Art Share - New Weekly Art Webcast

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ART SHARE - NEW WEEKLY WEBCAST 

LIVE Wednesdays on G+ Hangouts & available archived on YouTube. A panel of professional artists discuss hot topics such as art marketing, social media, creativity, process & the business side of art. Tune in and ask a question at www.art-share.org

 

Please help us promote the show by sharing the image across your social networks. Thanks! 

Rules Destroy Art

I've made you a pretty little graphic this morning.

I was thinking about the various projects on my plate right now. I'm illustrating The Raven, working on my own book project and it's various side efforts and I always have a dozen or so other paintings hanging around on my  to do list (celtic stuff, goddesses).

At the moment I'm struggling with a decision to completely rethink my illustration style for The Raven. I like where it's going now, I'm happy, but I'm nervous....does it break the rules? Whose rules? Who cares? See, I tend to get caught up in "rules" a lot. They are self imposed rules really, brought on by stiff too-linear thinking or by my (often erroneous) perceptions of what the world outside my "art head" wants or needs or will "tolerate".

Rules destroy art.

Balancing

This year my art goals are pretty lofty. One major thing I'm working on is a drastic expansion of my commercial body of artwork. As an artist I work in two main categories of art, with some overlap.

 

  • My Personal Work: This consists of whatever I want to do, exploring themes and projects that appeal to me on an emotional level.
  • My Commercial Work: This is comprised of commissions and concept art for manufacturers, or trends my agent suggests that I explore because they are highly marketable right now.

Often these two groups do overlap. For instance when steampunk hit big, I'd already been exploring themes along those lines in my personal work and suddenly all the images that I had that could be viewed as steampunk were gaining a whole new audience.

It's a challenge in a slow economy to eek out a living as a working artist. For myself, succes in this area has meant continuing to build and maintain my commercial work, while also persuing personal projects. From the outside looking in, fans of my work might not see much difference between these two categories. And that's fine, I work no less hard on my commercial pieces then I do on my personal work. And many of my commercial pieces follow my personal interests. For example a new painting - Lord Ganesha was painted with several commercial pursuits in mind, and yet he's always been a favorite of mine and I've hoped to find time to paint my version of him for a long time.

Remover of obstacles - Ganesha (aka Ganesh) is one of the most beloved of Hindu Gods. A recent Facebook meme reminder Ganesha devotees to "Don't tell Ganesha how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your Ganesha is".

 

BUT.... you knew there was a but...didn't you? ;) For the working artist, well for THIS one anyway - the ongoing struggle is the balance between painting what feeds my soul, versus what feeds my tummy. The eternal hope is that most of what I work on will fall into that sweet spot I illustrated above. Work that feeds my soul, and inspires my audience and also pays the bills. So while I'm working on all those commercial paintings this year, I'm also working on another project - a project that began as an inspiration for a novel and has now turned into something a little richer.

At this point I've mostly given up trying to force THE PROJECT into a recognizable shape. It's decided on it's own that it first wants to be an illustrated short story, then a series of paintings, and lastly if I can get my literary shit together, a novel. That's what it's told me. So there you have it.

Yesterday a piece of lovely from THE PROJECT decided to come out and play. A simple sketch, a moment from the short story that has been bouncing at the back of my eyelids for weeks. I finally pulled it out and set it down. The doll in the sketch is Mina. She's a Muse. Her crow friend is Traipser, he's a kind of Muse too, but a little less gentle with his methods of inspiration. I'll leave you with the sketch and ask you to feel free to share your thoughts about balance, work, art and inspiration.

 

P.S. WHOOPS I forgot I've got large format prints available now - for those that are interested!

 

 

 

 

 

Thriving in Chaos

Phew! I'm exhausted. For those that don't know my family and I recently made a move from rural(ish) Maryland to the suburbs of Dallas Texas. The move was stressful and daunting, but we survived, and are now happily settling in, finding our tribe, and enjoying our new pool!

One fantastic feature of this new house is the size of my studio. My studio in our old house was basically an open parlor space, that in modern terms really functioned better as an open hallway then it did a private studio. In our new home I've taken over the front formal living/dining combo so popular to modern homes and I'm so stoked about the extra space!

This extra space means I'll be able to stock more of my own licensed products here, which will result in one stop shopping for my customers. You'll be able to buy more items directly from me, which is great!

Right now I'm just working hard on unpacking, then organizing our entire house while at the same time continuing to work. I've accepted that fine tuning this house to suit our needs will take several months, and that we'll need to get rid of even more "clutter" then we did before we left. At the same time I'm working on our house though, I'm also continuing to make new art for you!

I'll be at FaerieCon in Baltimore Maryland at the beginning of November and I want to have as much new and exciting art for you as possible. I hope to see you there!

