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January 2010

Boris Bally's Bad Payment Experience! Does this sound familiar?

For this post, Boris Bally is the guest author for ASK Harriete. In response to recent discussions and the previous post on ASK Harriete, Boris Bally is sharing his own experiences with retail establishments that don't pay on time. We can all learn a lot by his approach to the problem. You are welcome to post your comments in response. 

Note: The opinions expressed by the author, Boris Bally, in this post are his and his alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is intended or implied.

Boris Bally portrait FROM THE PEN OF Boris Bally:
Two recent incidents have left me very frustrated, but in sharing the battle scenes it can serve as a 'warning' to others in our field...

Case #1 The first is a case of working with a metalsmith (!!) and colleague, Robert Kaylor, who owns a very nice 'upscale' R Grey Gallery in Boise, Idaho.  We had a mutually beneficial working relationship for a few years.  He does some nice promotion and seems to do very well.  This gallery had been granted NET 30 status, and I had them apply for these credit terms on my standard application.  The terms outline a standard fee for late payments (since I would then be becoming a 'bank' loaning the money to them.)  

Boris Bally Rectangle Transit Table_ca1906 After taking their most recent order over the phone from his wife and gallery manager, Barbara, my family went on a two-week vacation.  Upon our return, Barbara had to remind me of a few items that I missed shipping the first time around..and the order was sizable - they even added a few items while I was making the work. 

Thus the order shipped in three separate shipments, which staggered the payment and added a bit of understandable confusion on all fronts.  When I didn't receive payment for any of the invoices within the 30 days after the LAST invoice, I sent a nice note asking for prompt payment and/or communication. To expedite matters, I included a statement outlining the fees their non-payment/actions were incurring.

1994_Table by Boris Bally This went on for a few months and I kept changing the tone of the letters to be a little more firm, and I continued to charge them interest, compounding. Download Copy of R Grey_Statement_12_17_09.  This drain on my time added unnecessary frustration. 

I did the work and delivered as ordered, now I wanted to get PAID! (Download Delinquent Payment Notice) No communication or payment came from them.  I left a few voice mails - nada.  Frustrated, I sent a 'final notice', approximately 4 months after the last order had shipped.  This time I copied my attorney on the e-mail; I had full intent of pursuing my payment and this was obviously the first step. 

Boris Bally Coasters Not surprisingly, the next day I received a call from the owner, who said 'business had been slow' and that the 'check was in the mail.'  I told him that had he picked up the phone and called, or even sent me a brief e-mail, I would have been more sympathetic and much stress could have been eliminated. So again I waited: When the check finally arrived, it included the principle only, no interest, no note, no apology.

Again, I was not surprised.  I continue to find it interesting that a gallery (one run by an artist, no less) apparently would see an artist differently than they might see a bank.  For goodness sakes, galleries wouldn't have anything to SELL if it wasn't for us!!??

If they did give us this equal respect, we'd be seeing prompt payment, apologies, better communication, and interest payments if they are late.  I have such a relationship with most of my other accounts...

I feel like we are 'family' and that is what I continue to seek. 

Boris Bally 2 CHAIRS Needless to say, I do not like to make the same mistake twice: This will be the last time I extend terms to this difficult account, as they have proven themselves to be undeserving.  A bank would do the same, AND additionally they would be able to make a mark against the credit rating of that business. In the future, if there is an ongoing relationship with this account, they will need to use their credit card and/or borrow the money from their own bank.  I hope they continue to work with me, but honestly, I see no reason to maintain a working relationship with them if the basic respect isn't there.

Case #2 The other case turns out to be far more devious:  This is the case of International Metalsmith Exhibition Center (IMEC) in Albuquerque whose director, Luis Demetrio Nolasco, asked me to participate in a Holiday Show '2008: Black & Gold.'

I thought, given the name of the gallery, this was 'one for the field' and accepted after 'okaying' with my main gallery in that area, Patina, with whom I have representation in that region. 

I made a series of brooches for the show, Luis was kind enough to pop an image on the invitation, and that was that.  Since the opening, not a peep.  Recently, Patina gave me a solo show (in Santa Fe) this past December 2009, so I thought I'd better get some of that IMEC work back... Luis and I communicated nicely, and he agreed to send Patina my 'unsold' work, which he promptly did.

