Marketing Prints

In the past lithography and traditional printing methods were used if the artist wanted to market reproductions of original artwork. While effective, these methods had serious drawbacks:

First and foremost, a high output number would compromise the value of any reproduction. Second, the quality of 4 color copies limited the color rendition of such reproductions. Also, the choice of substrates was dismal compared to giclée. The advent of high-end digital printmaking has opened a new world for artists: more paper choices, better color, limited production.

On a pure marketing standpoint, artists who have shows and lectures can now suggest giclees to potential buyers. Collectors in particular want to buy art that is not made in mass quantities. When buying a giclée they are assured to possess something rare and exquisite.

Giclees are well established in the art world; they are bought and sold in world class auctions as well as in galleries. Many museums display giclees.

Listen to your clients: I recently had a call from a portrait artist. She has a business where customers come to her for family portraits she makes on watercolor paper. She had a few inquiries regarding making copies so that more than one household could have the portrait of their loved ones. At the same time they asked for a quality print, possibly on the same paper. We reproduced the original and it was virtually impossible to distinguish it from the giclée. Now the artist was happy to make additional income and the families had as many portraits as they wanted!

No matter what the market is, whether it consists of commissioned art or not, high quality reproductions can generate an additional stream of income given the proper marketing.

How can you increase the value of your artwork?

One proven method is to create posters (It has been done for a long time by artists and photographers) and sell the posters at art shows. This creates a buzz and facilitates the selling of your work in a poster format to be displayed in various locations. A well designed poster is one of the best advertisements!

Second, create art and make high quality giclée reproductions without ever selling your originals. Make for example an artist proof edition of 25, sign it and release it as the only art available.

If you wish to be able to sell your original you can do so and still increase the value of your art. Start with small limited editions. As soon they are sold out the value will increase. Always establish and maintain a personal relationship with every past, current and potential buyer of your art! Buyers connect emotionally with the art as well as the creator. They will be more receptive to collecting more work if they feel a bond.

Use the Internet

Create a website with a portfolio so people can see the art. Add the URL to business cards, posters, postcards etc. Optimize the site for keywords you want to target (i.e. abstract paintings, oil paintings of flowers, portraits on oil etc.)

The artist is encouraged to pre-sell the complete limited edition if a LE is decided. It is a good idea to track the collectors and notify them when the particular edition is sold out. Another advantage of having a website is to create a newsletter notifying people of limited edition publication as well as accomplishments and new art. These practices reinforce the added value of their current (or potential) purchase. Last but not least, ask for a Certificate of Authenticity from the printmaker.

The King James Onlyists’ Nightmare

Last Sunday night’s big event came as a shock to the small church – the St James Congregational Baptist Church in Silock, Alabama. An elderly group of five men and women were participating in a Bible class when a young preacher ran and told them to leave their class and walk with to the nave.

“What is it, Pastor?” one of the ladies asked the question everyone was wondering. “Just follow me as quickly as you can!” he said urgently. “You’ll be in for a shock.” As they approached the door to the right side of the nave, everyone could see a bright light beaming radiantly from the square mirrors.
As they went in, they looked and saw a bright angel. Everyone fell on the floor and began worshipping him. “No!” the celestial being said in a booming voice. “You must not worship me for I am only a servant of the Lord, much like yourselves.”

The angel turned down his brightness gradually so that he appeared as a human being. “Is this better?” he asked the stupefied congregation. “Please. Everyone sit. I have come on a mission. Your little group has been chosen to come with me in a time machine to watch some of the greatest events in the Holy Bible.”

Everyone sat up in astonishment as a large translucent box gradually appeared behind the angel.
“I know all of this is hard to take in, but the Lord has scheduled three events of the Bible that you as a group must choose… What scenes do you want to see?”

Although the five people and the pastor still had their mouths and eyes were stretched open as wide as possible, one of the elderly women asked, “Can I see when God found out Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden?”
“So be it,” the angel said.
“I’d like to see is Moses parting the waters.”
The angel said, “So be it!”
Then a man said hesitantly, “Can I see Jesus as He was being tempted by Satan?” “So be it,” said the angel. “Now, let’s all get into the time machine and watch these scenes.”

