HTTP to HTTPS and the future security of the web.

 Http-https
Recently I got a really scary warning from Google about my website. It said:

 
"Chrome will show security warnings about this website..."
 

It continued: 

"Starting October 2017, Chrome (version 62) will show a “NOT SECURE” warning when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages in Incognito mode.

The following URLs on your site include text input fields (such as < input type="text" > or < input type="email" >) that will trigger the new Chrome warning. Review these examples to see where these warnings will appear, so that you can take action to help protect users’ data. This list is not exhaustive."

Internet security is a big issue these days. I certainly did not want my website visitors to see this and feel my website was not secure!  This warning is enough to throw me into a nauseous spasm of internet inadequacy. Most of my silver repair business is with people emailing me through my website. None of us can afford to lose potential customers.


HttpsHTTPS is the future of the internet.  If you look at all the major retailing sites, they have migrated from the original HTTP address to the newer and more secure HTTPS.  Sticking my head in the sand (or retreating to my metalsmithing studio) would not fix this problem.  I could not go out and water my plants or snack my way through this problem.

https is also the reason for this post. I checked a random but broad selection of artist's, and maker's websites to see if this post would be relevant. Many had the old http prefix which makes them "not secure" in the current internet standards.  I even found the http prefix on art organization's websites. This is a serious issue.  

Ultimately, the solution came a lot easier than I initially imagined.  The "Help" contact on SquareSpace, told me the 1, 2, 3 steps to fix the problem. I am most grateful for their chat assistance. 

Take steps to keep your web presence secure.

Another security issue I noticed on artists' websites is that they posted their email. WARNING: 
Do not post your email online. Bots will capture your email and send you unsolicited email. Instead, provide a link to an email program or have a contact form instead.

Is your website working for you? Is it establishing the web presence and visibility for your work?  If you can't be found on the internet, do you even exist?  Well, not much in the commerce and visibility of the web.   

Harriete 

PS. Are you guessing about the ideal size for images on social networks? Here  is a guide for Social media image sizes in 2017


D.I. Y. Photo Quality Compared to Professional Pics

Truth-cu700
The accessibility and ubiquity of digital cameras and the Internet have both good and bad sides.
  The ability to pick up a phone and take a picture allows everyone to produce a photo. Work in progress can be easily documented and shared directly from the studio. A  Pinterest board or Instagram can represent your work.  Or does it?  When does easy and instant imaging mislead makers into thinking that they have done all they need to do? 

I've been thinking about this a lot recently.  Every phone brand brags about more and more pixels -- Is that all there is?   

Berman-Harriete-Estel-TRUTH-comparison

In April, 2017,  opportunities from CNN and KQED required quick access to images of work in progress that could only come from my phone's digital camera.  A few weeks ago, I had a chance to compare photos side-by-side from my phone and from my professional photographer, Philip Cohen.

Above and below are a couple of examples with my phone image on left and Philip's image on the right.

Alternate-Facts-Bracelet-comparison
Photo (left) by Harriete of bracelet in progress.                Photo (right) finished bracelet by Philip Cohen
   Alternative Facts Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman  

O.K., passable on the left, but better on the right.  Then a further hurdle of photographing "Fabricating TRUTH" Fruit Crate with the three bracelets -- an impossible shot with a small digital camera or phone.  Lighting, the background, and an extended depth of field with the precise focus all become critical factors that an amateur quality, consumer phone camera can not "auto focus".
HB-6001_Print-WebFile
I am convinced that professional quality photos are essential, but what is your opinion? 

If the quality and range of digital capabilities are discernable, what are the consequences to your art or craft future when photos are good enough ....  or are they?

Dave Yoas recently invested in professional quality photography for his artwork. He realized that he had been tolerating "good enough" and wanted to improve his images.  In the following photos, Dave agreed to share his D.I.Y. photos (left) compared to the photo magic of professional photographer Philip Cohen (right).  

Bearly-Dreaming-comparison
Photo (left) taken by Dave Yoas.                                                     Photo (right) taken by Philip Cohen
"Bearly Dreaming" by Dave Yoas

Dave Yoas told me that he was using a digital camera with a tripod to take his own photos. Those are good steps.  But you may not be conscious of the D.I.Y. quality without seeing the comparison.  Notice how the colors seem so much more vibrant in the professional photos. And the whites are whiter. 
Dames-N-Flames-comparison

Photo (left) taken by Dave Yoas.                                                     Photo (right) taken by Philip Cohen
"Dames N Flames" by Dave Yoas

In the side by side examples above, I formatted the image comparison so that the objects were close to the same size, but the comparison between the D.I.Y. of Dave Yoas and a professional photo goes further.  In the next side by side comparison, note how the object is framed within the photograph.  The photo by Dave Yoas fills the frame of the photo close to the edge. In contrast in the photo by Philip Cohen (right) there is more breathing room around the object rather than crowded to the edge.

Good-Ol-Daze-comparison
Photo (left) by Dave Yoas.                                                                 Photo Credit (right) Philip Cohen
"Good ol' Daze" by Dave Yoas

This extra margin of space surrounding the object is very practical for posting on social networks where cropping may be outside of your control. The extra margin of space within the frame is also visually more comfortable. In the photo below you will see what happens in the example photo (left) when the frame of the image feels as if it is cutting off part of the object. Cropping the object too close to the edge of the photo feels crowded and cheap, kind of like a crowded exhibition where the work doesn't have room to feel important. 

Mid-Century-Mojo-comparison
Photo (left) taken by Dave Yoas.                             Photo (right) taken by Philip Cohen.
"Mid-Century Mojo" by Dave Yoas
Mid-Century-Mojo-Philip-Cohen-CU
"Mid-Century Mojo" by Dave Yoas                                        Photo Credit: Philip Cohen


Again, the colors in the professional quality photography are much more vibrant. 

Close-ups can also be a critical component to sharing your work online or in a juried opportunity.
It gives the viewer more information about the texture, materials or techniques.  Dave Yoas told me that he thought the details by Philip Cohen were images that he was incapable of capturing on his own.

There are many tricks available to the professional photographer.
 Highlights from a shiny or reflective surface can be fixed in Photoshop by the professional. 

In the photo below, Philip Cohen photographed each object with the same lighting, and then assembled the triptych in PhotoShop. This avoids that difficulty of finding one large wall big enough for displaying all three artworks at the same time.  The lighting can be consistent and even over all three artworks avoiding highlights and dark corners when photographing a large wall.  

What-every-boy-wants
"What every boy wants" by Dave Yoas                                      Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

I am convinced that professional quality photos are essential for anyone who is truly serious about their art or craft. The ease and convenience of your digital camera or cell phone are amazing, but they are not a substitute for professional quality images.  The consequences of sub-quality photography may be costing you more than a professional photographer.  

I asked Dave Yoas why he decided to spend (no, I mean, invest) in professional quality photography? 

"To tell you the truth, I have spent “many” hours trying to capture the “essence" of my work. All the books and tutorials, all the equipment, light diffusers, and hours lost were not worth it. Philip's work is a good investment." After buying the equipment and spending the better part of a day in photography, the resulting images were still "not representing my work."  

Yoas also mentioned that it has become increasingly rare to walk into galleries these days to show our work. "Everything is electronic." The photographic images represent our work. 

What are your thoughts about professional photography?

Harriete

Related Posts about photography for art and craft:

Eliminate Glare in Photographic Images with Digital Magic - A Photographic Tutorial by Philip Cohen

“Lighting Shiny Surfaces for Quality Photographic Images” by Philip Cohen

Photographing Your Artwork? Bounce Cards Add Light and Fill in Deep Shadows

Documentation of the TRUTH

Vision of the Artist, Vision of the Photographer

GUIDE to PROFESSIONAL QUALITY IMAGES 

Working with Digital Images Effectively

And a whole lot more posts:

 


Documentation of the TRUTH

Images have always been the indispensable mode of communication for artists and makers.   With the Internet, the power of the image travels much further.  Photographic images especially share one person's perspective of reality with the world. In recent years, more than ever, images convey an experience and inform an audience through social media such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  The value of documentation with images sometimes supersedes the ephemeral event.  For makers, having images ready to transmit whenever needed, can be a key to success.  

