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Being a starving artist sounds delightfully romantic, I know, but if you’ve ever actually been there you know that cold clenching feeling that makes you wonder if you shouldn’t have listened to your parents and studied engineering. Fortunately that doesn’t have to be the solution. If you aren’t making any money as an artist then you can usually solve it by addressing the following common problems.
You Aren’t Selling Yourself
Artists are often artists because they don’t want to talk to other people. Unfortunately, that’s simply not how it works. A freelance artist is a small business, and that means marketing. Putting your art on ebay or Etsy isn’t going to generate a lot of interest compared to real, hands on marketing. Go to local events to display your work, talk to small business owners (bar and restaurant owners specifically) and get them to post your work on their walls. If there are no events in your area, you can start your own (gasp!). It’s actually not as crazy as it sounds, simply round up a few other artists in your area, research cheap (or free) possible venues. Any place with a dance floor has enough room to work with, and business owners will be happy to accommodate you if you can convince them that you can bring in business.
Your Art Isn’t Original Enough
If you find you’re already doing all of the marketing that you could be it’s time to turn around and look at your work. Are you being original? Can a potential customer go elsewhere and find something in the same style, with similar content? What’s your own response to it? Does it make you sad, amused, or terrified? If you don’t have much of a response to your own work, then the odds are good that no one else does either. You have a chance to say something in a way that no one has ever said it before, it’s a shame to waste that chance.
If you used to do fairly well, but just can’t get past a creative block that has you doing essentially the same thing over and over again, resulting in a boring, one sided portfolio, you can check out another post that I wrote on dealing with that issue
Your Prices Are Wrong
What if you’re working all the time, and your art is selling, but you’re barely making ends meet? Clients are constantly hounding you and reminding you that they can find someone else to do the same work more cheaply, or try to get you to rework or modify work repeatedly. This one is as simple as it sounds. Raise your prices, perhaps even double them. Your work costs whatever you charge, period. If you don’t think it’s worth more, go back and read the earlier paragraph. You don’t want people buying your work just because it’s the cheapest around; you want them to buy it because they love your work. People being bullied and cowed into working for criminally low prices are the biggest reason that new artists so often find themselves in huge financial trouble, and the answer is simply to unapologetically charge what you’re worth.
Edward Stuart is an art and decoration enthusiast as well as an online publisher for Canvas Art. He frequently blogs on the topics of art, art history, design, and home decor.
This post was written by a guest writer. if you would like to write a guest post for us please get in contact with your topic ideas.
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Performance artist Kerry Kistler shares some of the ways you can enthral a live audience with your art and a little showmanship.
Who can forget the Masked Magician? Back in the late 90s he appeared in four TV specials on the Fox Network exposing many trade secrets behind dozens of magic illusions – many of which were still being used on stages across America. During my days as a touring variety performer, it was not uncommon for some smirking spoiler to corner me after a show and make a snarky comment about the Masked Magician and triumphantly proclaim with a wink that they knew how our illusions worked. They were usually wrong.
But, there is one routine in my bag of tricks that never fails to enchant and mesmerize the audience, and no one ever says “I know how you did that.” It isn’t exactly self-working, but at least I’ll never have to worry about exposure by the Masked Magician, or tough angles, or difficult sleights, or exposing methods, or dropping gimmicks…although I do sometimes drop sticks of chalk.
That’s right. People actually view my performance at the chalk art easel as the REAL magic show. One day I figured out that my magic routines were the appetizer, and my chalk art was the main course – complete with loud gasps and standing ovations. And I’m not even that good. Seriously, I am not being modest, humble or ridiculous. If I HAD to hide one big secret about chalk art, it is this: you don’t have to be a virtuoso artist to “chalk and amaze” an audience.
This truth was proven to me again recently while watching “speed painter” D. Westry on YouTube. Speed painters and chalk artists are considered kissing cousins, because the main difference is the medium we throw on the canvas – their pigments are wet paint and ours are dry oversized pastels (from EternityArts.com). And more than a few performers have mastered both mediums. True, speed painters don’t have the element of surprise that chalkers enjoy with UV black light and hidden pictures. But many of them employ a secret weapon that works just as well. Curious?
