Category Archives: Art

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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Goodbye Red-Yellow-Blue as Primary Colors: Adding and Subtracting for Artists

Long ago, back in elementary school, we were all taught red, yellow and blue were the primary colors. From there you could make secondary colors and pretty much every other color you could want. Except white and technically black (but as everyone knows you can make a color close enough if you mix enough colors).

Also in elementary school we learned about adding and subtracting, two things that many artists have nightmares about. When you put the two together you get something a little confusing and a lot important: additive and subtractive color methods.

WARNING: This is not a comprehensive examination of color theory, but an overview to help those who thought there was only one way of mixing colors. Color theory is based upon wavelengths and a spectrum. How we perceive colors depends on our retinas and our brain.

ANOTHER WARNING: The names of the different methods are somewhat confusing. I have them typically reversed in my mind.

Subtractive Color Method: Ending in Black

Subtractive Color

Subtractive Color Chart Image provided by Google Image Search.

I’m going to start with the subtractive color method because this is what most people, including artists (except those using computers) are most familiar with. Painters and printers are very familiar with this method, where in theory an artist starts with white and adds colors until the get the desired result, or black. So, subtractive color method starts with white light and colors are present to absorb and subtract wavelengths to give the object or paint a certain appearance.

When it comes to painting many artists still start with red, yellow and blue as the primary colors; however, printers start with what we call CMYK. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black are used when using layers typical to a printing process. Yes, black is represented by the letter K to help avoid confusion with blue.

Additive Color Method: Ending in White

Additive Color Chart

Additive Color Chart found using Google Image Search.

Additive color method is extremely important to anyone dealing with computer screens and other monitors. An artist starts with black and adds colors until white is revealed.

When using the additive color method we start with red, green and blue. If one of these is combined with another primary at the same light intensity you will get cyan, yellow and magenta. When all three are mixed the result is white. Varying the light will cause variations on different color combinations.

The difference is very important when creating works with today’s technology. An artist can save themselves a whole lot of trouble if they know what colors combine to make other colors and how the particular method they are using functions.

 

Fun Color Facts

 

  • Sir Isaac Newton not only discovered gravity, but also discovered how light takes on different properties based upon wavelengths.
  • Many artists choose not to use black paint from a tube, but instead mix their own “black” from French Ultramarine (dark blue) and Burnt Umber. This allows “black” to take on cool or warm tones and not “kill the light”.
  • There is a lot of psychology behind color selections. Reds and yellows are thought to stimulate appetite (think McDonald’s) and pink is thought to calm people and lower pulses.

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Interview with Cam Rackam

"Heads Off" for Avenged Sevenfold by Cam Rackam

"Heads Off" for Avenged Sevenfold by Cam Rackam. Taken from the artist's website.

I was first introduced to Cam Rackam’s work in the summer of 2004 at Vans Warped Tour. I had been a fan of Avenged Sevenfold and promptly went to their merch booth and bought the poster rendition of Rackam’s “Heads Off.” During of the course of the day my poster got ruined, but I was lucky enough to get another one courtesy of Avenged Sevenfold’s singer, M. Shadows. Rackam has done work for many artists, including: The Confession and Perish, as well as Vengeance University.

According to his website he “is a resident of Southern California. He received a BFA from Cal State Fullerton… In 2009, Cam became the gallery director at the Congregation Gallery in Hollywood, where he both curates as well as participates in the events. Cam is also the owner and founder of Blood Oil entertainment group and merchandise.” At the present he is working on a new showed shrouded in classical mythology and “it will certainly be his biggest, most exciting event to date.”

Below is my interview with Rackam focused on social media.

Thank you very much for agreeing to answer some questions.

You’re We lcome

I know this question is very broad, but what do you think the greatest thing technology has done for art? What’s the worst thing?

The Internet is revolution. No longer is every segment of art world controlled by the gallery elite. Now art has the possibility of becoming global. Popularity is truly designated by the masses.  The capacity of free advertising of the Internet has changed nearly every business. With the smart phone, even the ‘portfolio’ has changed.  Now aspiring artists carry their body of work in their pockets.

