what it is. If it’s horsehair pottery, tell us a little about that technique and why you are attracted to it. If it’s a painting, tell us if it it’s oil or acrylic and why you like to work in oils/acrylics. Is it a collage? Why do you like to assemble things?

You can also tell us about the piece. It’s a painting of a glass of water on a table did you chose this subject because you liked the way the light played on and became a part of the glass and the water? Maybe it’s a work all in reds. It could be that you were particularly attracted to reds that day and wanted to see what could be done working with that one colour.

Another approach is to describe the meaning of your work. Not everything is created with meaning in mind, but when it is, an explanation can clarify and expand the understanding of those who view it. Tell why you chose the elements that you did, why you put them together the way you did, what it all says and why you felt it was important to say it.

You can also describe how you feel about the piece or the feeling you were trying to capture. What did you set out to accomplish and did you accomplish it? Was what you ended up with where you started to go or did the creation process take you in another direction?

You can choose to elaborate on the subject. Who is that a portrait of and why did you paint, draw or otherwise depict them? Is there a reason that has to do with your subject that made you choose one medium over another?

If you are creating to a theme, how does your piece relate to that theme? What elements did you include specifically with a mind to communicate that relevance and, of course, why?

One more thing to consider is to tell a story about your art. This works well with pieces that are more whimsical and fun because the story becomes whimsical and fun. The big caution with this is not to say too much or go on too long. You don’t want people to think, “all right all ready,” but to take an interest in the piece specifically and your work in general.

Do be sure that what you write is spelled correctly and makes sense. Proof read it. Read it out loud to see how it flows. Ask others to read it. Make corrections. This is important as it will impact how people perceive you.

The things I have said are not hard and fast rules. (Except the proof reading bit) They are guidelines… a place to jump off from. The main thing is that you start to speak up. It is not immodest to speak of yourself and your art. It is beneficial. It is good marketing. It is an effective way to let others enjoy what you have created in a more in-depth and meaningful way.

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From the EBSQ Archives: Art & Tax: When does your hobby turn into a business? by Michael J Dell, CPA

For many new and upcoming artists, they are concerned about the tax consequences of their new venture. You need to maintain your full time position as a computer programmer to pay the bills, but you have always had a desire to take your artwork on the road and create interest. For many of you this activity, in the view of the IRS is considered a hobby, and not a business. You must include, on your federal and state annual tax return, income from your sales of artwork. The IRS claims if you do artwork for recreation and pleasure it is a hobby, not a business. The IRS states “Hobby expenses are limited to Hobby income.” Deductions for expenses related to the activity are limited. They cannot total more than the income you report, and can be taken only if you itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). In other words if you are not able to itemize, then all of your sales from your artwork will be taxed as ordinary income.

Well when does your artwork become a business venture? Simply, if your motive is to create a profit from your artwork, then you have a business. The general rule is an activity will be presumed to have been for profit if it results in a profit in at least 3 out of 5 consecutive tax years. It is possible that the IRS may treat you as engaged in a profit -making activity, even if you do not have a profit for 3 or more years. The IRS determines the activity’s status “’for profit or as a hobby” by considering the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. Some factors that will be considered include the following:

  • The manner in which you carry on the activity.
  • The expertise possessed by you.
  • The time and effort you expend in carrying on the activity.
  • Your history of income or loss with respect to the activity.
  • The amount of occasional profits, if any, that you earn through the activity.
  • Your financial status.
  • Elements of personal pleasure or recreation.

Once you have met the IRS guidelines then the next step is to determine what type of structure your business will be. Forms of ownership includes, sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, LLC or LLP. Another area to consider is where you sell your artwork? Will you attend out of state shows? Will you use a gallery? Or sell online? The main question to consider here is sales tax.

