27 January 2012

Life of Art SitRep #103 And breathe...

Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
I meant to finish creating the new products introduced last week for my existing photographs and designs, but Zazzle added another new product this week (aluminum water bottles) which slowed me down. With 8 photographs left to go today, I remembered my theme for the year: Ease. Deciding not to kill myself finishing it today felt pretty great. I can finish it tomorrow.

This week, I

  • Blogged, FB'd, and Tweeted 15% off sale:
    Get 15% Off All Products until January 27, 2012 at 11:59pm PT! (That's today!)
    Use code: 15WINTERSALE

  • Made new water bottle templates.

  • Added 165 new items to my existing catalog of images including messenger bags, planners, iPad sleeves, macbook air sleeves, macbook pro sleeves, and water bottles as appropriate:

  • Posted 44 products to promotional blogs.

  • Rearranged store, moved digital designs down with rest of them. Added folio and messenger bag to top picks.

  • Deleted album in store images that was driving me crazy by making me click more times to get to design images.

  • Watched "High Pass Sharpening" Photoshop tutorial.

  • Watched Video Tutorials – "Using Adobe Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask Tool" and "How To Fix Photos That Are Too Dark Using Adobe Photoshop" and "Demonstration of Content Aware Scale in Adobe Photoshop."

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?

    3 years ago on TTaT: Winter waters

    23 January 2012

    Post Office Etiquette

    While waiting in line at the post office, I started filling out a Signature Confirmation Receipt. In my peripheral vision, I saw a middle-aged woman (probably only 10 or 15 years older than me, gah!) come up beside me and then sort of step out of line as though she was considering cutting ahead of me. I turned my head in her direction and she stepped back in line behind me.

    I'm not a jerk, I thought to myself, If I'm not done by the time the next cashier is ready for me, I'll let you go ahead of me.

    There were still two people in front of me in any case. When the line moved up, I slid down the counter and finished the form. I stood next to the one guy ahead of me for a long time watching the two cashiers help two people. A third postal worker would periodically walk up to a third register, do some stuff, and then walk away.

    After he'd done that two or three times and one of the other cashiers also walked away, I commented to the guy ahead of me, "Just when you think they're going to open a third register..."

    "Yeah," he said. "They keep teasing us."

    I looked at my letter and form for about the tenth time and read the back of the Signature Confirmation Receipt. I read it a couple of times to make sure that it only applied to packages. I had the wrong form.

    The counter by the line had slots with all of the various postal forms in it, but I was too far up to reach them. I took a step along the counter side of the antsy woman behind me (there was room because she was back out like a runner trying to steal 2nd) and reached in front of an older man to grab a Certified Mail Receipt while saying, "Excuse me."

    I stepped back to my place in line and hurriedly started filling out the new form.

    The antsy woman chirped, "Are you still in line? Are you ready?"

    "Yes. I will be by the time they are." I scribbled the address again.

    FYI, antsy woman, the content on the forms I was filling out was more for my benefit than a requirement for my transaction. In any case, I was still done before the next cashier was ready.

    However, antsy woman, if I hadn't finished, your behavior made it likely that I would've taken the form up to the cashier to finish it there. (Though I probably would have asked for the stamps I needed first so as not to waste the cashier's time.)

    To sum up: Chill out when you're waiting in line. Assume the best of the people ahead of you. Don't cut or ponder cutting ahead of someone filling out a form (especially when there are still people ahead of her! It makes you look like a jerk.).

    If, and only if, the person ahead of you is at the front of the line and is still filling out paperwork when the next cashier is ready may you calmly and POLITELY ask to go first. Keep your frenzy dialed down and ditch your entitlement altogether. If they didn't suggest that you go first on their own already (Assume the best of the people ahead of you), it's possible they will say no. In they do, suck it up. They were there first. With any luck, more than one cashier will be working so you won't have to wait much longer.

    5 years ago on TTaT: Potentially crazy making

    21 January 2012

    Best Business Practices for Photographers

    Best Business Practices for Photographers4. Best Business Practices for Photographers by John Harrington

    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    An excellent reference book for the business side of photography. Loads of examples and resources throughout. That said, it's also a bit overwhelming for someone who isn't already in business as a photographer. I think the book contains a lot of great advice for getting things set up the right way from the beginning though.

    For the non-pro reader, I would start with the chapter that walks you through copyright registration (chapter 17). It's followed by what to do when you're infringed in chapter 18 with a handy step-by-step to getting an ISP provider to remove your images from a site violating your copyright according to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) starting on page 329: "Case Study: a DMCA Violation." (You might find this useful, Dave2, since you don't have to deal directly with the infringer.)

