Sunday, January 18, 2015

Building Communities through Content

Today, there so are many avenues to promote your work online to a diverse, international audience. There are pros and cons to this abundance of media. I have found that there are only a small handful of creatives that utilize what is out there effectively. The majority of artists either get consumed by it or ban themselves from utilizing it at all. 

If you have lots of extra time on our hands and want to play with social media for fun, that's fine. But, for most professional artists who are running a business, time is a very valuable resource. So, it is important to know how to utilize the media in the most effective way.

Your goal, first and foremost, is the create GREAT CONTENT. You can do all kinds of things to get people to your site. If you don't retain those prospects, you have gained nothing and have lost a lot of time and effort. You need to change your focus. Use the media to promote a project that has a way to either make a sale, retain a prospect for future sales or both. Ultimately You are BUILDING  COMMUNITY.  This community building ideology is also important/valuable when pitching projects to publishers, film, merchanding etc.  If you establish a strong community/fan base, you have something marketers want to be a part of.


Website: Determine what your site will provide for prospective markets and communities.


Create the site to be engaging enough to sustain an ongoing interest from your target audience.

Design the interactivity to be easy to access from a multitude of devices.

Think ahead and allow the design to be flexible for adding, updating and changing as time goes on.

Use a Statcounter or Google Analytics to track pages and visitors. Use Google Alerts to track content mentions on other sites.



E-commerce aspects for direct purchases can use Paypal or credit cards using secure access like Verisign.

Affliate programs are also a way to make money through your site. 

Dick Blick Affliate
CJ Affliate 
Link Connector

Partnering with Etsy, Fine Art America, Zazzle, Cafe Press and other such vendors can make purchasing and even order fulfillment easier.











Blog: Set-up and monetize a blog through Blogger or Wordpress. Your blog can be linked to your social media so that each time your blog is updated, it is shared through your various sites. Be a contributor to large community sites with a targeted audience in your market. 





If you are a published artist/author, you can set-up an Amazon Author Page. Blog links, embedded video and other content can be displayed on this page. You can also set-up an Amazon Bookstore directly on your site.






YouTube: Develop your own channel and monetize your videos. Promote your products and other content using video that can be easily created using imovie or moviemaker.

Periscope Live videos to an audience. 

Facebook Livestream

Videos are great promotional initiatives to place on all your social media! 




Use social media to distribute your promotional initiative. Facebook can show links with icons and direct video access.  Join all the appropriate groups and post your links, video, etc. to these groups. This will distribute your news out to the masses.

Twitter can be linked to Facebook, so that each time you post to FB you are tweeting. Adding appropriate #s to you FB posts will further distribute your message.

Linked-in also has groups to join where you can post promotional content to. 

Behance and Instagram are also great ways to share content.











Monday, January 5, 2015

Branding & Target Marketing

Before you can begin to put together a portfolio of work, you need to fully identify the unique voice and vision that you bring to the world, articulating what makes you different from the competition. A brand and market analysis is integral to establishing a clear picture of your work and determining its positioning in the marketplace. It will also guide me in assisting you in putting together the appropriate presentation and target market for your work.
If you have not yet established or identified an existing brand, it is best to start the process. Begin by taking an honest look at not only your working process and approach, experience, capabilities, client relations and market preferences but also your core beliefs and values, creative interests and aspirations. They are what collectively make your offerings unique. By defining your brand from the inside out, you are setting a foundation from which to strategically position yourself in the marketplace. You are also placing in the buyer’s mind a certain profile of what you have to uniquely offer. If you offer nothing unique, then you leave open the opportunity for buyers to seek alternatives. The profile that you create in this assignment is very important in that it will aid in not only your strategic positioning but also your overall presentation and promotional messaging.
Being selective in your approach to new business is essential to building your market value for the long term. By developing relationships with clientele that share your vision, you begin to build industry recognition and leverage to do like projects. Actively pursuing work under a synergistic approach is the best way to capitalize on what you do best. I will need you to define your target market(s). Since it is important to channel your time and money resources wisely, I want to focus on one particular target market at a time. If we create an initiative that is too generalized, you will lose impact with any one market. For the purpose of the course, we will focus our efforts on one key market.

You want to establish a clear picture of your target market in order to create something that will be appealing enough to motivate them to give you work! Please be very detailed in your evaluation. I will be reviewing your assignment and working with each of you to help you meet your goals. Some of you may need to improve on what you have provided. 
The Branding and Target Market Worksheet PDF will help you identify your unique position in the marketplace. It will also establish a target market for which a  strategy can be developed.  http://www.cyrstudio.com/BrandWorksheet.pdf



 


Friday, January 2, 2015

Navigating the Labyrinth

For illustrators, the road ahead presents many challenges. A persistently uncertain economic climate has changed the playing field, forever altering the competitive landscape and significantly diminishing the traditional role of the freelance illustrator. To penetrate the instability in the marketplace and remain viable for the long term, illustrators must take a more active, forward-thinking, leadership role. They need to become more entrepreneurial, looking outside traditional venues to discover alternative markets for their work to move, grow and flourish.

