What types of scams have you run across?

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Have you ever seen a Nigerian scam?

Yes, this is one of the most infamous and regularly emailed scams around the world. It is truly classic and hats off to these guys raking in people. Basically, they send the victim an email saying a close relative has died and left them money, but they cannot access it. In order for them to get it, they need a third party and ask for your bank account. That is the initial hook, then they start worming out money from that account.

Have you had other types of specific art scams?

The one I have run into a few times is that they email you and say, “I will pay for all the shipping”. That clues you right off the bat, as they have no idea where you live. Then they ask you to take a check and need your mailing address. Right then I just request them to take Paypal only, since that leaves me anonymous to the scammers. I’m not sure how the rest of the scam goes, because they can only do it via check and I always stop them right there. The other clue that you KNOW they are a scammer is they start to distrust you immediately, which is a HUGE red flag for me. They will say things like “can I trust you with the check?”

Have you seen other types of scams?

There’s another strange one that works on your interest in the opposite sex. They send a message saying they want to meet or something like that. Then who knows what? I always find that a bit obvious, so I just delete those without a thought. You can tell that is a scam as well, since they don’t even bother to put a picture with their profile, which means they just set it up. Why would you meet someone without even a picture is hilarious way to start!

Have you seen scams from other countries besides Nigeria?

No country can have the monopoly. The Chinese ones are hilarious as well. They misspell all the words on purpose! I guess you will think they are an idiot and will pity them. To me I just think they are truly an idiot for trying that obvious a scam. One scam misspelled “drawing” as “drawrings”. Too funny! How can you say you sell art drawrings? I crack up just reading this stuff. That one I found on LinkedIn.

Is there a simple way to protect oneself as an artist?

Besides trying to sell your work yourself, you can have your work sold via third party like a gallery or artist representative. They will protect you from the obvious email and website scams directly. The only trade-off is that you could hire a dishonest gallery or representative to sell your work. Then your art may sell and you don’t receive payment or you aren’t paid in full. Be aware though that these types of galleries don’t stay in business long as word of mouth spreads among artists, so a long term business operation is a good sign they are fair to their artists. A good way to find out is to ask some artists already represented by the gallery or agent to see if they are on the up and up.

In the end, you as a small business owner need to be aware of scams from any party and ask your artist friends of possible scams before entering them. Your friends and trusted galleries can act as a shield for you.

What do you think of my website?

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 ShawN shawN • Hi Qi, 

 Well, I took an in-depth look at your website. 

 http://www.qiart.us./index.html

Your realism art is amazing! Wow! Very breath-taking. I would say that your work appears to be going in multiple directions, which may cut down on its collectibility from a gallery perspective. I also think it would be more interesting to do more scenes of China, perhaps your childhood, etc. You may want to consider stripping out the sketches from the website and other studio work… it weakens your portfolio as your other work feels more richer, full of painting and more finished; quality is excellent in the drawing, but unless this is the focus, you might lower its prominence. 

 For the website, I saw some great pluses. I loved the simple outlay with a red side line and black center background. Simplicity is great in design and enhances the art and focuses customers on what you are selling. As far as the fonts on the side left, I wasn’t impressed. This font is clear (which is very important), but somehow is just to simple or boring compared to your artwork. Maybe a more elegant script or font to fit in better. Some of the headers of the main pages are a bit repetitive: portrait art, military art, etc. Maybe just list Artwork (with no links) and then the styles: portraits, military, illustrations, originals for sale. That will cut a bit on SEO, but maybe stronger on the titles. 

 The video you made is very strong and is a great selling point. It is a great idea to have the main page having this strong video. You may want to do some other videos that demonstrate your working style, which I think is huge draw for other artists and also the clients like this. I made a whole video of my Facebook commission and gave it to the clients. The videos also show the authenticity of a work, which increases the collectibility of the object, which then increases the price point for you as the artist on later works. 

The bottom links repeat the top side bar, which I understand to keep it simple for the user. I would make sure it is the same font as the side bar or perhaps a more elegant font. Typewriter font just doesn’t work for me. You can look to galleries for ideas on fonts that look more artistic and professional. 

 The About page is very simple and elegant. I think you might add a bit more meat on the bones. You could put why you became an artist, break-through works for you, how you like NYC vs. Beijing as an art residence. I think a bit more personal will work better than simply the schools and that you do freelance. There needs to have a journey and why you are unique to the other 1000s of artists in NYC. Who are your major influences and how did that impact your work? What did you think of the SF vs. NYC art scenes? What did you think of FIT or major influences there? 

 The button on the Military art once you open the page does not work for some reason.

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Does any one have any suggestions for a website that is user friendly but has gallery capability?

ShawN shawN • Good question Jennifer. Personally, I just use the Mac iWeb software to get your nice basic website, which came free with my Mac. Its a decent program that is simple to use and allows you to focus on painting.

Another strong program that is free is by weebly. We use it at our gallery, which allows nice simple easy to use pages to upload work as well. I would use either the Mac or Weebly to get started. After you get a better feel for software, you can upgrade to something else.

I would say that another great way to market is to join the numerous free art websites and link them back to your own website. This increases your search ranking in Google, so you are quickly found. Websites I use and link together include:

* Flickr.com

* Artbreak.com

* Artslant.com

* Fineartamerica.com (prints)

* Blurb.com (books)

* Cafepresse.com (art on clothing, mugs, etc.)

* Myspace.com

* Facebook.com

* LinkedIn.com

* Twitter

* Tumblr

* WordPress

* eBay.com

* Etsy.com

* Deviantart.com

I would try to dominate by using these websites the entire first page of Google, so only your name stands out, so you don’t get customers clicking on some other Jennifer.

