Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I wrote a while back about "Kickstarter." What I did not know at the time I wrote that post, was that it is part of a movement called Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding can be a successful online fundraising strategy if you are willing to put in the start-up time, have a reasonably large social network who you are not afraid to ask to donate to your project.

There is lots of information on this phenomena online and there are many resources besides the Kickstarter site that I have already mentioned.

IndieGoGo is another site. It is different from Kickstarter in that there is no deadline for funding and you can keep what you raise even if you do not raise all you need. This allows you to fund a project in stages or to adapt a project to available funding.

Cheesy Self-Indulgence

I have cable yet watch only a couple of programs once in a while on PBS and BC's Knowledge Network. I always wonder why I pay so much for something I rarely use, so I am happy to read that Downton Abbey is coming back on TV for many more episodes, and that Sarah Jessica Parker's reality series "Work of Art" is coming back. It is a cheezy reality show, but at least it is about creativity and interesting people. I am a Work of Art junkie when it airs.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Unique Artist Fundraising Strategy

Ceramic artist, Joseph Sands ran out of money building his studio and retail outlet before he built his kiln, he came up with a novel way of raising the money without incurring debt. He pre-sold certificates that were redeemable for finished products at the sales events of his studio. He raised all the money he needed quickly and built up a considerable client base. It is a clever way to raise funds that can be applied to many practices with a little creative thought.

Joseph Sand: We offered certificates in increments of $50 to purchase bricks for the new kiln. This money helped us buy the supplies needed to build the kiln, and the return for the investor was that these certificates could be redeemed for their full value at the first kiln opening sale, or at any future kiln sale.

Investors were also given an invitation to a special pre-sale of pots from the first kiln opening, giving them the opportunity to view and to purchase pots before the general public. We figured that it would be a win-win situation for all involved.

The campaign lasted approximately six months and ended about two months before the first sale so that we could make sure that all investors received their certificates.

Once the investors sent us money, we printed an official certificate and mailed it to them. We kept everyone informed of our progress through email, on Facebook, and on the website. About three weeks before the first kiln opening, we mailed out a special invitation for the sale.

Read the article in Ceramic Arts Daily. And thanks to "Erin M." for the tip.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Brazenness of Copyright Thiefs

Above (minus the watermark) is an image that artist illustrator Nathália Suellen created. The publisher, Harper Collins, requested to use it for their book "Bewitching," but Suellen told them that she had sold it already to another publisher for another book. Below, is the book that licensed her image.

Undaunted, Harper Collins decided to re-create Suellen's image in brazen defiance of the principles of copyright. The way corporations such as Disney use copyright law to protect their properties can be unreasonably harsh, but conscious corporate ripping off of creative work in is even more revolting. Below is the Harper Collins cover they created.

It is very sad for me to say that I have been copyright abused in as flagrant an example, and when lawyers representing my and the company that licensed my work sent the abuser a letter advising them to stop their practice, they threatened to sue our lawyer and us with a libel suit for suggesting that they were thieves. We won, but the immorality of the corporate thief was a horrible wake-up call to the capability of corporations.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Why Do Artist Websites Suck So Much?

The title of this post was taken of Andrew Sullivan's blog today (more on that later). Jesse Ford, the creative director of a New-York based design firm, feels much as the same as the programmer Andrew quotes. Here's a quote from Ford (who is focusing his firm's marketing on artists):

“As an artist myself, I am very upset by the uniformly poor quality of art on the internet”, said Josse Ford, Creative Director at BWA. “ Artists invest huge amounts of time and energy in their work and they need to take much more care in how they display it. This is particularly true now because more and more galleries and collectors are looking to the worldwide web in selecting and reviewing art purchases. Our aim at Beautiful Websites For Artists is to showcase each artist’s work as if it was in a museum or high-end commercial gallery.”

While many good artist websites do exist, the sad fact is that most art is displayed on websites that look cheap and folksy or are so generic that none of the personality of the artist shines through. “Beautiful Websites For Artists” addresses this need by providing cost-effective website design and consulting services specifically geared to the needs of artists.

“Arts professionals want to see that the art looks great, but they also want to get a feel for who the artist is,” commented Daniel Tardent, responsible for new business at BWA. “A well executed website will never replace a physical meeting with a collector, but it can be the key factor that sets the meeting up – and the value of that is priceless. You just can’t get that from any old designer – they have to understand artists and the art industry”

The text on the grey background, below, is taken from Andrew Sullivan's wonderful, award-winning, widely-red blog, The Dish. I am a huge fan of this ex-Brit who now lives in the USA. This is one person's point of view about artist websites, but an interesting one!

From my perspective, as a web programmer, if you really want to see some reliably lousy websites, then look no further than those that artists (painters, sculptors and the like) put up for themselves. They may not have the "discoey" music gaudiness of some restaurant websites, but as far as everything one shouldn't do when making a website goes, they hit all the major notes:

Using a 10 different fonts on one web page? Check.

Having a bunch of broken links on the front page? Check.

Gaudy color schemes (you know, because the website is an "extension of their work")? Check.

Uploading image files that are way too large, thereby causing any visitor to the website to have to wait ten minutes for a page to come up because each work sample is 4 megabytes? Check.

Updating the website once every six years? Check.

Putting their personal Hotmail address on the front page of the website, thereby contributing to the world-wide junk mail scourge (and not to mention making themselves look like a hack)? Check.

Forgetting to pay their web hosting fees, so that half the time their website is "down for maintenance"? Check.

Oh, and this might be the worst ... taking their visitors' emails and including them in large, un-blind-copied show announcement emails? Great big check.

The list goes on, but aside from the bad aesthetic and bad internet manners, they're lousy as customers - a lot of micro-managing, obsessive-compulsive attention to every unimportant detail (I had a woman once call me and complain that a line break was 2 millimeters lower than where it should have been ... she was holding a ruler up to her computer screen), fickleness, and of course the lack of ability to pay for any of the work they've just demanded too much of your time for.

I learned these lessons long ago and don't service many artists anymore. Unless they pay in advance and have a day job.