    Then I would read chapters 6 and 7, "Setting Your Photographer's Fees" and "Pricing Your Work to Stay in Business" to remind yourself what your work is really worth. Most people I know can't hear this enough, myself included.

    Then I'd look at the chapters on contracts which include many examples of what clients expect/demand and what you can counter with. Harrington also discusses what the contract language means. There are several ways the language can be phrased so that it says you retain your copyright while you're actually giving all those rights away. Watch out for "exclusive," "transferable," and "sublicensable" rights. Completely avoid "work made for hire" if at all possible.

    From there, I might go to chapter 26 "Licensing Your Work." It just depends on what applies most to you. There's a chapter on IRS audits that has tips that would be useful for anyone. Other chapters cover more of the nitty gritty business stuff: lawyers, accounting, insurance, staff, dealing with clients, etc. Make use of the contents and index. (Sizzle, you might find the chapter on contracts for weddings and rites of passage very helpful. Main take-away, get paid upfront so you're not waiting with a bunch of other vendors to get paid after the honeymoon when the couple is broke.)

    I really appreciated how Harrington shared his correspondences with clients, and examples of invoices and licenses. "It's not our policy to..." is one of his great ways to say "No" to an unreasonable client request. There are a lot of examples in the book of what you can say to a client who insists on something (often all the rights to your image forever everywhere for one fee) or one who objects to the estimated cost you propose.

    I hope Harrington writes a 3rd edition to keep the information current.

    On a tangential note, I'm kind of freaked out. I don't think I can do a lot of what it takes to make a living as a photographer according to this book, at least not well which doesn't even account for not wanting to do a lot of it. I was never going to be a wedding, rites of passage, portrait photographer which is the industry's bread and butter.

    How then do I make the life of art I want to have work? And what does that life look like exactly? Those are the conundrums.

    For now, there are bits from the book I can do, so I'll start there and let the rest sink in more. 500 pages of business talk is a lot to take in.

    A year ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #50 the big five-oh

    20 January 2012

    Life of Art SitRep #102 Round One

    Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

    Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
    This week, I

  • Shot 12 self portraits.

  • Made templates for new Planners, Messenger Bags, iPad Sleeves, MacBook Pro Sleeves, and MacBook Air Sleeves and then used them to create 123 new items from my digital designs.
    Black and White Rectangles rickshawmessengerbag
    Black and White Rectangles by RocklawnArts
    Browse other commuter bag designs on Zazzle.

  • Added new items to links list.

  • Posted 38 products to promotional blogs.

  • Rearranged store a bit.

  • Blogged Bone China, Espresso, and Jumbo Mugs now available at Rocklawn Arts!

  • Finished reading Best Business Practices for Photographers, 2nd edition by John Harrington. Uf, more on this soon.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?

    Two years ago on TTaT: Registered to vote in MA? Go vote!

    18 January 2012

    Consider this black

    Please contact your Senators and US Representatives, and tell them to vote NO on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and ProtectIP (PIPA).

    16 January 2012

    Be Cool now with Bonus Tangents!

    Knowing that I would have to endure at least an hour of a claustrophobic situation yesterday, my motto was "Be cool."

    I'm not sure how they keep managing it but once again my appointment was for the coldest day within the 7 day forecast. Not one of the oddly above average warm days, no, it's the days where the high is only in the teens and my appointments either fall well before or after that temperature would be reached. Bundling up for 11 degree weather is not so bad but I was avoiding wearing any metal except what my jacket had. My pajama bottoms, though sporting a cool series of vertical blue stripes, are on the thin side. Knee high socks help but not that much when it's that cold. Yay for heated seats and someone willing to drop me off and pick me up at the door.

    I'd been trying to gauge how long it would take based on two past experiences that would now be combined, but I was dismayed when she said an hour and a half. "Are you claustrophobic?"

    "Yeah, a bit. I've done this before but not all at once." Be cool.

    I wore a different sweater this time, one that wasn't so bulky: a good choice as it didn't push against the sides of the tube I was in.

    I know to relax my shoulders as much as possible before we start, and I also know it's never relaxed enough. "Just slide up an inch so you shoulders are against the headrest," the tech said. I'll just say that when you've recently thrown out your back, these are not words you want to hear. Ow.

    The cage over me was bigger this time and part of it was resting on my chest which I really didn't like. It's easier to ignore confinement the less you can feel it. Be cool.

    "Take a nap if you can," he said before leaving to start the machine.

