DIY This Necklace And Copy Another Person's Idea

Every so often I am appalled to see online a suggestion to copy another person's idea or work.

It happened again just now...
D.,I,YThe caption on this Pinterest photo offers suggestions for recreating jewelry by Sydney Lynch design as a DIY project. 

Suggesting that Lynch's work is a good piece of jewelry to copy is an outrageous and unacceptable recommendation. Unfortunately, this DIY proposition is not an isolated example.  If you want to create a tutorial for a DIY project, you must use your own design and ideas.  Telling people to copy another artist and how to do it is completely inappropriate.

If you like a piece of jewelry or admire another artist's work in any media, then suggest that other people buy it from the artist. Don't recommend ways to copy the other artist's work. 

What do you do when you see a D.I.Y. post on how to recreate/copy another artist's work?  When I first saw a situation like this, I didn't know what to do.  This time I wrote a post with vocal condemnation.  Is that enough?

Please post your thoughts or alternative suggestions below. 

Harriete


Protecting and Investing in Your Artistic Legacy

Gate-number.I've been traveling for a couple of weeks, including attending  in the American Craft Council Conference "Present Tense" in Omaha, and my momentum in discussing artist legacy issues temporarily came to a halt.   In anticipation of being "out of studio" for awhile, I sent 1,000 slides to a scanning service before I left.  Now catching up with daily routines, I'm reexamining the legacy issues that all artist's and makers may want to consider.


Present Tense Kaneko Head I continue to wonder how much to invest in the past - organizing and protecting an archive of my life's work.
Perhaps this reflects a profound perspective about one's self as a professional artist or maker.  Do you see your work as important to yourself or your field?  It is interesting to note that a portion of the Kaneko Building (where the Present Tense Conference was held) is dedicated to "the core collection of two thousand works by Jun Kaneko, providing examples of works chronicling his important and varied career" and his professional archive.

Professional-guidelines-inventory-recordsInterested in establishing and applying professional standards for artists and makers -- a dedication that led to the Professional Guidelines.  But contemplating the real time and expense of creating an archive causes a swirling of ego, pride, humility, professionalism, goodwill, hassle, ennui, tedium, ....  I do expect and hope that my work will live on somehow beyond me.  In the meantime (and I hope for a very long "meantime"), these efforts should enhance my administrative productivity well into the future.

Nevertheless, who cares?  No one cares really as much as me.  Therefore it is my responsibility to take care of my own images and documentation.  

Craig Nutt (formally at CERF) has shared with me a remarkable resource for dealing with these issues -   Joan Mitchell Foundation Call Resources. "

"Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) is an initiative of the Joan Mitchell Foundation designed to provide support to older artists in the areas of studio organization, archiving, inventory management, and through this work create a comprehensive and usable documentation of their artworks and careers.

This site is a publicly available resource to assist anyone involved whether artist, artist’s assistant, Legacy Specialist, family member, or friend of an artist in the process of career documentation."

Copied from this website "The workbook includes information on many elements key to career documentation including:

  • Importance of Documenting and Archiving Your Work
  • Working with Assistants & Legacy Specialists
  • Setting Manageable Goals
  • Physical Inventory
  • Record-Keeping System
  • Databases
  • Photographing Work
  • Budgeting"

There is a documentation guide and audio  book.

I am going to study this resource. If you have used it and would like to share your observations, please share in the comments.

Harriete

 


Investing in the Past: What is Safe Storage in the Digital Age? What is Preservation of a Legacy?

20161003_164657-ANIMATION
Reviewing all the images that I've kept since about 1971 has been challenging. 
The decision to spend time going through box after box of prints and slides to find the best originals means that I am investing time and money in the past rather than creating new work of the future. At the same time, I am both excited about enabling the sharing of the vast quantity of images not shown in years, and disappointed that this doesn't feel noble, productive or creative. 

There were lots of comments about the previous post regarding advice for keeping a responsible archive of images of past works. The decisions take into account a variety of factors.

Here are some of the highlights:   


Archival_Methods_35mm_Slide_Storage_System_07_02_mMy primary recommendation is to use archival boxes for storage.  I have been using these slide boxes for years. All of the slides stored in these boxes look fine.  Steel slide cabinets were great but they took up too much space, so the archival boxes are my choice. 

I am also storing the single remaining copy of my black & white prints, negatives and color transparencies in similar archival boxes.  This is following the advice of the National Archives which stores important content for the federal government.  Click here for recommendations for the National Archive. 

A number of comments suggested storing slides in plastic sheets.  I am NOT going to recommend this approach. While some plastic sheets claim that they are designed for archival use, I just don't trust plastic.  Many plastics out-gas and at this point I can't distinguish the so-called "safe" archival plastic sheets from those that are not safe. The plastic sheets restrict air circulation. The National Archives says:  "Older plastic or paper enclosures which came from the photo lab may not be safe for long term storage." 

What is Long Term Storage in the Digital Age?

You can never be certain.  I look back at the way information storage and sharing has changed in the past 20 years and the pace at which technology is accelerating. 

Here is a very real example.

Zip-drive-dicsDo any of you remember ZIP Drives?  I have one digital image on Zip Drive that I can not access now. How ironic!? I made a 9'x 9' wall quilt and it was difficult to photograph because of it's size. The image data was also huge, so at the time, a ZIP disc was the answer. A short lived answer.  Within two years, ZIP was out. No ZIP, and now, no original image available. Nos it is another time consuming hurdle and expense for archiving the original. 

Get this for further irony.  At the time, the image data for the large wall quilt was so big, I didn't even dare to put it on the hard drive of my desktop computer. A 32 MB image would have been half the hard drive at the time. [Please stop laughing now.] 

OK. that was one example, but there are more. Do you remember floppy drives? Another technology that none of us uses any more.  But they were handy and convenient at the time. Thank goodness my images are currently on CD's and DVD's -- but, shocking as it sounds, how many of you have a computer without a CD/DVD drive?   How long will it be till, I won't be able to buy an external drive to read the discs?  "Paranoia strikes deep."*  

For the long term I am trying to think about "What is safe?"  "What will be accessible into the future?"

Backyard-open-spacePart of my thinking to purge the slides was that they weren't safe enough. They were the physical copy of the image. They may have even been the original, quality image, but they too were vulnerable to damage from dust, mildew, a fire or earthquake. None of this is planned.  Fire is a reality in everybody's house. I live in California near open space at the end of a canyon. Where I live, fire and earthquakes are a potential reality, but every location, no matter where you live has it's vulnerabilities. Haven't we just heard about hurricanes, and floods in the news?

My goal is to have multiple platforms. 

So, for now, this is my plan. I am keeping:

  • one original slide. (Perhaps I should have kept two? Too late.)
  • scanning the one best original slide for a digital record - (more information later)
  • one black & white original photo
  • all negatives for the film/print images.
  • all my transparencies 2" and 4"x5"
  • one print copy of catalogs, postcards, and documentation of past exhibitions.
  • digital copies of images will be uploaded to my computer, external harddrive and Carbonite for back up.
  • eventually, I hope to add a larger variety of images  and documentation to my website, but even that can't hold everything.   
  • All my sketch books starting from 1970 have been kept and stored.

Is that enough? Is that responsible? Each of us has to make our own decisions.

Is there any answer that I haven't considered?  What are you doing with your images? Your past inventory records. Your old catalogs?  I'd like to know. This  is important information to share.

Future posts will provide more information on protecting and archiving your records.

I just sent my first 1000 slides for scanning and will let you know how this ScanCafe test group turns out. At .27 cents per slide it still adds up to $300 investment. That is not chump change when I 1,000's of slides yet to go! 

Harriete 

*Paranoia Strikes Deep is from the song lyrics of Buffalo Springfield song "For What's It's Worth"
"Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid.."

 


A Painful Purge and the Legacy Costs of Information

legacy costs of information
A legacy of information! 
I'm going through all my color slides….and black & white photos.  Thousands of images and thousands more duplicates.  A legacy of my entire career.

IMG_20160929_181941176

And throwing it all away.  Obsolete media.

 All my original images will be digital from here on.

[gickr_com]_eddb7504-39e9-8fa4-ed30-50014161cea3
I
n looking through 40+ years of accumulated physical images, I am reminded of the history and optimism anticipated in each and every image that is going into the trash.  As an artist I adored the quality of the images and took pride in being prepared when needed.  It was a badge of honor at a professional level. I remember the care and investment of time and money that went into the composition, processing, selection, cataloging, storing, organizing, and maintaining these visual manifestations of my craft skill and artistic vision. Now I am taking these beloved slides and photos out of their neat and tidy boxes, taking careful inventory to keep one, just one copy of the best image,  and dumping the rest into the dumpster.


IMG_20161002_182254288_HDR

I feel remorse in the wasted materials.
 
I feel guilt in generating such waste.
  This is a painful purge.

But the physical media has become a burden.  

IMG_20161002_182304915_HDRFortunately, the "information" of these images will live on when converted to digital media.   My daughter helped me realize that companies large and small deal with this legacy cost" all the time. They have archives of information that could be valuable to current or future users.  Information companies like Weather Underground choose to preserve past weather information and make it accessible on their website. They realize that the history of weather information is valuable, but stored data must also be compatible with newer digital interfaces.  Researchers using newer or different platforms need the archived information to be compatible to gain the benefits of analyzing long term trends over decades of accumulated information in ways that were not previously possible.  

purging a legacy of information in slide imagesArtists also may have a legacy of information or objects.  At what point does old work become out dated inventory?

I look at it differently. Old work has potential in future exhibition opportunities. It could even be my retirement income as I have witnessed in the revival of interest in mid-century modern jewelry. Important painters often kept their best work increased in value.

Museums are the consummate examples of legacy information and the costs of maintaining archives.   They store objects and information indefinitely with the expectation that value will be realized well into the future.


Misbehaving EconomicsWhy did I finally decide to throw away all these slides and photos?
  I was reading a book about behavioral economics … “Misbehaving - The Making of Behavioral Economics"  by Richard Thaler.  The book discusses a relatively new field in economics observing how many financial decisions are not made on a purely rational basis.  

Black-white-photos-legacy-informationOne financial concept struck home for me - "sunk costs."  The book made clear that my slides and photos that are no longer in a useful form (and all the time and money I invested in them) are "sunk costs."  Keeping them any longer would just cost more storage expense. Businesses often describe this storage expense as  "carrying cost" or inventory cost.  However, if the images (or any other inventory items) are not or cannot be used any longer, they have no current or future value.  To use up storage space in my cramped studio is just more wasted money.  

Vertical-quantity-of-images-informationEvery artist and maker has legacy information in their older work that represents their career and their credibility. The construction of my new website caused me to re-examine how I needed to make my images (my "information") more accessible for current and future use.   In the past three weeks, I have invested a great deal of time to find one, just one best copy of each image to digitize for the future.

I see my new website as a new and more accessible form of my work -- a new catalog that enables more people to more easily access my images and for me to connect with more opportunities.  I look forward to adding images to my website that were not digital. Images of inspiration and work in progress could be interesting to a wider audience.

I took great professional pride in my inventory of slides and black & white photos  to be ready for opportunities.  Now the ongoing value of my "information" (the intrinsic substance of my images) through this new digital media greatly expands how I can gain the attention of others and be prepared for many more opportunities.  My new website is adaptive to phones, tablets and computers.  Using a template site (which I resisted for years) means that it will be a stable format for further changes in technology.


Website-2016Despite my acute awareness of my past investments, I see this transition as a revitalization of my legacy information.
  Take a moment to look at my new website.  Critique the content.  Find mistakes.  Bookmark it for later updates. Lots more information is coming in future months. This is a work in progress, a new future, a new  year.

Harriete

 

 


Using a Gun in Whole or In Parts - The Meaning of Materials

In the previous post Boris Bally made a comment that is worth further consideration:  

Biba-Schutz
Biba Shutz response to Imagine Peace Now

"I am surprised how many metalsmiths have chosen to keep the gun as a whole, rather than to manipulate or reconfigure the gun’s materials. Certainly a big part of this was the barrier of working with a frighteningly ‘loaded’ (metaphorically) and often unfamiliar object."

I am thinking about Boris's statement. I see both sides now. 

When my gun arrived in the mail for this exhibition Imagine Peace Now I had never touched a gun before. I was definitely planning on taking it apart or cutting it apart. Both were easy options using my metalsmithing skills....but then taking the gun out of the box, even a small gun seemed threatening. I thought, maybe the gun was scarier, more frightening, more lethal,  if it was whole.

By putting the gun on the handle of my check writing machine, it meant that the viewer had to metaphorically grab the handle of the gun every time they were calculating or "Checking the Cost of Gun Violence."

BermanH-checking-cost-gun-violence-gun
Checking the Cost of Gun Violence by Harriete Estel Berman

BermanH-checking-cost-gun-violence-fullBut does using the entire gun in every artwork look or feel equally scary.

Sharon-MasseyIn the image right these guns by Sharron Massey  are decorated with enamel or paint. They say: "new normal," a powerful message, but do the gun look scary and threatening.  

Do you think you might have to grab these guns? or use them? Is this your "new normal?"


Stacey-Lee-Webber-full-viewIn the artwork shown (left and below) by Stacey Lee Webber the guns are cut lengthwise.  The colors of the different gun metals are very interesting.  The frame echos similar metallic colors. The photograph with grey sludge concrete on the wall seems far more poignant. I see the frame on the wall as a memorial to the victims of gun violence on the street. A memorial of death.

Despite the fact that the guns are cut in half, they still hold a powerful resonance.

So a whole gun really isn't the point. Half a gun can send a powerful message.

Stacey-Lee-Webber

Here are two more examples in this discussion about guns whole or in parts and the meaning of materials.

A necklace by Squash-Blossom-Necklace-LeeAnn-Herreid LeeAnn Herreid is made from one gun trigger  with additional gun parts that were molded and cast to create duplicate parts. The necklace uses gun parts in an attractive decorative way. The photograph is neat and consistent with quality photographic standards but leaves me a little empty. It doesn't grab me with the threatening issues surrounding gun violence. Does the "pretty" perfection get in the way?

Boris BallyBrave-No.@Contrast this to a necklace by Boris Bally made with gun triggers.  (right)   While very similar as a comparison it seems more "steely," harsh threatening.

Boris-Bally2003-Brave

 

Boris often photographed work in this Brave series on "gansta"  guys.  The message was clear. Jewelry from the street made from actual gun triggers.  The parts of the guns, the triggers themselves still carried powerful meaning.

In summary, my first assumption that the whole gun was scarier isn't really true. Parts of a gun, a slice or a trigger can still carry a powerful message.  

Creativity really is an art more than a science. One principle can not apply to all situations, and nuance can make all the difference between good and great interpretations.

Harriete

Imagine-Peace-Now-pinView the Kickstarter campaign for an exhibition catalog by Boris Bally. There are only ONLY 9 days left in the Kickstarter with 37% of the needed funds and 135 backers. Can you give one dollar? or five dollars, or $35. dollars. 

Stay tuned for updates about the upcoming exhibition locations for Imagine Peace Now. If you run a gallery or exhibition space, perhaps you might want to contact Boris Bally about the traveling show schedule. 

 

Berman-checking-cost-gun-violence-towards
Checking the Cost of Gun Violence by Harriete Estel Berman

 


Honesty at Gun Point, Kickstarter a Shot in the Dark

Guns-for-artistsIn March 2016 Boris Bally invited me to participate in an upcoming exhibition titled, "Imagine, Peace Now."  All of the artists were to be given an inoperable handgun and asked to make an artwork addressing gun violence in America. A previous post shared my artwork.

I have known Boris for at least 28 years (maybe more) and am a big fan of his work with recycled traffic signs. The range of Bally's work is backed up by exquisite craftsmanship, sophisticated aesthetic, bravado, integrity, work ethic and sometimes even outspoken opinions. Go Boris!

 

Picasso -Guernica
Guernica by Pablo Picasso. 1937. Oil on canvas.

Obviously I have the utmost respect for Boris, but beyond that, I believe, I BELIEVE,  I BELIEVE that artists and makers can send a message with their work. Indeed, some of the most famous artworks of history resonate with political and social messages.

 


Imagine-Peace-Now-logoIn this post, Boris Bally shares his experience putting together a show with a theme about gun violence.
It is always enlightening to hear from the voice of experience. Boris enlightens all of us about the challenges of an invitational and juried show, the lessons learned from organizing an exhibition, finding exhibition locations, and mistakes made along the way.

Putting together a show is in itself a noble effort and a time intensive commitment powered by passion. Now Boris is trying to raise funds through Kickstarter for a print catalog for the show.  A Kickstarter campaign is kind of like a Sisyphus challenge -- it seems endless and always requiring more effort.  There are many successfully funded projects, but it requires a great deal of support. Boris tells more about this too.

 

Imagine-Peace-Now-pinCan you make a small contribution for the catalog and the influential voice of artists and makers speaking out about a politically hot topic?  A dollar or five dollars may show the power of the arts to speak up about a life threatening issue.  If you can afford it, a larger donation gets a Kickstarter reward (left), but every dollar counts.  

Below my questions are in red bold followed by Boris Bally's responses. Included in this post are a selection of artworks to be exhibited in Imagine, Peace Now.

What have you learned from organizing this show?

Andrew-Hayes
Andrew Hayes

The show organization has lots of detail and complexity. An ongoing challenge has been to insist on following the original rules and guidelines initially set forth -- by treating all artists fairly and equally. Occasionally, this gets put to the test and it is a difficult decision. I am reminded that, by nature, artists don’t pay attention to the basic details: deadlines, artwork constraints and sometimes there is pressure to make exceptions to rules. This show is teaching me to be firm, yet diplomatic.

 

 

 

 

Did the work submitted for the show surprise you?

Hoss-Haley
Hoss Haley

I am surprised by the amazing individuality and talent displayed in these pieces. So many angles -- the various approaches to the theme which is fairly narrow in scope but has so many strong opinions tied to it. However, the broad spectrum of quality astounds me.

Some of the better known artists have submitted what I consider a lazy stab at the topic and devoted little energy (I am withholding names -- it will become apparent when the show is on display). A few of the lesser known artists have given the project 150% and used their full creative arsenal with a lot of thought and energy in their pieces.

I am surprised how many METALsmiths have chosen to keep the gun as a whole, rather than to manipulate or reconfigure the gun’s materials. Certainly a big part of this was the barrier of working with a frighteningly ‘loaded’ (metaphorically) and often unfamiliar object.


Of course you love every entry, but did you hope that people would address one specific issue about gun violence rather than just use the gun parts for adornment or shapes?

April-Wood
Ka-Bloom by April Wood

I definitely do NOT love every entry. However, I was pleased by the range of topical involvement. Even adornment using gun components can make powerful statements with sensitivity, hopefully making people think about guns in a different way.

Surprisingly, no entry glorified guns despite the extreme range in severity of anti-violence statements. I did not want to censure anyone, rather hoping to engage and elicit conversations -- which hopefully lead to involvement and action. The work that spoke to me the most was that which worked off the actual statistics, or the specific gun laws and transformed these into art that helps viewers to comprehend the emotions, the flaws and the sheer magnitude of the issues at stake.

 


How did you find show venues?

Christine-Clark-hanging
Christine Clark

I wrote to many of the venues that hosted my first gun show. Several had changed leadership or were not able to meet a rapid deadline (my initial goal was to get this into a showing before election day). The first venue that signed on, The Society of Arts and Crafts, did so quickly, supportively, and without question. Fabio Fernández and Luiza deCamargo believed in my project given our history of working together in the past. After they signed on, Bob Ebendorf, Barbara McFadden and Gerald Weckesser made a strong case for the show at ECU despite the Director’s initial hesitations. I am so pleased to be able to open the show at the gallery and will be featured during the Materials Symposium where I initially made the big decision to move forward with IMAGINE.

 

What has been the hardest part about starting a Kickstarter Campaign to fund the catalog?
Christine-ClarkIt took at least two months to prepare the incentives (which are required) and to produce the video (very helpful). I interviewed several successful KS campaign candidates for advice. It took lots of planning to lay the groundwork of what I was asking for, how I would ask, becoming familiar with the platform, the incentives, the up-loading process and the rules. The most worrisome component was that KS lists in the rules that weapons are not allowed.

They would not directly answer my questions when I asked them, in advance, if the project to go on. They said, "just apply and you will see if it gets accepted.” That was very nerve racking -- should I put all this into something that they will later not accept?

The amount of mail I receive has been daunting -- SO Much from various PR firms that promise funding help. Also I have been writing non-stop begging folks for support. It is an uncomfortable position to be in, but on the up-side, it does benefit the artists in the show.

What do you think is important about a print catalog as compared to just a digital version? 

Stephen-Yusko
Safe House by Stephen Yusko

Obviously, both have their place. I am old-fashioned in believing that a print catalog circulates in different ways than digital. It ‘sits’ on tables and can be easily browsed without batteries or glare. The essays will provide for some interesting reading that will lay the framework for the show and the publication. A book becomes a collectible, an ‘artifact’ just like the physical works in the show. Books have such a rich history and I believe, still a place in the libraries of our homes / offices. A book becomes a ‘presentation’ of the content -- like an exhibition . . . and a nice way to view an exhibition if you can’t be there in person to get the real time show. But, if we do not get the funding for a print catalog, we will try to get funding to do the downloaded one. (still a big expense)

How did you even estimate the cost of the print catalog?
Stephen-Yusko-side-viewI didn’t want to create a low-end catalog again, after having done this for my first show, ‘Artists of a Different Caliber’ back in ’97. Been there done that. Thought I would see if we can get a major, museum quality book going, to give the show some extra credibility in the high-end art world. I still believe we can do this. Of course, all the artists in the show get a complimentary catalog and also a discount on initial orders of future copies.

