Is Web Presence for Artists Important?

I think having a web presence as an artist in this date and time is very important.  I really is the best “store-front” we have to show out work to anyone interested.  I know there are a lot of artists out there that are intimidated by the idea of doing much on a computer (I know a lot of artists that do not like anything technical!) but it does not have to be scary.

There are many “art website” companies out there that have the template set up specially for artists and all you have to do is plug in the information and images.  The first one I found out about is Artspan.  An artist friend of mine still uses Artspan after many years and still likes it.  A few others that I have friends using are Zhibit and Fine Art America, which you may be limited in what you can do or add to the site, but if you want easy, simple & basic these work.  Also with Fine Art America you can sell prints of your work straight through them.

There are also non-art related ones like Wix, Weebly and even blog sites like WordPress.com and Blogger.  Again, there may be limitations, specially on the free or inexpensive versions, but it gets you on the web.

My Website!

My Website!

I feel the fastest & easiest way to get your work out there is Facebook!  You can easily set up a “page” for your art and sharing with the public is very easy.  People do not have to have a Facebook account to be able to view your work on a Facebook Page, they just won’t be able to comment, etc.

Now, lots of artists are afraid of having their work stolen or copied off the web.  My feeling on it is you can keep your work hiding at home and no one will see it, or have as many people see it as possible!  I feel it’s not much safer hanging in the public either with everyone having cell phones, so worrying about it will just keep you from ever showing it.  There are certain things you can do to make it more difficult for anyone to steal your work from the internet.  First, you can post images that are too small for anyone to make a copy or print of.  You can make them under 800 px and 72 dpi.  You should also add a watermark across your image.  I believe some of the art websites have a feature that you can automatically add a watermark to your image.

Of course there are many more sites I did not list here.  You can always hire someone to do a website or set up Facebook for you, you do not have to do it alone.

FYI- My website www.gretaolivas.com is built with WordPress.org, free web software, but you do need to get your own domain name & webhost.

Anyone have good suggestions for websites!  Please post on the comments and hopefully it will help someone!

Blog Post 12.30.13 (My 2013 Art Year)

I started thinking about my “2013 Art Business” and I thought I would look at the paintings I sold this year.  sold 2013It was a pretty good year for me (new work, old work & commissions!), so I am trying to set my goals for 2014.  One thing I decided to do is try to do some art festivals.  I feel right now that it’s the only way to really get my art seen around the country.  The whole ‘trying to get into a gallery’ thing seems pretty impossible, unless you know someone and get an introduction.  So, I have decided to submit to some of the better festivals around the country and ones in towns I would like to have my work in.  We will see what happens, and I will definitely post my experiences here.  In the mean time, studio tours, select shows and lots of social media will be it!  Always working toward being a full time artist, and I WILL get there!
I do want to thank Gallery by Jeana Marino for believing in my work and helping me sell several of these pieces, which sometimes seems very difficult to do here in Austin!

BTW, if anyone has any great ideas let me know! 🙂 Always learning!

Blog Post 12.26.13 (My Favorite Art Blogs)

As a self-taught artist, I have had to do a lot of research about the business side of the art world.  Along with many artist friends I have met mostly through the Creative Arts Society here in Austin, we get together often and discuss how to sell our work and do a lot of research online to figure things out.  We have slowly come up with several blogs that we refer to often for information.  I thought I would share a few of my favorites!

I came across several of these either through friends, through other artists and on Twitter (I think it’s a great resource), or on Facebook.

Be Inspired, by my friend Maria Gatling.  She has the best ideas to spark your creativity.  Whether you are an artist or not, she has ideas that you can use every day.  She also teaches creativity workshops!  Please check out her blog and contact her if interested!

Skinny Artist, I came across Drew 1st through Twitter (He’s a great person to follow!)  I have found great posts that have been inspiring, made me think and I have even made their ’21 Artists to Watch’ list for 2013! (Which I was quite honored and surprised by the way!)

Artpromotivate, they have lots of posts on selling art, to websites, PR, and have great featured artists.  You can also as an artist submit your information to be one of their featured artists!  (And that’s where I got the idea for this blog post! 🙂 )

Fine Art Tips with Lori McNee, she has great information on creating art, art business and social media for artists.  Lori is also a great person to follow on Twitter!  She was ranked as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter and always shares great info.

