Rarible is a marketplace for digital collectibles. That means you can buy digital art there, but you are not just buying copy of the image. You are buying a certified version, that is the “original” (…or limited edition)
Wait? What? How do you do that with digital images? …Enter NFTs
NFT (Non Fungible Tokens)
They sound like some sort of medication for curing toe fungus. But, no, are not that. Rather, they are akin to crypto currency. You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin, the most famous of these. There’s another kind called Etherium. Etherium however is more than just currency, it’s also a record keeping system. In the case of NFTs, the Etherium network keeps track of who owns an NFT.
So, in effect, and NFT is a virtual Certificate of Authenticity (and ownership). So if you buy the NFT, then you own the digital image that is attached to it. It’s much like owning the original of a real world painting. You own it (but you don’t necessarily own the copyright).
Buying and NFT
To buy an NFT on Rarible is not quite as straight forward as providing your credit card number. You have to use Etherium to make a purchase. That requires installing a digital wallet like Metamask, and then funding that wallet using an exchange like Coinbase.
It’s analagous to exchanging U.S. dollers for Euros, then having a special purse you use when traveling in Europe to hold those Euros.
Anyway, it’s new and interesting. Right now, I only have one work there: Sorceress and Dragon. As it cost about $45 to list a work at the moment, I’m not going to be putting much there. You can find my profile on Rarible here: https://rarible.com/danieleskridge
Mailchimp and ConvertKit are both email list management websites. Such a site allows you to keep a list of subscriber’s emails, handle new subscriptions to those lists, send out emails, report on receipt of those emails, and much, much more.
For years, I used Mailchimp. Using that service, I kept a list of people who liked my art and had subscribed to my list. Weekly, I’d send out a newsletter featuring my latest art, discount codes, and free wall papers.
I was generally quite happy with them, but…unfortunately, I recently had some trouble with them. What should have been a small problem quickly turned into a huge headache.
Why I Went with MailChimp in the First Place
There are tons of sites that will help you manage your email lists. However, Mailchimp really is the biggest and most well established. The user interface is flashy and easy to use…most of the time. Occasionally, it was difficult to find something, but for the most part it was great. Furthermore, their email editor is quite powerful, allowing you to create some really professional looking emails.
They have all of the major features that such a provider should have: Subscription Form editors, reporting, autoresponders, etc. but, most importantly, they have a free tier where you don’t have to pay a dime until you have over 2000 subscribers. That makes it great for getting your feet wet when it comes to email marketing.
They do have a few issues:
If you want to have multiple subscriber segments, you need to have multiple lists and a subscriber who’s on both gets double counted.
The general consensus is that mail from Mailchimp tends to wind up in spam boxes a bit more often than some of the other similar services. I think that the free tier may behind this. Having no need to pay has likely drawn a lot of less-than-reputable users who have signed up and sent out junky emails using it.
They have some unusually restrictive rules. They have the usual stuff, of course, like no spamming or illegal activity, but they also ban users who have sites about making money online and sites who do affiliate marketing.
What Happened with Mailchimp
That last issue is what MAY have been what got me. They have an automated process called Omnivore that monitors their system for terms-of-service violations. At the time, I had a page on my website describing how print-on-demand sites work for selling art. (This was before I started offering my ebook on the subject). Perhaps that is what tripped Omnivore. I’m not really sure though. I sent off several requests to Mailchip’s support desk. After a month of no responses…I was forced to give up on them.
I had a few choices of where to go, but I decided to go with ConvertKit.com. It’s been getting a lot of buzz lately. Plus, it was easy to move my existing list over from MailChimp.
Its chief feature is the ability to segment your audience. Instead of having to maintain multiple lists, I can just have one list of subscribers with certain ones being tagged. This appeals to me for several reasons.
For one, I really produce several different genres of art. I have western art, wildlife, fantasy and so on. With Mailchimp I was sending out every genre to everyone on my list. The problem is that Western art fans don’t generally want to see pictures of dragons. Now, I can tag the western art fans and the fantasy art fans and send them separate series of art.