Now, I hadn't heard of any SOLD work, so once I found-out what Patina had received, I made-up an invoice and e-mailed it to Luis.  Suspiciously, from that point on, I stopped getting any e-mails, or communication from Luis or IMEC... 

As fate would have it, I received a call just a month after I sent the invoice, from a frustrated colleague asking me abut IMEC (!!)  Imagine my surprise as we shared our stories.  It appears that Luis owed this well-respected artist thousands of dollars for several years now - What to do? 

Perhaps this is a pyramid scheme that we are all a part of - maybe there are other jewelers that have been screwed the same way?  I recommended to this jeweler that we put-out the word so that we can stop others from being burned.  Our silence would cost other metalsmiths the same fate.  At the very least we can attempt to get some of the money that is owed us via the legal system or a collection agency (!)

Boris Bally I wish we, as metalsmiths/artists could create a way of rating galleries for our own reference and protection.  Kind of a fair credit rating system for galleries we frequently deal with.  The cream would rise, and the bad seeds could be avoided.  If we could form a union of sorts (wouldn't it be easy if we could add this as a benefit to SNAG members??), the few bad galleries wouldn't be able to jerk us around like this.  All would be working to gain our trust, and our good ratings.

Bear in mind that the cases outlined above are two rare cases of many wonderful relationships with galleries and stores all over the world.  Over the past decades of being in business, there have always been a few 'shady characters annually.  However, MOST of the folks I deal with are wonderful, caring and responsible people who appreciate the importance of the relationships in our field.

Boris Bally
CLICK HERE FOR THE ADDENDUM TO THIS STORY FROM BORIS BALLY

FROM THE PEN OF Harriete Estel Berman:

Thank you Boris, for being so honest and outspoken about this chronic problem.  I do agree with Boris that most galleries and stores are managed by wonderful, caring and responsible people, it only takes a few bad apples to hurt many artists. Rarely, do artists have the financial fortitude to sustain non-payment for work.

If you have had a bad experience with a gallery, are you willing to step up and tell us about it? Are you willing to admit publicly that a gallery has not paid you in a timely manner?

How can we hold these retail locations accountable if we hide this "dirty secret?"

Stay tuned for the next posts which will include a sample invoice from Boris Bally including his policy for interest charges on Late Payment.

How do we establish a rating for galleries or transparency about this issue?

Do you have ideas?

Do you have experiences to share?

Please leave your comments and develop a dialog.

Harriete


My gallery isn't paying me on time, help! What should I do?

Harriete,

My gallery isn't paying me on time. They are well known with an established reputation, so I thought their representation of me would work out great.  Indeed they sold some of my work more than a few months ago.  However, when I've called them about paying for the work, they say there are some bookkeeping errors or "the check is in the mail" but it is only partial payment.  This has been going on for months! What should I do?

Without income,

A desperate and embarrassed artist.

CHECK MAILBOX This letter paraphrases a common problem that I hear from artists, over and over. Artists are frequently not paid on time, or maybe not paid at all.  This is an old story, but it seems that with these hard economic times it happens more frequently.

Galleries usually pay their bills once a month. That means that consignment items sold may (by contract) be paid as much as 30 days after the purchase. Your payment schedule should be written into your contract or on your invoice.

Some stores purchase work outright as inventory.  After developing an ongoing relationship, the store may request a Net 30 invoice arrangement (i.e. payment will be made within 30 days after delivery).

What I am talking about here is overdue payments months after items are purchased. These delinquent galleries or stores are giving themselves an interest-free loan out of your money.  I am sure that if a collector/buyer heard that they had paid a gallery or store for work and the artist was not paid in a timely manner, they would be embarrassed and appalled.

The real issue is what can artists do about this problem.  Should you keep sending work to establishments that don't pay on time? Should we keep these secrets to ourselves?

Check references  Before you send work to any gallery or establishment, check with some other artists or makers previously represented there.  A few minutes of calling around can give you plenty of information to make a "yes" or "no" decision.  Or if an ongoing gallery starts paying slower, check with other represented artists to see if they are having similar problems. 

Contract Terms   Your contract with the gallery should include terms of payment.  The Professional Guidelines offers a sample Consignment Contract that can easily be modified to suit both parties and adapted to the situation. An accumulating penalty for late payment may also be specified. 

