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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Tips for Protecting Your Artwork from Theft

Artist Sharing Concerns

Recently, while networking with a new artist who's work got a phenomenal response, I was asked if they should watermark their work. This artist proceeded to tell me that they don't share much work because they have concern about their works getting copied and stolen. That's too bad because if an artist chooses not to share their work, they are missing out on getting their work seen.

The Watermarking Debate and Image Resolution

Watermarks are a tough question. Sometimes I use them and sometimes I don't. It depends on what I"m sharing electronically. Once I've completed a work and have signed it, I usually don't watermark it because my signature is on the piece. However, I don't upload high resolution photos either. As seen on my a portion of my Water Lily Pond painting below, I try to keep them at 1 MB because it's hard to make a good copy from just 1MB, but it still shows nicely on social media. I think this is the best option because the watermark does distract from your image.
Low Resolution Image is fuzzy when enlarged
When you do watermark, you need to make it difficult to remove. There are programs and people that can take the time to remove them.
Programs like Gimp or Adobe Photoshop can be used to create a watermark. I create mine with a brush to where I can set the size, color and transparency. It should be large enough to cover part of the image, but transparency as well. The transparency doesn't interfere with too much of the image and I believe is harder to remove. Just photograph your signature and follow the appropriate steps below. Make sure your background is set to Transparent.


Find the Gimp Tutorial here:
Find the Photoshop Tutorial here: Create a Photoshop Brush

To Get Your Work Noticed You Have to Take Risks

There are never any guarantees, but if you want to get noticed and get your work seen, you have to get it out there. Be cautious of art sites too. I follow some professional sites and one of them recommended an art social media sharing site to get your work seen. I joined and uploaded some works, but soon backed off of because in order for your work to show nicely, the file needs to be larger than I'm comfortable with uploading. To check the image resolution of your work on a site, just drag your art to your desktop, right click, then click properties on the drop down. You should find the image resolution details on the drop down list.

Written by Tina A Stoffel

Monday, March 14, 2016

Five Tips for Maximizing Your Art Studio Time

For many artist, myself included, balancing studio time can be a challenge. Some of us have to work a full time job for steady income. Some may have interfering health conditions. Others may be taking care of children, parents, etc.

For me, I'm running the household and raising a teen and preteen while my husband works incredibly long hours to support us. It would be very difficult for me to do what I do without him and I would be lucky to get a painting or two done a year.

Everyone's situation is unique, so what can you do to maximize your studio time? For me, studio time comes first (after my family of course). Sometimes that can minimize time due to running my children to sports, band, social activities or if they are sick.

Five tips for maximizing your studio time

1. Set a schedule and post it on your art studio door or near your work space. Put it in your phone. (Come on now, you knew this was coming).
2. Be flexible
3. Limit your time on Social Media (I'm going for 1-1/2 hours a day)
4. Get organized
5. Work efficiently

Let me address these one by one

1. Why set a schedule?
Everyone else has one, right? As creative people, most of us do not like schedules, or at least I don't. As a matter of fact, I can not stand them. I admit, I'm still working on ironing mine out probably because it's constantly changing with children. However, think of it like this, when you are working for an employer, you have set hours and must be there during that time. The same should apply to your studio time. Others should not bother you unless it's an emergency. This is a sure way to be productive on a regular basis. For your convenience, I'm going to attach a copy of a sample schedule. You should be able to download and print. If you can not edit this one to your liking, you can create your own in Microsoft Excel or Google docs which automatically saves to your Google drive. Click the following link for a copy of this schedule.

Are you working full time? Set aside a little time each night through the week, or every other night, even if it's just 30 minutes. Just for working on the sketch for your next painting, priming or building a canvas, or varnishing a painting. All this in small sessions can add up to a lot of extra time. Set aside quality time on weekends and holidays to dedicate to longer sessions and completing work. 

2. Be Flexible. In my case, I have to be. My kids are down with a stomach bug, wisdom teeth removal, going to sporting events, banquets, (yes this all happened in the past week) needing help with homework, school events, Dr. Appointments, etc. Of course this goes against Rule number 1, but it happens and you should still have a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. That will keep you on track, and don't beat yourself up too much if you are off schedule a bit. Get back on track as soon as possible.

3. Limit your time on Social Media: I'm guilty again. This is tricky because most of us are marketing on social media. If you aren't you should be. In addition to having a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram page, I moderate 4 Google Plus Art Communities, one which is over 4,000 members. Feel free to join me there if  you like. Here is the link: Online Fine Art Exhibition. (You must request to join so we know you aren't a spammer). I'm giving myself an hour in the morning and again in the evening. I need to cut this down to 30-45 minutes though. In addition to catching up with friends and family, I market and network with artists, but this can eat up your time quickly. So set a timer, it's not hard. 

4. Get organized and stay organized. Another challenge for us creatives is to stay organized, but you will feel much more relaxed, find things easier, and in turn be more productive if you get yourself organized. You will find your supplies, forms, invoices and more with ease when you are organized. I just took a weekend off to organize my studio and it now feels so much better to go into my studio. I think I need to do that every month or two.
After organizing and cleaning-Ahhhhh

5. Work efficiently. Feel stuck while a painting is drying? Start your sketch and/or prep your canvas for your next project. I did this over the weekend while waiting on my Zebra painting to dry for the next layer so I don't mix the colors and get gray. Yeah, learning that one the hard way. So what did I do? Let it dry and worked on my Giraffe for the next painting. It felt great to get a  head start.

See, I sketched the Giraffe which will be the 5th painting in my wildlife series. I hope this information  has helped you. Some of the tips I've gathered are from following other artists and coaches such as Alyson Stanfield. She has amazing tips. I welcome your comments and would love to hear how you maximize  your art studio time, so please feel free to comment. 

*Clip art from

Tina A Stoffel