I was watching D. Westry’s act in a talent contest on a TV talk show. In 90 seconds he created a large, sketchy painting that looked like a deformed vegetable. I’m not taking anything away from D. Westry – he’s a very talented performer. But even the main host later quipped, “I gotta say, I thought [the painting] was a weird potato…I think that’s amazing!” What amazed the host?
At the last second, Westry turned the painting upside down, and a portrait of the talk show host was clearly recognized. It took only a beat to sink in, and then the audience burst into a thirty-second standing ovation. Magical?? You be the judge, but I can’t remember ever seeing a magician get that kind of response with a $10,000 stage illusion!
Oh, and Westry even won the Grand Prize trip to Costa Rica with that simple potato-portrait. Astonishing, if not magical. Now, try to imagine the power chalk art can have when sharing your message.
To repeat: You don’t have to be a virtuoso artist to “chalk and amaze” an audience. If you have a solid grasp of stage craft and showmanship, I invite you to give it a try, even if it means doing a little pre-show work like tracing faint guidelines to follow. And please don’t howl, “That’s cheating!” A few spectators will always assume there is some “trick” to it. I’ve actually had a few teens come up to me after a show and ask if I use a special high-def, smart board technology that simulates live drawing – as if there MUST be some sort of digital “iChalk” magic behind it all since actual, live drawing seems impossibly hand-crank. I ask these doubting Thomases to reach out and touch the chalky surface of the drawing with their own fingers. Then I watch their expressions change, assured they will never yell out, “I know how you did that!”
Seriously, how is that NOT magical?
Kerry Kistler lives in Springfield, Missouri where he publishes Chalk Illustrated, a FREE quarterly magazine for performing chalk artists. Contact Kerry at firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe today at www.ChalkIllustrated.com.
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Guest writer Edward Stuart has some useful ideas to help artists market their work locally.
Let’s talk about how to sell your work.
While we definitely want to encourage people to market themselves over the web and build networks that take advantage of its global nature, the advent of long-distance internet marketing has left many of the newer, non-established entrants into the art world behind. That is not, of course, because younger artists don’t know how to work on the internet, quite the contrary, rather it’s because they’ve left behind and forgotten traditional, yet very effective, marketing methods that secure a more steady (though generally drearier) income locally. Local, in-person communication is vital for building a steady flow of commissions.
Let’s take a look at a few important strategies…
For Graphic Designers: The Phone Book
No, you’re not going to try your hand at telemarketing. Go into the Yellow Pages and find your local screen printing and embroidery shops. Call them up and ask them if they’d be willing to refer clients in need of an artist to you in exchange for a referral fee. These people talk to small business owners, school clubs, and private people in need of graphic design work every single day.
Ideally you’ll get the shops to display some of your best portfolio pieces to inspire their customers to make use of you. Once you’re working with someone on a t-shirt design you have a foot in the door and can work with them to redesign their logo, website, or other tasks in your realm of expertise like designing fliers for their marketing efforts.
For Fine Artists: Cafes and Bars
If your expertise lies more in the fine-art realm you’ll need to get your art out in front of an audience, and preferably in a setting in which they’re inclined to spend money. Conveniently supporting local businesses and artists is a surging trend all over the country, meaning that bars and cafes in your area are most likely looking for good local artwork to put on their walls as cheaply as possible.
Simply call them up and offer to hang your work on their walls (with price tags!). If a patron wants to buy a piece they can pay the business and the business pays you. To generate more interest you can also visit the various establishments regularly, make friends with the regulars, and sketch out concepts in full view of the other patrons. The crowd you’ll automatically draw (heh, get it?) will help to generate interest, and any friends you make will enthusiastically point out that they know the artist who drew that thing on the wall over there to everyone else that comes in.
