Category Archives: Art Technology

Art Tech-OH NO

Technology is an amazing resource, but it doesn’t always work they way we expect it to work. Perhaps the greatest downside to using technology with any frequency is the major problems that can happen when it fails.

It seems this has been my week for experiencing technology failures of all different sorts, especially when it comes to social media. I have had problems with Facebook and Twitter. My laptop seems to not want to open certain program. As I was writing this post my Internet even went out. Hopefully, this will be the end of my technology problems for a while.

Sometimes it can be extremely frustrating, but it’s important to attempt to keep a cool head when dealing with technology. The point of this blog is to promote the use of technology among artists, but to use it comfortably it’s good to be aware of common problems. I have three general suggestions that can save you a lot of time and stress.

Save and back up your work.

We have all heard this many, many, many, many times.

When working in programs, such as Word or Photoshop, saving your work frequently will save the hassle and headache if you experience a computer crash or power failure. I suggest that at the very least you save documents every twenty minutes. Luckily, Microsoft, and many other products, have really improved their auto-save features in the last few years.


Backing up
your computers
is the second part of securing your files. I have been a victim of a hard drive crash and I hadn’t backed up my files in a while. I lost hundreds of pictures and four years of college work. I suggest that every time you create important files you back up your computer. If you have to set up a calendar appointment to back up your computer on a schedule that makes sense to you.

Take a deep breath.

I suggest taking a deep breath because often times after a few minutes things will get better. Sometimes when technology is given a break it will start to work again. While there are some who will tell you to turn something off and turn it back on to make it work, it can really just be based on time. Especially when working with websites sometimes they experience glitches and given some time the problem will resolve itself.

Report the problem.

Telling someone will not only alleviate some of your frustration, but by telling the right people you might get a solution. There is always someone who will at least have some idea how to help your problem, or share a technology failure story, because misery loves company. If you are dealing with a website or product let the company with the problem know. You can’t expect people to fix things if they don’t know they have a problem.

If you are smart about your approach to technology you can save yourself a whole lot of trouble.

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Emailing for the Arts

Staying in contact is a constant struggle for artists, art museums and galleries. The need to inform and invite people is great, but the knowledge of how to do so is not always as strong. In the world of art having the tangible postcard invite is great because many still see postcards as a work of art or keepsake, but many people still yearn for an electronic version.  With emails you can reach an international audience.

With email marketing a person can send emails directly to interested parties and track if there is a return of investment from the individual email. According to one email marketing company, Stream Send, there is an average ROI of $43 for every $1 spent. Many companies provide templates that the user can insert their information into with relative ease. The emails can be somewhat simple or elaborate.

Advantages

  • You can find a company to handle the technical aspects fairly easily, for relatively cheap. With the costs of printing and postage, sending an email can be a much more cost effective method.
  • If you’re environmentally conscious you don’t have to worry about wasting paper to create your announcements.
  • Most people who use the Internet regularly check their email daily.
  • As opposed to sending the same email to everyone you can categorize your audience and send more specific and targeted emails.
  • Many email marketing companies offer great help and resources to help create great emails and if there are any problems.
  • Emails are immediate. People can read the email almost as soon as you send it, and they can respond just as quickly. Immediate action can be a great resource.

Disadvantages

  • Having an email interpreted as spam is perhaps considered the biggest disadvantage. It is important that you let the consumer opt in to receiving your emails; otherwise you could be spamming them.  Spamming can carry some hefty consequences. You could be kicked off your email marketing service or forced to pay a fine.  The FTC has created an easy to read resource about the CAN-SPAM Act.
  • People are going to be viewing your emails on different systems. The amount of time it takes for your images to load or if they don’t load can be detrimental. I have a bad habit of glancing through my emails on my Droid and if the email doesn’t load properly I often don’t receive the information. As mobile phones become more popular be prepared to create a mobile version of the email.
  • If you send too many emails you can run the risk of the recipient ignoring your email. There is no set guideline for how often you should email your audience, but make sure that people aren’t bombarded.

Leading Companies Dealing with Email Marketing
This list was compiled using Google search for “email marketing”. While many of these have paid to have sponsored ads at the top of the results, these were the leaders of the organic search.

  • Constant Contact: Considered by many as the leader in email marketing. They have extensive resources and support. Their blog offers many helpful tips on how to get your emails noticed and encourage response. Their lowest package (0-500 email addresses) costs $15/month.
  • Vertical Response: One thing that I think is great about Vertical Response is the option to also send postcards. They offer pay as you go plans. Their lowest monthly package (0-500 email addresses) costs $10/month.
  • Benchmark Email: They have one of the leading deliverance rates and great clientele, such as Hyatt, YMCA, Mercedes-Benz and Unicef. With Benchmark Email you can opt to pay per email sent or by how many addresses receive emails. Their lowest list package (0-1,000 email addresses) costs $18.95/month and their lowest email cost (600 emails) is $9.95/month.

Many companies are going to email marketing and the individual can as well. Email marketing is great for small business because of the ease in which the emails can be created. The most important part about deciding whether or not email marketing is good for you is to know your audience.

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Leonardo Meets Mario: Are Video Games Art?

Katamari Damacy

Screen capture from Google Image Search of one of my favorite video games, Katamari Damacy.

I am not a video gamer. I don’t think I have the particular patience and hand/eye coordination to be good at typical video games. Games that use Nintendo Wii, Playstation Move and XBOX Kinnect are the only ones I can even be remotely good at. Aside from the motion activated games the only other video games I have played with any regularity are Pokemon (in 5th grade), Rockband/Guitar Hero,  Katamari Damacy and Peggle.

All this doesn’t mean that I have not tried or watched my fair share of video games.  I have spent countless hours watching Legend of Zelda, Starcraft II and the Call of Duty series being played. I’ve even attempted to play them.  We’ll just consider those attempts at failure.  I really didn’t know video games could be beat until a few years ago because I never had the passion to play them through the end.

However, I definitely agree with the millions of people who consider video games art. I disagree with Robert Ebert when he said “video games can never be art.” I could easily pull apart Ebert’s blog post about why video games are not art. It would be fairly easy, in part because I feel he has a very singular and narrow minded view of art. I find it hard for him to criticize video games as art when he is a major player in the world of cinema.

I would agree that the physical act of playing a video game is not art, but more a skill. Still, people could argue that there is art in the act of playing a video game. Think Jackson Pollock, his art wasn’t about what ended up on the canvas, but how it ended up on the canvas.

Look at the credits and you will see that every video game has a lead art designer.  If  for no other reason, I would be willing to consider video games art based upon the planning stages and illustrations for characters. These are just as much art as any other type of illustration. People can even attend colleges, especially art colleges, to major and study about video games.  In these programs students learn how to create the images we see from their own imagination. They have to draw, digitally render and animate the characters and background.  They have to program dialogue and actions. In the end they have to market and produce the final product.

There is the story, the graphics and the overall experience of the gamer.  Anyone can make another Mario, Zelda or God of War game, however, to make these games different and more appealing to the consumers they have to be aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and imagination. No gamer wants to sit and play a game for hours on end that has the same backgrounds, enemies and effects from level to level. They want to experience something new and different as they progress through the worlds. The more art-oriented and detailed the more the game sparks the imagination of the gamer and pulls them in.

If video games weren’t art, why do people put so much work into what they look like?

If you are still not convinced video games are art check out these video games:

Thanks to all my video game friends who have helped with the examples and led me in certain directions and opinions.

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