Read more here from my Communication Arts Illustration Annual article Navigating the Labyrinth.

Visual Documentary/Video Presentation

Using Imovie , Windows Movie Maker or other video software, you can create a documentary style clip, video portfolio, a step-by-step demonstartion of your work and a combination there of.  Adding music, which should be royalty free or self-generated, along with animated graphics will enhance the viewing experience. 

There are a few things that you should consider when developing your video:

1. INTENT: What do you intend your video to do for you? 
Will you be promoting a particular project or body of work, selling prints or other merchandise, introducing a new book project, promoting an upcoming lecture or workshop, etc? Have a focus for the video along with a landing page link for the audience to follow through with. 

2. DESIGN: Design your video to specifically address your intention and target a particular audience.
Don't make your video an all encompassing catch-all for everything and everyone. Be specific and and your returns on your investment will be greater. 

3. SEQUENCE: Structure your video in a way that tells your story.
Utilize story boarding techniques to create impact. Start by doing quick sketches and notations on potential directions in which to take your video. Put all of your imagery and video clips in a folder in the appropriate order to assist in importing them into iMovie.

4. SOUND: Select the soundtrack that will enhance BUT not overpower your video.
I have created custom tracks for all of my videos. If that is not a skill set you have or want to acquire, I suggest you explore royalty free music options. Voice-overs are also a great way to enhance your video.

Talking About Your Work Podcast with Caroline Goyder
5. PRODUCTION: For detailed instructions on how to create a video in Imovie and Movie Maker click on the appropriate link.  Design your movie to function in high-resolution to be seen on a full screen or projected onto a large wall in a theatre-like presentation. BUT your video should also be able to be seen clearly on a mobile device.

Slide Format Set-up:
1. In Photoshop, select NEW under FILE. 
2. Preset to HDTV 1920w x 1080h pixel format. This will give you the right size in which to create your slides for imovie.



Once I have approved your video, you can post a high definition version on YouTube and other social media outlets!

Here are some videos that have been created in my class: 

Tereze Strautmane


Christine Kornacki

Christine Kornacki, Children's Book Writer and Illustrator from Christine Kornacki on Vimeo.

Clara Hartman


Interview of Clara Hartman


Debra Ferguson


Michael Nunez



Christopher S. Phillips



Kelsey Phillips



Leslie M. Ward



Meg Auchenbach


Victoria Wright

Kvita Horbaliuk


Lisa Gurzo




Vince Bonavoglia



Monique Maloney




Jess Meoni

Daniel Swartz


David Deal

Thomas M Notrangelo

Tomlynn Biondo

Andrea Smith 



Chris Piascik


Interview with Christina Galbiati

Q: Can you talk about your brand and how you incorporated that vision into your promotional materials?

A: My design aesthetic is simple, clean and contemporary, while my illustration and artwork is detailed, tactile, layered and full of energy. Having promotional materials that showcase my artwork without competing with the design of the piece was instrumental to conveying my brand effectively.

 
Q: What advice can you give other illustrator/designers when it comes to developing successful self-promotional materials?
A: Promotional materials should be dynamic while still representing your aesthetic vision. Consider your medium, audience and what work you are trying to attain. Design something that not only allows your work to sing, but also showcases how your abilities can benefit their business.
  
Q: Do you work in a sketchbook to develop your ideas? Please detail your conceptual approach to design.

A: Absolutely! Organic free-flowing sketches are instrumental to the creative process. I start each project by creating a word list and thumbnail sketches in pencil, one idea right after another. The key is getting down as many good (or bad) ideas as possible. The number of thumbnails varies, from a few to several pages. I know when I’m heading in the right direction when I see it and feel it. Intuitive acumen is a necessary part of this profession. It’s the unexplainable, the ‘a-ha’ moment you are striving for, when you allow yourself to trust your instincts. Once I identify a few solid ideas, I enlarge the sketch by hand, do some color blocking and then sketch an outline on my canvas or illustration board (for my design work, this is when I start computer construction). I tell my students that this is what sets them apart from those who overlook the conceptual process of design and just hop on the computer without any direction. If you skip this foundation step, you will end up not only wasting time but your work will most likely end up looking mundane as well.

Q: You have lots of very tactile traditional materials in your work. Can you talk about what inspires such choices in your design work?

A: I gravitate toward clean and contemporary materials such as metal and clear acrylic in order to balance out the detailed, handmade look of my work. Since my art is very colorful, I need to showcase it, so I am careful to pick good quality paper, usually a smooth white 80-100# cover stock. I utilize a limited color palette throughout all of my branding materials (white, gray/black, purple and green) in order to create a consistent visual identity.  


Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to visual communications through the layers of mixed media you employ?

