The Applause Factor: Why Do We Need People’s Seal Of Approval To Create Great Art?

Picture of a Perfume Bottle

Bottle Landscape: Composition 1. digital photography. For more examples of my photography please visit http://www.acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

Perhaps it is deeply ingrained in us to want and seek approval from our peers.

As tiny children many of us learned that our artistic talents would inevitably serve as a vehicle to generate the response from others that we felt, at least at some point, we badly needed, but do we still require public adulation in order to create meaningful art in a landscape of mass produced, simulated authenticity?

While constructive criticism is meant to be productive, often leading us to question the how, why and where we create art, do we always have to remain in comfortable agreement with the dictates of our present generation of thinkers?

Indeed, great art has been created during the most turbulent times.

The willing participants of a variety of art movements throughout the decades have often encountered intense opposition to their candid interpretation of the historical era in which they lived.

We all know that a great deal of growth involves risk.

The courage to take that risk in an often hostile, cutthroat environment leads many aspiring artists to despair as they try to predict what popular art critics will esteem.

Some artists value sustained attention on their artwork to such a degree, that they unapologetically hand over all control of their creative output to what they perceive is the reigning art intelligentsia.

While these artists may initially experience the attention that they desire (their Warholian fifteen minutes), eventually, they regret trading their unique artistic vision for the limited creative expression that they are allowed to have in order to maintain representation.

The galleries will sell what the market will bear; when that market does not currently include the work that certain artists produce, these particular artists find themselves confused, overwhelmed and unable to financially back the work that they are passionate about producing.

Not all art stories end the same way though, some artists are able to address their niche audience successfully while earning a decent living.

However, no matter how much artists wish to take mass consumer culture out of the mix, we are still forced to deal with the bottom line.

When we are young, naive, and fresh out of art school, we dream that we can “have it all”, without compromise, but the real world shows us that art is as much a business as real estate.

If this fact leaves you disenchanted with the idea of sharing your art with a public that may or may not always be ready to receive it, you’re in good company.

If artist’s wish to survive professionally, they will often find themselves compromising at some level in order to adapt to the current art market.

When considering these factors, artists feel like applause equals sales which results in a thriving business, yet this is not always the case.

Some works are critically acclaimed, but they do not sell well in the marketplace because they are unable to generate the kind of mass appeal that results in a sustainable income.

However, these works are considered great because they immediately address issues that are relevant socially, politically and historically.

On the other hand, some artists produce decorative art that the general population can easily appreciate; therefore, people are more likely to purchase work that reminds them of things that hold a special place of importance in their lives.

Work that reminds people of family, friends, beloved pets or special travel locations that they wish to visit or have visited in the past receive a different kind of applause which does in fact result in sales.

The natural birth and death of art trends will facilitate the opening and closing of small galleries hoping to ride the temporary wave of “latest discoveries”.

Should you create art exclusively for fabulous yet fickle collectors who are often highly influenced by well-established art world agents and gallery owners?

Will you join the ranks of decorative artists who produce design oriented works with the sole purpose of beautifying homes and offices?

Could you produce thought-provoking works that challenge the prevailing opinions, lifestyles, and attitudes of the current culture in which we live?

If your expression is not authentic, is the brief period of admiration you experience really worth it?

Whatever artist that you decide to become, (whether you make the majority of your money from art production or you choose to rely on another profession for additional income), you will never feel completely satisfied with your artwork or your role as an artist until you have enough guts to pursue the type of art that you have always wanted to create.

In time, you will find your audience, it may not always be big, but it will be a genuine.

Happy New Year: What Can We Expect in 2015 ?

Orna-mental Op Landscape- Rose

Marisa D. Aceves. Orna-mental Op Landscape: Rose. digital photography. http://acevesart.com/

As this year comes to a close, we may choose to take this time to reflect on what we would’ve, could’ve, and should’ve done.

Then we could. . . .

I don’t know. . . kick ourselves in the butt for only accomplishing some of our goals.

However, this would just be yet another pointless exercise because all the things we did or didn’t do this year have past.

Now we look forward to 2015 with all the excitement, victories, opportunities and downers it will bring!

Until then. . . .

I am wishing you all a wonderful, productive, and artful new year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why Thinking in Absolutes is The Grinch That Could Steal Your Creative Christmas

Orna-Mental Landscape 1

 Ornamental Op Landscape 1. digital photography. http://acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

Artists are peculiar creatures.