The Abundant Artist, their goal is ‘Dispelling the Starving Artist Myth’.  Lots of resources on marketing, websites, etc.  They want to prove to us that we CAN sell our art!

Art Biz Coach is Alyson B Stanfield, she holds workshops, events, bootcamps, coaches and wrote the art marketing book ‘I’d Rather Be in the Studio’.  I also learned about Alyson through Twitter and is a great person to follow!

Red Dot Blog, has great art marketing and art business info on their blog.  It’s run by Jason Horejs with Xanadu Gallery.  They also have podcasts and hold workshops.

Artists Who Thrive, has great info from artist copyright to pricing artwork and more.  Very informative articles!

If you have any favorite blogs I did not mention please share them here!  I may have forgotten some also, so if I did I will add them under comments!

I hope this helps you on your way to making Art your career!

Blog Post 12.6.13 (Working on Art Commissions…)

I recently got my first painting commission.  I won’t lie, for a long time I thought that I would never do commissions, the thought just struck fear in me!  The idea of doing the perfect painting for someone just did not seem like something I could handle, after all, as an artist I always have that voice in the back of my head that makes me question a lot of what I do (I work hard on silencing that voice!).  But a few years ago I got great advice from a fellow artist.  He said he always does 2 paintings because it takes the pressure off.  It was a fabulous idea!!!  The idea of working on 2 paintings has lots of good points.  Beside just taking the pressure off of ONE perfect one, if the customer gets very specific with what they want (even if you don’t agree), you can do one their way and one with your vision.  Chances are they will like yours better, after all, they chose you for a reason! (They already like your art!).  Doing 2 paintings has an additional plus side to it… they may want to buy both, which is what happened with mine!

Now, I have heard horror stories from some artists, and I don’t think I would take on a commission if I get just bad feelings from the customer (like they would be difficult to work with) or doing paintings that are just plain not my style, I think I would refer them to a fellow artist that works in the style they want.  That would just be a pressure I don’t want.  I LOVE painting, and I want to try and keep it that way!

This is the painting that they saw and wanted a larger version of.  I did it 2 years ago and it sold this past spring.  I will be exploring versions of this painting further, it was really fun to do!

Bubbles

Bubbles

By the way, my work is abstract, so I don’t know if this would work if you paint realistically.  🙂

 

Blog Post 7.15.13 (Creative Inspiration…)

Where do you get your inspiration for paintings?

In abstract painting that is a bit more challenging. I always figured that most of my paintings are inspired by nature, and I knew that once I saw the beauty in Yellowstone National Park, I wanted to include those colors in my paintings. When I created my last few paintings in my Cosmos Series, I used colors I had seen in Yellowstone. I had not looked at my paintings & photos together until just now, and I was moved by how they looked side by side!

Grand Prismatic Geyser- Glow

Grand Prismatic Geyser- Glow

Grand Prismatic Geyser

Grand Prismatic Geyser

This is truly nature’s abstract art!  The colors are so vibrant and almost do not seem real!  Below are my Yellowstone inspired paintings in my Cosmos Series.  They are in the order they were created.  You can see how they evolved the more paintings I created!

Yellowstone Magic 14"x18" Acrylic on Canvas

Yellowstone Magic 14″x18″ Acrylic on Canvas

Magnificence 30"x48" Acrylic on Canvas

Magnificence 30″x48″ Acrylic on Canvas

Believe #1  8"x8" Acrylic on Canvas

Believe #1 8″x8″ Acrylic on Canvas

Believe #2  8"x8" Acrylic on Canvas

Believe #2 8″x8″ Acrylic on Canvas

Discovery 36"x36" Acrylic on Canvas

Discovery 36″x36″ Acrylic on Canvas

Majestic 48"x60" Acrylic on Canvas

Majestic 48″x60″ Acrylic on Canvas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Post 6.4.13 (A Painting at Home)

I love getting photos from collectors of my paintings, so I can see how my work is adorning their home.  This photo I just LOVE!!

