Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | November 29, 2009

Blog moved to a new address

My dear followers,

I recently moved my blog to a new address to be part of my portfolio website. The blog here will remain and you can still enjoy reading my older posts, but I will not post any new articles in here. I copied and maintained all articles from this site and you can read them at the new site.

 Here are some links to help you finding my new site:

New Moshe Mikanovsky Art Blog (http://www.mikanovsky.com/blog)

Latest article published:

List of 66+ websites for artists to build online presence

Any artist who wants to establish some online presence has gone through some of these questions:

  • How do I build my own website? Do I really need one?
  • Should I have a dedicated site? a Blog? or just photos on some photo-sharing website?
  • How can I sell my art online? It needs to be safe, and I need to accept credit card, and handle shipping, and what else?
  • How will anyone find me? There are so many artists out there…
  • I am not technical person, I am an artists, so can I really do it?
  • How much all of this will cost me?

There are many answers to these questions, specific for each individual. To read more switch to the new blog…

To subscribe to my new blog site, use this link.

I would like to thank everyone for the support and for reading my blog. I would love to continue seeing you on my new blog address. So remember, just go to http://www.mikanovsky.com/blog and all the good stuff is waiting there.

Cheers :)

Moshe

Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | November 9, 2009

Hanukkah Art in the Little Art Show

Hanukkah Art in the Little Art Show

I have been quite busy in the last few days working on changing my blog platform (more details soon), but I got some great news that I am very excited about! 

Playing My Dreidel

Playing My Dreidel, Watercolor, 6''x8'' (8''x10'' with white space), 2009

My painting “Playing My Dreidel” was accepted to the Artists’ Network 8th Annual Little Art Show. The Little Art Show is a very unique event, organized by the Artists’ Network. My art teacher and mentor Gary Smith, whom I met few years ago (you can read the story in my post “Plein Air Landscapes with Gary or Did I Survived the Mosquitos“) is the vice-chairman of the group, a network of local artists in Toronto and the area, organized to enhance their art business. I have not yet joined the group, but it is on my short list of things to do. Here is the show’s description from the Artists’ Network site:

Great Art … Great Night…

The Little Art Show is the Artists’ Network signature fundraiser, and has established itself as one of Toronto’s most innovative art events. The Artists’ Network is dedicated to supporting artists in their visual arts practice. The Little Art Show allows the Artists’ Network to help artists and operate their many programs. 

Artists from around the world donate an 8 x 10 inch art work to be put up for silent auction.  Work by well known artists such as Steven Nederveen, Beverly Owens, Kelly McCrea, and Stev’nn Hall will be up for auction. The crowd of art lovers gather at Mercedes-Benz downtown to enjoy an evening of art, entertainment, music, food and drinks. Arriving at the front door you are greeted by our free valet service which attends to your vehicle. The Little Art Show is a fun evening that allows you to support the artists, the Artists’ Network and the Toronto arts community. 

Couple of weeks ago Gary suggested that I will submit a painting to the juried show. I just finished few paintings for my Zazzle store, and thought “Playing My Dreidel” will be perfect for the event. Hanukkah being few weeks away, I hope someone will fall in love with this little piece of art and will bid on it :-)Please join me and the entire Artists’ Network to this wonderful event. Canadian Idol’s  and artists manager Jake Gold will be the Honourary Chair and Master of Ceremonies. There will be live art demonstration by artist Ben Stansfield, door prizes, drinks and of course, lots of beautiful art!

Saturday, November 14th.

Festivities Start at 7:00.

Tickets available at 

TicketWeb

or at The Artists’ Network

(Hang Man Gallery)

753 Queen Street East

416-465-0302

artistsnetwork@bellnet.ca

You can preview all the art online at the LAS preview page. Make sure to let the entire page load. My painting is towards the end, 3rd line from the bottom, 3rd painting from the left (the image there is a bit dark, but you can see a better image in this post).

I will post more about this event, hopefully with some pictures :-)

Cheers

Moshe

If you can’t attend the show in person, and still wish to purchase prints or other products featuring “Playing My Dreidel”, please visit my Zazzle store in the Hanukkah category

 Another invitation in PDF format.

Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | November 3, 2009

Interesting social networking focus efforts

Interesting social networking focus efforts

I had an interesting couple of days, after publishing 3 Examples for Art Licensing Online Scouting. I used all my social networks to post the new blog, just like I did before with my earlier posts.

