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Me an Artist? Well… Maybe…

Artist… I never considered myself an artist for the simple reason that when I think of artists I see man and woman with paint brushes and pencils. In my mind, I see people using their hands to create something on a blank canvas or piece of paper. I might even imagine someone in front of a piece of marble, ready to free whatever they see in the stone. I never once in my life imagined an artist in front of an computer, painting with a mouse or a stencil on a tablet. Never did it cross my mind to think of bits, bites, and pixels as art.

But what is art? I had art in school and learned about those old masters that painted in oil, hungered through life, and only became important when they were dead. As a kid or a teen, I could stand in front of some paintings, stare at them for an eternity and not see anything in them. At other times, I just looked at one and knew what it pictured, mostly because those were realistic drawings of things, places, or people. Most of the time I simply shook my head at the art I encountered wondering if the artist had been on drugs. If I could I would apologize to those artists today, unless of course I was right and they were on drugs while painting. In any case, I learned over the years that art is not one specific style or way of producing a picture. An artist is not just someone who studied it, or knows all the technical terms and names of styles. Art is not something inside a box that can be easily defined or explained.

Art is soul and passion. It’s heartbreak and pain, joy, and euphoria. Art is beauty in the eyes of the artist. Beauty that isn’t defined by the usual parameters we use going through life. The beauty the artists sees might seem to the next person like nothing more than a blob of paint, a smear on paper, or a clutter of material formed into something that has no definition. Art is emotion or the absence of them, it’s despair and love, it’s up and down. Art reflects life with all it’s spectrums and variations, taken to a level beyond what we see, hear, and feel daily. Art is the reflection of a soul. Most of all, art is unique as is the artist.

Sometimes I photograph, at other times I simply “doodle” until something grabs me and begins to grow into more. At other times, I create a 3D creature, scene, or person. And sometimes I mix it all together. Is it art? Yes, it’s as much art as what any other person creates. Art is creation. Taking something and making something else off it. If that is a piece of clay, a canvas or bits and pixels doesn’t matter.

Now, after all that there is one more thing I want to share my thoughts about, that’s the value of art. Realistically spoken, the exposure and prominence of the artist determine the value.  If your name is big enough, you can charge a fortune for a blob of paint on a blank canvas. It’s still art, don’t get me wrong, but the many zeroes in the dollar amount is for the name on the painting, rather than the painting itself.

To me art has no value that can be measured by money, art is priceless to those who look at it, enjoy it, or get inspired by it. Yet at the same time creating that art takes time if nothing else. Time that isn’t spend on a five to nine job with a fixed salary. Hence the fact that many artists will charge for a reproduction of their work and even more for the original. One of the wonderful things about digital art is that there is not just one of it. Unlike a canvas, that once sold is gone, digital art can be reproduced endlessly and in all forms. It can be resized, printed as photo or on a canvas, even printed in 3D if that is what one wants. Distributing art has become easy compared to twenty, thirty or a hundred years ago. Many think it should cheapen that art, that artists, especially unknown ones, shouldn’t charge much or at all for their art. Yet, one thing has not and most likely will never change when it comes to art. That’s the time consumption, the heart and soul and the emotions the artist’s pours into his/her work. And that’s what you pay for. Whenever you buy my art, you pay for a piece of my soul to share, a bit of passion and my time.

I do a lot of different work when it comes to art. I photograph, paint… well kind off, use 3D creation with Poser and DAZ, and mix it all together. I create greeting cards, patterns, and all kinds of things that I then place on platforms like Redbubble or Zazzle for you to buy in the form of a t-shirt, laptop skin or duvet cover to name but a few. Yet sometimes there is a piece, a picture or photo taken or created that I find stands out from all the others. Those go into my art gallery as well. It’s something new and I’m still working on figuring it all out, but some of my work is already available there to view and buy. So, go check it out, leave a comment or a like, and let me know what you think of my work. Better even buy some… not that you have to, but it would be highly appreciated because sadly one other thing hasn’t changed throughout the ages when it comes to art… it can’t be eaten. Well, most of the time it can’t.