A: I am enamored with tactile forms of communication and have created a deeply personal aesthetic journey of photocopying words and sometimes images to create unique patterns. I then hand tear the resulting paper to form my collages. The unexpected outcome of rough edges, uneven tones, broken lines and dot patterns that arise from the xerography process are intentional. My work symbolizes the importance of print media communication despite society’s increasing reliance on intangible, digital forms of communication.

Q: You are drawn to dimensional surfaces as well as unique elements. Can you tell us more about this aspect of your work?

A: It’s my natural instinct to create something that is robust in order to exaggerate my concept. This aspect of my work aligns with my approach to visual communication.

Q: Describe your artistic working environment and how it helps support your distinctive process and approach.

A: I work on a large art table and do not concern myself with the messiness that occurs during the collage process. However, this is one of the main reasons I usually complete each piece in one sitting. This approach allows me to work unencumbered and promotes a productive working environment. 

Q: What are your artistic and design influences and where do you look for inspiration.

A: Everything that is beautiful inspires me. It may be a melancholy sunset over a still beach, an exquisitely designed living room that showcases harmony and warmth, or that perfectly designed poster that shows emotion. If it captures my senses, I take notice. I am particularly drawn to art and design that utilizes type and geometry, specifically the bold and meaningful work of the Constructivism, De Stijl and Bauhaus movements. Some of my favorite illustrators/designers are: El Lissitzky, Alvin Lustig, Frank Lloyd Wright, Andy Warhol and Paula Scher. I am also inspired by León Ferrari and Mira Schendel’s work, which explore the written word through art. It’s quite impressive. In the end, inspiration is about surrounding yourself with things that make you feel good in order to put you in that right frame of mind to get your creative juices flowing. I’ve accumulated a library of books and design publications, as well as several file folders of beautiful samples of print material (pre-Pinterest). Basically, if I see something I like and it’s well designed, I save it.

Q: What do you see yourself incorporating in your work as your vision evolves? Any other advice that you would like to share when it comes to promotional endeavors?

A: I would like to incorporate different types of paper, handmade perhaps, as well vintage ephemera.

Promotional materials are much like a billboard on a busy highway: many will glance, several may see, but even fewer will remember. So, it’s important to spare no time, effort or expense to create something memorable.   

Biography:                 
Christina Galbiati specializes in art direction, graphic design, as well as contemporary mixed-media art and illustration. Her 15 years experience has allowed her to create conceptually strong, visually dynamic work for a multitude of clients in a wide range of industries. She received her M.F.A. Graphic Design degree at Marywood University in Scranton, and her B.F.A. in Communication Design from Kutztown University. She is an adjunct professor at Kutztown University and has also taught at Penn State - Lehigh Valley and Marywood University. In her free time, she likes to read, sketch, craft and travel. She resides in Hazleton, Pennsylvania with her husband and two beloved furry felines. http://www.christinagalbiati.com

 





Thursday, January 1, 2015

Interactive Storytelling

When it comes to engaging an audience, interactive and new media initiatives are at the forefront. Because of advances in technology and the Internet, we are seeing a plethora of digital entertainment vehicles introduced into the culture. The opportunities seem endless. “More than any other genre of entertainment, gaming advancements are happening at an absolutely mind-boggling rate and the need to stay on top of technology is critical,” details Daniel Dociu, concept artist and chief art director for NCsoft North America. “When the next generation of gaming hardware comes out, the potential of the machines is high and developers need to question how they can best use or take advantage of the com­put­ing power. A lot of the time, it means more man­power and bigger budgets to create; an approach where more is more.” To read more go to my article in Communication Arts on Interactive Storytelling.



The Evolution of Visual Storytelling

As we forge into the twenty-first century, publishers and content creators face a new generation of readers where interactive and new media platforms are at the forefront. Advancements in technology and the widespread use of the Internet through smartphones and handheld devices have spawned a plethora of web-based and interactive storytelling enhancements that are being gradually introduced into the book culture.

With the advent of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality, quick response (QR) codes that link to video, audio, gaming and web-based enhancements, 3-D stereoscopic and lenticular printing and e-books with hyperlinks, robust opportunities are abound, engaging both young and seasoned readers alike. Although still in its infancy, this emerging trend in visual storytelling is growing with more advanced, user-friendly capabilities as the technology becomes more mainstream.

To read more, check out my article in Communication Arts called Rock, Paper, Pixels:  The Evolution of Visual Storytelling



Building Fantastical Worlds: in Print, Broadcast, Film, Interactive Media and Beyond


My article in Communication Arts entitled Building Fantastical Worlds: in Print, Broadcast, Film, Interactive Media and Beyond provides an inside look into the development of intellectual properties that span across multi-media platforms. To meet the changes in the economic climate and competitive landscape, creators need to expand their intellectual properties to encompass a multitude of avenues.

Featured artists include James Gurney and Dinotopia, Tony DiTerlizzi and Spiderwick Chronicles and Phil Straub's Utherworlds.