    I closed my eyes but they felt really jumpy. And then the knocking, beeps, and electronic tones started. The sounds vary widely and occur in spurts of varying length with few pauses. All they have in common is that they are really loud even with earplugs and foam blocks beside your ears. Not likely I can nap through this.

    I focused on my breathing, keeping it slow and calm. Thank you, yoga.

    I should have elongated my neck before we started because I felt like I was at an odd angle making it harder to swallow and periodically stressed out over it since I wasn't supposed to move.

    I tried picturing a tropical beach: white sand, blue ocean, a palm tree arching in from the right, listening to the waves, the sand in my toes. But then I thought about the heat, how I always burn, and how I generally like the idea of a beach more than lying on one.

    Considered and discarded: a large beach umbrella, a cabana, an infinity pool overlooking the ocean.

    Next up my dream library. Red mahogany built in shelves from floor to ceiling all full of books. Can't have it be too dark though so lots of sunlight from skylights and windows. Maybe a view of the tropical beach, perhaps opening out to it.

    "You're doing great," the tech's voice said through a speaker. "Are you doing all right?"

    I croaked, "Yes," and made a subtle adjustment to my neck. My palm felt a little sweaty loosely holding the call button. The loud clicks and buzzes resumed. 8 more minutes to the first set, then another set, then pulled out for a contrast injection, and then back in for another round.

    You know, I bet H would hate this. Well, I don't know if she's claustrophobic, but the loud sounds would almost certainly be triggery for her. But perhaps I won't mention that. On the off chance she ever needs this done, I don't want to prime her for a bad experience.

    The library opening out onto the beach wasn't enough, so what next? Puppies!

    The off-white puppies were absolutely conjured from the unrated version of Bridesmaids that I had just watched with my dad the night before.

    Some things to note: I do not recommend watching the unrated version of Bridesmaids with your dad. Though I haven't seen the theatrical cut, I think I would have preferred it.

    But back to my dad who said, "What does 'unrated' mean? That it's for everybody?"

    "Uh, no. Think about it: Un. Rated. Use your logic." Once I was done looking at him as though he were crazy, I explained, "Unrated usually means that version of the film is more lewd and gross. Racier."

    I should have stressed the gross more, but I still don't think he would have understood because he has no current frame of reference. He hasn't seen any of the now typical guy comedies that seem to hang their humor on grossness. He doesn't really watch TV so he hasn't even seen trailers for those types of movies.

    He wanted to see the unrated version though and I was willing to humor him. Periodically during the film when he expressed shock at one thing or another, starting with the first scene!, I found myself just saying, "I told you it was unrated." I felt like he hadn't listened to me.

    Despite that and the fact that Bridesmaids is clearly a film aimed at women, he laughed a lot. It did make me laugh but I enjoyed it more for its story about women from a woman's point of view. Though it's taken to extremes, a lot of the emotional content felt true to me.

    I was trying to think of any comedies, excluding romantic comedies, that I'd really liked since they aren't typically my thing. I came up with Sister Act, Sister Act 2, and The Blues Brothers, all of which could be classified as musicals rather than straight comedies. So I don't know. It's an odd genre. Ooh, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    Anyway, I was grateful for the image of the puppies.

    I also thought of Maru, Japanese cat and internet sensation. I wasn't picturing his coloring clearly, so I imagined him sprawled on his back (as he often does) and giving him a belly rub. When I lived with a cat, belly rubs were stealth affairs, both brief and fast if I didn't want to get scratched. Being imaginary though, I gave Maru a good long belly rub. Belly fur is so soft!

    I need another fuzzy hoodie, one without a zipper. It'd probably be better without a hood for this too. A fuzzy sweatshirt to pet would be comforting. I wonder if anywhere has those. Hmm, what color to get? Another blue? No, maybe red if they had a good red.

    All in all, it took 1 hour and 13 minutes from the time I walked back to the time I walked out. Though it ran shorter than the predicted hour and a half, I was at my threshold for remaining still and in a confined space. As the table rolled out, it took all my patience to wait for the tech to come in and remove the cage over my head even though it only took maybe 3 minutes before I could sit up.


    Might be time to invest in a pair of warm sweatpants if I could find some without much elastic.

    And how was your Sunday? If you see a fuzzy sweatshirt anywhere, please let me know.

    5 years ago on TTaT: Other People

    13 January 2012

    Life of Art SitRep #101 Spotted pups rest easy

    Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

    Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
    Oh you guys, I threw out my back. Feels like karmic payback for skipping yoga. OK, so that's not particularly art related, but it is attracting much of my attention at the moment. It is feeling a little better so I'm hoping a night's sleep will put it right. Fingers crossed.