On the Drawing Board:

 Secret Scents Perfume Lockets - the Vintage Romance series for the perfume lockets is almost complete and we are planning to release the line this fall! Very soon! You can follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest developments. Additionally all the enchanting fairytale images from the Vintage Romance series will be available as prints and other products. Yay!

 

SteamBabes - Steampunk PinUp! I did the first SteamBabe for a poster for the Steampunk World's Fair. It was ridiculously popular! So popular I've now drafted some close friends (and fellow artists) to pose for new SteamBabes. Artists Amy Brown and Ash Evans will soon be SteamBabes, and friend Angela Brenneman doesn't know it yet, but she will be too!

 

 

 

Celtic Knotwork & Shamanic Art - Years ago I did a lot of Celtic knotwork and Shamanic/New Age Spiritual art. I've recently returned to these roots, and I've been so inspired by the process. Some of what I'm working on is Celtic Knotwork. Years ago I designed an entire line of Celtic Knotwork jewelry for a Welsh Jewelry manufacturer. I learned so much, not the least of which is that I enjoy designing knotwork immensely. I've also tentatively returned to painting animals, sometimes adding various totem creatures to the knotwork designs other times depicting them in their own mystical vignettes. You can follow all of this progress on my Facebook FanPage. In the meantime to the left is a piece of knotwork I designed yesterday in between unpacking boxes. This piece will be rendered as is, AND will also serve as the background for another piece I'm working on with a fox and ravens!

 

Fine Art - Personally when I use the term Fine Art, I mean my personal art. I mean the work I do that doesn't fit neatly into one theme or another, isn't created for a product in mind, or as part of an ongoing series. This work tends to reflect a bit of all the ideas I'm currently exploring or obsessed with, and is full of symbolism. At the moment I have about half a dozen pieces in various stages of conception. My favorite, and the one slated to be completed first is at the left. It features three lovely ladies and friends who are frequent decorations at Faery Events. Virginia, Lindsey and Angela should possibly consider charging us artists for the privilege of painting them. Their lovely faces serve as perpetual muses to many contemporary fantasy/surreal artists. I'm so happy to know them and that they consented to be painted, yet again!

 

PHEW! Well that is it for now folks. Remember follow me on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook to get the latest updates. And feel free to email me any questions!

As always....

Thanks for liking my art!

~Brigid

Defending my Steampunk Street Cred

First let me say that this post is not intended to defend steampunk as an aesthetic or movement or philosophy. There are ample other places online to debate that.

This post is simply a statement about my "steampunk" "dieselpunk" figurines. Which some people are annoyed by.

I like steampunk. I like dieselpunk. They are both super rad.

As an artist I'm obliged to use words to describe my art. I must do this because it's the only way to get Google to acknowledge my website, and send compatible interests my way. I like to share my art. It's also my business, so I like very much when the sharing of my art results in a sale. Because then I can buy some noodles, and eat them. And noodles are good.

But there is a problem with this scheme of noodle procurement. When you use words to describe something, you run the risk of that word transforming from a simple descriptor, into a LABEL. Many words have become labels. Goth, Steampunk, Dieselpunk, NewBrow, LowBrow, Pop Surrealism, Geek …. blah blah blah, the list goes on.

Labels are rather annoying. Labels often have clouds of angry people swirling about them, shouting loudly and waving flags, trying to defend some kind of imaginary ground. I'm not interested in labels. I prefer words. Well actually, I prefer pencils and paint even over words.

So this brings us to the point.

I draw and paint. I have many many influences in my work. (Lots of them are super rad. I'll blog about that later.) A few years ago I attracted the labels "fantasy art" and "fairy art". More recently I attracted the labels "steampunk art" and "dieselpunk art". These are all fine. Personally I don't see myself as any "X" artist. I'm just Brigid. Who likes to draw and paint and really enjoys painting metal bits, wood, cracks, sad eyes, wingy things and keys. I also paint flowers, but I don't really enjoy painting flowers. Yet I paint them still. Huh.

But I digress…. Part of my business is that I do concept art for manufacturers. Sometimes I draw something totally new for the company, other times they work with images I already have. They say "We need something steampunk, people like steampunk!" And I show them my mecha sad dolls with wings on, and missing limbs, and they say "Is that steampunk? I don't see any Cogs?!" And I smack my head against the desk and tell them, that despite the shocking lack of cogs, many people who enjoy steampunk stuff, like these things I draw.

So they take the designs, and make pretty things from the designs, and they give me some money, and I buy noodles.

The company that buys these designs and makes these products is not evil. I would not work with them if they were evil. Believe me, I've met evil in the business world. It had frizzy hair and wore too much make up and Jinkies am I glad that's over.

