Grants: Getting Started

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Writing A Grant

Grants are not only a great way to fund your career but they can give a serious boost to your résumé.  Think about it.  If someone is willing to give you money towards your art that’s a huge endorsement.  No matter how big or small the grant it’s definitely a good for your career.  Also remember research, following directions to the letter and good writing are the keys to success.

The first step is understanding the kinds of grants available to you.  There are two basic kinds.  Grants for individuals and grants for organizations.  Naturally the amount of money given to an organization is larger but you can have access to that through Fiscal Sponsorship.  A non-profit organization will allow you to use their credentials and information to apply for a grant.  I will go into this in a future post.  Until you have a Fiscal Sponsor you should apply for grants for individuals.

There are categories of grants.  That is grants given to the arts, social causes, minorities and women.  It is important to look for grants under the category that comes closed to your needs.

There are several kinds of grants to look for as well.

• Unrestricted Grants – a grant where they hand you a check and say “go do your art”.  There is no designated way this money can be spent.

• Project Grants – grants for a specific project that you will carry out – usually in a designated period of time.  I.E. a grant given for an exhibition in which the art is made and displayed within a year.

• Travel Grants – grants given to fund travel from one place to another.  I.E. You have a residency in France but don’t have the funds to get the plane ticket.  You can seek out this type of grant.

You will also want to look at the geographic reach of a grant.  Some funders will only look to seek artists in their local area or region.  Make sure you know what that is before you apply.

Remember that research is really the foundation of your success and besides looking online the Foundation Center is the best place to go.  They have libraries in New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Atlanta and Cleveland and they are online.  Every foundation in the world has to give information to the Foundation Center.  Check it out: www.foundationcenter.org

In the next post we will talk about the types of funders out there and why they give to the arts.

Good writing is also the key to your success.  The Artists Objective has a proven track record helping artists achieve success in this area.  If you are feeling overwhelmed we can break it down for you step by step, edit and get that grant – customized exactly to your needs.  Please visit our website at: http://www.theartistobjective.com/coaching.html#grants   We’re here to help you find your solution to success.

Social Media: Blogging: Get Writing

Now that you have ideas and topics for blog posts it’s time to get started with the actual writing.  Where do you begin?

I like – make that love – to start with various stages of a technique that’s called Free Writing.  In fact, I’d say that I start most of my writing projects – even my blog posts – this way.  If you’ve read The Artists Way by Julia Cameron you’ll be somewhat familiar with this.  She refers to it as “The Morning Pages” – every morning you sit down and write three pages about whatever is on your mind.  Bare your soul and make room for creativity.  Free Writing is somewhat like that but a bit different.  It’s more creative and the outcome is often the beginning of something you will use.

Free Writing, by definition, is really quite simple, as you will see. It can be an amazing basis for inner discovery.  You can find new ideas for your art and yourself.  It can be a great place to gather your thoughts, or (as in the case of the “Morning Pages”) it can simply be a place to unload.  Free Writing is also known as Stream Of Consciousness writing. Here’s how to get started.

1. Get your favorite writing implement(s).  You can even use a crayon if you think it will open your creativity. I type rather fast so I like to use the computer.  Sometimes I start to get inspired in a cafe or on public transportation so I carry my iPhone and something to write on just in case.  You can use a sketch pad, an iPad, paper, whatever you like.  Just make sure it’s fun and comfortable.

2. Get into your most comfortable spot.  An armchair in your living room or den. I know some writers who can’t write at home so they go to cafes and coffee bars.  Some writers create a special place in their homes for writing – even if it’s just a desk in a quiet spot overlooking a beautiful landscape.  It can be a place dedicated to writing in your studio.  It has to be a place that you look forward to going to because you’ll want to do this again and again.

3. Set a time limit – 10, 20 or 30 minutes.

4. Start Writing.

There are two rules to follow. Don’t worry they’re not hard and fast.

• You are only allowed to pick up your writing implement to make space between words.  If you feel stuck say it.  “I don’t know what to write about? What should I write? I’m stuck.” Just keep going and I promise something will come out of it.

• Do not worry about grammar, punctuation or editing.  Don’t let that impulse to self censor get in the way.  Editing will come later.

• No one else has to ever look at it.

You don’t have to have a topic in mind to start writing but in the case of blogging you may want to.  For example: Pull out a painting or drawing and write about it for that set amount of time.  Whatever comes into your mind about it is okay.  Even if you don’t like it – maybe this will help you figure out why.  You’ll be amazed at what comes out.

After you finish and take a bit of a break, read it to yourself (preferably out loud).  This can be empowering because you will see that you can write and write well and that’s the key to great blog content and great blog content is the key to getting followers.

Social Media: Anatomy of a Blog

Before I give you tips about writing for your blog I thought it would be good for you to be familiar with the terminology. Here is a glossary of commonly used terms….

About/Profile Page
A page on your blog that is your biography and why you are writing a blog. You can use your bio or artist statement combined with a statement about what you are writing about. WordPress links to something called Gravatar.

Archives
A listing of your posts in reverse order by date.

Atom Feed
A means by which readers can subscribe to your content and view it via a feed reader. (See also feed reader and RSS Feed).

Backlink or Trackback
A reference link used to notify another blog when you have linked to them on your blog. They usually appear in the comments section of a blog post.

Blogging Application
A program or website that allows you to create, manage and post on your blog. Examples are: Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, Moveable Type, Tumblr and LiveJournal.

Blogger
A person who writes content for a blog.

Blogging
The act of writing and publishing blog posts.

Blog Host
A company that provides the space to host your blog. (See Blogging Application).

Blog Roll or Links
A list of links of blogs that you like or recommend. They are usually linked to a blog topic or other sites that a blogger enjoys. There is a widget that will show them in the sidebar.

Blogosphere
The online blogging community made up of bloggers from around the world.

Category or Label
A way of separating blog posts that will make it easy to find your posts. You can add a widget to the sidebar that has a linked list of your categories.

Comment
An opinion or thought in response to a specific post. Comments are what make blogs social.

Comment Moderation
Something I highly recommend that you turn on behind the scenes in your dashboard in your blog. This allows you to approve comments before they are made public. You can avoid negative comments and trolls.

Dashboard
The primary page where you will manage your blog. You will post, see your statistics, moderate comments, change your settings, design the theme or template for your blog and more.

Feed Reader
A tool used to read RSS and Atom Feeds.

Footer
The area of the blog on the bottom of your blog where you will put a copyright link, contact information, comment policy, etc.

Gravatar or Avatar
Gravatar allows you to create an image and a profile that follows you wherever you are on the web. So if you comment on another blog your Gravatar will show up as an icon next to it. I recommend putting an image of yourself, similar to a head shot.

Header
The place at the top of your blog where your blog title/logo, subtitle, graphics and possibly the navigation bar will appear.

Home Page
The first page that the visitor to your blog will see. This is not necessary and not common but it is possible to create a page on your blog that makes an impact.

Page
Some applications allow you to create pages on your blog. This allows you to categorize your posts and your content. It can make your blog look like a website. In fact, it is possible to create a website on WordPress. This is something I do not recommend. It will function like a blog – in that your content will be added chronologically and it will be Search Engine Optimized for a blog. You won’t be able to meta-tag it the same way.

Ping
A signal sent from one website to another to notify that the content has been updated. They are usually used when one website links to another and receives content from it. I’m sure you’ve seen feeds from Twitter on websites on the side. You can also do this with your blog.

Plug-in
Third party tools – created by web developers – that enhance the functionality of your blog. Some charge a fee (which can be one time or function like a subscription).

Post
Content that you will create and put on your blog, appearing in reverse chronological order.

RSS Feed
Which means Real Simple Syndication. A means by which readers can subscribe to your content and view it via a feed reader. (See also Atom Feed and Feed Reader).

Sidebar
A column that appears on the left or the right of the main column that allows you to put widgets or content that enhances your posts.

Tag
Keywords that categorize your posts and are read by blog search engines, making your posts searchable.

Template or Themes
A pre-designed format that allows you to create content without any knowledge of website design. You can adjust colors, typefaces, sidebars and more.

Troll
Someone who makes negative comments or posts on the internet for the express purpose of insighting an angry response. (The best way to handle them is to ignore them and delete these comments from your blog or social media).