During the months that I worked on TRUTH and the related bracelets, I took documentary photos. The studio shots brought great visibility to this work through CNN and KQED (local PBS station.) Even though those photos weren't professional quality it permitted me to participate in the political commentary of the moment.  Despite the ease and convenience of taking photos with the amazingly versatile smart phone cameras, you want your final documentation photos to be professional quality. It would have been much less expensive to simply accept the in situ, in studio shots, but I know that professional quality photography needs a professional photographer with professional equipment and professional skills. For me, that is Philip Cohen, for more than 28-years and counting.

TRUTH-photosession-back-view

When I arrived to pick up my artwork at Phil's, I took some photos of his photo set up.  I find the behind-the-scenes set up insightful. What is outside the camera frame is rarely shown and it reveals the tricks that a top notch photographer keeps handy.

TRUTH-photosession-light-angles

Of course, the lights and the camera are on a tripod.  That is step one for a good shot...and we rarely do that with our phones. That reminds me that a stand for my phone might improve my quick shots.  Note that the lights shine up into the umbrella for a bright diffuse light.  Buying those umbrellas doesn't cost that much, and they can be really handy for reflecting light.

TRUTH-photosession-front-view

Notice the large cardboard covered with aluminum foil. This reflects the light in a bright diffuse way, and by tilting it up or down it can reflect more light exactly where you want it. This works even if you don't have photo lights.  In the photo below, you can see this same cardboard from another angle.

 TRUTH-photosession-2

Note also the small cardboard with aluminum foil in the front of the set-up. If you look in the other photos you will see it is propped up on an easel right outside of the frame of the finished photo.

HB-6001_Print-WebFile

Fabricating TRUTH by Harriete Estel Berman   Photo by Philip Cohen Photography. 

In my next post,  I will compare my quick cell phone photographs to those by a professional for your review & opinion. 

Related  Posts:

Fabricating TRUTH with a Web of Lies

Fabricating TRUTH - Speaking our own mettle

Guide to Professional Quality Images

Working with Digital Images Effectively


Fabricating TRUTH with a Web of Lies

Ever since the January presidential inauguration, I have been repeatedly dazed by both shock and dismay.  In addition to stepping up my political activism significantly, I have been channeling my fears and frustrations into "Fabricating TRUTH" along with three new bracelets. Today's post shows the final steps for one of the bracelets, "Web of Lies". 

Harriete Estel Berman soldering Web of Lies
Harriete Estel Berman soldering the decorative edge to Web of Lies Bracelet


Confidentially, I must confess that the final steps of finishing any artwork fill me with anxiety -- so much concern that I sometimes even delay finishing. Does that happen to you?

Will the final results be equal to my original imagination?  I always find the end of a project scary. I am worried that the last steps will ruin weeks to months of work.  

For these bracelets, I never made any drawings or models.  I've never made anything similar. In the beginning, it was more of a concept with little idea about how I'd even construct each bracelet. It was all in my head, nothing more than a mental image.


Gary Roepelle at Monsen PlatingDespite my concerns, I pushed forward.  

Because I imagined that the "Web of Lies" bracelet should be gold plated, I had to find a plating shop which is becoming increasingly difficult to find. But instead of a problem, this adventure led to a surprising highlight.  A fellow silversmith, Gary Reopelle, who owns Monsen Plating in Berkeley, CA, agreed to plate my "Web of Lies" bracelet.

Gary is a rare breed.  At 76 years young and tough, there aren't many silversmiths and plating shops anymore. A rare breed in another respect because there surely aren't' many Republicans in Berkeley either -- but we were highly aligned with our hand skills, silver repair work.

Gold-plating-solution-Rio-GrandeThe gold plating solution is cyanide-based and has to be shipped with a hazardous materials surcharge, so this would cost close to $200.  But it was really important to the concept of this bracelet to have it gold plated.

Trump-in-gold-ballroom

The gold plating on the Web of Lies Bracelet was an important symbolic component for the bracelet because Trump properties and branding ostentatiously uses the appearance of gold, (even if it is plastic or paint) as a symbolic motif. The superficial gold is a pretense of value, so thin it is essentially fake.  

If you aren't familiar with the Trump brand, this photo (left) is a stellar example of the prevailing decorative motif. 

 

 

  


Electro-cleaningElectro-cleaning is always the first step for all plating. Removing the buffing compound, fingerprints, and every speck of dust is essential for good plating. This was followed by a rinse with a hose. All the waste water (even from the cleaning tank) is considered hazardous waste and has to be disposed of in compliance with environmental protection standards. It costs over $600 to dispose of one tank of "rinse water." No wonder plating in so expensive. 

 

 


IMG_20170614_132736830The photo (left) shows the Web of Lies bracelet with a nickel plate. It looked fabulous already. Nickel plating has a hard smooth bright finish.  There was an intermediate step of a copper plating (before this) for great adhesion of the plating. Each of the plating steps took only minutes as the shape of the bracelet was easy to handle.  Nickel plate is necessary so the gold plating does not alloy with the brass construction or copper plating underneath. 

Gold-plating-web-lies

The photo (left) shows the gold plating solution. The gold molecules in solution will plate on the bracelet.  This is as much skill as intuition. Gary kept adjusting the volts and amps to get it to plate just right (shown below). So exciting! 

Gold plating..... 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjusting-reostat-plating

In the photo below you can see Web of Lies gold plated.

Gold-plated-web-of-lies

I want to extend my sincere gratitude to Gary Ropelle, owner and master at Monsen Plating for his skill and generosity. He and I are in the same increasingly rarefied silver repair business. He has a lifetime collection of hammers (left) and forming tools (right) that made me jealous.  A lifetime of accumulation for working with metal.
Hammers-Monsen-Plating  Steel-shapes-Monsen-plating

 

 

 

 

 

Monsen Plating also had another feature that I greatly admire .... space for tools and equipment. 

Tools-Monsen-plating

In contrast, my studio space is squeezed into a two car garage.  Whether doing silver repair or artwork, I often dream of having a gigantic studio in my next lifetime. In the meantime, I am working as fast as I can.

Stay tuned for my next post with behind-the-scenes photos of Philip Cohen's professional photography of TRUTH and the three bracelets. 

Harriete 

 


Remaking a Maker

James Carter metalwork photo credit by Hap SakwaMetalwork  by James Carter 
Photo Credit: Hap Sakwa

Recently, the noted jewelry photographer, Hap Sakwa wrote to me with a question about reinventing his future. With his permission, I thought that others may appreciate "listening in" to our conversation....so here it is.



Question from Hap Sakwa: 

Hi Harriete, 

Sakwa 1970'sBowl by Hap Sakwa circa 1970's

Along the way, we've met a few times.  You may remember me as a jewelry photographer.  But, once upon a time, I was a 'maker'.  Now I'm a little of both, but more interested in 'making' again and of course the difficult task of selling.  I visited your website, as I knew we were kindred spirits - 3D cultural anthropologists. 

Sakwa sculpture1980'sSculpture by Hap Sakwa circa 1980's

So, here I am "Ask Harriete". Where does a reinvented artist show his work in a virtual world, where galleries seem to have been replaced by coffee shops?  I naively thought I could spring back to life like the flowers in the Carrizo Plain, using my previous resume as a bona fide artist with 'museum credentials' to launch my 3rd incarnation. HA!  It's like starting over......... scratch history. 

Thanks for looking and any thoughts would be very welcome.

Hap Sakwa

Reply from Harriete:

Sakwa 1990's 2Teapot by Hap Sakwa 1990's

Hap,
Of course, I remember you and your work. You always took absolutely superb photos. 

Yes, in not too many years, the entire art /craft world has changed, or at least that is my impression.

I can certainly understand the sense of finding so much changed and becoming discouraged. I used to think that I knew the "recipe" for selling my art -- now all the ingredients are different, especially the traditional ingredients for art/craft fairs, wholesale, and high-end retail.  

