It’s Here Again!

Yes, it is here again, tax time that is.  Here in the United States, most everyone is required by law to file a federal income tax return for the previous year with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which must be postmarked by midnight, April 15 every year.  You may also be responsible for State Income Tax as well, and this varies from state to state.  Yes, I said most, as there are some exemptions, and you can take a survey on the IRS website by clicking on the link here.

This always leads to long lines at the post offices as people have put off filing, and again, it needs to be postmarked by midnight, April 15.  However, this year the filing date has been extended to midnight April 18 so you have a couple of extra days!  Efile.com has a table of filing dates which you can view by clicking here.  For more in depth information on State Income Tax, you will need to visit the website of your state’s government offices or contact an Income Tax specialist in your area.  Art, taxes

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One of my New Years resolutions was to simplify more.  Simplify not only my life in general, but also my MAW (Martindale Artworks) business.  I have three email accounts, one for my website, one that I had from a previous version of the MAW website, and my personal account.  After the first of the year, I sat down and started cleaning up emails and the first two accounts went rather quickly.  However, the personal account has been overwhelmingly inundated in the past year with an unbelievable amount of junk.  The account is arranged with Primary, Social, and Promotional tabs, and I knew that I had been strictly dealing with the emails that seemed important, and letting the rest go.  “I will get to them later”, I kept telling myself.  Therefore, I had over 2100 emails in the one account!  Yikes!  So I set out to start hitting the delete button.

Well, not so fast.  I was curious to know where all this stuff was coming from.  The Primary tab was pretty much items that I had saved for information, or pertained to something that was in progress, so that tab was good.  Social had the least, and is basically blogs I follow, Facebook notifications, etc. and I whittled that one down pretty quickly.  Now for the Promotions tab.  They were literally from everywhere.  Places like Nashville Paw Magazine, Professional Artists’ Magazine, Hobby Lobby, etc, were fine.  The rest I wanted to know how I made their list.  Some were because I ha signed a petition, contacted a congressman, bought or inquired about something and one of their affiliates was sending me an offer.  Others were much more vague, loosely tied to some entity I was familiar with, while a few were just randomly sent to me.

This REALLY irritates me for a couple of reasons:  first, it loads up everyone’s email accounts with things we aren’t even interested in.  There were actually a couple of good blogs in the mix, but I unsubscribed for the simple fact that they never asked me to sign up.   Second, it makes legitimate businesses that send out legitimate newsletters look bad.  I send out a MAW newsletter once a month (on average) and I DO NOT give, sell, lease, rent or buy email addresses.  I just don’t play that game.  I want people to sign up because they like my work, I mean I truly have enough to do without all that. Furthermore, I have run into people at shows that are leery of signing up for an art newsletter, afraid that they will be bombarded with email.  I actually heard an art marketing coach tell her followers to send at least one lengthy email every other month, and 2-3 mini e-blasts per month.  Seriously???  Once a month is plenty, and maybe a quick one line reminder if there is something special going on.

Third, it is against the CAN-SPAM ACT (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003).  This is a Federal law that actually has procedures businesses must follow regarding building a mailing list and using email for marketing.  Just adding a person at random is not one of them.  Prospective recipients must opt in by signing up to receive email from a business, or tell them to be put on a list.  The entity may add them to a list as long as they send that individual a notice stating they have been added but are free to unsubscribe at any time.  You can read more about the CAN-SPAM ACT by clicking here.  There are also guidelines to follow if you feel you are being sent unsolicited email or have tried to unsubscribe and it didn’t appear to go through.

Understandably every business is trying to build their mailing lists.  But blatantly adding addresses is not the answer.  If you are tired of the junk, just hit ‘unsubscribe’.  I ended up unsubscribing and deleting an overwhelming amount of email, and it is a huge relief.  Now I can actually concentrate on and enjoy the stuff that is truly important to me such as newsletters from businesses and artists I am interested in.  Whats more, the more clicks and opens a newsletter receives the better.  Remember, you can visit my website to ‘opt in’ at any time!  God bless!