Nature Reborn- at home

Nature Reborn- at home

He had an older painting of mine in there first, but when he got some flowers to decorate the space, he felt my “Nature Reborn” painting would work well with the flowers!  I also love the artistic shot he took!  (You can see my painting in the background)

Nature Reborn

Nature Reborn

Blog Post 5.19.13 (Teaching, Sharing & Inspiration)

People that know me, specially artists, know that I LOVE art.  I am in love with the process of making art.  I find so much joy creating art that I automatically share details freely with my fellow artists.  I think it comes naturally for me to share, so that maybe others can find the same joy I feel doing it.paint closeup 2

I had several friends tell me I should teach, that I am a natural at it.  Well, I can tell you that I never thought of myself as a teacher of any kind!  I guess the difference is that sharing something you love does not feel like teaching, so it does come naturally.  So I finally decided to give it a try and did a small test workshop.  I invited 4 friends to take part (several that encouraged me to do this in the first place), so I could figure out how to structure it for other students.

paint closeup 1I thought about what to name it and how to describe my workshop, and it’s so hard to put into words what I would like to teach.  Mostly I want to share fun techniques, tips, and play, to inspire those that are too afraid to “be” an artist, or remind those artists that lost the “fun” and “joy”, why they became artists in the first place.  I want them to come out of the workshop with their creativity wheels turning, ideas running through their heads and inspiration overflowing.  I feel it’s those little surprises that come out during play and experimentation that excite us and allows us to come up with something that no one else has done before.paint closeup 3

I also love working with other artists.  The inspiration you get from working with others is contagious, and in teaching others you come up with new ideas while you are explaining a process.  I know also that many artists do not share their ideas.  They are afraid that someone will steal or copy them.  Well, with the age of the internet I think that can happen anyway, without teaching someone!  Also I have seen that when you have a group working on an art project, each person has their own artistic vision in their work, which makes it different from the others.  I believe true artists want to come up with something uniquely theirs, that makes them stand out from the rest.

 

Blog Post 3.31.13 (Artists, Artists, Artists…)

Stevie Nicks at SXSW 2013

Stevie Nicks at SXSW 2013

A few weeks ago I volunteered at SXSW and was able to attend a couple of interviews with musicians (Depeche Mode and Stevie Nicks).  It was fascinating to listen to their answers about their artistic process.  They were asked about how they come up with the music and songs, their inspiration, and do they struggle with ideas, and they had a lot of the same answers as painters would come up with.  That got me thinking that I needed to get a dancer’s perspective as well, see if it was the same, so who better to ask than my father (Eugene Slavin)!  He was a ballet dancer, and choreographed many dances in his career, and a lot of his answers were the same!  I found out that ideas, inspiration, creativity is very similar no matter what your artistic outlet is.  Here are several of the answers I heard:  I play the music and the lyrics just come out, I read or watch movies for inspiration, I look at art and listen to music to get inspired, I see a dancer or hear music that inspires a dance.  I think when the creative brain is engaged, when we see or hear ‘it’ we just instinctively know it.

It was interesting asking my Dad about his artistic process (I had never spoken to him about it before).  The one difference it seemed was that a lot of the choreography was dictated by the talent the dancers, or what their strengths or weaknesses were.  I guess if us painters were limited to just paint with specific materials it would be the same thing, or a musician only able to use specific instruments.  Getting creative with what we have is what we have to do when the creative bug strikes!

Blog Post 3.1.13 (It’s going to be a Great Year!)

So far this year is starting out pretty good for me.  In January I started out with my first really big solo show.  I set up this show about a year ago as a way to force myself to create a good size body of work, so I can start submitting to different galleries around the country.  As it got closer to the date of hanging the show, I started panicking, wondering if I had enough art!  Well, the amount of work turned out to be just perfect!

"Beyond Limits" North Hills Gallery 2013 Panoramic photo shot with my iPhone 5

“Beyond Limits” North Hills Gallery 2013- Panoramic photo shot with my iPhone 5

At this event I sold 3 paintings, and was pretty well attended, which was just wonderful!  I had lots of positive feedback on all my work, from artist friends as well an others that I did not know.  (I also got a video of the show but have not done anything with it yet. That will be a new project for me to learn how to do! 🙂 )  Once the show came down, I decided to take one of the most popular pieces to my office at my ‘day job’.  Well, it did not even make it up on the wall before someone decided they had to have it! (see it below)

SOLD- Desert Ruins Under the Stars 30"x40" Mixed Media on Canvas

SOLD- Desert Ruins Under the Stars 30″x40″ Mixed Media on Canvas

Then yesterday morning, during a break I pulled up Facebook and I noticed that SkinnyArtist.com posted their yearly 21 Artists to Watch in 2013 list, which I love to look at every year (I find great artists to follow on Facebook and Twitter), and to my surprise I saw my name on the list!!!  I feel so honored to be mentioned with so many wonderful artists (and thank you so much Drew for the wonderful words and support)!

