Sunday, December 4, 2011

Artists Market Online Review - What the Heck?

Have you guys used the Artist's Market Online? What's your impression? I signed up for it, got access, and it's... well, underwhelming.

I'm curious about other people's reviews, so please post a comment if you've used it now or in the past.  It's so sparse and under-functional that I'm wondering if maybe I just totally missed the point. I mean, a site like this can't possibly exist in 2011/2012, right?

The Artist's Market has been around since 1975, providing a list of all sorts of places that buy artwork from magazines to greeting cards to product designers. I've got 6 or 7 of these from the last 20 years in paperback form.  It's published by F+W Media, the same people who bring you North Light Books, Wet Canvas, HOW and The Artist's Magazine... In other words they've been in the business forever, so I would assume this would be the go-to marketplace for illustration/arts markets.

Actually, I'm afraid to use it, which is why I was hoping you guys would chime in. Has anyone gotten a good contact from there that resulted in a job? It appears to be simply a database that spits out the same listings you would find in the book. It doesn't have the sort of robust functionality and marketing tools I would expect from such a heavy offline resource, such a huge publishing consortium.

Here are my issues/concerns/observations:
  1. You can upload "portfolio" images (up to 5 per named portfolio, like folders). This suggests you're creating a marketing space, but the photos are it - no contact info, bio, resume, space for impressive blah blah blah...
  2. You can save contacts while browsing listings. But you can't contact them directly from the listings. I mean, you can grab their name and email them with a nice cover letter etc, but you can't send them back to your portfolio inside the site.
  3. If you save the contacts from the listings, you can go back to your portfolio and send them one of your portfolios.... But without a cover letter or the other things that make industry contacts polite and occasionally successful.
  4. You can't page to the "next" entry. You have to hit your back button and pick the next one. (To me, evidence of shoddy programming).
  5. You can't see a giant exportable list of all your contacts.
  6. The listings really, really don't seem complete. I suspect the database isn't being properly queried, or the entries were made too specific. Are there really only 60 artists reps? Only 260 magazines?

I'm not sending anybody my work from inside this site if I can't see that it looks professional and nice.

I really get the feeling this is a half-assed attempt to get digital, with all the monthly or yearly subscriptions that come with that, with little to no thought about usability or product development.  It seems like the programming was ported over from another site, because sometimes the page titles sound like they might be from a writing site. Oh come on.

I read the FAQ, hoping there would be a "How to use this site" entry to help me figure out whether I was just missing some subtly awesome functionality. There isn't. In fact the fonts aren't even consistent from question to question. (Seriously! Is this 1998?)

So, please, please - if you had an awesome experience with this, please let me know. Otherwise I want my $19.99 back and I hope everyone else just avoids it.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Work in Progress - Deer Skull

I'm curating a show here, The Food Show, featuring new works of mine and new works by Brian Busch. It opens Nov 20 at 33 W New York St, Aurora, IL.

Being a jovial sort of duo, Brian and I decided that "food" could be broadly interpreted.  That should be fun, yes?

Here's a few WIP shots of one of the first pieces, "Deer Skull," 12 x 18. More to come! :-)

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

I do not like cleaning paintbrushes! You may have noticed I use really, really cheap brushes, and I have hundreds of them. This way I can clean them about every 8 weeks. But then I have to restore the damaged ones. No problem! Here's a video about how to restore damaged brushes. By the way, many thanks to Philip Hone Williams for the tip, a couple years, it has served me well!

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Monday, October 17, 2011

How I Make A Painting Video

By request, I made a video about how I make painting videos. I've upgraded to an HD camera, so the new videos will be better and more detailed than previous ones, but the general set-up is the same.

Coming soon! New, longer, hi-def painting instruction for streaming. Stay tuned. Everybody who has previously downloaded a video will get a special discount too. :-)  Thanks to those of you who wrote asking for more videos - they're coming.

Software: Windows MovieMaker. Hardware: JVC GR-D30 hd camcorder, Flip HD video recorder, Sony Cybershot 7.2 Mp, a bunchload of lights.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

How To Record Music and Video In Your Living Room (For Free)

An artist wrote me this morning to say he liked the music videos, how did I record the music and then sync it up?  I wrote back this long email, and so I figured while I was in the mood to type, I would offer the explanation here also.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a musician! I am sure that my amateur mixes make sound engineers everywhere shudder with horror. But, I've learned a lot and each one gets better than the last. Plus, I spent NO MONEY on this. It was free, though that was partly because I already had some stuff lying around.

So here's the email I wrote to my buddy, expanded and clarified a little, which has to do most pertinently with this video:

I'm glad you like the videos. It's actually not very hard to do the schlocky living room setup I'm doing and then mix like an amateur. And I've gotten a couple folks who've asked to produce more professional sound for me from it so it seems worth it.
I had bought a toneport ux-1 about 5 years ago and a crappy mic, a Shure bg-31. So I just had that lying around. It's no longer made, but the equivalent is called a Line6 Pod. You can plug a mic or instrument cable into the toneport, and it connects to my mac via usb. I use the mic for voice, the drums etc, and plug the ukulele and bass in directly via cable. That goes into Gearbox on the mac (it's a program that works like an amp) and then into Garageband which came installed on the mac. Garageband lets me add track after track in layers, moosh them around, re-record pieces instead of having to play perfect straight through.... etc. 
While I'm recording I also use the webcam on my Mac and record video into iMovie, which also came preinstalled on the mac. I made a video about how to cut together all the videos here:  The whole process takes me about 10-15 hours: laying down each track, mixing, editing together the video.  Used to take about 6 hours when I was only recording 1 track, and that's mostly because I am a terrible musican and had to have like 30 takes.
My friend Kevin Trudo does a similar thing using a camcorder firewired into a PC. MovieMaker 2.6 on the PC (NOT Moviemaker Works, which is a crap program, but you can always find the 2.6 free download online and load it concurrently.) He uses a pro recorder, just this digital thing (Samsung Zoom) with 2 mics on top that gets really nice sound: Read a review on CNET here.
To get video that isn't in the 15 feet my mac's camcorder can see, I use either the camcorder setting on my digital camera and then import that video, or the Flip video camera we have lying around.  That's how I got the video of Lulu climbing the doorway for the Don't Worry Be Happy video.
On my pc, MovieMaker will export into HD. On the Mac, I don't have that option (iMovie '08) which is sort of a bummer.  That's a future upgrade.
I could go higher quality on the videos or the sound, but this is convenient and I actually spent no money on it at all. None. I figured since I didn't know anything about it that I wouldn't even know what to invest in. It does all right. Though I think I will be looking into a condensor mic - I don't like the sound my mic gets.
I hope that helps! I know you already have superior equipment around - you should get some stellar results.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

How to Make a Grid for Drawing or Painting Without Lines

Grids are so useful for laying out an underdrawing, but they have the unfortunate side effect of being, well... grids. Especially with works on paper, trying to erase a grid creates a whole new set of problems - incompletely erased lines and altered paper surface spring to mind.

Here's a method I use to get a removable grid onto the paper without using a projector. I was doing this today for a portrait, so I thought I'd put up a quick demo... Ever use this? Got other methods? Please leave a comment.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Alla Prima Demo - Orchids in a Pot

A new oil painting demo with orchids in a pot. 6 x 6, oil on panel. The challenge of very small flowers alla prima and a convincing lightfall was really interesting.

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