Success for Artists and Crafts People Feed

A Mistake, A Miscalculation, The Precipice of Ruin Becomes An Opportunity

Life as an artist constantly presents missteps, hurdles, and obstacles to creating and presenting your best work. During fabrication, there could even be a mistake or miscalculation leading you to the precipice of ruining entirely your work in progress. When this happens, I know that the situation is an opportunity for improvement.  

This summer, it happened again.  I had planned to loan an older piece to an exhibition that had been on loan to my parents for years.
A Yard of Grass
The first hiccup came to light when my mother let me know that she really didn't want to part with her favorite piece. I could not disappoint her and take it away on loan for an entire year to an exhibition. So, I opted to fast forward as a "force of nature" into making a new artwork in the same dimensions as the 18-year-old original, only better.

IMG_20180612_220041065On any new piece, figuring out how to make it is always the slowest and hardest part.  But I had done this piece before, and now had 18 years more experience.  All that it required was an intensive 6-week long marathon to get it done in time!!!!!!!!!!!! Harriete-grass-assembly-Harrisburg
An additional obstacle was that I would have to assemble all the parts while away from my studio to be at my parent's house.   Like a crazy person, I fabricated new panels, cut slots in the panels and grass blades (as many as I expected to need) while in my shop at home. Then, I shipped the blades of grass in advance.  I could not take any risks of taking a 15-pound box of metal grass blades through airport security. Each blade of grass was as sharp as a razor blade.


At my parents' house, I sat on the floor for up to eight hours a day (if I was lucky to work eight hours). Determination and dedication without rushing.  Careful choices to pick each blade of grass.


The assembly marathon continued on our family beach vacation...every single day until this was done.  Each blade of grass was inserted one at a time.  Nearing completion, another hiccup came to light -- I realized that in my rush at home in my studio,  I had cut a lesser number of slots in the 2nd panel. Yikes! It wouldn't look as dense.   Another hiccup. I decided to adapt by inserting two blades of grass in each slot (except for the edge.)

Grass -3001-800

It worked!  This impromptu decision is invisible. Thank goodness. 


Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

Speaking of the edge, I considered this the most important part as it was the most visible.

The selection for each blade of grass was very important, especially at the edges.

Here is the super good news. Right from the very beginning, I could tell that the new piece was going to be better than the older work. A super encouraging sign for all this crazy effort witnessed by my family, day after day.

Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

It is one thing to work hard in your studio where no one sees how much time and sweat goes into each piece. Quite another when everyone has to witness the difficult process, cut fingers, and choices to sit inside instead of going to the beach. 

Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

There are always unforeseen difficulties magnified by not being in my own studio. In this case, after completing the first of two panels, I realized that I hadn't pre-cut enough blades of grass.  I had to cut more by hand and custom fit them to the slots. Because I was in such a rush, and not working at home, these were variables that were not planned. 

 Harriete-Estel-Berman-Aryn-Shelander-assembly JPG

Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

Keeping the blades of grass and little shards and splinters of steel under control was important. This led to converting a corner of the bedroom into a makeshift studio space.

Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

Do I need to tell you that I reached my goal?  The density of the blades of grass was super intense -- at least four times the quantity of my original in the series.

Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

You can see this finished artwork yourself.  A Yard of Grass II is in an exhibition in New York City opening this week.

TERRA in FERMA Exhibition on climate change and pollution.
Dr. Bernard Heller Museum (formerly Hebrew Union College Museum), Hebrew Union College

One West Fourth Street
September 6, 2018- July 2019
Opening 5:30 p.m on Thursday, September 6, 2018.
I.D. is required for entry into the museum.

Admission is free.

Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

 A Yard of Grass II              Harriete Estel Berman  © 2018

8" height x 36" width x 6" wide

(Photographed on the kitchen table with a leaf from the table for a matching background. Necessity really is the mother of invention.)


When "Out to Lunch" Takes On Meaning


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 JPGI was working in another studio recently, 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. 


This post was updated on December 13th, 2021.




The Posture of Craft - Learning to Stretch


My first job out of college was doing jewelry repair. This experience made numerous lasting impressions on me, some not particularly positive. For one, I noticed that all the employees had a common trait -- bad posture. I mean really bad posture. A permanent hunched over posture due to constantly looking down at their work.

I began to notice that this trait was pervasive throughout hand media.  It was at every place that I worked at over the years. Bad posture, often combined with overweight from sitting and little exercise, seems like a chronic problem in all craft media.

CircuitTrainingClasslighterAt the age of 35, after having two children, I realized that exercise was essential to healthy living and creativity. It was a radical change in my thinking as up until then, I thought a dedicated artist didn't have to exercise.  Since then, regular exercise developed into an obsession. Along the way, I've become a certified fitness instructor leading five exercise classes a week and motivated to get my 10,000 steps a day.  

The-Chair-Rethinking-Culture-BodyPerhaps because of this background, any discussion about back pain catches my attention front and center. The issues surrounding prolonged sitting are finally surfacing in the news and awareness is growing in the general population. As surprising as it may seem, chairs and extended sitting are hard on your body. My concern is that this awareness has not permeated sufficiently into the craft community.

From hobbyist to professional, craft work may be exhausting as an activity, but it is not exercise, and it is having a negative impact on our bodies.  Sustained sitting is bad for our backs, knees, and hips and a better-designed chair will not fix the problem. Exercise and stretching need to become as much a part of our daily routines as eating or sleeping if we want to be able to continue creating with a healthy mind and body.

Reset_Neck_Stretch_1.0_CoverThis is why I applaud the efforts of Raissa Bump to bring more awareness to this issue. She is advocating for stretching and movement within the studio with Reset. 

She has agreed to share one of her stretches for today's post.

"Use the following stretch to counterbalance and relieve strains caused by poor posture and general stress."






With both feet on the floor,

Sit comfortably either fully back in your chair or at its edge.

Put left hand under left sit bone,
palm down, fingertips pointing toward tailbone .




Reach straight up with right arm.








Lean head to right.

Bend right elbow so fingertips are alongside jaw line. 
Keep lifting chest up as you allow your breath to flow along the side of your neck.

Stay here for a few breaths. 



Lower head down another couple of inches,

Take a few more breaths carefully moving into a new area of tightness in your neck.

Hold position for 3 – 5 breaths.





Release overhead arm.

Roll chin to chest.

Release the hand you are sitting on.

Leave head hanging.

Take a breath into neck and upper back.
Give yourself a self-massage.



Place entire hand on forehead, inhale – lift head up







Repeat neck stretch on the other side.







P.S. Thank you to everyone who has joined me for fitness at Belmont Planet Granite (now known as Movement Belmont) as my guest for one of my classes. I'm now leading my very own local outdoor exercise classes.

This post was updated on December 10th, 2021.

Volunteer to Make a Difference

Pin Volunteering Recognition AwardIn May of 2015 I received an award at the annual SNAG Conference in Boston, SNAG's first ever Volunteer Recognition Award. The SNAG Board says that the award acknowledges my many volunteer efforts over the years such as the Professional Development Seminars, the Professional Guidelines, and numerous other activities. 

Side view of pin from Society of North American Goldsmiths for the Volunteer Recognition Award

Receiving an award was quite gratifying, and even emotional. The introduction by Brigitte Martin and Andy Cooperman brought tears to my eyes. But I never did the volunteer work expecting an award -- I simply volunteered to help because I believe that any person can make a difference.   

Going one step further, I also believe that each person in a community has a responsibility to make a contribution.


Harriete-SNAG-Volunteer-Recognition-AwardI understand that these are busy times and it seems impossible to find time for volunteering. I don't have time for volunteering either.  Yet, somehow, for me, volunteering isn't optional, it is an obligation, but it comes with rich rewards that can only be realized through the experience.




Volunteer-Recognition-Award-Berman-Jim-BoveHowever it happens, volunteering seems to create good karma.
 It connects to something bigger than one person or one hour. Volunteering makes a difference for the community, and sooner or later, it can make a difference for you as well.


Harriete-Berman-SNAG-VRA-Sookyung-JunHelp out and you will learn so much, meet new people, people will get to know you, and perhaps open up new opportunities.




Harriete-Berman-SNAG-VRA-Sookyung-Jun-1Every organization needs help with jobs from big too small. Whether focusing on your local guild, national arts organization, school, or neighborhood, ask if you can help. Membership dollars (if any) cover only a small part of operations for most non-profit organizations. Organizations like SNAG can only thrive when volunteers help.

Speak up and volunteer your opinion. We all benefit when we share information, our experiences, and even our mistakes.  It can be reaffirming to have others validate that we all have so much in common.

Our work and our community become more meaningful when we work together.


  • Volunteer for your local arts organization like SNAG
  • Volunteer to help out at your next guild event.
  • Need something from your local arts organization? Ask if you can make it happen.  Using the words of Gandhi, "Be the change you want to see."  
  • Give Blood - One hour out of your day can save a life.
  • Volunteer an opinion.
  • Volunteer at your children's school.
  • Volunteer at  to participate as a healthy control subject  in medical research. It's easy and free.
  • Volunteer to clean up your neighborhood.

Volunteer, and you will have made a difference.

This post was updated on December 9, 2021.


SNPin Volunteering Recognition AwardAG Volunteer Recognition Award Pin designed by graphic design student Ross Tanner, Grand Valley State University. Fabricated by Ross Tanner, and Renee Zettle-Sterling, Associate Professor of Art and Design at Grand Valley State University.

Side view of pin from Society of North American Goldsmiths for the Volunteer Recognition Award

Photo Credit for photos of pins: Renee Zettle-Sterling, SNAG Past-President 



Photo Credit: Boris Bally, SNAG Conference attendee, SNAG Conference speaker and maker.  



Photo Credit: Jim Bove



 Photo Credit: Sookyung Augustin

Harriete-Berman-SNAG-VRA-Sookyung-Jun-1Photo Credit: Sookyung Augustin

"Purple Cow" Visibility . . . Yes, Yes, Yes,

Holstein-cows-on-fields.purpleStanding out from the herd, or "Purple Cow" visibility, is about finding and developing an audience outside your familiar pasture. By this I mean outside your comfort zone or outside your normal audience. It could be anything or anyplace but it is reaching beyond your usual audience to find visibility.

For me building purple cow visibility is an adventure...and being willing to take a few risks.  I can try just about anything for visibility once to see what happens (as long as it doesn't cost money). This is about finding those guerrilla marketing opportunities that are not obvious but might work.

In this post, I will share a recent "purple cow" example that I tried.

Colored Pencil Magazine featured a post about shipping (based on an archived ASK Harriete post). The article gave visibility to my name, website, blog, along with all the shipping information on ASK Harriete (not just the one post).

Colored-Pencil-cover-shipping-article ColoredPencilShippingColored Pencil Magazine was new to me, but the article included a link to my website and blog. This increased traffic.  And more traffic = higher search ranking for my site.

The next step is to leverage that first opportunity into another opportunity.

When the editor of "Colored Pencil" Magazine approached me about the shipping article,
I realized that he might also be interested in my installation from Pencils.  In subsequent communications, I reminded them again and included an image and a link to my website. This sculpture fabricated from pencils was a perfect purple cow for the magazine.  Magazines are always searching for interesting content for their readers.

Pick UP YOur Pencils, Begin is an installation from 1000's of pencils about the impact of standardized testing on education
They jumped on the suggestion and now the installation Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin will be a featured article in an upcoming issue of Colored Pencil Magazine.

Will this generate an exhibition opportunity? Who knows, but it might.  It sometimes takes years for exhibition opportunities to develop.

Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin an installation about standardized testing and its impact on education

If I have learned anything in years of experience,
it is to stretch for every opportunity. Have your photos ready because publishers always want them yesterday.

Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin is 28' wide and 15' tall constructed entirely from pencils.

Will the article result in sales? or money? One never knows, but this was not my priority.

Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin in progress
In my opinion, a purple cow opportunity can not be developed with a set expectation.
Having a fixed idea for the outcome does not work? The possibility is your objective.

How can you make this work for you?
Approaching Colored Pencil  Magazine would be a great opportunity for all those makers working in metal that use Prismacolor pencils for a surface finish. Or what if you use work with colored pencils as your medium in a sculpture, as an image in your ceramics, or in your prints.

If you study your work, what kind of "purple cow" visibility would fit your work? What is your new pasture for opportunity and visibility.

P.S. In case you want to purchase a copy of Colored Pencil Magazine CLICK HERE.

Tips for Your Essential Studio Shots

Every artist and maker needs to update their profile shots and studio images once in a while.
Usually once a year, I dedicate the better part of a day to new studio shots and it is time to do this again.  I need to be ready in advance for a request for a studio shot.

Who will take the photos? Ask a friend that likes to take photos. Ask an art student that wants to practice with their camera or build their portfolio. Maybe you will meet someone that wants to trade for your artwork. Ask your son or daughter. 

Here are a few tips.

  • Always wear extra make-up, it never shows in the photo.
  • Never wear a black shirt. If you do the artist always ends up looking like a floating head in the photo.
  • Connect with the camera. Project positive feelings and energy. (I know that sounds silly but it works.)
  • Chin down just a little.
  • Take photos on a good day....a "bad day" always shows in your face.
  • Plan on using the time of day with the best light in your studio.
  • Make sure you have extra white foam core to bounce light.
  • Take serious working shots and experiments.
  • Take images of your studio with and without the artist.
  • Publish only the best photos, and not all at once.
  • Take process shots during every major artwork. Book authors and blog writers love to include the in progress shots and the finished artwork.

Harriete Estel Berman working in the studio on a Tu Bishvat Seder Plate in her studio

Here is a great tutorial that might help improve your lighting.

This tutorial shows how to use Photoshop for a more flattering image. "Smooth Operator: Make More Flattering Portraits"

I'll be on Jay Whaley blog talk radio with Andy Cooperman and Brigitte Martin on Thursday, 3:00 PST (6:00 East Coast). We will be talking about the upcoming Professional Development Seminar topic titled: Cash Cow, Sacred Cow, Purple Cow with lots of inspiring ideas for artists and makers. This program will take place during the upcoming SNAG Conference and is inspired by the Seth Godin Lecture How to Get Your Ideas to Spread.

Have you scene my studio online. And some people wonder where I get all my tin cans....just junk places, and resale shops. Some games (like the one below) are really great gifts but must be terrible games because I see them all the time.
Have you scene the studio of Harriete Estel Berman

Blue And White Tears

Have you ever thought that maybe it could be a good thing that you haven't sold some of your best work? By holding onto your finest artwork....perhaps the right collector or an important exhibition will come along. 

I never consider any of my exhibition work as "old" inventory.  I don't even call it "inventory" (except to the I.R.S.).  

Boston Chinese Tea Teapot from recycled tin cans printed with Blue and White ceramic patterns
Boston Chinese Tea    2005        Harriete Estel Berman

Here is one story and revelation:

Several years ago a "collector" purchased one of my favorite teapot sculptures, "Boston Chinese Tea".  I was thrilled. This one piece sold for enough to keep me out of the "red zone" in my accounting for several months.

Boston Chinese Tea Teapot in Blue and White by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans.  B
Read more about Boston Chinese Tea teapot here.

An artist always hopes that their work goes to a good home.  I also had the name and contact information of the collector to keep track of my work so that it could be loaned for an exhibition if invited.

Boston Chinese Tea Teapot Handle from recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman

In early 2012, curator Emily Zilber from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston wanted to borrow Boston Chinese Tea for an upcoming show at the museum based on Chinese blue and white porcelain.

Boston Chinese Tea Teapot detail constructed from recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman

Unfortunately, no matter how hard we both tried (along with some other people) to contact the collector, in every which way we could, the collector would not reply to the letters and emails.