For Illustrators: The Local Writing Community
What if you’re an illustrator? Your art isn’t fancy enough to hang on the wall, and you don’t go around designing logos or webpages. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Think about all the people who’ve ever told you that they’re “writing a novel”, “writing a children’s book”, or “writing a screen play”. There are many more people who are going to attempt to get their written work published (or will self-publish!) than there are good artists to make quality illustrations for their work. Obviously not everyone needs, wants, or can afford illustrations, but if you can find where writers hang out you’ll inevitably find work.
Get on the internet, and instead of just checking how your own social media marketing is going, go and spend some time googling for writing clubs in your area. Contact their members, attend their meetings, make friends with them, and show them why you looked them up.
IMPORTANT – Don’t make this common mistake ~ When working with individuals rather than businesses remember not to work for free. It’s easy to slip into idealism when an aspiring writer promises you a cut of future profits, but at the end of the day their work is not guaranteed to succeed, and you’ll have put the work in for pure idealism’s sake, which won’t put food on your table.
Image courtesy of Tack-O-Rama
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Artonomy reader Paul Stratton shares his artistic journey and some of the hard life lessons he has learned along the way…
Or – How the wrong friends can be so bad for you!
I’d always liked art and enjoyed creating it. When I was at school I was confident enough to think that I would get a good grade and was told that I would. I figured I’d move on to Art College and hopefully a career. Even though we’d had four different teachers in four years, when the last one ran through the list of things we should have done (and hadn’t) I was still expecting good things. At that point I was young and surrounded by people giving me words of encouragement and support. I thought I could pretty much do what I wanted and that meant making a career from art. I was very positive and looking forward to the future.
The horrible surprise…
So it came as a great and horrible surprise that I didn’t pass. I went into a kind of shock and just stopped doing art. My confidence was gone. Someone, somewhere, who carried a great deal of weight, had decided they didn’t agree with everyone else. I never knew why or where I’d gone wrong. I may have had the support but I didn’t have the experience and because other areas of my life weren’t so good I felt that my one chance had gone. I stopped listening to the sage advice from people telling me it was just a hic-up, that I could get back on my feet and try again and all the other supportive stuff they were saying. It seemed very black and white to my inexperienced eyes.
Roll on twenty years or so and I happened upon an architects shop in France. It showed some of his stuff and it was amazing. And I realised the interest was still there and so was the desire. But my situation was different and those supportive people I’d been surrounded with had moved on or moved away. The people I was with at the time were not the same and there was one friend in particular who taught me just how bad it can be if you are surrounded by the wrong kind of people. In fact he taught me so many lessons at once I wonder sometimes if things really do happen for a reason.
The Toxic Friend…
It turned out that this chap had tried to sell his art before. When I first saw his work (he’d hung some of his originals on the walls of his flat) I thought he was good but after he told me just how good he really was I thought he was fantastic. I wasn’t sure about some things but, because he was so good, I figured it must be that I wasn’t as good as him. I hadn’t learned enough or got it right. He told me that he had made some prints (a massive amount – 500 I think, A1 or A2 size) and had sold around 3. He went on to say that there was no point even trying because if he hadn’t sold any of his there was no way I was going to sell any of mine. At various points he would tell me how things should be drawn or what everyone expected when they looked at other people’s work. I can’t remember how long I lived under this guy’s shadow thinking there was no hope for someone as inferior as me and I never realised until now how much damage was being done. Not just by him but by me for allowing him to do it. (Then again, I was suffering from Depression very badly by this point)
The Valuable Lesson…
I learned many things from this. Firstly, that if you have absolute confidence that what you do is good, you can convince other people of that too. You can almost sweep them along in your enthusiasm. Even if you have doubts like I did about some his work, you can end up thinking that if someone is so good, those doubts must be misplaced. If this chap’s confidence hadn’t gone further into arrogance who knows where he and his art would be today? I’m not saying that you should convince people that you are good (that’s up to them to decide) but what it shows me is that if you have confidence in yourself you can achieve so much. Art’s subjective. Some will like it and some won’t but if you have confidence in yourself you won’t care about those who don’t. And you won’t give up either.