Another important part of any website is the blog, which you already started. This will greatly add appeal to the website beyond just searching for art imagery. Best of luck on the website.

Keys to Success: What does a professional artist do?

ShawN shawN • Good question Jason. I would say that there are several keys to become successful as an artist.

One thing is to start out reasonably priced to break into the market. I started out very low priced on eBay to gain some national attention and then moved to the gallery market. After you get a good feel for how it works with a local gallery, I would definitely try to break into other city markets as you may be more successful elsewhere vs. your home market or find out you can sell for more because of that other market. I know comparing San Francisco to LA, there is about a 7 fold increase in prices and competition is tougher, but it likely pays more to ship and get into LA vs. my home market in San Francisco.

Two, is as Rani stated, you need to be gallery-friendly. I know of several artists that are difficult to work with and are just burning bridges. Remember, usually galleries are one of the best places to be sold in as they tend to market for you while you are at your day job. Galleries that are taken well care of will promote you better and give you insight into which style of yours is more sellable.

Three, is great marketing. Many artists want to focus only on the creativity and then let the gallery handle sales. Galleries can do a lot of marketing, but they need marketing you develop a bit to sell from. Additionally, you can drive a lot of customers to the gallery by having a great website yourself and a link to that gallery. You need to have a social media presence and do SEO research. If your website is not optimized for google, then people may go to someone else’s site after you promoted yourself to look on google. I personally have multiple free art websites in addition to my own and strive to dominate the first page of google with my name, so people don’t even know there are other ShawNshawNs in the world.

Four, is great relationships. You need to be regularly meeting other artists to learn your craft as well as networking for future art events. A lot of times this will feel like a waste of time, but you would be surprised at what types of connections you are building for the future. Remember, when a curator is looking for a new batch of artists, they usually pick friends as well as talented artists. So being friends with multiple art resources help you rise to the top beyond what your raw talent in art is.

Fifth, is talent. Marketing is definitely more important than talent, but you still need talent. You want to be studying art trends, up and coming artists and well-established artists and art as well. All this study will lead you to do better composition, color combinations, know the direction of art styles and see where your art fits in. Your art does not work in a vacuum and is competing with all the other art out there. Make sure you are unique, but still sellable.

Sixth is originality. If you are just copying other popular artists, then you never are going to reach upper ranks if this is your goal. You need to be able to break through with a new style at some point to have staying power and create value for collectors.

I got a call to exhibit my Art This is my first show and I am a novice. Any suggestions welcomed. I have sold some art but never a show.

ShawN shawN • Good question Janice. My advice is to build up your network. You already are on Linkedin, so that is a great start. You can connect with all your known art contacts, business contacts and other galleries. It is important to list your website and your portfolio on LinkedIn to generate more interest here. You can also build up the event in Linkedin and use that as a separate marketing tool.

Another great site to use is Evite.com. You can import your contacts from several email programs and then create a professional looking evite to send via email to your contacts. I always do this for every event.

As mentioned above, using Facebook and Google+ are excellent venues to advertise. FB is still much better than Google at this stage. Other venues are tumblr, stumble on, MySpace (still used a bit), twitter, etc.

Twitter is a special case because you can link twitter to your website, FB, Google+ and MySpace, so your micro blog is carried to multiple people. Always use keywords with a hash symbol like #art #painting #gallery #artshow, which will help unknown people looking at that to find your event. Use the @ symbol to send to particular people @obama for example. Another cool feature is to piggyback on popular trends of the day into your event if you can find a tie-in.

At the event itself, I would bring a camera and take as many shots as possible and film the event as well. This creates a good vibe at your event (you may be making them famous). Additionally, if you can have someone interview you on an android or iPhone, you can make it into a movie and upload to youtube for a multiplier effect of marketing of the show. Anyone that missed the show will get to enjoy it online and get psyched to see your next show. You can see my video as an example here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=By75UvyBN-M&feature=g-upl

Do you think Art is to express what words can’t?

ShawN shawN • I would say art is to express in a different manner than words. For example, if you see the news articles and photos of what happened in Guernica in the Spanish Civil War, these were the trigger that led Picasso to paint “Guernica”, which in turn led the fine art world to see this major political piece that they might have avoided. If we look at the horror of WWII that followed, we see Tolkien as producing several Lord of the Ring novels that reflect the terrible atmosphere, male bonding of war reflected in song and intricate storyline. That same book series were then translated to film as action sequences, beautiful costumes, accents and acting that made those films a huge success.

I would say that each art form: writing, painting, film, music, etc. are interwoven. Each stands as their own art form, but if successful usually overlay previous stories, myths, composition, figures in the painting, reworded lyrics, etc. that reference the past into the present.

Additionally, in our multimedia version of the world, many medias such as writing and painting overlap. Previous to the internet and written word, art was sold by visiting galleries with the spoken word of a salesmen or via a rich art patron. In many cases, this type of patronage survives today. As the internet and printing press arose, the way art was changed to include writing: coffee table books, postcards, posters, etc. that blended art and the written word. The internet has taken it to another extreme as anybody can create a website and blog, which leads to reduction in the amount of time a style is famous. We have gone from 15 minutes of fame to a New York minute down to 15 seconds of twitter fame.

Many artists also blend words and graphical elements into their work. I personally have one style blending paper with written words or calligraphy to incorporate into my painting. I even paint words into the painting, so the painting becomes literal. There are multiple possibilities in art.