My heart is broken weeping blue and white tears as the exhibition has opened at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and it looks magnificent. What an honor it would have been to participate in this show. It is very disappointing that my teapot could not be included.

Boston Chinese Tea Teapot by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin Cans.OUTdetail

Go to the Museum of Fine Arts website for a look at some of the work in the show. There are a few images from the show titled, NEW BLUE AND WHITE.

If you are lucky enough to visit or live near Boston, the show is up until July 14, 2013.

New-Blue-White at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

New-Blue-White LINK to the video by curator Emily ZilberXTo the left is an image, CLICK on it to go to the website, there is a link to an excellent video with Emily Zilber, Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she discusses some of the work in the exhibition. It is definitely worth watching this short video.

Price your best work high enough to make it worth selling.

Always get the complete contact information of the collectors who buy your work.

Keeping your best work for an important exhibition may be key for building visibility and your professional reputation.

Know the value of your work even if it doesn't sell.

Value is not always determined by whether a piece sells.

P.S. There is more to say about this issue including the shocked look of the I.R.S. auditor. Stay tuned.  

Effective "Framing" For the Best Show Ever!

Hi Harriete,
I followed your advice about "framing" in my booth after reading the post Sticker Shock or A Real Bargain - It's All Relative To Framing. I extended my affordable line of yarn bowls and made a more expensive one.

I showed it at a show last weekend!"

"And the show was a great success!" 


"My best show ever!
I sold 82 yarn bowls including my framing piece."

"Thanks for the info on framing pieces! 
Next year I'll make 2 or 3."


Harriete response:


Good going on developing your niche market. Fantastic!  Now why only 2 or 3 framing pieces? Why wait till next year?

Your framing peices can perform multiple functions. This more special work will get you into better juried shows, and can help sell your work online as well. This higher end work can also develop into a more expensive and popular line generating more profit. And finally, the framing work will help create a more evolved artistic voice for your work and reputation as a maker. 

Perhaps a framing piece for every show is in your future?

Aligning Craft Values and Craft Practices with the New Economy

There were many heartfelt comments responding to the previous posts about the brand of craft. Some questioned the brand of craft. The overwhelming evidence, however, is that craft must adapt to the dynamics of the evolving marketplace.  The question is, "How?"

2HANDsolarizebrilliantHolding on to values that makers care about while navigating the realities of the current economy seemed daunting to me also.  Then I saw John Gerzema in a TED Talk that inspired some new insights and helped me focus on actions that the craft community can support. 



Some quotes from the TED Talk (shown below) by John Gerzema: The post-crisis consumer

The consumer has moved "from mindless consumption to mindful consumption." "By restricting their demand, consumers can actually align their values with their spending, and drive capitalism and business to not just be about more, but be about better."

Gerzema states that we are "going to go through four value-shifts that we see driving new consumer behaviors...." 

The consumer value shifts that Gerzema describes will impact or have already impacted the craft marketplace.  By understanding these value shifts, the craft community could better align itself with and take advantage of the emerging trends in consumer behavior.

Declasse consumption"The first cultural value shift" is "..déclassé consumption." Déclassé consumption is the whole idea that spending money frivolously makes you look a little bit anti-fashion."  Similarly, craft should not participate in the "buy cheap and throw away" mentality. Craft could be about quality instead of quantity.

"The second of the four values is this movement toward ethics and fair play." "And, as a result, businesses must provide not only value but values. StonyfieldcultureIncreasingly, consumers are looking at the culture of the company, looking for their conduct in the marketplace...Complete transparency."   Similarly, craft has traditionally been about multiple values. The value of handmade or artist-made. The value of skill. The personal connection with the maker in the booth or at an exhibition. No factory model, no exploiting labor in third world countries.

"The third of the four laws of post-crisis consumerism is about durable living." Consumers increasingly want to obtain the full "value out of every purchase." "The principle is...that it's about being sustainable.." Likewise, craft could highlight sustainability and conservative use of materials. Craft can be about traditional skills and heritage. It could be about "Made in the USA."  Buying quality instead of quantity.

"So, the fourth sort of post-crisis consumerism that we see is this movement about a return to the fold." It's a growing awareness of our place in the world. "It's now about connecting to your communities, connecting to your social networks."

BlueMoonCraftourBrew Within this concept, "the artisanal movement is huge. Everything about locally derived products and services, Human crafting Artisan Crafted Body Caresupporting your local neighborhoods, whether it's cheeses, wines, and other products."   GarlicGOLD Ironically, many of these new products market their products using the word craft, crafted, and crafting to develop an identity for their premium product.   Craft fits perfectly into buying local, "support your local neighborhood or local producer." Craft is about the value of buying from the individual that lives in your neighborhood or has a studio down the street.

Craft and the "post-crisis consumer" can be closely aligned with a long list of values:

  • SUSTAINABLE and GREEN FABRICATION (without greenwashing.)
  • TRANSPARENCY meeting the makers, visiting the studio.
  • IDENTITY OF THE MAKER as an individual (not a factory)
  • ALIGN WITH THE artisanal movement
  • MADE IN THE USA - no imports.

So what can artists and makers specifically do?
Specific actions can transform the craft market.

Insist that every show implements rules against imported items.  If the show has no such policy, Don't even apply.  Actively practice how the values of craft can be used to promote craft in the marketplace. 

Make quality instead of quantity

Decline to compete on price alone.  A downward price spiral is not a productive strategy. Craft needs to sell the values that makers add such as quality, buying local, or sustainable fabrication practices.

Differentiate your art or craft from third-world imports and manufactured goods.

Participate in the experiential economy. Demonstrate with samples, or show your fabrication process.

Create understanding and appreciation for realistic wages.

Appeal to the consumer with services such as custom or commission work.


BELOW TED talk from John Gerzema:
                            The post-crisis consumer

Think craft.

This post was updated on June 22, 2022, to provide current links.

Average Doesn't Cut the Mustard Any More

Craft has been self-absorbed in self-importance, resting on its past laurels, while the marketplace has changed drastically over the past twenty years. Just like print media and music, craft must redefine its role in the marketplace. Craft needs to rethink.

Grey PouponThe previous post generated a comment from Tara Brannigan...she says, "The examples listed, Grey Poupon, Campbell's Tomato Soup, etc., are singular products with an easily definable set of descriptors and a strong level of consumer awareness."  Very likely, many other people were thinking about this.

Makerstanding greenAnd I agree. It is easier to create a "brand" for mustard than it is to create a "brand" for an enormous diversity of makers and expressions of craft. Craft represents many media, many levels of skill and expertise, and degrees of expectations. I just can't imagine trying to answer the question, 'What is Craft?' It makes my head spin to think of it. It took Bruce Metcalf and Janet Koplos, authors of Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, 505 pages for just the 20th-century craft movement.

MustardOn the other hand, unless you understand that before Grey Poupon developed their remarkable advertising campaign, French's Yellow mustard was the only mustard anyone used.   The rise of Grey Poupon proved that the American supermarket shopper was willing to pay a premium—as long as what they were buying carried with it an air of sophistication and complex aromatics.

Despite the complexities of rebranding craft and the craft community, there's still room for applying the lessons of successful marketing.  Differentiating subsets of craft consumers and then target marketing to each audience provides the most likely improvements.  

For individual makers, developing your brand and cultivating an audience for your work is essential to achieving better sales. Branding the work allows the maker to establish prices beyond covering expenses.

If people walk up to your booth and say,
"Why does this cost so much?"
you have not established the value of your brand. (Read the previous post on ASK Harriete.) No one goes to an Apple store and asks why an iPhone5 costs so much.

Apple-iphone-5It is hilarious just to think about it. Not only is the value of an Apple phone established, but it isn't even one of a kind or a limited edition. An Apple phone is a mass-produced consumer item. Everyone pays full price. And next year, people will replace it with another phone.    

Think about how you can establish a clear brand for your work and define your market. Possibilities might include:

UNIQUE Objects
NICHE Marketing
ENGAGING the Customer

Competing with 1000s of other look-alikes has no future. Average doesn't cut the Mustard anymore.

Authentic Iconic Copyright, Trademark and Patent
Authentic Iconic Copyright, Trademark & Patent
Constructed entirely with post-consumer recycled tin cans. The packaging reflects the iconic images of our consumer society.
This post was updated on June 22, 2022, to provide current links.

The White Tent or the White Wall.

KingsMountainArtFair2. Harriete Estel Berman at the S. F. Museum of Modern Art

SF Museum of Modern Art          King's Mountain Art Fair      

As mentioned in the previous post, on Labor Day Weekend I went to both SFMOMA and the King's Mountain Art Fair. Each of these venues offers a sanctuary for creative expression, a haven, a quiet experience to look at art, and a wonderfully tranquil environment.

Cathedral of Redwood Trees.The King's Mountain Art Fair takes place in a natural cathedral of redwoods.   In contrast, the  San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a modern building designed for and dedicated to the arts. Both venues are "destinations." San_francisco_museum_modern_art_am030309_1Everyone attending these venues immerses themselves in the surroundings, taking time to look and to see what there is to see. By being there, they are supporting the arts.

Both locations offered visibility for the artists, but I kept wondering ....what difference is there between the white tent of the fair and the white wall of the museum.

Alison Antelman White Booth inside viewThe artists in the white tents are reaching for visibility, credibility, collectors, and retail sales.  But the artists at the museum are visible, credible, collected, and purchased.

Was there any artwork or craft at the King's Mountain Art Fair with a future on the white walls of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
(or any museum)?

What would I think about the art in SFMOMA if it were hanging on a white booth at Kings Mountain Art Fair?

In the video below, Joshua Bell played Bach in the District of Columbia subway during rush hour. A few people stopped and watched this world-class musician "playing exquisite violin piece on one of the world's most expensive violins." Mostly he was ignored, earning a reported $32.17.

The point? Without the credibility established by a concert hall, the metaphorical white wall, he was just another artist seeking visibility with no credibility.  A quote from the article from Joshua Bell, "When you play for ticket-holders," Bell explains, "you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I'm already accepted. Here,[in a subway station] there was this thought: What if they don't like me? What if they resent my presence . . ."

The primary issue in the art world and in this post is that the white wall of the museum establishes credibility.

Would I recognize work at a craft fair that deserved to be validated by the white wall of the museum?

How apparent is it that a painting, drawing, print, or photograph belongs only at a craft fair?

What aspects or factors of an artwork (of any media) cause it to belong in a museum?

Do you (the readers of ASK Harriete) ever walk through an art/craft fair or SOFA, and ask this question?

In the meantime, do you have an opinion you'd like to share?

Alison Antelman Booth Inside.
Booth Shot of Alison Antelman's Booth.

This post was updated on June 17, 2022.


Ordinary, Extraordinary & Future of Craft

This Labor Day weekend I went to the King's Mountain Art Fair and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  The two venues provided both striking contrasts and similarities -- which raised questions that continue to reverberate in my brain.  The ordinary and the extraordinary coexist in both.  The absolute natural setting of an amazing redwood grove versus the man-made, credentialed establishment of a modern museum. 

Can you see the similarities and differences?

Kings Mountain Art Fair.

What issues do these photos raise?
The issues are varied and complex:

Is there a future for craft beyond D.I.Y.?

What is the economical model we are looking at here?

Can craft media makers make a viable living in craft media?

Can craft makers hope to achieve more than break-even? What is break-even?

Does selling at craft fairs reach your objectives?

Is there a future for craft fairs?

What is happening to the Galleries that sell craft media?

Will there ever be a craft media superstar?

Is it a bunch of baloney to say that making a living from craft is possible?

Does "handmade" have value anymore?

Should consumers pay what it costs makers to make?  

Can consumers be educated about why our work costs so much? Does it really matter?

In the next few posts, I intend to examine, discuss, and debate these issues.  Send comments and let me know your opinions, questions, and insights.


This post was updated on June 17, 2022.


Talent and White Noise. Testing Your Core

Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah ThortonworldI just finished reading the book Seven Days in the Art World. It is a real eye-opener! Both depressing and shocking, I would recommend reading this book if you can stand being confronted with the inequity and inequality of the art world vs. the craft world.

I think it is important to view another perspective, but it is very challenging to your core. It's like standing on one leg while lifting weights. If you can survive the set, your balance will be stronger, but it takes practice. (I have more to say, but it will be another post.)

Here are two of my favorite quotes from this book that apply to everyone.

Paul Schimmel, chief curator of the Musuem of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (or MOCA), discusses the concept of talent and what makes a good artist:

"Talent is a double-edged sword. What you are given is not really yours. What you work at, what you struggle for, what you have to take command of -- that often makes for very good art.” Seven Days in the Art World, Chapter title: The CRIT, page 72

The next quote was about writing art criticism but I think it applies to any creative endeavor. It is from the New York Times critic Roberta Smith:

“When you are writing, you have a lot of white noise. Doubt is a central part of intelligence, and doubt is hard to control. What I do is write first and question myself later. After my deadline, I have a little whimper session: I feel bad about something; it could have been better; certain people are going to hate me the next day.” Seven Days in the Art World, Chapter The Magazine, page 172

As a maker it is so hard to shut down the "white noise" and doubt, and yet, it is absolutely necessary to put your blinders on and go forward.

More discussion follows soon.

Below is a short video from the author Sarah Thorton talking about the seven chapters of her book.

Full disclosure: Images and links for this book are affiliate links. I love my local library and did not buy the book, but instead paid for an inter-library loan.

This post was updated on June 17, 2022, to provide current links.

To Give or To Get, Cost, Reward, Opportunity

I'm kind of in a funk deciding what to make next and have been listening to a lot of negative voices inside my head and from other people. Why do I do this? Why do I try so hard? Why do I care so much? Accusations that I put too much work into my volunteer efforts?

The toolsI'm reading the book The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity And a paragraph jumped out at me tonight. It resonates with so many comments that I have been hearing recently.

"We've lost the universal language of the heart, and with it, any sense of an all-inclusive human community. We've lost the sense that we're on the same team and that we have a duty to something higher than ourselves. Public officials no longer feel bound to place the public interest over their own...Our public discourse has degenerated into a no-holds-barred attack zone, where nothing is off-limits-whether it's an opponent's patriotism, appearance, or private life."*

This paragraph recalls the current political discourse...but actually my mind goes to something more personal. My community. When I say community, I mean my neighborhood, the local Metal Arts Guild, SNAG, and the larger arts community. These communities to which I devote a tremendous amount of time. Much to my dismay, I hear that people don't join because they don't get anything out of it. They don't volunteer, they don't pay their membership dues, and they won't bend over and pick up a weed, or sweep the street. It is always someone else's job.

It isn't what you get out of is what you have to contribute. Until that realization becomes a core understanding, one will never think they get enough out of it. But, if you give your time, your ideas, energy, or goodwill, then actually, you will get something out of it. What you give will be returned to you many times over.

"As a society, we tend to associate influence with important people in positions of power." "This assumption is understandable---but it's a costly mistake. It means we ignore the ordinary, prosaic opportunities to encourage, connect with, and inspire one another. You can use Inner Authority to become a positive force for the people around you..."**

Listen to the authors of the book The TOOLS on Charlie Rose. This is why I decided to read the book.

The Tools

*The Tools by  Phil Stutz & Barry Michels on page 125.

**The Tools by  Phil Stutz & Barry Michels on page 125.

The affiliate link includes image and title.

This post was updated on June 17, 2022, to provide current links.

"People aren't used to women being so passionate." "It scares them."

I love this video. It as if I was speaking with my own voice. "When I was growing up girls just didn't run in public." So true.


"People aren't used to women being so passionate."
"It scares them."

Why are women so afraid of their own power?

I have loved watching the Olympics especially the women. Women who are strong, powerful, confident and work hard to achieve their goals. They put everything on the line time and time again.