It also shows me that you have to have patience. You can’t give up at the first obstacle like my friend did or I did and you can’t expect things to always go right for you first time. I don’t think that’s the same as not believing in yourself but more in trusting that things will work out. That you may need to pick yourself up off the floor as few times as you go. That it’s ok to fail and then succeed.
Thirdly, it’s not for other people to tell you if you are going to succeed or not. Not only do they not know the future but they are not you. They failed. It doesn’t mean you will. It does mean they didn’t have the patience or work ethic but not that you don’t.
Lastly, it showed me that when your heads not in a good place or if you are very trusting of people (as artists often are) then their words and thoughts can have a massive effect on you. I believed this guy because he was very confident in himself and his work, I was very unconfident in myself and mine and because he was a friend I trusted his opinion. But he (and the majority of people who I thought were ‘real’ friends at the time) never offered any real encouragement or support. Just told me it wouldn’t work or wasn’t good enough and that became my perception regarding art until about 2 years ago. The thing was I never even realised that until I was shown. So not only is having the wrong people around you going to keep you down and view your future negatively but these thoughts become a pattern that you can end up taking with you without even realising it.
The support and encouragement given to me when I failed to pass my O-level must have sunk in. Without it I would have totally given up as a kid and definitely when my friend tried to tell me I wasn’t good enough. If you are unlucky enough to have been surrounded by people who put you down because it didn’t work for them or who never offer you any kind of support then it can only be bad for you. If you can offer support and encouragement to someone else then it might make a world of difference to them. It is difficult accepting that people you may have known for a long time and regard as friends are actually bad for you. It may take a lot of soul searching and effort to admit that it’s true and if you are like me, there’s a lot of resistance before the penny drops. It is also very difficult to ‘un-believe’ something you’ve been believing in for a long time.
In the end, I let go of the people who were bad for me. While it was very tough at the time it’s actually one of the best things I’ve done. The effects of those templates are still there, such as the perfectionism, but they are so much smaller than they were and getting smaller all the time. I know one day soon they’ll be gone. It takes time to re-program your head and to believe that things that have been so negative can be so positive. And it’s hard to make some decisions even if you know they are the right ones but it’s worth it. Things also come easier to some people than others but if any of the above sounds like stuff you are going through then take heart that things can change and it doesn’t matter if it takes a while because it’s the result that counts. Best of luck!
Paul Stratton is an artist who specialises in Art, Illustration, Scenery and Model Design. You can view his online portfolio here:
If you would like to share your experience of your artistic journey with our readers please get in contact with an outline of your guest post…
Image courtesy of Tack-O-Rama
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Guest blogger Agnese Aljena writes about the power of business cards and how they work for her in promoting her beautiful photographic work.
A Business card is a simple but very powerful tool if used wisely. You can call it a “visit” or “personal” card if you don’t like “business”.
Historically visiting cards were used to announce an arrival of an aristocratic or wealthy person. Now the status for business card is much lower but still – you and your profession are taken more seriously if you announce it by printed card. As in the 17th century, a business card is still part of your first impression. Especially if your card arrives first and you as a person just follow it. So, it is an important attribute in your image building.
Here are some tips and angles you can use when thinking about your business cards.
Representation of your brand.
A business card is an essential part of your brand and should be designed according to your overall branding strategy. A business card is like summary of your brand, personality, professional and artistic abilities. It means that before you can design a powerful card your personal brand should be in place.
Your business card’s main mission is to give information in a handy way. Usually it is name, profession, your home page, email, phone, maybe postal address. Now QR codes have become quite popular for faster information flow.
I use the other side of business cards for my portfolio presentation. In my card set I have about 20 different designs with pictures of my portfolio (and that is not as costly as might sound). Whenever I am ready to give a card, I hand a bunch of them so the other person can choose which one he or she likes. Usually it turns into emotional and lively part of otherwise maybe quite businesslike conversation. People like to choose, and, what is more important, they are watching my portfolio without pressure and we both are happy about it. Sometimes they involve people around and often I find myself giving away my cards even if I wasn’t intended to.