Our CPA firm specializes in individuals or groups considering a new business, how to get started and reporting requirements. We can explain the steps involved and assist in creating your business. Please send us your questions or call us at (412) 798-3157. The first email or call is free (minus any long distance charges) for EBSQ members. For more information about our firm please visit www.CompleteBusSvc.com

Michael J. Dell, CPA
mdell@CompleteBusSvc.com

From the EBSQ Archives: How to Write an Artist’s Statement by Melissa Wotherspoon

What is an Artist’s Statement? An artist’s statement is a short document written by the artist which provides a window into the artist’s world. It offers insight into a single piece or an entire body of work and by describing the artist’s creative process, philosophy, vision, and passion. It enlightens and engages while at the same time giving the audience – potential buyers, exhibition curators, critics, fellow artists, or casual browsers – the freedom to draw their own conclusions. An artist’s statement reads easily, is informative, and adds to the understanding of the artist.

What isn’t an Artist’s Statement?

An artist’s statement is not a resume, a biography, a list of accomplishments and awards, a summary of exhibitions, or a catalogue of works. It is not insignificant and should not be hastily written. It is not difficult to understand, pretentious, irritating, or (gasp!) laughter-provoking.

Why should I write an Artist’s Statement?

People who love an artist’s work generally want to know more about the artist. Your statement will help your viewers answer questions they may have about your art. When viewers have answers, their delight in what you do increases, and they have more reasons to take your work home with them. The artist’s statement is therefore an effective marketing tool, building a bridge between artist and audience. But the artist’s statement isn’t just for them. In putting your art into words, you might find that ideas and thoughts you once had become more concrete. Your writing may open new channels in your mind and take you in new artistic directions. You might discover more about yourself.

What information should be included?

Well, this is really a matter of personal choice, but there are a few questions you might choose to answer:

  • Why do you create art and what does it mean to you?
  • How does the creation of art make you feel? What emotions do you wish to convey?
  • If the statement refers to a specific piece, why did you choose to represent this piece in this way? What do you call the piece and why? What materials did you use? What are the dimensions of the piece?
  • What inspires you? How are your inspirations expressed in your work?
  • What message are you trying to convey to the viewer?
  • How much time is spent creating your pieces?
  • How is your work a reflection of you?
  • What artists (living or dead) have influenced you?
  • What is your vision/philosophy?
  • What are your goals for the future?
  • What are your techniques and style and how do these relate to the medium?
  • How do your techniques and style relate to your vision/philosophy?

How long should it be?

The answer to this question depends on what kind of person you are. Are you the kind of person that gets right to the point, or do you like to tell stories and paint images for people in words? The key here is to express how you feel and create a statement that stands on its own and makes you happy. Remember that people usually don’t have the patience to spend a lot of time reading, so it’s better to err on the shorter side. Several sources recommend an artist’s statement be around three paragraphs (total of 100 words), and others say that a statement of up to one page is acceptable.

What kind of language should I use?

Keep your statement clear and concise. Avoid flowery language and “artspeak”. This only lengthens and weakens your statement. From a business perspective, the more you can relate to your viewer, the better your chances are of selling your work. Some specific terms you may wish to mention in your statement are the elements of art (line, colour, shape, value, space, form, and texture), and the principles of design (balance, emphasis, movement, harmony/unity, pattern, rhythm, proportion, and variety). These terms have the advantage of being art-related without being esoteric and pretentious. Use language that is comfortable to you, and let your words flow.
My words aren’t flowing. How do I deal with that blank page?

The more art you do, the better artist you become. The more writing you do, the better writer you become. Here are some suggestions for eliminating that blank page. Write every day if possible – it only needs to take a few minutes, and there’s nothing lost. Any writing is writing practice.