Push Yourself Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman

Push Yourself Flower Pin


Crafting a Niche Market with Unique Cowboy Boots

Lisa Sorrell
"You're Running Wild" by Lisa Sorrell

Last year's SNAG Professional Development Seminar 2011 was about Niche Marketing. Ever since then I've been looking around for examples of successful niche marketing.

In this case, successful niche marketing can be defined as finding a specialized market for exactly what you love to make and being able to make money fulfilling that market.

Recently, I discovered the amazing cowboy boots made by Lisa Sorrell on Crafthaus.  In an online conversation, she revealed that she has a waiting list of up to a year! How about them cowboy boots!



Lisa Sorrell
  Waltz of the Angels by Lisa Sorrell

Below is an interview with Lisa Sorrell about her niche market and how it came about.  I suggest watching the PDS 2011 presentation about Niche Marketing with Hilary Pfeiffer, Emiko Oye, and Deb Stoner to learn more about niche marketing. 

LisaSorrellI heard the bluebirdsing3
"I Heard the Bluebird Sing"

Lisa Sorrell interview:

How did you begin making cowboy boots?
I discovered boot making through a want ad placed in the local newspaper seeking someone “to stitch boot tops.” I never heard of boot-making or worn a pair of cowboy boots. The ad was placed by the legendary bookmaker Jay Griffith, who was a cantankerous old alcoholic. A veteran of both WWII and the Korean War, his favorite phrase, “GODDAMNIT!” was usually delivered at full volume.

It was only supposed to be a temporary job, but boot making appealed to me because I could create beautiful and colorful designs with sewing, knives, and hammers.


Lisa Sorrell The Way I am
  ”The Way I Am" by Lisa Sorrell

How do you find your customers?
I opened my own business, Sorrell Custom Boots, in 1996. Initially, I didn’t think any further than opening the doors and hoping customers would hear about me and order the intricate and colorful boots that I made for my husband and myself.

I caught the eye of Tyler Beard, a noted boot historian, and collector who was working on his second book about cowboy boots entitled Art of the Boot. Tyler featured four boots from our personal collection and suddenly those were the type of boots I was being asked to build.

LisaSorrell Drifting and dreaming
"Drifting and Dreaming" by Lisa Sorrell

That was my first introduction to the power of marketing. I’m not a cowboy and can’t pretend to be one, and I have very few customers who are cowboys. While I build a traditional cowboy boot, my own personal philosophy is that cowboy boots are a way for men to wear high heels and bright colors.
Who are your customers?

My typical client is a businessman, often one who enjoys western art and owns a second home somewhere in the West.


Lisa Sorrell Come early morning
   "Come Early Morning" by Lisa Sorrell


How did you develop your niche market?
I choose the venues I attend very carefully. I put a lot of time into thinking about who my typical client is, and who I want him/her to be. I don’t select events at random, I choose events where that client is likely to be.

 I particularly enjoy introducing cowboy boots to new markets.
In the past few years I’ve done the Baltimore Craft Show, the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, Illinois, and the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C. These aren’t areas where one would typically imagine cowboy boot wearers to be, but in my way of thinking that simply means a whole show full of people who don’t know they want cowboy boots yet.

When I go to shows these are the types of boots my husband and I wear.  They’re types of boots I have on display in my booth, and they’re well represented in my portfolio. I position myself to attract the client I want and to encourage him or her to order the type of boots I love to build. I prefer making intricate and colorful boots and I like to use exotic leathers.


Lisa Sorrell Cherokee Fiddle
Cherokee Fiddle by Lisa Sorrell


How do customers influence the commissions?
Since each pair of boots is a commission, the client has a large part in each design decision. Some clients choose from a portfolio of work, some request small changes in colors or patterns that result in new designs, and others bring drawings or ideas to be translated into a personal and wearable piece of art. This element of collaboration is the beginning. After the client takes the boot and wears them they begin to also take on the shape and personality of the owner, completing the partnership.


How do you structure your commissions?
I build two to three pairs of boots per month. The waiting time is usually around one year. Boot prices start at $3500, with additional charges for designs or exotic leathers.

A deposit of half reserves a spot on the calendar and the second half is due during the month the boots are being built before they’re shipped. An order form filled out by hand, detailing all leather, color, and design choices avoids problems. This form filled out in triplicate (one for the client, two for my files) is a record of each decision and it’s proven to be an invaluable part of the ordering process.

Do you make exhibition/competition designs?

I prefer to make competition pieces for either my husband or myself following my own taste.  My boots have won awards for best artist in both Art to Wear and Leather categories at the Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Other awards include the Founder’s Award at the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, Illinois, Bronze Award winner at the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C., and a Gold Medal in shoe-making competitions in both Wiesbaden, Germany, and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.


More information about Lisa Sorrell boots:

Lisa enjoys speaking, teaching, and promoting the craft of boot-making. She regularly updates her Facebook page with photos and explanations of ongoing work in the shop; clients who are having boots built can watch as their boots are made. She also has a YouTube channel where she posts videos of boot-making. 

This post was updated on March 19, 2022, to provide current links.

<div style="width:425px" id="__ss_8462501"> <strong style="display:block;margin:12px 0 4px"><a href="" title="Niche Marketing from SNAG PDS 2011" target="_blank">Niche Marketing from SNAG PDS 2011</a></strong> <iframe src="" width="360" height="270" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe> <div style="padding:5px 0 12px"> View another <a href="" target="_blank">webinar</a> from <a href="" target="_blank">Harriete Estel Berman</a> </div> </div>

What information Does a Promotional Image Need?

NoCredit72AH800When you send a promotional image, do you always include a description, size, dimensions? How about a link to your website?

Did you include the price? When it's a Trunk Show or craft fair and the event is all about selling, yes, in this situation include the price.

PushFlowerah800If asked for a promotional image of your work, are you ready to send an image in the next five minutes? A successful artist or maker is always ready. The Press always wants their images yesterday.

TrunkshowmodifiedFor the SNAG Trunk Show, a couple of people sent me images. They were prepared!


"Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation."
--Robert Schuller


JenniferButterfieldpendentJennifer Butterfield sent this pendant image as a TIF at 6MB.

TIP #1
 Send a JPG and offer TIFs for print as an option. 


Purse by Joan WatersThis purse is by Joan Waters. It is a great idea for a Trunk Show image or standing outside the show.

TIP #2 Please include a complete description.
Joan included dimensions and materials with the image. Good for her! This sculpture is 5' high x 4' wide, made of welded steel.


Don FriedlichDon Friedlich sent this image of his brooch. His images have a strong graphic appeal.

 TIP #3  Photos should be dramatic and eye-catching.



Shelia SummerlinSheila Summerlin sent the image to the left.

TIP #4 Always include a link to your website along with a complete description.





Amaretti72.AH800I always look forward to the TRUNK SHOW at the SNAG Conference. Last year it was a huge success.

If you are in the SNAG Trunk Show write about it on your blog, website, Facebook, or Crafthaus page. Spread the word with images of your work and others. Send me your images if you are in the Trunk Show.

My Flower Pins were available for purchase at the SNAG Trunk Show and can be found on my website.  They vary in price and for one-of-a-kind work are in a very affordable price range.  


This post was updated on March 17, 2022, to provide current links.

What Should Trunk Show Promotion Look Like?

TrunkshowmodifiedThe 2nd Annual Trunk Show is coming up at the SNAG Conference in Phoenix.  Lots of potential...

Every situation can be an opportunity and I always want to maximize the potential outcomes.   PushFlower

But is a collective effort to "PUSH" an event appropriate?

I wonder what would happen if everyone in the Trunk Show promoted the event?

 What if the Trunk Show participants created their own whirlwind of visibility for the event and for each other?

NoCredit72AH800What if we, everyone attending, posted an image of the Trunk Show poster on our Facebook pages or websites? Click Here for the Trunk Show Banner.

What if we were all asked for an image of new work to create a new Trunk Show poster or online catalog?

What if the local television news came to cover the event? Headline; "World renown artists and makers coming to Phoenix" could be "big news," but only if the news station finds out.

Monopoly Electric Flower Pin © 2012
recycled tin cans, sterling silver,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
These flowers will be available at the
SNAG Trunk Show or online.

I don't think that the metal arts community suffers from too much success, but it looks like we aren't really good at making ourselves into "big news".



This post was updated on March 17, 2022, to provide current links.

Professional Practices with Andy Cooperman and Harriete Estel Berman

Harriete  Estel Berman Andy CoopermanThe Academy of Art in San Francisco presented a program about professional development with Andy Cooperman and me (Harriete Estel Berman).  The program was co-sponsored by the S.F Metals Arts Guild.

Harriete Estel Berman talking with audience members after professional development programramWartThe program revolved around a discussion about survival as an artist and maker. The entire program was an hour and a half. It started with Andy Cooperman's 45-minute lecture about his work and recommendations for surviving as an artist and maker.


Then an 8-minute lecture about my work continued with additional resources for artists and makers.  Then Andy and I responded to Q & A with the audience. Here is the handout with links to the Resources and the articles mentioned.  Download HANDOUT 


This post was updated on March 17, 2022, to provide current links.


Graduation, Job, Studio, Is There a Recommended Direction?

Considering the time of year, this question from Eva, a student at the Academy of Art, San Francisco, CA, seems very timely. She asks:
"Do you suggest that we find a job after graduation or set up our own studio directly?"

Life Flower Pin by Harriete Estel BermanOf course, there are always unusual circumstances, but I think getting a job related to your field of study gives you a great experience that will ultimately channel into your art or craft. I use the term "related to your field of study" quite loosely. Life Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman

Anything that is remotely connected to your interests and skills seems better than an unrelated job.


Photo of Harriete Estel Berman from 1977
Here I am sitting at a "kitchen table"
as my workbench. This grainy black &
white photo was from a 1977 newspaper
article  from The Charleston Gazette
Photo Credit: Lou Raines 



After my graduation, I supported myself for years doing jewelry repair.  Then I had a job for about 8 years working for a plating firm repairing anything that came in the door from sugar bowls and creamers to elevator rails.

The experiences increased my skills and confidence. I learned problem-solving, metalsmithing skills, hands-on exposure to diverse metalworking assemblies and fabrications from the past 200 years . . .  AND access to a very wide range of professional tools, equipment, and plating processes.  With those well-honed skills, I still do silver repair part-time.

ANDY wARHOL SHOEYou'll be in good company.  Andy Warhol worked in advertising.  James Rosenquist painted billboards. Consider the profound influence that their work experiences had on their artwork.  ROSENQUIST billboard
James Rosenquist and his mother in 1954 standing below a billboard he painted. The Red Shoe illustration by Andy Warhol.

Harriete working in the studio 2007ng in the I'd also recommend setting up a studio space immediately, even if it is in the other half of your bedroom or in your living/dining room.  Get your studio up and running, no matter how modest. Avoid burdening yourself with debt and expenses. It is more important that you start working with fewer tools and more creativity to keep ideas fresh and your mind immersed in creative expression.  If you need larger or specialized equipment, take a class at a local community college or rent time at a studio space near you.

In summary, try to get a job related to your degree, even if it doesn't pay much in the beginning.  The experience will help you learn so much along the way. You might even be able to use their tools or equipment.

Also keep working in your home studio every day. Even if you don't have all the tools or equipment that you had in school. there are always alternate solutions.  Use your most creative tool, your mind.


This post was updated on March 17, 2022.

What are YOUR TOP 3 Tools and Books for Jewelry Making?

Alina, a student at the Academy of Art, San Francisco, CA asks, "What are your top 3 can't live without tools and books for jewelry making?"*There are so many possibilities, but as an advocate for business development, I think the practical information in the Professional Guidelines is a # 1 tool for survival in the real world outside of school.

Next, consider looking at the resources from the Professional Development Seminar available on the SNAG website. Many years of collective experience, wisdom learned, handouts, and lectures can be found online for free.

Professional Development Seminar



Making & Marketing Better ARtworkOne of my favorite books is Making and Marketing Better Artwork by Milon Townsend. " While Townsend is a glass artist, the information in the book is practical and relevant to all media. There are "11 chapters including information on working with galleries; pricing your artwork; wholesaling vs. retailing, wholesale vs. consignment; literature and advertising; photography;...and practical answers to many of the questions that both the novice and the seasoned professional will encounter during their working lives."

Drilland WireGaugeAlina also asked about tools for jewelry making. This is much more specific. It really depends on the kind of work you make. I would keep your first tool purchases fundamental but would also advise going for quality.  For me, as a metalsmith:

  • The best quality (e.g. German) flush cutters;
  • Drill and Wire gauge 1-60 (buy it from a hardware store to save money);
  • Complete set of drill bits 1-60 and 61-80.


Harriete Estel Berman image of the thinking and creativity from her Judaica Spice Books Besamin  b
And There Was Light  ©  2004
Recycled tin cans, 10k gold, ss rivets.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen



Keep in mind that your most creative tool is your brain, regardless of the specific media or craft.


*This question came from a Professional Development program co-sponsored by the Academy of Art and the Metal Arts Guild in San Francisco, CA with Andy Cooperman and myself, Harriete Estel Berman.


This post was updated on March 17, 2022, to provide current links.

Reality bite, you are the best spokesperson for your work.


Exhibition in the Gallery at the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, MABostonSOCIETY
Three Bracelets by Harriete E Berman
Post-consumer recycled tin cans 2007

In the previous post on ASK Harriete, a student asked, "What is the first step to get my artworks shown in a gallery?"

My guess is that the real sentiment was "How can I get my work in a gallery so that the gallery will sell my work, and I can just focus on making and not selling?"

Harriete flattening tin cans working in the studioTINS.100Many makers hold on to the fantasy that a gallery will sell all their work so they can dedicate their time to making work.  The reality is that those days are gone forever (except for a few rare individuals).  There are various reasons, including the Internet and this tough economy.  But it is incredibly important to realize early in your career that you are the best seller of your work. 

Just as movie studios came to realize that actors should participate in the marketing of their movies, and publishers understand that authors should appear on television and radio to sell their books, artists need to participate in the marketing of their work. The visible and articulate artist/craftsperson is the most effective tool there is for marketing.


Alyson Stanfield and Harriete Estel Berman at the Loveland Museum
Harriete E Berman & Alyson Stanfield
at the Loveland Museum exhibition 2010

People (i.e. buyers, collectors, and viewers ) want to see, hear and meet the artists. Whether it is meeting at an opening, participating in social networks, offering to do interviews, writing about your own work on blogs, or standing in your booth at a show, the creative spirit is what people want to see and hear.  They want to learn your story.

Showing your work, telling a story, or explaining the meaning behind your work are steps you need to take to achieve success. No gallery can perform this job better than you can.

A gallery that sells your work is a partnership. They may be providing a retail location with a customer base, but the better you are at your job, the better they can sell your work.

This post was updated on March 12, 2022.

First Step to Get My Artwork Shown in a Gallery?

Andy Cooperman talking to the audience after the program.Andy Cooperman and I gave a presentation with Q & A for an audience of students and emerging artists. Co-sponsored by the Academy of Art San Francisco and the S.F. Metal Arts Guild, the event drew an audience of close to 100.  My only disappointment was that we didn't have time to answer all the questions (including a list submitted by students).

Harriete talking to two people after the questions and answers with the audience.Therefore, I plan to answer some of those questions through ASK Harriete over the next few weeks.

Here is one question that always comes forward:
"As a young artist, what is the first step to getting my artworks shown in a gallery?" - Eva

Some parts of the answer have been answered in four articles under the heading, SUBMITTING WORK to GALLERIES and RETAIL ESTABLISHMENTS written by Don Friedlich, Andy Cooperman, and myself, Harriete Estel Berman.

