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March 2011

Craft Forward Symposium 2011: Manufractured Clips, Capsules, Confiscated, and Commentary

ManufracDSC04486.72
Exhibition shot of Manufractured
My Grass/gras' is in the center of the
exhibition gallery.
Grass/gras'
© 2001
Post consumre recycled tin cans,
steel base.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Watch the Grass/gras' video

The Manufractured reception was last night at the California College for the Arts in Oakland, CA. This exhibition was mounted for the symposium, Craft Forward. There will be a 2nd reception Friday afternoon as the OPENING EVENT for Craft Forward Symposium.

I will be blogging about Craft Forward in upcoming posts (every day) offering readers of ASK Harriete the digested version of each session. And depending on my overall impressions of the session and people's questions, I intend to write thoughtful commentary later....

Summary.
My favorite part of going to any opening is meeting the other artists and making connections.  Although it just about kills me to walk up to a stranger and introduce myself, one never knows where a brief conversation may lead. Hbstanding My legs hurt too, from four hours of standing on concrete with a smile, but I met a good number of new people! Great! People asked for my card. Some faculty asked me to lecture in their classes next fall. Maybe something good will happen!

An art career is a marathon, not a sprint. This is just the beginning of a four day marathon called Craft Forward Symposium.

What did I learn? Presentation is important!!!

Thought provoking issues raised?
Should the jewelry be designed for display? EmikooYECONNECTIX 

 Questions Asked and Answered?
I am asking . . . Should the manufactured materials be transformed to a certain degree by the craft of making . . . and have multiple levels of meaning to be successful? What do you think?

Background and details about the exhibition:
In this post,
I am going to include images of work in the Manufractured exhibition with a few added comments. (I apologize now for the "quickie shots". I went early and had to do the photography quickly for this blog post.) Be sure to see emiko oye's Visual Diary of Manufractured and Craft Forward on Crafthaus. Images will be up soon.

Below are a few images with brief information and the names of the artists in the exhibition.

Manufractured exhibition for Craft Forward. This photo of the Manufractured exhibition (right image) includes my work, Measuring Compliance to the left (and close up below).

MeasuringCompliance

Measuring Compliance
© 2008
Materials include yardsticks, rulers, recycled oak floor, third grade desk, and chair, custom-made straight jacket, printed banners, tin.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Michael Pred Fear Culture1Fear Culture ©  2007 by Artist: Michele Pred included confiscated airport items like small scissors, razor blades or tweezers. Each item was  contained within a petri dish, a perfect metaphor for closely examining our fear and anti-terrorism policies. The large dramatic size at 66" x 80" and careful, almost "sterile" assembly was eye catching, meaningful and accessible. People had an immediate response to the confiscated items within each plastic case. I think this is because all of us have either had an item confiscated at the airport or witnessed something being taken from a passenger. Additional information about this artwork can be read in an article on American Craft Blog by Mija Riedel.

EmikoOYE
Dawning II © 2011
Artist: Emiko Oye
Re-purposed LEGO and Connectix,
recycled electronics cable, paint, silver
An Homage to "Dawn's Wedding Feast"
1959 by Louise Nevelson.

emiko oye's necklaces constructed from re-purposed LEGOS, Connectix and make-up brushes were displayed on three mannequins against a gray wall.  This seemed like a great solution for providing some context for the jewelry and giving small work a presence within a large space.

Emiko Oye necklacesDisplay of jewelry is such a challenge, especially when surrounded by much larger artwork. I think the necklaces looked a bit awkward on the mannequins, this photo looks better.  So here is a huge question... Should the jewelry be designed for display? or designed to be worn? What about a display designed specifically for the work?          

       Liz Hickok City of Jell-0

 

 

 

In the photo of San Francisco cityscapes (above left) by Liz Hickok, think city landmarks made of Jell-O, earthquakes and the famous Jell-O wiggle, all in the same moment. It is especially interesting how Liz Hickok has developed a market for artwork made of Jell-O. The original work (actually Jell-O) has a limited "exhibition shelf life" but she documents the work for posterity with large full color C-prints on Plexiglas. The prints become the exhibited artwork.

Mitra Fabian Binder Clip wall growth by  Mitra Fabian fabricated an organic growth on the wall using binder clips. The manufactured object of a common office supply assembled into a natural yet other worldly appearance.

For me, as a maker, I have a little trouble appreciating the final work. This seemed more like an "exercise", than a fully realized art piece. What would have been more convincing? I tend to prefer that the manufactured materials be more transformed by the craft of making or have multiple levels of meaning. I wonder if the Craft Forward symposium will address this issue? 

Binder_clip The overall concept behind the work appears limited because the concept seems like a one-liner without deeper introspection. Did I miss something? Help me!


Laurel Roth's PMSquilt artwork titled, PMS Quilt 2008 consisted of blood red hand crochet around pantyliners with additional embroidery. LaurelRoth72
I think that the photo right from the exhibition gives you a better idea. For some reason, I was not impressed. Maybe I am too tired to care, but shock value over pantyliner expositions that say the "f-word", are not enough Craft Forward for me.  Bornagainvirgin  

Born Again Virgin (right) was more cohesive, but the mounting and frame were inconsistent with the work. Lesson learned: everything counts. Artists can't say that the presentation doesn't matter. 

Two of my favorite artists in the show were Andy Diaz Hope and Thomas Wold. In both cases, I think the manufactured materials were transformed by the artists with substantive levels of visual impact and interpretation.