The movement of steampunk is about self expression and definitely has a huge do-it-yourself aspect. It's about recycling and upcycling, and the beauty of a functional object, well made of warm, rich and classic materials. It's about the victorian's penchant for the glorious adornment of simple objects, and the engineering of fantastic things. It's about doing these things for yourself.

BUT, I have admired the works of steampunk artists and maker's and I have bought the things they made. I didn't make the goggles on my top hat, or my pocket watch, or the enchanting feather brooch I wear on my amazing leather vest. I didn't make any of these things. Other artists designed and made them. Just as I designed these statues, which were made by this wise company, who had the good sense and exquisite taste, to use my designs.

They are not a large company. Yes the items were made in a factory. One at a time, in small batches, all hand painted.

I am one artist, barely eeking out an income from my art. You are still supporting an independent artist when you buy these figurines. A portion of your money does go directly to me for noodle buying. And I ADORE you for it.

If you don't care for them, please don't purchase them. I will not be offended. But if you like my design, and you think it might look nice sitting on your mantle, please do buy it. And tell me, and let us be new best friends. Because any patron of independent artists, is in my small view of the world, a truly remarkable person. They are a person who appreciates things for the beauty inherent in them, and not for the labels by which they are defined.

Thank you all!

What I've been up to!

WOW! I can't believe it has been almost a month since I've updated the blog. So sorry! I've been very busy with several projects and a handful of deadlines - most of which I can't talk about in any detail yet.

But to give you a rough idea:

1. I wrote an article for Faerie Magazine (finished and out soon)

2. Collaborated on an illustrated written project with Natania Barron for another magazine (ongoing)

3. Illustrated the album cover for Professor Elemental's new album (ongoing - and it's awesome by the way!)

4. Started rough concept sketches of full figure adaptations of some of my doll girls for a manufacturer.

5. Pulled together two proposals for two other manufactuers.

6. Illustrated the Three of Swords for the Super Punch Tarot Project.

And that last one I can now share with you!

CLICK HERE to see the full line up of amazing tarot cards from an incredible group of artists!

I'm also pleased to share that the originals of Unfair Things and Ascension were sold to a private collector after my exhibit ended. This was awesome and that influx of cash allowed me to finally be able to upgrade my computing power to a MacBook Pro - and to upgrade my programs etc. This has taken some getting used to but I'm loving it!

I know I've promised to do an online gallery show. I've been trying to find the right time - and well it's been difficult with all the work I've on my plate at the moment. I also want the online gallery show to have some newer pieces - which means time to paint these new pieces. So I'm thinking I might be holding this show later then I had planned. But don't worry I'll let everyone know. I'm definitely interested in your suggestions as to what is the best time for you as an individual - I'd love to be able to take that feedback and find the overall best time to hold the event.

The plan for this online gallery exhibit is to stream live and show you the images via a stream of my desktop. This way I can zoom in on them - kind of how you'd move in closer to see the detail if you were viewing them in person. I'll also chat live and do Q&A.

For those of you that are familiar with MMOs we'll also be hosting a live gallery opening at my virtual gallery in Second Life. That's a truly immersive way to experience the art!

Sign up for my mailing list to be informed about the dates!

I hope all are happy and well! Till next time!

10 Twitter Tips for Artists ( & Creative Types )

10 Tips for Artists who use Twitter (or are considering it)

What is Twitter? Twitter is a very popular social networking site.
For artists, it is also a great marketing tool. 

When explaining Twitter to fellow artists I liken it to a room full of people at a massive party. You walk into the room and initially you might be overwhelmed. You start making the rounds, lurking and observing. You see people who look like they share common interests. You lurk a little closer, maybe joining a group of people in a conversation - but still just listening. If the conversation is interesting to you, then maybe you join in - engaging with that person or even a group. Eventually if things go well you exchange contact information and gain new friends, or clients, or benefit from professional connections. Conversations or people that aren't interesting to you are simply passed by.

But is it that simple? For artists accustomed to spending a great deal of time in the isolated playground of their own personal headspace - interacting on Twitter can be a challenge. I hope these tips will not only help to get you started on Twitter - but also help you enjoy it - and build your business.

1. What's in a name?

Although I do use a "handle" as my Twitter name I don't recommend this for artists looking to use Twitter for building their business. Unless you're well known by your handle professionally it will just cause confusion. (I started Twitter as a private account and then began using it for professional purposes. I was NOT known as skwerlgrrl professionally at the time. It was a private handle - but now that name is irrevocably tied to me professionally . Thank goodness I don't mind.) Simply use your professional artist name when making your Twitter account. This way people who are looking for you can find you easily. Also don't forget to fill out your Twitter profile. Include your website URL and a concise bio about you and your art. Here is an example.