CheckHAND Initial purchases from a store should be paid in full before merchandise is shipped.  Develop a payment track record over several transactions and check credit references before agreeing to a NET 30 arrangement.  (More information with a sample NET 30 Application will be posted next week.)

Documentation   You may have to prove that the store received your work and that you are due payment (whether they sold it or lost it).  Keep shipping receipts and Inventory Lists.  Get signatures on receipts and save email acknowledgments .  Take photos.  If there is ever a dispute, documentation is better than "your word against theirs."

SHIPPINGboxIf the retail establishment becomes "slow" regarding payments, discuss this issue over the phone first.  Find out about their reasons for late payment.  Maybe you need to be more assertive (e.g. the squeaky wheel) and a better advocate for your business cash flow.  (Note....I said assertive, not rude. There is never any reason to lose your temper or act unprofessionally.)

However, at some point you may have to take action. You may decide that it is time to discontinue selling at this particular venue and request that all your work be returned. Potentially, if every artist and maker who had work at a gallery or store, politely asked for all the unsold work back, or refused to send additional merchandise, this retail location would have to change its practices or go out of business. 

I know that we are all desperate to sell our work and that retail purchases are slow in this bad economy.  But if payment is even slower, then you must take responsibility to make a decision and move on. 

Invoice past due Another idea   We can help each other by spreading the word about delinquent operators.  We could share information about our own experiences and help inform other artists and makers and not let them fall victim to irresponsible venues. 

While most galleries and stores are honest and pay promptly, maybe a few disorganized and delinquent accounts are the "bad apples". Until we openly discuss these problems, the bad apples will continue to plague our community.  We can help each other with discourse and transparency to weed out the rotten few.

Artists, Collectors, and Galleries, this is a call to action!

Have any of you suffered from a similar situation?  Would you be willing to share your story? Do you know a gallery that is paying artist's chronically late?  Are you holding a heavy secret to avoid embarrassment?

The time has come to create visibility and transparency for this issue.  Can we maintain a list of good and bad venues like the Better Business Bureau?  Let's be better advocates for ourselves. Tell your fellow artists out loud that you are having a problem with slow payment.

Write down your opinion and experience as a comment here below this post.

Harriete
www.harriete-estel-berman.info



Burned by burnt paintings! Oh no! What shall I do?

Dear Harriete,

A good friend of mine opened a café and I had my paintings/giclees* exhibited there. Last week she had a fire. Most of my work was either destroyed or damaged. My husband also had photography work there and it was smoke damaged. She was under the impression that her business partner had upgraded their insurance to include the art work (mine was not the only one) and other new equipment that they had acquired. Guess he didn’t. Am I without recourse? Thank You.

By the way, I did have one small piece which was a watercolor framed under glass. The glass protected the painting so that was good.
JK Sanders

 JK Sanders mural before the fire
"Marcies Ghost" © 2008
Mural, Acrylic on wall 2.5' by 4'
Artist: JK Sanders

Judith,
Wow, very sorry to hear about your work and your friend's business setback. This illustrates the importance of a contract. The primary reason for a contract is not enforcement but to give both parties a checklist of things to do and verify.
If both you and the cafe owner had taken a few moments initially to look over and discuss the issues typically itemized in a contract (including insurance), perhaps this situation would have a better outcome.  

If the venue owner had signed a contract which included an Inventory List specifying the total number of items and value of the exhibited work, then their level of responsibility would have been clear. As it is now, they can easily claim that they never promised insurance coverage or that you knowingly displayed your work at your own risk.  You have only a verbal conversation which is not much to stand on legally.  In this case, I don't think you have any recourse without documentation of the conversation.

JK Sanders mural damaged by fire
"Marcies Ghost" (with damage by fire)

Given the circumstances, it looks like you cannot prove an expectation for insurance.  Both you and the restaurant owner are responsible for this  situation. I don't mean to be unkind and I am not a legal expert, so this is just my opinion. Your legal case is weak and hiring a lawyer will cost more money. You could consider taking them to small claims court and making an enemy of a friend. All of these are hard choices. Maybe the cafe owner will voluntarily give you an amount of money out of the goodness of their heart. That is a lot to ask or expect considering their significant loss.