  • Gather your favourite writing materials. Treat yourself to a new pen and a schnazz spiral-bound notebook, or pour yourself a favourite hot drink while you sit at the computer. You need to enjoy using your writing materials in order to enjoy writing.
  • Allow yourself some uninterrupted time. Turn the ringer off, and if you’re handwriting, turn off the computer. Create an environment that is conducive to writing.
  • Remove your internal editor. With your eyes closed, visualize your internal editor, the person who censors your thoughts. With your eyes still closed, tell them that you don’t need them around, and escort them out the door or lock them in a closet. Come back in the room and open your eyes. Be watchful – your editor will try to sneak back in and whisper their unwelcome commentary. Remind them to go away while you write.
  • Timed writing exercises. Freewriting exercises are frequently used to help people learn a new language. They allow for free-flowing ideas, and shut down internal editing systems. Set your timer for 3-5 minutes and write about anything in a stream-of-consciousness. What you write doesn’t have to make sense. Don’t scribble over anything or do any editing of any kind. You don’t even have to read what you’ve written afterwards.
  • Against and For. On a blank page (or blank monitor screen), make a table with two columns. Write “Against” and “For” as column headings on the left and right, respectively. Set your timer for 3 minutes, and write down every possible reason you can think of why you don’t need an artist’s statement. Then take a break. Do something else for a while. Come back and set the timer for 3 minutes again, and write down every possible reason you can think of why you need an artist’s statement.
  • Talk to yourself. Each time you start working on your art, tell yourself, “I will listen to my inner thoughts and capture them in my conscious mind”. Ask yourself while you’re working, “What am I thinking at this moment?”
  • Be ready for it when it hits. Have a notebook handy at all times (especially when you’re working on your art) to jot down thoughts as they come to you.
  • Talking Art. Imagine you are in your studio (or kitchen, in my case), and one of your pieces starts talking to you. Write down what it says, no matter how ridiculous. Limit yourself to 3 minutes.
  • Record yourself. Run a tape recorder while you’re working on your art or talking to someone on the phone about what you do.
  • Pretend you’re in your own documentary. Record yourself answering the questions listed earlier in this article. If you have a video camera, MAKE a documentary!
  • The alien exercise. If an alien were to land in your studio, how would you explain to him/her/it what you do?
  • The desert island schtick. You are being sent away to live alone on a desert island. You are allowed to bring all your art supplies. They’re a given. But what else will you bring for inspiration? You can only paint so many sunsets and weave so many baskets before you become cocoNUTS. Make a list of 15 things that will inspire you.
  • Be a quote collector. Every time you see a quote that inspires you, write it down, no matter what it’s about. If you have ever kept a journal or diary, pick out some of your own phrases to add to your collection. Maybe they’ll come in handy.
  • Sentence schmentence. Write down words that come into your head. They don’t need to be in the form of sentences until the last stage of writing, when you unlock your personal editor from the closet.
  • Reading the dictionary is not just for Scrabble. Peruse the dictionary. There are some great words out there just dying to be used. Write down any words that float your boat.
  • PMI. This stands for Plus, Minus, Interesting. This structure is used in teaching to get students thinking metacognitively (i.e. thinking about thinking). When you finish a piece, write down one positive thought about the creation of the piece, one negative thought about the creation of the piece, and one interesting (hmmm) thought you had while creating the piece.

Can an artist’s statement change?
Yes! An artist’s statement is a living document that should change because you change. Your statement could be updated at about the same rate that you might update a resume, in the least. At the most, review your statement each time you create a new piece, to see if your thoughts still have meaning for you. Review your statement when you experience profound events that alter your creative vision.

Where Can I Find Examples of Artists’ Statements?

Browse the portfolios of artists right here at EBSQ! There is a wealth of inspiration here, so if you’re an artist trying to find your voice in words, you’re more than likely to find something here that will motivate you to set pen to paper.

References:

From the EBSQ Archives: Creating a Successful Online Auction Listing by Sonya Paz

The perfect scenario. The new auction art collector cruising the endless page after page of art, sculpture, wrought iron tangibles, wild extravagant paintings of interesting mixed media artworks and then he stumbles onto your page and viola!: this person is drawn in…..