DiazCAPSULESAndy Diaz Hope used medicine CAPSULES filled with pigment(?)  to give the overall impression of a pixelated image. Look at his web site...my photos don't do justice to the piece, but this close-up to the left gives you a good idea.  It is a wonderful surprise when you walk up to the work to realize how he generated the images with tedious craft.

ThomasWold Thomas Wold makes artwork/furniture (if you can still call it furniture) out of bits and pieces of other furniture. Maybe at first glance you might think it was kitschy, but it is really so much about bad kitsch and going "craft forward." There are multiple levels of conversation about pattern, decoration, over abundance, illusions to design vocabulary and good taste that fade in and out of fashion. I could live with this work forever. Can't wait till he comes to my house!

Overall, I can't wait till Friday at 3:30 - 4:30pm when I get to see the exhibit all over again. I need two days to digest tonight's information overload and reacquaint myself with the work and artists once again.

Harriete

The Manufractured exhibition is curated by Steven Skov Holt and Mara Holt Skov. The exhibition is being held in conjunction with the Craft Forward symposium to be held at CCA during the weekend of April 1-3, 2011.  An earlier iteration of the Manufractured exhibition was at Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft organized with MoCC curator Namita Wiggers.

The concept of the Manufractured exhibition is documented in the book 41+veDJYNuL._SL160_  Manufractured: The Conspicuous Transformation of Everyday Objects.This book link is an affiliate link. Purchase of this book may provide this blog with a few pennies.
The book is fabulous if you are interested in mixed media, re-purposed materials, recycling, and the use or remix of manufactured objects. The design, and layout of the book is a visual feast. I don't recommend books very often. This is a book to own in every sense of the word.

CHECK OUT emiko oye's posts on Crafthaus with lots of images from Manufractured exhibition at Craft Forward Symposium.  Manufractured Forward Visual Impressions  and Manufractured Forward Visual Impressions Part 2


Craft Forward Symposium 2011: A preview of "Manufractured" (the exhibition)

Manufractured is the featured exhibition in conjunction with the Craft Forward Symposium at the California College for the Arts, Oakland, CA Campus.  The exhibition is curated by Mara Holt Skov and Steven Skov Holt, professors at CCA and authors of the book 41+veDJYNuL._SL160_  Manufractured: The Conspicuous Transformation of Everyday Objects

ManufracDSC04486.72 Manufractured includes work from a variety of Bay Area artists and makers who use familiar manufactured materials and items transformed into something completely unexpected.

Think repurposed, recycled, remixed, and mixed media. Expect the unexpected from medicine capsules and LEGOS to binder clips and maybe Jello?   "Artists in the exhibition include CCA Faculty member Michele Pred along with Bay Area artists Harriete Estel Berman(Grass/gras' in above photo and below), Mitra Fabian,  Liz Hickok , Andy Diaz Hope, emiko oye, Laurel Roth and Thomas Wold. Several pieces have been produced specifically for the exhibition and are being seen for the very first time."

PPgrassCU
The first reception is Wednesday night (March 30) from 5:30 to 8:30. If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, I hope that you can come to this reception. It is open to the public. I will be there early starting at 4:30 photographing the work for the next day's blog post.

Come early for this festive event and meet the artists and curators.

CCA Gallery hours through April 1, 2011:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday:  8:30 a.m. – noon and 1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday:  1:00 – 4:30 p.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m.

GameBoardgreen1Wedopening

GAME ON! ROLL THE DICE!
DiceGR

Each day the above Game Board will change with the events at the Craft Forward Symposium. The stakes are high!

 
MOO cards HORIZONTAL72

 

Gallery openings are important occasions -- bring business cards.

If you never bought MOO Cards before, readers of ASK Harriete can take advantage of a discount for MOO business cards (see my business cards to the left) by using this unique code: M6QMNG

Take 20% discount off  your entire order until the March 30.

 Remember, it's only valid until 11.59pm (PT) March 30,  2011 - so place an order before then! You should also know that the 20% discount does not apply to Shipping, Rush Printing, or Logo Design.

Harriete


Craft Forward Symposium 2011 - Keeping Your Radar Up for Opportunities

CraftforwardBANNER
The Craft Forward Symposium 2011 is sponsored by the California College of the Arts on April 1 to 3. I've been hearing about this upcoming symposium for over a year through a whispering "telephone game" in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Symposium is almost on my home turf. (Actually it is an hour a way from my house.)  I plan to attend and gobble up every word.  I don't want to miss a minute!

Grass_SWangle The Symposium will also feature an exhibition titled, Manufractured. This show is a new iteration related to the book of the same name (which includes a whole chapter about 41+veDJYNuL._SL160_my work). The premise of the exhibition is that all the work uses re-purposed manufactured materials. (More in a future post.)

The lead up to is Craft Forward symposium and the exhibition Manufractured are good examples for every artist and maker.

Radar-dish_Antenna 1) The importance of keeping your radar up for opportunities. You've got to be listening to the rumors, working with your local arts organizations, and reading your magazines to catch the opportunities. (see the bottom of this post for another opportunity.) 

While the list of speakers makes this a really interesting EVENT (YES, EVENT with capital letters), it doesn't seem that it was very well publicized. Why?

Measuring Compliance sculture about education by Harriete Estel Berman 2)  Every artist and maker will benefit from the nuggets of information from the speakers of Craft Forward. I plan to write something about every "session" so that everyone can benefit from this symposium.

Subscribe to ASK Harriete or check back regularly.This is our chance to hear what the leading lecturers, curators and writers have to say about the future of our respective and collective medias.