JK Sanders watercolor
"Maxwells Garden View"  and
"Tibby's Trophy" © 2001 (before fire)
watercolor,
24"X30"
Artist: JK Sanders

JK Sanders watercolor
"Maxwells Garden View" 
© 2001 (with fire damage)
watercolor,  24"X30"
Artist: JK Sanders

This is a very hard way to learn a difficult lesson. We can  hope that other artists will learn from your well intentioned but harsh experience.

There are two sample contracts in the Professional Guidelines that can be downloaded for free. Either contract can easily be modified to suit both parties and adapted to the circumstances.  It shouldn't be an adversarial discussion but contracts do oblige both parties to consider "what if" problems.

The Consignment Contract focuses more on retail sales and representation.

The Exhibition Contract is designed for a situation where retail sales are not the primary focus.

Here is a link to the one page handout in the Professional Guidelines which is useful for preliminary discussions when showing your work at any venue. Print it out and keep this on your desk so that you know which topics are already available for your reference.

JKSanders watercolor with fire damage
Coffee Cat Series damaged in the fire.
Artist: JK Sanders

One more issue.   In any scenario where artwork may be exhibited, (especially in an unsupervised environment such as a restaurant where it may be touched), I would fill out a Condition Report before the work is installed. This way if it is returned damaged in any way, you have documentation of its prior condition. 

Despite all this documentation, the primary focus is always to establish a good working relationship. On occasion we all take calculated risks for an exhibition opportunity, so clarifying responsibilities ahead of time tends to be helpful for all parties as events unfold.  It is unfortunate that this one turned out so badly.

If anyone has another suggestion, please leave a comment. I'd like to hear what you have to say. Maybe there is another solution that I didn't consider.

*giclée - the use of ink-jet printing to manufacture artistic prints

Harriete

Stay tuned for the next posts about galleries and stores that don't pay on time, sample order terms and net 30 Application.  

Information mentioned on Art and Soul Radio Interview - January 25, 2010

If you listened to my recent interview on Art and Soul Radio January 25th here is a list of links to information that I mentioned.

The Professional Guidelines and ADDITIONAL Resources can be found on my web site HERE.

The Professional Guidelines can be found on the SNAG web site HERE.

CLICK HERE for the one page handout covering 20 topics in the Professional Guidelines.

Information about the Professional Development Seminar on March 12, 2010 can be found HERE. Download a PDF with the program information.  

Early Bird’ Registration rates for the SNAG Conference end January 28th !!!!

My lecture titled "Crafting Identity" at the Loveland Museum is Feb.12. 5:00 oclock.
Reception follows at 6:00. Loveland, Colorado.
Hope to see you there!
Exhibition runs February 13 - April 11, 2010.
Saturday February 13 has a lecture by Liz Quisquid and panel discussions with three artists (including me.)

Insurance for a trunk show at my house?

Hello Harriete,
A friend has hosted a sale in her apartment for myself and another friend so that the three of us could invite family and acquaintances to share new work and possibly sell some as well.  Our last sale was put together before the holiday season and was surprisingly well attended.  We judged it a success.  We decided to plan for a Valentine's Day sale, when we ran into a potential problem.


Jillian_Moore_Par_Lobbe
"Par Lobbe" (brooches) © 2009
composite and epoxy resin, fabricated
copper, paint, dyed cotton cord,
Artist: Jullian Moore
8" x 4" x 2.75" (largest brooch)

Her insurance company wants her to buy an expanded policy, but she believes they are eager to get more money from her. Her rental insurance has all the basic liability coverage--if a stranger or guest were injured in her home or slipped on ice outside, that would be covered.  Also the landlord has a policy on the home.

We thought of this in the same vein as floating markets, private restaurant clubs, and home galleries that are a current trend because of the poor economy.  Are all of these establishments buying separate policies for private, low-key events?  I had really thought we'd stumbled into something great, and I'd hate for this to be ruined by bureaucratic b.s. but I suppose I shouldn't be surprised if that's the case.

Thank you for all of the hard work you do for all of us!
Jillian Moore

CERF stickerThis is a financially loaded question so I went directly to the expert on insurance, Craig Nutt, the Director of Programs at CERF (Craft Emergency Relief Fund).  He was also a past speaker for SNAG's  Professional Development Seminar with his Insurance Show. (I was the applause lady for his program as you can see in the photo below.) I knew Craig would have the answer to Jullian's questions.