Impressed right off the bat because your page loads fast they can now start the examination process of absorbing the valuable data contained within this precious document. Your titles are clear, the size of your piece is noted, and you have offered a prime concise image of your artwork. They are so excited that you have touched a special nerve with them as there were no fancy obstacles interfering in the thought process of why they are cruising in the first place…. to possibly buy something. Now they are completely ready. They zoom to the “place bid” area and contribute to a process that many can call history.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? If you can say yes, then you are most like on the right track with doing the right things with your auction pages. If you (at this point) are scratching your head wondering why your auction pages are not working for you then chances are that maybe there is something wrong. It can be many things, from the placement of your data to the over achievement of the cool new javascripts that are available for free.

Here are a few “S-O-N-Y-A-S T-I-P-S” to help you out:

Sounds. Unless they are an active part of what you are selling and in most cases they aren’t then lose the noise. Sounds are unnecessary.

Over Achievement. Excessive Javascripts fancy rollovers and flashing things in your face. Bad very bad. These things can tie up someone’s browser and can cause some computers to crash. Don’t think that any person will be visiting your site again anytime soon. These are distracting useless toys that are bad for the auction page environment. Don’t do this to people, they really can care less about these fancy whatchamacallits. Large scrolling 40 foot long pages with a ton of ads and the big giant “sell” aren’t popular either. The best formula is to think about you driving a car and how long you have to read a billboard on the side of the road at 55 mph. Same effect, keep focused, no distractions and less “is” more.

Not everyone has high speed Internet, so please take that into consideration when creating your page. Keep image files small and content quality high. What I mean by “content quality” is to take the time to indicate the details of your piece and this also includes your shipping parameters and any special notes.

Your Images. Now here is a biggie. This is what is going to help you be the most successful with your auction pages because this is what people want to see. Whether you are using an intense photo image application like Adobe Photoshop or a simple image editor like Photo-Edit you can still produce a nice image for your viewers. Exporting the images to .jpg with a result of quality from 5 to 7 is sufficient (this all varies with your photo editor application). Try not to think that making it the highest quality is always better because then your image will take longer to download to screen.

Animations are annoyances. Two words. Loose ’em. Hopping doggies and bouncing smilie faces do it for me…. I am outta there.

Stealing. (okay, let’s for the sake of harsh words let’s call it “borrowing” shall we.) Sure, we can all get inspired from many different outlets whether it’s another artist site or page or some unique clever wording that someone be as original as possible, make a statement or add verbiage that is pertinent to your persona. Our ability to create descriptive words to enhance our art is as original as the art itself.

Templates and Technique. A simple HTML editor can assist you in designing the architecture for your page and you can keep your template and use it for all your auction pages, this way your look will always be consistent and then you can always add or delete data easily. Most editors do not have a spell checker, take the time to review your grammar.

Interests and Inspirations. Based on the way that eBay handles keyword spamming it would be best to note any additional interests, admired art legends, areas of inspirations on a separate page. In eBay they give you a place where you can own and maintain a personal “me” page if you are a registered eBay user. This way you won’t have eBay emailing you accusing you of keyword spamming and you can still get your point across to your viewers.
Practice and patience. Take your time. Learn basic HTML commands for your pages, get the most out of the cool tools available. There are a lot of handy free resources on the Internet :o)

Stop. Look and Listen. If after reading and taking these tips into consideration you need a second set of eyes to review your content and give some constructive criticism then go for it. Ask a friend to take a peek, it’s better that they give you the thumbs up before your viewing audience gives you a thumbs down…..


Sonya Paz is a professional fine artist/painter living in San Jose, California. Sonya is also an established web and graphic designer and has written many articles based on her experiences in the corporate world and how she manages her fine art business today. In 1996 – 1998 Sonya wrote the “Funky Thought of the Week” for the on-line publication Soho Saltmines.

From the EBSQ Archives: Sonya on Shipping Your Art by Sonya Paz

Being in the retail end of things for some time, you learn lots, especially when your clientele expands to shipping across country and overseas. Most of the most valuable lessons of shipping etiquette is learned good old fashioned hard way, you either over charge and your customers think you’re nuts, or you undercharge and you basically eat the rat (and feel cruddy to boot).

So based on the experience I would like to share with you some shipping tips, techniques and ideas!