Every post will be as brief a possible. I will try to organize each blog post:

  • Title of lecture with session speaker(s)
  • Summary
  • What did I learn?
  • What were the thought provoking issues raised? 
  • What questions were Asked and Answered?
  • Background about the speakers.

GameBoardgreen1wed Share this information with your fellow artists and makers. Give a shout out! 

"Craft Forward examines the multifaceted practices that both distinguish and blur the historically charged boundaries." "The symposium brings together a diverse group of makers and thinkers to explore the ethos of craft and its resurgence in the 21st century."

This blog post is your early notice. Stay tuned for daily blogs for about two weeks until each and every lecture, presentation, event and discussion is covered.

Stay tuned.

Harriete

Below is information from the Craft Forward web site about who is sponsoring the symposium:
"Generous support for the Craft Forward symposium is provided by an anonymous donor and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Additional support is provided by Grants for the Arts / San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund and by the Chalsty Aesthetics and Philosophy Initiative, made possible by a grant from the Chalsty Foundation. Special thanks to the American Craft Council for their partnership in the realization of the symposium."


What does Craft Forward mean to you?GameBoardgreen1wed

MOO cards HORIZONTAL72 P.S. Great MOO discount if you never bought Moo Cards before. A 20% discount off  your entire order until the 30th of March. Use this unique code M6QMNG

Remember, it's only valid until 11.59pm (PT) 30th March 2011 - so place an order before then! You should also  know that the 20% discount does not apply to Shipping, Rush Printing, or Logo Design.


Craft Forward Symposium 2011 - Helpful tips for Gallery Openings

GameBoardgreen1wed
 
The first preview for Craft Forward  is a Wednesday night reception for the exhibition MANUFRACTURED.

Read tomorrow's post for more information about Craft Forward and MANUFRACTURED. I will be posting every day with updates and information.

The Game Board (above) will change for every day as I document the Craft Forward  Symposium.

What is Craft Forward?

Roll the dice, advance your piece,
miss one turn, or 2 steps back?  

Stay tuned for daily posts to find out what the Craft Forward Symposium speakers have to say.  I will write one post a day until every lecture and discussion is covered.

 DiceHere are my helpful tips for art openings to get started on this game. Please add your own "tips" contributions in the comments.

HEB1.72gr 1) Make your own name tag.  Make it look like your work. Some openings forget to provide name tags. How can other people know who the artist are? Attendees want to talk with you!

2) Artists are the stars. Shine bright. Keep a pleasant face and be positive.

3) Stand near your work, if possible.  Ask people what they think. Ask them questions. Learn.

4) Engage people in conversation. Don't be shy or retiring. The first time you say "hello" may seem very difficult for an introvert like me (or you), but you never know who you will meet!

5) Meet the other artists.  Look for them and introduce yourself. It's amazing how you will see the same people two years and 3,000 miles later. Take my word for it!  Next time, it makes the art opening so much better.

6) Dress like an artist -- whether wild, wacky, fun loving or professional. People want to talk with you. You are part of the entertainment. Make it easy for people to find the artist. 

7) Stay for the entire opening! Arrive early and stay late. It shows respect for the exhibition curator or gallery owner and all the other artists. Plus, who knows who you might meet?

8)Bring you business cards or postcards. Give people something to take home to look at your web site!

Do you have you a favorite tip for art openings? Please share in the comments. Stay tuned for a post every day from Craft FORWARD.
Harriete

MOO cards HORIZONTAL72 PS. Great MOO discount if you never bought Moo Cards before. A 20% discount off  your entire order until the 30th of March. Use this unique code M6QMNG

Remember, it's only valid until 11.59pm (PT) 30th March 2011 - so place an order before then! You should also  know that the 20% discount does not apply to Shipping, Rush Printing, or Logo Design.


Monitor Madness - Going Nuts in a Nut Shell

Recently I spent hours and hours trying to figure out if my computer monitor was giving me an accurate color image.  I am going nuts!!!.

Nutshell copy

This is the problem in a nut shell.  Every single computer and computer monitor show images differently.  I am not kidding!!!!!!!! and it is driving me NUTS! 

Pencil installation about the impact of standardized testing on education by Harriete Estel BermanaI want the mages of my art and craft to be presented accurately with the right colors, brightness, contrast and saturation. Doesn't everybody?

Reality -- Your audience will be looking at your artwork through a different filter than yours.  Their particular combination of computer and monitor will likely show your images somewhat differently.

I've also found that most calibration web sites focus on matching your monitor to the printed image coming from your printer. The tutorials assume you want to print your images.  I rarely print my images. Most of my audience will be viewing my images on their desktop monitors, laptops, tablets, or phone.

More problems .....
If it is so easy for anyone's computer and monitor to be set slightly "off" when color correcting images of art and craft, then the images posted to websites may be off as well.

Books and magazine covers
Books and Magazines
Photo Credit: Emiko Oye

What about when you submit images to a book, exhibition, show or magazine? How do you know that you created the best quality images on your computer? How will your images look on the jurors' monitor? No wonder book publishers insist that artists DO NOT Photoshop their images!!!!!

MonitorsetupAt this point the only absolute answer is to buy high priced equipment beyond most of our budgets.  In the meantime, you should check to see if your monitor is giving you a full range of whites, blacks and appropriately saturated colors.

I found a few web sites that help to evaluate monitors.  You may be able to fine tune some adjustments.  At a minimum, these evaluations will alert you that your monitor may not be showing all there is to see.  In addition, it seems that the computer graphics card and the type of monitor have a lot to do with how your images look.

