Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Using Weebly to build your own FREE website...

Here is a slideshow of some of the new jewelry I've recently added to my Art Play Today Shop.  I've been using Weebly to build my website and the best part is...It's Free!!!  I've attempted many websites before and Weebly is by far the best.  As long as you have a PayPal account (which is also free) you can set up your own store on your Weebly website.  If you want to have your own original domain name, you can buy yours very inexpensively at GoDaddy.Com.  It's very easy then to have your website name match your blog name or whatever unique name you come up with.  To build your own website it's as easy as "drag and drop".  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Artists on Facebook: Your Opinion?

This is me,  Kristen Watts.  I figured you might want a face to go with Art Play Today.

After receiving a somewhat negative comment on a post I made about using social media to promote your artwork I have been thinking about it nonstop and would really value your opinion.  Here is the comment left by "Spinning Down Under":

More time on FB = less time creating and less time for real life and real time networking with people who can help you. Simple really. The world of FB is an illusion,smoke and mirrors, and if you post anything on FB it becomes their property - so much for tutorials you post and encouraging others to post photos of their work! Give it a little more time and it will be as passe as last weeks newspaper.Your time is better spent ensuring your blog, website, and etsy shop are high up in the search engines search results . THAT is what drives people (as in paying customers and serious followers) to find you; these are people who are interested in more than simply collecting "names" as friends in fake popularity stakes.But then I'm bucking the trend and prefer owning my own work, not donating the rights to it to a feral and uncontrollable internet site that may just be reluctant to let me have it back. And I'm fussy about my friendships, and paranoid about computer security. FB isn't.Depends if you are satisfied with 15 minutes of transient FB fame, or prefer to be taken seriously. And remembered.
When I first read this I felt a little offended by it, but I've chosen not to take it personally and to learn from her opinion.  I've done a lot of research that I wouldn't have done if not for this comment and I learned a lot in the process.  I appreciate all points of view, because without being open-minded I would never get anywhere or grow as a person and an artist.

In response to how facebook and many other sites may use the content that we upload....I'm not too worried about it, but this doesn't mean I (or my art) won't be taken seriously.  If someone really wants to use your images from your facebook, etsy, flickr, artfire....or any other place you upload your images....THEY WILL FIND A WAY.  Someone can just as easily take an image from Etsy, as they can from Facebook.  It's fairly easy to get around a watermark etcetera.  My point being that I don't see Facebook running a behind the scenes print shop and selling my art or anyone elses as their ultimate evil  corporate scheme.  If my artwork is used by someone other than myself I of course expect the courtesy of giving credit to me as the artist and a link to my site (which I may or may not get)....But in the grand picture, I feel it's useless and unhealthy to be paranoid.

I don't know....maybe I'm to optimistic....but that's something that I like about myself.  I choose to be positive, to share what I know, to encourage other artists to create.  I'm not afraid of someone stealing my style or technique...because frankly we and our works are either directly or indirectly inspired by others.  Sharing makes me happy, so if someone wants to use my images I will just take it as a compliment and move on.  Of course I want to be taken seriously as an artist....But I think using Facebook and other social media will have more positive effects on my art business than the reverse.

Every artist must decide for themselves what they are comfortable with, and every artist must take responsibility for educating themselves as well.  I've done my research and feel comfortable with my decisions thus far.

There is something to be said, however, about protecting yourself as much as you can.  For example, when you upload images for use on the web, you should use low resolution (72dpi) images that are not fit for print.  If you use facebook, you should really read their terms and if you don't understand them, do some research on what the language means.  You should also look at your privacy settings and set them according to your comfort level.

Thank you to "Spinning Down Under" for the thought provoking response to my blog post, and I encourage all of you to express your opinions, whether they align with mine or not! We can all learn from each other!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Paintstik Portraits, by Lauren Vlcek: a link

I just wanted to pass this link on to any of you who might be interested in experimenting with the Shiva Paintstiks.  It's a pictorial tutorial showing how to paint a face with these great little oil paintstiks.

Have Fun!

Fabulous Faces with Shiva Paintstiks

Experimenting with Shiva Paint Stiks

I have been experimenting  with Shiva Paint Stiks today.  I had heard that they are an amazing medium.  I found them to be pretty awesome myself.  They are smooth and creamy and blend flawlessly together.  The only drawback that I found, at least for myself, is that you need to let them dry for at least 24 hours before layering over the top with other mediums.  As impatient as I am, I think they might just be worth it!  I haven't finished these obviously....but here is what I've done with them so far.

These are done on Bristol Vellum, because that's what was close at hand at the time.  I used three colors all together, Antique White, Beige and Dusty Rose.  I smooshed them around with my fingers and in the smaller areas, used a small brush.  I'm pretty happy with how these perform, so I think I'm going to experiment some more!

A Great Article about the Pitfalls of Vanity Galleries...

If my post about Vanity Galleries peaked your interest and you want to know even more about them, check out this great article by Renee Phillips.  Renee is an art marketing consultant, career coach and author of several books.  How cool is it that she visited my blog and facebook page!!!  Check out her article, "Vanity Galleries: Pay to Play at your own Risk" by clicking HERE.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

All about Packing and Shipping your Art Work: Techniques, Materials, Resources...