 

What is a Kickstarter Campaign financial picture?
The $50,000 estimate for the KS campaign breaks down as follows:

  • $5,000   Kickstarter and Credit card fees lop off about 10% in fees, so now we are down to $45k
  • $13,000 getting high and low actual print costs (based on 2,000 copies @ 100 pages @ 8.5 x 11” with neat binding)
  • Roughly 1,100 catalogs would go to fulfill the donations on KS so we will have leftovers to give artists and to sell at the venues.
  • Our high estimate was $26k - we did have one for $86k but threw that out -- and lowest was $11k.
  • $6,000 our photographer gave us an estimate of $5k- $8k for reshooting the art (depending on the quality of what we receive -- all work -- or any work that needed to be reshot)
  • $3,000 our designer gave us a cost of $3,000 for the whole project, including the logo. This is a steal considering she will also be working with the photographer.
  • $1,000 video honorarium for KS/ advertising
  • $20,000 incentives costs for the campaign range (depending on quantity of pledges) between $15k- $28k. These are for producing the keychains, pins and platters, etc.
  • $2,000 padding-in case I screw up. (minimal payment for my time if I do not)

 
What are your regrets:

Linda-Savineau
Linda Savineau

I wish I had not promised invited entrants would get their work included in the show, despite the jury process/ decisions. There were a few pieces that should not have been included due to major technical issues or minimal effort.

What are your hopes:
After the second venue, we regroup the show into a tighter, more focused grouping culling to perhaps 50 pieces to travel to a variety of venues. At that point, I would welcome new entries to ‘refresh’ the show while distilling the show to its most powerful examples.

To the readers of ASK Harriete, I ask, What is the power of art? Review the Kickstarter Campaign for Imagine Peace Now    It needs 31, 284   $1.00 donations. That is a lot.

But as an alternative, the catalog is fully funding with 6,257  $5.00 donations. That could happen in one day with your help.  

What shocks me is the amount of money the NRA spends on lobbying and political campaigns. According to OpenSecrets, a site that tracks money in politics, the NRA spent $984,152 on campaign contributions during the 2014 election cycle. It also spent more than $3 million on lobbying in both 2013 and 2014. How much do you think the N.R.A.is spending on the upcoming election? 

So can you give the cost of a cup of coffee so the arts can raise it's voice about gun violence?

Harriete 
(P.S. I'd like to add more information about the images but didn't have the title for all the artworks. Please feel welcome to email me with the titles.)

BermanH-checking-cost-gun-violence-full
Checking the Cost of Gun Violence by Harriete Estel Berman

 

 


Should Jewelry Display Include the Artist's Name?

Elephants-room-display3 copy
During a recent visit to Patina Gallery in Sante Fe, I noticed that they did not include labels with the artists' names identifying the makers of the jewelry on display.
 I asked Ivan Barnett (the gallery owner) about this approach. The response was that labels created visual clutter. They wanted the visual impact of the work on display to be about the artistic impression of both the display and the objects themselves.

IMG_20160805_110236343I must admit that their gallery does look very attractive. Each piece of jewelry in a case or on the wall creates a positive impression. The jewelry on display does not feel crowded.  I give them high marks on visual impact unequivocally.

In contrast, another gallery exhibiting jewelry placed labels everywhere with all kinds of information, e.g. names, materials, dimensions,  and prices -- and the overall appearance did look jumbled to horrendous with visual clutter in the displays or on the walls.

Labels or not labels is not a new debate, but I think a few issues come to the fore.

1) Should artist-made jewelry have a label with the artist name in an exhibition or gallery?

2 What is the solution to an attractive label?  

3) As a jewelry artist, would you express your opinion to the gallery or exhibition that displays your work? 

4) What is the value of discussing this issue? 

Let's look at the first question:
Should artist-made jewelry have a label with the artist's name?

I started to think about it like this. ...

Can you imagine going to a museum or gallery for other media and not seeing the artists' names with the artwork on display?   I can not recall ever seeing an exception. 

How about at an airport showing public art? Don't they always include the artist's name? Of course they do. Usually with just a couple of seconds to look around, there is always a placard or label. 

Did you ever go to a ceramics, glass or sculpture show and not see the artist's name near the artwork on display?  Never.

Is there any other art form in which the artist's name is considered optional?   At a minimum, artwork of any medium and the maker are identified with a label.  It establishes credibility for both the exhibition and the artists in the show.  

Further irony is that there are even brand name commercial jewelry brands commanding higher prices and better sales because they are associated with an individual's name. Examples like Paloma Picasso or David Yurman sell their boring jewelry with a name attached.

However. . . 

The visual and aesthetic impact of an exhibition must be part of the equation.    Seeing creative, innovative expression can be a magnificent engaging experience for the buyers and community.   Any opportunity to elevate a gallery visit into a sense of wonder should be a goal for everyone. Intrusive labels or poorly placed placards may interfere with that experience.

Let's compare some examples side by side of jewelry on display, with and without labels, before we consider the professional and practical issues.

  IMG_20160805_111604482 IMG_20160805_134847116

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20160805_110548834

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewelry-case-without-labels

 

 

IMG_20160805_134932967

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

IMG_20160805_110708995

 IMG_20160805_140146031

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20160805_134912391

 

 

Boston society of Arts and Crafts

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is clear that the artwork displays best when no distractions interfere with the visual experience.

But it is also essential that the artwork should not be displayed anonymously.

So, question two...
What is the solution to an attractive label?  
How can the artist's name be clearly associated with the artist-made jewelry on display?

How can this be done effectively without visual pollution of labels and the cluttered effect?

Here are some  ideas:

  1. Have one label discretely near but not in or on the jewelry. Ideally the label will be attractive (more attractive than a white piece of printer paper).
  2. Keep the label below the display so that it can be found if desired but does not obstruct or is not included in the field of vision of the artwork.
  3. Provide a printed handout or gallery guide with small images of the jewelry.
  4. Use a small number in the display that corresponds to either a label to the side or the printed handout.

Can any readers of this post offer other suggestion or ideas? 

 What are your solutions or ideas?

 The third issue is....
As a jewelry artist, should you express your opinion to the gallery or exhibition that displays your work?
Did you ever ask the gallery that shows your work if they display your name? Do you think that the artist maker has a voice in this issue?

Question four is... 
 What is the value of discussing this issue?
 The reason for this discussion is that it is time that artists and makers take responsibility and advocate for their work and how their work is displayed.  Surely, galleries and exhibitions are opportunities, but makers of artist-made jewelry should not simply remain quiet and anonymous.

What is your position? Do you have any power?

Next post: Should labels have any information other than the artist's name? How much information is TMI?

Harriete

P.S. I recognize the irony of not labeling all of these images with the artist's name and will try to create a key for this post identifying all the work in these images. 
IMG_20160805_134847116


Necklace by Helen Shirk
Steel with enamel

 

 


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Necklaces by Arlene Fisch
Crochet wire

 

IMG_20160805_140146031(Center) Necklace and jewelry by Mike and Maaike  - "Stolen Jewels" Digital printing on leather
(Front Center) Marjorie Simon  - Enamel rings
(Left edge) Rebecca Laskin  - Bracelets dyed 3-d printing
(Right edge) Rachelle Thiewes - Painted bracelets

IMG_20160805_134912391
Necklace and cuffs by Arlene Fisch Crochet Wire 

 


Boston society of Arts and Crafts
Exhibition at the Society of Arts and Crafts
Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman


Jewelry Display and the Elephant in the Room

Recently, I viewed jewelry on display at multiple galleries all in one day.  Seeing so much jewelry in a short time allowed me to compare and contrast the quality and effectiveness of different display approaches.  

Jewelry window at Patina Gallery, Sante FeSome jewelry displays were elegant and inspired, while others were horrendous and highly questionable.  Trying to understand the cause of such disparities seemed to be a good subject for several posts and possibly an informative debate.



BAD-booth-displayTo add to the display confusion
 the various individuals responsible for the different display approaches (shown in this post) each considered themselves experts with years of experience.  How would one know they had jewelry display expertise?  They said so.   



Elephant-Room-jewelry-displayThe inconsistencies of the jewelry displays remind me of the ancient Indian tale of the blind men describing an elephant.
 Each man touching a different part of the elephant confidently extrapolated their vision of what the whole elephant must look like.  But their stories varied enormously, as you can imagine.  Ultimately, "When a sighted man walks by and sees the entire elephant all at once, the blind men also learn that while one's own experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth."

The elephant in the room -- or more specifically the "elephant" in this post -- is the lack of standards for quality jewelry display.

Putting all good intentions aside, there are some pretty clear display standards that merit universal implementation for the display of artist made jewelry.

 

SPACE applies to jewelry everywhere! 

IMG_20160805_113332519Space defines value. 
Crowded jewelry displays scream lesser quality, lesser importance.   The more space around an object the more important it becomes. In the first photos, you see a crowded jewelry display photographed on the street. The attempt to squeeze in as much jewelry as possible diminishes the perceived value of the jewelry. The visual clutter reflected in the store window seems like an apt metaphor for the visual clutter of the merchandise. 

IMG_20160805_112501036When a jewelry display has too many items (whether in a case or on the wall) the message of value or uniqueness has been diminished. For example, laying bracelets on top of each other or squeezing as much work into a case is reducing the perception of value. 


Museum-Art-DesingCompare the previous examples to how  jewelry is displayed in a top quality museum
where there may be 12" or more between objects. One piece of jewelry may even be allowed to occupy the entire case or placed on a pedestal by itself.  


Space is a valuable resource.
Space costs money. It doesn't matter whether it is a craft show booth or gallery or a museum.  Space is a luxury. Space needs to be a physical and metaphorical component of effective display.


Space in retail context is a definition of value.
 We see this all the time. The space principle is applied to items in retail stores of all kinds. Discount stores crowd their racks with merchandise. Top quality stores place an object on a shelf away from other distractions. When you are selling, you are selling more than just merchandise. You are selling a perception of value.

 

Apply this principle to your display whether at a craft show or gallery exhibition.   You want the work to look like it is worth buying.

 

Two more essential display attributes: 

IMG_20160805_135218270Consistency in display props. 
Ask Harriete has featured this topic on numerous occasions. Inconsistent display materials create an unattractive and distracting display.  In the photo (left) there are two different commercial neck forms covered in brown textured linen, a clear Plexiglas support, black linen fabric, and a business card holder used as a prop. The wood framed case is awkwardly perched on top of a painted grey pedestal - not a good combination.

 

 

commercial display and inconsistent display materials never work togetherMore awkward combinations (left)  include a wood frame case with brown linen commercial neck form on a grey painted cube. Add Plexiglas props and white paper labels. It doesn't work.

Adding business cards in the middle of a display may provide contact information but they are unnecessary distractions from the work whether this is a million dollar gallery or a craft show booth.  It looks bad.  Keeping focus entirely on the jewelry is essential for quality jewelry display.   




bracelets should never be exhibited on commercial propsAvoid commercial display props. 
Commercial display props should not be used for artist made, hand crafted, handmade, or art jewelry. Purchased display props send the commercial jewelry message. No amputated fingers, collars, necks, or bracelet posts, ever. 


purchased display props look terrible and should never be used for artist made jewelryYour clients easily sense the difference between retail commercial  jewelry and art jewelry. 
Though I've heard some defense of commercial props after my previous post regarding "Purchased Racks and Props", it is my experienced opinion that purchased display props should be avoided.  Ordering commercial displays may be a convenient time saver, but I am not convinced that they are worth the loss of perceived care and uniqueness.  Display props are often necessary for jewelry display, but you have to make them. 

More posts are coming, and the line of "elephants" is way too long. Stay tuned for a circus of jewelry display issues that you won't want to miss. 

Harriete

P.S. Most of these photos are not great. I don't want the jewelry recognized as victims of the display sins. All photos taken inside a gallery were taken with permission. 

 

RELATED POSTS:

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

 

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

 

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

 

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

 Key: 
Museum-Art-DesingImage taken by Phil Renato at the Museum of Art & Design, NY
Jewelry by Harriete Estel Berman (Yellow Ruffle Bracelet) and Peter Chang (bracelet shown at the bottom of the photo.)

 


An Exuberance of Color in Studio Jewelry

Three bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman
This week I'm flying to Santa Fe, NM for an opening of an exhibition at Tansey Contemporary  curated by Gail Brown. I am honored to have my work included in the show which is titled: An Exuberance of Color in Studio Jewelry.

The catalog is available online.  It is very well done and filled with exceptional work.

Catalog-Exuberance-color-Berman-Tansey

Participating jewelers include Julia Barello; Harriete Estel Berman, Jessica Calderwood; emiko oye; Arline Fisch; Donald Friedlich; Rebekah Laskin; Karen Massaro; Bruce Metcalf; Mike Simonian; Marjorie Schick; Joyce Scott; Barbara Seidenath; Helen Shirk; Marjorie Simon; Rachelle Thiewes; Linda Threadgill; Cynthia Toops; Dan Adams; Roberta & Dave Williamson; and Amy Lemaire.

Harriete Berman bracelet from recycled tin cans as a commentary about our consumer

Each jeweler is featured in the catalog. If you have the opportunity to see the show in person, I believe it will be worth your time. 

 

Do I go to many openings?

The time and effort to travel for an opening is not an easy option. I typically prefer to save money, keep expenses low, and stay home to work, but this invitation from Gail Brown to participate in this exhibition represents a long relationship of generous patronage. Going to Sante Fe is an adventure. 

After the show, I am taking two days off with my husband for a cultural history trip to Chaco Canyon in northwest New Mexico. Originally this was supposed to be just for an kind archaeological adventure, but it seems that this area was recently designated as a 'dark-sky preserve' so I have (sucked in my breath and) committed to camping under the stars. 

Will I see you in Santa Fe?  The opening is Friday evening, August 5.  

Harriete


BermanH.Metallic -Gold-linear-UPC Berman- Harriete-bracelet-triangule-color

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Never say, "Gosh ...I could have gotten into that." Guidance to Improve Juried Opportunities

Page-under-construction-orangeround36As mentioned on the previous post, I am reconstructing an entirely new website. As a result I am reminded of all the useful content in the Professional Guidelines and in the ASK Harriete archives that may improve your success when submitting your work to a juried exhibition, show, book or magazine.

Even the smallest adjustment to your submission may make the difference between success and less than optimal outcomes. I've seem this over and over. Recently I was asked to select the award winning work for a juried exhibition. The $500 first price was a very generous award to stimulate entries. There were great 2nd and 3rd place awards as well, but the reality was that there not as many submissions as expected. What a missed opportunity for many, and a optimal opportunity for others!  

Never say, "Gosh ...I could have gotten into that." Try for every competition that fits your work using this information to improve your chances for success.

Professional-guidelines-juried-exhibitions-800

Juried Opportunities from the Professional Guidelines

 

CuratorMETROPOLITANWhat Is the Difference Between Curated and Juried?

 

 

 

Jenny-Fillius-well-doneCONTINUITY and CONSISTENCY, Photos Should Demonstrate Clear Focus

 

 

 

 

 

Zapp
Zapplication: Behind the scenes by Craig Nutt


 

 

Opportunity-VS-Vanity-Scams
Opportunity vs. Vanity Scams


 

 

 

Lora-Hart-pendant
Photo Comparisons and Descriptions - Now Optimize Your Submission



Put lady luck on your side with a well planned entry.

Harriete

 


3 Tips - New Website, New Domain, Retaining Page Rank

3-tips-website-domain-page-rank
The Internet is making a pivot to mobile viewing.
 Experts declare "We're now past the mobile Tipping Point" changing from desktop to laptop, mobile, and tablets. In the four years since I got my first smart phone the suggestions I considered as "optional" for mobile design have become website essentials. Google anticipated this pivot to mobile over a year ago. In April 2015, Google threatened to reduce the visibility of your website or blog in search results if it is not "mobile-friendly." 

Website-not-mobile-friendlyThe day came and went.  My website wasn't ready.  It didn't matter that my old website showed up on phones or tablets,  it did not fit the Google definition of mobile friendly.

What does mobile friendly mean? How can you tell if your website fits that restricted definition by Google?  Here is one simple test.

Just try to grab the right side edge of your website (on your computer screen) and pull in the width of the page. As you can see in the image (left) the content on the right side of my website doesn't show anymore. The viewing window is smaller and obscures half my content.  

If your website layout doesn't change, move, or realign to the narrower width of a phone or tablet...your website is not mobile friendly.



SquareSpace-responsive-designThe current goal in websites is a responsive web design. This means the same website works for all platforms. With adaptive web design layout, the content should automatically reformat to be tailored for any desktop, tablet or smartphone screen dimensions. SquareSpace templates work for all platforms and came highly recommended.

Now I am taking the huge step in creating two, yes two whole new websites. One website is for my silver repair business and the other for my artwork. For the past two months the intensive effort uses every free moment. New domains, new platform, new design, and completely new website. This has not been easy.


Harriete-Estel-Berman-websiteMy old website was custom made for me.
It was not a template. I the unique aspects, but the problem was that I did not have the skill to update the code. 

With sad heart I finally had to acquiesce to a template -  the only way to go for a small business. At least the code is updated regularly to comply with current and frequently changing internet standards. 

To get this job done within a reasonable amount of time, I hired a graphic design student from the local community college as a paid summer intern. She has been gaining great experience each week working at home and at my house so we can discuss problems and solutions at a moment's notice.

Berman-Fine-SilverworkAs the first goal while learning SquareSpace,
we constructed a new website for my silver repair business "Berman Fine Silverwork."  Purchasing a new domain name allowed the transition from the old website to new pages to be swift and painless.  

TIP #1. Keep URLs as short as possible.
A new domain name for "Berman Fine Silverwork" shortened the URL. 


TIP #2. Create a website that functions on phones, tablets and computers. 
SquareSpace is designed to function on all platforms.  During the construction you can double check how it looks on each device. 

TIP #3.
Create a "301 redirect" for each page of the old website to the new site.  My silver business is a relatively small website so with a few 301 redirects all the pages (and page rankings) were moved over to my new website. In less than 24 hours I was getting inquires for silver repair jobs.

301 redirects are permanent. The closest analogy is like a change of address card that you would use at the post office for snail mail. A 301 redirect tells browsers to go to a different URL when someone clicks a link to a nonexistent page. The purpose is to tell search engines that a page has moved.  It also automatically transfers the old website page rank to the new page. 

Moving page ranks to your new web pages is essential when creating a new site.  If you don't do a 301 redirect from your old site to your new website....the years of history, internet activity, and even the links (from other people and websites) to the old website are lost forever. A 301 is easy to do and moves the established credibility from the old site to the new one.  

Ideally, create a 301 redirect from each page of the old site to the corresponding page on the new site. Do not just create one 301 redirect from the old website to the new home page. That is truly missing the point of a 301. You want to retain the old page rank from each page when creating the respective new website page. Each page of the old website should ideally link to a corresponding page on your new website. 

My future work is creating an Excel spread sheet listing every page of my old website anticipating the corresponding 301 redirects to my new website pages. In the meantime.....I will share my web design experience.

More information in future posts may help guide your new website construction.

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Vision of the Artist, Vision of the Photographer

-LOGO_footerIn February, Boris Bally invited me to participate in an exhibition about "changing society's views about the dangers of handguns."  The show title is "IMAGINE (Innovative Merger of Art & Guns to Inspire New Expressions) Peace Now!" Each artist was given a disabled hand gun (randomly chosen and mailed to the participating artists) to use as part of the artwork. 

When my gun arrived, it was the first time I ever touched a gun.

IMG_20160402_130414722

The gun was from a "gun buy back" program. You can't see the damage to the gun in the above photo. Harriete, ever the perfectionist, actually spent a lot of time improving the appearance of the gun.

The problem was that the artwork had to be finished and photographed by June 30. That is not much time by Harriete standards. I had no idea what I was going to make until.... 

...until I saw this check writing machine at a yard sale.

IMG_20160402_165739557

I knew immediately what could be done!
The illustration below was drawn by my daughter, Aryn Shelander as we discussed the piece. As I recall the blood was her brainstorm which was a terrific idea as I wanted to give the final artwork more graphic impact.

IMG_20160403_152504117

The title of the artwork is "Checking the Cost of Gun Violence."  I knew the title from the very beginning.

After countless hours of research I found the statistics that would go with the work. The lettering from recycled tin cans had to be red as if written in blood.

The barrel of the gun was attached to the handle. Much to my surprise this was the easiest part of the assembly. It was as if the gun was made for the artwork.

IMG_20160531_181024366

The pool of "blood" and new red face plates for the gun handle were created from recycled tin cans.

To get to this point required intense weeks of work. Above is an early test shot in the studio.  I try to take a few test shots during fabrication to make sure that my artistic vision of the artwork is going to work in the photo. 

Next I added blood red paint to match the blood red metal. 

IMG_20160602_183050851

Drips were hard to create.  Not sure how long they will last.

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Another test shot below. Now I need spent bullet casings (technically referred to as shells.)

IMG_20160402_130412445

Getting the shell casings from bullets required a couple of trips to local shooting ranges. I wanted used shell casings as that seemed more symbollic. 

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It was really exciting that the folks at Jackson Arms shooting range gave me a generous amount so I could pick through them.

IMG_20160606_205405049

Another test shot.  Test shots also help to show the photographer my vision for the finished photograph. Above is the "quickie shot" with my phone. 

Below, my photographer, Philip Cohen, provides photos of the finished sculpture with all his professional skill, superior camera, lights, and action.   

Checking-cost-gun-violence-full

Various close-up images are shown below. Philip Cohen always gives me a wide selection of close-ups and I pick from the preview images (shown in this post.)  


Checking-cost-gun-violence-day

I pay for each shot....and can only use three images for this exhibition entry....so I choose carefully.

32, 514 people including children are killed each year.

 Checking-cost-gun-violence-front

Statistics on the front are actual gun statistics from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
"EACH DAY"  there are 31 Murders, 55 Suicides, 2 Accidental Deaths, 1 Death by Police Action, 210 Injured, and costs $627 Million in  America.  Each DAY!  

Checking-cost-gun-violence-america

The 89 shell casings represent the average number of deaths each day in America involving guns.

Checking-cost-gun-violence-close-up

I hope you found this interesting to see the progression from vision of the artist to the professional quality images from Philip Cohen.

Checking-cost-gun-violence-gun

Feel welcome to offer your opinion about your favorite images. I can only submit three images to the exhibition.