Widget
A tool that allows you to add functionality to your blog in the sidebar, particularly in WordPress. Examples include: Categories, Blogroll, RSS Feed, Atom Feed, Links and Social Media Buttons.

 

 

 

 

Social Media: Blogging: An Introduction

In 2011, Technorati.com (a powerful blog search engine) was tracking 120 million active blogs. That number has been growing at a rapid pace daily. There is an active audience for blogs and people will want to hear from you. They will be interested in what you have to say and want to hear more.

The word Blog is a combination of the words Web and Log. The blogging format was originally created for a single author to create a daily log of their activities. Almost like a diary. Today major companies and news outlets have what are called multi-author blogs. The New York Times has a Blog called ArtsBeat among many others. Even the Metropolitan Museum of Art has “Met Blogs”.

There are smaller blogs that referred to as Niche Blogs. Blogs that focus on one thing and do it well. Such as a neighborhood, a celebrity, a featured item or an artist. A good example of a neighborhood blog is We Heart Astoria: Delivering the Inside Scoop In and Out of Astoria. They combine this with active Social Media accounts and have 5,842 followers on Facebook as of this post.

The reason that there are so many blogs is that it is easy to start one. The only thing you need is a computer and access to the internet. You don’t need to know fancy internet code such as .html, .CSS or JavaScript. It’s as easy to use as a word processing software such as Microsoft Word. You can use code if you know how but you don’t need to. You can choose a design simply by choosing a theme and customizing it. You can create posts in text, audio, video or post images. There are blogs that are nothing but video and those are called Vlogs. There are also blogs that are nothing but audio and those are called Podcasts.

The difference between a blog and a website is that a blog is interactive and a website is static. People can and will comment and leave feedback on your blog. You will answer and suddenly a whole entire conversation has started. If you use good etiquette your commenters, followers and readers will tell their friends about you, link to your blog and tell other bloggers about you.

Those bloggers will link to your blog and you will link back. This will increase traffic to your blog exponentially. If you link your blog to your website – and you definitely should – it will increase traffic to your website as well. The most important thing a blog will do for you is to increase your exposure and your readers will come back for more because they can see who you are in a wonderful way.

A blog is a unique creative outlet. Remember always that you are an artist because you have something to say visually. Here is your place to put that into words. To let the world know, and those critics that matter, just what that message is again and again. Tell them what you like and don’t like, what inspires you, what you’re working on. You can simply tell your readers what you’re working on today, or what happened in your studio. You can review exhibitions you’ve gone to, giving your readers an artists perspective.  Believe me, that will fascinate them.

There are some things you can do to make your blog really visible and really good looking. In the coming posts I will go into that so please stay tuned.

Doing Business: Targeting Your Market

There is a difference between a viewer who is casually looking at your art and a viewer who is head over heals in love with your art. That is the viewer that will become your buyer and ultimately a collector. Do you know who that viewer is? What do they like to do? What makes them tick? If you want to be successful it’s important to find out and focus your marketing efforts to the viewers (audience) who matter most. This is called Niche or Target Marketing.

You might think that this investment of time is not necessary but I can tell you that it will ultimately save you a lot of time and result in sales. Whether that’s selling prints online or pursuing a gallery, the kind of gallery that carries and sells your art. It’s important to know.

A word about galleries – do your research! I once met the owner of a gallery that carried Primitive and African art. She showed us a stack of slides that she had recently received from artists. It was a waste of her time and a waste of the artists time and money. You can guess where those slides went. That’s right, in the trash. The artists didn’t take the time to find out where their art belonged.

Back to target marketing, in order to find out who the audience is that loves your work you must do some research. Research is so easy with the advent of online media. You can create surveys with websites like Survey Monkey or Constant Contact and send them to your existing audience. A much easier and free way is to interact on Social Media. Notice what your audience is posting? What are they saying? What groups do they participate in? What are their political views? Take the time to view a few profiles and you will see.

Typically businesses that are targeting their markets will try to discern certain qualities about their prospective customers. The first is demographics – quantifiable statistics about a given population. The other is psychographics – personality, values and interests. Here are some things to consider when you are trying to figure this out. Some may sound invasive but remember that much of this can be done anonymously on your part. If you are asking direct questions, through a survey for example, your audience will be answering voluntarily.

Demographics

• What is the primary age of your audience?
• Where do they live?
• Are they male or female?
• What is their income level?
• What is their highest level of education?
• Are they married or single?
• What do they do for a living?
• What is their ethnic background?

Remember, that in most cases, the sale of your original work will be for a luxury market – a buyer who has a large amount of disposable income. However, you may want to find a secondary or third market online by offering prints or products-on-demand. Another term for this is expanding your revenue streams.

Where they live and how old your audience is will help you figure out where you should market your art. If it appeals to a demographic of 40-50 year olds, for example, you will want to look for the places where you can specifically market to them.

Psychographics

• Personality
• Attitudes
• Values
• Interests and Hobbies
• Lifestyle
• Behavior – in terms of what inspires them to purchase a work of art.

Another question that fits into a unique marketing category is where does your audience find your art? Is it in a gallery, a publication or online? This will tell you even more about where to market your work.

Another way to figure out your target market lies right in your studio. It’s your art, your message. Take a good look at your art and think about who you would like to reach with it. Is there a message that you want to get out into the world? Which part of the world is that?

Remember that it is very important to do this for your success. As a small business, it is important to make sales, especially if you want to make art full time.

Doing Business: Branding

What is the first thing you think of when I mention Van Gogh? Is it Starry Starry Night? Even though he didn’t consciously make this his brand it’s what I believe most people think of when his name is mentioned.

Branding is, for artists, the image or symbol that viewers think of first when they think of the artist and their art. This is what will set you apart.

I have had comments from artists that marketing is too crass or something that artists shouldn’t have to engage in. Think of marketing as letting people know that you exist. After you let them know that you exist you will want them to remember you and a strong “brand” will help you do this.

Here are a few principles of branding and something called Brand Management to help you get started….

  1. Remember that if you are making art there is a reason. You have a message to share with the world. You have a voice. It is your responsibility to make sure that message is heard, again and again.
  1. Branding helps you deliver your message clearly and consistently. Consistency is key to good brand development and management.
  1. It connects with your Target Market (or your niche) emotionally. Remember that art usually illicits an emotional response to begin with. Research your target market to find out what that is (if you are not aware already) and use it to market your work.
  1. It motivates viewers into becoming buyers. That emotional response may make them want to live with your work. Not just view it in a gallery or on the internet but have it in a place where they can see it daily, in their home or office.
  1. It concretes buyer loyalty. The people who have already bought your work will become collectors and possibly life long collectors.

A brand for artists should be a work of art or a logo that defines you and your art. A color palate that is strong or a strong sculptural shape are good examples. You can also use your signature, type or a symbol that relates to your work. Any of these are the equivalent of a logo.

Just to share a bit of information relating to the art world and logos…. Open a copy of ArtNews or another well respected art magazine. You will see that most of the galleries are using type based logos. I suspect that it is because they don’t want to interfere with they are presenting.

Consistency and persistence are key to the success of your brand. You need to imprint that message again and again in the minds of your viewers and keeping that message clear and concise will help as well. Always use your logo or an image with your posts on social media and on your print materials. It goes without saying that you should also use images on your website but there should be something in the banner that makes an impression as well.

Another key part of branding is connecting with your viewers emotionally. Viewers respond to art emotionally to begin with. It’s just a matter of doing some research to find out how they connect with your art and pushing that envelope in your branding.

Here are some things to consider when you are researching what makes your viewer respond the most.

  • Do you give them peace of mind?
  • Does your art illicit a response every day, whether that is to give your viewers pleasure or to make them think about your message.
  • Do you inspire them? (Preferably every day).
  • Do you give them a deeper sense of satisfaction? That Ahhh! or Ah Ha! moment when they look at your art?
  • Do you make them feel that you are easily approachable?

Remember that you can’t please all people all of the time. You will have to find your niche. Your Target Market. I will give you some tips on finding your Target Market in the next post.