Negative effects include the ‘flattening out of images’. Art should not be studied online. 264 colors are not nearly enough to properly see a picture.  Many talented people are not technology inclined and their work can fall to the way side very quickly. 

Do you think social media is a beneficial way for artists to spread the word about their art? How do you think artists can use social media better?

Yes and No. If someone is an artist or wants to be, then as many people as possible need to see it. The most popular way is social media.  The pr oblem is that saying someone l oves something online, doesn’t mean th at’s true.  I think many people believe their own hype.

Cam Rackam Illuminati

Cam Rackam Illuminati. Image from artist's website.

Which social media site do you prefer (Facebook, M y sp a ce, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)? How long do you think people continue to use Myspace?

Someone is still using myspace?

What do you do to protect yourself, art and image, from people pretending to be you on the Internet?

I’ve had copyright thefts but suing people is so expensive it becomes not worth it. Sending Cease and Desist letters don’t work either.  On top of that badmouthing another company makes you look like a whiner. Really the best thing to do is rise above it.  As far as fans pretending to be me….doesn’t really make an impact that affects my work or business.

Can there be harm in using social media for promotion?

Yeah I think people use it too solely and rely on it too much.  When someone takes a picture of their cat, then promotes their art show or band, no one will take you seriously. If you’re using it for your business, cool use it for business.  If its for personal photos of your breakfast or poetry, then keep it to your friends.  Once a person mixes the two they are instantly seen as an amateur.

When promoting your art versus Congregation Gallery do you use different tactics? How so?

Yeah, my art is about me, but the Congregation Gallery has turned into a hub or artists and intellectuals that’s about everyone.  So you have to take a different hand to it, for example my fans don’t care about the gallery, but my peers do.  Its like the less effective version of myself.

When you shut down your social media sites about a year ago did you suffer any backlash? I would think most of your fans would be very supportive. What was it like coming back to social media?*

It was mixed.  I had artists assume that I was using it as a ploy to get attention re-directed back to me.  I had fans get so excited they crashed the webpage.  It was weird coming back.  I really didn’t want to but I promised and it was good for me personally.  Its hard with all of the social media out there to keep people interested, and about the important things.

Cam Rackam's Recipe for Art

Recipe provided by Rackam. Skulls image from Google Image search.

 

*In January 2010 Rackam shut all social media down for six months as an honor to Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, drummer of Avenged Sevenfold, who died on December 28, 2009.

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Cell Phones are Now Permitted Within the Museum

Gone are the days where cell phones are strictly forbidden at museums. At least at the Cleveland Museum of Art , one of the world’s most distinguished art institutions. I visited the Cleveland Museum of Art a few weeks ago and was amazed by the hidden nuggets that cell phones are revealing. Where some museums have signs reminding you of the prohibition of cell phones, the CMA has signs encouraging you to use your smart phone. They’re just not using the smart phone in one particular way. They are using both QR codes for advertising and mobile phone tours.

QR Code example

QR Code example provided via Google Image Search

QR is short for Quick Response, and the codes are two-dimensional black and white squares arranged in a specific matrix, much like that of a barcode. QR codes were originally used for vehicle manufacturing, but as you can tell these nifty little squares of technology are becoming quite popular outside the world of manufacturing. Artist Fabrice de Nola is working with QR codes within her oil paintings and QR Arts is turning practical and actual QR codes into designs for companies.

According to Museum Media the CMA is the first museum in Northeast Ohio to attempt to use QR codes. The Vancouver Opera and the Palm Beach Opera are also using QR codes in their advertisements. The codes were placed within advertisements in June 2010 for the reopening of the museum after its massive remodel and ongoing expansion. The codes directed people to the museums new website and allowed people to plan their trips to the free museum.

Tim Brokaw, managing partner of Brokaw Inc., the firm responsible for helping the CMA create the campaign said, “The art museum chose to experiment with QR codes for the first time to become more attractive to those people who often are early adopters of technology and are willing to try new things.”