Sadly, fewer and fewer galleries remain, especially those that would say "make the best you can and our job is to sell it".  Those days are gone, and I don't want the pressure to make "art for less" or do another theme show for less. 

Art-Nouveau-candlesticks-polished

Consequently, I have changed my approach in the last 3-4 years. I focus more on my silver repair business, Berman Fine Silverwork , for revenue. I do not compromise on quality. I do not work cheap. I prefer to keep my business small and manageable so that I can work on my artwork in between.

My artwork has to squeeze in between all my other responsibilities and jobs. That is nothing new but I make and create exactly, I mean exactly, what I want to make. No consideration at all to what will sell. Too much 'stuff" out there in the marketplace is focused on low cost. But it is extremely difficult to compete on price alone when so much is manufactured or even "made by hand" by third world labor.   Certainly, for me, it is quite unfulfilling to just produce work that is cheap or not aligned with my values.

Web-of-lies-bracelet"Web of Lies" Bracelet
 Harriete Estel Beman

I do recommend to follow your heart because you never know what may come your way.  For example, I recently felt compelled to prioritize efforts related to my political concerns as a result of the 45 administration. Much to my surprise, this different focus opened new networks and contacts and a couple of publicity coups with great visibility arose.  These were great opportunities. Not many artists or makers get to have their work featured on CNN.  I am very excited, but it was entirely unexpected.  I didn’t know anything would come of it. But as is my habit, I actually had photos of my work in progress and was able to show this work even though it wasn’t complete. Guess the old Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared." is working.


My secrets for success are not so secret:

  • A website dedicated to your artwork is a must. 
  • A social networking presence is also expected. Yes, at least four or five or more major social networking sites. Mix it up. Experiment. Think of it as brain exercise. 
  • Interacting within the social network to some extent is necessary -- but constant self-promotion with a "look at this work" is not cool. It has to be more like a "sharing" rather than a request. This may seem like a small difference but that is actually huge in the reception.
  • Focus on making work that is at least "good" to "great" first.
  • Look for opportunities without any expected outcome.
  • Create visibility by providing resources or opportunities for others. You could create some visibility with your new work, by offering “tutorials” on how to photograph work with a cell phone and achieve good results. That is just a suggestion.  I'll bet you can think of tons of ideas. Of course, there is no substitute for professional photography, but that has to be when the work is done and ready for the big world.

 

 

Vase, Hap Sakwa  circa 1990'sVase Hap Sakwa circa 1990's
Photo Credit: Hap Sakwa


REPLY from  Hap Sakwa: 

Hey, Harriete Berman............ thank you so much for a speedy reply and a great and thorough letter........... although, I must add that it was profoundly sad and disappointing. It's like starting over......... scratch history.

There was one piece of advice you offered that really rang my bell........... Do not make work to sell. Make work that is good to great first. The other 'stuff', I'm working on, but it's tedious and uninteresting. I do understand the requirements of the digital age, so I will do what needs to be done. I intended to struggle forward, making what I want and reaching out, trying to find an audience. I'm even doing the spring Open Studio here in Sonoma County. Even if the work doesn't sell.......... I want someone to see it. 

Sculpture Hap Sakwa 2017Sculpture by Hap Sakwa 2017
Photo Credit Hap Sakwa

I won't keep you but wanted to say thanks for your thoughts and advice.
Obviously not encouraging, but valuable wisdom.

Hap
Hap Sakwa Art 




Fabricating TRUTH - Speaking our own mettle

IMG_20170320_155059415_HDR truth fruit crate label
Since the Inauguration, the political situation seems to turn every day a bit sideways or upside down.
After the Women's
March, I felt paralyzed.  Truth, which I thought was an absolute concept with a clear definition, was being repeatedly perverted, dismissed as fake, and replaced by fabricated alternative facts.

Then I realized that a piece that I had worked on several years ago had more resonance than ever.  It was inspired by a fruit crate label (from around 1930) that signified quality.  The brand name was "TRUTH".   

 

 

Truth-newsletter


IMG_20170221_161211771_HDRThe irony was obvious.  Here I was also fabricating TRUTH.  But unlike the current administration, mine is made by hand, not made up.

Putting everything aside, I started fabricating several companion pieces: ALTERNATIVE FACTS,  Circular Logic, and Web of Lies -- all as bracelets to be juxtaposed with TRUTH.  

Creating tangible artworks with symbolic meaning helped me express my perspectives about the current political mess. But as I sat at my bench spending all my free time on political work to vent my frustration, I wondered why I was dedicating so much time and effort to fabricating TRUTH instead of my other projects or just having a good time.

Would anyone ever get to see these pieces beyond the lone page on my website?

Alternate-Facts-Bracelet-500

To my amazement, my political protest jewelry was shared with a larger audience on the political pages of CNN.  YEP! CNN.   CNN included my work in an article, "How artists are marking Trump's 100th day in office" and it was posted last weekend written by Shachar Peled, CNN.  

CNN actually found my work on the local San Francisco station, KQED, arts series, "First 100 Days: Art in the Age of Trump" where there was an excellent feature article by Cleo Noveno, Fabricating ‘Truth,’ One Tin Can Bracelet at a Time.

In preparation for my interview with Cleo Noveno, I practiced with my husband to articulate the ideas behind this work. It is one thing as an artist to make something based on intuition, but it is another skill entirely to be able to articulate the ideas to a different audience using words.  New work always takes me weeks to months to verbalize and I had one day to figure this out.

Why jewelry inside TRUTH?
Why jewelry to articulate political issues?


It was then that I started thinking about historical jewelry and metalwork that has expressed powerful and important political and patriotic ideas throughout our nation's past. There are many examples.   

Sons-of-liberty-bowl
Sons of Liberty Bowl
Dimensions: 14 x 27.9 cm (5 1/2 x 11 in.) The irregular finish is the fire scale from the original fabrication. 

The most famous American example of metalwork expressing a political and even patriotic idea is the Sons of Liberty Bowl, which is more commonly referred to as a "Revere Bowl."   This silver bowl was fabricated by the famous Paul Revere prior to the American Revolution. It was commissioned by fifteen members of the Sons of Liberty and "raised" by hand (a metalsmithing term for the fabrication of the bowl in metal) by Paul Revere in a patriotic fervor.  It was then engraved by hand with the names of the members of this secret political group. Engraved deeply, it represented a pact, a resolution.

These brave patriots literally engraved their names in history.  "The Liberty Bowl honored ninety-two members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to rescind a letter sent throughout the colonies protesting the Townshend Acts (1767), which taxed tea, paper, glass, and other commodities imported from England. This act of civil disobedience by the “Glorious Ninety-Two” was a major step leading to the American Revolution."  

Sons-of-liberty-not-to-rescindBut take special note of their engraved pledge at the bottom,  it says, "Voted - Not to Rescind."

There is plenty of additional text engraved on the bowl 
including the provenance of the bowl. It is worth taking a look at the many images and information on the website of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

Metal, work hardened, fabricated with sweat, and engraved permanently with political meaning, the "Sons of Liberty" bowl is described as one of three most important objects in the United States of America. This bowl stands with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  

Throughout world history, there are many examples of jewelry reflecting political sentiments.

Iron-jewelry-19th-century Some very famous patriotic jewelry is a series of Prussian ironwork from the 19th century. 

As Prussia fought wars with Napolean, the government asked its patriotic citizens to give their gold jewelry to the government to fund the war efforts. In return, they were given this finely made iron jewelry.

Antique-Berlin-Iron-JewelryAt a fraction of the intrinsic value, it had another value instead. Imagine giving up your gold jewelry for this iron replacement, but wearing this jewelry must have been a visible symbol of your patriotism in that time.

  

 

Holloway BroochWhile researching for other historical political jewelry, I found this brooch designed by painter, Sylvia Pankhurst around 1900.  Sylvia's artwork and imagery gave the Suffragette Movement, and more specifically, "the Women's Social and Political Union, its coherent visual identity."