Doing Business: Return on Investment

Before I delve into Social Media I think we should discuss basic business principles, in terms that you can understand of course…. Many times I am asked “Will I make money with Social Media?” The answer is yes but not directly. What you will get by engaging in Social Media is a huge Return on Investment (ROI). This is a business term that is often used to mean a return on time, effort and money and should be used in everything you do for the business side of your career. Unless you hire someone to manage your Social Media accounts for you, the investment you will make is time. So basically there is no cost and the return is tremendous and sometimes priceless.

If you want to get your work seen and develop an amazing reputation Social Media is essential. It’s time to get started!

Here are some of the ROI’s you will get from Social Media….

REPUTATION
The first thing every artist should know is that the key to a successful career is an excellent reputation. There is no better place to develop your reputation than the online tools available to you. So it is essential to have a professional looking website and to get a clear and consistent message out there through Social Media and Selling Online. If you do this your reputation will grow exponentially and it will motivate you with the positive feedback you will receive.

RISK REDUCTION
You can see any complaints, threats to your reputation and news about you and your work immediately and address them. You can create alerts in something called Google Alerts, for example. In addition to entering your name and any items that are relevant to you and your art business, you can be alerted about news items you are interested in. Here is a link: http://www.google.com/alerts Remember to respond immediately to anything negative you will see unless you suspect it’s a Troll. (A Troll is someone who is commenting negatively usually for sport but it can be for other purposes as well. The best way to handle a Troll is to ignore them.)

VIEWER, FAN, BUYER/AUDIENCE RETENTION
Constant and consistent communication with your audience will give them more information about you and your work. Artists are fascinating and people want to know more about them. How is the work made? How do they get themselves out there? How do they live their lives? You will connect and communicate with your audience directly. No more mysterious buyer out there in the world somewhere. (The buyer who purchases your work and you never hear from them again.) You will find new people, talk about new things and keep them coming back for more. A side benefit – but a very important one – is that relationships will deepen.

EFFICIENCY
You will deepen relationships, research, share your message. develop your “brand” as an artist in ways that may seem incremental but are profound. You will be able to do this in a miniscule amount of time, compared with doing it off line. You can also research in minutes. Compare using Google Search (for example) to going to a library. The time you will save is amazing!

ART INTELLIGENCE
You should rely on the information you get from Social Media to constantly hone your message, how you market your art and who your audience is. It will help you make better marketing decisions and perhaps even inspire your next great work of art. You can even post works in progress and get feedback almost immediately.

Another type of art intelligence you will get is inspiration.  I have learned so much about artists I know already and new artists whose work I’ve never seen on Pinterest.  You can read about them on Wikipedia or their own websites.  You can find Facebook and Twitter pages about them. You can go on StumbleUpon or Tumblr and search for web pages about them. It’s amazing what you will find.

SETTING YOURSELF APART
This is especially important for artists. You are unique and it’s important to remember to push that when marketing yourself. Be proud of that uniqueness! Tell the world how you are different and how you are better. The key to this is how you communicate, how you present yourself and your art, and who you present it to. Making uniqueness a key part of your marketing efforts is essential. Social Media will help you find new ways to present yourself. It will also put you in close touch with what your audience is looking for.

DEVELOP YOUR “BRAND”
Think of your art as your “brand.” It may be hard to do this because art making is such a personal and intimate thing. The first thing I tell artists is to separate your art from your personal life. You art is your job. Yes, the creation of it comes from your heart and your soul but at the end of the day you go home and settle into the things you enjoy doing – watching TV, spending time with your family, etc. If you are able to separate your art from the rest of your life you will be successful. It will become your dream job.

You will also begin to look at your work objectively and begin to develop that brand. A brand is unique to each artist. It is associated with your style and the message you are trying to convey. Yes art is visual but there is something you are trying to say. Even if it’s not immediately clear to you. Developing your artist statement will help you get in touch with that message.

When you do get in touch with that message it’s time to strategize how to market your work and who the right audience is for your work. More on branding in the next post.

Email: What to Do if Your Email Has Been Hacked

No discussion of email would be complete without addressing the issue of hacking. This is when someone takes unauthorized control of your internet based account and starts doing unlawful things with it. Usually they send emails in your name. Sometimes those emails ask the recipients to click a link taking them to a website and enter information that allows the hacker to take control of your account.  They can get information that will allow them to go as far as sending similar emails to your contacts, identity theft or sending a virus that will shut down your computer. So beware.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN HACKED

1. Make sure your security/anti-virus software is up to date.

2. Recover your account. Go to your account and try to log in. You will most certainly need to change your password because the hacker has changed it. You can do this by using the “Forgot My Password” feature and it will help you change your password.

3. Change all, and I do mean all, of the information that is associated with logging into your account. Your password, your security questions, your pin number if you have one. Changing your security questions, especially, will prevent the hacker from taking control of your account again.

4. Check your “Sent” box. This will allow you to see any mail that the hacker has sent to your contacts or anything that is unfamiliar. Delete those emails immediately.

5. Send an email to all of your contacts letting them know your email was hacked. If they see any strange emails from you not to open them and, most certainly, do not click any links in the email. Not only will this alert your contacts to the fact that your email has been hacked but it will alert the hacker that you’re on to them.

6. This final step is not necessary and it may be hard to find a way to do it but report that your account was hacked to the email or social networking platform you are using. This will allow them to investigate and perhaps prevent it from happening again.

PREVENTING HACKING
There are several steps you can take to prevent your account from being hacked.  You should make this part of your daily business practice of making art.

1. This one should be a no brainer but don’t ever, ever share your password with anyone and I do mean anyone. Even a trusted best friend or a family member. Yes you can trust them in just about anything but do you trust them to know exactly what to do with the information. Don’t take that chance.

2. Be on the lookout for Phishing attempts. No reputable company would ask you to change your password in an email. Not even a financial institution, an email company, a social networking company. They have built in ways of asking you to do that right on their websites. Do not even open suspicious emails, especially if they have an attachment – they could be SPAM.  If they contain a virus it will open up automatically and “infect” your computer.  Even if there is not an attachment there could be a virus.  Spammers who use commercial email services can see who opened their emails and what action they took – if any.

3. Keep anti-virus software up to date always. Hackers are discovering new ways to get in all the time. Anti-virus software companies are constantly on the lookout and finding new ways to prevent them just as fast.

4. Take extra precaution when using public computers – in a library or a cafe. Hackers can store something called Malware (which stands for Malicious Software) in public computers. This will allow them to capture all of your information. Please, please, please do not ever do any banking or financial work on a public computer or a computer that doesn’t belong to you. It is a sure fire way for someone suspicious to conduct identity theft.

5. If you are using your own laptop in a WiFi Hotspot – especially one that is not password protected – be cautious. Hackers can get into your computer through WiFi. I’ve even heard of cases where hackers drive around neighborhoods in cars looking for WiFi spots that aren’t password protected. If you are using a wireless modem make sure that it is password protected. Most modems are now coming with built in passwords so it’s not as much of an issue.

6. Never click on ads in search engines – especially if they say one thing and the domain address/URL says another. For Example: if you see an ad for Target, check the URL. If it doesn’t begin with http://www.target.com you know it’s not an official Target website.

7. Always sign out of your accounts, especially when you are in a public space. If you are doing financial work – like going on your bank’s website – don’t just log out of the account – quite the browser. Some people advise shutting down the entire computer but I’m not 100% sure of this. Again, please keep your financial work at home. Don’t go on your bank’s website in a public space.

CREATING STRONG PASSWORDS

1. Use 10 characters or more. 16 characters is ideal.

2. Do not use information that is close to you. Such as the name of a relative, pet, the year or city you live in. Use something that is not easy to guess.

3. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters and punctuation. For example: iLWoprqba@9548.

COMPUTER SOFTWARE

Firewalls
Most computers come with a Firewall built in and/or it comes with anti-virus software. It’s a computer based program that protects your PC. It automatically monitors incoming and outgoing traffic to your computer as a virus preventative. It also prevents hackers or other people from seeing what you’re doing.  This is based on a set of precepts set either automatically by the software or by you.

Anti-Virus Software
This is software that you will have to purchase but it’s well worth the investment and it’s well worth it to take the time to update it when it asks you to. It repeatedly scans your computer for viruses and removes them when it’s detected. It will also prevent them from coming into your computer. The two best anti-virus software programs are McAfee and Norton Internet Security or Norton 360. Some Anti-Virus software will come with a Firewall for extra protection.