Here are some smart shipping considerations to keep in mind when managing and shipping your items:

1.) Before posting your items for sale be sure to measure and weigh your art piece. Including this information on your auction site or web site is also valuable for customers.

2). Purchasing bubble wrap, corrugated frame corners, tape and other shipping supplies on-line (like on eBay) can save you a lot of money, they are very reasonable if you purchase then on-line even with the shipping, the local packaging store tends to be more costly. Buying on-line also provides door to door service.

3.) Get a box that fits your item, have enough to surround the edges (3-4 inches) enough for the bubble wrap to cushion, but not too much where your item is swimming in the carton. Collect and save scrap corrugated squares to back the canvas in or to provide support to the paper or unframed pieces.

4.) If you are shipping smaller pieces or are relatively flat like watercolor/acrylic paper works or canvases that are smaller than 19×17, you can get Priority or Express boxes for no charge from the US Postal service, you can ship these boxes flattened as well. The great thing about USPS Priority shipping is that it’s really inexpensive, you can get package tracking for only .35 cents and they have insurance available. UPS includes the insurance in the shipping up to 100.00, the amount thereafter is minimal and well worth it.

5.) If at all possible, have an area where you can keep all your shipping supplies together, so you can manage all of your shipping and packaging in a single place. If you do not have a place in your studio, home apartment, garage to do shipping, getting a box to keep your supplies in can prove useful.

6.) Include a note with your sent items thanking your customers for their sale, this really makes your new collector feel like they are dealing with a professional, makes a great impression and say a lot about who you are.

7.) Have all your paperwork, labels, any insurance or tracking tags completed and your package all ready to go when entering the doors to the post office or UPS. Being organized like this will help in getting you in and out. (The clerks and customers will also appreciate this!) USPS labels, tracking and insurance tags are also no charge, feel to pick up these supplies from the post office, they may also be ordered from the USPS website: http://www.usps.gov/

8.) If you have on-line processing for UPS/FedEx be sure to keep hard copies of your transactions/tracking numbers, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

9.) Keep all your shipping and tracking receipts organized by day, week or month (depending on your shipping frequency), keep them in an envelope/box with your shipping supplies. In the event you need to reference any information, you will know where it is and you can expedite the tracking quicker. After shipping, email your customer to give them the scoop on their package, provide them with the tracking numbers. Most times customers like to see the on-line status and they appreciate this. Don’t make your customer wait for this information.

10.) UPS and USPS are great sources for shipping on domestic (USA) shipments. Depending on the shipment size etc can vary on the shipper. For International Shipping USPS is very reasonable, they have an area on their website to calculate shipping costs: http://ircalc.usps.gov/ I have found this to be average source of exact information, however if you go to the post office and inquire directly with the clerk, they will look up the data for you, every country is different and each has their own shipping requirements. FedEx, DHL, Airborne are far too costly sources for overseas shipping.

Some Serious “Don’ts” When Shipping:

1.) DON’T put your paper works of art in a flattened box without any type of protection (wrap in tissue, plastic or craft paper), this will protect your art.

2.) DON’T use newspaper to directly wrap your items. Bad, very bad. News print rubs off and will damage/tarnish your work of art.

3.) DON’T scribble the mailing label, if you have poor penmanship then print out the address directly from your customers email and adhere that to the package.

Final S.O.S. Thought… Invest the time and effort to pack your items well, by being in a rush to make it to the post office/shipping depot can potentially harm your buyers investment. Because the objective is to make them smile when they open it …. right?


Sonya Paz is a professional fine artist/painter living in San Jose, California. Sonya is also an established web and graphic designer and has written many articles based on her experiences in the corporate world and how she manages her fine art business today. In 1996 – 1998 Sonya wrote the “Funky Thought of the Week” for the on-line publication Soho Saltmines.