Here is Craig's reply:ApplauseLADY                "CERF is about to release a report on the business survey we conducted with 6 national craft organizations including SNAG.  One of the things that came through like a freight train was the fact that a great many artists mistakenly believe that their homeowner's insurance provides some coverage for their business activity.  We estimate that about 57% of all respondents to the survey are in this category.

CERF A very small number of those surveyed had actually obtained coverage for their home-based businesses through a special endorsement ("rider") on their homeowner's insurance policy. (Many homeowner policies have an allowance for a home office of about $2500, intended to cover a computer, desk, file cabinets … stuff associated with a home office.) 

Dollars in hand Some artists think that they can fly under the radar and avoid insurance issues.  But insurance companies do not care if you have a business license, pay your sales tax, or comply with any of the laws businesses are supposed to obey.  They have a simple test: do you receive money for goods or services, or are you offering goods or services for sale.  If so, you are not covered.  That means no insurance on your tools, supplies, inventory, and in fact, on the building in which your business is conducted.  Also, very important to the person holding the trunk show or hosting a studio tour, no liability insuranceThis means if someone slips on the steps coming to your trunk show, the liability insurance that would cover a casual visitor under normal circumstances is no good.  That is because you are offering goods for sale.

To get a quote on business insurance, artists need to go to companies that specialize in that type of insurance.  Forget about the Allstates, Geikos, etc.  Sure, some agents may not find time for you, because the commissions are not big, but most agents I have met take their calling seriously, and are willing to talk to people, regardless of how much money they stand to make.  Ask other artists who have well-run businesses who their agents are.

CERF has information of business insurance at this location on the CERF website. This includes names of companies and organizations that have business insurance plans for artists. Fractured Atlas, an artist service organization, offers a number of targeted plans and is working on a plan for craft artists: http://www.fracturedatlas.org/ 

CERF also offers a primer on business insurance for artists by clicking here.

CERFstudioPROTECTOR




Also, CERF will soon be consolidating its preparedness and recovery information at:  http://studioprotector.org .   To the left,  you can see the Studio Protector wall guide which every artist should have on the studio wall (and begin putting into practice). The site has more in-depth information on topics covered in the wall guide.  They are both useful alone, but are meant to function together.

Thanks for your support of CERF, and for all you do to promote good business practices to artists!  All my best,

Craig Nutt, Director of Programs
Craft Emergency Relief Fund

Charity_bCraig's key point is that none of the typical homeowner or renter's insurance policies cover any liabilities during entrepreneurial events such truck shows or home sales. Of course you can choose to not have insurance and take the risk yourself.  That's up to you, but it would be better to investigate the alternatives for business insurance that are available.   

An alternative might be to have a purely social gathering and display your work with no sales.  Then if anyone wants to purchase an item, tell them that any sale would have to be arranged at a later time and different location.    

I hope this answers your question about insurance. Check out the CERF web site for more information. Look at their collection of miniatures that they raffle off each year at SOFA as a fund raiser. I have participated several times. My Chair for Charity is at the above right. Below is my shoe for 2009.

HarrieteCERFshoeTOP

CERFSHOE CERFshoeLEFT


Is this (pick one) gallery, store, or craft show right for my work?

Recently, a couple of questions from readers have asked whether a certain gallery or craft show was a good fit for their work.  Here is a sample letter (below).  I took out the name of the gallery to avoid any potential embarrassment.

KathleenFaulkner_DownattheWetlands_Entry2
"Down at the Wetlands"  ©   2009
Artist: Kathleen Faulkner

Oil pastel,  23" x 24"

Have you heard of a gallery called (fill in the blank ____)? It is a downtown gallery that specializes in sculpture and paintings.  But who knows about places one has never seen or been to. I'd appreciate any information you could give me about it, and if you have even ever heard of it.  Thanks so much for your time.
Cheers, Kathleen

Kathleen,
I've never heard of this "gallery" but after looking them up online, with just a quick view, it is not what could be called a Gallery with a big "G". It is a tourist store at best. Admittedly, I am biased towards galleries with a big "G", so don't let this stop you if your work is the appropriate media, subject matter or price range for this venue.

If you still want to show your work at this venue, ask them for a few artists' names as recommendations or find some of the artist's listed on their web site and contact the artists for their opinions. (Facebook is really good for this sort of search.)