FROM THE HACKER’S PERSPECTIVE
Why would someone want to hack your email or your account?  What is the motivation behind it? The most common answer is simply for sport – to get a cheap thrill. It can also be for unlawful reasons – such as accessing bank accounts, identity theft or information gathering.  Hackers are usually sophisticated software programmers.  You can receive a legitimate looking email from a hacker.  It will come from a trusted email service provider or a company.  It may even have the logo and usual format from the company. Such as clothing1@target.com or info@paypal.com

Hackers usually send out a huge broadcast of emails, so they’re not just targeting you. They are looking for anyone who is uniformed enough to open the email and take action. Even just opening the email could cause a problem – a virus could open automatically onto your computer and do one of several things.

MALWARE/VIRUSES
The technical name for a virus is Malware (short for Malicious Software).  It is a general term for hostile or intrusive software.  In addition to the internet or email this can come from being in a Wifi Hotspot or a public computer.  The types of Malware that you may come across include: Worms, Trojan Horses, Ransomware, Spyware, Adware and Scareware.  Here are descriptions of the different types of Malware.

Worms
Software that spreads across a network of computers – without attaching itself to software or an email or an in company message.  It replicates automatically again and again and again.  This has been known to shut down entire companies or even sections of government.  Chances are that you are only on a network of one computer – yours – so you won’t have to worry too much about this one.

Trojan Horses
These are similar to Computer Worms but they don’t self replicate. Typically they are used to cause theft or loss of data and could possibly cause harm to your computer.

Ransomware
Malware that restricts access to the computer that it infects and demands a ransom to be paid to the creator in order for the restriction to be removed.  Some forms of Ransomware simply lock the system and display’s messages intended to coax the user into paying to get the computer working again.

Adware
This is exactly why you should avoid click ads on Search Engines.  It’s advertising supported software that will generate ads in your name.  When you click that ad in the Search Engine the hacker will gain access to your computer.  It will also generate revenue for the hacker.

Scareware
A virus that produces frivolous and alarming warnings and threat notices. They are most certainly fictitious or a useless Firewall or computer registry cleaner. It will also try to increase it’s perceived value by bombarding the user with constant warning messages.

I hope that by telling you about the different kinds of viruses it will send the message home that protecting your computer is key to your success and can save you thousands of dollars.  Sometimes computer stores will charge a ton of money just to recover files.  This is also why you should never leave anything on your computer’s hard drive.  Always use a Flash Drive/Memory Stick.

SOCIAL MEDIA HACKING
One more tip to prevent hacking on your Social Networking accounts.  Be a warm contact always.  This is good not just to prevent hacking but for your business.  A warm contact is someone that clicks like, comments and posts.  In other words, is active. Hackers are looking for cold contacts.  These are accounts that were set up and never touched again.  The hacker will take the same actions that they do on email with the exception that they may tag your contacts in photos you didn’t post, or post something on your timeline.

If you do find a friend who has been hacked inform them immediately and then unfriend them.  The hacker can access your account through them.  As soon as the person resolves the issue you can get back in touch with them.

If your Social Networking account has been hacked follow the same steps as you would to recover an email account.

Hopefully none of this will ever happen to you and if you take the precautions I’ve mentioned going forward it won’t.  I can tell you that my computers have never been hacked and I’ve been working on computers – mostly Macs – for over 20 years.  Besides the fact that hackers don’t seem to be interested in hacking Macs there are great preventions built in.  PC’s are also prevalent in offices, companies and government offices.  Hackers will get far more results with a PC. Therefore, if you own a PC please constantly update your anti-virus software and get total control over your Firewall.

If you take just one thing away from this post, it is to be vigilant and to always be on the look out.  Make preventing viruses and hacking a daily business practice of making art.

 

Social Media: An Introduction Part 2

Most people think of Social Media as Social Networking. Social Networking is one of only a vast range of tools at your disposal. I will break it down into simple terms in a minute. What they all have in common, however, is the ability to interact. To have a two way conversation. There are places on the internet where you will not have that ability, a website is a good example and on Social Media you can also turn off the ability to have that conversation but this is not something I recommend. On a website you might be able to click a “Like” or “Tweet” button but you won’t be able to comment or post, directly on that website.

Here are categories of Social Media:
• Social Networking – a platform, similar to blogging, where you can interact with people, create relationships and enhance the ones you already have. Facebook , LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.

• Blogging – short for web log, this is a place (like this blog for example), where you can write articles, post photos and videos and people can comment and share and repost your articles on their blogs. So far I have found that WordPress.com is the best platform because it has automatically built in functions and widgets that will share your posts on various Social Networking websites. I also like Blogspot.com, otherwise known as Blogger.com but not as much. It’s run by Google and has good search engine visibility but there aren’t enough widgets or built in things. I have had more traffic and comments on Word Press in a month than I had in three years of being on Blogspot.com

• Micro-Blogging – Twitter.com is a good example. You have a set amount of space (140 characters – spaces count as characters – on Twitter for example) to post. An original idea is to post several consecutive posts on one topic. I did a Twitter class on Digital Photography for example.

Photo Sharing – websites like Pinterest.com, Flickr.com and Instagram.com It’s almost like a photo blog. You will post photos and people will comment or in the case of Pinterest.com, they will “re-pin” onto their boards.

• Video and Audio Sharing – this is a website where you would post audio or video and you would get comments and feedback. People will also share your posts and put them on their “Channels.” YouTube.com is a good example of Video Sharing. SoundCloud.com would be a good example of an audio sharing website.

• Podcasting – Audio or Video that you create and post – different from Video and Audio Sharing – that people listen to or watch, like listening to a radio show. It’s usually a series of informative recordings. These are available through a website or a platform like iTunes.

• Article Sharing – These are websites where you can post articles that you’ve written about different topics. They will be shared and re-posted and commented on. A good example of an article sharing website is hubpages.com

• Business Rating Websites – These are websites where users post information and reviews of existing brick and mortar businesses. Yelp.com is a good example.

• Crowd Source Funding – These websites work in conjunction with Social Networking websites to help you raise funds for certain projects, such as Kickstarter.com, Rockethub.com and GoFundMe.com. Some are all or nothing websites – raise all the funds or you won’t get paid (Kickstarter.com is one of these) – and some are get paid as you go (Rockethub.com and GoFundMe.com are get paid as you go websites).

The statistics of user numbers for these websites is huge! I will share some of this in future posts. Before Social Media, however, Word of Mouth marketing meant that one person could spread the word about you and your art with 20 people over a period of time. With the advent of Social Media – combined with mobile devices such as iPhones, Androids, iPads, Kindle Fire and more – one person can share information with 2000 people in a matter of minutes. This should give you a fair idea of the power of Social Media.
In future posts I will show you how to maximize your use of Social Media to get positive feedback and word of mouth about your art.

Writing for Artists: The Resumé: Formatting

“I hope it is a benchmark for what the artist’s experience in the field of art might be. I don’t think it should matter to a gallery if the artist is self taught or has a Master in Art, but the length of time, making and creating should speak volumes. Art seems to be the field where length and breadth of experience is a very important aspect.” Cathy Hegman

Your Resume is the most important marker of your experience that you may have. Getting the grammar absolutely perfect is a mark of your professionalism. This post will show you how to outline your resume. What goes in what order. I will create a list and after each item there will be an explanation with tips.

You will start with your name, address, phone, email, website, blog and other web presences. This is a good time to create a letterhead for yourself. A logo representing your art and a format for every bit of correspondence you send out. There are even ways to add it to an email. If you aren’t ready to do that then I recommend at least putting a piece of your work that represents the majority of what you do. People will remember you first and foremost by your work. You want to get that image in front of them as much as possible.

The items of your achievement come next…

Representation
This means any galleries that represent you or that you have consigned with. You just need to put the name of the gallery, city and state. If it’s outside the United States then put city and country.
i.e.
Laurel Gallery, Baltimore, MD
Shanghai Gallery, Shanghai, China

Museum Exhibitions
Any museum where you’ve had a solo or been part of a group exhibition. You’ll need the name of the exhibition (if any), the name of the museum, the city and the state, or city and country.
i.e.
An Artist in Soho, New Museum, New York, NY.
American Artist in Asia, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, China.