  • I tweeted about it exactly 6 times (just search in Twitter for “http://bit.ly/FFLYkin”) different times of the day, and it was retweeted another 15 times by 5 tweeps, 4 of which are my followers, and one of them (@JUDERM) was featured in the article.
  • I added it to my Facebook Fan club and also posted it on my personal user live feed.
  • I changed my email signature and added my last post and a link to it, so anyone who got an email from me since then had it right there.
  • I sent emails to the 3 artists featured, asking them to send notifications, tweets, Facebook notes etc to their contacts.
  • I added a post in the Zazzle forum, telling everyone there about it. Jude also added another post there.
  • I added a new discussion on LinkedIn in the Art of Licensing group, pointing to the new article.

Then I started following the access stats… and I got a hit! But, this is not what I wanted to discuss here. The interesting thing is to look at the stats, and see where people were surfing from to get to my blog. Here are some number (good to the time this article was published):

Referrers sites:

  • Twitter – 11 (this number comes from my WordPress stats. On TweetDeck I actually see 80 clicks on the bit.ly URL. When I view the details I see there were actually 105 clicks. The details show that this short URL was shared also on Facebook and in emails [although the following numbers don't agree], so I guess my numbers for these two might be initiated by the Twitter post)
  • Facebook -12
  • Emails – 9
  • Zazzle – 48
  • LinkedIn – 83
  • Kate Harper’s blog (only published today) – 5
  • Other (search engine, my site) – 5

Now, as for which article people read, 3 Examples for Art Licensing Online Scouting is definitely the center point with 85% of all articles read.

So, what do I get from all these numbers? Let’s see:

  1. The more places you post, the more people will see it and read it, but only if you give them value for the reading. My previous articles were interesting (I think!) but didn’t have the same impact as the latest one.
  2. The more focus your audience, more chances people will want to read it.
    The group at LinkedIn is very much focused on Art Licensing, giving that 48% if all readers came from LinkedIn! If I add also the readers from Kate’s blog (which is directly related to the Art Licensing and the LinkedIn group), I will get more than 50% readership.Zazzle with 28% of readers shows a broader, less focused group, but still a group of artists and designers. Most of them are not interested in Art Licensing…Twitter with 6% just shows how hard it is to make a note on Twitter. I have now 289 followers, and who knows how many followers they have, but only 11 people actually came through that network (again, based on the WordPress stats).Facebook with 7% and emails with 5% are the same idea.
  3. LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool. It might not be as easy to start with as Twitter, or as “cool” as Facebook, but it is definitely something every professional should be on.
  4. Find your niche. Find where the people of the niche are. Aim.

I am sure these numbers will grow also tonight and tomorrow, but I thought it might be fascinating for other people to see as it was for me. As always, I would love to hear your opinion and insights!

Thanks

Moshe

Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | November 1, 2009

3 Examples of Art Licensing Online Scouting

3 Examples of Art Licensing Online Scouting

In a recent article I wrote about the reasons to join Zazzle, one of the reasons I listed  was new talent scouting by manufacturers and Licensing Agents. Since then, I was wondering a lot if this really happens. The vast reaches of the Internet, combined with its accessibility and growing usage, makes it one big marketplace with its pros and cons. On one hand, you are there, therefore you exist and someone can find you. On the other hand, there is so much “out there” that could be quite overwhelming for anyone trying to find something they are actually looking for.

I posted this question on the Art of Licensing group on LinkedIn, and one of the replies was that someone at Etsy was discovered by Target. This triggered me to look for more. So I asked around, posted questions on Twitter and Zazzle forum, and did my own Googling, and eventually found few artists that were discovered, just like that, through their online presence. I would love to share with you their stories.

Jude’s Story

The first one was actually one of my new Zazzle friends who helped me when I started my virtual shop, artist Jude Maceren. While chatting with Jude (on Skype of course, one of the 5 different Instant Messengers I use), Jude was interested in information about Art Licensing, and while talking about it he said something like “I really want to go into licensing, how do I do that?”, and few sentences later, he tells me how Farfalla Wines, a wine maker from Oklahoma , found his art online, a painting of a butterfly with red poppy flower (while searching for butterfly images, or Farfalla in Italian, that will fit their business) and commissioned him to create a new painting for them to use on wine labels, logos and stationary of the winery! My immediate reaction was “here you go, you already did license your art!”

