Tuesday, July 24, 2012

And then it got very quiet and peaceful, downright civilized.

So. . .  we're not famous enough to have to institute an email blacklist yet. Not that we ever set out to be famous, but we did discover a while back that getting enough business involves getting noticed enough statistically to secure sales. Any shyness we had needed to go away or at least be dealt with. One of our outreach tools was Youtube ( more on that in just a minute ).

The update on my angry little troll is that he made another squeeky angry sound at me so I reported him to his ISP and to his domain registry for "cyber-harassment" and I may have taken some further steps to try to make sure that anyone else he's harassing can figure out who he is, where he lives, and how to reach him by telephone should they need to file a police report. Yep, a police report. Harassing isn't legal, it pretty much falls under "stalker" laws. In this particular case we're talking about a guy who setup a domain name and email for the sole purpose of hurting people, and like I said in a previous post, he's been at it for years.

Update: However, even in trying to do good, sometimes mistakes get made. Not every bit of information can be verified, and sometimes despite all best intentions, things go wrong. I'll still try to do the right thing if I see or experience bullying, but the fact is, if somebody is determined to do wrong and then hide under a rock-- it may not always be that easy to find which slimy little rock they're hiding under.

Youtube just instituted a new policy: they're asking people to use their real names. They aren't requiring it yet, but I think they should. This quote pretty much says it all, "95 percent of comments still contain either a racial slur, a sexist tirade, is totally incomprehensible, or some combination of those,"--Leslie Horn of Gizmodo. Because basically, if you create and foster "troll heaven", you're responsible for the outcome, and the outcome in this case is disgusting and harmful.

Anybody seen the Saturday Night Live take on this?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Photographing Talia Lupita Azul in Chico at The Naked Lounge

Images from a recent photo shoot here in Chico, CA at a cafe called "The Naked Lounge". These were all shot in available light in the course of one hour. The model's name is Talia Lupita Azul. She's a joy to work with, really conveys a lot of subtle emotion and presence.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Presenting your art like you mean it

Presentation, presentation, presentation. In Real Estate they say the three principles are location, location, location. I'm pretty much saying the same thing. The idea being that it is where it is and you're stuck with that. Would you rather have the best house in the worst neighborhood, or the worst house in the best neighborhood? You want the worst house in the best neighborhood if you were forced to choose. You can't change the neighborhood ( not very easily, anyway) but you can always fix up the house. And the fact is that most of all what defines the value of real estate is less what it is and more where it is. Similarly I've found that if your art is in a high end gallery, you're going to do better with it than if it's hanging in a run-down coffeehouse. Same art, different location and inherently better presentation will help to equal either more sales or sales at a higher price.

Don't get me wrong, I like run down coffee houses. But then I'm not currently an art buyer. If the run down coffee house is what you have access to, at least try to make sure that you have your work nicely matted and framed and well lit. You may or may not sell anything, but you will have made a start and that's important too. I think the most important thing when considering where to hang your stuff is to get an idea who the clientele is. Maybe the run down coffee house is frequented by a clientele who can actually afford to buy your art--- like, if it's near a University, you never know, an administrator or a tenured professor with a few bucks stashed away might take a liking and buy a piece. In that case it's also pretty important to make sure that everything is decently labeled and priced. You may or may not decide to say much about each piece, but if you leave out the words aspect of presentation, make sure it's a very deliberate choice. In the very least say something about yourself even if you don't care to define each individual piece. This may just be my preference, but my artist statement will probably include a nice photo of myself, and I will at least look approachable, friendly. If your coffee house is frequented by doctors, lawyers and other professionals that's good too. The people who buy your art have to have the money to buy your art. There's no getting around that.

If your run down coffee-house is frequented only by college or high school students, don't expect to sell anything unless you're selling whatever is currently popular amongst that age group by way of a large poster for about 6 bucks. I don't in any way claim to know what's popular with people 30 years younger than me. I'm pretty sure a lot of 20 somethings are spending their life savings on tattoos. In fact I know of a few younger artists who are concentrating their efforts on tattoos because at least they can get paid that way.

When we spent a couple of months in Santa Fe, we asked every single gallery owner about the marketing of art. We thought they'd all have the same things to say about what worked. Well they didn't. There was a surprising amount of variation, but one of the common threads was all about presentation. All these galleries were in the known gallery districts of Santa Fe. The prime locations were the most accessible locations: like right on the plaza, or on the lower to the middle part of Canyon Road.  Santa Fe, New Mexico is within the top three art markets in the country. Even at that, there are galleries going bust. If you're in all alleyway off Canyon Road, that might be enough to drive you out. If you're the last gallery at the top of the road, that could be a problem too because the road is on a slight incline. It's walkable but the altitude of the town is over 7000 feet. A lot of art buyers are elderly. Many of them are from sea-level climates and are just visiting, they aren't acclimated and they never will be. They can't buy your art if they're about to pass out getting to it.
So. . .  rather than try to detail or compile what all the gallery owners imparted to us ( it would be impossible, there were too many contradictions ) I'm just giving an example or two to show the common sense of it all. Selling art is like selling anything. The presentation includes the location, the lighting, the overall atmosphere, the access to "qualified" buyers and so on.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Craigslist works great for some things, not for others.

When I lived in Santa Cruz I was using Craigslist to advertise our spiritual counseling and healing practice, my photography business as a photographer for hire, and separately to promote my art photography and Sheryl's art as well. I even used Craigslist to promote Sheryl's Mamalove Perfume business. It being the Bay Area, Craigslist had a wide reach. We also used some print ads to promote the spiritual healing work, but never to promote the art and photography. I'm not sure why that is, probably it was just a matter of having a budget. Plus, Sheryl and I primarily got together to do the spiritual healing and counseling even though the arts and literature ( and music too, and in my case, film ) were a big part of our lives.

Well things change. We moved around a bit. Eventually we settled in Chico, California. Craigslist itself has gone through a few changes too, and some of the stuff like the healing practice isn't so easy to promote there, but at least the "Therapeutic Services" section is no longer as inundated with sex ads. In any case, here in Chico I tried to utilize Craigslist to promote a host of things over the course of a year and nothing happened. Pretty much nothing. Possibly, absolutely nothing. It can be hard to track, but I am relatively sure that I got nearly zero response until I decided to sell an old bicycle for cheap, then some old bike parts, then a used microwave. Those ads drew overnight and enthusiastic responses. Bing, bang, boom; I actually made money. I had not made money on any other ad, diligently posted and re-posted over the course of a year. Hmm.

Craigslist is for locals, it's supposed to help locals at buying and selling goods and services-- all kinds of goods and services. In the Bay Area, we got some response, not overwhelming, but something. Here, we get nothing. And I don't just mean people aren't buying, I mean people are barely even looking. I have decent enough tracking to know that. Further the pattern is to see similar ads, like for photography services or even spiritual counseling-- to note that they crop up from time to time and then quickly disappear. That's what I saw. That means it's not working for them either. If the ads worked, they'd re-up them. We've moved around enough to discover that it's not the same Craigslist everywhere you go. Bizarrely, it's not the same Google either, but I may write about that another time. I think the first key is to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of a specific medium of communication, but the real lynch-pin, the anchor is to be willing to accept what you see, to act on that and to move onward, onward and upward.