Every piece of information in your business card should mean that you are accessible via given channel. Even if I have a skype name, I prefer not to put it on my cards since I don’t log in to skype every morning. I just have different habits. That is also a reason why people don’t put postal address – we are moving much more than several decades ago and we don’t send letters to postal address any more (although it is nice and romantic). It also means that your home page should be up and running and should be as an extended version of business card – giving more and deeper up-to-date information.
Since your business card is an essence of your brand, you should use your brand elements – both design and emotion-wise. You can use different size, emboss logo or your name, use scent, add some other dimension if you wish. Just be sure that it fits within standard business card holder – otherwise your card will be lost. Or you can stick to classics – black letters on white background – just as you feel your personality requires.
I am using smaller size cards (half of normal business cards) to encourage people to take more different designs. Psychologically smaller cards mean “I am not causing big financial loss if I take two or three”. When giving my cards to choose I try to carry with me quite a lot – to give an impression it is not the last one. I use also postcard size cards when I want to impress somebody (like when visiting corporate customers) and to send a hidden message “I am expensive – look, I can afford big business cards”. In those cases I give them together with small cards anyway – to fit into business card holder.
is the most important element in business card philosophy. When you have your cards and you are proud about them (and you should be), use them. It is not only when introducing yourself to others. I use them also every time I give away my finished work. I include several in packaging and there has been countless times when people are calling me and start conversation with a phrase – my friend gave me your business card… Those are real buyers. And it is much easier to give to somebody a business card not to spell your name and number. The secret here is also the design – it should be so attractive that people just don’t dare to throw them away as soon as open the package.
Another simple tip is – take your business cards with you. There have been so many times I have missed them. And that might be a missed opportunity to establish a good contact.
If you are a Rennaisance (wo)man with several occupations, print a card for each and every of them. Then opening a card wallet, you can silently sort them out and even without speaking send a message that you have other interesting angles of your personality. Of course, if you feel like cross-selling is a good idea. I use this strategy because every time I use my PhD story it raises my price as an artist – I choose to be an artist, not in academia where I could earn good money as well.
People may not always translate these messages into words, but they definitely receive them. In most cases strategy of many different cards encourages healthy and natural discussion. I even have cards with my kids – just in case being mom of two ginger girls is the angle I might find myself in conversation.
So far I can say – business cards has been one of the most powerful tools in my word-of-mouth marketing. It is a nice silent (and visual artists love to live without words) way of sending a clear message and good card is a beginning of natural friendly and human conversation that some day might lead to selling your art.
Agnese Aljena is children fashion and lifestyle photographer, business blog for artists owner and on her way to PhD in business models for fine arts.
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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.
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.
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
Image credit – Stretch by Les Howard
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I am a full time artist from Sweden working in Burma since 2007. My works are all made in ink using rubber stamps. A technique that I have been working with for 2 years.
A vandal had written ´Destroy Power, Not People´ on the electric transmission building. In 1988 or -89, when my perception of power was limited to a source of energy I went home from school and started to scribble down my first piece on paper, attaching a yellow circle with the symbol of radioactive radiation. The style of the letters had already been introduced from the stickers inside Danish bubblegum packages. Two decades later, the power remains but my interpretation has changed, so has the style, today I use it as confrontation which intends to open up dialogue, a dyslexic language targeting the alleged veracity using unpressured paint as the core in my artistic expression.
Contradictions, pronounced colouring and sharp outlines, using the urban landscape as a point of departure I want my art to stir up questions with the audience. The range of colours, shapes and style are rooted in graffiti which blends with everyday testimonies of feelings, beliefs and experiences. The result is a visual debate, a sphere between private and public, assumed truth and the untold, processed and enCAPsulated in the magnetism of art.
As art is a necessity and a common good, whether legal or illegal, my work is not strictly limited to canvas bounded by defined frames for an advantaged audience. Consequently your investment is my playground and I’m coming live in 5, 4, 3, 2…….