(Tip: The name of the exhibition should be in either italics or quotation marks. Italics are preferred because it looks more sophisticated).

Solo Exhibitions
Any gallery where you’ve been the sole exhibitor. You can also add a category if you’ve been part of a two or three person exhibition. Any exhibition with more than 3 artists is considered a group exhibition.
For all gallery exhibitions this is how you will list them:
Name of Exhibition, Name of Gallery, City, State or City, Country.

This should also be listed under the year. Like this:
2009
Name of Exhibition, Name of Gallery, City, State or City, Country.
Name of Gallery, City, State or City, Country.
Name of Exhibition, Name of Gallery, City, State or City, Country.

Group Exhibitions
This is any exhibition that you’ve been a part of that includes more than one artist.
I’ve seen artists include the name of the juror because they think it’s prestigious. Leave it out. It’s not necessary and in most cases nobody will care.

Art Fairs
If you’ve been a part of an art fair such as the Affordable Art Fair.
i.e. Affordable Art Fair, New York, NY, March 2014.

Awards and Honors
If you’ve won a prestigious award or honor for your work. List it like this:
• Name of Award, Name of Exhibition (If any), Name of Organization that gave it to you, City and State, Date.

Grants
If a foundation or grant making organization has given you funding for your art, list it here. It’s important because if someone is willing to give you money to make your art, then how can you be refused by anyone else…? Right? This is your place to let them know about it.

List it like this:
• Name of Grant, Name of Grant Making Organization, City and State where grant making organization is listed, Date.

Fellowship
Any time that you’ve been given services or goods for a specific purpose. For example Women’s Studio Workshop gives a limited amount of subsidies to use their space for a Residency or if you’ve been given money or services that allow you to study or create your work.

List it like this: Name of Fellowship, Name of Fellowship Organization (i.e. Vermont Studio Center), City, State, Date.

Residencies
Whether you’re paying for them or not they are usually juried so it is prestigious. For example:

• Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT, March-October, 2013
• Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, September-December 2013.

Publicity
This includes any part of the media that has included you or your work. Even newer media such as online media. (Tip: Create a Link on Your Website to the Article and Ask the Creator of the Blog or News Media to Link Back to your Website. This is known as Cross Linking and will boost the search engine traffic to your website). You can make separate sub-categories here as well. Such as: Print Media, Television and Radio, Online Media. Always list it like this:

Name of the Article by the author, Name of Publication, Vol. [Volume] No.[Number], Month, Day, City, State [City, Country], Page the Article Appeared on.

i.e.
New York Artists Shows in Shanghai by Chin Me How, Shanghai Times, Vol. 3 No. 4, Beijing, China, April 29, 2014, Page 32.

Education
This is where you’ve studied and with whom. If it’s your college degree, list it as follows:
• Bachelors of Fine Art, Long Island University, Southampton Campus, Southampton, NY 2002.

If you’ve studied with an artist or teacher of note you can list it like this
•Pablo Picasso, Art Student’s League, New York, NY, 2014.

Memberships
These are organizations that you have current memberships with. Such as Allied Artists of America, National Sculpture Society, etc. Here’s how you’d list them:
• National Sculpture Society, New York, N.Y.
• National Association of Women Artists, New York, N.Y.
• American Association of Watercolorists, Philadelphia, N.Y.

Commissions
These are private or public commissions (or public art) – where you’ve been paid to create a work of art for a specific location or reason. You’d list it like this:
• Skecher’s USA Inc., Orlando, F.L.

Public Collections
A place where your work is in the permanent collection of an institution or business. You’d list it like this
• Citigroup USA, Long Island City, N.Y.

Private Collections
The private individuals who have purchased your art and still hold your work in their possession. They haven’t resold it or given it away. You’d list it like this… (Notice the alphabetical order by last name):
• Leonard Baskin, New York, N.Y.
• Miriam Schwartz, New York, N.Y.
• Joan Zimmet, New York, N.Y.

Some artists are shy about listing name of the of their private collectors and this is a huge mistake. Remember that by purchasing your art they gave you the right to do that. It’s also extremely important to list individual buyers if you ever want to be represented or consigned by a gallery. They will not only want to see your art but that you have a following or a record of purchases. It gives you more credibility and that’s important.

If this is overwhelming for you, one of the services The Artists Objective offers is resume editing. Please contact us at: info@theartistobjective.com even if you just have a question. I’m here to help.

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The Art World Interviews: Lynn Lobell, Managing Director, Queens Council on the Arts

I am pleased to share with you what is the first of what I hope will be many interviews with arts professionals.    I am honored and extremely grateful to Lynn Lobell from Queens Council on the Arts, for agreeing to do this interview.  I have known Lynn for a long time and find her to be a dedicated and generous member of the the non-profit arts community and artists world in the borough of Queens, New York City and beyond.  Queens is the most culturally and ethnically diverse place on the planet and the programming that Queens Council on the Arts helps to make possible is fascinating. It can even be a window into a culture that you might otherwise not get to see. In addition to the Visual Artists Queens Council also supports Writers and Performers. Please visit Queens Council on the Arts website for more information: http://queenscouncilarts.org/

I would like to take a moment to say that every community, nationally and even internationally, has an arts council that you should connect with.  They don’t only provide grant money but free or low cost services and support to artists. For example Queens Council on the Arts offers a professional development program that includes workshops and events about the Business of Art.

ABOUT LYNN LOBELL
Lynn Lobell is Managing Director of Queens Council on the Arts. Prior to her current position, Lynn served as Director of the Queens Community Arts Fund for over ten years. Lynn has spearheaded several vital projects at Queens Council on the Arts. She penned Queens Council on the Arts Grant Writing Basics booklet, conceptualized and implemented the Individual Artist Initiative pilot which is now a staple among Queens Council on the Arts programs. Lynn has served as a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs as well as additional grant maker discussion panels for various organizations throughout New York City. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Astoria Performing Arts Center.

Lynn holds an Arts Management Certificate from New York University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the University of Alabama. She has held a graduate internship at the International Center for Photography. Lynn has also worked as a freelance photographer as well as an artist’s representative and photo editor for various magazine publications. When she is not at Queens Council on the Arts, Lynn enjoys exploring all corners of New York City.

ABOUT QUEENS COUNCIL ON THE ARTS
Queens Council on the Arts is a re-granting organization serving the borough of Queens, New York City.  Started in 1966 by leader organizations in the borough’s cultural community, they formed the Council as an umbrella organization to promote cultural growth and the development of the arts in Queens, and to help artists and groups present the borough’s diverse cultural resources to Queens residents as well as the larger community.  For many years Queens Council on the Arts has been a re-granting organization for New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the Department of Cultural Affairs for New York City (DCA) and JP Morgan Chase.  They have also worked hard at offering support services and professional development services for artists and organizations to maintain sustainability in the communities that make up the ethnically and culturally diverse borough of Queens in New York City.

MELISSA WOLF: HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE ARTS AND WHAT LED YOU TO QUEENS COUNCIL ON THE ARTS?

LYNN LOBELL: I studied photography in college. I have a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography.  I moved to New York to continue my education in photography. I had an internship at the International Center for Photography and continued pursuing photography as my art form, for a few years.  Then the reality set in that I needed to pay my rent, pay the bills and put groceries on the table. I got involved with a little art gallery at A.I. Friedman [Art Supplies], on 53rd Street. It was right next to the Museum of Modern Art.  They happened to have a little annex on 53rd Street,  and they had Letraset and Pantone Colors for CBS, across the street.  I was hired to work in the poster gallery and I had come from the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I worked in Special Exhibition Posters.

That kind of helped to pay the bills for a little while and I continued to do my photography, not as much as I had wanted to.  I still stayed very in tune with the art world. Gallery visits, museum visits and then I settled down and had a family. I really devoted my time to my kids.  After ten years of staying home , I needed to get back into the work force. I had a neighbor who worked for Queens Council on the Arts.  She actually recommended that I sit as a panelist for the Queens Community Arts Fund.