Jude's art on Farfalla Wine

Jude's art on Farfalla Wine

Inquiring a bit more with Jude on his art business history, I also found out that he started as an illustrator, and has more than 300 illustration licensed through StockIllustrationSource.com, and several other online stores, using eBay, Etsy, Zazzle (where I met him) and BoundlessGallery.com. Jude is also very active on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The winery deal came about after a year or two of online presence.  

There are few ways to license art. One of them, which most people are familiar with, is by royalty. You license a piece of art to a manufacturer who will use it for specific time frame, on specific products, in specific distribution area. You, the artist, retain your rights to your art, and can give similar rights to other manufacturers for different type of products. In this method, you usually get royalties based on the sales of the products carrying your artwork. The second type of licensing though is by selling your artwork outright to the manufacturer, who is now the owner of the art. You do not have any ownership in it, and the buyer can use it as they wish. Here the purchasing price is fixed, and usually quite high, to make it profitable to the artist.

When Jude sold his painting to the wine maker, he basically used the second method. The buyer now has the rights on the artwork, and is planning to use it on branding and promotional needs. (Note: this is NOT similar to regular art purchasing when you buy a painting from the artist. In this case you do not buy the ownership to the art’s copyright, you only buy the physical representation of this art. The artist still own the rights, and can sell copies of the image to other buyers, license it, etc).

Maria’s Story

After posting requests on the Zazzle Forum, Maria G contacted me . Maria is a designer with passion for Photoshop and online marketing. Starting in 2008, Maria opened her first Zazzle store, and now she is the proud owner of 14 stores, specializing on anything from wedding invitations to business cards, cool Ked’s shoes and more. In order to spread the word she has used Squidoo lenses, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Google ads, Kaboodle, and anywhere else she could. And the hard work paid off! Back in July, Patty Meyers of BloodHound, a stock photography research company, stumbled upon Maria’s Zazzle Christmas shop and the wide range of Christmas cards. She contacted Maria, who was first skeptical about the email, and requested to license 50 card designs to be used on TV commercials  for a bank in southern USA during the upcoming holiday season, featuring their employees within the card design. Usually people will buy customized cards on Zazzle for their own private use. But in this case, the TV commercial producers needed the artist’s permission to broadcast it. Therefore, Maria sold them the rights to use each design with one employee photo, and to be shown on air in 30 seconds commercials during a four-month period. I hope Maria will share with us some of these ads once they are available.

In this licensing example, Maria’s online efforts being in as many stores as she could, with as many products, and marketing her work in multiple channels, helped her to get Patty’s attention, and the licensing deal with the TV ad producer. Although Maria will not get royalties on the deal for each usage of the designs, but a one time fee to use it based on the agreed terms, she still keep the full rights to her designs, and is able to license them further to many other companies.

Laura’s Story

My last find was by the old familiar way, what one of my friends calls Rabbi Google. I asked the “Rabbi” for artists who licensed their art, and found artist Laura Barbosa blog post about licensing her pug dog painting to Icon Shoes. I contacted Laura and got the following story from her:

I started selling my fine art prints approximately 6 years ago on Art.Com. This was my first try at getting noticed and within 2 years, a scout from All Posters spotted my dog portraits and signed me up to license my art with their company.  After realizing that exposure gets you noticed, I started joining every free art site I had time for and eventually moved on to On line Galleries, Graphic Design Companies, Social Art Networking Sites and started my own Blog. Imagekind was next on my list and I uploaded my original paintings, digital art and graphic designs.

About one year later I was contacted by a well-known photographer and book author, Kim Carlsberg. She asked if she could print one of my digital works in her new book. I felt honored and very lucky that she somehow found my work on-line. Kim is the Author of a book entitled “Beyond My Wildest Dreams” subtitle “Diary Of A UFO Abductee”. Her new book is a compilation of other peoples experiences with alien abduction and UFO’s and she is showcasing my art piece titled ”SHAPESHIFTER” in this book.

The most important and greatest licensing opportunity that came my way was Icon Shoes. A scout found my painting entitled “Pug Dog” in one of my on-line gallery portfolios. Icon Shoes contacted me via email. They wanted to use my artwork for their handbags, golf shoes, belts, purses and accessories. I quickly researched their company and found out that Icon had become a leader in the luxury, casual-comfort category of shoes and a trend setter in handbags and small leather goods.