2. Is Anybody Out There?

YES! You just have to find them! Start with your friends in the field. Ask via email, Facebook, and Myspace "Who's on Twitter?" Follow them and ask them to follow you! Then use Twitter Search to find more awesome people to follow. (Type in a keyword like "art" and look at the tweets that pop up. Click on the profiles to learn about that person and decide if you want to follow them or not. Chances are good that once you follow them, they'll consider following back.)

Spread the word! Add a line to your email signatures about your Twitter account. Tell your mailing list. Add your Twitter link to your other social networking accounts. There are even Twitter widgets that allow you to stream your updates on your website and other places.

3. Performance Anxiety

Cat got your tongue? Writer's block? Well that is a problem. Twitter is all about short, sweet & if you want any followers - INTERESTING. Now please don't feel pressured to have the wit and timing of a late night Comedy show host with every post. That's not necessary. What tweeters cherish above all is REAL CONNECTIONS.

There's a good chance you can learn to Tweet effectively. First tip - study the tweet patterns of people you follow that you find INTERESTING. What are they doing, saying, sharing? Emulate this pattern as it applies to your own life.

One person who is a very effective Tweeter is Neil Gaiman. Mr. Gaiman has almost One and a Half MILLION followers. This is partly because, well, he's Neil Gaiman. But also partly because he says things that are INTERESTING and he make REAL CONNECTIONS with his audience. Neil responds to fans who tweet at him, he posts interesting links, and allows his followers little glimpses into his work, his process and sometimes his personal life. Every tweet is his unique voice. Each post gives the reader a sense of his personality, and his sincerity.

I know what you're thinking. "Of course they do! He's a writer, so he's got a bit of a leg up in that department!" But um, actually NO. I've followed many writers on Twitter. All of them talented at writing books. Many of them a DEAD BORE on Twitter. Some of them even lose their minds and accidentally reveal themselves in ways that alienate their fans. So don't assume that anyone has an advantage over you when it comes to tweeting.

 4. Joining the Conversation.

In the very beginning you'll feel like you're talking to yourself. And that may even be true for a while, until you build up followers. That's why its important to participate by following, and responding to others. Twitter is not just about what YOU have to say. Its about listening to others, and joining the conversation. So while it's important to give your followers interesting things to read, if all you ever do is talk about you - well nobody likes a narcissist.

Engage with those you follow. Comment on their tweets. Be interested in what they have to say. ReTweet (RT) their more important posts. If it's something they are selling or an event they promoting - help them out by retweeting their post. Most people will return the favor. Be sure to respond to those who tweet at you (use this link to easily see all responses to you).

Keep in mind that Twitter can move at a pretty fair clip. Many people miss posts directed at them. If you tweet at someone and they don't tweet back, DON'T take it personally. Always give the benefit of the doubt, and assume the best.

Oh and don't get to personal please. No one wants to know that you're out of toilet paper, or god forbid WHY)

5. Share Your Works in Progress.

As an artist you'll have images to share of art and maybe even photos of works in progress. People love photos! Share them! Tweet about your artistic process - upcoming projects - how you structure your work day - other artists who you admire/inspire you. 

There are some people that hold a philosophy that artists shouldn't share works before they are complete. They think it takes the mystery out of the process, and diminishes the work. I disagree. I've shared works in progress, and even solicited opinions and suggestions from my followers. It's been nothing but entirely effective at raising my profile and my fan base.

What you share and how much you feel comfortable sharing will be up to you. But in my experience people who love art are always hungry for more. Sharing your work and what goes into making it doesn't destroy the mystery it only deepens the viewers relationship to you and your work. And that is after all, what you want.

6. Use Hashtags

Hashtags are basically easily searchable keywords on twitter. Seasoned Tweeters know all about hashtags, regularly use them, and even create new ones. But newbies to Twitter see these strange additions to posts and wonder what they are. 

Anything can be a hashtag. People even make up hashtags as jokes sometimes.  For the artist, remembering to use hashtags in your posts can be a very effective way of promoting your work to new and relevant followers. This is because many people regularly do searches on twitter for keywords that interest them. Some also use apps that notify them when certain keywords/hashtags are used.

Want to see a hashtag in action? Here's an example. Anyone doing a search for #Steampunk and #Art on the day of that tweet would come across it. I probably could've also added #SteampunkArt in another post to cover more bases. But I'll save that tweet for another day.

7. Participate

There are quite a few "events" that pop up on Twitter.  Usually these start spontaneously and organically amidst a group of friends, or people with common interests. Generally these events spread and take on a life of their own, with thousands of people joining in on the fun.