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Guest blogger Carla Eaton shares some tips and tricks to ensure your printed artwork is perfect…
No matter how good your computer, camera or editing skills are, your artwork is going to look different from the original once it has been printed. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are prepping to print in order to get the sizing and quality you desire.
Most commercial printers offer several ways you can choose from to print your artwork. Here are some of the more popular methods:
Offset Lithography: In this printing process, ink is applied to a special printing plate to form the image, which is then transferred to a rubber blanket that presses is against paper to produce the final print. This method creates high quality prints and very popular.
Giclee Printing: High-tech 8- or 12-color ink jet printers “spray” inks onto the substrate, which creates the final product. This method creates high quality images that reproduce your artwork in various sizes and onto various surfaces (canvas, paper, textured papers, etc.) easily.
Laser or Inkjet Printing: The most common types of printers, these may not be the best route for prints. This method is best for smaller prints, or for those who are just starting out and printing from home. Image quality will not be the best.
Print Sizes (Image size vs. print size) and Proper Resolution
Chances are, your original artwork isn’t going to be in the size that people will want as a print. Offering different sizes of your piece is common and creates more options to buy your art.
Resizing an image is not that simple, however. You will want to consider resolution and pixels. Standard print resolution is 300dpi. Make sure your files, documents and images all are set to that; any image with a resolution lower than 300 will be printed fuzzy and blurry. Read more on understanding image resolution here.
Most image editing software (Photoshop, Illustrator, GIMP, etc.) will allow you to resize the image easily. Keep in mind you want a high resolution and that really depends on what size prints you want. A high resolution file may cause your computer to be slow, but the printed product will be well worth it. You can also avoid that by taking your artwork to a commercial printer.
Bleed, Trim and Safety Margins
Bleed: The bleed line extends past the trim “to which artwork or a background color is extended so that the blade will cut through it.” If your artwork extends to the edge of a document, you should set a bleed line so that your artwork doesn’t get cut off awkwardly. The bleed margin establishes an area to account for a small margin for cutting error.
Trim: The trim refers to the edge of the paper or the size of the finished product. These lines indicate where the product will be cut down to for the desired size. It’s important to remember, however, that errors can be made during the printing and cutting process, so important content should be kept within safety margins.
Safety: The safety lines refer to the area of your document/artwork that is not meant to be trimmed. Any important content or text should be kept within the safety lines to ensure it does not get cut off.
Although it varies by what you are printing, it’s important to set up the bleed, trim and safety line for every file. Generally, your bleed line should be 1/8” beyond the trim line, while the safety line should be 1/8” inside the trim line.
File Type (TIFF, JPG, or PNG?)
There are so many ways to save your image file – TIFF, JPG, PNG, PDF, GIF, etc. – that is can be hard to figure out which is the best for printing your artwork. Whatever you choose to print, make sure the file is saved as a TIF, JPG or PNG.
TIF: Lossless type of file – generally considered the highest quality format for commercial work. It does not lose any of the data associated with the original image, is highly versatile, and works with almost all color profiles (including CMYK which makes it great for commercial printing).
PNG: Lossless type of file – no compression and no JPG artifacts. It uses ZIP compression which is somewhat more effective color compression than with TIF files, which makes it smaller than TIF but larger than JPG.
JPG: Lossy type of file – generally used for photo images. High quality JPGs can be used for printing as well, but the files can be extremely small and unable to effectively scale up in size. Also, the more you edit and re-save the JPG file, the more quality you will lose.
If file size is not an issue, work with TIF images to maximize quality and size of your artwork.
External references and resources:
How do I prepare and optimize my art images for the web?
Carla Eaton has a B.A. in Mass Media with a Minor in Art and Design. She enjoys writing on the topics of business, technology, and design, and currently blogs for inkfarm.com, who specializes in Dell printer cartridges.
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Guest writer Edward Stuart discusses some great and original new ideas for places to showcase your art in your local community.