This Holloway Brooch (left) was presented (after imprisonment) to ex-suffragette prisoners at a mass demonstration at the Albert Hall on 29 April 1909."

Fabricated in silver it represents the portcullis symbol of the House of Commons in London, including the gate and hanging chains in silver. Superimposed on top was a broad arrow in green, white and purple enamel.  The three colors green, white, and violet were symbolic for the slogan "Give Women the Vote.  

Political activism for women's right to vote was a hard won battle we still seem to be fighting more than 100 years later.  I appreciate the parallel to the political activism and symbolism of the Suffragette jewelry and the parallels to what is happening in politics.  You may enjoy reading more about the Suffragette movement. 

Suffragette-pinFor wealthy women supporting the Suffragette Movement fine jewelry was also sold. This brooch (right) was shown in the Madeline Albright book and exhibition "Read My Pins." The first letter of each color Green - White - Violet were translated into gemstones and pearls.  More information about Suffragette Jewelry.

 

Victory-bakelite-pin Moving into the 20th century, there are examples of patriotic jewelry like this V for victory pin. (It looks a little odd, but the plastic has yellowed giving all the colors including the white and blue a soft yellowish cast.)

 

Vintage-1960-peace-signA final example for the moment is the Peace sign pendant. Considering that the peace movement was generally of the counter culture, I wonder if there ever was a more precious peace sign. 

 


These examples only 
begin to touch on the idea of metal work and jewelry with a political message.  There are more...

I.M.A.G.I.N.E.PEACE-NOW.posterThe recent exhibitions and catalog about gun violence Imagine: Peace Now includes a wide selection of metal work with a political statement that also runs counter to the right wing agenda. 90 decommissioned gun  are transformed into art objects.

Organized by Boris Bally it sends a visual message about the impact of gun violence.

The beautiful catalog includes professional quality images of all the work.


If you think artists have something to say in this political climate, say something.

Catalog-book-IMAGINE-exhibitionOne way is to VOTE for this show on USA today.

Vote here to support the next exhibition venue in a competition sponsored by USAToday.  (scroll down a little for the "VOTE" text.) 

For all the artists and makers reading this post I want us to remember and hold close to our hearts, that a visual image carries the weight of words.   A visual image can represent or unify a vision more readily than a speech. This is why political marches include signs. Our work has something to say, and others of like mind would like to see it and share it with an even larger audience. RESIST!  

Send me an image of your political work.

Options:
Leave me a comment for how to get in touch,
I will reply, and then you can send an image of your political work.  
Email me directly by clicking on the envelope below my profile photo in the left column.  

I will add images to this post. I am thinking about writing an article.

Where is a show about the politics of our time?

Harriete

 

RELATED POSTS: 

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

Vision of the Artist, Vision of the Photographer

"Previously Owned By . . ." ADDS Value IF you have the Provenance

Lineage, Provenance, Maker Marks, & Macchiarini


Advancing Science Even Though I'm Not A Scientist

IMG_20170422_121158001_HDR
Recently, I participated in the March for Science, San Francisco. It was important to lend my voice and my presence to support to such an important topic.  

IMG_20170422_122602361There were thousands of people from every part of the community and many great signs....but this one really resonated with me.

GOT POLIO?
ME NEITHER. 
THANKS SCIENCE

I am old enough to remember the fear of polio. When the first vaccines were available, everyone, I mean everyone, stood in line at the local high school to get vaccinated. The lines were blocks long.  I remember seeing every person I knew, and many who I didn't, stand in line. No one complained about the inconvenience because this vaccine would prevent polio. The vaccine was free.  It eliminated the pervasive fear of polio that came every summer.
 
I'm not a scientist, but I think it is important to support science. Walking in the March for Science was a visible statement along with a mass movement.  But there are many other ways that any individual can help at any time.  One option is to participate in a medical research study as a healthy NORMAL control subject.

With emerging technologies to inexpensively study genetic markers, DNA, and manage volumes of information, medical research is changing. Now with something as easy a saliva sample, studies can look for genetic markers for disease -- but many studies take much longer time to complete due to a lack of a reference population.  They need more NORMAL people to compare samples and distinguish non-disease from disease.

The future holds the possibility of treatment for many diseases before there are even symptoms. Medicines are being developed and studied to understand their effectiveness based on an individual and not the whole population.

IMG_20170422_124306031_HDRGOOD MEDICINE relies on Good Science.
This is not a futuristic dream.
 It is now.

This is where every artist and maker can help advance science. By agreeing to participate in research as a healthy control, you can advance science. A small amount of your time, saliva, blood...or other samples can advance science. Many of the studies that I have participated in were only a survey or demographic study. Your participation in science can change the world. 

IMG_20170422_122949895_HDR
Below are three places to sign up for a study as a control subject. You can just participate based on your availability, whether there are study centers/universities near you,  your interest in a research topic, etc. Perhaps there is a disease that runs in your family that you would like to understand better and change the treatment for future generations. You always have the choice to participate in a study as a healthy control.

Michael J.Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research matches you up to studies. Not all studies relate to Parkinson’s

Research Match will match you up with a number of different studies. You can say no to anything that you don't have time to do. 

Verily Life Science — a Google life sciences company owned by Alphabet — is finally kicking off the massive study it first announced three years ago. What is a healthy person? Sounds really interesting, doesn't it?

Harriete

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Creative artists, creative accounting -- the reality or the fiction of a "serious" business

RedflagThere is a myth out there that artists and craftspeople keep poor records for their businesses. I am not sure if it is true. The only thing that I know for a fact is that the I.R.S. will not look kindly at "creative accounting" and sloppy records. Creative artists and creative accounting don't mix.  Neither do personal and business bank accounts. During two audits, the first thing that the I.R.S. "dragon lady" asked me both times is "do you mix personal and professional money."  This is an I.R.S. red flag.

My experience has shown that as long as you properly organize and manage your accounts and can substantiate all expenses and income . . . the I.R.S. will accept your records and give up looking for more problems. That is exactly what you want.  So be prepared and start now by improving your accounting practices.

As a real life story, the questions below come from Lora Hart* regarding her art business accounting.

"How do you handle the financial aspects of teaching? Do you deposit all monies collected into a business account?

Answer:
If your teaching and art/craft business are integrated roles, each enhancing the reputation for the other,
then all income and expenses can be attributed to your business and should flow into one business account.

Deposit the income for teaching and workshops into the business account. 

Deduct expenses for teaching and your art/craft business from the same account. 

Keep your business account separate from any personal accounts.  Use your business account exclusively for all business-related income and expenses.

Jeans-money-two-pocketsIt may sound like a simplistic example, but it is as fundamental as having two pockets -- whereby all your business income and expenses go in and out of your left pocket, while all your personal income and expenses go in and out of your right pocket.  Ultimately it is all your money -- you just need to organize the transactions accordingly.

"Do you deposit money from sales of goods and sales of materials/supplies into the business account and workshop fees directly into your personal account?" 

Answer:
The key concept is to clearly identify whether a transaction (income or expense) is business-related or personal -- and then use the correct account accordingly.  It is really that simple.

Do not use your personal account for any business or teaching activities. Deposit workshop fees directly into your business account.  It is most convenient to use a separate credit card for all business and teaching expenses and pay for the monthly invoice from your business account. 

 

"I teach way more than I sell, and this is my only income.  I started out putting all workshop fees into my personal account, but then sometimes had to advance money to the business account to buy supplies for students. I'd like to really figure out the best way to handle it all this year."

Answer:

Deposit-slip-exampleAs mentioned before, if teaching is related to your business, then the teaching income and workshop fees should be deposited into your business account.  
And only business expenses related to teaching or workshop supplies should be paid for from the business account.  Just keep all business-related transactions flowing through the business account.

Bank-my-business copyThe owner of the business account (i.e. You) can transfer money into or out of the business account from or into your personal account as needed.  It is like paying yourself.   Just keep personal expenses flowing separately and exclusively through your personal accounts.
Bank-personal copyI actually keep my business checking and business savings at a separate bank from my personal checking and personal savings. It is less likely to mix them up.     