Harriete

P.S. More news about the traveling exhibition, future exhibition venues, and the catalog in future posts. I understand that Boris Bally is looking for exhibition venues. There will be a Kickstarter Campaign for the catalog.


Someday I Want to Be Paid As Much As An Electrician

IMG_20160527_172337315
In an eloquent comment on ASK Harriete  John Rose says,

 "Demonizing workshop sponsors is fun and in some cases deserved, but in reality workshops are business partnerships between instructors and venues. They need each other. Instructors need an equipped, safe and maintained facility to teach in. Without qualified instructors the venues are just very expensive empty rooms."

"Both sides of this equation have expenses. You have quite rightly pointed out the hidden costs of the instructor. Building and maintaining a facility that will support metals workshops [any media really] requires no small amount of capital for real estate, equipment, insurance and staff to run it (just to name of few expenses).

The real issue facing us all is how to determine a fair price that students can afford/willing to pay..."


Harriete continues: I also heard a similar comment in some of the Facebook discussions. It isn't that I disagree or don't recognize the expenses of managing a facility.  There is no intention at finding the workshop sponsor solely responsible for the lowly pay for the Craft Master Workshop Instructor. The issues are multi-faceted and numerous.   So let's look at some of those expenses for running a workshop for some insights. 

The workshop sponsor pays the electrician, plumber, custodial fees, insurance, workman's comp, utilities, rent/mortgage, etc., all at the going rate. They don't negotiate and offer to pay a lower rate to the electrician because he/she loves the job or should love craft.   

The workshop sponsor contracts for graphic design, advertising, and promotions. How else can people find out about their remarkable programs?  They get a quote and pay the amount. The sponsor doesn't expect to get a discount or pay an especially lower fee because the graphic designer loves their program or supports the crafts.

Some workshop retreats offer food and housing.  Does the cook cook food for a reduced wage because they love craft? Did the organic farmer charge less for their premium quality vegetables because they love craft?  

So ....what is happening?

Actually I am not blaming the workshop sponsor.   I am blaming "us" -- the art and craft instructors for giving away our talents at discount prices.  The practice has become embedded into the culture.  The workshop sponsors have come to assume that the easiest negotiable expense is the workshop teacher.

The workshop sponsor is indeed running a business and has found a bargain deal in the person that is supposed to love craft more than money...the Craft Master.  Then offers the Craft Master the same wage from 30 years ago because they don't possibly expect more. After all, they really, really love craft and want to support the school, the participants, and the community.  

Hey, someday I just want to be paid as much as an electrician.

Harriete

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Someday I Want to Make as Much Money As My Baby Sitter


Someday I Want to Make as Much Money As My Baby Sitter

Some-day-I-want-to-make-money
Dear Workshop Sponsor,  

I am honored to be invited to teach at your renowned program which is highly regarded in the arts and crafts community. 

Two days of travel (one day before and one day after) plus teaching for two especially long days all for $1,000 compensation sounds like a great opportunity.  This time away from domestic responsibilities and studio work will also relieve me of my established income sources.  Upon returning home, I will cram in some double time for another four days to catch up on all the obligations that were left unattended.  Sadly, I will miss my exercise classes, but no worry, the standing and demonstrating all day will provide a different kind of fatigue. 

The samples and projects expected in a workshop usually only take a 100 hours or so during the prior six weeks. No need to compensate for all the prep time. It is just part of the job.   

The location of your program is beautiful which will be great to see from the car window on the way from the airport. For my return flight, the uncertainty about getting back to the airport in time will be an invigorating experience. 

Auspiciously, this workshop may help pad my resume (I've only worked in the field for three decades).


Visting SlideShare 004The proposed trunk show is another great opportunity. Circumventing my gallery and asking for a 50/50 split probably won't have much impact since workshop participants expect a special workshop price. Discussing purchases may be a moot point, no one seems to be buying anyway. And by the end of the workshop, the students will have learned how to duplicate my signature techniques.  In the past, some participants have even said, "I love your work and want to make one for myself." 

My nurturing and giving persona must be gaining attention. Recently, another craft retreat in the mountains offered $500 for a week of teaching. I hear the studios are open 24 hours a day and the view from the studio window looks like a vacation photo. 

After careful reflection on this workshop proposal, and with the utmost admiration for your program, I must decline.  Someday, while continuing to ignore financial realities, I hope that artists and makers will make as much as my babysitter. 

Best Regards,
Harriete

Domestic Diva with a B.F.A., M.F.A., two children, house, garden, and bills.

P.S. Sorry for the brevity of my response. I need to water the garden, sweep the floor, empty the dishwasher, volunteer for my neighborhood, make dinner, set the table, build Battlebots, and get dressed before my children and their friends arrive. 

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Tools and Techniques Are Part of the Message

Recently, I wrote a post about "the Intersection between CAD/ CAM and craft." With further reflection during the week along with an extended conversation on Facebook, I'm trying to add some clarity and extend the interpretation of my message.

Steve-Jobs-movieThis weekend, I was listening to the commentary from the director and crew of the movie Steve Jobs. This film was really phenomenal, just fantastic in the way it was structured in three acts!   I highly recommend the film. A comment by director, Danny Boyle, offered deeper clarity about how tools and technology can be part of the message in any media.

Arri_Alexa_cameraHere is what Boyle said about his use of technology in Steve Jobs: Act 1 used 16 mm film for the "rough edge, homemade and basic."  Then the 2nd Act portraying events years later used "35 mm film which is kind of liquid, beautiful, smooth and romantic. And then we shot the third act on the Alexa, with a modern digital camera which is infinite, it has infinite pixels, almost, or we are moving that way, anyway."

In other words the director intentionally used three different technologies in filming to convey a subliminal feel within the film. This level of refinement was one of many special levels of execution that elevates this film to memorable. The film technology may not have been obvious to the less knowledgeable film audience, but it was apparent in the visual quality of the film.  The thoughtful use of filming technologies also influenced the meaning behind the film. Danny Boyle chose film technology to parallel the technical innovations of the decades portrayed in this narrative about technology. Genius!

For another example the music by Daniel Pemberton used the actual synthesizers of the 1970's/80's era, one note at a time (due to the limitations of early synthesizers) to create a score for Act 1, circa 1984 of the film. It's another example where the technology helped create more richly textured content.  


These are examples of using technology to enrich the content of a particular art form, a movie, but I think it translates similarly to the intersection between CAD/CAM and craft
in all media. A thoughtful rationale can be applied whether to use any technology, such as CAD/CAM tools, or stay within the concept of "hand made" to enrich the content.  


T-hammer-letter Tool alpahbetl 025 Tool alpahbetl 080 Tool alpahbetl 006 S-flexshaft-lette

 

 

 

 

 

The question is whether the tools and technologies add to or enrich the intent and appearance of the work?  The deliberate choice of a technology or technique can elevate the meaning behind your work.  



Tool alpahbetl 085Tool alpahbetl 050Tool alpahbetl 105Tool alpahbetl 105 a Tool alpahbetl 014 Tool alpahbetl 050

 

 

 

To make something by "hand" becomes an attribute of the work, but this attribute is irrelevant IF this is not your message.  Making something by hand can be a political statement, but competing with manufactured goods that have the same look and feel is a waste of your time.  Does your work look like it was "handmade?"  What does that mean to you and your audience?  Are you making something by hand that could be done equally well or better by machine?

Technology and "hand made" need not be incompatible.  CAD/CAM is simply a tool and "hand made" is simply a technique, but tools and techniques alone do not necessarily elevate the work. 

CAD/CAM may help make items at a competitive price.   Commercial jewelry is often made by CAD technology, but it holds no meaning. The tool does not elevate work which is boring and meaningless and has nothing to say.

The technique, tool, or technology is effective only if it is consistent with your aesthetic or purpose.  Here are two examples from architecture to illustrate effective and ineffective use of technology.

The architecture of Zaha Hadid reflects the technology that allowed her to design and fabricate her buildings.

In contrast, constructing 18th century decorative motifs with 3-D printing seems fake. It isn't that you can't do it, but it seems inauthentic. Sure it might be one way to get it done, but doesn't it feel fake?    

There are many examples in the art and craft world, where the tools and technology add meaning to the work.  I would love to hear of other examples that work or don't work well.

In closing, an insightful comment from writer Alan Sorkin about the Steve Jobs movie; "We invest a lot of ourselves, all of ourselves, in what we are doing, and we kind of want the world to look at that and not us."

Harriete 


Gemini Battlebot (I Helped Fabricate) Will Be On TV

The Gemini Battlebots that I helped fabricate will be on broadcast television!! Wath it on Hulu!!  Tune into ABC Battlebots show Thursday, June 23  at 10:00pm West Coast time. I have no idea what will be shown, and the little I know about the Battlebot competition, I am not allowed to reveal. Shhhhhhhhhhh.........

If you missed the show....here is a longer preview (1:48 second) The whole show was hilarious to us...in the know. You can see my son, and even my husband on national television! The production for Battlebots was amazing. This is the first time my son build a Battlebot and he got to be in a nationally televised competition.  (Gemini Battlebot shown at 1:18, 1:36. My son and his team member 1:25) 

The experience fabricating a contender for Battlebots was empowering, but the outcome at the time was unknown. Sometimes you simply have to try your hardest, work day after day. stay up late night after night, and then pull an all-nighter because if you don't try, nothing will happen. 

And if you do try your absolute best.... you will at the very least create a possibility.

Harriete 

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Above: Harriete drilling holes in the Gemini weapon parts at the TECH Shop, San Francisco, CA. (Blue tape on the drill bit was to mark where to stop.) That day was a sold 10 hours of drilling, and grinding....non-stop.  Photo credit: Ace Shelander.

Ace designed, engineered and was the primary fabricator for Gemini Battlebots. More part fabrication at the milling machine shown below. 

Ace Shelander holding up part just finished at the milling machine at the TECH Shop

part for Gemini Battlebot with aluminum chips after milling


At the Intersection Between CAD/ CAM and Craft

Recently, I was a guest worker at Radicand in an effort to help my son, Ace, fabricate his Gemini BattleBot for an upcoming Battlebot competition for an ABC summer show. The smaller red robot (at 125 lbs.) (in the video below) is the one I helped make. 


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Photo above shows some of the Radicand engineers, and Aryn Shelander (guest worker 12:00 midnight to 3:00 a.m: during our all-nighter.


Harriete driling the Gemini Battlebot partsThe much larger scale of everything was certainly a challenge but I soon realized that my hand fabrication skills translated well. 
And among several surprising observations, I soon realized just how important it is that handcrafting skills are still needed.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was witnessing the entire fabrication process beginning with CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacture) and progressing through each of the necessary steps to final assembly and operational testing.  Not everything is computerized.  A good "eyeball" and steady hands are involved.
 

water Jet cutting of battlebot partsAfter the parts were perfectly cut with water jet, I still had to figure out where to manually mark the holes (referencing from the cut edge with calipers), center punch the holes, hope the drill centered itself accurately on the center punch, and then to actually drill the holes straight.


precisely cut parts ready for marking and drillingI have plenty of experience, lots of skills for precision metalwork, and at the same time, at every step I was astounded by the inherent possibility of inaccuracy
. The CAD provides a tolerance of 0.001 inch, but how accurate can a human being be while rushed to get this done as quickly as possible?    


IMG_20160413_151752682CAD/CAM offers precise designs, but in reality, some machine-made perfection must integrate with handmade steps.  The bridge between theoretical precision and adept skills is left in the hands of the human maker.

 



Moving on....more observations...

Ace Shelander designed the Gemini BattlebotsMy son, Ace, designed his entire BattleBot in CAD software called Solidworks. (This is one the major software design programs used for prototyping and manufacturing.) 

Most of the parts were cut from steel and aluminum by water jet. The results were quite impressive. The TECH Shops (at both San Francisco and San Jose) have water jets. It costs $3.00 a minute (after you pay to take a class). 

 
The water jet cuts the holes first so the small parts don't move (this why it doesn't appear to be moving very much at the beginning.)  Then the water jet cuts the edges of the parts.  The speed is determined by the material and thickness.

Additional parts were cut with a water jet at KELLER Industries in San Carlos. Their water jet was even bigger, faster and louder. The Keller brothers and sons were incredibly nice and reduced the intimidating, even daunting, hurdle of approaching a commercial industrial metal fabricating business.

While water jet is used for large scale fabrication, it is also ideal for prototyping and one-of-a-kind. Just pop in the file and the computer controls the cuts.  

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Here is a short video.

Harriete can cut sheets of aluminum and file them close to CAM perfection, but should I cut six sheets?  Where is the role of CAD/CAM in our craft work? I am a huge advocate for craft and hand made, but seriously question why we should be hand crafting in those situations when machines can do the work faster and cheaper. This is especially true for multiples.

Is "hand made" purity an absolute attribute when technologies could help us be more productive?

Are we disloyal to hand made if we consider using fabrication technologies that can help us be more cost effective?

I love making by hand, but there is a place where we should be working smarter and faster when the machines can do it as well as (or better than) we can.

This isn't an easy topic to tackle. I don't think the answer is absolutely one way or the other.  CAD/CAM or hand made or mixing the best of both?  I am beginning to think that we need to learn the computer software and the technologies if they can help make our work better and faster. 

Harriete


I Love the Smell of Dykem in the Morning

Recently, I took on a new role of intensive robot making to assist my son in the assembly of his Gemini Battlebots. We worked at the fabrication space of the prototyping firm, Radicand.

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My first observation was that the scale of everything was ten times larger than my usual metal working experience.
 We are talking about 1/2 inch thick aluminum, 24" x 24" large plates of steel, and titanium.

Would my fine metalworking skills translate into another realm? 

Harriete's-tool box.pgIn a rush to squeeze this sprint assembly into my busy life, I filled a shoe box with my favorite tools. Dykem, jeweler's saw, saw blades, cut-off discs with mandrels, Opti-visor, and more.... including my own task lighting. 

Was I going to be embarrassed taking my jewelry and sculpture skills into the domain of mechanical engineers (all men) and CAD/CAM engineering?   

It really does seen to be a domain of men.  Another early observation started two weeks ago looking for local water jet cutting and welding services.  Whether calling or visiting in person, there seems to be no women in any machine shop or welding establishment. In a time when women are entering every field (including combat), metal fabrication seems to be a male dominated sphere.  The engineering prototyping world also included only men. Surely there must be women in the metal fabrication field and geek world, but I didn't see any.

Harriete's-dykemWould my hand crafting skills in tin and silver repair translate into this "real world" scale? My favorite tool for layout is Dykem. Fortunately,  I brought mine from my studio. The fabrication space at the shop didn't have their own. Not every mother can bring their own bottle of Dykem. I love the smell of Dykem in the morning.

IMG_20160413_154530630Just in case you don't know: Dykem is a solvent based layout die for marking metal. It provides a clear background to mark or scribe lines and it is so much easier to see against shiny metal. I learned to use my son's calipers, and in no time I am reading CAD drawings and marking large metal blocks as precisely as a person can at 1/100th of an inch.

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Marking metal for drilling holes was my first job. I wasn't drilling one or two holes but 60 holes at a time.  And then continued drilling for ten hours non-stop. I am not exaggerating. 

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Then, I was drilling holes with larger drills through 2 thick layers of super strong aluminum plates. Theses were high technology materials that weighed around 20 pounds or more.  It was heavy to hold in the correct position while pulling down on the drill press. I had no time to stop. It is good I've worked out lifting weights at the gym.

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Then came counter sinking holes.  Eventually, I learned that if I was more aggressive with the counter sink it worked much better. 

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It was really hard work holding the plates up with one hand, and pulling the drill bit down with the other. 

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Next I learned to tap every hole with a drill. Every skill was scary at first, but I was totally in my element.

My skills and metal work precision were right on target. I got better very fast. Complicated layouts, drilling, and tapping were well within my skill set. This was an empowering experience. 
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Would you like to see more fabrication shots of the Gemini Battlebots? Click here.  If you're interested . . . there are a lot more photos coming.

I have more observations about the intersection of CAD/CAM and hand made. More posts soon...when I recover...but here is something you might want to know.

Jewelers and metalsmiths can and should take their skills and tools to the design and prototyping field.  I know several metalsmiths with art school skills and education and they have told me what they do in prototyping, and it sounded really interesting. They have fascinating projects and make a great living. They can still make their own work without the starving artist mentality.

This was my first personal experience within the design and prototyping field. To the many jewelry and metalsmiths reading this blog, there is an alternative to the struggle of making money solely in "crafts" where a viable living is frustrated by a highly competitive market with a shrinking audience.  Learn CAD software and take your design sensibilities and technical skills where it is needed and appreciated in a growing field.

More observations coming soon.

Harriete

 *The title of this post "I Love the Smell of Dykem in the Morning" was inspired by the famous quote :  "I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning" from the movie Apocalypse Now. It was spoken by the character Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore as played by actor Robert Duvall. He played a super tough, fearless character in the movie.


CRASH! Warning. This Information May Prevent Devastating Injury and Expense

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12th thoracic-vertebrae
This is not Bill's x-ray, but the crompression fracture looked a lot like this photo.

The past month has been a challenge since my husband was in a car accident. The 12th thoracic vertebra in his spine was subjected to compression fractures. This bone in the lower portion of the spine broke into five fragments.  Sounds serious!  It was. But it could have been much worse.  Fortunately, the bone fragments were held in place by muscle and tendons without impinging on the spinal cord. 

Why am I telling you this? This personal calamity led to a revelation that could possibly save others from devastating injury. Bill's injury could have been avoided if he had not been reclining in the passenger seat. 


IMG_20160324_143728045_HDRDid you know that reclining in the passenger seat defeats much of the safety mechanisms designed to protect the passenger in an accident? "If your car seat is reclined, a three-point restraint (lap and shoulder seat belt) becomes essentially useless because the shoulder harness moves away from the passenger." 
In addition, it seems that the air bag is timed for an upright passenger but does not protect a reclining passenger due to the additional fraction of a second it takes to fly forward. 

Five-star-crash-ratingFlying off the road, yes, flying off the icy road and hitting a boulder head-on at 50 miles an hour is a potentially serious accident.  In contrast to my husband, my son was protected perfectly by the Subaru Impreza passenger compartment. The driver's seat belt, shoulder belt, and airbags along with the structural design of the car absorbed the impact. The 5-star crash rating is well deserved.


broken windshield from head hitting the glassWhat I have learned since the accident is that reclining in the passenger seat while the car is moving is  dangerous!
Studies have shown "that partially reclined passengers involved in an accident increased their risk of death by 15 percent. Fully reclined passengers increased their risk by 70 percent. It makes both airbags and seat belts less effective, said Dr. Eileen Bulger."

"Dr. Adrian Lund is president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the organization that conducts crash safety tests.What people need to understand is that when we test vehicles for how well they'll protect you in a crash, we are assuming that people are seated upright in the seat, said Lund." Lund says safety tests have never been done with the seat reclined. Having the seat reclined means you're not protected the way the vehicle was designed to protect you, said Lund.

"The automobile industry and auto dealerships advertise reclining seats as an inexpensive luxury accessory for passenger comfort on the road and highway. They tell car buyers that the family can lay back, rest, and even sleep. But for dozens of years there’s been growing evidence that reclining seats kill or cause severe injury such as paralysis in car accidents,” said injury attorney Todd Tracy .

Federal transportation safety officials started worrying about the risks of reclining car seats back in 1988.  There are other ways for automakers to reduce the danger of reclining seats. They could install a warning bell, or make it impossible to put the car in drive unless all the seats are upright. But he says that NHTSA won't require any safety measures, even a label, because of the lobbying power of the car manufacturers.


IMG_20160407_104442747After the crash, I saw the totaled Subaru and took the owner's manual.
 Yes, the owner's manual warns against reclining the seat while the car is moving. It is only two sentences in a thick manual of densely written information.  This is why I had to write this post. Tell everyone you know. NEVER RECLINE in the passenger seat while the car is moving.

Final Words: BUY INSURANCE.
Both car insurance and health insurance need to be top priorities. It has been an eye opening experience that a car crash can have such a devastating impact on one's health and financial well being.  Without insurance, the loss of a vehicle and medical bills would have cost us an unbelievable amount of money that would have impacted us for years.

The two ambulance rides alone amounted to $5,000. The first emergency room (nearest the accident) was another $5,000.  The second emergency room visit was another $10,000 and this doesn't even include the 4 days in the hospital. Nor does this account for lost revenue from inability to work. Only because we had insurance will we be able to pick up the pieces. 

My warning is over. The good news is that Bill is expected to have a 98% recovery.  In a few more months we hope that this event will be a fading memory.

Hopefully everyone who reads this can learn from our family experience.

  1. Never recline in the seat while the car is moving.
  2. Buy a car with a 5-star crash rating. It may protect you, friends or family from harm or save your life.
  3. Always buy both car insurance and health insurance. 

 Harriete

Crash test dummy on Subaru Collision Reference Guide


Should Artists Be Expected to Pay the Gallery's Deductible?

From a reader...

HOT-BUTTON-ISSUES
Dear Ask Harriete,

A gallery I show with is asking all their artists to sign new contracts.  Everything is standard (50-50 split, etc.) except for a new clause (shown below) which addresses the possibility of theft or damage. 

"(Gallery) will ensure the artwork for its wholesale price.  If a claim is filed, the insured work will be paid upon receiving the check from the insurance company less the deductible of $1,000."

Have you ever seen this in a gallery contract? Thanks for any thoughts you have.  I'd like to know if you have ever run across this.

Signed, Shocked Artist

Dear Shocked Artist,

In my 35+ years of experience as an exhibiting artist and working in the arts and crafts community, I have never seen a gallery contract that requires the artist to pay the gallery's insurance deductible in case of loss or damage. 

The simple impact of the clause is that the gallery is shifting a portion of their business expense onto the artists.  

I realize that operating a business -- for both the artist and the gallery -- involves expenses.  Insurance costs are increasing for everyone.  There is no argument there. We all understand this too well.