Test your computer by looking at this sample PDF from monitorsetup.com. It has a very easy to evaluate gray scale from black to white.  Try to adjust your monitor to give you the best appearance.  [Don't use the picture here on ASK Harriete, go to the site.]

MonitorWhiteCalCheckReady for a slightly finer evaluation? Try going to Imaging-Resource.com. They have two charts, one in a white scale image and one in black (below.)

Here is another site with detailed instructions for adjusting your computer and monitor.

This whole issue started because I thought my monitor was getting dim....monitors do age you know. How could I create great images if my monitor isn't correct? If I create images that look great only on my monitor, and don't look the same on other people's computers, what then?!!!!

MonitorBlackCalCheck Well guess what!!!!!?  BAD NEWS, there is no normal. I have discovered that every monitor is different. I mean really different!!!!!!!

LCD-MonitorHB  

Here is the rest of the story.  To replace my old monitor, my husband bought a new LED wide monitor....we were so excited. He purchased the monitor with the most adjustment buttons so I could fine tune the image. The LED's are brighter and save a lot of energy.  The wide monitor would allow me to have lots of windows open, and we could even download a movie to view on the larger screen.

BAD NEWS! The factory settings on the monitor are all artificially intense. The "scenic" mode and "theater" mode both super saturate the colors. The other options were only slightly better. With hours invested in fine tuning the adjustments, it got better but remained unsatisfactory. Something was very wrong with the colors. The white and black scales shown above were not showing the appropriate gradations.

Whole lot of cords After hours of adjusting and experimenting we hook up my old monitor to his laptop. Well his laptop and the old monitor together work quite well, even better than on my computer, but each presented a slightly different image. It became obvious that each combination of computer and monitor produced a different image. 

To end this story, we put the monitor back in the box and I returned it. My next computer I bought the best quality graphics card available.

This should not be the end of the story for you.   Using the evaluation websites above, adjust your monitor as well as you can and create the best images you can.  Then check your images or web site on other computers, mobile phones, and tablet devices.  At least you will be aware of any undesirable shifts and perhaps go back and adjust accordingly.

Harriete

Computer image came from Flickr portfolio of MR-Hands.

Search Engines Have No Vision - Play TAG, Your IT - Create Tags for better SEO from 2.0 sites

TAGS can be confusing when it comes to 2.0 social networking sites. 

Tag-your-it Most 2.0 sites allow tags for images (such as Flickr, Crafthaus, and marketing sites like Etsy and Custommade.com).  Some are less accommodating (see The Facebook Exception below). 

 

 

Do your own test. Go to your favorite site, use the search box, and type in words that describe your work. If YOUR images don't come back as results, no one else can find your images either. 

Tag

Some 2.0 sites allow only a fixed number of possible tags.

Custommade.com
, for example, allows five tags per category.

Etsy allows 14 tags total.

Flickr and Crafthaus seem to allow a huge number, but I recommend that you prioritize your tags by using the most important tags first. Then keep going with variations and options.

SEOtagsimages What should be your priority tags?  Begin by thinking about how people are likely to search for work like yours.  What are the most important words your friends would use to describe your work? This may likely be redundant to your title and description, but that is good!  In the logic of search engines, redundant words add to their credibility.

HEB1.72gr For example, both the title of the work and my name are in every text box available

 Yes,  in the title text box, again in any description text box, and yet again in any tags text box -- for each and every image.  For every image use your most important words. For your work it may be a business name, medium or subject that is your "signature."

Lind Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman uses post consumer recycled tin cans from chocolate.
Tags for this Flower pin look like this (box below):  Seo.tagkeywords copy

 Pretend you are a gallery owner looking for a particular kind of work.  Go to any of these 2.0 sites and pose some queries to look for YOUR work. What comes back in the results? Can you find your own work?

Try several variations or combinations of words.

Lind Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman in peach, tan, and soft pastel chocolate motif. Strategy is everything for tags. Consider mixing up your tags, "tin" on some images, and "tins" on others, Harriete and Harriet, green, eco, recycled, ec0-friendly, post consumer.  People don't know exactly what to look for, so give them as many paths to find your images as possible.

The Facebook Exception
Facebook unfortunately uses the phrase "tag this photo" but tagging images on Facebook is simply identifying your friends on Facebook photos. It is not about SEO for you images. Therefore, we are not talking about Facebook in this discussion of images.

Harriete

Next week?
Coverage of CraftFORWARD on ASK Harriete.

CraftforwardBANNER

P.S. The top image titled, "Tag Your It" was found at SodaHead


Search Engines Have No Vision - SEO for 2.0 sites.

In the previous post we discussed how search engines can not see your images. In this post, we move on to the titles and descriptions for 2.0 sites.

Googleimagesearch

Braille Search engines only read text.  To a search engine, images alone are just blank space.  But images can have text titles and descriptions that enable search engines to match your images with queries. If you want your images to be found, they need titles and descriptions.

Search_engines TEST THIS RIGHT NOW. OPEN A NEW WINDOW and do an image search for your art or craft. What do you see?

It is very difficult to get images posted on 2.0 social networking sites to show up in a search for images. If you don't add titles and/or descriptions for your images, they will NOT be found.  Don't miss every opportunity for search engines to "see" your images. Google Image Search for Harriete
 

Title your images with your name (or business name). 

After you upload the file, change the file name to the title of your work AND your name. (Etsy now adds the maker's name automatically.) Every title should be different, otherwise search engines think every image is the same.

Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman I have discovered that search engines find my work posted on 2.0 social networking sites only if I put my name in the title.  In other words, titles should include the name of item/object/artwork/painting AND the name of the artist and maker.

Yes, title your images on 2.0 sites should include your name (like in the box below.)
SEOtitle

Including your name in every image title may seem repetitive, egotistical, or unnecessary, but search engines need to connect you (the artist or maker) with every image.  Images posted in your albums, sets or collections are NOT automatically linked to your name.

(Facebook doesn't allow you to title your images, so include your name in the description. See below)

Harriete Estel Berman pin says my name. In the description, include your name (or business name).  Then add other information that describes the work, such as materials, techniques, style, color, or type of item (i.e. painting, bowl, purse).

The Internet is not the place to think that your work should "speak for itself."   Search engines can not see your images.

Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman If you want people to find your images, you must add text descriptions.

Here is a sample description (below) for this Kisses Flower Pin.

  SEO Image descriptions
Testing, testing, testing....
do a GOOGLE Search for your images.
Study the results

On all 2.0 sites, add text for the titles and descriptions whenever and however possible.

Harriete

The next post topic is a discussion of TAGS for images on 2.0 sites.
Next week?
Coverage of CraftFORWARD on ASK Harriete.

CraftforwardBANNER


Search Engines Have No Vision! So Help SEO "SEE" Your Images

Blind-man-walking Search Engines can not see your images. SEOnovisionimage
They can not see color, black and white, in focus, out of focus, or pixelated. They are completely blind to images.  They have no vision. 

To the upper right is what Search Engines "see" in an image . . . . . .  Exactly!  It's blank. Nothing there. 

Search engines understand only words, text, and phrases.

This is why it is so important to add words and text such as image file names, titles, tags, and descriptions to all your images on your web site, blog, or social networking sites. Without this text information, search engines simply skip over your images.  For all practical purposes, search engines interpret images as blank spaces.  They are completely blind to images.

Google Image Search is blind to images
Artists and makers are strong visual thinkers and may not believe that an image has zero value to a search engine.   To grasp the impact of this issue, try describing an image to a blind person.  Treat search engines in the same way.  How else can blind search engines "see" images? 

Extra Virgin Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman  Today's post will show a couple of super simple examples for ALT image information for images on web sites and blogs. Search engines use ALT image information for search on images.

Clickable images (as links to other pages) and the ALT text for them is a great way to build visibility for your images and linking to other pages on your web site. (Test the Extra Virgin Flower to the left to see how this works.)

In the next post we will look at titles, tags and descriptions for 2.0 social networking sites like Crafthaus, Flickr, or Facebook.

Kisses72This post will use one of my favorite Flower pins as an example.  The file name on my computer for this image is Kisses72. That is my personal code for the image file, but it really doesn't say much to search engines.

 

SEOaltkisses72To turn geeky for a moment, this is what my Flower Brooch (left above)  looks like to Search Engines. This is the HTML code.  That really isn't informative is it?

The file name "Kisses72.jpg" doesn't say what it is or who made it.  If someone were looking for a pin by Harriete Estel Berman they would never find the image because the Search Engines just skip over the image. They have no vision. Learn more about image file names in the post 4 TIPS to Improve Search for Your Images.

Note: the default on a blog usually uses the file name as the ALT image information.

Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel BermanSearch engines read the HTML or XHTML code for the image -- and nothing more.

However, search engines can use ALT image information, but only if it is provided by the author.

Consequently, the ALT image information is the only way for images to be found  by a search engine.

Americans with Disabilities Act Logo Originally, the purpose for the ALT image TAG was indeed to help people with poor vision.  It was mandated by ADA (American with Disabilities Act), so that automated or volunteer screen readers could read text and the ALT image information out loud. 

SEO examples for images Flower Pin by Harriete Estel BermanB On my web site and blog I have to add the ALT image information manually, as you see to the left. "ALT=Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman in purple and black"  provides searchable text that is associated directly with the image.

On my blog I need to double click on the image and change the ALT image description for the image. (See the image below.) I didn't realize this feature existed for a really long time.

SE0 IMAGE description shown in text editing toolsbehind
My blog actually calls this box "Description", not ALT image information, but in the HTML code (behind the scenes), that is exactly what it is. IF you use a blog or web site template, there may be a similar option for you. Look for it.

In contrast, my web site prompts me to add the ALT image information to the HTML code. You may need to experiment with your blog and web site until you figure out how to add ALT image description for your images.

It isn't clear how long an images description should be. Google only publicly encourages original content and clear, accurate information. My plan is to be sure that the most important words (e.g. Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman) are there first.  Then I might add more information (such as "black and purple").

Decide what your most important words are so that search engines will find your images. The ALT image information will be different for each artist, maker and image. I used "Flower Brooch" and "Harriete Estel Berman." For your work, it might be the materials, type of work, utilitarian purpose, or other keywords or niche market attributes. 

Anticipate how people will search for your work and help search engines "see" your images with ALT image information.

For an update on image file names for search engine optimization, check out this new post "Image File Names Improve SEO"

Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman is Kosher for Passover on the back.
Kosher for Passover back view to my Kisses Flower Brooch
© 2011 Harriete Estel Berman


The next post on Tuesday will explain the importance of titles, tags and descriptions for 2.0 social networking like Crafthaus, Flickr, Facebook, or any on line marketplace.