One such event is Friday Night Art Dorks. Specifically for artists, this event started on a lark one evening when an artist noticed that a lot of his friends were also online, tweeting photos of works in progress. A funny hashtag was invented, and a regular Friday Night event for artists was born.

To join in such an event. Simply post something relevant to the conversation - and include in your post the hashtag for the event. Friday Night Art Dork's event hashtag is of course #FridayNightArtDorks . To follow the conversation in real time you'll use Twitter Search (or any Twitter searching utility you like) to hone in on that hashtag, and everyone using it.

8. Quality vs. Quantity

Remember when I said being an effective tweeter means being engaging and interesting? Well I really meant it. This approach will, in my experience, bring you QUALITY followers. You want as followers, people who are genuinely interested in you and your work. Sure new followers might just be checking you out at first. But if you remain positive, interact with others, share your work, and promote not only yourself, but also retweet the promotional efforts of others - the result will be a base of followers that are quality tweeters like yourself.

There is a rampant growth of junk tweeters on Twitter. These people  are only interested in large numbers of followers. Many of them subscribe to services to increase their follower count. Still others use auto tweeting, services that pepper the twitter sphere with crap. I hate this. It's the antithesis of what I love about Twitter.

What you are looking for as an Artist promoting yourself on Twitter, is REAL interaction. REAL interaction results in REAL fans, which results in REAL sales. That simple. You just can't fake sincerity. And all things of quality take time to build. So don't freak out over low follower counts in the beginning of your Twitter journey. Enjoy Tweeting, have fun, the rest will come.

9. Shake Things Up!

Okay now you've been at it for a while. You've got your groove on, got some good followers, having some meaningful conversations, made some friends. What now? Well you're creative right? Think of something!

Start a collaborative creative project on Twitter. Start your own event, with your own theme and of course a hashtag and invite others to participate. Use Screenr to record yourself painting (for digital artists) and share it on Twitter. Twitter exciting updates and photos during an art exhibit or convention. Use UStream to stream live video of you creating art or talking about your process and inspiration. Use Twitter to not only inform people of your ideas and events but to invite them to participate with you in creating art.

Everyone likes to participate, so whatever you do - don't forget that aspect.

 

10. Don't take any of it personally.

Always remember this is the internet. A good percentage of the personalities you will encounter on Twitter - let alone anywhere on the interwebs - have about as much social grace as a pack of tween girls fighting over the last Team Edward shirt at Walmart.

Spammers will sometimes reply to Tweeters with totally bizarre and irrelevant replies. These are designed to befuddle you and get you curious enough to click on their link. Sometimes they are selling something - sometimes they might be directing you to a virus. If you get a bizarre reply from someone sketchy - don't reply - don't click a link - just ignore it. Or even better click on their profile link and then click "report for spam".

Then there are the angry trolls. Listen, if some knuckle dragger is giving you a hard time, don't engage, don't let it ruin your day, just block them and/or unfollow. Report them if necessary.

And lastly if someone has managed to really get under your skin - repeat this mantra from Dame Julian of Norwich:  “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

And all SHALL be well. And then you'll tweet about how totally well it is.

On Copyright

NOTE: I wrote this in response to an article I read on Huffington Post re copyright and creativity.

As a visual artist who uses the internet extensively to market my work  - copyright is an important topic to me. I also license my art for manufacturers. Naturally my claim to the copyright of the works I license is what makes that process lucrative. If I didn't hold the rights I couldn't license the work. While I understand the benefit of a culture infused with available materials to foster creativity I cannot agree that society at large has any inherent entitlement to my work.

 

As an artist I've certainly been inspired by the creative works of others. I've even borrowed concepts or figural poses from photography or classic paintings to recreate in my own art in my own vision. I would never however include for example prints of another artists images in my art - and certainly not without express permission. (The merit of collage as a modern art form is outside the scope of this commentary)

 

The reason I wouldn't do this is partly personal artistic integrity (I want to share MY art with the world not someone elses art) and partly control. That word, control , seems to be considered almost foul language in this discussion of copyright. And I think that is a mistake.

 

I believe in the rights of the individual and I believe in the rights of ownership. If I have poured my heart and soul into a painting - I've birthed it - it's MINE. I get to choose how that image is used - how it is controlled. I can choose to display that image on my website - and offer it as prints to collectors. My displaying it on my website does not constitute permission to distribute the image or even to save it to your hard drive.

 

Nor does anyone have the right to take my image crop it - change it a little - incorporate it into their art and then claim it as their own. That's called stealing. Nor is it okay if they credit me. It doesn't excuse the stealing if they user "gave me credit". God I hate that defense. Hey Guess what - you don't deserve accolades for NOT LYING. The fact is giving me credit and linking to my site isn't the point. The fact is I have the right to tell you NO you may not use my art. I also have the right to set up a company to handle the licensing and usage of my art well after my death and I have the right to deem that future generations of my family can benefit from that.