From the EBSQ Archives: Creating a Web Presence by Therp Sajik

(Editor’s note: this article was originally presented in 2003, so some of the advise/technology recommended is now out of date)

To say that computers and the birth of the digital change has changed many aspects of our lives may be an understatement when historians look back to our modern times. From the introduction of the first machines by Babbage to the latest Macintosh computer, digital technology has changed the way humans interact with one another. Everything from leisure, communication, commerce and even art has been altered in ways in which we may not even understand as we live in this time of digital growth.

There had been little change over the last few centuries in the ways in which artists have worked. Their use of canvas, putty, wood, paper and so many other mediums have been popular in the creation of some of the worlds most famous artwork by some of the world’s most recognizable artists. Early artists were limited by the society in which they worked and lived in gaining exposure of their art form. To become a well known artist often took many decades since the cost prohibitive nature of advertising was too much for struggling artists. Even in the earliest part of the twentieth century there was a cost barrier when attempting to reach thousands of people, let alone millions. Covers of magazines, painted billboards, and advertisements of all types were the best ways for an artist to gain national acclaim and to eventually become a household name.

Then came along a network in the 1960’s that would eventually change everything for people everywhere. The eventual evolutionary outcome was what we see as the modern internet. With email, instant messaging, web sites, on-line forums, chat rooms, and more came the ability of countless numbers to reach others throughout the world for a moderate cost.

Working in 1992 for NSFNet, I saw firsthand the switch from the original primitive typed commands to the current standard GUI-based (Graphical User Interface) internet. Even in 1992 many failed to see the potential and eventual growth of the internet from a network of high education institutions to the explosion of the world wide web. The earliest websites were hand-built by people who had the patience to code in Hyper-text Markup Language (HTML). But as the last two decades have passed, countless software companies have sprung to life to give even the most casual user the ability to create a web presence.

Artists can now share their work with millions. From the woman across town to the woman half-way around the world, the power of the web can change the way in which an artist is able to financially survive and even prosper. Or at minimum, artists have the ability to share their art for much less money than in any time since the birth of art. The key to continued success may be a web presence.

WHY

Does an artist who is busy creating, showcasing in galleries, and even living their day-to-day existence need a web presence? The initial response to such a question is no. Although a web presence is not necessary to be a well known or respected artist, the opportunity to share art to the world is better now more than any other time in the history of the internet. There are several reasons why now is such a good time to appear on the web. The cost of reaching potential buyers is diminishing, the web is growing, and the word-of-mouth factor works faster on the web than any other traditional method.

In advertising the effectiveness of any advertisement is measured by cost per potential viewing. The cost per viewing measurement is used to assist marketers in making the best choice among several options for products and services. The same yardstick can be utilized by artists showcasing their talent to the public. The cost per potential view for the internet is falling as the internet grows with more potential buyers of your art. In addition to this exponential growth of the web, the ways in which web sites are being sorted and prioritized by search engines is making the process of finding areas of interest, artwork in particular, easier for people. The internet is available to almost a half-billion people now and it continues to expand every moment of every day. Top sites like eBay and Yahoo! are good examples of how the web has grown in just the last four years and how beneficial membership can be to an artist.

The cost can be from free (as a member of a site providing free web presence) to just under a hundred dollars per year to get started with your own domain and a few megabytes of space. The word-of-mouth power of the internet can be seen in the simple chain-emails we see everyday. Imagine how many people who see your site will share it with friends and family when they see art they love. Using the web to advertise your mailing list alone is more cost effective than direct mail-outs. With only a five percent response to direct mailings (which cost out of pocket), the internet allows for the emailing of hundreds or even thousands of people for the cost of your time of gathering emails from people who sign-up to be on your mailing list. Interest is evident when people sign-up and thus the positive response is much higher when you have art available for purchase via the web.

HOW

The number one fear of artists (or anyone actually) in creating a web presence is lack of skills to create a website, upload images, and effectively advertise their existence to the world. Two words in response to this excuse for not having a spot on the web; the library. Your tax dollars pay for them, your children use them, so why not get a few books and start reading. If there are no books to answer your questions, then go to your local bookstore, ask a clerk for help, write down information on the book they recommend and then go back to the library and request that the library order one of those books. Most, if not all, libraries have a dedicated portion of the budget set aside for patron requests. Try it. It works. Another idea is to seek the help of online groups who have countless numbers of members with either the skill set or knowledge of resources available to an artist to get their website up and running.

