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,
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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.
As an artist who does a pretty good business selling prints, I get asked this quite often. There are in fact, quite a few ways, but the one I prefer is via print on demand websites. It does not promise riches (though that isn’t impossible), but it is very easy to do.
Digital Art, such as art made in Photoshop, goes particularly well with Print On Demand (POD) websites, but if you can digitize your traditional art with a scanner or digital camera, that will work as well.
What exactly is Print On Demand?
POD sites are websites where an artist can upload their artwork. The site then sells prints featuring the artwork of the artists. Whenever a print sells, the site creates an inkjet print and sends it to the customer while the artist gets a piece of the profit.
A LOT of artists currently use such sites. So competition is quite fierce and actually having a print sell with your art may not happen as often as you’d like. It’s also up to you to bring potential buyers to your profile on such sites. They don’t tend to do any marketing for you; however, with time and effort, it is possible to make money.
In fact, I’ve put together an eBook on on just how I go about doing it:
One of the big positives about such sites are that you can sell an unlimited number of prints of the same work. If you can find that one works in your portfolio, that is eye catching, and that everyone loves, you could do rather well.
Also, if you have a big following on social media, you already have an advantage that could make POD work for you.
If you’re an artist whose looking for a way to get into selling art (particularly if you art is digital), then I suggest giving a print on demand site a chance. Here’s a few of the top sites you can check out:
FineArtAmerica – This is the one I use the most. You can try it for free, but have to pay ($30/year) once you submit more than 25 artworks. There are additional little benefits to having a paid membership as well.
RedBubble – I’ve used this one a little bit. It’s probably the next most popular behind FAA. It’s free to use.
SaatchiArt – This one is well reviewed, but I find that they tend to focus more on traditional art. As a digital artist, I don’t particularly feel at home there. This one is also free.
Yours in Art,
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A few days ago, I posted an article on art licensing, and, today, I have an example to share. Blogger Dave Wernli has posted a great article on dealing with Emotional pain. In it he tells a very interesting story about the difference between stampeding buffalo and stampeding cattle. For the entry he uses my Bison Stampede as an illustration.
I get asked this question quite often. Someone contacts me and wants to use one of my artworks on their website, novel cover, album art, etc. This is different from an illustration contract in that the artwork already exists. Someone just wants to use it. Enter the world of art licensing.
What is art licensing?
Art licensing is how someone can legally use art for their book cover, product label, website, etc. When you license an artwork, you enter an agreement with the artist that allows you to use the artwork with the permission of the artist. Generally, you of course must pay the artist. Compensation usually takes the form of a flat fee, royalty, or both.
When it comes to art licensing, a flat fee is a one-time payment. It can be, and often is, just a simple fixed amount. Sometimes though the amount can vary based on the number of units of the product that will incorporate the artwork (note that when an artwork is put on a non-media product, such a coffee mug or tie, it is called a “design”, and when it is placed on a media product, such as a book cover or album cover, it is called an “illustration”). For example, say you wanted to use an artwork on a line of coffee mugs. The artist might charge a base fee of $100, but an additional fee of $0.001 for every mug you intend to produce using that design. The thing about this form of licensing fee is that you pay the artist up front.
A royalty fee, on the other hand, is something you pay the artist after a period of time. A royalty is a percentage of sales you made for your product that used the artwork as a design. For instance, using the coffee mug example again, say you sold 100,000 mugs for $1 each. If you had a 1% royalty agreement with the artist, you would owe that artist $1,000. When it comes to royalties, there is usually some form of payment schedule, e.g. annually.
Exclusive vs. Non-exclusive
Something else to consider when it comes to art licensing is whether you want an exclusive or non-exclusive agreement. In an exclusive agreement, you have sole right to use the artwork, whereas, in a non-exclusive agreement, the artist is free to license the work to others. Naturally, exclusive agreements tend to run a great deal more expensive, that is, if the artist is even willing to enter one.
One last thing to keep in mind is that licensing agreements generally have a time limit. That is, they are only good for a few years. After that period has ended, you can no longer use the artwork in the production of more of your product unless you renew the license, and, depending on the success of your product, the artist may wish to renegotiate the terms.
In order to make things easy, some artists will use a service or agency to handle licensing of their works. For instance, I use a website called Pixels.com. You can license just about any of my works through it. Here is the link:
So, if your looking for some art to use for your commercial projects, think about licencing existing works. It may take a bit of searching to find the perfect work to fit your needs, but it can save you loads of time and money over contracting an artist to create a work from scratch.
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A raging mammoth charges at you. Crashing through the ice age snow, this Pleistocene beast raises its huge tusks as it lunges forward. If you were a prehistoric hunter, this would definitely be a bad day for you.
I’ve created a number of artworks featuring mammoths before, but for this one I really wanted to ratchet up the action and make this extinct animal really seem powerful and scary.