Better IPhone Pictures: The HDR Setting

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:

HDR Setting comparison
Two photos, one with the HDR setting enabled, the other without.

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” :

Enabling HDR Setting on IPhone
Enabling HDR Setting on IPhone

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,

Daniel

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Print On Demand: An Easy Way to Sell Art

How can I make money with my art?

Print On Demand - A large format printer
A large format printer. Print On Demand websites using printers such at these to produce prints when they are ordered

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.

For example, I have an account on FineArtAmerica.com (Daniel Eskridge – Artwork Collections) – one of the more popular such sites.

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:

Get My Book

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,

Daniel

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What is the difference between stampeding cows and stampeding buffalo?

Bison Stampede
Bison Stampede

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.

You can check out his article here:  What to Do when the Pain Won’t Go Away

 

 

Art Licensing – How it works

Can I use your work for my website?

Art licensing, and example: Megacerops as Breakfast
“Megacerops at Breakfast”
This was the first artwork that I ever licensed. An Austrian newspaper used it in a science article.

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.

Flat Fee

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.

Royalties

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.

Expiration

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.

Licensing Services

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: 

License Daniel’s Art


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.

Regards,
Daniel

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But, Is It Art?

 

Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” is perhaps the most famous example of a piece that engendered the question, “Is it art?”

Perhaps you think that your art is not good enough to sell, or worse, maybe you are worried that what you are making isn’t even considered art at all. You look at what you have made and ask yourself, “Is it art?”. Well, if you meant for it to be art, then the answer is “Yes”.

First off, you may not be exactly sure what is and what is not art. Modern art has made it rather confusing. Now, technology also confuses the issue. I can’t tell you how often I have people dismiss my art as “not art” simply because I use a computer to make it.

For most of the era of modern art, ever since the impressionists deviated from the rules of the art academy, the question has been asked “is it art?” The response usually comes from someone who has an agenda: a collector who wants to increase the value of the art they own, a gallery owner trying to eliminate the competition, a politician trying to cancel public funding for the arts, even from the artist trying to justify their own body of work. The answers from these people tend to boil down to an attempt to narrow the field. They are trying to increase the importance of what they CONSIDER to be art at the expense of everything else.

So what is art? It’s anything made by a person that is considered to be art by that person or any other person. I know, it’s a bit of a cyclical definition, but that’s the truth of it. Art is what we say it is. That is not to say, though, that everything is art. Naturally concurring things are just that – things that happen to be there, and the vast majority of things made by people are just for utilitarian purposes, things that no one considers to be art; therefore, such things are not art.

So, if you think you are making art – you are. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

However, just because it is art does not necessarily mean that it is likely to sell well, but we’ll get more into that later.

Daniel

P.S.

Note that I do limit the definition to things made by people. You might argue that there are a few animals capable of creating art, but quite often such art is really the result of a human trainer. Also, in the future, there may well be machine intelligences making art, but at this time, art created by machines is really done so by a person directing or programming the machine.

P.P.S.

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Be the Artist

Okay, so you’ll see a picture of me in the first article posted in the blog. It’s part of my introduction, but it is also my first piece of advice: try not to be too anonymous. Art is not a typical product. Unlike toasters, televisions, or sofas, when people buy art, the person who made it can be as important to them as the art itself, if not more so. The Internet makes it easy to be anonymous, but for an artist, anonymity can be a turn off to potential collectors.

I’ve created numerous online galleries using names that hide my identity. Weather it was a company name, or a snappy online ID, my sales where always slow or non-existent. Once I started using my real identity though, the art sales started coming in much more often. Art buyers just seem reluctant to buy from someone like SuperArtist1973, but as “Daniel Eskridge, Artist” I become much more approachable.

Picture Not Availalbe
Customers will not by from an artist who looks like this

Now you could create a believable psuedonym, that is, a first and last name that could be that of a real person, but I believe that there’s more to to using your real identity. I think that it has something to do with that once you attach you real self to your art, you are much more concerned about putting your best foot forward. Your art suddenly becomes a matter of pride, not just profit. You real reputation is on the line.

So use your real name for your online presence. Also, let people see you. Use real pictures of yourself for your online profiles on sites where you sell your art. Let your customers see that you are an actual human being.

Finding a Printer

Who should produce prints of digital art?

FineArtAmerica
FineArtAmerica

Being a digital artist who uses FineArtAmerica (now called Pixels.com) I’m a bit biased, I prefer to use them…but I have tried getting my art printed from a few different places including Costco, Walmart, RedBubble, Staples, Snapfish, Zazzle, and Shutterfly.

For the most part, print quality is all the same between them, generally above average and perfectly acceptable to everyone who has ever bought a print from me.   In fact, the word is that all of those print on demand sites actually use the same clearing houses to produce prints.

The only one of lesser quality was Walmart which was not THAT bad, but a little below what I would consider acceptable for a sale – though perfectly okay for my own personal prints.   However, because they print on site at the store they are fast and less expensive.

If you want exceptional quality, then you need to look up your local professional giclee print house.  They are generally quite expensive and you’ll have to go on word of mouth to know if they are any good.

I also owned my own Epson Stylus Pro 7600 for a time to print my own stuff.  I would not recommend going that route.  It was VERY expensive and very difficult to get quality prints.