The items you will need to be successful is software, the ability to capture digital images of your artwork, website host, and then advertising. Software costs to get a web page built can range from free (Netscape Communicator) to moderate (Microsoft Word -save as HTML) to a bit expensive (Microsoft Front Page). Keep it simple to start and worry about the bells-and-whistles later once you have gotten onto the web. To capture images of your artwork, depending on your art form, will require the purchase or access to a scanner or digital camera. Both of which technologies are continuously advancing as prices for slightly outdated technology continues to fall. A respectable scanner and respectable digital camera can both be pursued for under a hundred dollars. Check sources on the web for the best features for capturing artwork. Cnet.com is a good source for this type of information on cameras, scanners, and almost everything related to computers. Website hosting can range from free with banner pop-ups to pay sites.

The lowest cost alternative for web hosting is becoming a member of a group such as EBSQ. Membership cost is low and with it comes free advertisement and a large base of fellow artists who draw thousands of viewers every month. There are several respectable artist groups to become a member of for a low fee.

HELPFUL TIPS

Once you have decided to make an appearance on the web, there are a few options to consider. What type of website, the theme of your website, and other decisions should be made before starting to acquire web space.
There are several types of websites. One where an artist simply showcases a few examples of their work, or a site where an artist has active on-line sales through the site, or a site that simply offers the latest news and contact information, or a website with a little of everything. There are pros and cons of each type. Maintenance and updating information on a site can cut into time for the creation of art. But by keeping a good selection of available art listed on your site may be an opportunity for additional sales when someone may not want the particular art they found off of your site but they began looking for more of your work on your site. One must weigh the cost of commitment to the benefit of additional potential sales.

Another decision that must be made is whether to have a theme on your site or to have just a hodge-podge of art, text, and graphics. Some resemblance of a common theme running throughout a site is often better than just throwing text and images on a site and hoping people find their way through it. At minimum there should be clearly defined links for people to use to navigate through your site. Images of art should always be clear and as close to reality in color as possible and also information about whether it is available or already sold or even not for sale is always a good idea. Often some hosts offer free web stats, especially paid hosts, and using the information in the stats you can quickly see by review where people leave the site. By reviewing the information and seeing a trend and then by looking at the part of the site where most people leave, you might find a bad link or some other reason why you lose so many visitors. Editing problem pages can mean the difference between someone continuing

There are so many other decisions to make before designing and rolling-out the site. The best recommendation I give is to spend several hours looking at fellow artists and other successful people and see what some of the attributes of their sites that make you want to visit them again and again on a regular basis.

Hopefully some of the information offered will assist you in deciding to make a web presence in 2003 and will lead to an increased awareness by the web public in your artwork. Keep creating and I hope to see you on the web very soon.

From the EBSQ Archives: Live Studio- Logo Design Basics by Lauren Cole Abrams

Editors Note: Some images where re-sized to fit our original zine format – some quality was lost. We apologize to Lauren and hope it does not reflect poorly on her.

DESIGNING A GOOD LOGO
Having and using a good logo is important in establishing your identity as an artist….it not only creates a memorable impression of what kind of art you do but encourages a feeling of familiarity and recognition among your patrons. It is often the first impression others have of you and your artwork, make it a good one!

Following certain basic principles can ensure that your logo design is professional, easy to remember and creates a great impact on its viewers while successfully expressing the nature of your artwork.

SIMPLICITY
The ideal logo says volumes in the most basic of images…it should be your “essence”….what you are and do, but reduced, strong and succinct. Try to be clever if you can, but not at the expense of clarity. Keep it simple, yet compelling.

BALANCE
Just as in any other form of art, your logo needs balance….line density, shape, arrangement…all are important in reaching a balanced and pleasing logo.