Ask the artists who show their work at this venue about their experience working with the store/gallery. Does this store/gallery really sell work? Do they pay on time? Do they offer discounts? (yuk)  Do they return work promptly when asked? Do they have a good contract? Make sure you ask the store or gallery for their contract BEFORE sending any work.

This same approach as described in the above two paragraphs will work for any store, gallery, Gallery or craft show. The time you invest in your advance research will be worth it.

As an additional resource on a related topic, there is also a series of articles written by Don Friedlich, Andy Cooperman and myself about Submitting Work to Galleries and Retail Establishments.

Click on any of the four articles below to find the download:

    Galleries: Are They Right for You? by Don Friedlich

    Introducing Your Work to a Galler by Harriete Estel Berman

    The Nuts & Bolts of the Gallery.Artist Relationship by Andy Cooperman

    Galleries: Issues to Consider After Your Work Has Been Accepted by Andy Cooperman

Hope that helps.

Harriete
www.harriete-estel-berman.info

Stay tuned for an upcoming posts about insurance issues and galleries that don't pay on time.

Harriete

Add your Etsy"mini" to your Facebook?

Would you like to add your Etsy mini to your Facebook?

Here is an easy tutorial from Timothy Adams of Handmadeology. My Etsy "mini" is not happy on my blog, so I made a picture of it (below right)EtsyMINIbest

It can have one to five columns and rows...so that you can modify the size to fit in a particular profile or depending on how much space you want to dedicate. Normally, each image is a hot link to that item. You can see a full size functioning  Etsy mini on my Facebook page and my Crafthaus page.

An Etsy mini functions in multiple ways:

  • Introduces your work to a new audience.
  • Provides hot links to items on your Etsy page.
  • Creates more links between the Etsy mini and wherever you have it posted.

Black and White Drop Earrings by Harriete Estel Berman
  Black and White Drop Earrings © 2008
  Recycled tin cans.
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
  Available through my Etsy shop.

The more links the better. The Internet is all about links.  The number of links is one of the main ways that search engines like Google rank your site.  For even better SEO (Search Engine Optimization), links that come into your site from other popular sites with lots of traffic are best.

Create your Etsy mini today to drive more traffic to your shop.

Harriete
My Etsy shop.


Web site updates for the New Year

With the New Year, it's time to check a few updates regarding your web site.

First, update the Copyright date on your web site. Usually this is at the bottom of your main pages. The purpose is to protect your content. In addition, search engines read a current date as an indication of a well maintained site which improves your SEO (Search Enginge Optimization) rankings. Just update the date on every main page with a copyright date. This is easy to do.

The next task for the new year is to start a new email habit. Start using the email address that refers to your web site instead of your generic "gmail", "yahoo" or "mac" account. For example, my address is bermaid[at]harriete-estel-berman [dot]info. I also have a few other email accounts, but this is the email address that has a clear professional identity for me as an artist. Start now to gradually wean all your email contacts and professional information to your web site email. Next time you print business cards and postcards use the email address for your website. Start now to make the transition as inexpensive and painless as possible.

Finally, I had a question from a reader about ALT image tags discussed in a previous post.

If you are using a template site or web site development software like Dreamweaver, most will prompt you for an ALT Image tag. It is easy to skip over but the reason for your ALT image description (outside of helping the disabled "read" your site) is that the ALT tags also help with SEO. Search engines can't read or interpret images -- they can only read the image descriptions. Every image on your web site offers search engines nothing, nay-da, zip information, unless you add ALT image tags.  With ALT image tags any Internet surfer looking for images can find your work with Google Images.

I love watching video tutorials to help me learn about these Internet nuts and bolts issues in a non-technical way. This video from Google discusses using ALT attributes smartly.  While the video is a few years old the information is still relevant.

Fading Identity a Vanity Seat by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans.
Fading Identity © 2002
Recycled Tin Cans
Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Here is an example from my website. Look for the image of this chair on the Sculpture page by CLICKING HERE. Find the image of the Vanity Seat at the top of the right column, in the first row of four images.

This is the HTML code for the image: img src="images/vanity2.gif" alt="Fading Identity Vanity Seat by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from recycled tin cans." width="100" height="150" border="0"

[This is the image name.] img src="images/vanity2.gif" 

[This is the ALT TAG. It describes the image. ]   alt="Fading Identity Vanity Seat by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from recycled tin cans." 