Also, I have a lot of content about making and marketing and selling art. Such content really only appeals to other artists, and, while quite a few of my subscribers are indeed artists, many are just patrons. With ConvertKit, I can have the artists use a different subscription form and get just my artist content, while my patrons still only see my art.
ConvertKit is definitely more oriented around automation. Setting them up is way easier than it was with Mailchimp. Yet, I can still send out my newsletter on an ad hoc basis.
I do have a few gripes about ConvertKit, though.
For one, it’s a bit expensive to start at thirty bucks a month for the first thousand subscribers, then sixty a month until you hit 3000.
Also, I’m a bit underwhelmed with their email editor. It’s easy to use, but the emails are nowhere near as flashy as Mailchimp’s.
But, otherwise, so far, I’m happy and looking forward to creating genre themed email series for my fans. If you want to give it a try, check it out at ConvertKit.com.
Yours in Art,
P.S. Now that I’ve talked about it, do you want to get on my new email list? If yes, then click here: subscribe
Somewhere on a moon orbiting a world far from earth, dinosaurs live again. Long necked sauropods roam through orange fields edged by strnge purple trees. Ornithopods too run through the long alien grasses. In the skies a pterosaur glides over strange rock structures that jut up from the ground, and, in the sky, the horizon is dominated by the ringed planet around which this sci-fi nature preserve circles.
So, I haven’t played video games much in the past twenty years, but, as a software engineer and IT professional, I still get lots of articles about them in my news feeds. One that I’ve seen pop up a lot recently is science fiction game called “No Man’s Sky”. While I don’t know anything about how the game is played or its backstory, I was very impressed with it’s visuals: alien worlds with strange flora and fauna. So I was inspired by those visuals to create this scfi-fi/paleoart mashup. The dinosaurs, by the way, are giraffatitan and altirhinus. The pterosaur is an anhanguera.
Please enjoy my newest fantasy themed artwork Unicorn Sighting.
As you hike through the forest along a lazy river that winds it’s way between the trees, a mist rises. It becomes difficult to see too far and the rays of the sun play tricks as they break through the canopy of leaves. From the other side of the river you hear a sound. Scanning the far shore of the river, you see an animal emerge from the fog. At first, you think it’s a white horse, but this is a strange place to see a horse without a rider. The you notice the horn on its head! What you see is the legendary creature, the unicorn. What should be myth and fantasy now appears before you. It looks at you, its mane and tail drifting in the breeze. A moment later, it turns and gallops away into the mist. It’s a scene you won’t soon forget.
This is my second work to feature a unicorn and fits in both my fantasy and equestrian themed art collections. It was inspired by my hikes along similar rivers throughout the Southeastern U.S. where rivers often wind their ways through dense forests.
A bald eagle swoops out of the sky and strikes at a reddish brown cobra atop a large grey rock. With one talon, the bird grasps the snake’s middle, while it uses the other to stave off the deadly fangs. Rays of the dawn sun strike the clouds to give them a brilliant edge and create an energetic background to the great raptor as it struggles with the venomous serpent. Behind the struggling creatures, giant pines and fir trees rise into the sky and create a dark backdrop as morning mists rise from the forest floor.
As the cobra and bald eagle inhabit different continents, this is not a very likely scenario, but I suppose one could come up with a story where such a fight might happen. Originally, I had the eagle struggling with a rattlesnake, but I decided the that cobra with its hood open just looked better in the composition. So I used it instead.
An American Indian woman touches the muzzle of a giant grizzly bear. They stand in a snowy wilderness surrounded by fir trees and high snow covered mountains. Ominous clouds fill the sky.