The I.R.S. has pages of recommendations for sole proprietorships that are very informative.

 

 

Is there a specific percentage that one would give themselves and percentage that stays with the business? I assume that I shouldn't just take money from the business account because I need a car tune up and don't have that in my personal budget (Have never done this - just an example)." 

Answer:
It is not necessary to split funds by some algorithm.
 It is very important to clearly identify whether a transaction is business-related or personal -- and only use the appropriate account for that particular transaction.  But you can transfer funds between your business account and your personal account as needed.  

 

"Should I figure out an hourly wage and just pay myself that? Is all of my teaching income - personal income or should some go to the business?"

Answer:
There is no absolute answer to this question, but there are plenty of precedents to consider teaching income as related to your art business and that you should deposit your teaching income into your business account. When necessary, you can transfer funds from your business account to your personal account.  I'd recommend keeping enough money in your business account to cover business expenses during an expensive month (as I can't stand the anxiety of worrying if I have enough money to cover my next automatic credit card bill).

Start by keeping track of your business-related transactions.  Track your teaching income and workshop income as business-related revenue on one page.  On a separate page, track your teaching expenses and workshop expenses.  I keep separate pages for these items because it is easier to get totals and look for mistakes.

 

"Do I write myself a check to cover personal expenses?" 

Answer:
No, at least not directly.  
I hope that it is very clear that you should never, never use your business account to cover personal expenses. You can transfer funds from the business account into your personal account and then use your personal account to cover personal expenses.

The recognition and clear separation of what is business related and what is personal are essential to survive an IRS audit and require a certain mindset to diligently keep organized.

For example, if you are driving to a show, then car expenses (per mileage allowance as outlined by the I.R.S.) plus parking fees could be deducted as a business expense.

In other situations, car expenses (per mileage allowance) could be deducted if your teaching job is paid as an independent outside contractor, but not if you are an employee. 

Harriete 

Thank You to Lora Hart for these questions. View Lora Hart's work on her Instagram account.

RELATED POSTS on ASK Harriete: 

My morning coffee with the I.R.S. MAN - Tips to prevent or smooth your audit with the I.R.S.

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - Is Your Travel for Business or Leisure?

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - What Is an Acceptable Receipt for a Business Expense?

More posts about Business Accounting and Tax Information on ASK Harriete 

Monopoly-Run-Money-Flower-pin-back

  Monopoly-Run-Money-Flower-pinRun for the Money Flower Pin (front and back view) $475 


Multiple Revenue Streams - Are You Swimming in the Right Direction or Up a Creek with the I.R.S.?

During my I.R.S. audit (many years ago), the very straight laced agent raised the issue of aggregating all my income and expenses for my multiple activities on one Schedule C, i.e. for Harriete Estel Berman as a sole proprietor.

What are my "multiple activities"? 
Harriete Estel Berman working on silver repair In every day life this includes my silver repair business, production of artwork, writing, lectures, and exercise instructor several times a week.

Check-it-out-Home-Energy-SMCSince every one of these activities generates revenue and is dependent on one person...
me, I thought of it as all under one proprietorship, i.e. ME.    The I.R.S. agent gently rocked her head and commented that some people mix disparate activities to cover up ill-gotten gains.  She recommended using a separate Schedule C in the future to report each activity, but she did not enforce compliance retroactively since all income and expenses were itemized and reported accurately.

Harriete-ExerciseI'll bet that a lot of my readers also have multiple revenue streams. This is the life of most artists. While it may be too late for 2016 now that your taxes are already done, this is the time to rearrange your record keeping for 2017.  

What is the correct approach for multiple revenue streams?

I try to keep it simple, accounting for clearly distinguishable income and expenses that are unrelated activities.  For example, the exercise instructor income and expenses are now separate. Expenses related to exercise instruction are deducted as unreimbursed employee expenses in accordance with the I.R.S.

Since the silver repair business uses the same tools, studio, and skills as my artwork, my artwork and repair activities are still integrated for both income and expenses. Same for lectures and writing since they are so closely related to the artwork. Everything is documented line by line in my Excel revenue and expense documents. 

Legally, there have been several precedent-setting cases regarding taxes and creative accounting for creative people (including makers and artists). If you are interested, the three articles below are worth reading to highlight the principles of tax reporting for artists and makers. I find these articles fascinating.

This first link presents the tax case of Susan Crile (artist) most clearly. 
Tax Court Judge Appreciates Art More Than Your Average Revenue Agent

Another very clear explanation is provided by Case Review: Crile v. Commission of Internal Revenue. "The decision the Court reached helps artists to remain artists, even if they are not making a profit from their work." 

And a similar article in Forbes Magazine,  Susan Crile Paints A Picture Of Tax Court Victory For Artists, highlights this exceptionally interesting case in which an established artist offset her teaching income with generous deductions as an "artist."

A very important point in this example is that "the economic losses she actually sustained in her art business were substantially smaller than the tax losses reported on her Schedules C, owing to the inclusion of many personal expenses when calculating her business income." 

Crile won in her first court appearance, but may still be sued over what the IRS perceives as excessive deductions.  To avoid IRS audit, I would recommend deducting only ordinary and necessary business expenses every year with a conservative justification especially if you show a net loss year after year.  

If losses are persistent, the IRS may question whether you are conducting your business with the intent to earn a profit.


Twitter-bird-white-on-blueI've heard lots of people say (including the I.R.S.) that a "business" should earn money at least 3 out of every 5 years.  For the sake of argument, I just wonder how that holds water when companies like Twitter have not ever made a profit.  "10 years later, Twitter still isn't close to making money".   In fact, Time magazine reports that "Twitter Has Lost a Staggering Amount of Money."

So why can Twitter continue to lose money, while an artist can't? There are no easy answers to making money for artists or Twitter, but acting like a business is important. To minimize the risk of trouble with the IRS, keep your expenses conservative.

Harriete


The Power of Your Dollar

Politics in America is now front and center. You can't avoid a political discussion whether you lean to the right or the left.

Illy COFFEEPOT a symbol of political protestOur country was founded on political action.
 One of the earliest political actions by American colonists was a boycott by colonial women who stopped buying tea because it was taxed by England. This is why to this day, coffee is more popular in America than tea. Boycotting tea was a political statement.  "No taxation without representation" became the voice of American political activism almost 250 years ago.
 
I try not to politicize the information on ASK Harriete, but I just can not stay silent as the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) are in jeopardy -- despite their negligible impact on the budget accounting for only 0.003% of federal spending.  That is 3/1,000 th of a tax penny.
 
"The NEA and NEH are vital to innovation and creative expression, cultural and artistic understanding, and scholarly research. The NEA and NEH support cultural institutions like museums, libraries, universities, and public television and ensure that all Americans have access to arts and culture." Your local or national art organizations have probably received NEA grants at one time or another. Your local PBS station is definitely dependent on NEA or NEH funding.  
 
Elain-Salinger-HuddleSaturday night in a Huddle, I learned that the current administration intends to divert funding from a wide range of education and cultural programs (including the NEA and NEH) to fund the production of more nuclear weapons. (This shocking shift in priorities was announced at a town hall meeting  in San Mateo with U.S. Representative Jackie Spier.)
 
Learning from our colonial ancestors, the power of the dollar can affect politics and the art and craft community. I am using postcards of my art for writing to all my Senators and Representatives. Save funding for the arts!

Collect Your Money Pin by Harriete Estel Berman“Women hold the purse strings — this has been true for a long, long time.”  "There are many steps that each of us can take that cost us nothing and take no time. One is to boycott T___P brands. Brand specialist "Shannon Coulter began a boycott campaign on Twitter with #GrabYourWallet.... "  A spreadsheet (linked below) lists over 50 companies to boycott based on whether the company sells T____p products," etc.

"The list includes Macy’s, LL Bean, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, Zappos, Amazon, T. J. Maxx, Lord & Taylor, and Bed Bath & Beyond." "Companies such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Jet, have been removed from the list after they stopped carrying Trump products." Use your dollars wisely. You can choose to buy or not buy T____p products, boycott stores, or call customer service desks and let them know your opinion.