[This is the size of the image. ] width="100" height="150"

CLICK ON THE IMAGE OF THE Vanity Seat on my web site. This takes you to a pop up window with a larger image. It also has an ALT tag. Here is the HTML code.

alt="Fading Identity vanity seat sculpture by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed using recycled tin cans.">

On my web site the ALT tags are essential because myweb site is mostly images and I decided not to clutter up my main pages with tons of text. Bad news for SEO, but at least so far, I have decided to place aesthetics before SEO. Other web sites may make different decisions.

Harriete
www.harriete-estel-berman.info

 


A New Reality for the New Year

Experiencing a New Reality...on Sunday I listened to an avant-garde cello player that has been successful enough to quit her day job! She isn't playing top forty or mainstream popular music, and yet she pays her mortgage in San Francisco.

ZoeKeating That sounds amazing to me! Her name is Zoe Keating.  Her reality is:

She has no record label, no middleman.

She has 1 million Twitter followers.

Most of her income comes from iTunes.

Her key to success is being herself.

She spends half her time on her marketing.

I will say that last one again. She spends half her time on her marketing. This should be your reality check for the New Year.

I believe the art and craft world is going through a huge transition largely influenced by the Internet. We can see illustrative examples of similar transitions in the music and video world.

The music world used to be primarily influenced by the Top 40 mentality, and the fortress of the record labels.  Record companies enjoyed selling entire albums (with one "hit" song plus filler songs) and dictated what radio stations played over the air.  This structure has diminished substantially with the onset of open-ended possibilities through the Internet and the Long Tail. Musicians are now able to develop a following directly with fans. Music is now sold one song at a time via the Internet, and music stores (unless they are very specialized) are going out of business.

The movie business has gone through a similar metamorphosis with most of their revenue based on selling and renting dvds. The blockbuster film still exists, but the possibility of financial success for smaller relatively obscure films is now a reality largely because of the Internet.

Artists and Makers are just like the musicians and small filmmakers. The paternalistic idea of a gallery taking care of you (like a record company or movie studio) is gone (except for the most elite level). The concept of "exclusivity" is difficult, if not impossible, to enforce with the Internet. The big question is how you can use the Internet to your benefit?  I firmly believe that the keys to success are being yourself and spending the time to market yourself through the Internet.

Halfway measures will only get you half way there.

Authenticity and commitment are paramount.

Hard work and spending half your time on marketing yourself.

The new year is symbolic of new beginnings. Renew your commitment to your work. Start today with posting your work online with complete titles, descriptions, dimensions and tags. Make it possible for your audience to find you and your work.

Focus the year on improving your #1 tool on the Internet - your photos!

Harriete

P.S. Sorry if it seems that I am repeating myself and that this has been said before in other posts. Unfortunately, I still see far too many people with incomplete descriptions of their work online and poor quality or even downright bad photos. It drives me nuts!


Adventures in Podcasting.

One of my goals over the quiet of the holidays was to teach myself how to podcast and add this podcast to my PowerPoint lectures on Slide Share. Hopefully, with this experience, I can learn to record presentations for the Professional Development Seminar (Download HoustonflyervL12.29.09) and other professional lessons for you.

Obvob_kiss-copy72
Chocolate Obsession© 2005
Recycled tin cans, sterling silver,
plastic, aluminum foil, brass.
Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

At this point, I can't get my Slide Share presentation to work with Typepad, but you can find all my Slide Share presentations here  or look at the bottom of this post for specific links.

If you aren't familiar with Slide  Share this is free Internet site where you can upload your PowerPoint presentations. I found it about two years ago. Uploading the presentation is a breeze...but the software doesn't keep your animations and fancy slide transitions, so keep your presentations in PowerPoint simple and straightforward. Anyone can do this. You can also upload Keynote if you have an Apple.

The next step, ADD A Podcast.  Learning how to Podcast was pretty simple. The free software called Audacity works just fine. It has more features than I even used so far. The only issue is that it is time consuming to get the voice perfected. Practice and practice, and practice. I am starting to catch on to this recording thing and be comfortable listening to my voice.  

Uploading your Podcast and synchronizing it to the images is very easy....again, it is just time consuming to get it perfect.