If your in the business of selling your art, than you'll find this article all about packing and shipping artwork very informative and useful.  The author, Mona Majorowicz, owns and operates the Wild Face Gallery and has over 20 years of experience in the art and framing industry.  She covers every detail possible in this article all about packing and shipping your art so it gets to it's destination in pristine condition.  In addition she gives resources on where to get the best deal on your shipping supplies.  Here is the link to her article: 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Valuable Lesson I Learned Today: Vanity Galleries

Today I was contacted through my Art Play Today Webpage by a gallery in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  Initially I was flattered, until I did some research and found out this particular gallery wants their artists to pay a fee upfront to be exhibited in the gallery.
These types of galleries are called "Vanity" galleries...Here is the Wikipedia blurb on the difference between the commercial art galleries (that we all strive to show in) and the "Vanity" gallery...
"Commercial art galleries derive their profit from sales of artwork, and thus take great care to select art and artists that they believe will sell, and will enhance their gallery's reputation. They spend time and money cultivating collectors. If the artwork sells, the gallery makes a profit and the artist is then paid.
Vanity galleries have no incentive to sell art, as they have already been paid by the artist. Vanity galleries are not selective because they don't have to be. Many professional artists recommend new artists avoid exhibiting work in them, primarily because professional critics and reviewers tend to avoid them."
So I've learned a new and valuable lesson today!  Always question things that don't sit right in your gut!  I really wanted to believe that I was being solicited by a respectful gallery.  But galleries don't usually solicit the artist, it's usually the other way around.  I guess "Vanity" gallery really fits the bill, as they immediately play on your vanity! 
I'm glad this happened to me, and hope that you can learn from my experience as well.  Most artists like myself don't have money to burn...and I wouldn't want any of you to get burned by this type of solicitation!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Get Connected using Social Networking: Why it's important in promoting your art/business

"I don’t have time for social media. Twitter is a waste of time. Facebook is for college kids. These are statements I see repeatedly on forums populated by artists, crafters, and creative entrepreneurs. Every time I see these posts, I cringe. One, I see myself in those rebels against social media, because I used to think the same things. Two, I’ve realized how powerful social media can be for your business, and that it’s NOT going anywhere. Either jump on board or get left behind." 

I've been scouring the internet looking for some useful information that I think will pertain to most of you who are trying to go from "hobbyist" to "entrepreneur" (selling your art work).  After starting this blog and creating a facebook page for Art Play Today  I am convinced of the power of social networking.  As much as I've been fighting the idea, I'm even considering opening a twitter account after reading this great FREE E-Book,  9 Creative Women Share Secrets to Succeeding With Social Media.

This E-book contains a wealth of information on how to use blogging, facebook, twitter, flickr, newsletters etc...to promote yourself and what you have to offer the community that follows you.

I don't know about you, but I see a bright future ahead for me and using social media to build relationships will be an integral part of my journey to success.

What do you think?  Do you use any social media networks?  If so, which are your favorites.  Do you have any tips of your own you'd like to share?  If you find this post interesting, are there any other topics of interest you'd like to see more of at Art Play Today?  Share your thoughts!

Friday, July 1, 2011

How to post a Badge to your sidebar on your blog: a quick tutorial...

create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!
Copy this code to your website to display this banner!

This is one of the badges I made for my Art Play Today Blog.  It was a no brainer! I went to a great little website called MyBannermaker.com.  Making a badge at this website was a lot of fun.  First you can choose your size of banner, badge or button you want to make, then you upload your image (as a background), or you can just choose a color or gradient).  Next you type in your text and they have some really nice fonts to choose from.  You can position your text wherever you want it  and you can also add special effects, such as glitter, blinking text, color overlays, black and white etc....The last step is to type the URL that you want your banner to link to and save it.  You can then copy the html code for your new badge, or download it to your computer.

For my blog badge I chose to have the html code show in a box below it. This is so followers like you can copy the code and paste it into their own blog sidebar.  If someone pastes my badge on their blog I (and most other bloggers) will most likely reciprocate and post your badge to my blog as well!)

Why have a badge you ask?  An attractive badge will send more traffic to your site, allowing others who share your interests to check out your blog!  I know for myself, when I see a cool badge (I'm always attracted to the image) I want to see more of that persons work, so I click on it and find great blogs, make new friends and discover fun tutorials, techniques, tips and advice!

To put someone else's badge (like mine, hint, hint...) on your blog you simply copy the html code in the box below the badge and then, in your blog you click Design, Add a Gadget, select the HTML/Java Script Gadget and in the Content Box paste the code and save!  That's it!  Easy Peezy!

Here is another example of a badge I made today, while refreshing my memory on how it is done!

Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!
Copy this code to your website to display this banner!

The only downside to using this website is that you can't remove their link at the bottom, but that's fine by me!

Let me know if you'd like to exchange badges at any time!  I'd be happy to!