I didn’t know a thing about a grant.  I didn’t know a thing about a narrative or a budget.  I’d never written a grant before.  When I went to the panel orientation, I received a packet of a few applications, sat through the orientation and read the packet.  I was intrigued by all the programming that was being proposed and was actually happening in Queens.  I learned to read a budget really quickly and how to relate it to a narrative- and at the panel meeting I met quite a few people.  One of them happened to be Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, who is now the Executive Director of Queens Council on the Arts. She sat next to me as a panelist.  So it’s kind of interesting how we both came to work for Queens Council on the Arts professionally.  I enjoyed the panel process.  It was a volunteer position that was a great way to network with people in the community that I’d never met before.  It also gave me the opportunity to whet my appetite a little bit before getting back to work in the art world.

A few months passed and the person who was running the re-grant program at the time asked me if I wanted to do some freelance work for Queens Council on the Arts.  It was perfect timing because I was working in another freelance position, doing some editing for a book in the sports world, going through archives of photos. Although it was a connection to photography it really wasn’t my thing.

My first job at Queens Council on the Arts was to sell ads for a brochure about the Rockaways, an information guide to the Rockaways. I’d never been in the Rockaways in my life.  It was interesting for me on many levels. One was to connect to a community I’d never been to before.  It made me realize that in Queens it is a really very closed knit, tied together by neighborhoods.   Each neighborhood has it’s own quilt, the fabric is just so different.After the completion of that job it just so happened that Queens Council on the Arts needed someone to help with the JP Morgan Chase re-grant program.  I said I had the time and I’d be glad to try to help do it.  I did it successfully and I became the Queens Community Arts Fund Director , as the person who was in charge was moving on.  Once I became the Queens Community Arts Fund Director, it really put me in the forefront of what was going on in the Queens cultural community, not only in the arts but a little of politics and businesses as well. I learned so much just reading artist’s applications, talking face to face with people about their projects.  It was fascinating. That’s how I got started and I’ve been there for 13 years.Through the Queens Community Arts Fund, some of our funders wanted to see a professional development program. We get funding from the City and the State – we are the re-grant program for the New York State Council on the Arts and the Department of Cultural Affairs. They require us to provide some kind of professional development programming.  They don’t just want the money to go out. Our funders want artists to take full advantage of any opportunities that come their way to help advance their artistic career, to help show them how to sustain their careers.  Actually, that’s how the JP Morgan Chase grant started. They saw there was money for programming in the community but nothing for sustainability.  JP Morgan Chase is all about community building. The need for arts organizations and community organizations to bring economic drive to their communities.

As I was learning what I needed to be teaching people, I realized that my expertise really wasn’t there. So I received a grant to take courses at New York University’s (NYU) Certificate in Arts Administration program.  The classes were fascinating and I connected and maintained relationships with a lot of the people I met.  Ellen E. Day, Director of Brickhouse Ceramics (for example) in Long Island City. The courses at NYU really did help me guide artists through to whatever they needed to for development  I think I can now say that I have a very good overview of what it takes to run an arts organization and what organizations and artists basic needs are to develop as creative citizens can take to become sustainable in our communities. I think Queens Council on the Arts is able provide a lot of resources for a lot of people in the creative industry.  That’s the thing, how can an artist access creative resources? For an artist to set goals, direction and how to achieve whatever they wanted to get out of their art.

Now I’m managing programs and not so much in the re-grants program.  I work closely with the program coordinators of  in all programs.  We maintain a professional development program which is multilevel. My current position also involves managing many different people. I do a lot of budgets and am part of the grant writing team for the funding that the council receives.  In order for us to survive as a non-profit we have to raise funds, either through foundation, corporate or government grants or individual giving.  We do have programs that help artists get through the day to day and help them develop and offer networking opportunities and performance opportunities.

MELISSA WOLF: HOW SHOULD ARTISTS APPROACH YOU OR QUEENS COUNCIL ON THE ARTS?

LYNN LOBELL: They should not be afraid to approach us. We’re people just like they are.  We are there, waiting for people to knock on our door because we do have the resources and experience to guide people through.  When people do come to us we want them to have set ideas and goals about what they’re trying to achieve so that we can help them.  People can say “Oh we need a marketing plan” or “We need a website” – that’s the number one thing they ask for.  The website is an important tool to use but they might need a plan – a marketing plan.  People think they know what they need but when you sit down and start asking what it is that they’ve done or they haven’t done.  I always tell people the first thing they should do is get a business card made and make themselves available to any opening or networking event or gathering event to meet people because that’s how you meet people.  You can sit all day online and look at websites but there is nothing like the face to face.

 

MELISSA WOLF: DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR ARTISTS ABOUT WHAT NOT TO DO?

LYNN LOBELL: Don’t come to us and assume that you’re going to walk away with all things solved.  We’re there to offer suggestions, support and there might be many different things that we offer. It might feel confusing at first.  Some artists might walk away with a list of many things that we’ve talked about.  It’s a matter of being able to sort through them.  Walk away and come back two weeks or later on with ideas, thoughts or questions. We’re not there to solve every issue but we are there offer suggestions about how to go about doing that, step by step.  One of the things that I’ve learned from consultants that we’ve worked with is to look at your own resources.  You’d be surprised by what you already have out there and use them.  Utilize them and don’t be afraid to ask people for help.

Resources Mentioned in this Post:
Queens Council on the Arts – www.queenscouncilarts.comNew York City Department of Cultural Affairs: www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/html/home/home.shtml
New York State Council on the Arts: www.nysca.org
Metropolitan Museum of Art: www.metmuseum.org
International Center of Photography: www.icp.org/
Museum of Modern Art: www.moma.org
Brickhouse Ceramic Art Center: www.brickhouseny.com/

The Artist Statement: Idea Party

One idea that I really love is to have what Barbara Sher – author of Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want – calls an “Idea Party.”  For the artists statement what this amounts to is asking a group of trusted friends to come over and talk about your art.  What you will do is put out some wine and some snacks, your art and having them talk about the art.

It’s interesting to see what other people say.  They may bring up ideas you never even thought about and you may even get a new direction for your work while you’re at it.  You’ll want to record it somehow because you want to be fully engaged in the conversation (and not be stuck writing things down).  Inform everyone, of course, that you will be recording this before they come and it will be absolutely confidential.

You should start by asking a question.  Ask them what they think about a painting, the color in the painting, the shape, the size, etc.  Encourage them to ask you questions and be sure to note what they’re asking.  (The most effective artist statement answers the questions your viewers have).

A few days later, get into that quiet place with a pen and unlimited amounts of paper and turn on the recording.  Sit there and listen and take it all in.  Absorb without writing.  After you’ve listened to it once, listen again and this time write, write, write away. Write down the questions that your friends are asking about the art, write down your own ideas as they randomly come to you.  Be open, be free and enjoy!  I hope by this point you’re beginning to enjoy writing and finding it as creative and inspiring as I do.  Remember, most of all don’t edit, yet.  I’ll give you tips about that later.  Keep following these steps and you’ll be successful because I’m not just training you to write your artists statement, I’m training you to write in general.  To be successful you will have to write, fill out applications and apply for things.  Writing is key to success but it shouldn’t be a burden.  Enjoy it!

Sources
Wishcraft: How to Get What you Really Want, Barbara Sher with Annie Gottlieb, Ballantine Books, New York, NY, 2004. http://www.barbarasher.com/index.htm

The Artist Statement: A Writing Exercise

The first exercise I will give you is one of my favorites. It involves getting into that place where you are one with the pen and are just letting everything that comes into your mind out. Partly inspired by “The Morning Pages” in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and partly by seasoned writers who simply call it free writing. Tapping into your unconscious and letting it all hang out. Remember that you don’t have to show it to anyone. Don’t worry about editing as you go. You can do that later. If you do edit as you go your thoughts won’t flow. You will begin to wonder if what you’re saying is right and suddenly you’ll find yourself blocked. Almost like writing a diary about your art and your life. What ever is on your mind put it on paper or on the screen-wherever you’re most comfortable.

Sit down before your writing medium. Relax completely and make sure there are no distractions. Choose a pen and paper-I find that the words flow better on paper; you may find the computer easier to write on. Then start. The difference between this exercise and the morning pages is that you have a theme. Your art.

You can even start by saying “I hate this exercise. I don’t know what to say. What the heck should I say about my art….”. Most importantly do not give up. Keep going and if it turns out that you’re not writing about your art that’s okay too. Clearing your mind opens your creativity and your heart. Come back to it later or do this agin and again and again if that’s what it takes. You may begin to really enjoy the process of writing and find that you have something to say.