I applaud the gallery for ensuring the craft/artwork against the risks of loss or damage.  We can all understand that accidents do happen despite the best of efforts for care and security. Nevertheless, the gallery should be entirely responsible for the artwork while it is in their possession. The gallery negotiates their own insurance policy without any input from artists.  Yet if the artwork is outside of the artist's control, why should the artist be held responsible for any portion of loss or damage?

Insurance-DeductibleAn insurance "deductible" issue is a business decision between the gallery and the insurance company. A gallery can choose among several insurance options.  Usually the higher the deductible the lower their insurance premium. Homeowner policies and car insurance policies work much the same way for individuals. Most of us have some understanding that a higher deductible means that small claims are not filed and small losses are not absorbed by the insurance company. This reduces the insurance premium.

In contract negotiations, the old saying is "everything is negotiable."

I would reject this clause by striking through the "... less the deductible of $1,000" clause and explain your position. If they don't agree to remove the clause, I would not agree to consign my work under these circumstances.

The Professional Guidelines Consignment Contract says….
9. Insurance.  Insurance for the full wholesale price should be provided by the gallery.  The gallery is responsible for the deductible on their policy.  Artist's should have control over any repairs, as necessary. (Again, for more information see the Claims for Damaged Work: Artist Checklist.) “ 

Two hypothetical examples illustrate the problem if the gallery shifts responsibility to the artist to pay the deductible:

1) What if the price of an item is less than $2,000 retail /$1,000 wholesale? 
If the item is lost or damaged while at the gallery, the artist would receive nothing (zero $) when there is a $1,000 deductible.  The gallery could even decide not to file an insurance claim, i.e. abdicating any responsibility for the loss or damage. In this scenario, there is little or no incentive for the gallery to handle items with care or secure items to avoid loss or damage.

2) What if the gallery chose to have a $2,000 deductible? or a $5,000 deductible? Where would this stop? 
If the artists agree to pay the gallery's deductible, the gallery could keep raising their business deductible and further lower their premium expenses while the artists bear the increased risk of financial loss.  A perverse incentive arises for the gallery to exercise less care and less security since the artists bear more of the financial consequences.  

Conclusion:    Maybe someone at the gallery thought that asking the artist to pay the $1,000 deductible would be a trivial amount of money in a low probability event -- but thinking through this situation as objectively as possible, I believe that this would create a seriously problematic precedent.

Harriete

RELATED POSTS and RESOURCES:
CLAIMS for DAMAGED WORK: Artist Checklist

Consignment Contract from the Professional Guidelines

Insurance Deductible Deducted from Whom?

Insurance Value, Wholesale Price, Retail Price For EXHIBITION CONTRACTS

Should-Artists-pay-gallery-deductible copy


Can You Connect Me with a Good, Simple Exhibition Contract?

Yes!  The Professional Guidelines includes a sample Exhibition Contract.

Professional-guidelines-exhibition-contract
Exhibition-Contract-page1-2This Exhibition Contract is specifically tailored for an exhibition where the gallery or exhibition space will be showing work for a limited period of time (with no expectation of an on-going representation). 

If an exhibition space doesn't have a contract, then suggest using this Exhibition Contract so that both the sponsor and your artwork are protected. I prefer to think of a contract as a checklist to facilitate a discussion of issues in advance that can help to avoid potential problems or friction.  As in any contract, it must be mutually agreeable. And of course, everything is negotiable.  The contract can be modified or edited so that everyone is comfortable with the arrangement. 

Established exhibition spaces are likely to have their own Exhibition Contract. It that case you can compare their contract to this Exhibition Contract from the Professional Guidelines to look for issues that may have been overlooked or that you might think are important in protecting your art or craft.

What if your local arts organization wants to organize an exhibition? Use this Exhibition Contract to establish a great working relationship between the artists and the exhibition sponsor.   

 

Professional-guidelines-exhibitions-artist-checklist300

ExhibitionsArtistChecklist2010_Page_1Looking for more guidance about whether an exhibition is "right" for your professional goals?  

Check out the Professional Guidelines document  Exhibitions: Artist Checklist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professional-guidelines-condition-report
CONDITIONreportSending your work to an exhibition?  Use the Condition Report from the Professional Guidelines.  

Learn how to use a condition Report on ASK Harriete (in a future post.) 

 

ASK-Harriete-Red-Yellow-Cut-out
Subscribe to ASK Harriete
in the upper left column so you don't miss a single post.  Your email will never be sold or used for anything but providing you with ASK Harriete information. 

Harriete  

 

P.S. The Professional Guidelines were written with the help and guidance of many professionals in the field from artists, makers, gallery owners, and collectors.

Do you see a need for a particular topic?
Let me know.  

Are you interested in helping write a document offering your words of experience? Write to me anytime.  

How about editing? I could definitely use a proof reader. 

 


Why I Can't Justify Ignoring the Copycat

WHY-I-cant-justify-ignoring-copycat.2

Copies-copycat-72
Several previous posts dealt with what to do if someone or some business is copying your work. Among the comments and responses to these posts and related discussions, more than a few artists and makers suggest that they would prefer to ignore the copycat (whether friend or foe) because the situation is too uncomfortable or too unlikely to reach an acceptable outcome.  The "originator" typically justifies ignoring their copycat with a rationale such as "I have moved on" or "I don't care so much about old work" or other similar justification.

I disagree with ignoring the copycat -- although I can also acknowledge the discomfort and uncertainty of outcomes.  But, I can not simply ignore the copycat regardless of the situation for two very fundamental reasons. 

1. Copies affect your income and reputation possibly devaluing both your past and future artwork.

2. Copies may be used in contexts that damage your reputation or trademark.  

Seeing copies of your artwork used in an advertising campaign, printed on t-shirts or sold at an undesirable venue may not be how you want your reputation exploited in public.  Use your imagination.  Would you want your work to represent issues, people, or topics that offend you? In a comment on a previous post by Cindy, "Art and photos may be used to advertise or promote businesses and causes that are in conflict with the artist's beliefs. It makes it appear they are sell outs or hypocrites because not everyone will know it was infringement and not a paid use." 

What if the copy impacts the value of your brand/trademark?  For example "Tiffany and Company sued Costco for the sale of counterfeit TIFFANY diamond engagement rings. "

Here's another example of how a copycat can affect your revenue from Natascha Bybee, Past President of the Seattle Metals Guild and reader of ASK Harriete. "I read an article about an artist being copied. I was very upset on their behalf, but sadly could not remember the name of the company. [Later] I saw "their" product at a craft show in December, but I didn't know if I was dealing with the originator or the copier, so I didn't buy anything and it made me have a more reserved attitude towards their booth. Since I couldn't distinguish between the two artists, I just avoided them altogether and would never recommend them." 

Video clips from Antiques Roadshow show several examples of the negative impact of copycats (shown below) where fakes, copies of the original, or outright forgeries impact the value of all the work attributed to an artist or maker.

Listen to the very end of each video segment to get the triple whammy full impact of how fakes/copycats affect value. Customer confusion is the relevant issue. It doesn't matter if the copy is not of the same quality, or the same patina, or finish, if it causes customer confusion the copy still affects the perceived value for all the work in that genre as buyers doubt the authenticity.



Charles-Loloma-BraceletsAn original receipt for this Charles Laloma Bracelet is considered "as important as the bracelet" because "there are a lot of fakes on the market." Any potential buyer will question every time, "Is this real? Or is it not real?" 

 

  Fake-George-ohr-VaseFake George Ohr Vase, ca. 2013 is made to deceive "by a person in the northeast who keeps producing them and selling them on the Internet. They appear, they are seen, and they are purchased by people who just don't know."

  Clementine Hunter PaintingsClementine Hunter Paintings, ca. 1980

 

  Fake-Remmington-Russell-BronzeFake Remington & Russell Bronzes

 

 

Let me know in the comments or privately  if you know of other examples. 

More personally, whether you sell your work online, from your studio, or in a gallery, a purchaser expects their purchase to be unique, worth the price, and a consummation of a special relationship with you.  If your customer finds a cheap knockoff elsewhere, they are going to feel ripped off.  The question of authenticity will raise doubts about your work and your reputation.  You may never know how many customers may withhold recommending you and your work to their friends.

What to do if you find a copycat copying your work.

  • Evaluate the situation carefully. Recommendations are in the post What is a Copy. Copycat?
  • If images are posted online, a simple "DMCA Take Down" might force the website to remove the images. This is easy to do and takes about 15 minutes and it is free. 
  • Contact the copier with the Initial Copycat Communication.
  • If the copycat work is shown at a gallery, write to the gallery.
  • Private and confidential will be your initial approach before taking stronger tactics.    

The suggestions in this post aren't guaranteed to work.  The point is that some diligence and effort may protect your work and your reputation by stopping copycats as soon as you become aware of them. Speaking out and addressing this issue is your first step.

Perhaps not every situation demands a full out response, but choosing to automatically ignore a situation can have some very negative consequences.  I believe that the recommended initial actions in these posts do not require extensive effort and have a reasonable chance to stop the copycat at an early stage before much damage is done.   

What do you think?

Harriete 



Dealing with Copycats in the Community!

Dealing-with-Copycats-Community
In the previous three posts
 lawyer Rachel Fischbein provided expert advice from her legal experience about what to do when a copycat copies your work. (Links to her posts are in the text and at the bottom of this post.)  Her approach was methodical and measured in it's response. All of it was super great advice.

In hindsight, looking at those posts, there seems to be an implicit presumption that the copycat was a large company or brand name corporation or knock-off discount retailer. Sure that happens.  As a lawyer, Rachel Fischbein most likely deals with such cases where significant money may be at stake, potentially leading to a resolution through a "licensing or royalty payment for the use of our designs."  

But a number of copycat scenarios brought to my attention by readers are of a more common type involving someone from our own art or craft community, e.g. a student, participant in our workshop, fellow artist or maker, friend or foe.  I hear about this all the time.  Sooner or later, most of us become aware of someone else's work that is just too similar our own.  

When you experience such a situation, a key question might be, "Are copies necessarily an intentional act of the copycat?" And how should you handle this situation? Do they understand the consequences?  

Magnes-Sign-Victor-Reis-Fence
Original Victor Reis metalwork from the gate of the Magnes Museum now shown in Berkeley.

This is not a new problem.  I found an example of this exact situation in the Archives of American Art Research Collections consisting of an exchange of letters between two metal artists in the 1950's.  The first letter is from Victor Reis, a San Francisco Bay Area metalsmith of local renown at the time (ca. 1956).  In the letter Reis writes to Margaret De Patta about a ring she is selling which he declares is a copy of his own design. While Margaret De Patta is well known now for her jewelry, at the time she was a struggling art jewelry maker (just like the rest of us). An excerpt from the Victor Reis letter is provided below. 


Victor-Reis-drawing-ring"Dear Margaret, This letter is not suppose[d] to be a bad one. But I['d] like to express my feelings and talk open and free to create a clean atmosphere even if there are some clouds around. A visit in the city, a look into Nancy's display, gave me a strange feeling. I saw the Margaret De Patta display with a ring about 100% like one of mine. " .... He continues,  "It's not  a complex of me, that I believe so often to find my work executed through others, like a necklace through Merry Renk."  Victor Reis' letter continues with more examples and small drawings. 

De-Patta-maker's-markMargaret De Patta replies in a letter, "Dear Victor - Your letter came several days ago. Needless to say I have given it much, much thought. First I want to say that I am glad that you have written openly to me. A person can never honor statements that are made behind one's back, and I have heard of these from several sources."

De Patta's letter continues and suggests that the San Francisco Metal Arts Guild  board should establish a method for mediating such matters.  Obviously, 50+ years later we (the arts and crafts community) still have similar issues and have not yet agreed upon a method for mediating these copycat scenarios even among friends. 

Encourage-Communication-with-the-copycat

So who is the copycat?

I have not yet found any documented resolution regarding the issue discussed in the letters, but I was impressed that Victor Reis and Margaret De Patta did follow a vital precept endorsed by Rachel Fischbein, to initiate the "Initial Copycat Communication." Write to the copycat offender with a non-threatening business like manner seeking an amicable solution with documentation.  


What-is-a-copy-copycat copyWhat would your documentation include? Rachel Fischbein in the post "What is a Copy? Copycat" 
 describes a methodical approach to evaluating whether something is a copy. The key element to this evaluation is to document the similarities. "Figure out who's product was created first" and "Determine if the copier had access to your work." 

 

Here-list-copycat-communication

Here is my list for copycat communication:  

  • Compare and evaluate the copycat version to your work.  
  • Document where they may have seen your original work.  
  • Write a private, non-threatening letter to the copycat.
  • Follow Rachel Fischbein's recommendations for a structure of this letter.
  • Discuss the situation with the copycat.
  • Do all this direct communication before going public on social media.

During this evaluation, keep in mind that the technique* or materials can not be copyrighted -- paint is paint, clay is clay, metal is metal, enamel is enamel, etc. So the copy has to copy a style, design, aesthetic  or conceptual component in the "copy." 

Going back to the reference to the Margaret De Patta letter she says, "A person can never honor statements that are made behind one's back, and I have heard of these from several sources." Take the time to write a civil communication documenting the apparent copycat scenario as you see the situation.  Just like Victor Reis reaching out to Margaret De Patta, if you have concerns, it is best to direct them privately in your "Initial Copycat Communication."


These are your first and second steps before jumping to public accusations
 on Facebook (or another public forum). This may fly in the face of our natural impulses to either retreat into a cocoon to avoid any confrontation or publicly "burn" the offender.


Facebook-dastardly-deedsHowever, in the age of the Internet, more than a few online discussions dealing with a copycat scenario start with a Facebook post along the lines of  "what shall I do?" or thinly veiled references to dastardly deeds .

The posts by Rachel Fischbein taught me that no matter what the copycat violation, a key message is to take professional, non-threatening and clearly thought out actions before burning any bridges or escalating to a crisis.  

While I have no easy solutions to the slippery territory of the copycats that live in your community, I do think it is worthy of discussion and communication, hence this post.  

Let me also acknowledge that many individuals have said that pursuing this level of documentation and communication with the copycat is a "waste of time."  The "originators" is this camp typically justify ignoring their copycats with a rationale such as  "I have moved on." or "I don't care so much about old work." or other similar reasoning.

I disagree -- because there are moral, legal and financial consequences of ignoring a copycat, and of being a copycat. This will be the subject of the next post.

In the meantime, I welcome your opinions about this topic.

Harriete

 *"Copyrighted technique"?  In short, there's no such thing.  The description of a technique may be copyrighted to the extent it includes creative elements, but the underlying technique, and the factual description of it, are not subject to copyright protection. SonnabendLaw Intellectual Property and Technology Law,Brooklyn, USA

Margaret-De-Patta-ring-Antiques-RoadshowAppraisal of Margaret De Patta jewelry on Antiques Roadshow

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Margaret-de-patta-jewelry

Margaret De Patta jewelry including ring, brooches, and earrings appraisal on Antiques Roadshow
 

 

 

 

 

Read the previous posts by Rachel Fischbein:

What-is-a-copy-copycat copyWhat Is A Copy? Copycat?

 

Initial-copycat-communicationInitial Copycat Communication

 

 

Going Public-speaking-up

Going Public: Speaking Out! Public Disclosure of a Copycat Complaint


Going Public: Speaking Out! Public Disclosure of a Copycat Complaint

Going Public-speaking-up
Sometimes when the copying is blatant and
direct communication between the two parties fails, the designers, artists or makers who have been wronged by a copycat consider reaching out to the public for support to draw negative attention to the misbehaving copier.

Public support can be a helpful move, if done thoughtfully, particularly for a small company copied by a large company. Before you take this drastic step though, be mindful of the potential consequences, and think carefully about how you’ll plan the public statements. Public shaming is particularly tempting when you’re angry. Before you go to the Internet to publicly vent frustration, consider what your long-term goals are and the impact your behavior will have on your business.

This is the third post by lawyer Rachel Fischbein about dealing with a copycat situation. The first post was "What Is A Copy? Copycat?"  The second post was "Initial Copycat Communication." ASK Harriete recommends that you read these posts before taking any actions. Fischbien recommends focusing on the issue, not the people involved.

Rachel-Fishbein-headshot
The opinions expressed in this post are by the author, Rachel Fischbein, Esg.,
founder of Law On The Runway, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASK Harriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied. Images are provided by Harriete.  As with the previous guest blog posts by Rachel Fischbein, please consider this blog general information, not legal advice. Should you have a concern about copyright infringement, please speak directly to an attorney to get advice on your unique situation.

      _____________________________________________

When preparing to make a public statement about the copycat incident, refer back to your notes of the timeline and educate yourself on copyright laws. Make sure what you are saying publicly is accurate, and you’re being fully truthful. You may want to consider publishing a longer document as a blog post, a downloadable document, or even a website to explain the copying and the interaction with copycat. Include all the important details, so it's clear you aren’t trying to spin the truth in short social media posts. Curious minds will be looking for the facts needed to come to their own conclusion. Walk the readers through the legal standards of copyright infringement and how the facts of the situation show infringement. You may want an attorney’s assistance for this.

While you may be dealing with difficult personalities of the copycat, always keep the statements and public conversations focused on the copyright infringement facts, and not about the people who represent the copycat business or designer. You may encounter a person on the copycat’s side who is deceitful and disrespectful, but your statements shouldn’t be about that person’s character traits directly. Limit your statements to the actions taken by the copycat and the copycat's  representatives.

You may post copies of emails or other documents sent to you by the copier, if the documents or emails were not sent after a promise of confidentiality from you. Be cautious though when using most intellectual property created/owned by the copycat. You may post only want it necessary to make your point, using the Fair Use doctrine of Copyright. Do not copy their logo to add their branding or unnecessarily take screenshots of their website for reposting. When in doubt, consider linking directly to the copier’s website. Be sensitive to their intellectual property and respect any information that they may have shared with you with an expectation of confidentiality.

 

Going-Public-reputation-showcased
Remember your reputation is also being publicly showcased.
This public statement is not only a reflection of the copycat’s business practices, but your reputation as well. Write your statements with professionalism and care. Try to showcase your logic and a desire for justice. Have a friend who doesn’t know about the issue read your statement first, before you publicly post anything. Ask for honest feedback about how your business looks in light of the posting. Does the statement foster the type of reputation you’re trying to build for your business? A public statement being passed around the Internet may be someone’s first introduction to your business. Remember, once you publicly post anything to the Internet, consider that it becomes a permanent posting. Someone may save a copy and bring it back to public attention in the future.

 

Going-Public-tell-communityTell the community exactly what they can do to be helpful.
Go back to your original goals as discussed in post #2 about Initial Copycat Communication. What do you want from the copycat? How can others in your community or the general public help you get what you want? If the copycat is a service provider to others in your community, such as a manufacturer with a private label, perhaps you can ask other designers to not use the manufacturer’s services in the future. If the copycat is a large brand, perhaps you are asking for social media sharing and public visibility.

Include your ideal resolution as well into the messaging. Let the copycat know it isn’t too late, and now there’s only shame to suffer through.  Possible resolutions include:

  • A licensing or royalty payment for the use of your designs.
  • A promise to stop creating that product in the future. 

If the copier does agree to a payment or to stop production, be prepared to make one final public statement, if requested by the copycat, letting the community know how the problem was resolved.

Rachel Fischbein

ASK Harriete asks: 

Are there any negative consequences to a public airing of the  copycat situation? (This is assuming that everything that the copy victim has written is professional in the public disclosure.)
 
Can the copy victim be sued for this public disclosure of the copycat situation?

Are there any other negative consequences that the copy victim should be prepared for?

I will try to find some answers.

Read the previous posts by Rachel Fischbein:

What-is-a-copy-copycat copyWhat Is A Copy? Copycat?

 

Initial-copycat-communicationInitial Copycat Communication

 

 


More information: 

Fashion-Law-primer-protecting-your-designsFashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

 

 

Information about Fair Use:

Fair Use Guidelines

 

Fair Use - Is your work "transformative?"

 

Understanding Fair Use in Copyright Laws

 

Fair Use and Copyright Issues for Artists


 




Initial Copycat Communication

Initial Copycat Communication
This post is part two of a three article series by Rachel Fischbein, Esq.
on what to do if you find someone copying your work. Today’s focus is on the initial communication with the copier.

What-is-a-copy-copycat copyBefore taking steps to reach out to the copier, please review the first blog article "What Is A Copy? Copycat?" to determine the type of copying and to develop comprehensive documentation of the copycat's copy.  This should be an ongoing effort on your part until the situation is resolved.

Feeling harmed and disrespected by your copier makes it tempting to send an angry email, threatening a lawsuit and berating the copier for his or her actions.  Often this type of email is the least effective way to create a behavioral change or to come to an agreement with the copier.

Below are tips for the first communication, intended to create an opportunity for positive results to end the unwanted copying.

Rachel Fischbein profilePlease note that this is general information and not legal advice. Please contact an attorney for advisement on your unique situation. The opinions expressed in this post are by the author, Rachel Fischbein, Esg., founder of Law On The Runway, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied. Images are provided by Harriete. 

First Communication with a Copycat
Decide Who Will Send the Initial Communication
Despite being an attorney, I do believe that sometimes these matters can be more easily resolved by two parties communicating directly to each other. I particularly encourage the initial reach out to be personally between the designers when both parties are small business owners.  When the parties are two artists or small companies, the ability for the parties to relate to each other can be helpful in coming to an agreement.

When an artist or small company has a design copied by a larger company, having an attorney send the communication can be a good way to show the importance of the issue and the confidence of the designer knowing his or her rights.  Even when you’re doing the initial communication yourself, you don’t need to be alone in the drafting of your first communication with the copycat. An attorney can review the email draft, giving suggestions on how to explain your rights, and offer persuasive language tips, coaching you through the negotiation.

Decide How the Message is Sent
In addition to who will the send the initial communication, consider the communication channel. A physically mailed letter adds a tone of severity and formality that can be beneficial. However, the mailed letter isn’t likely to receive a quick response. An email encourages a fast exchange of information and a more personal connection.  In some situations, you may want to send both, to ensure that the copier received the message, knows of the severity, and has the encouragement to quickly respond. If you do send both an email and a physical letter, let the copier know a letter is on the way in the mail, so they aren’t surprised by the duplicate message.