The power of the dollar is in your pocket.
 Yes, your pocket. How do you spend your dollars? Or align your art and craft with your political allegiance?  In this polarized, dismantling of the arts and education trend, everything has become political.
 
Harriete

RELATED POSTS: 
Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending

ART NEWS REPORT: TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PLANNING BUDGET CUTS THAT WILL ELIMINATE THE NEA, NEH

Here’s What You Can Do To Protect National Arts And Culture Funding
 from the Huffington Post

TRUTH an artwork by Harriete Estel Berman
TRUTH - an artwork in progress.

 

 


Read My Jewelry - Jewelry with a Voice and Visibility

Read-My-PinsOriginally, this post was going to be exclusively about the book, "Read My Pins" and the remarkable exhibition at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. There is much to say -- a lot more -- about how jewelry can make powerful statements for the wearer, to the viewer, or from the maker. 

As a jeweler, jewelry maker, metalsmith, jewelry collector and avid fan of all kinds of jewelry, I believe in the power of jewelry to express insights, emotions, and meaning far beyond the initial perceptions of beauty and craftsmanship.  "Read My Pins" excels in such revelations showing how Madeleine Albright used an expansive repertoire of her pins to convey diverse signals such as cooperation, dissatisfaction, special interests, sympathy, cultural awareness, or common cause throughout her career.  Much more on this amazing exhibition below.   

But let me start with a contrasting message that came to my attention this weekend to consider even more seriously the power of jewelry to convey a message.

The cover photo of the February 2017 issue of Vanity Fair Mexico shows Melania Trump "eating jewelry."  What does this say to you?  How do you think the Mexican readers should interpret the image?

Melania-Trump-Eating- Jewelry

The message seems to be simply about conspicuous consumption and extravagant surplus.  Clearly, the First Lady of the United States, is pleased to show her privilege and position.  Unfortunately at the same time 50% of Mexicans live in poverty and there is a struggling U.S. middle class that is less than 4 months from economic ruin.  This image parallels an infamous historical quote, "Let them eat cake." 

Compare this to the empowering messages of jewelry in the book and exhibition "Read My Pins." The exhibition displayed pins and dramatic brooches worn my Madeline Albright during her tenure as Secretary of State.  To a feminist metalsmith I must remind myself (and anyone reading this post) that Madeline Albright was the first woman Secretary of State and the highest female official in U.S. Government at that time.

Every pin in this exhibit could initiate a conversation about the power of jewelry to communicate a message.  Madeline Albright used these pins and brooches for such purposes very effectively for years.

I loved the exhibition "Read My Pins" for many reasons. The entire exhibition was crowded with energy, enthusiasm, and thought provoking themes.  Over and over, the intrinsic value of the materials was irrelevant.  The "real" value was always based on the message and the context. 

This Atlas pin (below) holds the weight of the world -- symbolic of the United States role in many turbulent political situations in this world.  What message could be more important when worn by the U.S. Secretary of State and remains ever present in my mind during the past week.

Hercules-Read-My-Pins
Atlas Pin purchased by Madeline Albright in Paris. No attribution to the maker. (Photo from the exhibition)

Madeline-Albright-Read-My-Pins-bee
Madeleien-Albright-with-Yaser-Arafat

A brooch could represent a concept (e.g. "sting like a bee") in an international negotiation.  Quoting Madeline Albright "I believe the right symbol at the correct time can add warmth or needed edge to a relationship."  In the photo (right)  Albright negotiates with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.


 

Suffragette-pin

The pin (left) was from the Suffrage Movement. "The green, white and violet colors of the gemstones and pearls signify, respectively, hope, purity and dignity. The first letter of each word, (GWV) suggests an apt acronym: "Give Women the Vote' ."

Jewelry can send an important political message empowering women to stand up and be counted in marches demanding the vote and social change. (Quotes are from the description labels from Legion of Honor exhibition.)

 

 

 

Dove-and-eagle-read-My-pinsBoth the "Read My Pins" exhibition and book provide an important insight into the voice of jewelry. Jewelry can be important in so many ways. The message can be ennobling, enabling, even empowering such as in the next pin with an eagle and dove asserting both strength and a passion for peace.


 



Jewelry with emotionJewelry can also have emotional resonance. Quoting the museum label:  "In 2006, on a visit to New Orleans, post-Hurricane Katrina, Albright was approached by a young man who gave her a small box. 'My mother loved you,' he explained, ' and she knew that you liked and wore pins. My father gave her this one for their sixtieth wedding anniversary. She died as a result of Katrina, and my father and I think she would have wanted you to have it. It would be an honor to her if you would accept it.' "

"Albright wears the Katrina pin as a reminder that jewelry's greatest value comes not from intrinsic materials or brilliant designs but from the emotions we invest in them. The most cherished attributes are not those that dazzle the eye but those that recall to mind the face and spirit of a loved one."

CofRlxaUMAM7tvj
This brooch of fused "shattered" glass (designer unknown) reflected the "shattering of a glass ceiling," a significant milestone for all women and reflecting support for another woman Secretary of State - Hillary Clinton.  Women in our country are not reaching the heights of leadership (corporate or political) in proportion to our share in the population.

Hidden-FiguresThe communication power of jewelry often aligns with social change.  In the movie, "Hidden Figures" the painful realities of discrimination against women and African-Americans -- or both -- in the early 1960's are presented in this powerful story.  In one scene, a simple pearl necklace symbolizes the growing awareness, acceptance, and empowerment of one of the female figures.

The "Read My Pins" exhibition and book are engaging, fun, educational, and thought provoking.  Each piece opened new doors or revealed new humanizing insights or highlights on topics familiar from newsreels but often distant and foreign.  I enjoyed almost every aspect.

For the contemporary craft world, I was a bit disappointed that so many of the pieces had no attribution to the maker and that so few contemporary makers were represented.

Many of the pins in the exhibition were antique or vintage collectibles, essentially manufactured costume jewelry. Lack of attribution is typical of such consumer products, but there was a significant number of obviously hand made pins purchased or given to Madeline Albright in foreign countries or purchased in the 20th century.

Many of the 20th century pins had no maker attributed to the work. What a shame? Would a painter sell their paintings without a name or initials on the front or back? To every maker reading this post, be sure to mark your jewelry (or other media) in some way.

Left, 1998; Helen Shirk (US); Sterling silver
Left, 1998; Helen Shirk (US); Sterling silver, 14k yellow gold

My second disappointment with the Madeline Albright collection is the lack of contemporary jewelry.  I am thrilled to say there were pins by Helen Shirk ( left,) Carolyn Morris Bach (below right) and  Gjis Bakker (cover of book), but not many other examples of jewelry by a contemporary hand. And even a smaller number of examples of contemporary jewelry with the maker's name. 

Shaman Bear, 2008; Carolyn Morris Bach
Shaman Bear, 2008; Carolyn Morris Bach (US); 18k yellow gold with 22k gold plating, silver, fossilized ivory, copper

 

ADDENDUM July 2018
In a comment below,
Leonda brought to my attention the jewelry worn by Queen Elizabeth during the three-day visit by Trump.  I have added images to this blog post to show this jewelry. 

As thousands of people demonstrated against President Trump in the UK, Queen Elizabeth II seemed to make a statement of her own by wearing a brooch given as a gift by former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.


Queen-Elizabeth-jewelry-pin

 (Left photo) While welcoming Trump for tea, the 92-year-old monarch donned a palm leaf diamond brooch famously worn by her mother at the state funeral for the Queen’s father, King George VI, in 1952. 

 

 

Queen-Elizabeth-jewelry-pin-snowflake
Snowflake Brooch from Trudeau for Queen Elizabeth

 

 

 

Snowflake Brooch was given by Canadian people and Trudeau to Queen Elizabeth to mark 65 years on the throne. Trudeau has sharply criticized Trump. This was worn the day after meeting Trump. 

 

Get the book Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box from your local library or bookstore. It has a background for a good number of Madeline Albright pins, and it is very interesting. 