All five parishioners and the pastor got into the machine together with the angel and they suddenly vanished. In a matter of moments, the time machine arrived in the Garden of Eden. They stepped out into the garden, they saw Adam and Eve looking down in shame before God who was in the form of a mist. The angel told them they would be invisible where they went.

As the scene unfolded God spoke to Adam and Eve in a language, the elderly travelers couldn’t understand the language that they were speaking. The angel knew what they were thinking and said to them, “They are speaking in an ancient form of Hebrew.” Suddenly, the group stared at each and they looked upset and the angel knew why.

Thirty minutes later, after they saw the two other Biblical scenes, they looked extremely discouraged and all looked a little depressed. One of the elderly ladies got angry and said, “Why wasn’t everyone in the scenes speaking in English straight from the King James Bible?” An elderly man shouted, “This setup must have been a scam! Those people from the Bible must have been actors!” “Everybody knows everyone in the Bible spoke old English from the King James Bible – the perfect Word of God!”

5 Tips for Typography Best Practices

This was my first year at Typographics 2018. Typographics 2018 is a conference for typography enthusiasts around the world, that’s held at Cooper Union. There were panelists from San Francisco, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Japan; it really felt like a truly international experience.

I had the chance to sit in on both the conference and TypeLab parts of Typographics. Here are a few highlights from the panels/breakout sessions that I really enjoyed:

1. Emojis = Pictures + Character (Jennifer Daniel, Google Emoji)
Emojis are images that may translate into different meanings across different devices. Jennifer gave an example about how the “dumpling” emoji looks different across different chat platforms -every culture has a dumpling!
I found an interesting tension in this statement -emojis should have a consistent user experience (across platforms), yet still be personalized to their users.

2. Ubiquitous type is can cause user confusion (Mr. Keedy)
Mr. Keedy created Keedy Sans, a popular font in the 90’s. The font was considered “uncool” 10 years later and used everywhere. Keedy sans is used on teenage girl makeup packaging, as well as winebars. This could create a bad user experience for people because of lack of branding. Last year, Mr. Keedy refreshed his font -to create greater customization and allow Keedy fans to layer the font for interesting visual effects.

3. Braille is a form of typography (Ellen Lupton, Cooper Hewitt)
Ellen talked about how blind individuals read Braille in a unique way -holding it across their body. She also demonstrated a blind person’s experience watching music videos by showing the accessibility voiceover.

4. Brand holds content together with design (Gale Bichler, NYTimes)
Gale foused on how the New York Times(NYT) has branded itself as a publication that experiments with many types of fonts. NYT can play around with different types and massive fonts as illustration. If someone picks up a page from the floor, they can usually tell that it’s from the New York Times because of branding.

5. Picking fonts is like eating ice cream. (Veronika Burian and Jose Scaglione, Type Together)
When combining fonts, look at mechanic and organic feels. Veronika and Jose talked about how people like humanist fonts, with a hint of a calligrapher’s hand. Ideally, you should find a balance typefaces share a common language.

The overarching theme is that typography is wide-ranging and crosses various mediums. Visual languages include symbols, braille, and audio caption. The challenge now lies in how to design the best experiences for these new forms of language.

Why Image Masking Is Necessary

In Post-processing, it is nearly impossible for a designer to avoid using the image masking features and methods. Image masking opens up a new window of endless editing effects and a dedicated designer is bent on taking every single opportunity.

Sound knowledge about these options and functions will ensure a satisfying end result. Now to address the question at hand:

Non-Destructive: As opposed to erasing a background using the Eraser Tool, masking technique does not obliterate the image details. They are cleverly hidden below various layers so that they can help us out in case we need to make changes. On the contrary, the Eraser tool permanently deletes these pixels and it is close to impossible to bring those back in case a tweaking is required.

Transitions: The basic or simplest function of image masking technique is to have a “hide and seek” effect in some areas of the photo. This transitioning effect can be created using brushes and gradients for soft masking. This requires delicate strokes and soft brushes. This transparency of pictures can be controlled. The opacity level can be adjusted to suit the photo and its background. This is not the only technique for achieving this effect, but it is the simplest.