“The Bear Woman” is a Blackfoot legend about woman who takes a bear for a husband, then later becomes a bear herself and causes great trouble. Here is the (very) short version:
A young Native American woman refuses to marry. Every day while her father and brothers are out hunting, she disappears leaving her little sister alone for long periods. One day, her sister followers her and finds that she has taken a bear as a husband. The little sister tells their father who, with his sons, kills the bear. Later, the bear woman gains the ability to transform herself into a bear. She kills most of people in the village. Her brothers develop a plan to lure her into a trap. They have the younger sister anger the bear woman who takes on her bear form again and chases her, but the bear woman figures out the brothers’ trap and chases them all. A pursuit ensues involving much magic. The bear woman is eventually killed by one of her brothers, but having no people to return to, they all decide to go up into the sky where they become the stars of the Ursa Major constellation.
When I read this story, I knew I wanted to create an illustration (or two) for it. For this one, I decided to depict the early scene where the little sister finds the Bear Woman meeting the bear in the wilderness. To emphasize the supernatural tone of the story, I made the bear gigantic, more of a bear spirit rather than an actual bear, a physical manifestation of the Ursa Major constellation that ends the story.
A Pinto coated horse gallops over low dunes in an otherwise empty desert. Kicking up a cloud of dust, it’s dark mane and tail flutter behind it as it dashes through the sandy landscape. Overhead puffy clouds catch the light of the morning sun.
One feature you might find on your cell phone camera is the HDR setting. IPhones have had it for years, and I see that the latest Galaxy phones as well as Google Pixels have it, too. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. What it does is that it gives a better range of color values in your pictures. For instance:
In this image that I took with my IPhone, I had the HDR setting enabled. It recorded both a regular image (left) and an HDR image (right). At first glance the two images look the same, but if you look at the sky, you’ll see that it was totally washed out in the regular image. Whereas, in the HDR image you’ll see that the blue of the sky has returned. If you look even closer you will see that the dark areas are a little less lost in shadow as well.
It’s a subtle change, but such small differences can make the difference between a good photograph and a great photograph.
On IPhones, you enable the HDR setting directly in the camera app in two touches, first select “HDR” at the top or side (depending on the orientation, then select “On” :
You may have noticed the “Auto” option. That’s on newer IPhones and, in theory at least, has the IPhone determining when best to take an HDR photo. I tend to not trust the auto feature, and prefer to force the HDR setting to on.
There is one other setting on the IPhone involved with HDR. If you go into the Settings app and down to the camera settings, there is a toggle switch that you can enable to keep both an HDR and non-HDR version of any photos you take while the HDR setting is enabled. I suggest keeping this toggle on as sometimes, the non-HDR photo turns out to be the better of the the two.
Yours in Art,
P.S. If you liked this article and don’t want to miss any future articles, please subscribe to my mailing list. I’ll send you all of my best art and articles.
A scaly beast climbs up onto a mossy log from a dark forest pool. Surrounded by dense forest, this menacing monster has an elongated jaw full of jagged teeth, and it looks ready to snap them down on some unsuspecting passerby.
This beast is obviously a crocodile, but it’s in the wrong place. Rather than living in tropical wetlands, this particular animal finds itself in a temperate forest.
There are a lot of dragons in European folklore, but one particular story caught my interest: The Dragon of Brno. Brno is a city in the Czech Republic. The story tells of a dragon terrorizing the town and devouring livestock. Eventually it is killed by a traveling butcher who poisons it by feeding it an ox hide filled with lime. Various other towns in the area have very similar legends all with the dragon being poisoned by a butcher in the end.
What makes this story particularly unusual though is that it has evidence. Hanging in the town hall of Brno is the carcass of the dragon, and…guess what…it’s clearly the body a crocodile.
Now imagine going back a few centuries to a time when travel was never faster than the speed of a horse. Though they may have heard of such an animal, it’s highly unlikely that most of the people of a central European town had ever actually seen a crocodile. So, if a crocodile somehow wound up in a nearby body of water, one could easily understand that such a creature would be identified as a dragon. Though, of course, it is entirely possible that the croc body was placed in the town hall at a later date and just named after the legendary dragon.
On a side note, such an event recently happened near me. I live in north Georgia where begin the Piedmont Plateau there should be no wild alligators. Yet a large one was recently trapped on the Chattahoochee river. Perhaps that inspired me a bit to depict a crocodile in my art.