If you do get something out about your art and you’ve written enough about your art even for the day, sometimes you can get sapped and need to take a 24 hour break, leave it aside for that length of time.

When you come back to it go into a room by yourself and shut the door. Read aloud what you have. Don’t rush through it. Slowly, carefully. Enjoy the words, enjoy the language as it passes through your lips and try to listen. Don’t make any judgments. You may find that it opens up a flood of language that you must put on the page. A great author and activist Maya Angelou inspired that in a podcast I heard from TimesTalks. I’ll link to it at the end of this post. She is so inspiring to me. She said that is exactly what she does to break a writing block and yes, even Maya Angelou faces that from time to time. It clears your mind and makes the voices of self doubt disappear. It’s an amazing exercise and I hope this works for you. Keep following this blog because there will be more exercises and ideas.

The Artist Statement: Getting Started

When I tell artists about writing and how important to their careers it is I usually get a look of dread. How do you put something so visual into words? Artists are not usually articulate about their work, a lot of times it comes from the unconscious. The language is visual so how do you articulate in speech and writing what you are doing?

Many artists also tell me that their grammar is not good or their writing is not good. However, everyone has a story to tell and this is your chance to tell the story of your art. I’m going to give you, here, a few tips about writing.

I used to confuse the artists statement with the bio. The bio is a narrative version of your resume. Pick a few of your greatest achievements and highlight them in your bio. The artist statement is something that answers the questions your viewer may have about your work. It engages them and brings them into a deeper level of understanding. It creates a relationship between you and your viewer. It’s what can turn a viewer into a collector.

I used to be nervous about making an artist write their artist statement because sometimes the art of making art is not really knowing what your doing. Then someone pointed out to me that it can be an exploration, a process that brings the artist into a deeper understanding of what they are doing, who they are and what their direction is. If you are one of those people that hates writing, think of this as an adventure. A discovery if you will and you will enjoy it.

First and foremost remember that writing is a process. In my last job as the Executive Director of Women’s Studio Center we had many writers and I would see their work again and again in our writers forums. They would revise past pieces and bring them in for feedback. Until they got it right. They loved it and reveled in the details. Think of it as creative as making your art and if you can be articulate you will not only succeed but soar.

I like to start with an exercise called free writing. Get yourself into that creative mode where you are one with the paper and let the words flow. It doesn’t matter what you say or how it comes out, don’t worry if the grammar is correct. Just let it out. You can start by saying “I’m stuck, I don’t know what to write. Writing about art is so hard. What shall I say?…” Keep on going and it will eventually come out. Leave it aside and come back in a few days and look at it. Then piece together the good parts or free write some more.

Another great exercise is to have an “art idea party.” Put out your work and some wine and a few snacks and invite some friends over. Ask them to talk about your art. To ask questions and see what they think. It can be a difficult situation to take notes in so you can turn on a tape recorder. (Make sure your friends know that you will be taping it for your own private use first). Ultimately you will want to answer the questions that the viewer has of your art so this is a good way to get started.

Remember that writing is a process and developing your artists statement is an ongoing process. As your art evolves so will your statement. It’s a work in progress but getting the first one out is ultimately important. You will use it in all kinds of applications – grants, fellowships, residencies – and in catalogs, press releases and more. By being in touch with your art and your direction you will know which opportunities to seek out. In the coming posts I will be talking more about the writing process. I love writing so much and want to share some secrets and tips that I have learned over the years. I also want to make the process easier for you and eliminate the intimidation. Writing can actually be fun and inspiring. Your artist statement can be the most inspiring thing you do.

Digital Imaging: Labeling Your Images

You’ve got good images so now what. Every image will have a label. That’s the wording you see next to the icon, on your computer.

The best way to label your images are as follows:

lastname_titleofpiece.jpg

or

smith_sunlitlandscape.jpg

In otherwords, your last name, the title of the piece and the extension.

99 out of 100 opportunities I see ask for the images in that format.  From an administrative perspective it’s easy to understand why.  It will be easier to keep track of your images and associate them with an image list if they ask for it.

Here are other tips for image labeling:

• Don’t ever have spaces in your labels. If you must put a space use an underscore instead.  A space means that the recipient may not be able to open it, because it will appear to the computer as a “broken image.”

• Don’t use uppercase letters.  Not all computer languages will read uppercase letters, which means they may not be viewable.  Make a habit of typing anything labeled or in computer language in lowercase.

• Don’t use punctuation – except for underscores, dashes and periods.  Use them judiciously and with a purpose though.  Use periods or dots exclusively for extensions, like .jpg, .png or .tiff  for text based documents this means .doc or .docx

One mistake I have seen many times is that artists do not edit the labels on their image files  and it can take hours to locate something.  What a waste of time!  Think of your computer as a virtual file cabinet and create files and document labels accordingly.  You will be very grateful for the time it saves you later on.

Digital Imaging: Making Your Images Look Good

Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years to making your images look not only perfect but absolutely professional.  The first thing I can tell you is that I’ve spent most of my time using one program to edit images and that is Photoshop.  I’ve used the full blown and the Elements and I find them to be THE best editing software on the market.  There are other programs but they are usually sub-par.  If you can’t afford the full blown Photoshop, Photoshop Elements is less expensive and can do almost everything the full blown Photoshop can do.
The basic features you will need in any photo editing software you choose are as follows:Image Size – the ability to change the inches as well as pixel size.

Cropping – the ability to crop your images for details or just getting rid of some background that might show up.
Color Adjustment – the ability to make your image color perfect, adjusting warmth and coolness or tone.Light Adjustment – the ability to brighten or darken your image as needed.

Rotate – sometimes you will need to rotate the image by an increment in order to crop it properly.
Sharpening and Light and Contrast – the ability to change the focus or sharpen your image.
Before you get to the computer however, you should consider the following tips for using your camera.

• Use the best most even light possible.  Turn off your flash and if you can’t afford special lights and equipment simply shoot your work outdoors.  There is nothing like pure daylight to make your images color perfect. Of course, adjustments can be made in your photo editing software.

• Shoot the piece absolutely, positively flat.  When you hold the camera up make sure it isn’t tilting backwards or forwards.  There is almost no way to correct an image that is tilted.  You can rotate an image that is shot flat but not straight, however.  (Does that make sense?)

Once the image is in the computer here are some things that you should work on…

Crop the image properly –  if it is a 2-Dimensional square piece (i.e. a painting on canvas). If it is a 3-D piece, has uneven edges or is sculptural than make sure the background is either black, white or a neutral gray.  I find that a neutral color usually works the best.

Make sure your image is color correctdown to the last increment. There is nothing more frustrating to a juror to accept a work based on the colors in the image, only to find it’s completely different when they accept it. Your piece can be rejected on arrival because of this so get it right!

Make sure your lighting is perfectly even – that there is no flash or bright spots and that the image can be seen at it’s best and perfectly.  This is the worst infraction I’ve seen and if I have any doubt – in my experience as a juror – I will turn it down.

Remember that just because your piece is accepted in an exhibition, it may be rejected on the spot because it doesn’t match your image. Consistency and Professionalism are key in everything you do.

Digital Imaging: Camera Features

There are certain features you will want in your camera and there are certain features you will want to look for so that you can turn them off.  Here are some of the terms you need to know.

Flash
Flash is something that you should generally not use.  It is positioned in one part of the camera and will light your art poorly.  Secondly, it will produce “Red Eye” because your subjects eyes are usually level with the flash.  It will produce images that are not color accurate and we all know that artists really need color accurate photos.

White Balance
Different sources of light have different color casts to them.  For example incandescent (light bulbs) tend to have a yellow cast to them.  Fluorescent light can have a blue or yellow cast to them.  Most cameras will automatically adjust this for you, unless you go to the menu and manually tell it what to do.  Some even have settings for taking photos at night.  In most cases I highly recommend turning this off all together.  Especially if you are shooting photos of your art.  Color accuracy is everything and you can always make adjustments on your computer.

ISO
This refers to shutter speed and the more ISO you have the more options for exposure you will have. For example if you are outdoors in direct sunlight you will need a slower speed because you won’t need to capture as much light.  If you’re shooting images at night you will want to use a slower speed.