Stay tuned for a new series of posts about CraftFORWARD  a symposium hosted by California College for the Arts. We will start out with background information about this important conference, the Manufractured exhibition and its relevance to the dissolving boundaries between art and craft.

"The Craft Forward Symposium examines the multifaceted practices that both distinguish and blur the historically charged boundaries between craft, art, design, architecture and writing. The symposium brings together a diverse group of makers and thinkers to explore the ethos of craft and its resurgence in the 21st century."


Tag Lines and Tagalongs -- Like Girl Scout Cookies, Wildly Popular and not really good for you.

"What should I use for a tag line?" A very common question posed to ASK Harriete.  Tagalongs Tag lines are popular, and like Tagalong Girl Scout cookies, somewhat over rated, and not really good for you.

Sorry to be so harsh, but I am kind of bemused. It seems that tag lines are something that people consider important  way too early in their art/craft business career. When they are still figuring out what their best products will be, the aesthetic styling of their business cards, and the work they plan to make, they want to believe that a "perfect" tag line is going to bring it all into focus for them and their customers.

Whoa!!!!!! I've looked in every book on my shelves about art and craft business management (I have lots) and only one had any suggestions about tag lines. Art Marketing 101 gives this topic a small half page. They describe a tag line as "similar to a slogan." They continue, "A tag line should note the physical features of your artwork, the emotional aspects and the special qualities. As an artist, you also want your tag line to help define the style and /or subject matter of your artwork..." 

Fine, all good, but your tag line should not become a priority in your business. Don't buy 500 cards with tag lines on them thinking you'll explode on the scene and have your business figured out.

Only time and experience is going to help you figure out your artwork, aesthetic, and the style of work that is selling.  Who knows, you might even find more than one niche market so that your marketing will have to change or adapt depending on the context.

MOOcardsHORIZONTAL72 If you want tags or tag lines, or even business cards that can function as both...try starting out small. Moo cards are a flexible solution. They let you print 100 cards and all of them different for about $20. You can experiment with images and text for a range of variations. Test out your images in a small print format, then see how people respond. 

Another option -  color copy on card stock, and cut up the cards yourself. Do some experimentation before you print 500 of cards that may or may not really work for you.

Tagalongsbox Forgive me, I must have Girl Scout Cookies on the brain since my husband brought home a couple of boxes.  (I've eaten them but I really wish he hadn't purchased them, and instead made a donation.)

Tagalongs are described as "Tasty cookies topped with creamy peanut butter and covered with a luscious chocolaty coating."  That tag line for Tagalongs sounds really yummy and descriptive, but, have you ever read the ingredients? The cookies are really a combination of partially hydrogenated oils and sugar with very little peanut butter or chocolate. The cookies are not really good for us. Tagalongs cookies have a great tag line sold by cute, adorable, aspiring young girls. Girl Scout cookies have their niche market and they know it well. 

So if you feel you must have a tag line, make it specific, descriptive, memorable, emotional and irresistible.

NOTE:  I am just Harriete (with no tag line).

Harriete

P.S. The web site at Small Biz Bee offers a great article about tag lines that shows you what really works. Follow their sound advice or skip the mushy, vague and ineffective tag lines that most artists and makers use.

MOO cards HORIZONTAL72 PPS. Great MOO discount if you never bought Moo Cards before. A 20% discount off  your entire order until the 30th of March.

Remember, it's only valid until 11.59pm (PT) 30th March 2011 - so place an order before then! You should also  know that the 20% discount does not apply to Shipping, Rush Printing, or Logo Design.


What's in a Name? Is Your Artist Identity LOST or FOUND in a sea of names?

Harriete,

Should I have a business name?  I’m stumbling and struggling on how to come up with a name.

Signed,
A reader in search for a name!

PDSCraftReportcolor72 While this question is a condensed version of questions from readers, it represents a fairly frequent issue. It also highlights concerns that are relevant to the Niche Marketing theme for the upcoming Professional Development Seminar  at the Seattle SNAG Conference.

PDS speakers include:

Hilary Pfeiffer who uses her own name for her serious work, but calls her wedding toppers business "Bunny with a Tool Belt".

emiko oye refers to her jewelry line as Reware (though I noticed that the web site name is actually "reware style.")

Deb Stoner has always chosen to do her work under her own name as her artist identity.

ChocolateQuestion200 What I want to ask all our speakers and readers of ASK Harriete:

"Why did you choose to operate under a fictitious business name rather than your own name as an artist or maker?"

"How did you pick this particular business name?"

My primary concern with a business name is the difficulty that most people have developing even one artistic identity, let alone two. In most cases I believe it splits awareness you have built and confuses potential customers or your online network.

Focus-on-goals-1 It would seem to be a lot more focused to keep one name for your web site, email, Facebook, LinkedIN, Flickr, all 2.0 social networking and on-line marketing . One name, or a variant of your name, constantly reinforces one singular identity. Repeated consistently at every site helps the one identity to gain recognition.

Vera-wang There are many examples of companies in all industries who are well known under an individual name such as Jack Lenor Larsen, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang (right) and Thomas Kinkade.

Mrclean_logo To add further emphasis to the idea of one name, it is considered a strong marketing advantage to have a singular identity to represent a brand. Examples include Aunt Jemima, Mr. Clean, Dear Abby to Papa John's, or personal testimonials that create intimacy with a brand such as Keira Knightley in advertising for Channel.

Keira-Knightley-for-Chanel-Coco-Mademoiselle-Perfume Artist's already have a name to associate with a product. Why would we dilute this asset by creating a company name?

Here are some practical suggestions about names that may enhance the effectiveness of an identity.