 

Why is intellectual property treated so differently then "tangible"? How is this concept any different from a family home? If my great great great grandfather built a house and passed it down to the subsequent generations would people be clamoring for us to create laws forcing families out of their ancestral homes just because they've all lived there too long? Of course not.

 

The problem in this situation is really a cycle of abuse and greed. We need to educate the public on how to view intellectual property. How to not steal and use things appropriately. We need to educate people on how to find affordably licensed content that they CAN use cheaply or freely in their own creative collaborations and projects. And we need to make it safe and lucrative for people who wish to create such content to do so and have it be worth their time.

 

So while this former card carrying blue haired punk rock anarchist can see why people like the idea of being able to mooch off of the creativity of others as much as they want for free the fact is I for one grew the hell up. I developed my skills and I create my own art. Thank God for copyright. I've got bills to pay.

Why Twitter is more awesome than Facebook.

Okay I am going to admit right off the bat that I am horribly biased in this review. You see I Heart Twitter hardcore. Like almost as much as I love Willie Nelson’s Limited edition Ben and Jerry’s Peach Cobbler ice cream - yeah, that much. And I hate Facebook with a passion that can only be described by the late great Madeline Kahn

MySpace used to be in the top position of my worst social networking sites list. But really well, it’s been a while since MySpace has been relevant to anyone looking to do anything other then market sexy Vampires to 11 year olds. But at the height of my annoyance with MySpace it never ever pissed me off as much as Facebook does.

See I use social networking as a marketing tool. I use it to connect with fans of my art and share my art with new people who might become fans. My ultimate goal is to build my fanbase and have this translate into sales. It has. It does. Social Marketing is very effective. And done right it feels much more honest than traditional marketing techniques. (More on that in another post.)

I have made friends via social networking too. And these sites do come in handy for keeping up with friends and acquaintances who I might not know enough to jingle on the phone regularly but who I nevertheless enjoy as a human beings and don’t mind one little bit hearing what they named their new cat. I work from home - it gets lonely during the day. It’s nice to have a little human connection over lunch.

But I’m sick to death of Facebook. Facebook is a free for all of false intimacy, and even forced intimacy with people that aren’t even on my @#$ing friends list. Almost everyone there is just gorging themselves on empty calories - scooping giant handfuls out of the same big bowl filled with all the worst sugary neon colored cereals that have ever been pushed on you. None of them wash their hands either. And they chew with their mouths open.

This is kind of behavior would not translate into successful REAL WORLD interactions. Anyone behaving this way in REAL LIFE would quickly have NO FRIENDS - certainly not a Facebook count of 563. Whenever I’m in doubt as to how to act on the internet I just put it in REAL WORLD TERMS. (More on Social Networking Etiquette in another post.  In a nutshell if you wouldn’t do it in REAL LIFE - don’t do it on the internet. )

So let me see if I can put this in real world terms. Twitter is like a cube farm in an office building. You are surrounded by co-workers that are there more or less for the same purpose - you know some better then others - and some you are even good friends with. During the course of your day something funny/irritating/interesting/informative/geeky happens and you mumble about it to yourself in your cube. But you mumble it audibly enough that the others around you in the cube farm can hear. You do this on purpose to add interest to your boring day. Your fellow cube mates that are within earshot comment back to you with a variety of things.

Perhaps another person in the farm who is out of earshot of your original mumble hears one of your friends responding to you and asks what that was all about (clicking the "in reply to link") and then having been filled in - (following the tweet thread to see what the hubbub was all about) they then feel free to comment to you as well. Perhaps you have a witty exchange and build a little connection and then feel free to count them as another workplace friend. Lovely.

Facebook is not like this. Facebook is the obnoxious co-worker who accosts you as you come in the office in the morning. They hover over you as you get your desk ready for the day eating some kind of trendy muffin spilling crumbs all over you and your workspace. They comment on the photo on your desk of your niece and call over their Buddy from billing to come take a look. Before you know it the Buddy from billing is snapping a shot of your nieces embarrassing 2nd grade toothless grin with his phone and sending it to his brother in law who sees it and makes some messed up comment about knowing a good Orthodontist. Buddy from billing then shares the comment with you and the entire cube farm and you are forced to put your niece’s picture in your desk to stave off a 2 days worth of working slobs who totter up to your floor during their break for a moment of workplace levity at your family’s expense.