I am now preparing for the West Austin Studio Tour, which will be taking place over 2 weekends this year, April 27-28 & May 4-5, 2013.  I hope my momentum just keeps going, I am ready!

Blog Post 1.2.13 (So you want to be an artist, now what…)

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

So, it’s the beginning of 2013, you have always wanted to be an artist, but you have been discouraged from pursuing your artistic interest by most people.  But now your creative urge is strong.  You feel that something has been missing in your life, and just maybe that may be it.  Well, get to it!!  Start drawing, painting, sculpting, or whatever artistic medium you feel compelled to do!  Yes, it’s overwhelming, and if you think you have to wait till you can go to art school, DON’T WAIT!!  Just do it!  Otherwise you may never do it.  My decision to start painting was one of the best things I ever did.

Early work- Leaf- 2002

Early work- Leaf- 2002

I had a friend ask me today about how I got started painting, how long it has been, etc.  She has had that creative urge, and luckily decided to listen to it.  So I thought that would be a good topic to write about and share my experience, since I kept waiting until I realized that if I waited till the “perfect time” it would probably never happen!

First of all, I have always been artistic.  I have been drawing since I was a toddler (please don’t let not growing up drawing stop you!).  I was intimidated by the idea of painting.  I didn’t know anything about materials, how to use them, what I needed, and I let that stop me for many years.  I finally decided to sign up for a painting class at our local art museum.  It was very helpful!  Once I got that out of the way, I decided I could try and teach myself some techniques.

Early Work- Flowers in the Stream 2003 (I think)

Early Work- Flowers in the Stream 2003 (I think)

One of my favorite pastimes was (and still is), going to a book store, sitting down with a cup of coffee and a pile of art books and magazines.  When I found a favorite, I would buy it so I could try some of the techniques at home.

As I got some paintings done, I was brave enough to hang some in a group show at a cafe I was working at, then at the hair salon I went to, and eventually joined The Creative Arts Society, one of our local art guilds.  Some of the artists I have met through that group are now some of my closest friends!   By being a member of the group and participating as a chair & member I learned painting techniques, how to frame, how to hang shows, and just talking to people about my art!

The next step I took was going to a week long painting workshop.  THAT changed my life!!!  I think I was finally ready to take that big jump into taking my artwork seriously.

Early Work- Peach Rose 2004

Early Work- Peach Rose 2004

Some of the most important things I learned are:
-Get lots of art materials, if you just have a few, you will worry about “wasting” what you have.  I bought a lot of materials with my weekly 40% off coupon from Michael’s (you can now sign up online to receive the coupon in your email, or if you have a smart phone you can download their app).  And don’t be afraid to “waste” materials, you are not wasting, you are learning.
-Give yourself permission to “play”.  By playing around with the paints I learned how to work with them.  And painting should be fun anyway!
-Draw, even if you don’t think you can.  If you can’t come up with things off the top of your head, get beginning drawing books to guide you.
-Join a local art guild if you can, or try to meet other artists.  It’s wonderful to be around “like minds” and you learn a lot from each other.  If there is not a good art group in your area look online.  You can also find other artists on Twitter & Facebook (I have found many of them very encouraging).
-Go to art galleries & museums for inspiration!
-Read The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.  I know many artists that say it has changed their life (including myself).  You can find links to my favorite books including this one on the “Favorite Books” page.

I can say that I am definitely not ready to quit my day job to be a full time artist, yet… but I have not given up on it.  I am working hard to realize that dream.  I have set goals for myself along the way, which has been helpful for me.  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions just let me know!  You can also find me on Facebook & Twitter, and I am always happy to share what I know!
Above you can see samples of my early paintings.  You can find my latest work on my Facebook page and website!