Galleries: Are They Right for You?  by Don Friedlich

Introducing Your Work to a Gallery by Harriete Estel Berman

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

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

Harriete talking to audience member after the questions and answers at the Academy of Art, San Francisco, CAThe information is as solid now as it was in 2009 even though the economy and the Internet have vastly changed the dynamics.

1. There are fewer galleries and stores than there were ten years ago. Galleries and stores have closed their doors for a variety of reasons. Places that were barely surviving could no longer thrive in a bad economy.

2. The craft fair circuit is vastly different. Established shows are not as big, while a new mix of venues has opened up with a more informal flavor.

3. Membership events hosted by museums featuring artists and makers are much more common.

4. Open studios, while not new, are far more frequent.

5. The Internet is the most radical influence. Places like Etsy continue to grow, but there is a huge number of other online marketplaces without a definitive market leader for a juried, exclusive online marketplace.

6. Every gallery now has an online presence.

7. Every artist and maker now can and should have a website and/or blog. 

Harriete and Andy Cooperman after the program hosted by the Academy of Art and the S.F. Bay Area Metal Arts Guild questions AFTER PROGRAMI intend to continue this topic on another day, but let's look at the question again from Eva. "As a young artist, what is the first step to getting my artworks shown in a gallery?"

I am wondering if the question is really, "How can I get my work in a gallery so that the gallery will sell my work, and I can just focus on making and not selling."

Stay tuned to the reality bite...


This post was updated on March 12, 2022, to provide current links.

Follow Your Own Path -- Be Resilient, Postive, and Passionate

I was reading an article about "Pinterest's Ben Silbermann to 'Treps: Make Something Beautiful" on Though the article lists three pieces of advice for entrepreneurs, it struck a chord in me. A resounding echo that could be solid advice for artists and makers. Each one builds on the other.

Below is my short version for finding success:

Follow Your Own Path. Close the books on technique. Invest in play and experimentation to find your own path. This is a solitary, lonely activity. Many books and studies of cognitive thinking demonstrate that it takes around 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. Become an expert in your own work.

Be Resilient. Overnight success and instant fame are fairy tale fantasies. Invest time and commitment into following your own path. Everyone, yes, everyone is rejected and discouraged along the way. Learn from your mistakes, analyze failures and successes. I don't care whether you can only work one hour a day on your own work. One hour a day is seven hours a week. 30 hours in a month, and  360 hours a year. This is enough time to make one fabulous artwork a year.

Surround Yourself with Positive Energy. Ignore the naysayers. Ignore the devil on your shoulder. Listen with half an ear if there is any credibility to the comment, and the other side needs to be resilient and keep moving forward.

Don't listen to all those negative "it can't be done" opinions. Ignore people who say, "It's too hard,"  "Don't care so much", " It's not your job".  Ignore them. Surround yourself with positive energy even if it is one beautiful flower. Be resilient and follow your own path.   

Develop a thick skin.   Whether or not you make money from your art or craft, money is a poor measure of success. Surround Yourself with Positive Energy, Be Resilient, and Follow Your Own Path.

Be Passionate. Passionate may mean you will work harder. Passionate should definitely include working smart.  Day or night, be passionate about your goal, or the big idea, even when it is inconvenient and no one else cares. Passionate about your singular path, holding on tighter, pushing through the barriers. 

You can learn the tools you need.  You still have to follow your own path, be resilient, surround yourself with positive energy, keep your thick skin and be passionate.


This post was updated on March 12, 2022.

Commission Question and Publishing on Facebook

Debra Montgomeray copper reliefodgeHi Harriete:
I just delivered a large commission for a customer - my first commission through an art consulting firm. It was for a celebrity / well-known TV personality. My portfolio is obviously my means of representing my work. However, I was told I could not publish on my website or Facebook, etc., any photos of this piece until they publish it first, either on the designer's website or they are working on getting the home featured in Architectural Digest or another magazine such as that. However, this could take up to 6 months.

Debra Montgomery Copper commissionWhat are your thoughts on artists' rights to publishing images of their own work, etc?

I realize that having my work possibly in a magazine is worthy as well, but if that doesn't happen, I have missed out on 6 months of potential exposure and possible similar work.

I have never been asked this before so I don't want to make a big deal out of it, but what do you think?

Is there anything I can add to my commission contracts in the future to protect myself on this issue in the future? I have attached some photos of a large piece I did a couple of years ago that is similar in nature.
Debra Montgomery

Did you have a commission contract? These issues (if they are important to you or important to the client) should have been specified in the contract.  Contracts help clarify expectations.  Clear communication with the client is most important.

They are asking you to hold off, which may make you lose some opportunities during this period, but they are offering some significant potential as well.  So it sounds more like a business decision.  If you really think that they can get your work in a major magazine (like Architectural Digest), I'd give them time. Your work will still be fresh to new eyes in 6 months.

Legally, if this request is not specified in the contract, you can do as you please.  However, if you publish now despite their requests, you might gain a reputation of being uncooperative.  On the other hand, if they unreasonably string you along for months and months (beyond six months), they would lose credibility and I would get back on track with your images on Facebook and elsewhere. 

In the meantime, can you make another piece to promote or blog about other aspects of this commission? Are you allowed to talk about working with this client? Or can you discuss ideas and the experience that you had with this type of high-profile commission (not naming names of course.) Perhaps you would like to write about doing a celebrity commission and the pros and cons. Lots of people would love to hear about your experience. (I could publish some of this on ASK Harriete so other people can learn from your experience.)

In preparing for future commissions, it is close to impossible to anticipate everything.  Each commission will be different when we are working with new clients, new commissions, and different circumstances. Each time we hope to learn a little more from the experience.

Even in the one-of-a-kind exhibition world, the work may be finished for months, even 6 months in advance, before the exhibition opens and promotion for the show begins. Usually, the artists can talk about the work, but many times it is worth waiting.  When the exhibition opens, there is much more publicity coming from many different sources all creating momentum for the work in the exhibition, the exhibiting artists, and attendance in the exhibition.

I think the speed of our daily lives and the Internet makes us think that promotion has to happen the second our work is finished. This is a misleading concept. You will have months to promote the work. If the work is really good, it may become your signature work included in books, magazines, and blogs for years to come.

If anyone else has an opinion about this topic, please leave a comment.


PS  Thanks for sharing.

This post was updated on March 12, 2022, to provide current links.
DMCOPPERmasonic lodge4
"Weeping Virgin"  by Debra Montgomery 2009       3' x 4'  

Skill Set Needed to Run, Run, Run a Kickstarter Project?

After trying a KICKSTARTER project ....I've realized that there are specific skills needed to run a successful Kickstarter.

I found an article that I should have read before starting. It is a great guide for anyone considering their own Kickstarter.  

"7 Things to Consider BEFORE you Launch your Kickstarter Project" by Nathaniel Hansen.

Hansen says: "If you’re looking for Kickstarter advice, ... this article should answer any questions you might have about how to run an effective campaign." 

Hansen says he has helped projects "...featured all over the web, from Wired to CNN, spurred along by social media engines like Twitter and Facebook and an army of fans. Two projects are in the Kickstarter top 20, one is in the top 5 (most donated), and one recently earned a 2010 Kickstarter award."

Pencil Symposium students discussing standardized testingHe tells it like it is and I believe he is right. This article reveals that a great story is paramount, along with advocates & evangelists who will promote your project with an unceasing, unrelenting regularity to everyone you know with every possible vehicle asking for help through Facebook, Twitter, press releases, blogs, magazines, television, i.e. everything.

Testing Pencil from Autistic student taking a standardized testA Kickstarter campaign requires a HUGE INVESTMENT OF TIME and a lot of great writing with aggressive marketing.

It helps a lot if your project is aligned with the interests of the Kickstarter audience
(mostly young adults) who spend a lot of time online (such as gamers or zine fans). 

The audience for your Kickstarter project should be comfortable with social media. Arriving on Kickstarter for the first time in shock  -- like my father -- is not helpful.

Can you blog and write about your project constantly?

You will need either viral marketing to propel your project or a huge social network.

Does your Kickstarter project offer a reward with a retail value equal to the contribution to Kickstarter?

I jumped into Kickstarter with a noble goal and naive optimism.  Noble goals alone don't go very far on Kickstarter. 

This post was updated on March 12, 2022.

How to Get An Article About Your Work!

Getting an article about your work in a local newspaper, magazine or book is always a bit of luck and a good measure of preparation. From what I've seen, it takes three things, 1) a good "story," 2) great images, and 3) a personal letter to a writer or editor.
Press releases won't get it.
While press releases may be handy dandy, and you think that you are doing something, in my experience they are close to worthless, i.e. "busy work."  Sorry to bust the myth, but I've never seen the payoff.  Sure, I dutifully send them out, but press releases always seem generic and boring . . . and I don't know who picks up on them.

What got my latest article was the one and only thing I believe in... a personal letter (or email) to a person.  Sometimes you are reaching out to find a contact person.  You may not know them, yet, or haven't talked to them in years, but yes, the personal touch is the "key".   Sometimes you have to begin by just picking a name out of the newspaper, magazine, or website and start a personal communication.

To get a story, look for a writer or editor:

  1. give them one or two short paragraphs about why this is a great "story";
  2. tell them who, what, when, and where;
  3. add a few great photos, but only 2-3 small jpgs (less than 2 MB max);

Never use bulk emails.  This is the worst possible solution for trying to capture a writer or editor's attention. If you can't write to them one on one, why would they give you an extra minute?

I'd like to hear if anyone has any experience that they can offer in this regard. How do you get articles?


The above image is from the Palo Alto Weekly March 23, 2012 edition about my show at the Anita Seipp Gallery, Castilleja School. The article writer is Karla Kane, Editor  Rebecca Wallace, and the photographer is Veronica Weber. Download PaloAltoWeekly3.23.12PDF

This post was updated on March 12, 2022.

Reevaluating Life - Get $h!+ Done

Pencil Master My March 2012 experiment with Kickstarter was a real awakening, a roller coaster ride on the learning curves of two new worlds -- entering an unfamiliar social networking domain of the internet's long tail, and the world of documentary video production.

Harriete laughing at Reception3.22.124x6.72Combined with the unfolding exhibition of Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin, these events and revelations have caught me up in a whirlwind of thoughts and impressions.  After a 4+ year odyssey of fabrication, I am reflecting on a post from Chase Jarvis titled "Hit List: 13 Things Crucial For Your Success [In Any Field]".  I recommend reading every word.

Chase's #1 tip is "Get Shit Done".

For four years, I felt like I was limping along on the pencils. I couldn't work on it every day.  Shows came up that needed new works to be made.  Making work to sell gets in the way. Life gets in the way.  But I'd force myself to work on it every chance I could.

Interesting pencilsAnd I would torture myself as well.  Making a sculpture 28 feet wide and 15 feet tall from pencils is ridiculous! How will it look? Will it hang as planned? Will it ever get done? A combination of the simplest of art media - a pencil, a little thoughtful engineering, and tedious hours of assembly.  But the vision of a hand-crafted work to carry a message that the arts have a value and place in education AND that standardized testing has become overemphasized in education kept me going.

I naively started the Kickstarter project and already learned an enormous amount.  Each media and every social network has its own learning does Kickstarter. Reading the HELP menu doesn't adequately prepare you for what it takes to run a successful project on Kickstarter.

Harriete BEHIND installation3.22.124x6.72

Before you start a Kickstarter project be prepared with a lot of research, in advance. During the project, it requires a huge investment in developing momentum and visibility.

PS.  I hired a video editor yesterday! More information about making a documentary video in another post. 

This post was updated on March 12, 2022.

Posted Job Opening - What a Successful Response looks like!

Interviewing for a video editor position
has been an eye-opening experience. Looking at 20+ resumes in less than 24 hours from one job posting has given me a real insight into a successful reply for an opportunity.

PENCILbikeCoasterRED_72vertical.greenAfter an afternoon of interviewing editors for a "phase one" video, these are my observations for what a great reply looks like (perhaps for any opportunity).

1. Personalize the reply. Briefly make a case about why you want to work on the job, be in the show, or why this opportunity resonates with you.

2. Describe the job skills you have that fit the job.

3. Respond immediately. Don't wait. There may be so many other applicants for the opportunity that the requestor may stop looking.

4. If a phone number is included in the opportunity, call immediately.

5. If the email is included, email immediately.

6. If the phone and email are included, do both. It shows you are really interested.

7. Include links to previous projects, artwork, or other information that is relevant. An online presence including a website is essential. Include multiple links if you want, but if you don't include this information right from the beginning your introduction seems incomplete.

8. Include your resume either in the email or as an attachment (even if they didn't ask for it).

9. Include your email address and phone number in the body or signature of the email. Yes, I know the email is at the top, but if a person is overwhelmed by the responses, it is very hard to keep track of everything. By including your email and phone number, it will be easy to contact you during the decision-making process.

P.S. This is a super amazing antique pencil I found. The top has an enamel clip that says," Use the Atherton Coaster Brake for Bicycles." Pencils have a lot to say.

This post was updated on March 12, 2022.

Are you steering without a compass? Failure is an inevitable cul-de-sac on the road to success.

Compass I used to watch Charlie Rose every day (or at least every day if I could). Charlie Rose offered no-nonsense interviews with the world's leaders in every walk of life or occupation from science, politics, actors, writers, politicians, directors, producers, and entrepreneurs.  (It was devastating to me that his imprudent, and inappropriate behavior brought down a man with so much potential.) 

I often find listening to interviews inspiring. These are the smartest, hardest working, and usually, most articulate people in the world who are able to bring ideas and introspection to the plain wooden table of Charlie Rose (or other articulate interviews.) 

In this post, I want to share a couple of thoughts that may be helpful to artists and makers. Of course, these quotes weren't really about art or art careers. I have taken their words completely out of context, but their words of wisdom warrant being heard. In fact, I think they should be our mantra.

CharlesSchulzThe first quote is from an interview with  George Shultz, Former US Secretary of State from Monday, January 24, 2011. I have been savoring this for years now. He said, "If you don't have ideas, you don't have a compass." This opinion works for both our artwork and for our careers. If we don't have a compass we don't know what direction we are going. It is very easy to get lost. We need a plan. We need a one-year goal and a five-year goal.

CharlieRosePeterGuberContinuing with inspiring thoughts from Peter Gruber on Charlie Rose - March 14, 2011
  "Failure is an inevitable cul-de-sac on the road to success." 

"So the idea is you learn from it.  You don’t want to make the same mistake twice.  You want to be able to grow.  You want to be able to recognize that most of the stuff, the fear that you express is really false evidence appearing real.  It’s not, you know, it’s not always going to happen." 

COMPASSdrawing "So if you become, not immune to the failure, but you recognize that failure is a part of the process, when you take really good creative chances, when you really take good business chances, you will have failures.  And the idea is you learn from them and move on.  If they own you, if you surrender to them, then the pain is unbearable.  If you haven’t failed, you haven’t lived life to the fullest."  

If you aren't making mistakes, you aren't pushing yourself into new territory.

Compass3draw PETER GUBER continues: "And you know, I think the idea is that failure and success are this close together, Charlie.  Inside every failure are the seeds to great success, and in every great success are the opportunities for failure."

Harriete Estel Berman working on the pencils Whenever I am working on a new project, I think "failure and success" are very close together. Only hard work, skill, perseverance, intuition, and insight help you find your compass. Experience has taught me not to give up.

Working on the pencil project Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin was discouragingly slow. I worked on it for four years. Talk about scary! It's finally done and the work is being exhibited for the first time. The next phase to make a video is going forward.  

So keep working...every day with a plan. And work on your compass.


This post was updated on February 27, 2023 to provide current links.



Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin
15' height x 28' wide, as thick as one pencil

Sticker Shock or A Real Bargain - It's All Relative To Framing

An editorial by Ryan Jones in The Crafts Report (November 2011) brought a fascinating TED Talk to my attention. Dan Ariely explains how "framing" different options can influence purchasing decisions.

This post is not new, the concept is not new, and yet it is still relevant many years later. Quoting Ryan Jones, editor of The Crafts Report, "Some people wonder why they should bring along some higher-priced items to a craft fair, especially if it's unlikely they will sell them. But, framing means that your highest-priced items can be a sales tool ...". Listen to the TED Talk by Dan Ariely to learn more about this concept.

TEDlogoI recommend listening to the TED Talk all the way to the end because it explains the logic behind why we artists should always have a big show-stopper piece of artwork in our booths or in an exhibition to sell the smaller items. After the video, take a look at an example of how I am trying to apply this reasoning for my Judaica.

FIG Leaves and figs in an abstraction on my Tu Bishvat Seder plateHere is my practical example.
At the time of this post, I had a Seder plate for Tu Bishvat in the exhibition DO NOT DESTROY at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The price places this work outside the average consumer. My aspiration (or wish come true) is that a museum will buy this work for their permanent collection. 

Yellow Flower Scroll Mezuzah by Harriete Estel Berman Yellow Flower with Scroll Mezuah from recycled materials by Harriete Estel BermanTwo weeks before the museum exhibition opened,  I contacted the museum gift shop about selling some of my Mezuzot. Each mezuzah is priced at $175. That may put some people into sticker shock compared to the usual gift shop item, but it is a real bargain for the labor, preparation, skills, and design in each mezuzah. 

At the same time,  the mezuzot were an affordable example of my work with an environmental message that can be used every day. 

Everything is relative, and there are many factors that may influence the purchaser's decision including the perceived value of the artwork in the exhibition, and the validation provided by being included in the museum exhibition Do Not Destroy.

Keep this strategy in mind for your booth or next show. While the masterpiece of the show may or may not sell, it may be a prime factor in selling the other work.

I sold seven mezuzot during the show.












(Above photo) Close-up view of the center of the Tu Bishvat seder plate. If you shine a light on the center of the seder plate it reflects a Star of David on the ceiling(shown below.)
Star REFLECTION on CEILING  from Tu Bishvat Seder plate by Harriete Estel Berman

Tu Bishvat Seder plate by Harriete Estel Berman
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Assiyah, Yetzirah, Beriyah
                                                          ©     2011

Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
DIMENSIONS: 6” ht x 24” w x 20" d

If you are interested in viewing the design, and fabrication of this Judaica TuBishvat seder plate, CLICK HERE to view an entire album on Flickr with step-by-step photos for this work in progress.


This post was updated on March 10, 2022, to provide current links.





This post was updated on February 27, 2023

Plant a Seed, Nurture Ideas, Time to Prepare for Blooms and Fruit

Pomegranate_TreeBefore starting the actual construction of a piece for an exhibition, I usually read, study, and research background of the topic or theme.  This prepares me for the intensive hours, days, weeks to months creating exhibition work -- in this example, a special Seder plate about planting, growth, nurturing, and realizing the fruits of our labor.

PomegranateThe theme for a past exhibition was Tu BishVat (a lesser-known Jewish holiday) celebrating the birthday of trees. This had me thinking about fruit trees as a metaphor for artists and makers.

There is a Biblical recommendation that newly planted fruit trees should not be harvested before the 5th year.  Thus Tu Bishvat is sometimes called the birthday for trees since this holiday is used as a demarcation for the passing of each year, a very practical recommendation for the future health and productivity of the tree.

If the tree is nurtured for five years before harvesting the fruit, all of the energy and dedication of the caretaker will be realized in the long-term health of the tree.  When the mature tree produces fruit for harvest, it will be more "fruitful" for many years. 

HB Seder Detail1pomegranatetreeThis is a perfect metaphor for budding artists and how they should nurture their creative output.

Artists and makers should take this to heart... I am really serious about this point.

I am concerned especially for emerging artists (of all ages) who expect their early creative pursuits to bear immediate fruit in both money and critical acclaim. A premature expectation for visibility and sales too often influences what is made and how it is made.  I hope they learn to overcome these common mistakes:

1.) Shallow roots. Demands from the marketplace can distract artists and makers from developing substantive skills and meaningful ideas. Sustained personal development produces the best fruit. 

2.) Grafting onto others. It is easy to take other people's ideas, styles, and techniques.  But copying what's been done before never develops the individual voice within each of us.

3.) Premature Harvest - Spending too much time promoting initial work instead of developing and producing more thoughtful, more meaningful work.  I am all for selling, but spending time trying to promote and sell premature work damages the long-term reputation of emerging artists and drains potential energy from more meaningful development and creativity.

I know my words are pointed.  I don't usually say "should", but in this case, it is warranted.

Trying to harvest fruit too early damages the core of creativity and dilutes the energy of individuals who could benefit from experiencing growth over a period of time.  Learning from experience and consciously seeking to improve quality should take precedence over immediate gratification.  Higher quality work may take a few years, but once established, it can be productively sustained for a longer period.


This post was updated on February 27, 2023.



Preservation, Conservation, Experimentation with Alternative or Unproven Materials

The previous post on ASK Harriete opened issues regarding the use of impermanent materials, long-term preservation, and conservation of artwork (or lack thereof due to unproven materials).  The post provoked some very interesting comments. 

Now to examine specific issues more closely related to alternative or temporal materials.

Yes, artists should explore unproven materials, testing and rejecting preliminary trials before deciding what merits going into their final work. Alternative or unproven materials convenient for a conceptual test, may or may not be appropriate for the final work of art.

Dirk Van Erp Lamp
The original patina of Dirk Van Erp Lamps
is essential  for the signature appearance
from Dirk Van Erp.

It seems to me that the primary question is the intent of the artist. "Do you want the piece to last . . . or be an ephemeral phenomenon?" Does a time-varying patina add to the piece . . . or is sustained color a critical characteristic? Will aging enhance the work . . . or will disintegration contribute to the conceptual theme?

The expected life and varying condition of artwork is something the artist should knowingly choose and not blithely ignore.  What will the work look like 10 minutes later, 10 months, 10 years later, or 10 decades later?

So the issue is not permanence or impermanence in itself, but whether the temporal elements are consistent with the intended conceptual theme of the work. Ten years may be stretching the life expectancy of paper jewelry,  but well within the expectation for public art.

Going back to the example in the previous post, I think it is well within normal expectations that a turned wooden bowl has a stable finish (assuming ideal storage and display conditions) for 25 - 50 years, at least.  I can not believe that the maker intended for the finish to develop "problems." Thus, going back to the artist for a remedy for an unstable finish may be appropriate. 

I also wonder if the applied finish was within the manufacturer's expectation for the medium? Isn't it better to know what will happen than to be ignorant? Was the wooden bowl labeled, "experimental finish?"

Another question comes to mind.
ShippingboxWhat about storage and maintenance throughout the years?
Work owned by a collector in a domestic environment (which is usually exposed to sunlight, and lacking temperature and humidity controls) is a completely different situation than if it was stored in museum storage in a controlled environment. Were there recommendations from the artist that were followed for storage and display?

This leads to the artist's obligation to communicate what is known about materials to a prospective buyer.  Clarity about the temporal nature of alternative materials is critical if collectors or museums are buying your work. If you, as the artist, have any concerns, then it would be best to clearly state the situation every time your work is on display or available for sale. A declaration about this fact will protect your work and your reputation.


The next posts in this series are about Preservations, Conservation, & Experimentation with Alternate and Unproven Materials. 

  • Practical Recommendations for Care, Maintenance, Storage, and Exhibition.
  • Design for Repair
  • Photo documentation of temporal or alternative materials.

 Are there other issues that readers of ASK Harriete are wondering about? Email or comment. What am I missing?

This post was updated on February 18, 2022.

Preservation, Conservation, Experimentation -- Using Alternative Materials

A reader raises a profound question about the use of impermanent materials in an artists' or makers' work.

I have a question about how far a maker's responsibility goes for the 'lastingness' of a product. This was brought to mind recently because someone had a museum-quality bowl by a famous artist that was developing serious finish issues due to the use of polyethylene glycol as a soak to preserve the color in the material. We also sometimes see pieces put together with questionable adhesives, etc. I understand the importance of experimentation, but it troubles me as my responsibilities include the preservation and conservation of artworks.

Is this a question that has gotten much or any attention? 

I was really hoping that this was a question that artists were asking themselves (and each other) on some level.

Signed, A Concerned Curator
Glasses without a person so we can look closely at preservation, conservation, experimentation

Dear Concerned Curator,

Issues of the impermanence of materials, experimentation with materials, and long-term preservation and conservation of artworks are really complex.

The use of experimental or untested materials is a reflection of our society in a way. We applaud artists that use new materials or untested methods. The tried and true may be perceived as boring, been there, done that. Even the idea of "permanent" anything isn’t given very high regard. Buy cheap, express the "now," and throw it away seems like a pervasive trend of our culture.

Let's expand on the issues swirling around the use of alternative, untested, or experimental materials. Conservation becomes a concern of the owner, collector, or museum. I am betting that museum curators and professionals need more solutions.  To buy, or not to exhibit or not to exhibit when just the act of putting work on display (even in a  controlled environment) may cause further damage. 

Let's itemize some of the profound issues:

  • the impermanence of materials,
  • experimentation with alternative or unproven materials, and
  • long term preservation and conservation of artwork.

Conflicting perspectives abound on these issues which would provide topic material for endless debates.  So here are my dueling opinions. 

The artist has a responsibility to consciously choose how the work is made and what is intended for long-term display (if any). Basically, I think this leads to four possible scenarios from the artist's perspective:

1) Consciously choose to make impermanent work and know it will not last. The work of Andy Goldsworthy or of Eva Hesse are just such examples.

2) Consciously choose to make permanent work and use the best materials available.  e.g. Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel.

3) Consciously choose the risk of using unknown materials and accept whatever the outcome.

4) Ignore the impermanence or untested aspect of your materials and pretend indifference.

The first three are valid approaches and should be honestly communicated to any audience or potential purchaser.  The fourth scenario is questionable.

The materials used in a work will certainly affect its long-term conservation and preservation - and possibly its value.

Raise awareness
This question should certainly be on the minds of all artists who want to have their work purchased.  Artists have every right to choose how to make their work.  

What is the responsibility of the artist during fabrication?

What is the responsibility of the artist/owner? For storage? For display?

What is the responsibility of the exhibitor? Lighting? Hanging? For some work, just the fact that it is on display is destructive? 

What about care and maintenance?
Is polishing to restore the original finish a destructive act?
Is refinishing, removing grunge, old varnish, crackled surface restoration or destruction?

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW where they discuss how to preserve wood furniturefurnitureIf you ever watch Antiques Roadshow you hear the voice of the experts. Each material seems to have its own definition for proper care and maintenance.

As an artist, do you think about how to care for your work? 

Should the collector/curator have the same responsibility? It might surprise the artist to consider that a collector/curator may not have the same expectation for care and maintenance, or original finish as the original maker.

Please tell us what you think?

Have you ever thought about this before? 


The next posts will break up this enormous issue into a series of thoughts. I've heard opinions from collectors. I have practical recommendations for my work.  What about you?

This post was updated on February 18, 2022.

Looking for the MapQuest Version for Your Path to Success?

The New Year renews our optimism and focus on professional development, but we all have questions.
Map of San Francisco, CaliforniaWhat is your professional goal for the New Year?
Do you know how to get there?

Are you looking for the MapQuest version for your path to success? Can we offer directions?  Do you even remember MapQuest?  Really?   Now we use other navigation software....and struggle if we've lost GPS. Yikes!  You can't even get paper maps any more when you rent a car.   

I talked about this and more at Jay Whaley Blog Talk radio on Thursday, January 5, 2012.

One of my goals for the interview was to open the conversation. What are the pressing issues in the arts and crafts community?

This online radio interview is relevant to artists and makers working in all media.

  • What are the tips to success you want to know?

Subscribe to ASK Harriete for information throughout the year.


This post was updated on February 27, 2023

"Why Debt Will Kill Your Artistry" by guest author JoAnneh Nagler

Today's post by JoAnneh Nagler focuses on the impact of overextending yourself financially and how it affects your creativity. As we begin the new year, I think her words of advice are worth consideration for starting 2012.

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

Falling from Heaven; 48 x 60 mixed media canvas by JoAnneh NaglerDebt is a killer.  It’s a downward spiral into a nightmare of nail-biting, stomach-churning, sleep-deprived stress, and our self-justifying doesn’t make it any better.  When we use credit to extend our standard of living, we believe that we’re making things “easier” and “better” for the moment, but what we’re really doing is just postponing pain.  

On some level, we may already know how damaging debt is, but we end up falling into the pit of debt trouble because we think we can manage it.  Over time, as our debt grows and our ability to pay diminishes—because high balances mean that it’s a struggle to pay our minimums and still fund our life—we get desperate.  We use credit to survive, making the cycle worse by using credit for our basic needs.

Beyond; 30 x 40 in mixed media canvas by JoAnneh NaglerMost of us have experienced some large or small version of a debt cycle.  But it’s worse for the artist.  How come?  Because when debt takes a toll on our spirits and our well-being—as it inevitably will—it also takes a toll on our ability to create art. 

As artists, we need room to create—not just physical space, but breathable, quiet, wound-down ease to be able to find our way.  We need to hear the voices within us that say, “Put a wash of crimson across the top third of the canvas,” or “try welding that large piece of copper balanced on its endpoint.”  In other words, our heads cannot be filled with the chatter of debt anxiety and still be focused on our work. 

The Libertine  - 36 x 48 - Mixed Media by JoAnneh NaglerAs artists, no one is going to make us punch a time clock to get our performance piece up on its legs.  No supervisor is going to give us a delineated job description and a deadline to finish that abstract.  No press-for-a-delivery-date company president is going to insist that we complete our metal collage. 

We create in the space of discovery, and though once in a while some of us may have a gallery deadline or a show date looming large, most of us will have to discipline ourselves—day in and day out—to still the chatter of daily life demands and sequester ourselves long enough to get our art done.  Meaning, we have to have some peace inside us to do it.

Red Sea; 30 x 40 mixed media canvas by JoAnneh NaglerSo what does debting do to the spirit of discovery?  What does it do to the spirit of peace, or to our ability to listen to ourselves?  It kills it, that’s what. 

How come?  Because debt puts pressure on us to succeed.  It means that our projects have to succeed right out of the box because we debted to create them, and they don’t get a normal growth arc.  Fronting ourselves credit to do our art—then waiting for a “miracle” to save us by a hoping for quick sale—means when that doesn’t happen, we’re desperate.  Then, my desperation steals my attention from my work and my life, and that steals time from my art.

Spiritual; 36 x 48 in mixed media canvas by JoAnneh NaglerWhen I debt to live or debt to make art, I literally steal the hours from myself that I need to create.  I will not be peaceful.  I will not be engaged.  I will not be able to listen, because I’ll be desperate.  I’ll be in debt, I’ll be worried, I’ll be scheming to figure out how to get out from under the pressure of it, and I won’t—not by a long shot—be in any state of ease.

When we debt to make art and engage in magical thinking—that is, that we’ll have a “sure thing” and a sale if we front ourselves cash—it’s essentially like asking a 7-year-old to do math like a 16-year old.  We’re asking the stalk that’s just been planted to deliver like the 12-year-old tree.

Sungod; 48 x 48 in mixed media board  by JoAnneh NaglerWhen my daily needs are taken care of, in cash, and I am not debting to meet them, I can focus on my art.  I can focus on what’s important—that is, the long-term investment of my art—and not be sidetracked by keeping the balls in the air.