The problem: I always see my mistakes in either the images, or text after I upload the Podcast and sync the whole thing to the images. Aw..........shucks!!!!!

Well, I'm learning to podcast . . . and now sharing my new Slide Share presentations with you. You be the judge.  Let me know what you think and how to improve the next time.

So far, I have five short presentations with audio completed and would like to hear for your feedback before venturing deeper.

BermanObverse_front
Obverse Obsession © 2005
Chocolate Pot constructed from post
consumer recycled tin cans, sterling
silver, plastic, aluminum foil, brass.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen
 

Pecha Kucha

Obverse Obsession Chocolate Pot

California Dream Teapot

Professional Guidelines Introduction

Professional Guidelines; Inventory Records: Documentation and Provenance

Thanks for listening.

Harriete

If you want to learn more about Slide Share and Podcasting let me know.

 


Looking Forward to the New Year

Champagne_bottle_GR Looking forward to the New Year, I thought a quick post about upcoming events and topics in the coming year would be appropriate.

Upcoming soon...a sample Cease and Desist letter for anyone to use when someone copies your work.  More information will be appearing in my Opinion article for Metalsmith Magazine soon.

Podcasts about my work.  I am learning how to create podcasts and how to put short lectures online with audio.  I am really excited about learning this new skill which is remarkably easy with free software.  You can listen to my first two experiments at the following two links. I'd love to hear your feedback about this new professional resource experiment.

CLICK HERE for a presentation about my chocolate pot Obverse Obsession.

 CLICK HERE to listen to my first Pecha Kucha (6 minutes, 20 images, 20 seconds per image) 

BermanCAdream_front2
California Dream © 2005
Recycled tin cans, Pentium chip
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

An exhibition of my artwork is coming this February at the Loveland Museum, Colorado.  Forty (40) boxes were shipped to the the museum a few days ago. (Can you imagine how much work it was just to pack up this much work? A peanuts blizzard and cardboard box marathon!) If you live in the Colorado area, I hope you can come to my lecture and the opening on Friday, February 12. I will be giving a lecture at 5:00 p.m. and the opening starts immediately after at 6:00 p.m. On Saturday, February 13th, there will be a lecture by Liz Quisgard followed by a panel discussion with all the artists. 

The Professional Development Seminar at the SNAG Conference in Houston will be offering three hours of programming followed by a lunch discussion. This is open to the public. If you are not planning to attend the entire SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) Conference March 10 - 13, 2010, you can pay for just this PDS seminar. (Download HoustonflyervL12.29.09) The first presentation is by Bruce Baker speaking about "The Art of Selling" . The morning continues with "Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialog about Pricing Your Work" with Marlene Ritchey, Guido Schindler, Jennifer Trask, Kiwon Wang, and Francesca Vitali. This will continue with an informal discussion during lunch.  While the SNAG Conference is generally focused around jewelry, metal arts and design, this information will be applicable to a wide range of media AND the speakers represent a wide spectrum of viewpoints.

Also at the SNAG Conference I am working on a new program titled, "A Smaller Conference Experience".  Everyone is invited to a more relaxed setting for individual introductions and conversation before the pin swap on Wednesday night, and an informal lunch discussion on Thursday with the Keynote Speaker Caroline Broadhead and the Thursday morning speaker Beverly Penn. Bring your own lunch, grab a chair and join our conversation. Space is limited to 75 people. Please come and say your name, "hello", and tell us what kind of work you do.

Portfolio Reviews at the conference. If your are interested in a short conversation offering insight about your work and discussion about reaching your professional goals with gallery owners, curators, or experienced artists, then stay tuned for the opportunity to grab a portfolio review slot.

RecycledFULL72
Recycle © 1999
The California Collection
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, wood, milk bottles,
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

This year begins for me with an intense focus on finishing artwork that has been "in progress" for quite a while.  Finally, I am completing a whole group of work that has taken me more than two years.  To the left is one piece in the series.

Stay tuned to my web site, Facebook and Flickr where new images will be published in the coming weeks and months. If you aren't already my friend on Facebook, this is a great way to stay in touch.

Looking forward to the New Year and all it holds for our professional development.

I write this blog for my readers. Let me know what you want to hear and learn in the coming year.

Best Wishes for the New Year,

Harriete