As far as just straight up marketing and brand building - Twitter has gotten me really valuable connections personal and professional. I've sold a ton of art because of Twitter - including some pricey originals. I've gotten opportunities and set up artistic collaborations. Facebook has given me nothing but grief and given people with no professionalism far to much access to my time.

I said the following on my Facebook status yesterday. "On Twitter when someone spews at me it’s happening across the street. On Facebook it feels like they took a crap on my living room floor. I can handle across the street - I can’t handle my living room floor."

Yeah I know I could make two accounts. One personal and one public. No thanks I’m not trying to spend more time there. And I know I don’t have to use it and many people like it and it works well for them. Yep - happy for the people who like it. Yep I don’t have to use it. So I pretty much don’t anymore.

But it’s still out there.
Sucking.
And that frightens me.


Brigid Ashwood Street Team - Affiliate Program

I've got a whole day of painting ahead of me! Yay!

I'll post updates later.

But for now I wanted to pop in and let you all know that I now have an affiliate program.

You can earn 10% commission off of sales at my site if you sign up as an affiliate.

This is especially good for those people that have blogs and steampunk related websites.

I've provided instructions and several different banners so hopefully there is something for everyone to fit in with a variety of websites.

Affiliate Program

More thoughts on Licensing

Since my last post regarding licensing I've had quite a few people email me with more questions. (I would encourage people to ask questions here on the blog so we might all benefit from the discussion.)

One thing I liked to reiterate is that if you have any questions about licensing and the business of art especially in the fantasy genre go buy Jessica Galbreth's book - RIGHT NOW. Seriously - Jess is a MASTER at the business of art and like E.F. Hutton when she talks we all should listen so if you haven't bought it already just go do it. Go on. I'll wait. Here's the link: Buy Jess's Book

Okay moving on. There is no right approach. You have to figure out for yourself what your particular formula for succes is going to be. And while I know its scary and confusing and overwhelming. None of the artists you perceive as having more experience or expertise then you are going to be able to give you a guidebook to assured success. You will make mistakes - there will be deals you aren't happy with. Promise.

Licensings is difficult to get into. It's very competitive and I feel personally its overrated. Most of the artists I know make far more income selling directly to their fans then they do off of licensing.

But I think it's important to understand one thing. And I wrote this in an email today and I really think it's valuable so I'm sharing it here.

Far to many artists hold licensing up as the Holy Grail of success - which it is not. Perfecting your craft, your techinque, your style, your vision and your connection to your fanbase should be - and is - the holy grail.

Most licensing for most artists results in small paychecks that trickle in every quarter. Some licensors never pay you. Some sign you up and never make your products (potentially keeping you tied up and unavailable for other opportunities).

Yes some licensing can be very lucrative. Some artists make quite a bit of money at it. But like any field the people at the top making the most money are just a handful of people. They work very very very hard and there is always something "special" about these people. Something that sets them apart. (And just for the record whatever your impressions I am NOT one of the people at the top of the licensing ladder - I make very little of my income off of licensing).

The artists at the top work hard, they are prolific, they are unique while at the same time staying on top of trends. They diversify their subjects while never straying from their particular style. The quality of their work is top notch and improving all the time. They are unfailingly professional. Did I mention hard working?

To get to the top of the licensing game you not only have to be all these things - you have to be better. Because you need to make room for one more. Yourself.

This is not meant as discouragement. But rather a reality check. Knowledge is power. You need to know what you are in for.

If all you want to do is license your art with your friend who makes handmade journals and sells them at the local fair (and I'm not knocking that) then go for it. Ignore this advice - as it has little bearing on smaller ventures.

But if what you want to do is license your work to a major clothing manufacturer and see your art in every Hot Topic from here to Timbuktu - then bring your A game and cross your fingers.

I'll be cheering for you!

>>-Brigid->

 

 

Thoughts about Licensing & Art Careers

A few weeks ago I went on vacation for a week to Las Vegas with my husband. While there we also attended The International Licensing Show. Wow what an experience that was! Our attendance was a little backwards - in that the companies and talents with booths at the show were seeking licensing opportunities - just like us. But that's okay since we had gone to spend our time learning and observing.

It was well worth it. What I learned only served to confirm a viewpoint I've had for some time now. That the real action - the real opportunities - are much more readily available when you are meeting people in person (such as at trade shows and events). If you want to be a serious working artist you need to really "put yourself out there" in the flesh - and no the internet isn't enough.

Let me explain. (And just by way of reference I used to be a small business and marketing consultant for a number of years so hopefully I have some small measure of credibility in this area. Let's hope!)