Then, my art projects get to have a natural growth arc, like children do, and grow to stand upon their own two feet.  No debt means no pressure, no angst, no drama.  That’s the only way I’ve found to quell the stress-voices and direct my heart, time, mind, and soul to where I want it to go—into my art. 

8. Beginning again - 11 x 14 - mixed media  by JoAnneh NaglerWhen we make debt-free living the centerpiece of our artistry, we always get to create with ease.  And that, over time, brings us so much more joy, happiness, and fulfillment than credit-spending ever did.  Debt-free artistry: your art deserves it and so do you. 

JoAnneh Nagler is the author of The Debt-Free Spending Plan:  The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to Finally Make Peace with Your Money, represented by Schaffner Media Partners.  

Find JoAnneh Nagler at The Light Never Sleeps; 36 x 48 mixed media canvas by JoAnneh Nagler


Paintings in this post are all by JoAnneh Nagler.
All mixed media in the order they are shown:
Red Sea 40 x 30  2010
The Libertine 48 x 36 2009
Spiritu 48 x 36 2009
Beyond 40 x 30 2009
Falling from Heaven 60 x 48 2011
Sungod 48 x 48 2006
Beginning Again 15 x 11 2010
The Light Never Sleeps 48 x 36 2010

This post was updated on February 18, 2022, to provide current links.

Digital Skills - A Necessity for Success

Digital skills with your camera and a working knowledge of Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements) is a "no excuses" necessity for today's artists and makers.  Quality photographic images are a must for every artist and maker. There is a lot of information to help you on the Internet. At the same time, the Internet offers tremendous opportunities for visibility. It seems to me there is no room for excuses either way.

Amercan Craft Article about Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin a sculpture of pencils about the impact of standardized testing on education.Even if you have your work professionally photographed, there are always occasions when shooting your own photos is still a necessity.

For example, the recent article in American Craft came about (at least in part) because I photographed my work while fabrication was in progress.  

LYNDA picture120x60-lynda2Every year, I spend a week to 10 days at the end of the year, learning new digital skills and working on my website. I practice new skills in Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and SEO using (now LinkedIn Learning) You can also watch video tutorials on Flickr, YouTube, and more.

Another website with lots of free online digital tutorials is You will find links to information about:

  • How Your Camera Works
  • Qualities of Digital Photos
  • Camera Types & Accessories
  • Digital Camera Sensor Cleaning: Tools & Techniques
  • How to Make Archival Digital Photo Backups
  • How to Protect Online Photos: Copying, Watermarks & Copyrights;
  • Image Resizing
  • Sharpening & Detail
  •   and a ton more......

Stay tuned... as I start my annual digital learning marathon for the next two weeks, I will offer quick tips that readers of ASK Harriete can use to improve their images and website.

Start the new year with renewed visibility. 


This post was updated on February 17, 2022, to provide current links.

The assembly of the pencil sculpture Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin by Harriete Estel Berman

"Prepare for Success" in an Art & Craft Business

[Shameless self-promotion -- take a workshop with Harriete on business development and ASK Harriete your questions in person.

We all want to improve our tools for success.  In a two-day workshop, gain a wealth of information on ways to accelerate your art/craft business skills.

Prepare for Success: Crash course in running an arts and crafts business

I will be teaching this workshop at Revere Academy, San Francisco, April 28 and 29, 2012.  The hours for the class are 9 am to 5 pm.


This class is not just for jewelers! While Revere Academy usually appeals to the hands on metalworking skills, in reality, all media have similar issues in running and managing an art and craft of business.






Harriete Estel Berman organizing the installation of Pick Up Your Pencils, BegininstSaysSTOP72.800Professional practices are the day to day skills that lead to long term success.


Align your business activities to the style of your work.  The fundamentals of an art/craft business can be rewarding.

Learn how to use social networking, blogs, and your website to develop visibility.

What are your one-year goals? Five-year goals?

Is your resume organized and updated? Learn some simple ideas for your business "housekeeping". Is that an oxymoron?

 How is your inventory management?


Are you maintaining proper records for the IRS? 

Pencil Point from Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin

Are your photographic images good enough?
Let’s take a look.

BrownbagSubmit specific questions in advance or plan to be spontaneous in the workshop.  The workshop is expected to be responsive to and directed by the participants. There is time for dedicated attention for each person.  

Bring your lunch if you want to spend the lunch hour discussing your work and marketing.

How do you define Success?
Are your work and business approach consistent with your goals and objectives?  
Is your definition for success a goal or a wish?

Raise your standards or at least redefine them.
Invest two days in your future.

Amercan Craft Article about Harriete Estel BermanA recent article in American Craft  Dec/Jan 2012 about my work. 

HARRIETE Estel Berman standing in front of my work at the Minneapolis Institute of Artsminneapolis
Harriete Estel Berman standing in front of her Seder plate at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

"The essence of success" by Sienna Patti.

Sienna Patti of Sienna Gallery offered her "essence of success" during the Forging Communities Symposium. She challenged everyone in the audience to reach further with a vision larger than the day before. Her lecture was emotionally charged and visibly heartfelt.

Sienna Patti said, "You are not asking enough of yourself and we, the others, are not asking enough of you."

Her words were inspirational. 

Below is an excerpt of her lecture from the "What Does Success Look Like?" panel. Thank you to Sienna Patti for allowing me to use her words on ASK Harriete.

Growing up, one of my family’s closest friends was Eric Carle.

I spent hours every week making colorful collages from the papers on his desk. It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood his impact beyond my life. 

He had created one of the world’s most famous children’s books and was a beloved author, hugged tightly by blushing librarians everywhere. Millions of children recite his words in school, mimic his artwork, fall asleep at night listening to his words, even grown women use his books as inspirational examples. Eric Carle himself is an actual certified national treasure.

Mr Rogers and Eric Carle

He has a picture in his home office of himself and Mr. Rogers working on late-night crafty projects. Life is great. All is right in the world.

One day I stopped in to visit Eric in his studio only to have him tell me to wait downstairs, that he wanted to go for a ride. I have NEVER cleaned my car faster.  After all, he is a famous master of his craft, or at least, some people think so and here he is, reduced to riding around in my Ford Topaz.

He got in the car and we were off. His eponymous museum, the first museum of picture book art in the country, was just being built a few miles away. We would go there, he had to get out of his studio. He said he was depressed. He couldn’t get any work done. He had been feeling this way for months. He didn't like his last book. Maybe he would make a different kind next. Maybe one in black and white.

I was sort of horrified, it felt too personal and he was, after all, a grown-up (I was still young enough then to think that this sort of stuff went away when you “got it all figured out”). He sighed. It would pass, it just sucked. At 80 years old, he trusted his ability to get to the next good place. And he would. But this very difficult part still happened, even after 60 years of work.

This, to me, seems to be the success part - the getting up and moving onwards and upwards.

And the essence of success seems to be in the process, the living and continuing, the space in between.

Caterpillar larvae hatch and then generally stick together for most of their development. There are significant benefits to synchronizing such activities in terms of growth rate and overall survival.

But how does such a large group ‘decide’ when to forage or become active?  Synchronization is imperative in order to maintain the integrity of the entire group; however, initiation of such events often depends on the actions of individuals.

In some group-living organisms, it has been demonstrated that ‘key’ individuals are more likely to assume a leadership role.  Research on schooling fish, zebra finches, and baboons has demonstrated that certain ‘bold’ or ‘dominant’ individuals, the largest, the loudest, are most often the ones to initiate a group-level activity. 

In other kinds of group living, organisms exhibit ‘spontaneous’ or ‘temporary’ leaders depending on the energetic status of individuals. Hungry individuals above all others have been demonstrated to initiate bouts of movement and foraging in a diverse array of organisms from meerkats to fish. Members of the group follow along because there are significant costs to being left behind. 

Group activities become synchronized through social facilitation – the individuals following simply match their behaviors to those of others in the group. This is true for caterpillars, their movement is initiated by the individuals with the greatest energetic need –  the VERY HUNGRIEST CATERPILLARS. 

Are you hungry? Along the lines of "show me the money", this is not a new idea and has been part of our vocabulary for a long time. A friend of mine was once fired for specifically not being "hungry enough". We often describe desire as a "thirst".

What you want or are hungry for will change. At different periods of your life, elements of success will be defined differently. Success is the constant pursuit of your vision even and especially when you fail or others around you slow down.

Be ambitious. There is hope in this! As Emily Dickinson writes, “Finite to fail, but infinite to venture.” 

And certainly the answer you find today may not work tomorrow.  Success is a journey and has multiple peaks, not one ultimate pinnacle. The joy in the Boston Red Sox win was about the journey - this is what makes it so great. It is a constant pursuit, the constant exploration, the desire to take risks, and the willingness to crap it all up and begin again. And again. And again.

The hope, of course, is that sometimes this will happen.  But it might not… hmmm… but it could!

What are we afraid of? I want to see more of you reaching further, being ATHLETIC with your work. Failing bigger. Waking up each day, hungrier to pursue your vision and that your vision be larger than the day before. 

There is a malaise in this field. You are not asking enough of yourself and we, the others, are not asking enough of you.  I am specifically speaking to the artists here: be hungrier, find your ambition.

Challenge yourself to make stronger, smarter work. 

Raise your standards or at least redefine them. Don't compare yourself and your achievements to the artist sitting next to you or standing up here but instead to Michelangelo or Kahlo or Duchamp. To the work you made the day before.

There are many excuses- I hear them all the time, and while I understand, I don't care. I don't mean this in a callous way - I need understanding too. But none of that has anything to do with your work, after all, isn't success always sweeter when coupled with insurmountable odds?

In the end, the only real limits are the ones we make ourselves. Ralph Waldo Emerson “To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation.  This is to have succeeded.”

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will. – Vince Lombardi”

This post was updated on February 16, 2022, to provide current links.

Sienna Patti  lecture used a quote from Vince Lombardia9

Sienna Name Pin by Harriete Estel Berman

The difference between a goal and a wish?

"I just want to clearly state what a goal for success actually is, because I think there’s a big problem people have with understanding: I think there’s a difference between a goal and a wish."*

Powerful words from Brigitte Martin, a speaker with the "success panel" during Forging Communities Symposium.

Brigitte Martin's frank lecture about success was inspiring.  I'd like to share a nugget here on ASK Harriete. Brigitte Martin is an organizer, mentor, and leader of Crafthaus. During her 10-minute PowerPoint presentation, Brigitte asked us: "What’s the meaning of success?"

She continued...
A common problem people have is understanding that there is a difference between a “goal” and a “wish.”

BrigitteMartin1 goals vs wishes

Let’s look at some of the answers artists give when asked what “success“ means to them, or in other words what they want from their lives. Most of them will tell you that they want:

  • to be happier,
  • to have a better job,
  • to have more money,
  • to have fewer worries,
  • to lose a few pounds,
  • to be as successful as so and so - generally speaking.

Please note that all these are general wishes that many people have. But if you look at them closely, you will see that these are NOT goals that would help you to be successful.

BrigitteMartin2 wishes

So what then is a goal?

Quite simply put:
A goal means “to have specific strategies and MEASURABLE objectives.”

BrigitteMartin3 goal

Now I know, this sounds so uninspired, so boring, so accountant-like, so not artistic. But bear with me for a minute and let me make clear what measurable goals are and you will see how they can apply to your work and lead to a certain measure of success.
In the business world the saying goes: “If you can’t measure it, you don’t know what you have.”

BrigitteMartin4 business

There are four things everyone can measure:

  • quantity
  • quality
  • cost (on or off budget)
  • timeliness/ deadline

To give you a very simple example, setting a clear and measurable goal for success would be:
“By December 31st, I will have photographed all of the artwork that I created this year.”

Not only is this a very practical and useful goal (after all we know from the most recent Professional Development Seminar**  that having good photography is absolutely essential) but by putting yourself under a deadline you create a measurable goal (in this case “timeline/deadline”).

Measuring Cup of Success by Harriete Estel Berman

Obviously, all kinds of goals can be created regarding quantity, quality, cost, and deadline.
When Dec. 31 rolls around and you look at your photos you will realize that you have indeed photographed everything. You then know that you have achieved this particular goal of yours, and the beauty of this one is that it will continue to help you be successful because you now have these images at the ready and can send them out to promote yourself at any time.

Here are some other examples of practical goals that everyone can set.  Look at your work as if you were actually running it as a “business.”

Create deadlines for yourself to do the following:

  • get serious about bookkeeping, record keeping,
  • get serious about your time management (don’t hang out on the internet all day),
  • get serious about your photography,
  • get serious about your marketing efforts (print and online),
  • get serious about your gallery relationships,
  • get very serious about the quality of your artwork.

Goal setting works wonderfully as a measure of success because it helps you stay focused in your daily life.

Setting a goal will lead you and direct you toward the place you want to end up.

Write your goals down and keep them handy at your desk or workplace where you can see them every day as a constant reminder.


Thank you to Brigitte Martin for sharing sage words of advice.
*Phrase taken from the impressive Tumblr notes by Tara Brannigan about the "What is Success?" panel here.

Brigitte knows what she is talking about. Prior to starting Crafthaus, she ran two galleries. If you haven't visited Crafthaus, this is a social network for artists and makers in all media. There are online exhibitions, public discussions, blogs, and portfolios of artwork on each profile. All images are approved or disallowed by Brigitte's discerning eye to keep quality high.  Join Crafthaus to participate with this community.

Photographer: Nerds behind the Lens, Pittsburgh, PA

**The Professional Development Seminar is organized each year by Harriete Estel Berman, Andy Cooperman, and Brigitte Martin for the annual SNAG Conference. 

Notes: The first four images were taken directly from Brigitte Martin's PowerPoint courtesy of Brigitte Martin.

The Measure of Success measuring cup was my image.

This post was updated on February 16, 2022.


What’s the meaning of success?

A common problem people have is understanding that there is a difference between a “goal” and a “wish.” Let’s look at some of the answers artists give when asked what “success“ means to them, or in other words what they want from their lives. Most of them will tell you that they want:

to be happier,

to have a better job,

to have more money,

to have less worries,

to loose a few pounds,

to be as successful as so and so - generally speaking.

Please note that all these are general wishes that many people have. But if you look at them closely, you will see that these are NOT goals which help you to be successful. So what then is a goal? Quite simply put:

A goal means “to have specific strategies and MEASURABLE objectives.”


Now I know, this sounds so uninspired, so boring, so accountant-like, so not artistic. But   bear with me for a minute and let me make clear what measurable goals are and you will see how they can apply to your work and lead to a certain measure of success.

In the business world the saying goes: “If you can’t measure it, you don’t know what you have.” There are 4 things everyone can measure:

-   quantity

-   quality

-   cost (on or off budget)

-   timeliness/ deadline

To give you a very simple example, setting yourself a clear and measurable goal for success would be:

“By December 31st, I will have photographed all of my artwork that I created this year.”

Not only is this a very practical and useful goal (after all we know from the most recent PDS that having good photography is absolutely essential) but by putting yourself under a deadline you create a measurable goal (in this case “timeliness/deadline”). --Obviously, all kind of goals can be created regarding quantity, quality, cost and deadline.

When Dec. 31 rolls around and you look at your photos you will realize that you have indeed photographed everything. You then know that you have achieved this particular goal of yours, and the beauty of this one is that it will continue to help you being successful because you now have these images at the ready and can send them out to promote yourself at any time.

