All posts by Jayel Aheram

Boss of Your Own Art

A best-selling author tell us to “be the boss of your own art.” Written by Linda Woods for Jayel Aheram.

Being a successful artist  or designer instead of a starving artist is a dream for many creative people. But, it takes more than just a dream and talent.  It takes effort, determination, the right attitude, and clients. Solo artists rarely have the budget for billboard ads or Super Bowl commercials, so we must be creative even in promoting ourselves to our clients.  When it comes to stepping out on your own and working for yourself,  it is up to you to generate your own buzz.

We’re all familiar with the idea that if you paint it, they will come, but it doesn’t really work that way unless they know how to get there. Lead the buyers to your art by spending time every day focusing on the business side of your  business.

You’re the boss of your art

Show your art in the best light. Use high quality photos of your art on your blog and in your promotional materials. Have a great portfolio ready.

You’re the boss of your image

You’ve got the look! Include a professional photo of yourself with your bio. Professional need not be boring, but a blurry photo where one eye is shut, your bra strap is showing, or your fly is open doesn’t scream success. Capture your creativity with a photo of your beautiful self facing forward, wearing bold colors or in an interesting setting. Save the wardrobe malfunctions and mug shots for the rock stars.

You’re the boss of your blog

The world is at your fingertips and that world needs art. Set up a blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr accounts and start sharing your art with the masses. A blog or website is an easy and inexpensive way to show off your art and keep in touch with your fans and buyers. Regular updates about what is going on in your world keep readers coming back and give them a glimpse into the oh– so– exciting life of an artist.

You’re the boss of your sales

People won’t be able to buy your art if they can’t figure out how to. Make it easy for people to buy your art. Link to places it is for sale. If you sell your art or design services online, set up an online payment option (like PayPal) and research shipping options before you offer your art for sale. Link to your art for sale from your blog or website.

You’re the boss of your email

Stay sweet and keep in touch. Keep an email list of your buyers and potential buyers. When you have big news, special sales, or new pieces of art to show, email your list and let them know. Try to limit your mass emails to once a month so you don’t repel people.

You’re the boss of the business

Every business needs a business card. Be sure your business card, promotional postcards, and blog all have your current contact information on them. Keep business cards with you at all times. You never know who you will meet when!

You’re the boss of your schedule

Don’t be a flake. If you commit to a job, do it in a timely manner. Art directors, editors, and buyers don’t want to work with artists who are not reliable. They have schedules and deadlines, too. If you are over extended, be honest with potential clients and give realistic time frames. Don’t let the ego boost get in the way of smart business. Buy a calendar and use it.

You’re the boss of your attitude

Gallery owners, book and magazine editors, and buyers won’t know you exist unless you make an effort. Submit your art for publication, get out and meet people, and attend art events with an open mind. Your art will not be right for every publication or gallery and that’s OK. Say thank you to people who give you time, appreciate the feedback, and keep going.

Linda Woods is the co-author of the best-selling books JOURNAL REVOLUTION and Visual Chronicles. Her artwork, journals, photographs, and articles have been featured on The View, print, and exhibits worldwide.

Molds of Introspection

An artist introduces us to his creation. Written by Devin Swick for Jayel Aheram.

I am an artist of duality. My passions include culture and love; dreams and nightmares; death and fear. My work, Oriental Intension, is an image of imitation and appreciation of Japanese art. When I begin working on something, I usually don’t know what the final result will be. I watch the colors and shapes in my subconscious spring to life what I think needs to be said about myself. The rest of the world does not exist in these moments — I have to drag it in with me — and we become witnesses of creation, within isolation.

I started with a blank, white backdrop, and experimented with the colors of my mood at the time. I cannot say that blue equals sadness and that yellow equals happiness, it is just a color that feels right, and it’s never the same. Next, I stroked my digital brush to fill the spaces I felt needed to be filled, guiding it with emotion and maybe even psychological need. I brushed in one direction, copied it, and repeated the process. There was a collection of these before I was done, which I layered together in differing opacities.

