Exercise for the Artist’s Mind, Body and Soul

Guest writer Kate Marillat shares some great tips to tune up your body and mind and keep creativity flowing…

We know that when we are in the flow, our creativity streams out, it’s easy, it’s joyful. We love it. But if we are feeling stuck, blocked or it’s simply not coming naturally, here are some great techniques to get your mind, body and soul back into flow.

Tune up the Body

If you are sitting in front of the computer writing magnificent prose or sketching out a future project, you may be cramping your spine which needs to be stretched out.

So STRRRRREEEETTTCCCCHHHHH. Set an alarm on your desk for every hour (or two if that seems impossible to start with) and stand up. Reach up for the ceiling and roll down to the floor. Do the same on tiptoes. Tune into your breathing and count in for six, out for six. Do this for three rounds of breath.

You can find lots of quick videos on You Tube to inspire you like this simple 3 minute neck stretch.

If stretching appeals to you, hunt down a local yoga class that you could slot into your day. Do you always take a lunch break? Most artists don’t, but can you negotiate with your inner critic that a yoga class IS a lunch break and exercise all in one.

Cycling is also another way to clear out the cobwebs. A twenty minute cycle around the park will pump the endorphins around your body. It also gets you out the house, connect with nature and give your body a work out. If cycling feels like too big a stretch or you live in a hilly area, think about an electric bike. They take the effort out of cycling, are cheaper to run than a car and good for the environment as well as your body.

Mind-full-ness

We are full of ideas, bursting with them and constantly downloading into our cognitive hard-drives. Twin this creativity with the pressures of modern life and our mind are buzzing most of the time. When your mind is full, it’s harder to focus on the project in hand. Two therapies which are brilliant at helping artists clear their minds are Meditation and Emotional Freedom Technique.

Practising mind-full-ness or meditation is easy. You don’t need to be a Tibetan monk sitting for hours on mountainside – simply take a minute to relax, quiet the mind and find the stillness inside.

Take just a minute www.just-a-minute.org is a great website with over 40 minute guided mediations to help you simply stop and breathe. There are hundreds of meditation resources available on You Tube, or www.freebuddhistaudio.com and www.jetcityorange.com.  Try them out and see what makes you relax and feel good.

Emotional Freedom Technique is a simple way you can move the energy in your body. Essentially you tap on acupressure points whilst verbally stating how you feel. The kinetic energy sends a signal to your amagdyla (the part of your brain that controls the flight or fight response) which relaxes you and enables you get back into flow, that joyful creative place. If you’d like to know more then download the free “getting started” guide from EFT Universe.

Getting Soulful

Artists more than any other group understand the concept of the soul. That inner essence that drives us to create, that our purpose is to nourish the world with our words, music and art. Our souls need to be fed delicious morsels and as Julia Cameron suggests in her brilliant book “The Artist’s Way” we must make time to have artist dates with ourselves.

This month go to something completely out of your usual social repertoire. Find a debating club, a magic show, a modern Buddhist temple, or a tourist attraction that you loved as a kid. Taking ourselves out of the familiar surroundings just for art’s sake will challenging your senses, feed your soul a banquet and seep into your personal well of inspiration.

Our mind, body and soul work together in a beautiful eco-system that creates your uniqueness and in turn your art. Don’t neglect any of these components…Is it time you tuned up? What could you do differently this month?

Kate Marillat is a freelance writer passionate about ethical communication. Connect with her on twitter at @ethicalbizkate

http://bethewriteryoudreamofbeing.com

Image credit – Stretch by Les Howard

 

 

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Selling Art Online with Instagram {5 top tips + more}

Over the last few months you have probably noticed more and more images being shared across Facebook and other social networks. These photos often have an arty quality to them and retro style image frames around them. These images are originating from the smartphone app Instagram.

Instagram is an app that you use on your iPhone, iPad or Android based device. It allows you to shoot a photo and then process it in app to add a variety of filters and frames. However, the magic is then that Instagram allows you to share that photo across a variety of social media sites with one click of the button.

Like all social media sites or apps, Instagram has it’s fair share of brain sucking rubbish to wade through. This is mostly comprised of young girls taking photos of their hair and what they are eating [usually cupcakes].  However, used carefully and intelligently, the visual nature of Instagram is brilliant for artists. Its a great way of showing your work to the world and finding new fans for what you do.