Here are some other examples of practical goals that everyone can set:

Look at your work as if you were actually running it as a “business.” Create deadlines for yourself to do the following:

get serious about book keeping, record keeping,

get serious about your time management (don’t hang out on the internet all day),

get serious about your photography,

get serious about your marketing efforts (print and online),

get serious about your gallery relationships,

get very serious about the quality of your artwork.


Goal setting works wonderfully as a measure of success because it helps you stay focused in your daily life. Setting a goal will lead you and direct you toward the place you want to end up. Write your goals down and keep them handy at your desk or workplace where you can see them every day as a constant reminder.

Forging Communities - Information, Blogging and Notes From an Intimate One Day Symposium for Networking and Information

ForgingCommunitiesTaraBranniganKindofStrangetumblrForging Communities - An Intimate One-Day Symposium was an amazing success. Sponsored by the Metal Arts Guild of San Francisco in honor of its 60th Anniversary, a whole day of lectures, panels and discussions presented revealing, cohesive and interesting information.

Symposium flyer_1000WEBFor those interested in catching up on the information presented during the symposium, Tara Brannigan typed as fast as 10 fingers can move for the entire day. Her herculean typing efforts offer everyone a stream of information on Tumblr.



With this in mind, here is a quick summary of the information and links mentioned during the day.

Metal Rising: The Forming of the Metal Arts Guild, San Francisco, California, 1929-1964 presented by Jennifer Shaifer was followed by a conversation with Imogene Tex Gieling, merry renk, Florence Resnikov (each founding members of MAG). I wish we could have heard more of their entertaining stories. I loved looking at the vintage photos.

Margaret DePatta pendantFYI: There was an exhibition of jewelry by Margaret DePatta at the Oakland Museum titled, Space-Light-Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret de Patta in 2012.  You can see more of her work in the Oakland Museum collection.



Blue Moon sculpture
Artist: merry renk
MAG Permanent Collection

MAG founding member merry renk and Margaret de Patta also had work in an exhibition at the L.A. County Museum of Art titled, "California Design, 1930–1965: "Living in a Modern Way".  I really wanted to see this show (collecting objects from the 1950s and 1960s is my passion).


What does Success Look Like in the Jewelry World? with Sarah Turner, Brigitte Martin, Lola Brooks, Sienna PattiEach presentation covered the topic with a different style and original content. (More about this in another post.) I recommend that you take time to read Tara Brannigan's Tumblr post. Here are four quotes about success borrowed from Tumblr.

For me, success also includes the audience. I mean thinking partners, collaborators, people with skills that I do not have”

“When I say audience I also mean "field." A field with permeable boundaries” “That’s partly why I work in education” “Higher education is not the only platform, there are guilds and fablabs and craft shows and maker faires, and shops and museums.”
Sarah Turner


“I’ve always thought of success as some distant destination that someone might eventually arrive at” ....“I have always been far more interested in the splendor of the journey itself”
Lola Brooks


Aladdin-s-magic-lamp-thumb11169476 “I just want to clearly state what a goal for success actually is, because I think there’s a big problem people have with understanding: I think there’s a difference between a goal and a wish.
Brigitte Martin


“One day I went over to visit [Eric Carle] and he told me to wait downstairs, that we should go out. He got in my car and we were off.  He just had to get out of the studio.  He said he was depressed and needed to get out.  His new book wasn’t going well and he was stressed out.“

Eric Carle the-very-hungry-caterpillar-01“I was totally horrified.  It felt so personal to me.  He was a grown-up and I was still young enough to believe that this sort of thing just went away when you got older.”

“And this to me is the essence of success: Getting up and getting on, moving onwards and upwards.”
Sienna Patti


 Professional Practices: Conversation, Questions, & Commentary with me, Harriete Estel Berman, and Andy Cooperman via Skype. Co-president emiko oye said, “It’s kind of an Oprah moment, we’re Skyped in with Andy Cooperman”.

Unlike a mere mortal on stage, Andy's voice filled the room as if he were an immortal god. The audience asked their questions and participated in the conversation.

My presentation "Lighting Shiny Surfaces for Quality Photographic Images" in 16 steps will be the next post on ASK Harriete.

Here are the RESOURCES mentioned during my presentation:

Professional Guidelines

ASK Harriete

Professional Development Seminar

Digital Images File Extensions

Photography in Flux – Three photographers

Digital Photography Handouts

Photography in Flux – Editor’s Perspective

How to Build a Better Drop Shadow

Questions and Answers about Niche Marketing and Photography in Flux

Maker-faire-2008The Maker Faire Phenomenon – Engaging Community and the Next Generation of Makers with Dale Dougherty (Founder of Make: Magazine and Maker Faire) enthusiastically showed videos of invention, inspiration, and creativity. There was also a more serious message about the profound importance of brainstorming and hands-on problem-solving in education.

GarthJohnsonpaintguncermaic paint The Extreme Craft Roadshow presented by Garth Johnson was full of surprises. Craft that you might have never expected. Garth really went out of his way to show examples of what he considered Extreme Craft at the Oakland Museum. I think that this inclusiveness is part of his key to success. So many curators go around with judgment and a critical eye, whereas Garth goes to the opposite extreme, literally, finding the wacky and extra-ordinary. He left our audience with open eyes to the possibility of the future in Craft.

This post was updated on February 15, 2022, to provide current links.




How To Define Success?

Symposiumflyer_1000WEB The November 2011  symposium sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area Metal Arts Guild had me thinking...

A portion of the programming is titled, "What Does Success Look Like in the Jewelry World?" The panel discussion will be led by Sarah Turner, Assistant Director for Academic Affairs at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Panelists include Lola Brooks (artist, faculty at Rhode Island School of Design), Brigitte Martin (Founder, Chief Editor of Crafthaus), and Sienna Patti (owner of Sienna Gallery).


The big question remains...How do you define success?

GryoscopeIs the definition of success external or internal? By external, I mean by measures such as the number of books or galleries that represent your work. External might be how much work you sell. Internal is how you feel inside. Do you meet your personal goals?

What do you mean by “Success”?

Is reputation a marker of success?

Is making money a definition of success? Do you have to make money to be successful?

If you sell work at high prices, is that a definition of success?

Is it possible to be a successful artist and never make any money?

Is money the sole definition of success in our society? 

What is the relationship between critical attention and financial success?

Measuring_cupsuccessThese are some really good questions.  If you're like me, perhaps you wrestle with these questions all the time.  All of the advice offered through the Professional Guidelines, ASK Harriete, or the Professional Development Seminar is based on experience and a measure of success.  But each measure of success is only one ingredient. Every recipe for success is going to be different.

I lay awake at night torturing myself. By daylight, it is much easier not to think about such stuff and go make something in the studio.

I'd love to hear what you have to say. What is your question that if answered would bring you success?

How do you measure success?

Harriete Estel Berman working in the studio on a new Judaica Seder plate for Tu Bishvat. You can see the entire process of fabrication in a special album on Flickr.

What do you mean by “Success”? by Andy Cooperman

This post was updated on February 12, 2022.

Plan The "Money Shot" Photograph of Your Art or Craft.

As mentioned in the previous post, Use Your Camera As An Impartial Opinion - A Third Eye, I reviewed ways to get a fresh perspective on your work while the making is in progress. Your digital camera is a quick, easy, and effective tool for impartially looking at your work.

Here is another valuable use of your camera while your work is in progress... TuBishvat Seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel BermanYiBish

Use your camera to experiment for the final photographic images of your work.

While I am constructing my work, I am also planning the "money shot" or final image after completion.  The "money shot" is what my photographer, Philip Cohen, considers the one superlative image that best captures the essence of the piece; the one image that will be used most often to represent this piece for gallery and exhibition applications and likely be used on postcards, announcements, or in the exhibition catalog.

TuBishvat Seder plate by Harriete Estel Berman in progress from a different angle.jV

While you are most intimately engaged with a piece, right from the very beginning, start thinking about and planning this all-important image. Think about the angles of your work along with the theme and content. Think about what you want this photo to say. Don't wait until the last minute behind the camera to make this decision.


It is a bit of an eye-opener when we think about this: 
More people will see the photographic images of your work
than those who will ever see the work in person

Once you realize this fact, the photographs of your work take on much more significance.  So, think about your money shot in advance.


Artists usually have a mental vision of such an image.  In reality, when a camera lens can only take one image at a time, it can be difficult to predict exactly which angle or shot will come close to capturing that mental expectation.  But a little planning and experimentation will help.       


Take test shots.
As the work nears completion, take test shops to experiment with the best vantage points and angles that capture the most information.


Where should your camera be to capture the best part of the piece? Where should the viewer's gaze be to emphasize the most interesting aspects? What vantage point captures the theme or concept of the work?


As an exercise, scroll back to the top of this post and look at the photos of my Seder plate in progress.

The last four photos in this post were all test shots that I took quickly on a Sunday morning. The black background isn't the best for this piece, but a small black art table in the kitchen was the perfect size to set up the Seder plate and walk around taking some quick shots....pick your favorite position and your favorite photo.  Then continue from here to see the final "money shot" below.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Remember, 90% of the time this image will be the one image that will represent the work. Catalogs, magazines, publicity, postcards,....and more will use this one shot over and over.

Below is the money shot from photographer Philip Cohen.

HB SEDER Plate 2011 San Plex
What do you think? Ideas? Comments?


Previous posts related to this topic:

Guidelines and Tips for Working with Photographers - Handout by Doug Yaple from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar

Finding a photographer? Working with your photographer? Getting the shot you want.

This post was updated on February 11, 2022.

Use Your Camera As An Impartial Opinion - A Third Eye

I've been working really hard for the last three months on a major piece. The deadline is looming, I can't take a day off to look at my work with a fresh eye. This is a real concern.

TuBishvat seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel Berman
TuBishvat Seder Plate in progress. View every step from the past 2 1/2 months on Flickr.

emiko oye and Aryn  Shelander work on the TuBishvat seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel BermanLeaves7457.72800Sometimes, I am lucky enough to have my husband, children or studio assistant offer their opinions. Thank goodness!


An impartial opinion and a fresh set of eyes are absolutely essential.

emiko oye and Aryn Shelander working on the TuBishvat seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel BermanAryncloseleaves72.800.7462
emiko oye and Aryn Shelander working together to fine-tune the images in tin.

But all too often, like last night, I am by myself making really important decisions with no one to offer an impartial opinion, a third eye. After hours and hours of working each day, I am running into decision fatigue and can no longer see my work objectively. Does this ever happen to you?

It's a real problem -- the brain compensates by filling in less than perfect information. How can I find out if my next solution is "working" visually? How can an artist see their work with a fresh eye when there is no time to take a break?

TuBishvat seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel Berman TuBishvat seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel Berman

Here's one solution:

A few quick photos in the studio can really help you see your work in a new way.

TuBishvat seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel BermanTuBishvat Seder plate without leaves at the top of the apple.

Take out your digital camera and take a few photos.

Upload to your computer and evaluate the images.

Here is an example.  Compare two possibilities.

TuBishvat seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel BermanTuBishvat seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel Berman

The left image has three leaves on the top of the apple. The right image has one leaf over the top of the apple.  Which do you like better?

The photos can help you see your work in a whole new way. 

Next time you're "stuck" trying to make a decision, take a few photos.  Or, . . . another person I know scans her work on her scanner.  Either way, capture an impartial opinion - a third eye and a fresh perspective on your work.

It really works!


Next Post: Planning the best possible photographic images of your work.

This post was updated on February 11, 2022.

Decision Fatigue: The Impact On Artist Productivity.

Have you ever experienced Decision Fatigue when working on your art or craft? It happens to me all the time, but it wasn't until recently that I figured out what it was and why it was happening and how this was affecting my work in the studio.

Pam Yellow Butter Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman

In the past year, I began to recognize that I only had a couple of productive hours to make decisions about the layers in my Flower pins, but didn't understand what was happening.  I'd just get to a point that nothing would work out. Then I'd come back the next day and layer after layer would "come together," but only for a couple of hours.

Pencils sculpture based on a bell curve about education by Harriete Estel BermanIt was happening when I was working on the curve of the pencils in the sculpture Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin. I just didn't understand what was wrong with me.

It continues to happen, but now I know why and how to work more effectively in the studio.

Tu Bishvat contemporary seder plate by Harriete Estel BErman is constructed from recycled tin cans.Now I am working on a new piece of Judaica (see the whole portfolio of work in progress), and many decisions to make about the gold strips.

Tu Bishvat Seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel BErman is constructed from recycled tin cans.After about four hours, if more decisions are required, I can't make much progress. It is like slogging through mud.


Does this ever happen to you?


Well, this phenomenon has a name, "decision fatigue." The New York Times published an article "Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?".  It is worth reading.

Experiment after experiment proves that the brain can only continue making well-reasoned decisions for a limited amount of time. Each and every person has a finite store of mental energy for decisions whether it is exerting self-control (e.g. resisting M & M's), purchasing, test-taking, or (for artists and makers) making aesthetic decisions. 

Artists and makers usually make a lot of creative decisions when working in the studio. I am suggesting that if we recognize this limitation in our studio time, we might reschedule our day to work more effectively. We may have six, eight, or even up to 12 hours of physical work in our body, but maybe only four hours of substantive decision making.

Think smart and work smart for your most productive day.


This post was updated on February 11, 2022.

Tu Bishvat Seder Plate by Harriete Estel Berman in progress


Hula Hooping, Jumping Through Hoops and Improving Your Business Practices

HarrietePOLARpanorama beach WEB
Harriete at the New Jersey Shore. Polar panoramic by Aryn Shelander.

The last days of summer are over. 
Our family vacation to the beach was cut even shorter by Hurricane Irene.

The fall season is the time to renew our dedication to our work. The business of art and craft can seem like jumping through hoops. So much to learn, so much to do.  It is just like learning how to hula hoop. It takes practice and a little encouragement to keep that hoop going. 


HarrieteHulaHooping with Aryn
I've learned lots of tricks. So can you, if you practice.


The SNAG Professional Development Seminar offers numerous lectures and handouts created especially for Artists and Makers who want to learn how to jump through the hoops of art and craft business practice. Learn from seasoned professionals and go with proven ideas.



TIME TO OPEN YOUR laptop or tablet to CHECK OUT these resources:  

Digital Images - File Extensions (2011)

Niche Marketing for Artists and Makers (2011)

Photography in Flux - Three Photographers' Opinions (2011)

Photography in Flux - Editors Perspective (2011)

Photoshop Tutorial - How to Build a Better Drop Shadow (2011)

Niche Marketing and Photography in Flux Q&A with Audience/Speakers (2011)

Not Just Another Pricing Lecture Video (2010)

Not Just Another Pricing Lecture Handout (2010)

Submitting Work to Galleries & Retail Establishments Part 1  HANDOUT (2009)

Submitting Work to Galleries & Retail Establishments Part 2 HANDOUT (2009)

Submitting Work to Galleries & Retail Establishments Part 3 HANDOUT (2009)

Submitting Work to Galleries & Retail Establishments Part 4 HANDOUT (2009)

New Marketing Trends Resource List HANDOUT (2008)

Navigating The Web 2.0 HANDOUT (2008)

Artists Opening Galleries HANDOUT (2008)

Commissions HANDOUT(2007)


I'm doing a hula hoop trick called "Wild West."

Learn lots of tricks for improving your art/craft business practices. Read the archive of ASK Harriete columns in the left column. ASK Harriete your questions.


Subscribe to ASK Harriete for automatic updates or be my friend on Facebook.


NEXT Tuesday's post on ASK Harriete: Step-by-step examples for how I find exhibition opportunities for Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin.

This post was updated on February 9, 2022.


Is it fruitless to even think of creating something fast to get into a show?

A reader of ASK Harriete asks:

Is it fruitless to even think of creating something fast to get into a show?  My fine art pieces also take me a long time (months and months). 