Laura’s Icon Shoes designs were just published and you can view them on Icon Shoes website. Laura’s story is quite amazing. Some of us don’t realize sometime the endless options for art licensing and the products art is used on. Laura was able, just by online presence, to license her art to a poster printer, book publisher/author, and a shoe & accessories manufacturer. The last one will give her both the steady income of royalties, based on the sales of her designs, but also the entrance into the art-for-product licensing, where the art need to fit the product (and not vice versa), since the art is not printed on a flat rectangular surface (like posters or book covers) but on a three-dimensional item.  

If you have similar stories about licensing your art and being found online, or know of someone who does, I would love to hear about them, so please don’t hesitate to share them. Just add a comment to this blog, or send me a note.  

Here are some last words from the three talented artists featured:

Jude:

Having all these websites selling my work I made sure tha I constantly market them by joining some social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and I created a blog. I also regularly send a simple email newsletters to all my clients showing my latest work, exhibitions and promotional offers. I can see that it is really important to be active online doing marketing!  

To visit Jude’s virtual world, go to http://www.judemaceren.com and start from there looking at all his other sites.

Maria:

All bits and pieces help [in your online presence –MM]. Market anywhere you can, be totally shameless abut it, you never know when or how people might discover you.

To visit Maria’s virtual world, go to http://www.zazzle.com/xmasmall and start from there, linking to all her other stores.

Laura:

I’m not sure how scouts go about finding the work of artists but I do know that having your work available to viw on many sites will help them to find your art. The other on-line galleries, graphic design stores and art shops I use are Etsy, Boundless Gallery, Absolute Arts, Yessy, D’ART, Fine Art America, Artflock, 1000 Markets, Cafepress, Printfection, Artist Rising, Imagekind and more.

To visit Laura’s virtual world, go to http://laurabarbosa.wordpress.com/about/ and start from there looking at all her other sites.

If you would like to read more about Art Licensing, please check these articles:

My Art 5×4 Project (MA5X4) or Finding My Way in Art Licensing 

Launching my Zazzle online store and thoughts about Self Art Licensing

My Zazzle store – first week recap and new products

Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | October 26, 2009

Explaining My Squares, or Close As I Can Get to Artist Statement

Explaining My Squares, or Close As I Can Get to Artist Statement  
 
Last June, while on vacation in New York City with my wife, we visited for the first time the Guggenheim museum. The main exhibition was “Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward”, dedicated to the architect who designed the iconic building, and who single-handedly created a new architecture language in the USA. While taking the tour, our guide noted Wright’s signature – one single red square. We saw it on the blue prints of his designs. We saw it in the oversize stage-screen created for a school, and we even saw it at the front of the building, just to the right of the entrance (Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of that. Here is one I found online of a different Wright house).   
 
The square, and in it’s multiply form, the grid, was always one of the strongest shapes influencing my art. Throughout this post are examples of my work as it progressed in the past years. Trying to write this summary, I was thinking about the times and influences for my work, and here are some points that come to mind:   
Blessing of the House

Blessing of the House, Watercolors, 1995

 –         As a kid, I remember filling page after page of math notebooks with colors. The math notebooks in Israel of my childhood had 40 pages, were about 20 by 30 centimeters, with simple blue-lines grid. Like some type of therapy, I patiently and painstakingly filled page after page with colorful patterns. Probably none of these survived till today…    

-         While learning art history, one of the main methods described to copy art or to enlarge sketches into big canvases, was by using a grid to divide the surface to smaller components, which makes copying each part easier. I must admit – I never tried it… It looked too “boring” for me to use. But it is a great mechanism, used by many of the masters. There are some master unfinished paintings that the grid is still shown in the museums around the world. What I found intriguing  in these paintings was that the grid not covered and hidden by the painting and the viewer can still see it. I loved the exposed feeling it gave to the painting.     