One of the great things about Instagram is that it allows you to publish your images to other social media sites too therefore making your life easier in one fell swoop. Whenever you post an image you can also share it with Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and via Email. One good picture of your work can go a long way with very little effort {always good where time sucking social media is concerned}

So how can Instagram help you grow your work, brand and visibility as an artist? Where do you start? I have put together a 5 tips below to help you get to grips with ways to use Instagram to help you sell art online…

 

1 What images should I post on Instagram?

Use Instagram to introduce people to your work. Therefore show them what you do, photographing your work and process, tools you use, places you visit, inspiration and things you like. Aim to use the app to give people a little glimpse into your art, ideas and life as an artist.

2 Keep it local

I have found the best success by using Instagram to find potential local fans and customers. By using this method I have developed a new relationship with a lovely local art gallery and found several new local customers for my work with very little effort.

My method is to search within the app for the hashtag of my local town {ie #London, #NewYork or wherever you live} Then comment on images by local people and start up a conversation. In this way I have grown my followers and made some great local connections who now see my work every time they check Instagram. If I were to hold an exhibition or local event I could easily use Instagram to help with publicity towards it. I intend to do this in the future.

It’s also a great idea to search for and follow local artists too to bring you local connections and networking opportunities that can help grow your work.

3 The secret is in the hashtags.

Post a picture alone onto Instagram and chances are you wont get much attention. However, the secret is to tag your picture correctly with the right hashtags. That way, people searching for the subject of your image can find your work.

So, for example, if you paint watercolour landscapes of New England you may want to use the hashtags #landscapepainting #NewEngland #watercolour #art #drawing or similar. A little bit of research using the hashtag search facility in the app will help you know which hashtags to use. Hashtags are definitely the key when it comes to using Instagram well and you can add many different ones to each image.

4 Can I sell my art directly through Instagram?

Instagram does not have a way to allow you to sell art directly through the app. I see it more as a way of creating or finding an audience for your work and spreading the word about what you do, leading people back to your main site or shop. However, I have seen popular artists with many followers release images of work for sale on Instagram along with a direct paypal address for payment and sell out their editions so it can definitely be done.

5 Can I use Instagram to promote my shop or sale?

Once you have an audience on Instagram you can promote items on your website or shop site. You can’t create a direct link in Instagram but I have seen people use an image very successfully to flag up sales and promotions on their site or Etsy shop. Simply prepare a nice image with the relevant information and then post to Instagram.

You can use apps like PhotoCollage, InstaCollage, PicFrame and InstaEffects or similar to create a nice promotional image for your sale.

 

But don’t Instagram want to steal all my images?

Instagram has recently come in for a lot of criticism for rewriting its terms and conditions in a way which gave them far too much legal access to users images, being able to use them for advertising. Users left in droves and the repercussions echoed around the social media sphere. Instagram was forced to look again into it’s policies and back down somewhat.

However, as with all Social Media sites it’s well to treat it with some caution as you never know what direction they will take in the future. Don’t post any clear images of work you want to fully control. Teaser images only.

 

Instagram Do’s and Dont’s

DO

  • Watermark your image – PhotoMarkr is just one app which can do this. Watermark with your website address so that wherever your image ends up people can find out who you are.
  • Follow artists you love. Then any time you log on to Instagram you have a ready stream of inspiration to look at.
  • Make every image count – don’t just post photos of cups of coffee and your new hairstyle. Post only one or two really great images a day. Quality over quantity definitely works on Instagram.
  • Link Instagram to your Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts and use it to feed them with content. You don’t even need to spend any time on them. It’s a good way to get your work seen.
  • As always, try and lead people back to your main website with an offer or other enticement. Try and get them to sign up to your mailing list.

DON’T

  • Post easily steal-able nice straight on usable images of your work. Instagram images seem particularly prone to being ripped off by unscrupulous copyright ignoring trolls. Therefore, use Instagram images as a “tease” to interest people in your work. Post photos of your work shot at a strange angle, a small part of the whole image, or blur out some of the image {you can do this in the Instagram app} The idea is to lead people back to your main content elsewhere and raise your profile.
  • Release any image that you want to keep control over. Instagram images have a life of their own. Once you have set them free you have to just let them go.

 

So give Instagram a go. Its fun, inspirational [if you follow the right people] and doesn’t take up much time. Post your instagram profile address below so we can all look at your photos. Happy snapping.

 

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