Explain Your RightsExplain Your Rights and What the Copier Did Wrong
When asking someone to agree with us and to see our point of view, it is important to walk the other party through our thought process with clear details. We need to explain the situation to the other party, offering them first, an overview of what rights are protected by trademark, patent, or copyright laws, and then why their actions were a violation of those laws. Sometimes designers are confused when establishing the line between inspiration and copying. Ideally, we want the other party to come to the same conclusion as us, that their actions were taken against your rights to the designs, and it could harm both of your businesses. In addition, explain why your rights are protected. Designers are visual. Add photos or diagrams if it feels appropriate and helpful.


Share Alternative Resolutions to the copycat
Share Alternative Resolutions to a Lawsuit
When explaining what the next steps are for fixing the problem caused by the copying, it is reasonable at this point to suggest that a lawsuit could occur to establish your rights, but also that there may be business reasons why it is beneficial for the other designer to end the copying behavior. Every situation is different, so the best way to work through this is to place yourself in the shoes of the copier.

What would convince you to change your behavior?
Are there alternatives that you can suggest that would end their copying and strengthen their business, as well as yours?

Give the copier directions for how they can resolve the issue.
This is your chance to offer options for a resolution to meet your ideal ending. Be clear on what you want.

  • Do you want the copier to merely stop selling the product in the future?
  • Could you ask for a portion of the previous sales?
  • Are you willing to license out your design to them for a portion of the future sales or one-time licensing fee?
  • Think about how you can benefit from the copier’s actions and efforts.
  • Perhaps along with compensation you might want recognition as the designer for the benefit of having your name exposed to more people.



Encourage Communication with the copierEncourage Communication
Remember, the goal with your initial letter is to create change and movement towards a solution, it is not to vent out your anger and frustration.

  • Make yourself approachable and keep the communication channels open between you and the copier.
  • Let them know that you’re available by phone or email.
  • Suggest some times that would be ideal for a phone conversation.
  • Your copier is more likely to honor your rights when you’ve established a personal connection and listened to their side of the story.
  • Give them a chance to step up and act with integrity.


Silence or Disrespectful CopierSilence or Disrespectful Copier
Most of the time, copiers are willing to change behavior when a personal connection is made and you’ve logically explained the issue to them. However, sometimes we have difficult personalities to face and we have to consider alternative ways to encourage behavior change through reputation damage, threat of lawsuits and/or public shaming. These tools are meant for “worst case” scenarios, and not as starter tactics.


The next post by lawyer Rachel Fischbein will address this "worst case" scenario where  public disclosure, shaming, reputation damage, and threat of lawsuits may be necessary.
 Subscribe to ASK Harriete so that you won't miss the third blog post in this three article series on ASK Harriete!


The Series about copycats
Follow this series:

What Is A Copy? Copycat?

Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

California Lawyers for the Arts Offers Legal Resources & Information

 

Links-goldShare this post with appropriate attribution and link to the original post to bring awareness to your community. 

Harriete

 

 

 


What Is A Copy? Copycat?

What-is-a-copy-copycat-copy-copy
This post addresses several variations of an all too common story, a designer is gaining traction on her designs, getting known for a particular style, feeling some success from her efforts, when suddenly a friend emails; "Take a look at these designs," the friend says. "They're just like yours." As the designer, you're understandably feeling harmed, disrespected and worried. But before you fire off an angry email to the copycat, read through this post to plan out your strategy. This post is meant to be general information, not legal advice, so if you are seeking counsel on your unique situation, please contact an attorney. 

Note: The opinions expressed in this post are by the author, Rachel Fischbein, Esg., founder of Law On The Runway, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied. Images are provided by Harriete. 

What is a copy?

LightbulbsShocked and surprised when we see a copy of our work or ideas
the first step is to examine the copycat version carefully looking to see what is being repeated. 
Is it the unique idea captured by product, or is it the design of the product? If it is the design of the product, did the copycat repeat the functional or useful aspects of the product, or is it the stylistic and aesthetic parts of the design that were copied? Did the copycat try to imitate something about your product that displays your brand identity? 


Necklace copyFunctional or Useful Aspects of the Products:
If the copycat looked at your product and saw how the product worked, and decided to recreate the functionality portions of the product, you could look only to patent law for protection. Once your product is released to the public, anyone may copy the functional aspects of your product, unless you have filed for a patent and secured the rights to exclude others from that design. 

 

Necklace-idea-adornmentAesthetic or Non-Functional Aspects of Your Design:
The parts of your product design that were meant to be pleasing to the eye, and not serve a functional purpose are easiest components to protect from copycats. We typically use copyright laws as protection for designers, but design patents can be used as well. If the copycat recreated your unique print pattern, etching design, drawing, photograph, painting or 3D sculpture design (including aspects of jewelry that look like small sculptures) you may be able to stop the copycat. 

 

 

Branding:
Is the copycat trying to make the products look like they came from your business? Could a consumer be confused in determining if you and the copycat are the same business or separate businesses? If the copycat is trying to make the product look like it came from your business or is using similar branding, we look to trademark law for protection. Always keep in mind that trademark law has two functions, to protect the business owner, and also to protect the consumer from being confused about the origin of a product. 

Notebook

 


Document & Create Timeline:
After you identify what makes the product similar to yours, its time to document what is happening, before you reveal to the copycat that you're aware of the situation.

 

 


If the product is for sale online:

  • Take screen shots of the listing.
  • Look to see if there's a history of reviews?
  • How long ago did the copycat start selling the product?
  • Look at the copycat's social media.
  • Has the copycat mentioned this product?
  • How long ago was its first mention?  
  • If it’s a small business doing the copying, dig into the identity of the copier.
  • Do you know them?
  • Could you have seen each other at a trade show or event? 
  • Did they enter your booth, discuss your work, or attend a workshop you gave?

Get all the facts organized.

  • Figure out who's product was created first.
  • Determine if the copier had access to your work or would have been prompted to discover your website and saw your public product listings.
  • If they have repeated your functional design aspects, look to see if they have any mention of a patent on the product, such as a patent serial number. You can also use Google Patent Search for a preliminary investigation to see if someone else actually holds a patent on the design you thought was uniquely yours! 

Decide What You Want to Best Benefit Your Business

As a designer, you're probably creating products out of passion, but also desire financial success for your efforts. Sometime we can take moments of negativity, such as discovering a copycat, and turn them into a business opportunity.

Instead of approaching the copycat with hostility and anger (and a threat of a lawsuit) consider alternatives.

  • Could the copycat bring something desirable to your business, such as a new customer base or a chance to license your designs to the copycat?
  • Think strategically about how you can get the copycat, who clearly believes in your products or business to bring you into their profits.
  • Lawsuits are slow moving and expensive. Perhaps working together with your copycat will provide the biggest and quickest reward. 

Working through creative ways to benefit from the copycat’s actions brings us to our next post, sending that first letter to the copycat....

Stay tuned for the next two posts by Rachel Fischbein, Esg.

The next post will be about the Initial Copycat Communication.

The final post in the series will be about the issues of public shaming of a copycat to gain the attention of the copier.  and hopefully, generate a resolution.  

Follow this series:

Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

California Lawyers for the Arts Offers Legal Resources & Information

 

Links-goldShare this post with appropriate attribution and link to the original post to bring awareness to your community. Harriete 

 

 

 

Post Guest Author: 
Rachelfinal2015-2Rachel Fischbein is the founder of Law On The Runway. She primarily assists fashion and beauty entrepreneurs as they build the foundations of their companies and navigate contractual relationships.  She has been published by Women 2.0 and Young, Fabulous, & Self- Employed Magazine. Ms. Fischbein is also on the board of directors of PeoplewearSF, a nonprofit supporting the Bay Area fashion industry. Rachel is a frequent presenter on topics such as intellectual property rights within apparel and jewelry designs, privacy law issues of wearable technology,
and the regulations of social media and blogging.

 

 

RELATED POSTS ABOUT COPY, COPYCATS & COPYRIGHT:

Copycats Cost Artist $250,000 Loss 

Alibaba Who? AlibabaMe?

Cultivating A Culture of Copycats  

The Guild of Unauthorized Sharing

Fair Use Guidelines

"I love your work and want to make one for myself"

Purchase of an Object versus Purchase of Copyright or Right to Copy


Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

Fashion-Law-primer-protecting-your-designs
Law-on-the-RunwayI recently attended a workshop with Rachel Fischbein, Esq. , titled "Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs." 

The evening program covered the legal aspects of protecting creative designs in jewelry, fashion accessories, or branding with copyright, trademarks and patents.

Rachel-Fischbein-Esq-Law-RunwayThe evening went very quickly. Rachel had to push at a reasonably fast pace for the hour and a half just to cover all the legal options.  We had time for a few questions, but I would have loved more discussion, even hours more discussion.  I was anticipating so many possible situations to apply her suggestions in the craft community.


Design-patents-Utitlity-trademarks-copyrightDesign patents, utility patents, trademarks, trade dress,  and copyright are the legal options to protect design work.  
Publication and registration timing are significant considerations in protection of your art, designs, brand, or even protecting workshop content.  

Are you considering a Licensing Agreement? Work for Hire? 

Surely,  there is no doubt that hiring a lawyer like Rachel Fischbein to protect your intellectual property would be worthwhile. What I loved about listening to Rachel was that she wanted to work with the jewelry and fashion industry.  She is on our side. 

The irony was at the time she made it sound so easy and straightforward, yet now I look at my extensive notes and I am discouraged and rather overwhelmed. I took the workshop to become more informed, but it isn't a substitute for a legal career. It seems inappropriate to become a "workshop imposter" to share her workshop in a post. I think Rachel's voice of experience would be fabulous content for professional development at the next conference sponsored by your local/national organization

When I look at the plethora of the copycat incidents, there is a big problem with all the legal protections Rachel mentioned. Most of us aren't taking these legal steps, nor do we have the resources to take a copycat to court. So how do we  protect our ideas, designs, brand identity or even a workshop title or content with our own initiative?

How are we realistically going to stop the copycats that may not know that it is unethical and illegal to copy designs and ideas.  Or how about the ugly reality, that some of the copycats just blatantly do not care. 

So here is some breaking news!  Rachel has written a 3 part series for ASK Harriete starting next week.

Post #1  What Is A Copy? Copycat?

Rachel Fischbein says, this blog post addresses the variations of an all too common story, a designer is gaining traction on her designs, getting known for a particular style, feeling some success from her efforts, when suddenly a friend emails. "Take a look at these designs," the friend says. "They're just like yours." As the designer, you're understandably feeling harmed, disrespected and worried. Before you fire off an angry email to the copycat, read through this blog to plan your strategy.


Post #2  
Initial Copycat Communication

What should your initial letter to the copycat say? Rachel Firshbein will guide us through the "Cease and Desist" letter strategies. 

Post #3  Going Public: Speaking Out! Public Disclosure of a Copycat Complaint

 

Below are blog posts, worksheets, and workshops offered by Rachel Fischbein.

Trending Legal Issues in 3D Printing in the Creative Arts (especially the fashion industry)
 This workshop was given in May 2015 but I hope that California Lawyers for the Arts hosts it again."As 3-D printers are becoming more accessible and affordable to the public, the increasing use and availability of 3-D printers will drastically affect intellectual property protection -- especially in the fashion industry."

Worksheet for agreements with Independent Contractor Designers 
"A worksheet of topics and questions to discuss when working with designers who you are independently contracting."


Worksheet for Terms & Conditions of Fashion or Beauty Website 
"This worksheet is to help business owners of a fashion or beauty company as they begin selling products online. By working through the worksheet, you'll make business decisions needed for your terms & conditions of your website."

Consultation Hour- Worksheet Assistance
"Did you recently download one of the Law On The Runway worksheets? Do you need assistance with filling it out or implementing the information into your business? This is a special discounted rate for consultation on the worksheets provided in the Law On The Runway store. After completing your purchase, please reach out to Rachel@lawontherunway.com, to set up a time for your consultation."

Harriete

RELATED POSTS: 

California Lawyers for the Arts Offers Legal Resources & Information




California Lawyers for the Arts Offers Legal Resources & Information

California-Lawyers-for-the-artsCalifornia Lawyers for the Arts is an advocacy organization for artists, makers and musicians. For 40 years they have been providing artists and musicians with referrals to lawyers, dispute resolution services, and education programs along with a publication library specifically for individuals in the creative arts and for art organizations.

I have attended many of their educational programs and used their arbitration service. Recently, I recently attended a program titled, Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs taught by Rachel Fischbein, Esq. (More information about that class in the next post.)  

Rachel Fischbein will also be writing a post for ASK Harriete on how to approach a copycat infringer, composing a cease and desist letter, and what documents you should keep before and after you notice the copying.  A follow up post will illuminate whether or not to make a public statement about the copying. Are there any legal consequences to discussing a copycat situation publicly? I really want to know. So stay tuned for this series on ASK Harriete.

BACK to information from
California Lawyers for the Arts:

While CLA was the first legal organization to support the arts, I know many states now  have their own organizations. Do some research for your state. 

For any one of us witnessing examples of copied work, stolen ideas or workshop content, or borrowed or copied images, what is the legal recourse that offers an alternative to hiring lawyers?

"Copyright issues are exclusively a matter of federal jurisdiction, but taking a case to federal court, with its arcane local rules and discovery procedures, can be expensive and time consuming. A survey by the American Bar Association showed that the average cost of a copyright infringement lawsuit in Los Angeles through the end of discovery was $292,000; the average cost through the end of trial and appeal was $517,000.  Unless actual damages are truly substantial, the copyright holder will be without an effective remedy in federal court. "

It would be ideal if there was an option such as Small Claims Court. This article,  Small Copyright Claimants Need Access to Justice on the California Lawyers for the Arts website from 2013 discusses this option. Perhaps at some time in the future with advocacy from the arts community there will be a small claims court option available for everyone. 

The blog on CLA includes informative articles which are worth reading about copyright infringement.  The "ongoing debate about sampling rights and legal ownership of musical property" is discussed in their post Blurring the Lines Between Homage and Infringement.  If you aren't familiar with the copyright debate regarding this song, or any copyrighted content, a post on ASK Harriete,  The Good Wife Discusses Copyright Infringement, Derivative Work, Parody and Fair Use  offers more background on this topic.

 While the legal case above involved music rather than visual arts, the same principles apply. "Ostensibly, it would seem that copyright infringement is straightforward: either you appropriated someone else’s work and called it your own or you didn’t. In order to be found liable for infringement, two things must be proved. First, there must be direct or indirect evidence of access to the original composition. Then, if access has been established, “substantial similarity” between the original and the alleged infringing work needs to be shown." 

Stay tuned for a future post by Rachel Fischbein for your first steps in dealing with copycats.

NOTE "TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:" Copying someone else's work or appropriating someone else's ideas or images is not only illegal, but is ethically, morally and artistically a complete dead end to your future career.

Harriete

 

 


Vintage Visual Feast Thanksgiving 2015

Every year, my favorite part of the holiday season is theme development in preparation for my Thanksgiving table . Similar to theme development for a booth display, the theme for a table should stimulate a visual feast of repeating design elements over and over.  

Thanksgiving 2015 photographed by photographer Philip CohenPhotograph of the Thanksgiving 2015  by Philip Cohen.

My goal each year is to reinvent our Thanksgiving table and deliver a completely different and memorable experience. This year it was inspired by vintage 1950's/60's screen printed Filkauf commercial fabric,fabric that I found in a secret, dusty, musty storage room at Direct Office Furniture in Harrisburg, PA. (Check out the Red Door Consignment Gallery for great furniture options at the same location.)
Fiklauf vintage fabric for our Vintage Thanksgviing Feast.
 Vintage Fabric from the 1950's/60's is marked "Filkauf Inherently Fire Retardant Fabric Screen Printed".

The screen printed leaf pattern and fall colors were perfect for a Thanksgiving table. To save time I fringed the edge. It looked great.
Filkauf Inherently Fire Retardant Fabric was vintage 50's 60's in fall colors

Long Thanksgiving table for 17 people A phenomenal stroke of good fortune, the fabric was large enough to cover the entire table for 17 people in one piece.  Photo left is before setting the table...   

 

 

The idea for the vintage theme began 5 months ago with the discovery and purchase of two "atomic era" (1950's) starburst candlestick holders from West Germany.Vintage atomic motif plastic candlestics from West Germany started our theme for Thanksgiving.


Atomic starburst plastic candlesticks from West GermanyYes they are a little weird but I loved the orange translucent colors and vintage atomic aesthetic that also reminded me of pumpkins. Then I had to find six more online. Amazingly, most of the Friedel Gesch plastic purchased online was unused, still with the original tag. Imagine, they have been sitting in a drawer for 60 years!


Thanksgiving 2015 031

Orange candles weren't hard to find. Adding small sugar pumpkins boosted the orange shapes and color  on the table. The sugar pumpkins will be cooked at a later date. 


Gold leaf glasses for our  Thanksgiving 2015 037These vintage Libby glasses from the 1950's with gold leaf design further repeat the leaf theme of the table cloth perfectly. I bought them for a past Thanksgiving and fortunately had about 20 of them. 

  


 

The gold plated flatware was my grandmother's from the 1960's. I remember when she bought it. I think she only used it once. Dishwashers and convenience-focused lifestyles really brought an end to gold leaf glasses and gold plated flatware. None of this is dishwasher safe.  

Gold plated flatware complete of Thanksgiving theme

All of the plates were from my collection of vintage dinnerware collected over the years. The colors were selected to match the colors in the tablecloth.  The plates sat on gold chargers to repeat the gold of the flatware and gold leaf glasses. 

Thanksgiving 2015 012

The floral arrangements were real fall leaves with the addition of some dried orange pods. Both the leaves and orange pods echoed the tablecloth leaf motif and colors.  

Thanksgiving 2015 001

 


Thanksgiving 2015 007Left 
is our menu card inspired by the vintage fabric tablecloth.

Dessert included a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting in the shape of leaves inspired by the tablecloth. It took a whole crew and hours of work . . . and topped off with a final touch of chocolate creativity to bring this to fruition.

 

 

 

 

 

Making our Thanksgiving dessert to match our vintage tablecloth.  

The dessert crew made abstract chocolate leaves as the final touch.

Thanksgiving 2015 021

The photo below shows how you make the chocolate leaf shapes. 
Thanksgiving 2015 023
Just paint warm chocolate on wax paper, let them cool, and peel them off. 

Vintage fabric, dishes, glasses, and flatware with atomic candlesticks. 
Theme development with repetition of the visual elements works every time. Give it a try for your next holiday table or booth display. 

Thanksgiving 2015 002

Thanksgiving 2015 029Harriete 

P.S. Commercial fabric is often fire proof so it would be suitable for booth display.

E-bay and Etsy are both great resources for finding obscure items for theme development. 



Thanksgiving tables from previous years:

Many images of my Thanksgiving tables can be see on Facebook albums. 

Thanksgiving 2014 flower arrangements 003Thanksgiving 2014- Setting the Table

 

 

 

 

 Philip Cohen photography of Thanksgiving TableGelt, Gilt, and Guilt - Thanksgiving 2013

 

 


Thanksgiving a Visual FeastThanksgiving Visual Feast Giving Thanks

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving with a mondrian inspired color blocks in red, blue, yellow and black  outline.

Thanksgiving 2012 was inspired by a Mondrian  color theme including the cake and cookies. 

 

  

 

Thanksgving birthday cake with sculpted cream cheese frostingThanksgiving 2011 followed a leaf motif including the drinking glasses and the cake with sculpted cream cheese frosting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2010 was black, white, grey and chartreuse green

Thanksgiving 2010

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2009 with a beautiful Thanksgiving festive table.Thanksgiving 2009 is  a traditional fall motif with leaf motif including cake and our drinking glasses with gold leaves. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving in Black, Grey and SilverTHANKSGIVING 2008  was black, grey and silver. 

 


Art Adventures in Wonder Washington, D.C.

Adventures always start with a journey. After a 3,000 mile, cross country red-eye flight I arrived in Washington D.C.  exactly 6 hours before the fancy shindig opening at the Renwick Gallery.

WP_20151110_037My first goal for the day was to see my own artwork on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Luce Art Center at the Smithsonian Museum of Art In this gigantic museum (right), I was searching for an area called the Luce Art Center.

The artwork on display in the Luce Art Center is shown on shelves to offer insight into the depth of the permanent collection in paintings, sculptures, folk art, and crafts.Harriete-Estel-Berman-Renwick-LuceFamous Selection from the series "The Deceiver and the Deceived" 

My metalwork was surrounded by the excellent company of other metalsmiths.


WP_20151110_012The acquisition number next to each object allows the viewer to look up information online. There were computers nearby if you wanted immediate access to information.  Information on my piece can be found at 1997.51.  A little weird...online they show only the back image of my work so maybe they couldn't tell the front from the back. I'll have to write to them and correct this mistake. 

FURTHER IRONY AND UPDATE: I wrote to the Smithsonian about the lack of a front image on the Luce Art Center website. They were very kind to write back and will try to correct the omission. It turns out the front image of "The Deceiver and The Deceived" is on the main website, but the artwork was photographed side ways. The wall piece should have been photographed with the word "famous" at the top. Usually an artist wants their work photographed right side up, but since their is a keyhole on the back for hanging, I thought the photographer would have figured out the right way to photograph it. Oh well.

Smithsonia Art Museum building
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is amazing.  The building is a dazzling combination of ornament and decoration that I never tire of admiring. The variety of collections and exhibitions is extensive. I highly recommend this as an art destination of the highest priority. Entrance is free.

Curators at the best museums have an incredible skill for the juxtaposition of artwork. In the portrait gallery "Shimomura Crossing the Delaware" by Richard Shimomura hung directly across from a portrait of Bill and Melinda Gates by  Jon R. Friedman on a painted blue wall.  This conversation between two paintings was worthy of discussion, but I had no one to discuss this with at the time.
(I snuck these images for your review.) 
Shimomura Crossing the DelawareBill and Melinda Gates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WONDER
The opening of "Wonder" at the Renwick Gallery
started at 7:30pm.  My amazing art adventure in Washington, D.C.  was a marathon day. 

live statueThis was a festive, celebratory event beyond the usual craft/art opening. This is the first time the Renwick was open after a major two year renovation.