As artists, we sometimes unintentionally lock ourselves in tidy little boxes. We wait for gallery opportunities or we set up at local coffee shops, and we leave other options out of the picture. We look to our websites and social media outlets. Once or twice a year we set up at local art fairs. Though these tried and true methods might get some results, there’s an entire world of venues that remain largely unexplored. Your community is full of people that love art, love working with artists and would delight in helping you showcase your work—which means that the big obstacle is actually finding one of these venues. The good news is that all it takes is some creative thinking, some networking skills and some good old fashioned detective work.
The first useful clue you’ll find while cracking this particular case is this—start with the new guys. People who are just starting their business are likely still very open to new ideas. They actually might be in need of wall decoration in the first place, which is a need that you can easily fill for them. Bringing your art to a new business’ doorstep makes them immediately feel more involved in the community and lets them know that someone is paying attention to them. Even better, the owner of a new business will often have creative ideas about how to make your art work in a perfect symbiotic relationship with their establishment, which can go beyond “hang it up with a price tag and leave.” There’s a lot of room for creativity and collaboration when you approach a business that’s just starting out—there’s more space to experiment and change things around, which is extremely beneficial from a marketing standpoint.
Follow the Trail
Okay, we need to get more specific than “start with new businesses,” because there are only so many of those. Every city is different, so your avenues of opportunity are different than mine. These are just a few suggestions about where you might look—even if they don’t specifically apply to you, they might give you some ideas.
- Local music venues (beyond coffee shops) are great. Bars that host live music are often extremely likely to showcase your artwork. All ages venues are great, too.
- Hair salons are a great place to showcase your artwork, especially since many of them are owned and staffed by artistic, creative people.
- Comic book stores are often more than happy to showcase your artwork, especially if what you do leans toward any type of quirky or pop art.
- Skate shops and bike shops are also great for quirky or dark artwork, and their owners are extremely prone to being artistic types as well.
- Restaurants are great, but food trucks work out pretty well sometimes, too. The logistics can be a bit tricky, but food trucks are generally owned by independent-minded, creative types that are very receptive to hosting your artwork.
- Local music zines, fanzines and other local publications are always looking for great content. Sure, you can’t hang a painting up in a photocopied zine, but you can find some beneficial relationship there.
- House parties can be a great place to showcase your work—as long as they don’t get too rowdy.
- Tattoo parlors and screen printing shops sometimes have the wall space for artists they appreciate as well.
Another great rule to follow is that basically anywhere creative people tend to gather is a good venue for your art. Above everything else, just think “where do I like to go? Where do my friends go?” and follow the trail from there.
Turn on the Light
Many of the businesses listed above might not showcase any local art, but that’s because many of them have just never been approached about it. They simply don’t feature anyone’s artwork because no one has ever brought it to their attention. Any place owned or staffed by artistic types is bound to at least listen to your proposal, even if they’re already an established business. Taking a little risk and making a pitch to a currently art-free venue might result in a long-lasting relationship and open the door for other artists. You never know until you try.
It’s important to build good relationships with the people that own these unconventional venues, so that they continue to contribute to the local art community. Ideally, your art should both look great on their walls and help to get some people in the door to look at whatever they’re selling. Use your already-bountiful self-marketing and promotion skills to bring some new faces in the door. Show them that you’re committed to the relationship and they’ll give just as much. If you’re blazing new trails and setting up new art venues where there once were none, your fellow artists are going to appreciate it as well. The simple acts of holding up your end of the bargain and giving back to the business owner will open up new doors for you and your peers.
Finding an unconventional venue for your art might involve some exploring, handshaking and risk-taking, but it means not having to wait for a street fair or a spot at a local gallery. Your community is full of people who love and appreciate art—the only real struggle is finding them in the first place.
Edward Stuart is an artist, writer, blogger, and interior design enthusiast. He writes for the canvas art supplier CanvasGalleryArt.com. Edward enjoys blogging about art, art history, design and home decor.
Image courtesy of tackorama.net
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