When you’re an artist, you use your active imagination to create works of beauty, works that the speak the truth, and works that question the nature of reality.

You can also use that same imagination to torture yourself by adopting a fatalistic attitude toward your life, artwork and relationships.

When things are going well you are able to reach your goals easily, colleagues, friends and strangers compliment you on your work and your confidence soars.

You tell yourself that you can go anywhere and do anything you please.

Life is beautiful because you’re the art star you always wanted to be.

This sudden surge of self-esteem leads you to take on an enormous and costly project that might be a little beyond your present abilities.

A series of things go wrong.

You try to shake it off, but you feel the irritation growing.

You’re over budget and your clients are breathing down your neck.

Nothing seems to satisfy them.

The project fails.

You kick yourself.

A barrage of negative thoughts run through your head as you try to recover what little self-confidence you have left.

Did you make a horrible mistake?

Have you chosen the wrong career?

Will you ever experience the high of success again?

In order to try to curb this relentless cycle of mental flip-flopping, you must learn to address the individual issues in your life and art business that cause you to view things from an “all or nothing” perspective.

While “thinking in absolutes” can’t easily be dismissed, you may take important steps to minimize the effect it has on you and your art business.

Here are some tips that you might find useful in combating this extreme form of thinking:

1) Stop Taking Yourself and Your Business Too Seriously- While it is important to be a responsible business owner, you can’t get so wrapped up in art production, awards and figures that you forget to focus on meaningful, positive relationships.  When artists fail to learn the art of communication, they don’t know how to deal with project failures or how to smooth things over with unsatisfied clients.  A great sense of humor goes a long way. If you can laugh at yourself and your past mistakes, you can gain the confidence to seek help when you need it without giving in to time sucking negativity.

2) Failures Are Not the End, They Are the Beginning of The Learning Process- When I am tempted to beat myself up over a failure, I try to recall the man that created the Dyson vacuum cleaner.  He went through several unsatisfactory models before he arrived upon the design that would eventually make Dyson a household name.  If you view your failures as just steps to finding out what will work for you and your art business, you will begin to see them as opportunities for growth. There is risk, as they say, in everything.

3) Don’t Underexaggerate or Overexaggerate Your Abilities- When it comes to your art business, know your strengths and weaknesses.  The success of a current project may make you feel like you can attempt anything, but you need to be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do at this stage in your career.  If you are entertaining taking on a more complicated project, I urge you to do your research to find out if you have the skills and budget you will need to finish the project successfully.

4) Rethink your Business Strategy- When you are experiencing difficulty with certain aspects of your business, isolate those areas that are causing you the most problems and take steps to improve these areas.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help with organisation, business relationships, and artist technical problems etc. When you are aware that you are trying to solve a problem that has been bothering you for a long time, the anxiety associated with that problem may lessen.

5) Be Humble yet Hungry- Constantly bragging about your successes or thinking that some success makes you a master in your medium or genre sets you up for extreme disappointment once reality sets in and you begin to find out that you know a lot less then you thought you did.  Instead, let success motivate you to improve your skills while understanding that you don’t know everything there is to know about art.

6) Don’t Be Pessimistic, Be Positively Realistic- I know there are probably many dreamers out there that would like to personally shoot me for making this statement. However, I believe that there is truth in such a suggestion. There is nothing wrong with a positive attitude or dreaming about what you’d like to achieve in the future, but reality teaches you that things happen in steps, not all at once. When you ignore this fact and something goes wrong (eventually it will), then everything appears to fall apart and you find yourself descending into negative thought patterns again. This only makes the situation worse. It is easy to fall into extreme optimism and propose pie-in-the-sky solutions, but when those fail, your optimism goes with them and you are ready once again to visit melancholy land. Be aware of all the obstacles that you will encounter as you learn the skills you will need to reach the goals that you dream about. Approach these in a healthy, but realistic manner, knowing that somewhere along the way, things are going to get tough.  However, you can seek the help, do the research, put in the hard work and practice it takes to overcome them. Unrealistic thinking and approaches to your art business set you back instead of helping you move forward.

7) Learn to Love Problem Solving – When problems arise, try not to give in to frustration.  It’s natural to want things to run smoothly.  When they don’t, it is easy to blame yourself or others around you.  However, every job has its difficulties.  Choose to start seeing obstacles as welcome challenges.  Each challenge offers you the opportunity to learn a better way to approach the situation you encounter.  The second time you experience a familiar situation/problem, you will know what to do about it.