QR codes are not the only new technology the Cleveland Museum of Art is using. They have started to use mobile phones for tours with the help of Earprint Productions. Founded by Jason Reinier, Earprint Productions, specializes in creating “exhibit design, mobile tours and apps, and scriptwriting for the museum community.”

Earprint Productions created an online and mobile tour called Art Conversations. Narrated by Dee Perry, “Art Conversations features voices of museum professionals, local artists, community members, and experts.” The audio is clear and allows the listening to hear these great insights without renting an antiquated listening device. We are now able to listen to mobile tours without wondering who used the device last. Unfortunately my phone did have some trouble receiving information, but other people within my group did not have the same problems. I blame my phone and not the technology.

Along with tapping into the smartphone niche the Cleveland Museum of Art has started their own blog. Within the blog contains posts about exhibits, artists and the construction project at the museum. I am glad that the Cleveland Museum of Art is advancing past what other museums are doing and into the world of technology.

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Google Art: Viewing van Gogh Without Ever Leaving Your Home

Close up of Botticelli's "La Primavera"

Google Art Project Screen shot

No art was harmed in the making of Google’s newly released Google Art Project, only maybe the desire to visit the greatest artworks in the world. “With this unique project, anyone anywhere in the world will be able to learn about the history and artists behind a huge number of works, at the click of a mouse,” Google stated in their Feb. 1 press release.

Google is even boasting 17 “gigapixel” images of some of the world’s most recognizable and famous pieces of artwork. With roughly 7 billion megapixels per image these “gigapixel” images allow the viewer to zoom in and view details such as brushwork, only previously seen in person (and even then, since some museum won’t let people get that close). There are a total of 1061 “super high resolution” artwork images in 17 museums.

People can use Google Art Project to collect images of their favorite pieces of artwork merely by signing into their Google account. These collections can be shared with others. This is not necessarily something new. It’s a wonder technology hasn’t completely made physical experiences void, but there is still time.

Enough about the facts behind this new technology, I don’t have a split decision on the technology. I think the fact that Google has the technology to create a virtual museum world is amazing. I am truly undecided about the implications of this new project. On one side I worry about museums. I worry if revenue, patrons and visitors of museums will decline. On the other side I am excited for people to see artwork they would otherwise never be able to see. For me it allows me to relive my trip to Florence when I saw my favorite piece of artwork, Botticelli’s La Primavera.

In a discussion of the site on Facebook Zack Morrison stated, “I think this will be for art what downloading is for music, I think this will give a wider audience a risk free way to familiarize themselves with artwork and places they would otherwise never see…there is no substitute for seeing it in person be it a concert or Versailles.” I think this could be a very telling analogy. Downloading music has completely wrecked the economy of the music industry. According to the Institute for Policy Innovation believes the cost to be about $12.5 billion dollars in losses to the U.S. Economy and tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of lost wages. That being said, the sharing of music at a lower (non-existent) price does allow for a greater sharing.

In response J.B. Henry said, “I’m just afraid of the bombardment of information and pixel-visuals/digital sounds may become as good as the real experience for some.” To many seeing artwork on a computer screen might be enough. Why would they bother seeing a work they saw in super high resolution?

I am truly excited for the possibilities that this presents for education. In art history classes a professor can show better images of iconic artwork. Instead of slides that have suffered water and color damage students can view images that are true to the artwork. They can get a sense of the size of an artwork by seeing the piece in its space.

Technology is doing new, wonderful and possibly dangerous things to the world of art. Time will only tell about the longevity of Google Art Project. In a few months this new art technology discussion might not even be relevant. Once the newness of the site has warn off it might go the way of Myspace and be forgotten in a few years. Or it might be completely revolutionary to the world of art.

Links
https://sites.google.com/a/pressatgoogle.com/art-project/
http://www.googleartproject.com/
http://www.ipi.org/ipi/IPIPublications.nsf/f726f4998ba46f86862567d80074727a/d95dcb90f513f7d78625733e005246fa?OpenDocument

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