The live woman "statue" (left) was in a central location near the decadent chocolate desserts.

 

busts at the Luce Art Center at the SmithsonianIt  reminded me of the white busts I had seen earlier at the Luce Art Center (left) and the exhibition of Hiram Powers' The Greek Slave. 

Moving through the Wonder exhibition, each large room of the Renwick had a different installation by one artist. Everything was of a monumental scale which was truly wonder - ful.
Patrick Dougherty installation at the RenwickShindig by Patrick Dougherty

I loved each room and the artwork for different reasons.

Renwick wonder slider (5)Installation by Gabriel Dawe. Photo from Wonder Gallery Renwick  

The concept of craft and working with materials was expressed with radically different approaches by each artist/maker. This artwork looks like vibrating beams of light. It was far more intense than this photo reveals (from the Renwick website).  In person, at night, after a very long day, and drinking a strong vodka and orange juice far too quickly (for medicinal relief of thirst), the colored thread seemed to vibrate!!!!!!! 

Walking up the stairs....to see more installations.Renwick-gallery-stairsStairs at the Renwick Gallery leading to the 2nd floor. 

This light sculpture Volume by Leo Villareal (below) hung high up over the stairwell.  

Villareal-detail

This light installation seemed the least hand made craft of all the rooms. The left photo was from the Renwick Gallery website by Ron Blunt.

WP_20151110_073The computer controlled lighting was dazzling like my rhinestone wallet, but it seemed a little glitzy without enough craft soul in this context. (Photo right taken at the opening with my phone.)  

Booker01_0 ANONYMOUS DONOR by Chakaia Booker Photo Ron Blunt

The tire sculpture by Chakaia Booker (above photo) had a demanding presence defining a completely different kind of implementation of hand made; it had a bold, gutsy, uncompromising strength. Made from radial tire detritus it invited the viewer to examine modern materials like tires that keep our society moving.

Now contrast the coarse and ugly tire material to a glass marbles installation by Maya Lin.  (below)Maya Lin installation at the Renwich Exhibition Wonder

I have seen many inspiring installations and artworks by Maya Lin, but for some unexplained reason, this room was not as successful. Perhaps it was too subtle in the excitement of the occasion.  A portrayal of cracked wall (?) seemed ironic considering the two year renovation of the historic building.

Another problem was that some barricade ropes prevented people from walking among the marbles glued to the floor (probably out of concern that a careless step might ruin the installation or risk their lives slipping). 

 

 


Move to another room...Donovan-detailThis installation by Tara Donovan is constructed from styrene index cards. I am still trying to decide what I think of this installation. The volume of new styrene plastic used to make these sculptures made me very uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that I could not appreciate  the visual impact.  I could not ignore the environmental impact of plastic, along with the production and disposal issues.

Saving the best for last. Two more rooms to mention...
Hand made "wallpaper" made entirely from insects. Even the red painted tint on the wall was made from crushed cochineal insects. 

Angus01_0In the Midnight Garden by Jennifer Angus  Photo by Ron Blunt from the Renwick Gallery Wonder website.

Angus-detailThe initial impression of a highly, decorated, hand made wall paper (perhaps consistent with the era of the building) was created from insects. I was told that the insects were farmed in Indonesia. Definitely, this room had a new definition for hand made.   

 

 

 

This installation by John Grade seemed the most "Wonder"ful of all. Grade01_0Middle Fork by John Grade Photos by Ron Blunt from the Renwick Gallery Wonder website.

An entire tree was recreated bit by bit into a gigantic installation that filled the room with awe. Each 1/4" rectangle of wood created a lattice resembling bark surface and tree silhouette. It was simultaneously powerful both close-up and far away.

Grade-detailMost of the photos in this post for the Wonder exhibition came from the Renwick website including the one to the left. At the exhibition, the tree filled the room so completely that I don't think an individual could look down the inside of the trunk like this....but it gives you a great idea of the scale of detail and form.

This was truly an example of the artist's vision combined with execution by hand to bring a grand inspiration to reality. Not everything can be fabricated by machine or created by computer. Sometimes it can only be hand made to create Wonder.

There was one more installation in WONDER by Janet Echelman that has no photo on the Renwick website. I can't say I know what to make of it.  At the opening, the ceiling installation didn't leave me with a strong first impression. I've seen her work at the San Francisco Airport as well and had a similar experience. She's been selected for such prestigious exhibitions as the Renwick and the S.F. airport, but these two installations seemed to be lacking. The airport installation suggests that some computer programmed lighting is supposed to be involved.  As is, the colored cord alone of these pieces look like scaled up versions of work by Ruth Asawa from 40 years ago. There is no surprise in how the materials themselves are used. The only wonder for me is why the work was selected, but tell me what you think.

Go the Washington, D.C. to see the show. Fill your heart and mind with inspiration on a grand and gutsy scale.

Go to see Wonder. 
Harriete  

 


Adventures in ArtLand

Every so often after working really hard, an artist's professional role includes going to an exhibition opening . . . maybe, even at some distant location.  When such events arise, I am often tortured trying to make a decision about whether it is worth the expense and time to travel to the opening.  

How should one justify the time and expense for going to an opening? I am not sure, but when my artwork is in a museum exhibition in New York City, the opening seems like something of a bigger deal . . . but the "adventure" is much scarier, more expensive, and oh so many thousands of miles away.  I deliberated with myself extensively, but when the curator said that I could stay at her house....I had to say "yes." 

Harriete-Estel-Berman-San-FranciscoTraveling by myself is a real challenge for me.  Serious effort.  I'd much rather stay at home, work in the studio and exercise until I fall over exhausted than navigate subways and trains or eat in a restaurant by myself. Two weeks ago, one of these art adventures tested my endurance -- and I survived. In retrospect is was an empowering experience.

Wayne-Theibaud-Painting-San-FraniciscoMy departure started at the San Francisco airport at 5:00 a.m.  However my not yet caffeinated mind spotted this painting by Wayne Thiebaud titled, "18th Street Downgrade" near my gate. The depiction of San Francisco's roller coaster hills reflected my heart pounding anxiety. My adventure had begun.  


Why go to an opening? Is it worth it
?
Harriete-Estel-Berman-Hebrew-Union-Evil
In retrospect, one good reason to go to an opening is to see your own artwork with new eyes. Instead of the humble circumstances in a studio laying on the work bench half formed, I saw my work installed magnificently and gloriously surrounded by powerful and interesting work by other artists.10 plagues 008

The installation of my artwork was just amazing. My quick cell phone photos do not capture the presence or atmosphere. 

Blight-10-plaque-Evil-Exhbition-ShotThe exhibition Evil: A Matter of Intent and the installations were truly of the best caliber. The organization, layout, and the lighting consistently enhanced the work.

Water-pollution-blood-10 plaguesIt is impossible to show how exquisitely my artwork was lit to enhance the intent of the work. The blades of withered grass on Blight-World Hunger (left) had extra shadows. Blood-Water Pollution (right) had watery red reflections (just like water) bouncing onto the wall. 

The vision brought to life by the  curator and the professional installation staff was evident. I've seen my artwork displayed many times in 30+ years....and I've come to appreciate the superior skills and evident expertise that museum and exhibition staff bring to bear on how to install artwork.  Their talents are all too often underestimated.

If you live in New York or are visiting in the next 6 months, I recommend making it a priority to view Evil: A Matter of Intent.

This week another adventure begins.  This time to Washington D.C. for the opening of the Renwick Gallery. Below is shot of the invitation that arrived in the mail. Gold embossed lettering on a thick square of dense cardboard. This memorable invitation seemed too special to miss. My cocktail outfit is ready in my suitcase.

Harriete

    
WP_20151027_005 

 

 

 


Your Money Talks But Are You Listening?

Calculator-ASK Harriete-I-covered-EXPENSES
Passion does not equal profit.
 If expecting to make money, we need to separate our love for creative making from the down to earth reality of selling. 

The caution is to not let our creative passions cloud the realities of marketing, selling, generating profits, and avoiding loss.  

I will always encourage makers to make the best work possible. No holds barred. BE PASSIONATE. Work hard. Spend countless hours doing what you love.  But when it comes to making money and selling for a profit, that is when business principles apply.

Read the post I wrote for Artsy Shark: “I Covered My Expenses” and Other Forms of Delusion & Denial and see if "I covered my expenses" really means I lost more money faster than ever before and four days of my time.
Calculator-ASK Harriete-opportunity-cost
Have you asked yourself what is the "opportunity cost" when spending weeks making low cost sell-able, bread & butter items to prepare for a show?  What if you had spent that time making your most inspiring, most creative work without thinking about who might be shopping at a show and what their budget might be?  

Calculator-ASK Harriete-booth-showWhat about scheduling fewer art/craft festivals? This interview with Carrol Swayze is makes a lot of sense when you read "How a Hard Look at Business Changed an Artist’s Life."

Calculator-EXPENSES-ASK-Harriete-5buttonsAfter adding up all the true costs on your calculator for profit and loss, you might be saving yourself money doing fewer shows.

Harriete

 

RELATED POSTS:

Over Supply, Reduced Demand = Downward Price Pressure

The Economic Stakes of the White Tent - Reduced Demand

The Economic Stakes of the White Tent - Over Supply

 

 


Identity Complex - Lost and Found

Idcomplex
I just found out that my artwork, Identity Complex, is currently on view at the Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin.  The exhibition that includes my work is titled "Lost and Found: Featuring Kim Alsbrooks and Nikki Couppee."

IDcomples_leg72 Artists in the exhibition were selected from RAM's permanent collection including:  Boris Bally, Harriete Estel Berman, Jerry Bleem, Robert Ebendorf, Geoffrey Gorman, Tina Fung Holder, Judith Hoyt, Lissa Hunter, Esther Knobel, Keith LoBue, Karyl Sisson, Kiff Slemmons, and Anne Wilson.

So the question that I always want to ask participating artists is . . . "How did your work get to be in this museum's permanent collection?"

In this case, I can at least answer for myself. Identity Complex was purchased by collector Karen Johnson Boyd from a solo exhibition I had at Sybaris Gallery in 2001. 

Now many years later, I appreciate Sybaris Gallery for their confidence in my work.  It is regretful that such a supportive gallery has closed.

When amazing collectors like Karen Johnson Boyd buy the best artwork from an artist, they change the fortune of the artist. I am very grateful for the support by this patron whom I have never met. 

When generous collectors like Karen Johnson Boyd give their collections to museums, their gifts enrich the lives of many viewers in the public. 

Identity Complex Vanity Seat from recycled materials.

If you are traveling or live near the Racine Art Museum, I hope you will get a chance to see this exhibition.

Dates of the exhibition:
September 25, 2015 - January 3, 2016

The one-page exhibition guide highlights the theme of "incorporation of  'non-art' materials."  The found objects and materials used in the artwork "construct layers of meaning." 

Identity Complex Vanity Seat in the exhibition Lost and Found at the Racine Art Museum

Identity Complex Vanity Seat is constructed entirely from post consumer tin cans. Even what looks like a soft cushioned fabric seat with trim and a button is all metal.

Identity Complex Vanity Seat is a commentary about beauty in our society.

The legs have writing on the inside. The quotes recount the terrible comments I (or each of us) say to one's self when looking in a mirror. Messages from advertising and media create an impossible standard of perfection for comparison.

"Beauty magazines make me feel ugly."

"My breasts are too big, my breasts are too small."

"Big pores, dry skin, age spots and wrinkles." (left photo)

"My waist is too thick and I hate my thighs."

 

Under the seat, the internal dialog continues with a statement... 

Identity Complex Vanity Seat is art from found materials with social commentary about beauty
"Can’t stand that person in the mirror, Make me over, paint my face, airbrush my blemish, color my hair, botox my wrinkles, reduce the appearance of fine lines, erase the circles under my eyes, tattoo my lips, pencil my brows, masque my imperfections,  whiten my teeth, soft focus, perfect lighting, Am I visibly firm?  Is there an age defying complex?"

Harriete

Photo Credit for all images in this post: Philip Cohen

RELATED POST: 
18-Year-Old Model Edits Her Instagram Posts To Reveal The Truth Behind The Photos


What I Learned From My Halloween Costume

Looking through some old photos at my parents' house, I found old memories . . .  and remembered that long ago I learned a valuable lesson from my Halloween costume.
Harriete-5-craypaper-costume1
My mother used to make costumes (photo above) for my sister and me from crêpe paper because at the time it was very inexpensive and it could be sewn using a sewing machine like fabric.  Above I am wearing one of those costumes. (I am on the right side, my sister stands behind me to the left.)

One year . . . (succumbing to peer pressure conformist tendencies) I begged for a purchased costume like all the other kids had for Halloween. I wanted one of those costumes that came in a cardboard box -- with a mask inside. The lid of the box even had cellophane so you could see inside the box without opening it. I can still see it clearly to this day.

My mother caved in and the (somewhat out of focus) photo below shows me (on the right again) as some kind of princess.  My sister (left) was a clown. 
Harriete-purchased-costume

These photos also caused me to remember a profound lesson that I learned that day. 

My realization at 8 years old was that a store-bought costume was not as good as home made. In fact it was a flimsy, generic copy that wasn't unique or special in any way. I was so embarrassed that I had coveted this item so highly and then found out it was such a poorly made piece of junk and that anyone could just purchase and wear it without any creative thought or imagination.  There was nothing unique or special about this costume. 

Halloweens have been magical ever since. I learned that home made and hand made are better even with imperfections and mistakes. Anyone can buy a look-alike costume.  But when it is your idea and you make it yourself, it becomes a memorable experience and expresses your unique character.

This lesson I learned at the age of 8 has taken me a long way.   Perhaps makers are makers because they have had a similar experience.  Imagine . . . and make it your own.

Harriete

Jen-wearing-spider-costume
Jen is wearing one of my past Halloween costumes. The hairy spider costume was intended to be good for exercising, but proved to be very hot.

MORE COSTUMES FROM THE PAST (in no particular order)

Dalmation-firefighters91
Dalmatian Dog (me) with two pint size firefighters1991

 

Ghost-family-1988
Ghost family 1988

Pumpkin-Head97
Pumpkin plant....my son actually walked around with his head inside the pumpkin.

Pumpkin-Head-butterfly-scarcrow.97
Everyone ready to Trick or Treat includes Pumpkin plant, butterfly and scarecrow.


Butterflies-Ace-Bday-insect-party
Butterfly costumes on another day. 

Ace.10yearguess
My son ACE.

 


A new exhibition -- "Evil: A Matter of Intent"

The exhibition "Evil: A Matter of Intent" has opened at Hebrew Union College in New York City.  I couldn't be more proud to have my work in this thought provoking exhibition. The curator, Laura Kruger, selected two pieces from my new series, "10 MODERN PLAGUES." Berman-Water-Pollution-Blood-Plague-1920Blood - Water Pollution from the 10 MODERN PLAGUES

Berman-Water-Pollution-Blood-Plague-cu1920

Evil: A Matter of Intent explores several questions.  Why does evil exist?  How is it manifested?  From whom or from what is it derived? According to the Hebrew bible and rabbinic teachings, all humans have some capability or predisposition to commit acts of evil, or what is known in Hebrew as yetzer hara. Philosophers argue that such inclinations are not inherently malicious, yet can easily become evil if not confronted.

In this exhibition, topics include the Ten Plagues, the Golem, the Shoah and the proliferation of acts of violence including genocides worldwide.*

 


Packing images and repair 064On the practical side of delivering artwork to an exhibition, shipping is always a challenge.  In this series, 10 MODERN PLAGUES, each piece presents unique challenges for safe shipping.  The left photo is a preview of my packing solution.   A more thorough examination of the packing will be the subject of an upcoming post on ASK Harriete.  It may be worth the close inspection because the Hebrew Union College staff said this about my packing . . .  "We are all in awe of your ingenuity in packaging. I had my registrar photograph them in situ."

Packing solution for artwork of Blood Water PollutionTo all the readers of ASK Harriete, I hope that if you are planning to be in New York some time during the next seven months you will make a point of going to this powerful exhibition. 

Exhibition dates: September 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016

I am going to the opening.
Will you meet me at the opening?

Opening  is October 21, from 5 - 7 pm.  

Berman-Blight-World-Hunger-Master72Blight - World Hunger  

Berman-Blight-World-Hunger-10 Modern Plagues

(Above and Left) These photos show Blight-World Hunger which is also in the exhibition "Evil- A Matter of Intent." 

More information:
Location: Hebrew Union College Museum
One West Fourth Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street)
New York City

Subway: N/R/W to 8th Street (NYU); 6 to Astor Place; A/C/E/B/D.M to West 4th Street

Packing details for shipping artwork to an exhibition.Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9 am – 5 pm; Friday, 9 am – 3 pm

Admission: FREE. Government-issued photo ID required.


Group Tours and Information:
212-824-2298 or hucjirmuseum@huc.edu
www.huc.edu/museum/ny

Evil-A-Matter-of-Intent-invitationArtists in the show: 

Andi Arnovitz
Debra Band
Harriete Estel Berman
Leon Bibel
Andres Borocz
Beverly Brodsky
Lynda Caspe 
Larry Frankel
Tommy Gelb
Linda Gissen
Carol Hamoy
Nathan Hilu
Ruben Malayan
Richard McBee

*Description of the exhibition from the press release provided by Hebrew Union College. When I go to the show, I will be sure to write more extensively about the exhibition.

RELATED INFORMATION: 
Article about the curator Laura Kruger. "...she has stood alone among curators and Jewish museums, providing an often singular forum for emerging contemporary Jewish visual culture." Read more at the link below: Laura Kruger At The Hebrew Union College Museum


WANTED Better Display - Offender #8 CLUTTER

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY8-clutterThe 8th Display Offender is Clutter. What is Clutter? For a booth display it is anything that could distract a potential customer from purchasing your work.  It may be anything visible that fosters a less than optimal customer impression....not that you don't need the items, not that everyone doesn't have clutter ....but clutter should be eliminated from customer view in your booth display.

 

 



Clutter in your booth displayStorage boxes, suitcases, and credit card machines are clutter. Sure they are important, sure you need them, but they really distract from the quality of your work and your display -- and as a result diminishes the customer's impression.

When planning your booth, a crucial tactic is how to hide the necessary clutter. Putting your suitcase anywhere that is visible in your booth is not hiding the clutter.  A charge machine and invoice tablet on a table at the back of your booth are not hiding clutter. I know you've seen it all and you don't need me to show you boxes of clutter.


Below are some practical examples
of how some people hid their clutter:


Emiko Oye hid extra inventory and clutteremiko oye stored extra inventory by changing the tile color on the floor to black and covering her boxes with a black drape. It wasn't the best solution, but it still looked better than visible packing boxes on the floor.

 

Jonathan SpoonsDid you notice that Jonathan's Spoons had a tiered display on their counter top?  Jonathan very proudly told me how the elevated display conceals their credit card machine, tissue paper, along with everything they need to complete a purchase.


Beverly Tadeau booth Lots of people use the space under their cases for storage, but that doesn't work if you aren't using a drape for the open look, or if the drape is shear as in Beverly Tadeau's booth display.

 

Beverly-Tadeau-Concealed-Storage2Tadeau's solution was a diagonal drape across the back corner. Everything from a charge machine, to boxes and suitcase fit into that corner behind the drape.

Beverly Tadeau
  


Amy Nguyen beautiful clothing at ACC San Francisco Amy Nguyen had a beautiful display of her clothing. A table of extra inventory, postcards, and the charge machine was concealed by a drape on the main aisle, but not concealed from the side aisle of the corner booth (right photo.) Amy Nguyen did not hide her clutter  completely.

Customers see everything.  Clutter suggests unfinished, unrefined, and careless. Hoping that clutter doesn't matter may give a subtle message to prospective customers that you don't care about every detail -- and they walk out, almost, but not quite convinced to purchase. 

Clutter is a "kissing cousin" to Offender #5 Inconsistent Display Materials" and Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display.  Don't let these display offenders enter into your booth.... and steal your sales. Avoid Clutter.   

Harriete

PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
Wanted-Better-Display-Offender8-clutterYour Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?

Pathetic Aesthetic with Poor Signage - How Would I Know Your Name?

WANTED Better Display - Offender #7 "Butt Brush Factor"

 

 


WANTED Better Display - Offender #7 "Butt Brush Factor"

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-Butt-brush-factorOffender #7 - "Butt Brush Factor" is real and very well documented phenomena first observed by the famous shopping guru Paco Underhill, author of the book  Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. 

It occurs when a merchandise display is placed right up to the boundary of an aisle.  Some may think that such a position would help force passing shoppers to look at the work.  BUT the opposite occurs.  It is far more likely to be pushing your customers away from your booth. Yep, your customers are leaving because they can't put up with the "Butt Brush Factor" when they are shopping.

Apparently, too many people have never heard of the "Butt Brush Factor" because I saw several display cases pushed to the very front edge of the booth.  



Here is a quote from Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping :
  Why-We-Buy-Paco-Underhill
"As part of an early study for Bloomingdale’s in New York City, we trained a camera on one of the main ground-floor entrances, and the lens just happened to also take in a rack of neckties positioned near the entrance, on the main aisle. While reviewing the tape to study how shoppers negotiated the doorway during busy times, we began to notice something weird about the tie rack. Shoppers would approach it, stop and shop until they were bumped once or twice by people heading into or out of the store. After a few such jostles, most of the shoppers would move out of the way, abandoning their search for neck wear. We watched this over and over until it seemed clear that shoppers — women especially, though it was also true of men to a lesser extent — don’t like being brushed or touched from behind. They’ll even move away from merchandise they’re interested in to avoid it." - Paco Underhill, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

Jewelry-cases-pushed-into-aisleI witnessed the impact of  "Butt Brush Factor" while roaming around ACC San Francisco 2015. For example, a very forlorn looking booth with dark black drapes had cases pushed to the very front edge of the aisle.  (Actually, if you look at the photo closely it seems they pushed the jewelry cases a half inch into the aisle.) This had the appearance of shoving the jewelry cases into the customer. The customer will have to stand in the aisle blocking traffic flow.