  • Is the spelling of the name unique in some way?
  • Would your middle name or maiden name create a more unique name?

HEB2.72gr For example, my mother made up her own spelling for Harriete when I was born. At this point, it works really well to differentiate my Harriete from all more common spellings of Harriet, or Harriette. Look up Harriete on a Google search with an "e" at the end. Tell me what happens.

Bunny1 Think about your identity name carefully.  If you are making up your own business name, make it memorable. It seems to me that "Bunny With a Tool Belt" is wacky enough to be memoralble. That is good marketing. On the other hand, on her postcard (above right) Hilary Pfeifer did not put her name anywhere on the card. "Bunny with a Tool Belt" is the business identity.

I admit to being confused by this approach. All the name recognition gained for either your business or your own name doesn't really benefit the other...unless you market them together.

Reware1 Reware_solar_tote Rewareeverest RewareEmikoshorts PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR YOUR BUSINESS NAME should avoid using a term in your business name that has many other associations. Ironically, "reware" (used by emiko oye for her web site and business identity) has many other search results (shown to the left) from reware clothing, to a reware business for solar bags, solar backpacks, computer parts,  and software. Starting out with a business name with many other search associations just makes it harder to stand out as a singular identity in any niche market for your business. (Try typing in Reware in an image search to see what happens.) 

If there is a list of competitors with the same or similar business names, it is hard to get a top search engine ranking for your business.

HEB1.72gr

 

So in summary, I'd suggest working with your own name and making it distinctive and memorable.

What is your solution to this deliemma and why? I'd like to hear what the readers of ASK Harriete have to say to add insight to this issue. What are the search results for your name, business name and web site? Are you Lost or Found?

Harriete.

Future posts will be about Tag lines and improving SEO for your images and web site with easy suggestions.


Discovering Your Niche Markets for Increasing Web Site Visibility.

The Professional Development Seminar is sponsoring an hour of discussion about Niche Marketing.  New FLUX SNAG Seattle Logo  Small_V112010_ Questions for our speakers include the following:

  • How to discover a Niche Market?
  • Should you use your name or a business name?
  • Should you have a tag line?

These three issues are interrelated and applicable to all artist and makers. The topic is enormous! Everyone has a niche audience (or even several niche markets), we just have to figure out who they are and how to tap into the potential.

In a series of posts, ASK Harriete will tackle these issues and how they impact web site visibility for artists and makers. This series will include tips for Search Engine Optimization (simple and easy to understand) without technical talk offering ideas that you can readily implement to bring more visibility to your web site.

This post is devoted to Discovering Your Niche Markets for increasing web site visibility.

web site for Harriete Estel Berman on a telephone Driving traffic to our web sites is not a passive activity.  It isn't effective to simply put up your web site and wait for traffic.  "If I post it, they will come" is a Hollywood dream.

Driving traffic to your web site takes some effort to find niche markets.  This is the creative part but, we need to raise our consciousness to see the opportunities. It all revolves around, What will interest other people?

Longtail Don't just look at the art and craft world for interested viewers. The identifiable art/craft world is small and rarefied.  However, if you think about all your activities and topics, I bet you will find multiple niche markets for your work.  Somewhere out there in the Long Tail of the Internet, there are people who don't know your work and how amazingly relevant it is to their interests.

Here is a recent example of discovering a niche market and then driving traffic to my website that actually prompted this post.

Pencil2_7_2011pullingwarp Pencil_stanineWEBsite

I am in the final phase of a four year project constructing a gigantic bell curve entirely out of pencils -- quite literally, thousands of real pencils. The work is a commentary about the impact of standardized testing on education.

BLACKwingpencil A few weeks ago, a curious looking pencil caught my eye and I happened to do a quick Internet search.  To my amazement, I learned that it is a "collectible" pencil.  What a surprise?  It never occurred to me that one pencil may be worth $30 to $45!

YikesThen I realized another of my pencils was printed with a pencil collector's name, address and the American Pencil Collector SocietyNow looking further online, I learned that there are blogs about pencils and pencil collectors! Who would have thought that this pencil niche existed!!!!!!  This is the Long Tail in the shape of a long skinny pencil!

My first Internet search discovered pencils.com.  They normally feature a pencil artist every Monday. They said, "Although you're not drawing art with these pencils, you are creating art right out of pencils!" This resulted in a feature post on their website about my artwork titled, "Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin."

If you read their short post about my pencil sculpture, you will see more niche marketing.  Pencils.com used the blog post about the featured artist (me)  to bring more visibility to two of their "niche markets" - collectible pencils and an link to selling pencils for taking standardized tests!  

PencilsHarrieteWORKING While the artist feature post on Pencils.com about Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin  may or may not result in a purchase of my work or an exhibition opportunity, you never know. Maybe someone will invite me to exhibit my pencil bell curve at their pencil convention. Now that my awareness of pencil associations is raised, I looked online. There are pencil conventions all over. Imagine that? More untapped niche markets.

In addition, the blog post on pencils.com is driving a bit of extra traffic to my web site. The more traffic to my web site, the higher my ranking. The higher the ranking the more people will see my art work about pencils....

The web has a Long Tail, and I am going to ride that long tail where ever it goes.

41h0cZRmWKL._SL160_ How can you make The Long Tail work for you?  Can you think of a material, color, design, subject, or any other aspect that is unique to your work? Try doing a search. The blossoming of so many blogs and web sites about the most arcane of topics means that they are looking for entertaining ideas for their readers.  Your work may become the subject of an upcoming post! 