Social Media not Selfish Media

It about a year since I started using social media as a tool to promote and sell my work. And I never expected it to be easy, yet neither did I expect it this hard. Until I created my first page on Facebook, I had no way of seeing how many people came to my profile or what posts they clicked on. And even with the page, it took several Likes before that statistic was offered to me.
Now, social media is a great tool to get the word out about your product, and in fact, there are a lot of groups on Facebook alone specialized on book promotion and anything related to book writing and publishing. Yet the whole thing has a great big flaw. That not many seem to understand the concept of social in social media.
First of all, after joining many of those groups dedicated to book promotion, of bringing authors and readers together, I realized that all I saw happening was spamming. One post after another showing nothing more than the book cover, and a link to where to buy. Not many took the time to at least copy and paste the text from the back of their book into those posts. Nothing that I would consider an effort to engage readers. For a while, I tried the same, emulating other authors in hopes of better success.
I knew in my guts that it was a wrong move, but everyone was doing it that way, so it had to have merit. Well, it doesn’t. I watched my stats on my website, amazon, Smashwords and my author page of course. My visitors count went to down almost zero during that trail run. I looked at other author pages, seeing that many did the same on their page as they did in those groups. Posting one generic post after another, without saying anything about their book other than price and where to buy it.
In the end, I returned to my not generic posts and tried to be more engaging in my posts. My stats went up again, but not by much.
For a while, I sat back and simply observed until I felt like I knew what was wrong and why social media wasn’t working the way it should, in regards to promotion. So let me tell you what my conclusion is. We are selfish, not thinking further than our own interests and by all means, I’m no exception.
As Indie authors, we all struggle to make sales. We all spend hours on promotion and drumming up readers in the hopes of creating a fan base. We are in fact all in the same boat, and it’s barely floating. Yet instead of actually helping each other, we see each other as competition.
I didn’t just observe what was going on in general, but also my own behavior. So to make this clear, I am counting myself to those selfish and nearsighted authors who aren’t that social.
The big problem is that when, as authors, we join a promotion group we don’t actually know that there are readers there. Most of the time all I see is authors posting their books, and as said earlier, in a non-engaging way. Yet that wouldn’t be so bad if we would share those posts more often than not.
Success with social media is based on the snowball effect, it’s how posts go viral, and how you reach the largest possible audience.
Let’s make an example. I have 100 likes on my page, meaning if I post 100 people get it on their timeline or page feed. Now the book I’m promoting might only be of interest for 2 -5 people out of those 100, and only 1 might like it so much that they feel like sharing. And that’s where the problem begins. We only take into account what we like, not what those we are connected to might like. Many of us participate in Like shares, or follow shares on Twitter, but how about we share our posts a little bit more often.
Don’t get me wrong it is nice to meet other authors, I love hanging out with some and the exchange of knowledge is priceless. However, most authors don’t actually buy books from other indie authors, but from bestseller novelists because we want to learn what they already know.
Meaning, those hundreds of authors we are connected to because we shared likes, are not our customers. However, we are each other’s beginning of a snowball. We all have readers that follow us, friends, family, aquatics and others from the industry. If instead of ignoring the promotional posts of our fellow authors, we would share them with our readership, who might find it interesting, even if we don’t, and they do the same, then we have the snowball effect, social media is supposed to have.
The problem is that we think of each other often as competition, but you know what, as a reader I follow more than one author. Ranging from young adult novels to mature reads I like at least 20 or somewhere around that number, which I follow closely. Another 50 or something in that area I like enough to keep eyes out from time to time and check what they have new.
Our readers aren’t married to us, if I were to look for comparison, it would be a harem. Readers collect authors like the Sheik collects his women. There are enough readers to share.
And even if not, thanks to our Like exchanges we have authors from genres that aren’t the one we write in. I, for example, write mostly fantasy and fiction romances with erotic. I might not want to promote another author from that area, but as there is a wide variety of genres, there are also readers that aren’t just romance readers, or just fantasy readers. My readers might enjoy a gardening book or a historical romance, they might like a sex free read sometimes, so why don’t I share those posts? Because until now, I was selfish and didn’t want to share my readers, didn’t want to risk losing even one to another author. I was stupid.
We all should share posts from other authors, spread the word within our readership. Share it and say something like, “this sounds like an interesting book” or “look at this beautiful cover” or, and this one I will use often myself from now on, “Hey look at that, this one is on sale.”
We don’t need to read the books we share, or even like them or be interested in them because the people we are connected to might.
The summary of all of that is:
Don’t just post a link, but write engaging and informative posts.
Share with your followers posts even when they aren’t interesting to you. Find a reason to share them. Topic, cover design, because it’s on sale.
Use social media the way it’s supposed to work, be social and support each other.

Headers and social media page design

I don’t know about other, but since I need to promote my products and have a budget so low, it’s none existent, I use social media pages a lot. Especially the three big ones, Twitter, Google and Facebook. The amount on customizing on those pages isn’t big to begin with, but then again, it isn’t your own website.
The one thing you can customize is the header.
Yet all social media pages have different sizes for their headers, you can use any graphic in Jpeg but depending on its original size, it’s either cut off, miss happened, deformed, or plain ugly in the end.
I know that when I started out it was nerve wrecking and mostly annoying, mind you that’s a few years back by now. Still I remember it, and I still find it annoying to have to resize, refit, and redesign my header for each page.
Yet I’m kind of a crazy person, and instead of simply letting everyone struggle as I have in the beginning, I offer my services once again.
Well, and of course, I love designing things.
So starting today I added a new category to my shop, named headers. There you will find headers designed to fit Twitter pages, Facebook Pages and Google+ profile pages. There aren’t that many yet, and as of today none for Facebook, yet. I will continue to design and upload them on an almost daily basis, at least in the beginning.
Follow me on Twitter and Google+ and you can see them on my profiles, same counts for Facebook since all my posts show up there.
Hope to see you around the store and if you buy one of the headers and use it, feel free to send me a link to your profile and I follow you, or like your page.

Go To Nicole’s Word and Art World to expolore the Headers