 

Think about the power of jewelry and the voice that can resonate so much about our politics and social change.

Harriete 

Read-My-Pins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Tax Season Is Upon Us - 2 Rules for Audit Survival

Penny-dollarI've been working to reconcile my 2016 taxes whenever a few minutes of sharp mental acuity arise.  Numbers are not my thing, but I like to have some financial awareness of the past year figured out before going too far into the new year. This year my records worked out to the penny! 

For sure, more expenses always seem to tally up than I anticipated.  Yet, the beginning of the year is when you need to know whether you made money in the last year so that you can be ready to pay income taxes while there is some money in the bank.  

I've been audited by the IRS twice in my career.  They red flag home-based businesses some times to check on abuse or sloppy records.  Fortunately, good record keeping and a few other tips allowed me to survive both times without any "extras" due.

So here are my top two super simple rules for artists and makers to keep their business accounting on the up and up -- separate your business accounts and keep receipts.  The rest of this post will explain what I mean, followed by a list of posts about accounting and my experience with the I.R.S., all written from my personal experience as an artist, not an accountant. 

 

SEPARATE-ACCOUTNS
RULE 1. Separate Accounts 

The first thing the I.R.S. will ask is if you co-mingle any personal and business money.  They do not allow any personal expenses to be written off as business expenses.  Therefore you should maintain separate credit cards for your business and personal expenses. You should also have separate bank accounts for business and personal money.  If you co-mingle personal and business accounts, the I.R.S. is going to dive much deeper into your records looking for inconsistencies in your records.

RECEIPTS-FOR-EVERY-EXPENSE
RULE 2. Receipts for every expense
The I.R.S. wants proof, not memories, of your itemized records.
 No fudge factors work here.  The I.R.S. will ask you to account for specific expenses in each category to the penny, and ask for specific receipts....such as "show me your advertising expenses for August 2016."  This is their quick way to look for sloppy records. If you don't have receipts for your records, the I.R.S. will dive deeper into your records looking for more inconsistencies in your records.

Track each expense in the appropriate expense category. You MUST have a receipt for every single expense. Period. Then take your receipts and itemize each expense in the appropriate category for your records.   For example, printing business cards would go in advertising, while shop supplies has it's own expense category. It turns out that the I.R.S. has "formulas" for the total of each category in each business. 

Track your revenue exactly.  I use a separate Excel page for each revenue stream so that the totals are a lot easier to figure out. (In the past I used different columns for various revenue streams. Sure, in theory that should work, but finding an inconsistency in my numbers took hours and hours.) Now a separate page for each revenue stream seems so much easier.

I know that the I.R.S. has many more rules.... but the overarching advice is that you must "Act like a business."

Besides the usual overarching goal of making money, I try to keep my record keeping simple and straight forward.  I track my business activities on a CASH basis to record "cash out" expenses and "cash in" revenue.  I don't buy an accounting program, but use my own Excel document which I can improve and modify each year. I am not going to spend money on some "powerful" accounting program when the real work is writing in every expense and revenue item.

I know that the 2 rules above seem so obvious....but I hear stories about people making up numbers for their business, or they approximate their expenses and revenue.  These won't get you through an IRS audit.  I was scared to death when I was first audited.  Fortunately I had separate accounts and all the receipts.  The headache of regular record keeping is minor compared to having an IRS agent sift through more and more accounts due to inconsistencies.

Previous posts about accounting for artists and makers:

I Covered My Expenses” and Other Forms of Delusion & Denial 

Time, Effort, Knowledge, Recognition, Appreciation

Hobby or Business? Criteria for the I.R.S.

She Sells Wholesale. She Sells Retail. Is She Selling Wholesale at Retail?

Avoid the Red Flag of IRS Form 1099

TAX TIME, Tick Tock, The Tax Clock is Ticking

Video Workshops from the I.R.S. - Am I a Business or a Hobby? - OR - Make Your Business More Business-like!

I.R.S. sign

Morning Heartburn with the I.R.S.

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - Avoid Problems and Penalties - A Final Word.

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - Withdrawing Inventory Items for Personal Use? Very scary!

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - Is Your Travel for Business or Leisure?

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - What Is an Acceptable Receipt for a Business Expense?

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - Cost of Goods SOLD and Jail House Orange - A Fashion Accessory Nightmare

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - What Is Included in the Cost of Finished Good besides your best guess?

Surviving the I.R.S. - Cost of Goods Sold, Are you ready? Watch my head explode!

Surviving an I.R.S. audit - No change!

My morning coffee with the I.R.S. MAN - Tips to prevent or smooth your audit with the I.R.S.

 

 

 

 

  


When "Out to Lunch" Takes On Meaning

 

IMG_20170108_141958750
Growing up, I worked at my father's store, starting at a young age through grade school to college doing  age appropriate work.
 During that entire time, I never saw my father go out to lunch. Some times someone brought him back a sandwich, but he always felt that his top priority was running the business, working hard for survival and success. He never went "out to lunch."

Orange-mallet-diagonal JPGSeveral months ago, I was working in another studio, recruited for my fabrication skills as a crucial deadline was days away.  Crunch time was on, "Hammertime" in action, and yet there were several people in that group who dropped what they were doing to go out to lunch as a social activity.

I watched them leave for a leisurely walk on their lunch adventure (while I continued working).  It left me mystified that they did not share the urgency to prioritize a deadline.

On other occasions, I've watched people leave keynote lectures, conferences,  or workshops for a leisurely lunch. They walk away from opportunities to connect, learn, achieve, discover, discuss, etc. to go "out to lunch." 

ViseTABLEaWe all know the phrase "out to lunch," an idiom referring to being out of touch, distracted from the task at had, or lacking good judgement.  I think this can also apply to choosing to go "out to lunch" and thereby missing out on new or longer term opportunities.  

The same principle applies whether at home or working in a studio or even at a workshop.   Giving in to the habit of a leisurely lunch inevitably foregoes so many opportunities to finish work on time.  Each hour of every day is too precious to go out for a leisurely lunch, except as a special treat. 

Harriete_flattening_TINS.100This same principle applies to other modes of activity. I rarely watch professional sports, but am amazed by the levels of effort and sweat that goes into being the best of the best. When an athlete catches a ball higher in the air than you think a person can jump, or throws a ball across the court further and more accurately than one thinks is humanly possible, they have not been "out to lunch." All of these superior athletes work their butts off practicing, training, and preparing for that potential opportunity to excel in a crucial situation.  

Influencer-The-New-Science-Leading-ChangeMany want to find the secret to success and there are many ways to be successful. The book the Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change says, "People need to learn that effort, persistence, and resiliency are eventually rewarded with success."

There are many ingredients for success, but one sticks out in my mind as clear as day. As I renew my professional efforts for the new year,  one thing is certain, you can not be "out to lunch" and expect to succeed.  

My opinion may be controversial, but for me enjoying life is creating opportunities for achievement, not relaxing. What do you think? Enter your views or opinions in the comments below. 

Harriete

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Misstress of the Home Trapped by Modern Convenience

Mistresshome_backB

Many years ago (actually in another century), I made a sculpture (shown above) titled: "Misstress of the Home Bound to Modern Convenience."  Memories of this piece have been echoing in my mind for months while preparing for New Year's Day 2017 -- a self-imposed deadline to launch new digital content and update my online presence.   

Are we trapped, bound or benefiting by"Modern Convenience?"  This has been seven months of virtual housekeeping efforts at the risk of getting swept away by Google as an obsolete version. Technology is convenient, yes, but the effort to re-organize, improve access, and reduce expenses comes at a price. 

Mistresshome_frontB

After 7 months of effort, I have two new websites, an artist website and separate website for my silver repair business.

With the new website is a new email address.  I would be glad to share it with you to stay in touch. Here's how...

Email me directly
by clicking on the envelope (in the upper left column of this blog) or contact me through my website form  or copy from the image (below right).   I'm not printing the email here in order to avoid getting spammed. 