In addition, shoppers likely concerned about over commitment took a wider berth or stopped briefly and then walked away.  Why? At least one reason was Butt Brush Factor. 


Sign-Victoria-Morre-long-sideAs previously mentioned, women, in particular, are most vulnerable to the impact of Butt Brush Factor. They will not stop and shop if they run the risk of people pumping into their behinds. When the jewelry cases are pushed to the edge of the booth, there is no place to stand except in aisle with people closely passing by. When a customer is forced to stand in the high traffic zone, they will choose instead to just keep on moving. 

To eliminate Offender #7 - Butt Brush Factor, the remedy is simple.  Leave at least 12"-18" for the customer to tuck themselves into your booth and out of the aisle.   They can then inspect your work without the unconscious concern of being bumped. 

Booth-layout-narrow-gauntlet-over-commitmentButt Brush Factor can also be a display offender involved in the internal booth layout - the narrow alley trapping the would-be customer in a gauntlet of scary over-commitment.  Once one shopper is shopping in this narrow aisle there is no room for a second customer to navigate around.  Butt Brush Factor is another reason why this booth layout is less than ideal. Consider a different booth layout, larger booth, corner booth, or sharing a booth to create a larger common shopping space.

 Harriete

Other great books about modern marketing include:
Buyology Buying-In-Why-We-Buy

I have read all these books along with Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, and think they are both entertaining and informative. I'd consider them required reading if you want to sell your art or craft effectively.

These books are affiliate links provided for your convenience. Clicking on these links could provide this blog with a few cents. Other options for finding these books are your local library.

Online book review from The New York Times about Why We Buy offers insight into the content covered in the book.

 

Wanted-Better-Display-Offender7-butt-brush

PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?

Pathetic Aesthetic with Poor Signage - How Would I Know Your Name?

 

 


"Uncommon Couture" - How Do I Decide About Participation in an Exhibition?

Artists and makers frequently have to make decisions about participation in shows, exhibitions or competitions. Depending on your experience, time and finances the criteria will change and evolve.

AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x

Currently I have work in an exhibition titled, "Uncommon Couture" that just opened at the Florida Craft Art Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida. I have other work in a separate show opening Saturday, September 12, titled, Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California. 

Recently with the up-tic in the economy, I am much surprised by the number of invitations to participate in exhibitions.   With each opportunity the question arises, "How should I decide about participation?" -- sort of like "to be or not to be" in each one.

Berman-Harriete-Yellow-dot-AOL-Bracelet.72

One of my hard and fast rules about participation (actually my #1 minimum requirement) is insurance at the venue.  After much experience (good and bad), I have chosen this requirement as a measure of whether the sponsor has their act together.   The issues surrounding insurance have been discussed at length in several previous posts.  

“We all hope that the insurance coverage isn't needed, but it is just this guarantee to the artist that raises professional exhibitions above the lower level venues and events.  Participating artists are assured that their work will be protected with superior handling AND will have a "back up plan" (i.e. insurance) in case of damage.”

Red Hots Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman in yellow and red recycled materials.

The need for insurance at a show can be a "red hot" topic leading to heated discussions on occasion. This really isn't about whether you have business insurance in your studio. [Yes, I have business insurance.]  This is about a minimum professional standard in an event that characterizes itself as something above the day-to-day mundane -- is this a real "show" or is it just a hangout.


Totally-To-Point-Fuchsia Flower Pin by Harriete Estel BermanIn previous posts, I have gone on record saying "no insurance, no show. "Competitions or exhibitions that do not provide insurance are for the hobbyist/amateur level such as the county fair, a display at the mall or at the local library, as just a few examples."  In these venues the artist/maker assumes all the risk.   Often, these artist/makers are just beginning to accumulate experience in showing or selling their work. 

 

I understand that insurance is an expense that is getting very expensive. But in my opinion, every exhibition or opportunity needs to consider insurance as a demarcation of professionalism and a minimum accommodation to attract the best work. Providing insurance is a reflection upon the exhibition sponsor's expectation for the quality of work to be shown. 

We need to stand together supporting professional standards. No insurance, no show.

If you are invited to participate in any situation where you are sending your work to a location outside of your control, then you have a reasonable expectation that the sponsor will provide insurance.

  • Read the contract.
  • Raise the issues with exhibition sponsors.
  • Learn how to establish appropriate insurance values (in a future post.)

All of the images above in this post are currently at an exhibition "Uncommon Couture" at Florida Art Craft Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida. Exhibition dates: August 28-October 24, 2015

Location: Florida Art Craft Gallery
501 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
727-821-7391          

Silicon Valley from the California Collection at the Richmond Art Center

Please join me this Saturday at the Richmond Art Center at the opening for Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art  5 - 7 pm, free and open to the public. 
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, California 94804
Open until November 15th

Berman-Harriete-Silicon-Valley-full
                                             

GUIDE TO IMAGES IN THIS POST.  
OREO Unlock the Magic Bracelet in Yellow, purple at Uncommon Couture.Oreo “Unlock the Magic”
Retail Price: $530
Photo Credit:  Steven Brian Samuels 
at "Uncommon Couture"

 

 


Berman-Harriete-Yellow-dot-AOL-Bracelet.72
Yellow Bracelet with orange dots, super thin.Reverse side: “America Online” dark blue & white address label.
Retail Price  $415.00
at "Uncommon Couture"

 

Red Hots Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman in yellow and red recycled materials.

Red Hot Flower Pin
Recycle post consumer tin cans & plastic.
Retail Price $535
at "Uncommon Couture"

 

Totally-To-Point-Fuchsia Flower Pin by Harriete Estel BermanTotally to the Point Flower Pin
Recycled post consumer tin cans & plastic.
Retail Price $375
at "Uncommon Couture"

 

 

Silicon Valley Jewelry from the California Collection by Harriete Estel Berman

Silicon Valley from the California Collection 
Three bracelets displayed in a custom made wooden fruit crate. Bracelets and fruit crate label constructed from recycled tin containers, 10k gold rivets, aluminum rivets.
Currently at Richmond Art Center "Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art"

Additional work at  "Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art" include: 
Santa Rosa Bracelets Bermaid Santa Rosa
Bermaid Santa Rosa Bracelets and fruit crate display

Recycled Fruit Crate and necklace from recycled materials

Recycle from the California Collection
Recycled Fruit Label from recycled tin cans BermanRecycledcollar72  Berman Recycled Bracelets from Recycle the California Collections


Pathetic Aesthetic with Poor Signage - How Would I Know Your Name?

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-generic-signThe last several posts have discussed issues that cause Pathetic Aesthetic in booth display. Improving your display quality is a minimum requirement for success and this includes a sign identifying your name, or company name which will be consistent with your signature booth aesthetic. 

The white paper print out with your name & number identifying your booth (provided by the craft show organizer)  is NOT a sign. Sorry for the big bold scream (I'm containing a scream of frustration)!

Dinky photo banners at the back of your display do not create an inviting impression with that customer walking right "by Bye"  your booth.  How will they know your name?  Without remembering your name they won't even be able to look you up in the show map to come back when they are ready to buy. 

Your name needs to be up high and done in a creative way. I wrote a number of posts with inexpensive  ideas. The links are at the bottom of this post. 

Steve Rossman  (a reader of ASK Harriete) says:"I  owned a custom exhibit design and fabrication company for almost 30 years. When it comes to signage and messaging, I believe strongly that, for a small booth (8\' to 20\') you have something like 3 to 5 seconds to \"capture\" a prospective visitor. So signage should concentrate on 3 basic things...

  • Who you are
  • What you do 
  • Why visitors need to stop

PATHETIC-AESTHETIC-personal-appearance-generic-sign

It is time that artists and makers start being more creative than the standard printed banner.  But something in "good taste" is better than nothing. Here are a few examples from ACC San Francisco that include signs in their signature aesthetic along with a few comments.

Can you take these ideas, improve upon them and make them work for your booth?

Sign-Jonathan-SpoonsThe round white sign for Jonathan Spoons included their descriptive tag line "Wild Cherry Spoons." Though I still don't care for the black drape, the sign popped against the dark background giving it high visibility. The font and styling matched the other price tags in the booth. 

You might be wondering why I keep showing photos of Jonathan Spoons in my posts. Well there is a reason why -- they won Best Booth at ACC San Francisco 2015. They did so many details right, keeping a signature booth aesthetic in every detail.


 

 

Sign-Melissa-FinelliMelissa Finelli had a very eye catching sign that matched her business card exactly.  It turns out that the business card design came first, and then she duplicated it as a sign. Ironically, the vintage typewriter mistake styling with jumping letters that were faint and more precise felt very contemporary.

The one improvement that I would make is to put your name at the top of the sign. This way if there are a lot of people in front of your booth, or in the aisle, your name is still visible. When your name is low, it can easily be hidden by your own cases or even one customer.

 

 

 


Sign-Beverly-tadeu

Beverly Tadeu has her name at the top of the sign. That is good.  She added a short description "metalsmith" though I wonder if that could be improved upon for a more unique and informative description. 

Note that beverly tadeu's sign is done in lower case lettering, a current trend in font styling. I wonder how long this texting influence will last before it looks common and everyday ordinary. On a positive note, the earrings in the sign and the sign itself were large, going full length from the top bar to the floor.

What would I want to see for more signature sign styling? Amazing metal letters done in Beverly Tadau's signature style. The letters can hang from the bar at the top holding the drape. They could fit in one suitcase along with some touch-up paint.

 

Sign-Ealish-Wilson-Emiko-Oye

Ealish Wilson and emiko oye put their names up high and on both sides of their booth. Good move! This way their potential customers will see their names no matter which direction they are walking up the aisle.

The rub off decal on the hard wall looks professional but Ealish Wilson in metallic lettering did not have strong enough contrast. As you can see in the photo (left) the silver lettering is hard to see. Either this should be applied to darker paint, or the lettering needs to be darker.

emiko used her trademark "reware" to reinforce this branding of her jewelry. If you do use a business name rather than your own name, it is important to keep reinforcing this alternative identity for your work.  (The question of whether you should market your work under your own name or a business name is another huge topic in itself.)

The mirror done in Legos helps reinforce the identity for emiko's medium - Legos. It is also intended to be a "selfie hot spot" for selfie photos when people try on her work. This way every photo will include the identity for "emiko reware" jewelry.

Our final example is Victoria Moore jewelry. She had three different signs in her booth as shown below.  I've condensed  the three signs adding arrows to point out the point of discussion.
Sign-Victoria-Morre-long-middle-side-arrow copy

Sign-Victoria-Morre-long-side(left) The left sign went all the way to the floor with a large image. Her name is at the very top. Unfortunately, the jewelry case was pushed so far forward it obscured part of the image.

Sign-Victoria-Moore-backThe center sign has larger text for her name in a brighter, higher contrast color that improves readability. This is a definite improvement. She has also added a "tag line" damascus steel jewelry which describes her work.

Notice that victoria moore is using the lower case text style on her signs. As just the third example of four example booth signs you can see that lower case doesn't feel like signature style any longer.

Sign-Victoria-Morre-shortThe right sign was an earlier version of her sign and is too short. With a much smaller sign her name seems tiny and harder to read especially with the pattern of the jewelry behind the lettering.  The image of the jewelry is smaller and less dramatic just because of the size of the sign. Despite the difference in size, it was good that Moore put a sign on both edges of her booth to capture the eye of the customer no matter which direction they are walking down the aisle.   

I'd like you to notice in the images that the cases obscure the jewelry image on the signs. This is because  the jewelry cases are pushed to the very front edge of the booth. It seems that many jewelers are trying this for booth layout, and it has a huge marketing problem called "butt brush factor." (This will be discussed in the next post in the series WANTED Better Display. )  

SUMMARY of a SIGNATURE SIGN that works:

  1. Your name up high.
  2. Your name in high contrast lettering.
  3. Large lettering big enough or bold enough to impress.
  4. Your name in a signature style matching the aesthetic of your booth.
  5. Optional is an informative tag line or short description about "what you do"or "why visitors need to stop."
  6. Make your sign memorable.

Harriete

YOUR NAME UP HIGH POSTS:

 Window Dressing for Booth Display - YOUR Name on Display

Window Dressing for Booth Display - Hang It UP
Signage in the ACC Show Booth Display
Resources and Highlights for Remarkable Booth Display

PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
Wanted-Better-Display-6-iPATHETIC-aESTHETIC-appearance-sign

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?

 

 


Personal Appearance and the Pathetic Aesthetic - Where's Tim Gunn When You Need Him?

PATHETIC-AESTHETIC-appearance-t-shirt-apron

Wanted-Better-Display-6-iPATHETIC-aESTHETIC-appearanceThere are a couple more issues related to the previous post, WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic.
The first is a very personal, yet important component to the booth display aesthetic -- the artist's appearance.

Yes, YOUR appearance in your booth should reinforce the aesthetic signature of your display and your work.

At every art and craft show the appearance of the artist is very much a part of the story that your customers want to buy. The moment someone walks into your space, the artist/maker is playing a role as the creative individual that every customer wishes they could be. This is why so many art/craft shows require the artist/maker actually be there to sell their work. 

The artist/maker is always selling more than just a vase, plate, cups, clothing, piece of jewelry, sculpture or painting. You are selling the personification of the creative individual. YOU are the star of your booth! You are walking your own red carpet moment in your booth, yet too many artist's and makers let this moment slip by due to a disappointing pathetic personal aesthetic.

Where is Tim Gunn when you need him with his sharp eye?

O.K., runway couture is not really expected, but "for maximum impact the aesthetic of your booth display needs to align with your art/craft, absolutely 100% down to the last detail." This includes you. 

Almost any attire can work, but there are some definite do's and don't's. 

Artist attire should match the price range and style of the work.

David Guiletti at his booth at ACC San Francisco 2015 David Guilette & I had a pretty frank discussion about his shirt at ACC San Francisco.  The picnic casual plaid of blue and white did not match any other feature of his display nor did it reflect the price point of his work.  

 

Jonathan SpoonsThe Jonathan Spoons husband and wife team both wore the same brown shirts matching the burnt wood colors of their display. The individual utensils were mostly about $35- $50 so the matching t-shirt and tank were completely fitting in every way.

Wardrobe choices can't get any simpler than a t-shirt or tank, but it fits their booth perfectly. When walking up to the booth display, there was no question that this dynamic duo were there to represent and sell their work.

Artist/maker clothing style should match the artistic influence expressed in the work for sale.
Davide-Bigazzi-display-materialsDavid Bigazzi wore a white shirt that felt like a classic, European styling. This matches his technical background and the metalwork. 


WP_20150802_021emiko oye wore a contemporary white and bright combination to match her booth and jewelry.

 

 

Apron-logo-printedA potential customer should be able to walk up to your booth and identify the maker/artist/craftsperson immediately without confusion or hesitation. Other wardrobe possibilities could include an apron, dress or shirt made from the same material as the booth background, booth theme or display materials. 

It doesn't take much effort to align your appearance to the aesthetic of your booth display and walk the walk to success, but you have to think about it. It is a shame that so many sellers miss this opportunity to impress. 

Am I asking too much that your appearance align with the aesthetic of your booth?  No way! Your customers are accustomed to going to stores and restaurants every day where the employees wear clothing that matches the style of the store or venue.  High end stores to discount stores control every aspect of the retail experience. So should you.

Dial-up-aesthetic copyEvery aesthetic decision about your booth affects the customer experience and can move it from pathetic, to average, and into extraordinary. Using the words of Tim Gunn, "Make it work."  

 

 

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:
Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic



WANTED Better Display - Offender # 6 Pathetic Aesthetic

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-Purchased-Pathetic-4-5-6
The past two display offenders,  "Purchased Racks & Props" and "Inconsistent Display Materials" often travel with "Pathetic Aesthetic" to art and craft shows.


PATHETIC-AESTHETIC-LETTERINGExamining the situation closely, I'd say that "Inconsistent Display Materials" and "Purchased Racks and Props" are at least partially responsible for the mismatched, incoherent booth display offender that this post will label as "Pathetic Aesthetic." 

 


WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-pATHETIC-AESTHETICFor maximum impact the aesthetic of your booth display needs to align with your art/craft, absolutely 100%
 down to the last detail.  If every single booth assembly decision contributes toward this goal, the better your booth display and the more effective your booth display will be in attracting your customers.

The booth needs to be like a powerful magnetic field. It needs to attract an audience from 50, even 100 feet away.  Before your customer even enters your booth, your booth display has started "selling" your work.



Another issue is that "Pathetic Aesthetic" will be confusing to your customer.
 If they walk into your booth, and the display is not consistent with the work for sale, it is unlikely that they will fully engage with you or your work. 

Do you think that I am too critical of "Pathetic Aesthetic?"  Perhaps, but your non-customers are being even more critical when they walk right past your booth. They are too busy, too tired, or too uninterested, especially if they see a more interesting booth on down the path.   

So here it is ....your booth display has two jobs.....

Attract the customer into the booth......

Then keep the customer in the booth.... until they talk to the artist maker, look at the work for sale, and maybe even buy or at least pick up a card for a later online purchase.

What are the components of  a consistent aesthetic in your booth display?
It could be a decision about color, texture, motif, background drape, display props & displays, your floor, your cases, even your sign, the way you are dressed. Everything counts.


ACC Show 2013-electric-green-displayColor is a key indicator of aesthetic. In the image (left) from Jillian Moore at the 2013 ACC San Francisco. The  Lime Green wall says trend, young and irreverent. Every color is acceptable....but they all send a message.

Colors do affect purchasesColor is specific to a demographic consumer audience and type of purchasing. There is so much information about the science of color.  I'd recommend considering your color choice to fit your audience. A quick study online can find lots of information including "10 Colors That Increase Sales, and Why." 

 
Texture can also be an aesthetic choice. As one example that I have seen on many occasions, Japanese Rice paper says "low key, subdued" aesthetic.

Fobots-display-chalkboard-sign-aesthetic

Looking for a motif for your booth might come from your work as in this example by Fobots. Funky chalk board paint with hand drawn characters in white chalk have the same whimsy as the Fobots made from repurposed materials.

 

Fobots-black-drape


Background drapes should be background
 without distracting from the items on display. In the left photo, Fobots has a curtain that looked totally consistent with the booth aesthetic. I thought they must have even hand drawn on the fabric themselves.

Be cautious about a dark colored background. Dark colors to black drape need a tremendous amount of light to be a successful display, so consider lighting before taking this option.

 

 


Commercial-display-prop-finger-ringsDisplay props and racks often send a very "commercial" retail message.
"Purchased display props of any kind are synonymous with mall-style mass merchandising -- i.e. the wrong message in a craft booth about "handmade."  

Jonathan-spoons-lights-every-spoon-wood-displayCan you think about how to make your own display?
Can you make your own display from your medium?  Jonathan Spoons made their display entirely from burnt wood like their signature Niche Award winning spoon . They made their entire booth from wood, the same medium they use for all their spoons and utensils. Consistency created a strong aesthetic in the booth display.


Floor-white-tile-emiko-oyeFlooring in your booth such as tile or carpeting can create more of a defined space. It is kind of like crossing a threshold of graciousness into a space or environment, but it also becomes part of the aesthetic of your booth. In the photo left from emiko oye's booth at ACC San Francisco 2015, the raised dots in the floor tile echo the raised dots in the Legos she uses for her jewelry. Walking up to her display at ACC was a knock your socks off eye-catching experience.

 

Carpeting-grey-rentalIn contrast, the gray rental carpeting  (left) that I saw in several booths was not doing its job. It was not creating an aesthetic experience nor the effect of a special room. This image looks like a super boring picture doesn't it. Well,  it didn't look any better in person. Skip the gray rental carpet.  


Your booth sign and personal attire are two more considerations for creating a complete aesthetic experience in your booth.
These are topics for future posts.

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths   

 

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights


WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display


WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

 

 WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

  Wanted-Better-Display-6-iPATHETIC-aESTHETIC-6


 

 


WANTED Better Display - Offender # 5 Inconsistent Display Materials

A close cousin to the previous Display Offender #4, "Purchased Racks and Props", is "Inconsistent Display Materials." These offenders have the same DNA and often work together to rob booth displays of potential customers. 

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY5-inconsistent-display-materials2

David-Giuletti-booth-profileAt ACC San Francisco, I saw several booths with as many as 13 different display materials in one case or display. Rarely did I say anything to these display victims.

However the interaction with David Giuletti was different perhaps because we met at the Holiday Metal Arts Guild party last year. We entered into a conversation about display. David Giuletti said that "his booth was a work in progress." He wanted to hear what I had to say to improve his booth display for next time, and he bravely said I could use images of his cases in a post. 

Below are two  photos of his jewelry cases taken with my phone. These are not professional quality photos, but clearly show a number of examples of "inconsistent display materials." 

WP_20150802_140

Between this photo (above) and the next photo (below) I count the following materials:

  1. A whitish background lining the bottom of the case (not sure if it is paper or fabric;)
  2. Brown textured leather;
  3. A light colored wooded block (similar in color to the brown leather;)
  4. Dark brown wooden blocks in three different sizes and thicknesses;
  5. Off white textured leather in two different sizes;
  6. Purchased acrylic ring stands;
  7. Dark brown leatherette (?) rolled ring stand;
  8. A lighter colored wood block laying down with wide grain;
  9. Different grained wood block standing up with tight grain;
  10. White fabric drape (?) for the back and sides of the booth;
  11. White signs were a different color white from the back drape.

Layout in the cases is an additional problem.  The inconsistent layout of the earrings and the chains lack organization. 

WP_20150802_137

David Giuletti is a skilled engraver and metalworker. You only have to look at his work for a few minutes to see that quality -- but his display is lacking.  Unfortunately, I doubt that most customers will give the work in his cases that much time. They are going to walk right by because his booth display did not convey quality.