How to Add a © Copyright Notice to Your Images for Posting Online

Copyright SymbolYou’ve done the work, now you want to share your art with the world.  Whether you are posting your work on your website, blog, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., there are a couple of things you might want to do before you post.  Artwork such as paintings and photography can easily be stolen if you post a large file, and a copyright notice doesn’t hurt either.

First, you will need a photo editing software program such as Photoshop Elements ($) or GIMP (free).  There are others that are free downloads as well, but I have not researched them to tell you which ones.  I use Photoshop Elements, so I will explain what I do, but I understand they are similar.

Open the photo you wish to post in Editor, and be sure to crop the image to your liking.  Next, I like to add a copyright notice.  This should not take away from the image, but should be legible.  Add a text box and select an appropriate font and font size.  To add the © symbol, hold the ‘Alt’ key down and press the numbers ‘0169’ then release the alt key.  This should place it in your line of text, then you can add your name, or studio name.  Only add this symbol if the work  (i.e. photo, painting, etc.) is yours!  (Copyright is a big deal, and I will write about that at a later time). Some fonts do not have the symbol in their collection, so you might have to use a different font for that character.  Position your text where you feel it is noticeable but does not detract from the image.  It can be made more subtle by changing the font color to ‘blend’ slightly with the area of the photo you wish to place it.

The next issue is the image size.  In the top tool bar click on ‘Image’.  In the drop down menu click ‘Resize’ which will give another menu, where you should click on ‘Image size’.  This will open up a dialog box that shows the dimensions for pixels, inches, and image resolution.  A good rule of thumb is to make the image so it is no more than 600 pixels on the longest side, or 8-10″ on the longest side.  Once you have changed the measurements, you will also need to change the resolution.  72dpi is standard for posting on the web, as this allows for a good visual, but it should give a poor print out if someone were to try to copy it.  Click on ‘Ok’ to set the changes.

Finally, before you close the image out, make sure you do a ‘Save As’ so your newly transformed image is a copy and you retain the original with the original size intact.  I like to title mine like this:  ‘Horse painting, pastel-Denny Martindale, Martindale Artworks’.  This will aid in your photo being found if someone types in the title or your name.  Be sure to save it as a jpeg to minimize the kilobyte size as well.  You will also see a box appear titled Jpeg Options, and it is asking what quality you wish to save the image at.  I usually choose 7-10.   At this point, I like to close the image and check the final kb size.  For fast loading photos, try to keep them below 100-110 kb.  If it is still too large, you can go back and adjust the size and or the pixels.

Now you are ready to post your photo safely to the web.  Remember, if they really want to steal it, there are some that will attempt it anyway, but this will definitely slow them down and make it much more difficult to do.  I will try to share about adding metadata to your images, copyright, and more at a later time.

I hope this has helped you in your learning.  Feel free to leave a comment or question and I hope you have a blessed day!

Art & the Computer

colorful pastels

Wow, what a summer!  It was busy, interesting and creatively filled.  My husband arrived back from a nine month out of state work assignment, we saw family we had not seen in a long time, plus I received numerous art opportunities.  In June, another artist and I were discussing how much the computer has aided artists in everything from advertising to social media.  Later that day I was downloading some photos of my art to my website and I recalled when digital cameras were first coming out and I must admit, I was a bit skeptical.  Supposedly they were all the rage, but many of us weren’t buying it.  The photos were a bit grainy, and to me they looked, well, cheap.  How could someone possibly want their art photographed in this way when the 35mm had it down to a science?  Well, as technology usually does, it greatly improved.  Now, with our websites, blogs, social media, etc. many artists cannot function without their digital camera and/or computer.  I was comforted by the fact that we have Carbonite online backup on our six year old system, something I hate trying to remember to do faithfully.  We only had one minor issue with the computer in all that time, yet in the back of my mind I knew the day would eventually arrive.

Then came mid-August.  First, the modem went out.  Okay, either replace it or purchase a USB adapter and tap into the wireless network, either way not a major issue.  While deciding what we would do, the computer screen suddenly went blue.  In the computer world I found out, that is a major problem.  Then it would not do a thing.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zippo.  No keys, mice or vocabulary could coax it to respond at all.  Ten minutes later after a hard shutdown, it lumbered up to another blue screen displaying lines of code that was apparently telling me what the problem was.  Then it translated: ” the system has recovered from a serious error”.  Serious, yes, recovered, not quite.   Once up and running again the entire desktop would disappear, or sometimes just the icons; some things you could access and some you could not.  Now what?