The majority of extreme thinking results from an unrealistic perception of ourselves, our abilities and the world around us.

Once we understand how to properly view our current situation, we can come up with more effective ways of dealing with the problem of “thinking in absolutes”.

Keeping Up With The Artist Joneses: How To Stop Playing The Comparison Game And Embrace Your Learning Curve

Marisa D. Aceves. Pigment Landscape 5. digital photography. http://www.acevesart.com/

It starts out innocently enough.

You need a website.

You pay for one, set it up, post your artwork and celebrate.

Shipping is next on your to-do list.

You gather the materials, price them and put the packages together.

Next you weigh the packages, do an internet search for UPS and methodically figure out the shipping prices nationally, internationally or both.

You post these to your website with your written shipping and return policy.

Then you celebrate.

When someone visits your website, you’re overjoyed because out of the billions of artist websites that are on the web they found YOU!

Suddenly you get the bright idea to check other artist websites to see if you’re doing it right…..

and then………………………………………………………………………………………

It begins, the comparison game.

*In America, we like to use the term “Keeping up with the Joneses” to describe our tendency to unfairly compare ourselves to our neighbors, then rush to compete with them in a mad, vain effort to boost our self-esteem.

How The Comparison Game Begins To Steal Your Victory and Joy

At first, everything seems possible.

However, after looking at a number of other artists’ websites, slowly you begin to realize your handy, minimalist website isn’t quite as sleek and impressive as the day you created it.

They have an upgraded sight so in order to compete you need to upgrade.

Big sigh….

You know that the bell, whistles, plug-ins etc. will cost you.

Another big sigh…

Your shipping policy isn’t clear to potential buyers.

Theirs’ is a marketing masterpiece; they have plenty of satisfied customers.

You will need to rewrite yours.

Yet another big, fat sigh….

The other artists have a decent amount of visitors to their website; now your rejoicing over the one visitor you receive a week begins to strike you as ridiculous, even pathetic.

If you want people to take your business seriously it is necessary that you have the traffic that they have.

Ahhhhh…. but how do you acquire it.

As the waves of sadness and desperation begin to set in, you decide to seek advice from the blog and website traffic gurus.

Surely, they can solve your problems.

When you visit their sites, they inevitably point you towards social media platforms to advertise your art business.

A ray of hope pierces through your melancholy until you quickly discover that unless you know the requirements for increasing traffic for each individual platform (hashtags, keywords, coding etc.), it is going to make little to no difference in your website visits or sales.

You visit other artist websites that propose to tell you how to sell your work.

Now you know you’re among friends, at least that’s what you tell yourself.

Then the host of the website craftily tells you that content marketing is your main problem.

All you need to do is become an excellent copywriter, because if you can’t write, everything will fall apart.

No one will want to stay on your website or blog if you don’t entertain them 24/7 with your literary brilliance.

What do they do to help you?

They direct you to a copywriting website to teach you how to blog.

By now you are spending the majority of your precious time researching how to get people to your website instead of creating intriguing, quality work that makes galleries and collectors take notice.

If you haven’t had the privilege of experiencing this phenomena then let me warn you; it does occur frequently.

If you are following the above example in merry exasperation, then know you are not alone.

Of course you want a sleek professional website with a healthy amount of traffic, sales through the roof, plenty of press acknowledgement and social media fans that help to lift you up by spreading your art all over the internet.

Who wouldn’t want this?

It’s easy to sit at your computer and sulk because you don’t have the career, the website or the level of support that you want, but are you forgetting one simple bit of advice?

Looks can be deceiving.

Not everyone on the internet that appears to have it all figured out actually does.

Often, it is unrealistic expectations coupled with conditioned perception that makes you want to believe that you are the only one who has to learn new skills.

Consider these points.

*You can’t always know how many hours, months, and years of study, networking, and researching it took other artists to get to where they are now. Referring to their curriculum vitae and press coverage may give you some idea of their level of experience, but it is just a small piece of  the whole picture.

*We are all in different stages of our art careers. Some artists are just beginning their careers, others are mid career or well established veterans. It is important to acknowledge how we feel about our current situation. Nevertheless, if we want to someday arrive at a greater place of understanding in our art careers, then we must go through the  process of learning no matter how slow and excruciating. Learning new skills doesn’t have to be angst ridden if we can just go a little bit easier on ourselves and maintain a positive attitude about our mistakes.