And though this post only featured David's inconsistent display, there were many other Offenders #5 at ACC San Francisco that had "Inconsistent Display Materials."  Examples (not shown) included:

  • Postcards used in the display (postcards are not display materials;)
  • Mismatched paper in different colors and textures;
  • Mismatched purchased display props that were not the same color;
  • Different color tablecloths (that had no relationship to the booth display colors;)
  • Mismatched signs.

To avoid display Offender #5, all the materials of your display props, display cases, drapes, and photos need to echo each other in both texture, color, materials, and aesthetic. The aesthetic aspect can be a matter of taste appropriate to your work but considering that you have one small booth, repeat this mantra "less is more." The fewer distractions from your work the better.

Below are some examples where the seller's display made an effort to provide consistency and coherent theme within the booth.

Davide Bigazzi used the same textured metal inside of his cases as on the front panel.Davide-Bigazzi-display-materials-booth
(Left) Davide Bigazzi;                          (center image) Looking at the back of his case;           (Right)  Sheet metal front to his case. 

Consistent use of display material may take on different approaches depending on what you are selling. Since Ealish Wilson was selling fabric wall sculpture, pillows and scarves, she had a custom wallpaper printed with her own design. It went up on the solid walls rented for the booth, but it seems likely that you could have your own fabric drapes printed with digital technologies if you didn't have solid panel backdrop.   Ealish-Wilson-wallpaper-backdrop copyThe image to the left is a portion of her booth.  The right half is a close-up of the wall paper. I am pulling back the edge of the paper so I could see that it was just like a big sheet of contact paper. (Ealish Wilson told me, " You have to be careful but you can indeed get it [the contact paper] back onto the backing paper to reuse it, because it's basically paper backed fabric it's more durable than paper ." )  Note how she used the contact paper/fabric to even conceal the seams in the rented wall panels. 

In another booth, Beverly Tadeu's display theme might be described as translucent white. She carries this theme through at many levels. Notice the white translucent scrim in front of her tables.
Beverly-Tadeu-booth-display
Her display props include translucent frosted acrylic on layers of white translucent paper and plastic.  In the photo below she pulled back the layers so I could see how she layered her table coverings. Beverly-Tadeu-translucent-layers

As shown (below) every display prop was frosted acrylic providing consistent theme to the display. This level of consistency is less distracting and helps the viewer pay more attention to the jewelry for sale.
Beverly-tadeu-acrylic-blocks
There are a few more details that I would like to point out because details are what creates the impression of a well thought out display. Every nuance sends the message to the consumer that the work is as well designed as the display. First the color of the drape matches closely the background of her photos. Note also the necklace on the right "panel" and the elevated bracelet for high visibility to the customer walking in the aisle.  Maybe they will stop to look. 
Beverly-Tadeu-sign
Beverly-Tadeu-white-chairBeverly even had a white chair. Yes your chair counts. Another color and the chair is a distraction. You definitely don't want your chair to take anything away from what your are selling. And what your booth display is selling is more than just a piece of jewelry, a jacket or a vase. It is selling a premium experience.

Since Tadeu's booth focused on white translucency, she had no place to hide her clutter.  I loved her invisible solution which she is willing to share with ASK Harriete readers. Shhhh.....

WP_20150802_102

Don't tell! Behind the photographic panel, cutting across the corner of her booth, Tadeu hid her clutter with a panel of fabric.

Clutter is a future Display Offender #8. Stay tuned.

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

 

 

Wanted-Better-Display-5-inconsistent-series
 

 


WANTED Better Display - Offender #4 Purchased Racks & Props

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY4-display-props

The use of commercial display racks and props just seems inconsistent in a craft show. Purchased display props of any kind are synonymous with mall-style mass merchandising -- i.e. the wrong message in a craft booth about "handmade."  Every aspect of your booth should resonate that what you are selling represents custom design, artist fabricated and sold by one maker.  The entire booth design and aesthetic are supposed to reflect YOU as a unique, special, amazing artist/ maker....   So why, oh why would an average, off the shelf, mediocre display unit from a catalog occupy your booth?   

For me, this is an issue with no compromise.  Perhaps I should be more sympathetic to the use of commercial displays.  Perhaps people are sold the idea that they are professional or neutral solutions, but to me, it sends a message that you're not quite a confident, unique artist/maker. Don't you understand who you really are and what you are selling? It makes me grimace and grind my teeth!!!!!!!


Don't-use-White-display-propJewelry is a common victim of this display offender.
It's taking a plain vanilla display prop as if from a commercial jewelry store and using it to display your artist-made jewelry.  At a craft show, at that special moment of interacting with potential buyers, you are trying to differentiate your limited production or one of a kind jewelry from the local jewelry store.  So what is signaled by an average, banal display prop purchased from a catalog?

Don't-use-commercial-finger-rings

Wrong message.  Sure these are all fine for a jewelry store or consignment shop, not for an artist-made craft. 

 

 

 

 


Garment-district-with-chrome-rack

An equal opportunity display offender is commercial chrome clothing racks. These are too similar to the utilitarian clothing racks used in the garment district to wheel around mass manufactured clothing on the street. 

 

Bed-bath-chrome-display-rack

A purchased clothing rack sends the wrong message to the customer. Serviceable for working in your studio, but if you can buy that display rack at Bed, Bath and Beyond, it won't say my clothing is special for a craft show display booth.


Don't-use-grid-display-for-boothsThese were just a few examples. Craft shows too often exhibit many other display offenders including grids that clip together, or other "pop-up" mechanisms.  A good rule of thumb is, If the display is purchased from a commercial catalog, don't buy it.   With a little effort, artists and craft persons should be able to "make" a display that attracts the eye and says "think different." 

Since I did not take pictures of display offenders, let's look at a few successful display solutions for jewelry and clothing.


Frosted-acrylic-block-Beverly-TadaeuSimplicity without clutter is the current trend for the best art jewelry display Beverly Tadeu grouped work on frosted acrylic. Prices were written nearby. (More on her booth display in a later post.) 

 

 

Custom-display-Julia-TurnerJulia Turner created some height for her jewelry display with custom stands to hang necklaces and pendants.

For more valuable items she covered them with a clear acrylic vitrine to avoid commercial jewelry cases.

Her display was open and well lit.  White drapes looked elegant and clean -- consistent with her work. 

 

 


Simple-display-Emiko-oyeemiko oye grouped work by color. Variable height created a more interesting display. Only one of each piece is on display Extra inventory is contained within the chest of drawers seen in the upper left corner.

 

 

Paper-layout-melissa-finelliMelissa Finelli created a layout on plain brown paper. The drawing helped her keep track of whether jewelry had been picked up by the customer.



For clothing, I would like to feature the booth display by Amy Nguyen (shown below.)
Display of artist made clothing by Amy Nguyen uses a custom designed display.

 The booth had a custom hanging system using black pipe across the top of the pipe and drape.  

Amy-Nguyen-custom-clothing-displayFrom the top bar she used wire and chain running through black tubes for a straight, linear appearance. They told me the slim lengthwise black pipe was re-purposed from "abstracta cases", but I think you could consider black plastic irrigation tubing or other less expensive options created yourself. 

Notice also that the black tubing is different lengths which creates another level of dynamic interest. Long garments can hang higher. Short garments can hang from longer tubes. 

All the hangers match, and they even seem to have a longer "stylized" hook at the top of each hanger. This is just another small detail that says "I am special."

IN SUMMARY: 
Every detail of your booth display counts toward the overall impression for the customer. Every artistic nuance of a designer's eye invested in your booth sends a subliminal message to your customer. This work is very special. Buy me.

  

Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

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WANTED Better Display - Offender #3 TOO MUCH STUFF On Display

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TOO MUCH STUFF! Yeah, wwaaayyy too much stuff on display is a visual offense. A real downer . . . especially to see multiples of the same thing on display.

This is just wrong at a craft show, . . .  but not at the mall. Why?

You know why.

At a craft show the audience is looking for what YOU have made, i.e. "handmade." While many items for sale may not be one of a kind, they certainly are not manufactured by the 1,000's or millions. People are coming to buy directly from the artists or makers who have created work that reflect the unique abilities of one maker, not a corporation.

At the ACC show I walked past one booth with 30 identical pendants hanging from a display on top of their display case.  What in the world is the point of that? The illusion of buying one of a kind or limited production vanishes on the spot. 

Multiples of the same item send the wrong message. It doesn't say artist-made, hand-made, or limited-production. It doesn't even say special.

Since a craft booth is maintained by the maker, if a pendant is purchased, you can replenish your display from inventory in a few minutes. This is not Macy's selling 100's of the same thing. 

Only one of an item should be displayed

The same principle goes with displaying too much inventory, over all. There were a few booth displays that had so much inventory on display it was overwhelming. Quoting one attendee: "There were a few booths I didn't go into because I couldn't deal with feeling overwhelmed. It is hard enough to go to the show and look at so much work, but if a booth felt  crowded, I couldn't deal with the quantity of merchandise."  

I did not take photos of the "TOO MUCH STUFF" offender booths to avoid embarrassment, but in contrast, here is a prime example of a selective and thoughtfully presented display. 

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Among many booths with artist clothing, the display in the booth of  Amy Nguyen 
was my favorite.  Notice how carefully the jackets are organized by color. Each jacket hangs evenly spaced so there is room to look without even touching. The large photo in the corner frames the jackets with the glace of the eyes toward the clothing.

The clothing designer did not put out too much merchandise. It  might not surprise you that this was a deliberate decision on her part.

clothing  by Amy Nguyen on display at ACC San FranciscoWhen I admired their booth and asked if I could take a picture because I loved their display, my comment opened an entire conversation about how careful they were not to let their display get too crowded. They understood that their work was special and they wanted the display to convey that message.

They also had plenty of light directed on the jackets (which was the topic of the previous post).

Before concluding this post, notice also that the booth for Amy Nguyen did not use any commercial clothing racks.  This leads us to our next Display Offender #4 Commercial Display Racks & Purchased Display. 
Clothing-display-Amy-Nguyen

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Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

 


WANTED Better Display - Display Offender #2: Not Enough Lights

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-2-lights
The #2 Display Offender -- Not Enough Lights.
 These days there is no excuse for this display offender. The options for energy efficient LEDs and low heat lighting are expanding. 

The positive impact of effective lighting in your booth can be remarkable and rewarding. Yet during my visit to the ACC show, there were many booths with inadequate lights. And when inadequate lights combine with black drapes (as mentioned in the previous post), the effect was devastating. (I did not take pictures of the victim booths with poor lighting.) 

Look at any department store display and you will see that the merchandise is brilliantly lit using different kinds of lighting. Effective lighting can include both general lighting and spots.

If you think my insistance for effective lighting is expecting too much, consider the fact that consumers are accustomed to the best quality merchandising every time they go to the local mall. Lighting can even become a signature element of some high end shopping venues or restaurant dining. Poor quality overhead lighting correlates to bargain clothing shops and fast food. 

Aelish-Wilson-spot-lightsLighting that highlights your work on a wall attracts the customer into the booth. In the photo (left) Aelish Wilson used spots to light both her name and the fabric art on the wall.

 

 

 

Fobots-individual-cubbiesFobots by Amy Flynn integrated lighting into each recess of her display. This is very similar to how high end designer handbags has lighting installed (but concealed) in the store display.

 

Fobots-display-cubbies-with-lightingFobots (Found Object Robots) display also functions as a multi-purpose traveling case for storage that fits right into her van. 

 

 

Emiko-oye-lightbulbsLighting can also be an effective accent as in this photo (left) from a previous post from 2013 Display Ideas Remarkably Effective . Here emiko oye used hanging colored lightbulbs in her booth display to catch the eye. These light bulbs are not providing lumens but do catch the eye of visitors encouraging the curious to look in further.  

 

 

 

Jonathan-Spoons-custom-lighing

In other examples of superb lighting at ACC 2015, Jonathan Spoons took commercial lighting and modified the arms to match his booth aesthetic, lighting every utensil in the front of his booth. (Spoonwood, Inc. also won the ACC San Francisco Booth Award.) This demonstrated that expensive lighting fixtures aren't necessary, but savvy planning and preparation can win the day. Jonathan-spoons-lights-every-wooden spoon


Lim-table-lampIn her booth, Valerie Mitchell showed me an exquisite LED light fixture she arranged to highlight her jewelry laying on the table.

The Lumina light fixture (left ) has an arm that can swivel, rotating on it's minimalist stand. An additional arm can be added to the other side. (This is the light manufacture's photo but if I get an image from Valerie Mitchell I will add it to this post.)  

 

 

Lim-c-under-surface-table-lampThis light is also available as a counter mounted version. "The “L” shaped arm discreetly conceals an array of high-output LEDs with two intensity level settings, and it utilizes a magnetic attachment system for effortless adjustment."

I only showed this light as an example. It may not fit the aesthetic of your booth, but I loved the minimalist design that does not distract from the work. Great lighting can truly enhance your display.

One final point regarding booth lighting is to be sure that your lights do not shine into your customers' eyes. I noticed that several booths had poorly positioned overhead lighting and case lighting that was literally a blinding light and very unpleasant shopping experience.

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Previous Posts in the series WANTED Better Display:

Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE 

WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths


WANTED Better Displays - Display Offender #1 Black Drape Booths

WANTED-BETTER-DISPLAY-1-black-drape
Retailing is a highly competitive market -- especially at a craft show. Not only are you competing with every other seller at the show, but also all the other demands on the customer's pocket, i.e. rent, tonight's dinner, or this summer's vacation. They don't NEED what you are selling.

I'd go so far as to say that most craft show attendees intend to only come & look. The craft show is entertainment and they are not committed to buying anything -- unless something really stands out and strikes their fancy.

This is where your booth design and display plays a pivotal role in the consumer's purchase. As mentioned in the previous post your booth is the first thing that people see.  If you think of selling as a step by step process, your display is the bases of their first decision whether they will look more  deeply at your art/craft. You can't sell anything unless the potential  buyer diverts from "just looking" and chooses to walk into your booth.


ACC-black-drape-like-caveAfter spending hours at ACC in San Francisco, I observed that the most fatal display offender was the foreboding dark black booths drapes.  Black pipe and drape is the funeral parlor "valley of death" for a craft show display. It is the Darth Vader of "dark side" display offenders. Black drapes suck the life out of even the most colorful craft. Black drapes behind beautiful black jackets are retail flat liners.

There is no pardon for black drapes. It is not sophisticated. On the contrary it was depressing. Of all the booths at ACC, their was one booth with black drape that was O.K. because the light colored wood furniture booth stood out with great lighting and the booth was at  least double wide (avoiding a dark cramped feeling.) 

Every other booth with black drapes looked like a cave.
The smaller the booth, the worse it felt. I am not exaggerating. Even though Fort Mason has fabulous ambient light with extensive sky lights, large windows and a high white ceiling, the black drape booths sucked the energy right out of the booth space and the craft work.  Fort-Mason-Windows

 

Booth-layout-narrow-gauntlet-over-commitmentThe claustrophobic affect of black drapes was worse if the booth layout had a narrow alley trapping the customer in a gauntlet of scary over-commitment.

 

 

Even brightly colored work could not resuscitate interest when so much black in a small booth extinguished the inadequate lighting.   

This leads us to the next "Display Offender #2 - Not Enough Lights" for tomorrow's post. 
P.S.No booths with black drapes were photographed at ACC San Francisco 2015 to protect the perpetrators of "the #1" display offenses. 


Your Display is An Invitation To Walk Into Your Booth or Walk Right By BYE

Summer 2015,  I went to the San Francisco ACC show with the express purpose of studying the booths and figuring out (if possible) what elements contribute to a successful booth.  I was curious if there was a way to diagnose what was a successful display and what was not effective in a craft show booth. Could a few simple principles be gleaned and generally applied? Alternatively, are there display issues to avoid? 

WP_20150802_030Granted, the difficulty of transporting and setting up a booth in a strange city can be a challenge, but most everyone is under the same time constraints for set up, needing effective low-cost booth designs, and the challenge of creating a booth display that is an appropriate aesthetic for their craft work.

Harriete-photographing-a-boothAfter spending several hours looking around and talking to many of the artists, I gathered lots of topics to discuss that are practically exploding out of my head.  There are numerous ideas that can be implemented successfully and recognizable "display enemies" to avoid.

Several makers at the ACC show allowed me to take photos of their booths to share their great booth ideas. And one super brave individual was willing to let me take photos of his booth display problems. He knew his booth was a “work in progress.” Clearly, his booth display did not reflect the quality of his work.

Over and over I saw problems in the display of craft work that could have been rectified on the spot, rearranged, or edited to better effect.  Just imagine if a "Tim Gunn" display professional gave a styling critique before the show opened improving display, retail sales and the quality of the show overall.  A few booth edits would have improved many displays to "Make it Work" much better.

craft show booth by Julia Turner at ACC san FranciscoA craft show display should be an invitation for the customers to walk into the booth. That is the crux of this series.

It is a terrible shame to see quality work in a booth display that clearly does not present the work favorably -- sometimes I even saw superb work with a really poor display. That is the greatest shock!

Pipe and drape becomes a dull and repetitive craft show display structureIt breaks my heart to see the negative impact of a bad display diminish a maker’s chance for success, yet that is the impact of poorly designed retail display.  A poor display is an excuse for potential customers to walk right past the booth.  

In contrast, a great display is a magnet attracting the customer into the booth. Engaging the viewer to look -- or even to buy your work.

This series of posts will discuss other issues regarding booth displays.  To keep it lively, Alison Antelman and I agreed to go to the ACC show separately and prepare our separate observations to debate and discuss what seemed to work well.

Stay tuned to this 2015 series on craft show displays starting with specific display enemies. 

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The Posture of Craft - Learning to Stretch

Posture-of-Craft-Learning-Stretch

My first job out of college was doing jewelry repair. This experience made numerous lasting impressions on me, some not particularly positive. For one, I noticed that all the employees had a common trait -- bad posture. I mean really bad posture. A permanent hunched over posture due to constantly looking down at their work.

I began to notice that this trait was pervasive throughout hand media.  It was at every place that I worked at over the years. Bad posture, often combined with overweight from sitting and little exercise, seems like a chronic problem in all craft media.

CircuitTrainingClasslighterAt the age of 35, after having two children, I realized that exercise was essential to healthy living and creativity. It was a radical change in my thinking as up until then, I thought a dedicated artist didn't have to exercise.  Since then, regular exercise developed into an obsession. Along the way, I've become a certified fitness instructor leading five exercise classes a week and motivated to get my 10,000 steps a day.  

The-Chair-Rethinking-Culture-BodyPerhaps because of this background, any discussion about back pain catches my attention front and center. The issues surrounding prolonged sitting are finally surfacing in the news and awareness is growing in the general population. As surprising as it may seem, chairs and extended sitting are hard on your body. My concern is that this awareness has not permeated sufficiently into the craft community.

From hobbyist to professional, craft work may be exhausting as an activity, but it is not exercise, and it is having a negative impact on our bodies.  Sustained sitting is bad for our backs, knees, and hips and a better-designed chair will not fix the problem. Exercise and stretching need to become as much a part of our daily routines as eating or sleeping if we want to be able to continue creating with a healthy mind and body.

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_CoverThis is why I applaud the efforts of Raissa Bump to bring more awareness to this issue. She is advocating for stretching and movement within the studio with Reset. 

She has agreed to share one of her stretches for today's post.

"Use the following stretch to counterbalance and relieve strains caused by poor posture and general stress."

 

 

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_01

With both feet on the floor,

Sit comfortably either fully back in your chair or at its edge.


Put left hand under left sit bone,
palm down, fingertips pointing toward tailbone .

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_02

Reach straight up with right arm.

 

Inhale

 

 

 

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Exhale.

Lean head to right.

Bend right elbow so fingertips are alongside jaw line. 
Keep lifting chest up as you allow your breath to flow along the side of your neck.

Stay here for a few breaths. 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_04

Lower head down another couple of inches,

Take a few more breaths carefully moving into a new area of tightness in your neck.

Hold position for 3 – 5 breaths.

 

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_05

Release overhead arm.

Roll chin to chest.

Release the hand you are sitting on.

Leave head hanging.

Take a breath into neck and upper back.
Give yourself a self-massage.

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_Images_06

Place entire hand on forehead, inhale – lift head up

 

 

 

 

 

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_thumb

Repeat neck stretch on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Join me for fitness at Belmont Planet Granite as my guest for one of my classes. Contact me by email in advance. 


Drought, Water, Grass, Art, and Personal Observations

GRASS-art-droughtOver 15 years ago, I watched a neighbor rip out the low maintenance landscaping in front of their house and put in a lawn instead.  I was shocked that their idea of a perfect front yard had to be a manicured green lawn.  The lawn-care industry had so deeply ingrained that idea through advertising as a staple of the domestic environment.

That incident provided inspiration for me to make a series of sculptures and a video about the environmental impact of grass lawns. blades of grass depicted the green grass lawn

Now here in California we are in the midst of a serious drought. For the first time people are realizing just how much water lawns consume and the environmental issues surrounding lawns that compete for our drinking water.  

Blades of grass as a sculpture

It has now become "the thing to do" for houses with grass in front to have parched looking lawns.

Blades
The water battles here in the west have a long history. With increasing population and agricultural demands, this problem isn't going away.  Removal of grass lawns is becoming the norm and more water-wise solutions are considered as permanent replacements.

Gainsborough-Painting-Mr-Mrs-Andrews with green lawn.

The modern lawn was inspired by the 18th century landscape architecture of grand estates in England on which nature and humans were perceived to peacefully coexist. The green lawn dependent on a mild, wet climate was transplanted to North America despite the harsher climates and diversity of vegetation beyond the American East Coast.   

Blades of grass art sculpture about the environmental impact of lawns.In America, we plant lawns in the deserts, forests, and prairie. We pour on chemicals, and emit tons of pollutants with mowers and blower equipment.

The grass \'gras\ video (below) shows the fabrication, assembly and meaning behind the lawn-size installation (9' x 9') with 32,400 blades of grass cut from post consumer tin cans.

View all the grass sculptures on my website.

The installation travels in 19 boxes.