What was left was a raw mold of introspective design. Trimming what needed to be trimmed, arranging what needed to be arranged, I came out with a shape resembling nothing less than a kanji symbol. I took a step back and considered how best to represent this revelation. Between contemporary simplicity and a love for ancient design, I had many choices. I decided with something much less current and had to then decide how to go about it. This was my first time doing anything like this, ever.

At a low opacity, I burned my way through areas of the backdrop, and, using Retouch, smudged colors together to create an illusion of paint and age. I placed an illumination of a sun to give a stronger presence of Japan in the image, and then wrapped it up in a sepia tone to further emphasize aging. After, I painted a line down the image to contrast over the yellow sun, in which I feel was successful. Now, I needed detail.

Smudging the black line to give the impression of “running paint” gave less balance over the consistency of detail in the image, so I looked online for texture and found one that felt appropriate. It was an aged paper texture with some ineligible writing on it. Then I created an overlay layer that blanketed over the entire image, and lowered the opacity quite a bit to fit it snugly into the backdrop. The intention was to give the illusion of a painting on aged paper. After layering a Gaussian blur and adjusting the contrast (for dramatic effect), before I knew it, I was finished.

What I enjoy about the piece is that while it is not presumptuous or pretentious, I can believe in it. Some have even had to ask me if it were digital or painted on canvas. To an aspiring artist like me, it has made me feel proud, and in some way, validated, over what people may think of when their eyes explore my work, and in essence, explore who I am: an isolated person being discovered — dragging the world with them.

Devin Swick is an artist currently living in Arizona.

What Blogging Has Meant to Me

A blogger explores the consequences of blogging in her life. Written by Liz Fine for Jayel Aheram.

First, let me say I don’t think I would have had the courage to start my blog without the support of friends. In 2004, I was hanging out in New York City with a friend venting about my horrible job. My friend suggested we make a blog featuring talented everyday people, shining some long overdue light on them. The process seemed monumental, but so terrific. Even though I was filled with apprehension, I couldn’t let go of the idea. Right away, the voice in my head kicked in and told me a person needed an Ivy League college degree and loads of writing experience to start a blog. Typical, counting myself out before I even got in the game, but this time, my friend was pressing me so I pushed forward.

Right away, I set about designing my page and making all the decisions concerning content. I reached out to other bloggers for advice and they told me just to start writing and don’t stop. As time went on my blog began to reflect my life and it felt good to be in control of something that was evolving daily. Anything I did that was fun or interesting to me made it to the blog usually with pictures. When I traveled, the blog reflected my excitement for the next location. When I pondered life’s meaning, my blog became a spiritual place filled with food for thought. I created a relationship category and talked about my interpersonal struggles. When I discovered a great new face cream or lipstick I was suddenly a beauty editor.

Four years into a soul sucking, 9 to 5 job, I was thoroughly discouraged about my work life. I felt I had potential that would never be tapped in my cubicle-shaped prison and without realizing it, I began escaping through my blog. I was conducting interviews, taking loads of photos and generally spreading the word of my blog. I was shocked that people were taking me seriously. Eventually, my employer did for me what I couldn’t do for myself. One day, she called me in the office and said that she knew I was unhappy and I was fired. A weight immediately lifted from my shoulders and I felt free!

Shortly after being fired, I interviewed a young artist from Temple University. I took my own photos for the article and it was published in a magazine about edgy, up-and-coming musicians, designers, writers, and DIY entrepreneurs. Blogging had given me a safe place to spread my wings, take risks and most of all find out what doing something fulfilling actually felt like. Today, I’m at a job that I love. I still travel and still live for the next great lipstick shade, but since starting my blog, I have gained three beautiful nieces and become politically active. Today, blogging is still a big part of my day to day life. As I update with new people, places, and events, it remains my tried and true form of expression and yes, even dare I say… a friend.

Liz Fine is a long-time blogger and chronicles her thoughts, relationships, and travels in her blog Urban Addiction.