*Know were you fall and pick up the skills necessary to proceed to the next level. Few people like to admit that they don’t know everything they need to know to market their artwork.  However, refusing to admit that you need help in areas were you have less experience ensures that you will remain in the same frustrating place you were last year.

*Remember, other artists could easily visit your website, see your work, gallery exhibits, and education and be just as intimidated and deflated as you sometimes feel when you visit the sites of other more experienced artists. It’s all relative. There is always someone ahead of you and someone behind you; decide today to enjoy and make the most of each milestone in your career.

Trying to imitate the success of others so that you can feel better about yourself only leaves you feeling empty and unsatisfied; nothing is ever good enough.

If you decide to proceed like this, nothing ever will be.

Fortunately, you don’t have to remain a victim of the comparison game. You can make the decision today to try to be the best that you can be at any point in your art career.

How To Protect Your Work From Art Vultures Part 2: Watermark Software

An abstract photograph of foil floral wrapping paper

Marisa D. Aceves. Foil Landscape (Red). digital photography. acevesart.com

*Note: The watermark shown on the picture above is simple, faint and transparent. However, if you prefer a more opaque, stylized watermark there is software out there that can help you to achieve the look and feel you desire.

Last week we discussed the need to protect your artwork from misuse by obtaining a copyright.

I attached some useful links to articles containing information on copyright as well as copyright registration.

After you have acquired copyright protection, you will want to let other people viewing your work online to know that the work is copyrighted.

You can do this through the use of watermark software.

Not all watermark software is created equal; some offer better protection than others.

However, a little protection is better than leaving you work unprotected.

Here is a list of links were you can either purchase or download free watermark software:

Free downloadable watermark software-

Pros- The watermark software is free and according to most descriptions easy to use.

Cons- You have to be careful with free downloadable software because in some instances they can attach spyware, adware or viruses to your computer. If you are using free watermark software from a website, the work that you upload to the website for watermarking may be vulnerable to hackers.

 Free Watermark Software & Sites to Watermark Online – Louise Myers of How – To Graphics has generously compiled this online list of free watermark software. Make sure to check it out as a viable option for online use, especially if you’re on a budget.

Creating The Copyright Placement Action In Adobe Photoshop – If you would prefer to use photoshop to watermark your images, this is a helpful how-to article.

Gimp Tutorial #17 How to Create a Watermark Text – Don’t have Photoshop, no problem. You can download the Gimp photo editor free.  This handy tutorial will take you through the steps to create a watermark for your images.

Gimp Free download for Macs – If you don’t have a PC and own a Mac instead, you can download the Gimp photo editor for Macs using this link.

Excellent watermark software for purchase 

Pros– Even though you have to pay to use the software, there may be other added bonuses. You may not be as susceptible to the spyware, adware and viruses that can be attached to free software. 

Cons- You have to purchase the software. Sometimes, it can be a bit pricey. Also software available for purchase may only be compatible with PCs. Although you can purchase software for Macs as well.

SoftOrbits Batch Picture Protector Only Compatible with PCs

Visual Watermark Software Both Mac and PC Compatible

Aoao Photo 

Don’t Let Them Stuff Your Turkey, Protect Your Work From Art Vultures Part 1: Copyright Infringement

Copy Pigment Landscape 2

Marisa D. Aceves. Pigment Landscape 2: digital photography acevesart.com

There are different types of birds, birds we watch, birds we eat and birds that could potentially eat us if we leave ourselves open and vulnerable.

Which category of birds would you like to flock with?

Most of us would never dream of admitting that we have at one time or another, in the course of our art careers, left our work open to art vultures.

Everyday the internet is populated by students, professional artists and Saturday night dabblers looking for ideas for their art.

Maybe today, they’ll finally find what they are looking for.

Perhaps their next successful sale will be YOUR art.

Does this scenario scare you?

Does it make you angry?

IT SHOULD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Understandably, you might still be in a state of denial.

At first you may think that what I’m proposing is stupid and paranoid or a variety of other colorful expletives, but copyright infringement happens all the time.

The unauthorized use of your intellectual property is probably one of the biggest betrayals of your trust, yet this current age of information gives a variety of individuals with questionable intentions easy access to your artwork.

How can you protect yourself from the misuse of your work and the potential loss of future income?

You must first familiarize yourself with copyright law.

According to the website Lawmart.com, the definition of copyright is as follows:

“Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. The 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phone records of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly.

The copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. For example, a description of a machine could be copyrighted, but this would only prevent others from copying the description; it would not prevent others from writing a description of their own or from making and using the machine. Copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress.”

For additional information check out this link to the Lawmart article Copyright vs. Trademark vs. Patent http://www.lawmart.com/forms/difference.htm

What many artists fail to realize is that if you are found guilty of copyright infringement, you can receive a jail sentence.

Here is some additional information about copyright that will help to keep you and your work safe.

 How to Apply For a  U.S. Copyright 

 How to Apply For a Copyright in the U.K. 

 How to Apply For a Copyright in Canada 

How to Apply For a Copyright in the Philippines

 How to Apply For a Copyright in India

 Copyright Registration

 Copyright Infringement 

How to Report Copyright Infringement

What Are the Penalties for Online Copyright Infringement?

There is more information on this subject that I have not yet included.  I will try to make sure to update and add to this information as soon as possible.

If you have any questions regarding this link article on copyright protection please contact me.

Feel free to share this post with anyone that you think may need it.

If you are familiar with this subject and have knowledge or expertise to add to this article please let me know!

Why You Don’t Have To Be Ernest Hemingway To Write About Your Art

RSCN5391 copy

Marisa D. Aceves. Pigment Cascade 1. digital photography

article by Marisa D. Aceves

We all love creating our artwork.

When we get a new idea that we just can’t wait to flesh out, we race to our studios with sparkling eyes and child-like enthusiasm, but while we’re content to lose ourselves in the creative process, we may or may not always feel the same when assigned the task of writing about our art.

Why is writing about what we love to do so intimidating?

Could it be that many of us share a common tendency to compare the quality of our thoughts and words to those of   popular art magazines or perhaps the works of award winning authors we were forced to read in school (ex. Hemingway and Malamud)that leave us tossing our laptops and tablets in disgust at out perceived  lack of literary genius?

Of course we could always make the excuse that we were too busy in our studios to write about our work…

…and maybe that might be partially true…but…

…no matter how much we procrastinate, ultimately we will have to provide some explanation for why we create, even if the real reason is as uncomplicated as “I felt like it!”.

If you are one of a number of artists who subtly fears the writing process, don’t fret over words.

Make them work for you.

Here are some suggestions for cutting through the confusion and getting to the meat of your artistic message.

1) Give A Little History –  Inquiring people are anxious to know how, when and why you became an artist.

Some artists’ route to creativity is traditional while others “fall into” their art practice by first participating in some other activity.

Include this distinction in the course of writing about your work.

If you are an artist which has a background in other fields of expertise and you apply this experience to your art, explain how this adds to your unique approach and perspective.

Artists who have undertaken a more traditional, well-traveled route to their artistic development may want to share what subjects, events etc. that inspired them or that continue to inspire their creations.

2) Write About Your Work Often – Practice removes the “intimidation factor” from your writing.

Sure, it’s a little scary, but then again, if you are still learning, you’re always new at something.

Set aside time in the day or week to write down your thoughts and feelings about your work.

Create a schedule that you know is easy to keep.

3) Write in Small Increments – Sitting yourself down to write for an hour or two can lead to procrastination as you sit there tapping pencil to paper waiting for the words to flow.

 If you know that you freeze when forced with a long, drawn out job, you may want to spread the work out and do things in between writing.

This eases you anxiety and helps you to collect you thoughts.

4) Observe the Writing of Others – 

I think the best way to learn how to write about art is to familiarize yourself with the way fellow professional artists write about their work and the work of others.

When observing articles artist write about other artists, consider these questions:

 a) Do they include background information about the artist before describing what they do?

 b) Do they include where the artist lives and works, their specialty (photography, painting, sculpture, installation etc.?

 c) Do they mention the artists level of education, awards and experience?

 d) Do they mention what is unique about the artists’ work?

Once you learn to break down art articles into bits of information, the easier and less intimidating it will be to write about your own.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you study the artist statements of others:

1) What is their work about?

2) What is their particular discipline (photography, painting, sculpture, installation etc.)?

3) Why do they create their work?

4) What are they trying to say with their work?

As you read their statements make sure to answer the questions mentioned above.

When you are finished you will have a rough map of the type of information that you will need to include in your own statement.

You can learn to write about your own art, or defer to others who may or may not truly understand your vision.

Be pro-active; don’t let the meaning of your art get lost in translation.

I am hopeful that over time, you will continue to grow and improve your communication with your audience.