VERSATILITY
Your logo needs to be able to work well at any size and in black and white as well as color….not an easy task! Your logo needs to look as good on your business card as it might on a large sign…and often it is used in strictly black and white instances such as photocopies, newspaper ads, etc.

Of course, being artists, we love color and use it as often as possible…just make sure your color logo can translate easily to black and white.

FORMAT
I have been told It is advisable to always use a vector format, since logo designs done in vector format can be expanded to any size without loss of image quality. Also it is easier to convert a vector logo design into bitmap than vice versa. I personally am computer challenged and still do logos mostly on paper with ink…advice on how to create logos using the computer is something best asked of people who actually know what they are doing.

USE YOUR LOGO!!
Once your logo is ready, start giving it as much exposure as is possible. Not only on your business cards, but also on your packaging, marketing, and all other possible areas. It makes you look professional and credible, even if your studio is a tiny section of your bedroom.

Typefaces are, of course, a very important element of the design….there are thousands of fonts to choose from…some are heavy and bold, some light and airy, some vintage looking, futuristic, sleek, cartoony….after a while you will get a feel for the kind of type fact that “speaks” to you. Use it to express yourself, study how type is used in other logos, in magazine ads….book covers, anywhere type is used….each face usually has several versions—bold,light, condensed(squished together so you can fit a lot of letters in a small space)and extended(each letter drawn out widely so you can fill up a lot of space with just a few letters)italics, and so on… there are also lots of ways to customize typefaces…although you should be probably have some experience before trying to do it manually…there are many ways to manipulate it through software programs though and you can do endless permutations of a typeface once you get the hang of it….like having a beautiful, subtle drop shadow behind them….or a graduated color filling an outlined typeface…the possibilities are endless…but remember, simple is best!!

Here are a few examples of very effective logos…they don’t represent artists or artwork, but you can apply what you learn from logos like these to your own…a good designer usually looks at tons of reference for inspiration…so logo hunting is a good place to start….

You can find online a number of “create your own” logo software programs…like this one http://www.logoyes.com
try it…it’s a great way to move things around and get a feel for possibilities….and if you love what you create, you can always pay the fee and stop there….but I like it as a tool to play with….then take those ideas and go from there….. using a program like this one, I created a number of “logos” to show you some good ideas and some bad ones….let’s start with the bad ones…..here are a group of logos that at first glance might seem ok, but then you start to ask…hmm…what does a swan, or a rabbit have to do with fine handbags? a tad simplistic but i wanted you to see them….

So now that we know what NOT to do…here are some that show you how different a logo can look depending on the typeface and layout you use….

labeana1copy labeanacopy

…..and I haven’t even begun to add pertinent images of actual handbags…..but these can give you just an idea of the many ways you can manipulate typeface, layouts, etc in your search of the perfect logo….Once you have something you like, print it out in different sizes and see how it works for you…..
I’m going to stop using labeana as an example because I’m still working on that one lol…but here are some layouts for two different logos…one is for a painter and the other for a photographer….these are just a few ways you can go…

Here are some examples of different typefaces and a paintbrush symbol…..I finally come up with something that I like…using the paintbrush to make it look like it has “painted” the word paintworks……

paintworkscopy

I like this one even better—-

logowork

here is another alternative…..

dcp_0122

Now I will work on one for a photographer…….

cameracopy

I start off with a simple camera image and a bold type face…then I start moving them around….you can do this with your computer but also with tracing paper….just put the type and image on one paper and slip it under the tracing paper…and trace different ways to use it…..works much better than having to erase all the time…anyway I am not thrilled with any of them….so it’s time to do another one….

 cameraworkscopy

I like one or two of these better but I’m still not happy…..i try something a little different….

DCP_0135

using these elements i fool around some more and come up with this….

dcp_0136

I like it but it’s not quite there yet….

ta da….much better, well balanced and more interesting…

dcp_0140

Just like any other piece of artwork it’s hard to know when to stop……lol