Misstress of the Home Bound to Modern Convenience (the upright vacuum featured in this post) is 27" in height. It is not a found object but fabricated in 1982 to look like a real appliance. This is a very real and personal metaphor. "Harriete" means "mistress of the home."  At the time I was commenting on many of the cultural expectations placed on women and the demands of modern living.

Misstress is purposely spelled "miss" as in the confinement of the idealized stereotype of "Miss America" beauty contests. 
Misstress_side-old-new-email 2
A new website also means eliminating my old website and the email
associated with it.
 Very scary indeed! A thirteen year old web identity has been swept away. My old email @harriete-estel-berman.info will be gone.....nada...no more.....   If this email was the only email you had for me..... it is disappearing.  

It has been a huge effort to update all my "log in" information and newsletters.  If... I have missed your updates...email me at my new address. When was the last time you look at every social network that includes your work?  

More legacy costs are being swept away ..... 

For 28 years I had a studio phone for my studio and silver repair business. I grew up with the yellow pages at my fingertips, but who uses the yellow pages any more? My realization is that a business phone listing  in the yellow pages is archaic. 
Let-Your-Fingers-Do-The-Walking-Pencils-sh

I was spending $720 a year to have a listing in the yellow pages for my silver repair business, however,  my new website for Berman Fine Silverwork was bringing in all the work.  An update on my website and online presence like  YELP and Facebook was just another example of "house cleaning" for the 21st century. Most of my customers contact me by email anyway. My cell phone will now fill every role, every day, studio and business.

Speaking of cell phones. The upside is that my both of my new websites are now mobile friendly, a mandated requirement by Google for being ranked in search results. Is your website "mobile-friendly?

The Professional Guidelines  are now completely available on line also. Every word in every document is completely searchable on the web in addition to a downloadable PDF document. The Consignment Contract, Exhibition Contract, and Model Release Form are available as Word documents so they can be edited to suit your needs.   

So my new year is a new me, new website, new email, new ways to get in touch. This Everready Working Woman is cleaning house.

EverreadyAH80072

Everready Working Woman from 1984 meets the 21st century in 2017. 

Harriete


Gender Inequity in the Craft Ceiling

Gender-Inequity-in the Craft Ceiling.
In 1972, Congress enacted Title IX.
  It's  ground breaking legislation prohibited "sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid."  At the time, I remember the push back. The idea that women's sports programs in grade schools and colleges should be given an equal amount of money was a shock to the prevailing system.  Wide spread resistance arose from entrenched college football fans and athletic program managers. Gender equity in sports funding was mandated and eventually enforced -- from the very bottom dollar on up.   Ultimately women were provided with facilities and opportunities and finally encouraged to excel in  athletics.

Very few fully comprehended how this gender equity legislation would impact the sports world. This past summer I watched the Summer Olympics with fascination.  Female American athletes won 27 of the 46 American gold medals. If the U.S. were divided into two countries, one male and the other female, those 27 golds for the women would tie them with Britain for the most from any country, put them one ahead of China, and (dare I say it) ahead of the American men and every other country.

Titleix-powerTitle IX made this possible. Title IX "revolutionize women's sports at both the high school and college levels." Title IX provided the opportunity for women to excel, but it also meant a very real opportunity for women at all levels to participate in sports.

In the news, we hear about the "glass ceiling" in politics and business. Women still do not earn the same dollars per hour as men. Our first promising woman candidate for president lost to a man full of hot air and braggadocio.  Women are still not evaluated with the same standards as we evaluate male behavior.

As a woman who has witnessed the "feminist revolution" I sat in the audience at the recent ACC Conference "Present Tense", and was shocked that only two women received a College of Fellows Award alongside five men.

Gender Ineguity in the Craft Ceiling
ACC Awards of Distinction 1976-2016

I've thought about this for almost two months...but tonight I added up the numbers. Since 1975 (using published statistics on the American Craft Council website) there have been a total of 301 College of Fellow Awards of which only 117 were awarded to females.  Last I checked, that is significantly off the ratio of women to men in crafts.

This is a depressing statistic. Every conference in crafts that I have attended always seems to have significantly more of a female audience. It also appears that art education programs, and workshop programs have a higher percentage of female students. So, I wonder how the honoring of more men than women happens at the elite level of crafts?

Additional statistics:
SNAG Lifetime Achievement Award 
20 total awards  14 men, 6 women

GAS  (Glass Art) LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD RECIPIENTS
30 Awards 2016- 1993 24 men 6 women
last 10 years 2016 - 2007 9 men 1 women

Anyone familiar with wood, or ceramics? 

Any answers?

Any responses?

Any justifications?

Harriete 

 

 

 


Artistic Expression and Being an Artist

IMG_20161123_161539952
From my earliest memories I have always wanted to be an artist. The lifelong aspiration was not simply to make art or sell art, I wanted to be an artist.  The depth of this "being an artist" constantly spills over into daily life -- and positively overflows with anticipation of a shared experience with family and friends.  Witness the Thanksgiving table above as this year's display of artistic expression.

Every year I look forward to reinventing my Thanksgiving table as an extension of being an artist. This year the table color scheme was persimmon red, black and gold. 

IMG_20161123_162145913_HDR

Company is invited for a late afternoon gathering so that the natural lighting has the golden glazing hues of fall.   For me, the light coming through the windows is as important as the lighting in a painting.  Experiencing the light, the decorative arrangements, the food, and friends all resolve to the point that so much of life's activities can be artistic experiences. 

Thanksgiving is such a profound holiday in its simplicity of acknowledging what we are thankful for.  The commercial and/or religious aspects are secondary to the idea of spending time with friends and family together.

As we slide into the merchandising marathon for the remainder of the year, I relish the golden tones of artistic expression without selling anything. 

 Harriete

 Below are past Thanksgiving Tables. 

Thanksgiving 2015 008
Part of the fun is working on the preparation together. Thanksgiving 2015 
Thanksgiving 2015 056
Reinventing my table each year is my favorite part. Thanksgiving 2015 
Thanksgiving 2014 flower arrangements 003
Flower arrangements are different every year. Thanksgiving 2014 is still my best. 
ThanksgivingPlate closerlower
Chanukah Gelt & gold theme. Thanksgiving 2013
Thanks2Mondrian2012ARyn and Harriete
Sharing the festive planning with my daughter. Thanksgiving 2012 
Leaf shaped carrot cake with textured frosting.
Thanksgiving 2011 the leaf motif included the carrot cake. 
Black, chartreuse green, and gray for a Thanksgiving table motif.
Wrapping paper can work well to establish a color scheme. Thanksgiving 2010
Black and green chartreuse dishes set a Thanksgiving theme.
These vintage inspired Thanksgiving 2010 theme of black and chartreuse

 

Thanksgiving Centerpiece
Brass spherical vase used for 
Brass spherical vase used for Thanksgiving 2009 was my first hollow-ware project from 1971.
black and white and grey motif for Thanksgiving 2008
Wrapping paper is a great way to establish a strong motif for your table. I try to reuse the wrapping paper for other uses after this festive meal. Thanksgiving 2008.

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

 

 


IMG_20160805_134932967
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

RELATED POSTS: 

Profit and Lost from Seth Godin 

Exhibition Opportunities For Finished Work? How to Find Them.



 


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.

RELATED POSTS:

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

Adaptive mobile web design

  


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.

IMG_20160602_183046413

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. 

IMG_20160606_201734880

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

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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.

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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

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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

RELATED POSTS: 

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


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

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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. 

 RELATED POSTS:


Someday I Want to Be Paid As Much As An Electrician

I Love the Smell of Dykem in the Morning

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


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!! Watch 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 solid 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 every part in this Battlebot 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 were involved.
 

water Jet cutting of battlebot partsAfter the parts were perfectly cut with a a waterjet, 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 skilled craftsperson 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 to use the water jet (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 handmade 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 handmade 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 digital 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. These 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 countersinking holes.  Eventually, I learned that if I was more aggressive with the countersink 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 handmade. 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

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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.   

 

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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.) 

 

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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

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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

 

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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

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