3M & m Candy Dispenser by Harriete Estel Berman.72jpg The short answer is that it depends on the show and your situation. While I generally recommend to make great work and then find a show... there are occasions for which a smaller piece may fit both your long-term goals and the near-term exhibition theme.  For example, I created the 3M & m Candy Dispenser (right images) for such a situation.

A few weeks or a couple of months' notice to make a piece for an exhibition isn't much time,
but yes, sometimes the opportunity presented is worth a grueling crush to complete.

3 M & m Candy Dispenser back viewck-72
   3M & m Candy Dispenser © 2005
   Constructed for an exhibition based on
   using 3M products.
   Recycled tin cans, candy dispenser,
   candy, brass
   Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
   Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Here are my main criteria for deciding whether to participate in a show on short notice:

  • Does the exhibition include insurance?
  • Is this a quality exhibition space with an established reputation either locally or nationally?
  • Will the work be handled by professional art handlers?

  • Will the exhibition sponsor generate good visibility for the show with an audience that would appreciate my type of work?
    • Do I have a good/interesting idea for the exhibition theme?

    • Is the exhibition sponsor (or curator) a place (or person) that I would like to develop a working relationship with for the future?

    • Do I want to support the theme or organization sponsoring the exhibition?


  • MOST IMPORTANT: Do I have enough time to make an excellent example of my work including skillful execution and a thoughtful concept?

Below are more examples of work made for a special exhibition and why I made it.
Butterfly by Harriete Estel Berman

Butterfly close up view by Harriete Estel Bermantl
“Butterfly” by Harriete Estel Berman

This is my butterfly for the exhibition “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” at the Holocaust Museum in Houston. If you look closely, you can see the children playing. The Holocaust Museum Houston was collecting 1.5 million handmade butterflies in an effort to remember the loss of children during the Holocaust. The butterflies will eventually comprise a breath-taking exhibition, currently scheduled for Spring 2012, for all to remember.

I decided to participate in this exhibition for three reasons:

  • The theme expressed a poignant resonance.
  • I had the perfect tin to execute my butterfly idea.
  • The project was small. I could make an exquisite butterfly in a week.

CERF Converse Shoe by Harriete Estel Berman

CERF  Converse style shoe by Harriete Estel BermanshoeLEFT

CERF Converse Shoe by Harriete Estel Berman TOP
CERF Shoe by Harriete Estel Berman
St. silver rivets and eyelets, electrical wire shoelaces, tool dip.
1.15 “height  x  3.5 “ width x 3.5 “ depth (including shoe laces)

My shoe is constructed from recycled tin cans from KIWI Shoe Polish and other tin cans. This shoe was made for CERF (Craft Emergency Relief Fund) as part of their raffle that was shown at SOFA Chicago 2009. CERF helps artists with financial emergencies.

I decided to participate in this exhibition for three reasons:

  • CERF is an organization that helps artists.
  • The raffle for the collection of shoes gets great visibility at SOFA, Chicago, and mail distribution of their postcard.
  • Their raffle method does not devalue my work (like most fund-raising auctions.)

Children Are Not Bulletproof by Harriete Estel Berman
Children are not Bulletproof  
© 2000    Harriete Estel Berman
Two pins and three wall mount elements constructed primarily from recycled tin cans; brass, 14k. gold-filled wire, vintage plastic, red satin ribbon.                          
64.25” height installed (Ribbon length rests on the floor)   x   4” width   x   2.25” depth

Two pins and three wall mounts were exhibited and sold as one unit.
Children are not Bulletproof is available for purchase or exhibition.
Close-up view below.

Children Are Not Bulletproof by Harriete Estel Berman_closeUP.nobackground72
Children are not Bulletproof  © 2000 Harriete Estel Berman

This was originally constructed for a political badges show at Helen Drutt Gallery.
I decided to participate in this exhibition for three reasons:

  • Helen Drutt asked me to participate. (It is hard to say "no" to people you respect or admire.)
  • Helen Drutt Gallery usually managed to get great visibility for many of her shows.
  • I thought that I could make a good piece within the three-month advance notice.

These were just a few examples. When there is an invitation or a juried opportunity, you have to weigh the pros and cons for each show, and then decide for yourself.

I have one more post in this series coming up... How Do You Find Exhibition Opportunities for Finished Work?

Do you have any more questions about this topic? Let me know.


This post was updated on February 9, 2022.

Children are not Bulletproof                                                             © 2000    Harriete Estel Berman

Two pins and three wall mount elements constructed primarily from recycled tin cans (pre-existing scratches and marks may be present); brass, 14k. gold-filled wire, vintage plastic, red satin ribbon.


64.25” height installed (Ribbon length rests on the floor)   x   4” width   x   2.25” depth

Two pins and three wall mounts sold as one unit.  Pieces may not be sold separately.     

Make Work YOU WANT TO MAKE and then... THE WORK Will Find a SHOW

I have spent the afternoon reading Ask Harriete.  Oftentimes, I see a show I feel my work would fit into...due to the subject matter, title, etc., however, there is NOT enough time to create a piece and get it submitted in time.  After reading what you say in the Etsy Recycler's Guild interview of Harriete Estel Berman interview (from Etsy Recycler's Guild, I am surprised to see, that you most likely enter shows after the work is done. 

Or as you once told me, you shop the work around in order to find an exhibition space.  So, what can you offer to those of us who have the problem?  

Mary Anne Enriquez

Harriete Estel Berman standing near Measuring Compliance at the exhibition ManufracturedbstandingThis issue often causes artists and makers to feel overwhelmed.  Your schedule is already full and then an opportunity arises that would demand even more time. Who can just drop everything and start
                                                    something new?

Although I do make work for some shows (and will show some examples in the next post on ASK Harriete),  I prefer to make work that I want to make based on my long-term goals.

I recommend that all artists and makers make the work they want to make.


Measuring Compliance Poster
Measuring Compliance Poster
portrays sculpture by the same title.
Measuring Compliance © 2006
Recycled materials, 3rd-grade desk,
3rd-grade chair, banners, custom made
straight jacket, yardstick, rulers.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

It is the artist's or maker's responsibility to bring important or significant ideas to fruition without the dictates of a theme, exhibition, or invitation. Maybe these ideas are big, expensive, demanding, or even scary. So what if it takes a year or more to finish because you have to put it down, work on your day job, or do other artwork that makes money. Just keep working with the big goals in mind.

If you wait for a show invitation to start making something big or important, you may never get around to creating significant artwork. Too often, I have heard artists expressing disappointment that they didn't get invited to be part of a particular exhibition even though they had been thinking about making something that would have been "perfect" for the show.  Don't wait for a show to prompt the making . . .  start making.  By waiting to make something "for a show" ... they lost an opportunity.

The emphasis is on making work that is challenging, significant, and stands on its own . . .  not making work that fits into a show in a few weeks.   Make work that you will be proud of for a lifetime.  Sooner or later a show or some other opportunity will turn up that is right for your work -- not the other way around.

Alyssa Endo working on Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin HERE IS AN EXAMPLE:
I just finished the project Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin.
It took the better part of five years. I often had to put it away until  I had time or help available to work on it.

Penci lBrotheres Pencils in Pick Up Your Pencils Begin by Harriete Estel Bermans582bellcurve

Most often, the bigger or high-risk projects aren't necessarily the ones that will sell, but they may become the "show stopper" that establishes your reputation years later.

Close up of Pencils fabrication Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin by Harriete Estel Berman Here is my real-life example.    The day before I finished Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin, a major magazine emailed me about writing an article on a topic highly relevant to this work! Wow!!!!! They need photos of the installation, so now I need to find an exhibition space.

This wasn't magic. I have also been working on documenting the construction of this artwork, writing about it on my website, Facebook, blog, Crafthaus, and other social networking sites.

Website for Harriete Estel Berman The editor had become aware of this project from my website. I've had a link on my home page ever since I started the project.

Apparently, editors and writers spend some of their time "trolling"  the internet for ideas and new work. Marthe Le Van, editor for Lark Books talked about this during her presentation for the Professional Development Seminar. A lesson to all of us to keep making our work, documenting our progress, never give up...steady progress wins the race!

MAKE WORK YOU WANT TO MAKE and then... find an exhibition space.

Does anyone know of an exhibition space for Pick UP Your Pencils, Begin?

I'd love to hear your ideas! There are 3-4 weeks before the article goes to press.


You can see the documentation of Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin on my website.

NEXT POSTS on ASK Harriete:

  • Is it fruitless to even think of creating something fast to get into a show?
  • How Do You Find Exhibition Opportunities For Finished Work?

This post was updated on February 9,  2022.

The Billboard Art Project Breaks ART BOUNDARIES in Duluth, MN

Normally we see art and craft in galleries, museums, stores, or online -- seldom does a venue actually reach out to the general public.  Well, that's about to change!  The Billboard Art Project breaks through all the ivory tower gates and grabs the attention of the commuting audience with BILLBOARD SIZE IMAGES of art.   AND . . . my artwork is included in the Billboard Art Project!   How exciting!

Two teacups by Harriete Estel Berman  from Consuming Conversation on a Billboard in Duluth MN as part of the Billboard Art ProjectA billboard obtained from Lamar Advertising by The Billboard Art Project will display site-specific artwork for a continuous period of 48 hours on their billboard in Duluth, MN. They selected 59 artists from all over the U.S. and Europe to have their artwork images exhibited in an eight-hour show that will repeat six times. The images in this post will be shown along with the other artists beginning at midnight Friday night through Saturday and Sunday until midnight Sunday night. Wish I could see the real thing. 

Three cups from Consuming Conversation by Harriete Estel Berman  on a Billboard in Duluth MN as part of the Billboard Art ProjectIn addition to providing artists with a free venue to display their art, free art shows are provided to the public, thus initiating a dialogue between artists, viewers, and the public landscape. How cool is that?

Three Art Jewelry bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman are part of the Billboard Art Project in Duluth, MNtH
WHERE: Billboard Art Project - Duluth, MN

LOCATION: Digital LED Billboard at the intersection of
               E Central Entrance and S Blackman Avenue
              (southeast corner)
               Duluth, Minnesota, 55811

WHEN: Saturday, August 20th at 12:01 a.m. through
           Sunday, August 21st  11:59 p.m.

Series of Golden Girl Bracelets from the Californina Collection of Jewelry by Harriete Estel Berman is part of the Duluth, MN Billboard Art ProjectlleABOUT:
Billboard Art Project is a nonprofit organization that acquires digital billboards normally used for advertising and repurposes them as roadside art galleries. Projects are held in cities all over the country and are open to all individuals and groups who are interested in participating.

PARTICIPATE in the Billboard Art Project:
If you want to submit images of your art or craft for future locations, more information can be found at The Billboard Art Project. Each city has different requirements, dimensions, and deadlines. Read the PDF super carefully! You have to resize your images to fit the Billboard dimensions, and it takes time to label your images properly. Your fabulous images could be a billboard.  I think this is a fabulous idea!


PARTICIPATING ARTISTS for Duluth, MN listed below:
Alex Lange, Alli Miller, Amanda Mead, Becky Kehrwald, Brian Barber, Brian Nogues, Brian
Rauvola, Cat Bottoms Newby, Chau Dang, Claire Accardo, Connie J. Frisch-Cherniak, Dana M. Johnson, David J. Thompson, David Morrison, Elizabeth Shores, Ellen Mueller, Erin O’Daniel, Erin Rolf, Flavio Galván, Ginny Lloyd, Happy Accidents, Harriete Estel Berman, Jacob Riddle, Jason Sayner, Jeredt Runions, Joelle McTigue, Joshua Barber, Julia Whitney Barnes, June Bisantz, Justin Anderson, Justin Jorgensen, Karlie Thomas, Katerina Lanfranco, Kelsey Bosch, Kerry Woo, Kiyomi, Kristian Bjørnard, Laura Cinti, Laurel Beckman, Laurie Paravati, Luisa Pulido, Marcellous Lovelace, MaryAnn Cleary, Michael Harford, Michele Guieu, Mitchell Bercier, Nadia Pacheco, Natalee Parochka, Natalee Phelps, Phyllis Fox, Rachael Gorchov, Rachel Halgren, Sarah Jacobs, Scott Murphy, Seeking Kali, Shaun Irving, Stephanie Thompson, Tracy Stampfle, Wes Kline

HOT TOPICS! Questions From the Audience at the Professional Development Seminar

The AUDIENCE asked the questions that they wanted to be answered! The energy was immediate and electric! The questions are on target for what artists and makers deal with every day. 

The discussion was further sparked by the interlaced perspectives and recommended strategies of the Niche Marketing and Photography in Flux speakers during the 2011 SNAG Professional Development Seminar.


Below are TWO SAMPLE QUESTIONS that came up during the PDS Lunch Discussion

Camera "What camera should I buy?  There are so many, it is kind of confusing."
"There is a growing number of digital cameras out there. Rather than suggesting specific brands," Roger Schreiber suggests "looking for 'certain features.'  It is absolutely important that you be able to control the focus, that you be able to control the aperture, and you be able to control the shutter speed. You should be able to tell the camera what color balance you want to use. And all the major manufacturers make those kinds of cameras. You should also be able to shoot in RAW. You don't necessarily have to have interchangeable lenses."

"I would totally ignore Megapixels. More pixels don't necessarily make for a better photograph.  I would think in terms of the size of the sensor. There are some cameras with full-size sensors."

Camerasensor_sizes "Look at the features and look at the sensor size.  "Point and shoot" cameras have an absolute tiny sensor in them that is less than 1/2" across. Some are packed with 14 megapixels. You are never going to see the details and shadows without a larger sensor. The handout by Roger Schreiber [Download Schreiber_Photo resources] lists a number of websites. "A couple of them will lead you to sites with camera reviews."

Do some research first. Learn what the terms RAW and sensor mean [so you understand the features described in the camera reviews].

emiko oye suggests renting a camera and lenses from your local camera store for a day. You don't need to spend $5,000 to get a professional camera. Her favorite lens is a 24 mm to 104  mm (which is like a portrait lens).  She adds, "jewelers should definitely buy a macro lens."

Boxes "How do you decide which work should be photographed by a professional photographer?"
Doug Yaple advises, "Look at your work and pick out the strongest pieces. If you have a really low budget,... pick out the five strongest pieces. And if you want, when you go to the photographer, take more than that, and talk about them ALL with the photographer. See what will translate into [the best] image. It may not be the piece you think. Work it down to fit your budget and then use those images as long as you can."
ApplesONE ROTTEN Christopher Conrad says: "Only use the images that are good. If you put out poor images of your work, it reflects on your work. If you can only afford two good shots, only put up two good shots. Don't put up five bad ones."

Hilary Pfeifer says: "I think it takes a lot of time when you're first starting out from school to get a good body of pictures. I remember it felt like four or five years for me until I could pick from the cream of the crop, but it is an investment. It's a really, really important investment to have professional photographers take the most important pieces."

Many more great questions . . . .
are a few highlights from the lunch discussion.

Questionsmarksline Is there a new standard emerging for photographic images?

What are the ethics of PhotoShopping your work images? Where do you draw the line between taking out dust specks and filling in a solder gap?

Who owns the rights to the photograph? What about "use fees" for a cover shot?

What kind of "master image" should you receive from your photographer?

Where do you find your market?  Etsy, websites, or traditional galleries?

Ideas for marketing your work and visibility for your blog.



* The following documents came up in the PDS Lunch Discussion:

Model Release Contract in the Professional Guidelines.

Roger Schreiber Photo resources with photography links.

Handout for the Photography in Flux speakers.

DIGITAL IMAGES File Extensions a quick tutorial
PPT and HANDOUT.Digital Images from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar

This post was updated on February 9, 2022, to provide current links.