    This week, I

  • Shot 100 photographs, woo!

  • Created White Circles on Black design, wrote a description for it, and made a product line:

  • Made another 20 specialty mugs finishing up what I'm going to make from my back catalog of designs and photographs.

  • Did tablet tutorials. Incorporating this into my workflow is going to take some getting used to.

  • Scheduled Rocklawn Arts blog post for White Circles on Light Blue.

  • Posted 36 products to promotional blogs.

  • Tweeted, blogged and FB'd new design White Circles on Black.

  • Swapped two calendars for cases in top picks in my shop.

  • Updated metadata templates and deleted some old ones.

  • Watched Setting up a Home Studio with John Cornicello workshop on Creative Live.

  • Watched Video Tutorial – Using Photoshop’s Built-in HDR Toning Effect On A Single Image.

  • Read another draft of my friend's script. Was able to give him several "good note"s and at least one "great idea." Feels good to be helpful.

  • Finished reading Popular Photography Nov. 2011 issue.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?

    A year ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #49 Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch

    12 January 2012

    Ow, naturally

    Felt kind of tired so I decided to skip my usual ~18 minutes of yoga. Figured I'd get some exercise doing laundry instead, even decided to do an extra load for a total of 3. (Accursed winter layers!) I hauled it all downstairs with no problem. While putting in my first load, however, I managed to wrench my lower back something awful.

    Like can't bend over anymore without pain awful. I have no idea what triggered it, other than being old and not warmed up; I didn't make any extreme movements or anything. sigh.

    I managed a deep knee bend to retrieve the sheets I wanted to put in that load, closed the lid, and eased my way into the kitchen.

    Right now, the back of my chair has warmed up a bit which feels pretty nice. Tempted to hit up the chair massager (one of those things they sell at Bed, Bath, & Beyond during the holidays), but I would have to reach the floor to plug it in. Not sure I'm ready for that. Maybe a little later.

    2012, I've got my eye on you.

    How's your day going? I hope well.

    ETA: Naturally I'm wearing my "I do all my own stunts" t-shirt.

    A year ago on TTaT: All right

    06 January 2012

    Life of Art SitRep #100 Woo!

    Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

    Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
    I have mixed feelings about my 100th week. Both "Yay, 100!" and "Shouldn't I be further along than this?" The hard truth is that "success" requires interactions and networking that I resist. Not sure how or if I will change to accommodate that. Hmm. I reckon this is me trying to make it work without dealing with people. Could be better. Thus,

    If you see a design that you like or that someone you know would like, please share it via Twitter, FaceBook, Google+, email, or any other social media that suits you. Your support is much appreciated!

    This week, I

  • Made 24 Specialty Mugs (bone china, espresso, and jumbo):

  • Made Rainbow Square notepad.

  • Had my Double Arches ornament featured on Bebops' Zazzle Best Sellers blog.

  • Made 2 image specialty horizontal mug template.

  • Posted 42 products to promotional blogs.

  • Rearranged store a bit, moved a row of digital designs down with other digital designs near bottom.

  • Updated copyright notices on TTaT and Rocklawn Arts blog.

  • Tweeted, blogged, and FB'd a sale.

  • Updated online sales file. Added sheets for 2012.

  • Wrote Life of Art 2011: the year in review post. Stop by to see every design I added to my shop in 2011. (It's an image linking marvel!)

  • Removed expired sale from my squidoo lenses.

  • Finished proofreading a friend's script. Doesn't sound much like a life of art, does it? Well, I did more than point out typos and grammatical flaws; I proposed solutions. Put my writing/editing brain to work.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?

    Two years ago on TTaT: 1. You Better Not Cry

    03 January 2012

    Low profile

    Rather than resolutions, I've been picking themes for the past several years.

    2007: Engage
    2008: The Sleeper Must Awaken.
    2009: Begin anyway
    2010: You Shall Be Known As Usul.

    And then came 2011. I played it close to the vest for a long time, not writing about it until May in a post called Caveats. Turns out that “a person needs new experiences” (another quote from Dune) is exactly the sort of thing that the proverb "Be careful what you wish for. You might get it." warns about.

    Although I had many new experiences in 2011, I wouldn't wish them on anyone. The dreadful way most of the year played out soured me on picking a theme at all for this year.

    And yet… “Ease” came to mind and took root in my brain. It felt right even as I resisted choosing a theme.

    Certainly not the most ambitious guiding principle but one I could use after last year.

