Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

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Challenges of a Solo-prenuer-Photoshop

As a solo-prenuer artist, that is, an artist who wears all the hats in this business, I spend part of my week creating and producing art. The other part of my week is spent on the business side. This includes

  • maintaining my website
  • writing blog posts
  • writing & submitting teaching proposals
  • writing three e-newsletters
  • marketing my art
  • photographing my art
  • wrangling with Photoshop
  • doing the accounting

and several other things that I’m sure I’m forgetting. Some have said that an artist should spend at least 50% of her time on the business aspect. I can probably count on one hand the number of artists I know who spend at least half of their time on the business aspect. It isn’t easy because we really want to devote most of our time to the creating and making art.

Speaking of hats: Here is a fun one that I tried on at the local consignment shop.

Blue Church Lady Hat

The Hard Numbers

I’ve gone through several iterations of tracking my time. Coming from the health field where we had to track our hours, I started out tracking my hours each day; start time, stop time; start time, stop time. It was flipping tedious. Okay, I’m being kind. It was anal and it made me feel like I was never being productive enough. How could I be productive when I was fixated on documenting my start & stop times?

Then I tried splitting days in half. Half the day on art, half the day on business. I had learned that morning was my best time for artwork. So I’d start the day making art and then switch to business stuff after lunch. That didn’t work out very well for me. I’m more easily distracted in the afternoon. That meant while I sat at the computer, it was waaaay to easy for me to get distracted with other stuff online.

Finally, I decided to split up my week. Most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are dedicated to studio time. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for art business tasks. It works most of the time. If you work at home, whether as a small business owner or a telecommuter, you know that life and other obligations have a way of tossing our “best laid plans” out the door. So flexibility is key. And so is not beating the crap out of yourself if your schedule gets trampled.

Today’s Challenge

Do you use Photoshop?

The main reason I wrote this post was to share my current challenge as I work on the business side of, um, the business. I am a bit befuddled by Photoshop. I have Photoshop Elements 6 for my Mac. Earlier this year, I took a wonderful online web design class hosted by Susan Lumoto of DAM. In the class, we learned how to create a website using WordPress templates. Pretty cool stuff, aside from the challenges of working with plug-ins.

I haven’t touched my test site in several weeks. I’m ready to get back to it. My first challenge is to create several images featuring my artwork. Specifically, I want to create a JPG that would include 3 images. The 3 images would have a white border. Then those 3 images would be placed onto a black background of a specific size.

Here is one practice JPEG I created and tried out as the new header for this blog. This gives you an idea of what I’m talking about.

After making the image above, I realized that 3 images is a better number as it allows some room around each image. I don’t like the squishy feeling of the header image.

I’m getting better at making the white border, thanks to my friend Natalie, as you can see here:

Image Before White Border

First White Border Attempt-Splotchy

Improved White Border

Image with White Border on Black Background

So here is my problem. I edit & crop my photos in Aperture first, then open them in PS Elements to add the border and create the background. If I edit the JPEG using the image and/or canvas resizing options, I get something smaller than I desire and lose the white border. If I crop the original image in PS before adding the border, I get something much larger than I want (and crash Photoshop.)

I think I may have to use the re-size options on the original image first, then add the white border, and then move the image to black background.

What do you think? I’d appreciate your suggestions. I feel like I’m making this harder than it needs to be. Of course, that is part of the playing & experimenting. But I seem to be missing something in this process.

Please use the dimensions of the header as an example. The header image is 760 x 190. What size should my images be in order to fit into a header that measures 760 x 190? How would you create a header image with three JPGs inside a black background?

Thanks for your input. And thanks for stopping by.

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In The News

I’ve been so focused on several different areas that I forgot to share some “In the News” updates.

Earlier this month I was the feature interview in the Bolton Common’s “UnCommon Conversation.” You can read my interview with Julia Quinn-Szcesuil here

This month I also signed up for HARO: Help A Reporter. This is a great, free resource where reporters (newspapers, magazines, TV, bloggers, etc) post information on stories that they are writing and are looking for experts. This gives you the opportunity to share your expertise on any number of topics and the possibility of your lead being published.

I recently had two leads published on dealing with time management. My tip is #75 on The Entreprenette Gazette and #43 on The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur

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Weekend Reading: Link Sharing

Numerous informative links to blogs and web sites were shared this week on Twitter.  Here are some I thought you might also be interested in:

Daily routines: Ever wonder how other artists, writers, politicians, and other folks spend their day? Check out Daily Routines for some curious and fascinating reading. You might find your daily routines aren’t that all unusual. A two hour breakfast in bed, anyone?

Quick blog posts: Where do you think the idea for this post came from?  Michael Martine shares 10 ways to create blog posts in 10 minutes on his blog, Remarkablogger.

Creative renewal: I recently signed up to receive Dan Goodwin’s newsletters Create Create! He also has a nice blog on creativity, CoachCreativeSpace, and recently posted 7 steps to creative renewal. Some simple reminders that are easy for us creative-types to forget when we get overwhelmed.

Small biz folks unite: I was recently pointed to the blog Modish Biz Tips which focuses on self-employed creatives. Topics covered include marketing, finances, start-up 101, and interviews with fellow self-employed creative types. Check out her new post on ‘When You Feel Like You Just Don’t Measure Up

Artist Statements: Luann Udell has a 3-part blog post on writing artist statements. The impetus for this? Creating a list of 25 random things about herself on Facebook. I love this idea. That list, as an exercise, became the starting point for creating a new, potentially improved artist statement as well as the blog posts.  Pretty neat. Read part one here, part two here, and you’ll find part three here. (And there may be more to come.) Go write your list of 25 random things; me too.

Unsustainable Business Models: A curious blog post directed to museums on their traditional business model: To survive, not succeed. And what is wrong with that? Well, if your goal is to survive and not necessarily succeed, do you stagnate? Do you stop innovating? What is the flipside of this? An unsustainable business model. A great example is given of The Machine Project whose purpose is to do great stuff while it can, and when it can’t do it anymore, it will stop. This post made me think about artists and the current economic climate. Are you still innovating, still pushing the envelope or are you simply trying to survive? Are you using the economy as your excuse? Go read Museum 2.0 and tell me what you think.

Secrets of Gray Hair: Finally, a little insight into those pesky gray hairs that have started to appear. This was an interesting article in the NY Times as a follow-on to the previous week’s buzz about President Obama’s graying hair. Stress related? Possibly. Genetics? More likely. That and a few chemical changes. All parents are saying ‘great, something else to get blamed for.” Learn more about your gray hair here.