Seriously, time to put your thinking cap on. Have you considered the many possibilities to find your Niche? Are you ready to ride the Long Tail? You might find new customers, clients, collectors or exhibitions for your work that you never expected.  

Stay tuned for more ideas and discussion for niche marketing, business names and tag lines. Pro and cons please get ready to weigh in with your opinion.

The Long Tail is an affiliate link and definitely recommended reading for learning how closely connected the internet and niche markets really are for you work.


Go mobile! Check your web site on an iPad and mobile phone. See the future!

Have you looked at your web site on a mobile phone and iPad (or similar device)?

Crystalball You are looking at the future! Your images are like superheros working 24 hours a day, traveling at the speed of light.  And now they are going mobile. 

Ritz-cracker-phone-screen

 

How does your website  look on a display the size of a RITZ cracker? Could some small changes to your images or your web site improve how it looks for mobile viewers?

Sprintphone

Why do I even ask this question?  Recently I got a new 3G Android phone.  I can now surf the Internet anywhere, any time.  It is fun and convenient to have mobile Internet access. Yet it still astounds me that many people are using their phones every minute of the day. Looking up a word, an idea, a picture, or a fact.

StuckINtraffic Last month I was stuck in traffic for over an hour....stopped, completely stopped.  I had the chance to look around at all the other people in their cars.  What was everyone doing? They were playing with their phones. Ironically, so many people were on their phones, web traffic was also slowed down to a "crawl" (pun intended).

It won't be long before the whole world has "smart" phones, iPads, or other electronic devices all connected to the Internet.  And they will be looking at everything including your web site if you plan now.

IMG_6535
So . . . how does your web site look on these smaller electronic devices?  Consider checking your web site on your phone AND your friends' phones, and your sister's iPad...that's assuming you don't own all these devices yourself.

Even more basic, does your web site function on these mobile devices? Start now to consider adaptations for your web site to work well with these devices. Here are a couple of non-technical options for better mobile performance:

Postage stamp Your amazing photos with strong graphic and uncluttered backgrounds are good for easy viewing. Think great postage stamp!

Take FLASH off your web site. It doesn't work on most mobile devices.  This may be fixed in the future, but is it worth loosing your potential buyer now?

Turn off the music on your site. It slows down the viewer's experience to a crawl.  Or, this may embarrass someone taking a sneak peak on their phone. 

Simplicity is important for mobile web layout. It goes without saying that the more information piled into a small space, the harder it becomes to read and the more scrolling that will be required. With such limited space to display web site content, a single vertical column layout would be ideal.

Horizontal copy Websites should avoid  horizontal scrolling. This is a recommendation by web site gurus for all web sites, but the problem is even more acute on mobile devices. It seems that some mobile devices can't make a horizontal scroll on a web site evident, thus your viewers may miss your web content. 

Phonewebsite
Images on my website work like button for navigation.

Navigation can be optimized for mobile viewing (without reinventing your web site).  Don't assume that everyone can just zoom in . . . because some can't. Consider larger easy-to-press links or click-able images to streamline the experience. 

Images on my web site work really well as "buttons" to other pages.

Text Links with multiple words are easier to tap with your finger.

Shorter URLs are easier to type in a search box.

Downloadspeed.png Speed for page downloading is once again an issue. It is kind of like the old days with dial up Internet connections (if you are old enough to remember the early days of Internet with 56k modems). Keep you images compressed and small enough to download quickly.

For now — at least until mobile network infrastructure improves and mobile connectivity becomes more pervasive — simple, low tech changes to your web site can improve your mobile viewers' experiences without costing you a penny.

Harriete


Your Facebook PROFILE Has New Options for Your Cover Photos

Harriete Estel Berman in the studio 2010 Three are several options for your Facebook profile that use the series of photos at the top of your profile page.


You can put one photo at the top of your page in the five images at the top. 

FacebookFbannerstrip
Another option below is:
One photo for both your profile picture and the five photos in a continuous series across the top.
Facebookpicscatter

Great idea, but it works much better if you think about the format and what will actually show up.  Some practice is required to make it look good with one large image on the side....and a few small photos to the right.

 

FacebookPROFILEmaker.faceUsing a large straight forward profile works really well, but there are other options that can be equally effective.  Sharp focus and great depth of field are essential  to make the images more interesting.

Here are examples of the three profile options with the demo images (from the studio) that I used when experimenting on my Facebook page. Once you figure it out, it is easy to try different images until you find a set that fits.


 Facebook picscatter PicScatter was also easy to use and my favorite. With the proper photo it could look really great. There is a little adjustment for the five side images.  I really like that you could flip the photo horizontally and make the image bigger or smaller.

 

Facebook fbanner Fbanner, the third option, allows you to add text to your images and change the color of the background if your image doesn't use up the entire space. It also offered stock images to use if you didn't have your own. However, I think most artists and makers would want to use their own protrait or images of their work.Fbanner was the least satisfying option of the three if you wanted to use your own images because it didn't include your main profile image.

 

Facebook-Harriete-estel-bermanDo you want one single photo for Facebook. The dimensions are 850px x 315px.  Read this post with a Guide to Image Sizes for Social Media with banner sizes for many popular social networks.


Give this a try.

Take a picture with this format in mind and experiment.  I used three different images from a recent photo shoot in the studio as my "tests", but after becoming more practiced, I got better at making each photo work in this format.

Give your art work and personality more visibility on your Facebook profile.

Find me on Facebook and be my friend to see my profile!