Editing Specific Areas: Many times we are faced with projects where we need to edit a small portion of the photo; such as, changing the color of someone’s clothes in a photo and fixing shadow/light issues. You can use masking techniques to highlight the portion and edit it as you wish e.g. color correction, brightness, contrast, exposure, shadows etc.

Removing / Replacing Background of Translucent Objects: Masking is an easy option when it comes to removing backgrounds of translucent objects. Any object with any level of transparency can be isolated from its background by careful masking. Even in cases of semi-transparent clothes’ photos, this technique can be applied.

Single Advantage of Clipping Mask: Clipping mask, when compared to Layer Mask, has the advantage of making different areas visible by simply moving the clipped image. It can be determined by the user which part of the background they want to be visible and which part they don’t by using clipping mask. Other than this one advantage, regular layer masking is more than good enough for most masking work.

Creating Collage Photos: Collage images are fun and it is even more interesting when you play with the masking tools while making a collage. Interesting and cool effects can be made by using a number of pictures and masking them. Soft brushes in varying gradients and hues of gray will definitely make these blending smooth.

Why Does a Magician Wear a Tux?

This wonderful question has rarely bothered magicians for decades. It should. Some possible answers might include:

He is getting married today.
He just got off work as a waiter.
He is going to the prom.

Wait! The man is about to do magic. Surely anyone doing great magic wears a tux. It logically follows that a person dressed in attire not worn generally by the public in nearly sixty years must be a well trained and entertaining artist.

I encounter responses such as:

“People won’t know we’re magicians if don’t wear our uniform,” bemoan penguin-like prestidigitators.

“Real magicians must wear tuxes,” cries the part-time professional in his ill fitting and second hand attire.

The question of what magicians should wear has been around for more than a century. The correct answer has been around just as long. Unfortunately, many magicians don’t get it.

Jean Robert-Houdin, the father of modern magic, looked around at how his fellow magicians dressed. The common uniform for a “real magician” was to dress up like a wizard complete with a conical hat. Robert-Houdin chose to view magic as an art. He devised many wonderful effects. He would go out on a bare stage to present his magic dressed in formal evening attire. The attire was appropriate and commonly worn for evening theatrical productions. Instead of dressing in way completely different from his audience, Robert-Houdin dressed just like his audience.

The point being made is simple. If you want magic to be viewed as a fine art, take your performance and dress seriously. Let the quality of your magic performance speak to the level of your magic artistry. If you want to be a magic clown, then dress like a penguin.

What about Lance Burton? Great question, thanks for asking. Lance’s performing personality makes wearing a tuxedo appropriate for his performance. Mr. Burton consciously links back to magic’s historical roots. Figuratively speaking, he wears the mantel of magic passed down through the ages. He portrays the great magician out of our past. Lance performs classical magic effects while donning the classical magical attire.

This is completely different from the approach of 99.998% of the other magicians wearing tuxes. Most part-time professional magicians wear a tux without regard to their performing personality. The key to what to wear is your performing personality. Begin with the assumption that a tux is not an option. Examine the key elements of your performing personality that you want to communicate to your audience. Tailor your dress to consciously communicate those key elements.

Another factor to consider is whether you want to stand out or blend with your audience. Let’s say you want to blend with your audience. This is common approach for the restaurant or corporate magician. What will your audience be wearing? Try to dress a little above your audience.

Let’s say you want to stand out. Find ways to contrast with your audience that communicates positively to your performing personality.

For example, assume your performing personality is that odd middle aged uncle that all the kids love but make parents roll their eyes. You know the type, every family has one. His style sense will be decades out of style but he will be clueless that he isn’t the hippest guy around. If that is your chosen performing personality, then the performer’s style will match the outfit. The point again is that the outfit chosen by the magician must relate to performing personality.

Let’s get back to the original question. Why do magicians wear tuxes?

Nobody knows including the magicians. Know your performing personality. Select your dress to complement your venue and performing personality. Treat your magic performance like the artistic performance you want it to be.

Copyright © 2005 J.L. Siefers, All rights reserved.

J.L. Siefers has been performing great magic for years. He has written extensively on many topics in magic. He has shown hundreds of people how to successfully learn to do great magic tricks.