The internet is a powerful tool - and I'm grateful to have it. But it doesn't take the place of real live in the flesh connections. What's more with powerful website building tools and 8 year olds familiar with Photoshop the line between amateur and professional is terribly blurry. Our whole society is far more media and marketing savvy then in generations past. These days you find teenagers with business cards and individuals with a sophisticated advertising concepts and personal brand awareness. This is fantastic - but also really confusing for companies looking to license art - and frustrating for the artists looking to license.

These days companies are so inundated with licensing requests via email or internet sources that they rarely give them much attention. They rely on the old standards more then ever to tell them who the real players are in the current art market. And those players are attending shows, mailing portfolios and setting up face to face meetings. Meanwhile hopeful artists are sitting at home with lovely web sites wondering why their art won't sell or why they fail to obtain any licensing.  Well the answer to that is generally one of two options.

1. Quality - Is your art any GOOD?

Before the internet if someone wanted to start a career as a licensed artist they generally started with education. If they chose the formal route they would have received feedback and criticism from their professors. If they did not receive a formal education then the process of starting off on their professional art licensing career would be a critical one - which would serve to inform them of their suitability for the field. (The smart ones would seek out objective feedback and criticism of their work before trotting off into the professional world.) If they chose to work with an agent the agent would serve as this filter - giving valuable feedback about the quality of the artists work and what the market was "looking for". If they chose to find their own opportunities this meant hoofing it - going out with (or mailing) resumes, cover letters, promotional materials and portfolios.

All this work served as an excellent weeding out process to separate the amateur from the professional. This difference is important and the truth is that one is not a professional simply but putting that on a business card. What separates an amateur from a professional is their work and their presentation. Now I'm not talking about the STYLE of art - but rather the QUALITY. THE main component at the licensing show we attended was the QUALITY. Sure there was plenty of art I didn't care for - absolutely. And there was a vast range of very different styles. But every last booth at this show had an incredible level of professionalism. And even the art I didn't care for was of excellent QUALITY.

I understand it can be hard to objectively look at your own work. It can also be hard to find objective criticisms if you are looking to only family, friends and co-workers for critique. Even persons with an educated eye for art aren't always helpful. Many art teachers are frustrated artists themselves and gallery owners and newspaper critics come with their own sets of prejudices and biases.

So what do you do? VOLUME. Get as many opinions from as many educated sources as you can. Solicit detailed feedback and critiques. Learn from them and grow. If the only people who've ever told you that your art was beautiful were related to you then you're not doing it right. Toughen up - submit to some local juried art shows - see if you get in - and if you don't ask why. And I don't want to hear any excuses such as "none of the art shows in my area cater to my genre". Then cater to theirs. If they only want landscapes then do some landscapes. If you can paint then you can paint. Consider it good practice and remember if you are looking to get into licensing you'll need to be good at being flexible and giving the clients what they want. Very very few artists make a career licensing only what they want to paint. Most have to work with their clients to accommodate a specific concept or trend.

2. Visibility - Get out there!

Simply popping a website up on the internet is not enough. You must research opportunities and go after them. Attend trade shows. Set up appointments with licensing companies and talk to them in person. Nothing can replace that personal relationship.

Be smart and observe the type of art, trends, and quality of work you see at shows. Be professional, and be prepared. Attend shows with a portfolio under your arm that you can whip out at a moments notice.

Look for new opportunities! Think outside the box! What would you like to see your art on? What unique product would one of your images be perfect for? Go to stores and write down the names of manufacturers that appear on products. Then use the internet to look up the contact info for these companies.

DON'T BE LAZY! So many artists these days simply model their career after another artist they admire. They even hound the licensing companies of other artists to find opportunities for themselves there. That is the silliest thing! Generally the last place you want to be is with a company that already has several other artists with work similar to your own signed. Can you say over saturation? Do you want to stand out in a crowd or get lost in it?

Be PROFESSIONAL - I can't say it enough. I own a company that licenses a handful of artist for digital stickers. I regularly get licensing requests. I cannot believe the lack of professionalism on the part of most of the people that email me. An over casual tone is never appropriate. Even if you think you "know" the person you are emailing - still be professional. And always always respond. Even if you get a rejection - respond with a "thank you for your time". You never know what situation might lead to another. Even if an artist isn't a good fit for our company I keep everyone in my mind when I network with other business owners and persons in the industry. If someone impressed me with their professionalism I will never hesitate to recommend them - even if they weren't signed with my company.

So if you are going to burn a bridge make sure it's worth it. ;)

Conclusion

So in a nutshell if you are having trouble obtaining licensing - work these two points. If it's not one - its the other.

I hope you've found this helpful! Feel free to post comments or questions.

Cheers!

Brigid

UPDATE: Fellow artist and friend Jessica Galbreth has just released her highly anticipated Artist Manual Book.  Great info for budding artists who want to learn more about making it as a professional.