After consulting with a few folks who are much more computer competent than us (i. e. professionals), it was unanimous that it was a hard drive issue and we should replace it with a new one.  We researched for a couple of days, made a decision and ordered.  Once it arrived, there was the setup process, which by the way, went much smoother then expected as I am NOT a computer person.  Then the ultimate test:  restore all of our files with Carbonite, as in artwork, photos, records, everything.  Plus, we were going from one operating system to a new one.  While it did take a couple of days, I must say I could not be happier.  I am truly impressed with Carbonite.  Now I need to  learn all of the updates to the programs and the operating system itself, but it all appears to be much easier than before.

While I didn’t like taking the time to completely redo the entire computer system at this time (when is a good time?) as always it was a great learning experience.  I was amazed to see just how much my own art business relies on the computer now.  I also know the importance of having a backup plan, and Carbonite was everything it said it was and I highly recommend them.

So, how does the computer and internet affect your art?  Could you operate your art business without it?

Finally up and running!

Have you ever attempted to do something and been extremely frustrated, and you find yourself wondering if there really is any grey matter left up there?  This was my situation this winter as I have been busy creating a new website.  This has not been an easy task for me, giving full credence to the left brain/right brain discussion, but I kept at it and finally got it done.  My first website was an awesome thing in itself.  My good friend Lavana was the webmaster of my first site and did an absolutely FANTASTIC  job at creating it.  (I now have a tremendous appreciation for those that are able to build sites from the ground up and now know why they call it “code“)  Two things hindered me with it though, the monthly fee to have it running and my lack of computer knowledge to be able to run it myself, as in it took me three days to figure out how to change a photo (I paint, I don’t do code).

As artists, we are constantly wanting something on our websites changed, like photos, prices, you name it.  Often times on a daily basis.  I thought about long and hard and decided the proper thing to do would be to have one where I could easily do what I needed to myself.  I had started following Cory Huff with the Abundant Artist back in the fall and oiala!  Cory posted a blog about how to create one using WordPress.  Plus, it is easy for artists to use and it costs about a third of what I was already paying!!  Thank you God!!!  Even though it was still a bit of a challenge for me to get this up and running, Lavana helped me once again and I now have a beautiful site that I can work on myself, successfully.  Thank you Cory and Lavana!!  I have posted paintings, etc at least once a week, and even have the social sharing buttons on there.  (Fred reminded me that I forgot to put the facebook like button on there, so this morning I even fixed that!)

Now that I have told you my story about how I got this site, I hope you will visit it at www.MartindaleArtworks.com And be sure to like us on facebook and twitter!  Remember, you can do this too!  Now to get painting!

Almost finished

I am almost finished with my catalog for greeting cards.  It is turning out quite nice, but the technology that is suppose to be helping me get this project done is also getting in the way! 

I am not sure why this is, but the program that the camera uses has two different areas that contain albums of photos.  Not all of the photos appear in both areas, and the albums are not all the same either.  I have one more page to print, which needs one last photo to complete it.  However, the sd card with the photo I had just taken did not want to work in the slot in the front of the computer.  Then I connected the camera cord to work off the camera directly.  This also did not want to work the way I thought it should have.  Instead of downloading the photo into an album, I wanted to place it directly on the page from the camera.  Apparently that is not the way to do this.  One of my problems is I think it should work one way, but it only works another.  So frustrating! 

I am sure that the fact that I am not computer literate helps.  I have done quite a bit for not really knowing what I am doing.  The only computer class I have ever had is a 2 hour Photoshop class that only explained how to organize your photos in Photoshop.  Everything else has been trial and error, with quite a bit of the latter in my experience.  It is one of those things I love to hate or hate to love, I am not sure which.  When it works, it works really good.  When it doesn’t, it really makes one wonder.  Oh well, there is always tomorrow. 

I am so close on completing this catalog.  I need to get it done tomorrow for a client to pick up.  I guess I will get some sleep then try again in the morning….