    It's already turning up in ways I hadn't anticipated, good ways. I looked at some planners from years past that have been sitting on my side desk for a couple of years and knew where to put them. Getting rid of some clutter, finding places for things: the space that provides is a form of ease.

    I was down for the count much of last year, so by fall I was racing to catch up. My attitude towards most everything became, I could do that or I could work on Rocklawn Arts. I routinely chose work favoring product creation over other big picture tasks.

    I need to ease up so that I will actually do some of the management stuff I keep putting off, so that I will recognize those tasks as being as vital as adding new designs to my shop.

    Also, I could use more fun. Space to revitalize and play. Heck, to blog.

    My inner voice is often a harsh critic insisting I'm not doing enough. Since the sentiment holds truth, it's hard to discount; I don't want to discount it per se, just to let what I'm doing be enough for now. I think there's growth to be had within ease that I can't quite see right now.

    Here's to 2012: Ease.

    What's your theme/intention/resolution/goal for 2012?

    Whatever it may be, I wish you the greatest success with it and a happy and healthy new year!

    A year ago on TTaT: Note to self, vol. XV

    01 January 2012

    Life of Art 2011: the year in review

    Happy New Year!

    For the past 99 Fridays, I've been tracking my efforts to create a life of art for myself. Here's a look at what I accomplished in 2011.

  • I added 48 new photographs and designs to my Rocklawn Arts shop. My goal was to add 1 new design per week which totally didn't happen, but I still came close to 52 for the year. You'll see why I don't mind falling short in the next bullet.

  • Adobe CorridorPetrified Forest DesertFootprints in SnowMelting Snow

    Rainbow StripesRainbow SquareRainbow SquaresFive Fabrics With Geometric Patterns

    Red Linen Fabric TextureFlowing Blue Silk Fabric AbstractBrown Suede With Strap And BucklePuffy Clouds On Blue Sky

    Golden Gate Bridge Suspension CableOn The Golden Gate BridgeRock Mountain SummitRed Hibiscus With Raindrops

    Dark Red and Blue RectanglesLight Blue and Dark Blue RectanglesRainbow PlanetsPine Tree Bark With Moss

    Rainbow Polka Dots on WhiteRainbow Polka Dots on BlackRainbow BullseyeRainbow Polka Dots on Grey

    Red Dianthus With RaindropsSnow-tipped Pine Tree on Blue SkySnow-covered Trees: VerticalSnow-covered Trees: Horizontal

    Green and White Gingham PatternRed and Green Gingham PatternNavy and White Gingham PatternRed and White Gingham Pattern

    Snow-covered Oak TreePurple and White Gingham PatternRed and Green RectanglesRed Circles on Green

    Green Circles on RedWhite Circles on Light BlueDouble Rainbow BarcodeWhite Circles on Red

    Blue Circles on RedWhite Circles on GreenOrange Circles on RedRed Circles on Blue

    White Circles on BlueBlack and White RectanglesFeistyBlack and White Gingham Pattern
  • I added 26 new product types to Rocklawn Arts for a total of 2711 new items (includes about 100 templates):
    Portable Speakers
    Wrapped Canvas

    9 new Case-Mate cases:
    iPod Touch cases
    2 types of iPhone 3G/3GS cases
    3 types of iPhone 4/4S cases
    Samsung Galaxy S (T-Mobile Vibrant) cases
    BlackBerry Curve 8520/9300 cases
    BlackBerry Bold 9700/9780 cases

    Tile Gift Boxes
    Small Gift Boxes

    Flexible Magnets

    Gel Mousepads

    Laptop Sleeves
    Photo Plaques
    3 types of Specialty Mugs which include bone china, espresso, and jumbo mugs.

  • Watched a crazy amount of Creative Live workshops. I would count or link to them all but I'm running out of steam. The biggest gain for me was how much I learned about Photoshop and have been able to apply.

  • Read 51 books, scripts, or book-like things. Not everything shows up on GoodReads, but most of it's there if you'd like to take a look.

  • There's more I'm sure, exhibits and outings, but I'm anxious to get back to 2012's life of art endeavors. Cheers!

    UPDATED 1/2/12: I am remiss for not mentioning that
  • I donated $118 from my Rocklawn Arts proceeds to WriteGirl as part of Colleen Wainwright's 50-for-50 fundraiser.

  • I also donated at least $8.25 (numbers for November and December aren't in yet) to Room to Read via referrals from my Squidoo lenses. Not much I realize, but I like the idea of having philanthropy built into my business even if only on a small scale.

  • Five! years ago on TTaT: I like me some angles, 2007: Engage