Noise Reduction
This is not sound.  This refers to the blurry little pixels you sometimes see around images.  This is a good feature to have and if you get a camera that shoots in Camera Raw, this is less likely to happen. This is also not so important because you can control it in Photoshop or other photo editing software.  In Photoshop it’s called “Despeckling.”

Image Size
On Camera Raw you will be able to capture huge photos. Even on a Compact Camera you will capture rather large photos – sometimes as much as 20 inches.  It’s important to be aware of that and take control over it.  I will discuss that in the post about software. You will want a larger Image Size because it will give you much more capability.

Zoom Control
Some cameras will allow you to turn off Digital Zoom.  This is very useful because in most cases you will want Optical Zoom only.

Image Quality
This is almost the same as Image Size.  It usually has settings like Fine, Normal and Economy.  See Image Size for more information.

Camera Charging and Information Processing
Make sure that the way the camera charges and moves information from your camera to the computer is convenient.  Mine has a “cradle” which is almost like a tray that connects to a plug and to the computer.  Some require that you remove the memory card and insert it into a device in order to move information from the camera to your computer.

Focus
Most cameras will have Auto Focus and that’s generally fine.  You may want some control though.  Even Compact Cameras have control over that but SLR Cameras will allow you the most control.

The best tip I can give you is when you first get the camera, sit down with it and the instruction manual and go through it step by step. This should take you a few hours.  You will want to make the most of everything you’ve got.  Not just for your art but because your camera can help you actually make the art. You may become a photographer once you have one because you’ll be having so much fun with it.

Digital Imaging: Purchasing a Camera

The second most important thing you will need to know about, even if you want to use a professional photographer, is about the digital camera.  There is a lot to choose from and new things are coming out all the time.  I have posted links to a few websites with reviews below. Do check them out before you make a purchase.

Mega-Pixels
Cameras can come with anywhere between 4 and 20 or even more mega-pixels. A mega-pixel is one million pixels. By comparison there are Gigapixels which are one billion pixels but you won’t need to know about that so much for digital cameras.  Your camera will interpret the mega-pixels into RGB colors and needless to say, the more mega-pixels you have the better.

Zoom
This can be confusing.  A camera may say 10x Zoom but will it be the best kind of zoom?  There is digital and optical zoom.  Optical Zoom is ideal because it actually uses the camera lens to “zoom” in on the image and then it shoots it. Digital zoom is interpreted after the shot is taken and is known as a “software zoom.”  So make sure your camera has more Optical  than Digital Zoom.

Memory Card
This is like a flash drive.  In most cases it will look like a mini floppy disk.  This is the memory and the more memory you have, the more images you can store. They run from 4GB to 32GB.  Some come with special features.  One type has a global positioning feature, meaning that it will automatically attach a time, date and place to your photos. Another has Bluetooth and every time your computer and your digital camera are on they will sync automatically.  I do recommend having more than one Memory Card.  The camera will come with a very low GB Memory Card.  Consider purchasing two more. There is nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a shoot and the Memory Card breaks down.

Battery
This gives your camera power.  It keeps it running.  You will get a charger with the camera but it is also a good idea to budget for two batteries.   You will have extra power on the go and if one breaks down you’ll have back up.

There are several different types of cameras and which one to buy is going to be a learning curve.  Let me make it easier for you.

SLR
This means Single Lens Reflex.  It is probably the best to purchase if you can afford it.  It is sometimes known as DSLR.  This is a system that allows you to see the image as the camera sees it via prism to mirror function.  This camera looks like a professional 35mm Camera and they do tend to run high in price but if you can make the investment it’s worth it.  It will have a higher resolution and will be guaranteed to shoot everything in Camera Raw, which translates into a .tif on the computer (see the previous post for more information).

Compact or Point and Shoot
If you can’t afford an SLR camera then this is the next best thing.  Make sure, however, that it can shoot in Camera Raw.  Most can only shoot in .jpg’s.  That might cost you a bit more but will be worth it in the end.  You don’t want the camera to compress the pixels for you.

Those are the two formats you really need to know about.  In the next post I will talk about camera features.

Digital Camera Review Websites:
Consumer Reports: Digital Camera Reviews
Digital Camera Magazine: Your Guide to Digital Imaging and Photography
PC Magazine: Digital Camera Reviews

Digital Imaging: The Beginning

The first step to your success is getting good, reproducible digital images of your work.   One side benefit is that digital images are easy to shoot and edit yourself, once you have the right equipment and information.

The first thing to know is that the ability to market and sell your work in different formats with digital images is tremendous.  Social Networking is one good example.  Images of your work will be viewed 24 hours a day/7 days a week, and be working for you even when you are not.  This means that your images will say more about you, your work and your level of professionalism more than ever.  So be very picky because your images must be perfect. There is, honestly, no excuse for a bad image. If you don’t want to do it yourself then hire the right photographer.  Even then you will want to be able to shoot good photos because you won’t want to miss an opportunity just because your photographer isn’t available. The following terms and information will also help you to speak to your photographer so read on!Pixels
Digital Images will look like beautiful, seamless photos until you blow them up on your computer.  If you blow them up all the way you will see that they are made up of thousands of tiny little squares. These squares are known as pixels.  Each square is assigned a color number, known as a Hex number.  Hex numbers are made up of six digits and give the computer instructions about how to present them on your computer.  Remember that no color is perfect.  Computers are back lit so it may show up slightly different on different screens.  There is no way to control this.  It’s not such a huge difference that you have to worry about it tremendously.

IMAGE FORMATS
.tif or .tiff or Camera Raw
Initially all of your images should be shot in this format. It is the best high resolution format because it has the most pixel colors to choose from.  In the Millions of Millions.  This does make it large format, so you will want this only for yourself.  You will send this format to someone only if requested and usually a printer or manufacturer.

.jpg or .jpeg
This is the most popular image format because it’s known as a lossy compression. Almost every grant, exhibition opportunity, application and social networking platform you send or use will require this format.  A lossy compression means that every time you save it you will lose pixels.  Compression means that the image is faster loading. The color choice in pixels isn’t as high as a .tif but it will more than suffice.  Tip: When you do save it most photo editing software will give you an option to save it on a low to high scale.  Make sure you always save it on the highest setting.  You will lose fewer pixels.

.gif
This is an image that should only be used for a low level animation.  For example making something in your image move back and forth.  This image format is not good for still images because it has only 256 colors to choose from so it is not ideal for art.

.png
This is a relatively new format and is so much better for artists because it is a lossless compression. It also has millions of colors to choose from.  Being a lossless compression means that you won’t lose pixels when you save it.  The word “compression” means that it’s fast loading.  Not many people are asking for this yet so you might want to stick to using .jpg’s for opportunities and applications.  You can use the .png with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, etc. and on your website.

Color
This is important to artists.  You will have more options on the computer and they will be confusing.  The one that you really have to remember is RGB. This is true of the screen and printing.  RGB means Red Green Blue.  This is associated with the Hex numbers I spoke about before.  The Hex numbers are six digits that look something like this #00FFCC.  The first two numbers are Red.  The second two numbers are Green and the last numbers are Blue.  The reason there are letters is that this format needs to choose from 14 single digits.  So the internet and computer uses 0-9 and A-F.  This last part may be too complicated for you but you just need to remember what Red Green Blue is.

.dpi or .ppi
These terms are interchangeable. .dpi means dots per inch.  .ppi means pixels per inch.  .dpi is a term who’s origins are in hard copy printing (magazines, newspapers, offset printing) and means just what it says.  Hold a loop or magnifying glass to a full color magazine and you will see that it is made up of hundreds or thousands of little dots in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.  The more dots the higher the resolution. Sound familiar?  That’s because your ink jet computer printer works the same way.  It sprays dots of the above mentioned colors.  Again the more dots per inch the better.

Printing vs. Screen
For any image that you see on a computer screen it should be 72 dpi.  If there are fewer dots per inch it should be faster loading and harder to reproduce.  It is the standard and all entries should be sent this way unless requested.  If you are printing something or something is being printed for you (say in a newspaper article or catalog or postcard), your image should be 300 dpi and up.  It makes sense that the more dots you have the higher the resolution.

TIP: Always view your images (and try to view them projected) before you send them to an opportunity or with an application.  You want to be confident that they will look good to a jury or viewer.