Candelabra

Candelabra, Acrylics on canvas, 2000

-         I always loved grid-work art. Some artists that influenced me are:    

  • Piet Mondrian, whose compositions with basic black grid and blue-red-and-yellow squares and rectangles always intrigued me to imagine what is beyond the image, and what they represent beyond their abstract look.
  • Michael Eisemann, an Israeli artist whose prints you can find almost in every second office, restaurant or home in Israel. I can say that his style probably influenced me the most to start using the grid, but I had to add color to each individual square, where his grids always stays with a sandy beige color. Also my neat and organize personality doesn’t allow my (now anyway) to use a loose style such as Eisemann, whose paintings’ are filled with freehand doodling. Many online Israeli galleries offer his prints, and I choose this example, but you can find his prints everywhere.
  • Cubist artists, and their pre-cursor, Paul Cézanne. My art teacher back in Avni Institute – College for Art and Design in Jaffa was literally in love with Cezanne and his work. She loved the way he built his images, one stroke at a time, like a building constructed from shapes in different colors. I guess that she instilled in me first the love for everything Cezanne, but more than that, the adventure of exploring shapes and colors and their relationships when placed next to each other. I can strongly see that happens now in my current style, where the squares are not just background around a main image, but define the shapes that builds the image of each object.

    Old Man

    Old Man, Conté Crayons, 18" x 24", 2002

-         My love to architecture, and more specifically, ancient architecture. Israel is a heaven for anyone who loves archeology and ancient ruins. One of the main features I love in them is the mosaic floors. Built out of thousands of tiny squares, some has such intricate and delicate design, you have to see it for yourself to believe it is actually built out of small stone or glass. Other architectural details that always capture my eye and my imagination, are stained-glass windows, and decorated tiles. I received lately some comments that my artwork looks like old tiles or has some stained glass quality. And its right. Because these are some of the things I just love!   

Green Door

Green Door, Watercolors, 11.5''x11.5'', 2008

 –         And last, but not least, the search for the perfect square. Why would anyone search for the perfect square? Well, when you learn to draw or to paint, some of the exercises are to draw squares and fill them up with different values of hues. I was always fascinated by these exercises, that the colors I used were never perfect through and throughout. Why to look for this perfect squares? I have no idea really. But as long as I am not tired of the search, and as long as people like my style, why not? What is next? I am just starting touching the surface with my squares, and love it when people see it as my signature style. I have many ideas on how to develop it, but I will let time and the artwork to lead me on this great journey.  

Sincerely yours
Moshe
      

Leo
Leo, detail from 2odiac, Watercolors, 7”x7”, 2009

PS While writing this post, I found it is quite personal to explain why I do what I do. More than explaining about the themes and inspiration for my art, trying to explain my style took me to places I never wrote about before. So here it is, and I hope you share my love for art.  

Other related articles on my art inspiration:  Art Blog Beginnings, or What Inspires My Art?    

Ten Commandments or Can Art Bridge between People?   

Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | October 16, 2009

My Zazzle store – first week recap and new products

My Zazzle store – first week recap and new products

It has been one week since I launched my store, and it kept me busy!

First, I got some nice feedback about my “Seen by an angel” design from the people who I was able to attract to the store, so I am happy about that…

 

But more importantly, I have learned a lot from just the fast few days. Here is a recap of some of the things that comes to mind (if you want to skip this and just see the new products, please scroll down):

  • Like everyone says, it’s a lot of work. And as I mentioned already before, I am not afraid of that. Creating new images and products on the store is one thing, and I had to go through several changes of some of the products because of typos (ouch), image scanning and the such. But more than that is the marketing effort involved. Like I mentioned last week when launching the store , in traditional Art Licensing the artist is not involved in the marketing efforts of the products, but Zazzle (and other Print to Order services) is such a huge place, that without self marketing, the store will fill up with dust! There are many ideas on how to do this elusive marketing, but the approach I took till now (and I admit that I didn’t have too much time to spend on it…) was to Tweet-it, Facebook-it, email it to all my friends and family, mention it on LinkedIn, and on one-on-one conversations.
  • Continuing the marketing efforts topic, one of the exciting things that happen is that I offered last week’s blog to EmptyEasel.com, and Dan, the editor, decided to use it! In his own words, “I think you make some great points about how Zazzle (and potentially other online print-on-demand sites) can help an artist get their foot in the door with licensing deals”, especially the six Reasons to Zazzle. Dan will publish it tomorrow (October 16th). Please check it out [Update: Here is the link to the article] and also subscribe to EmptyEasel, it is an amazing resource for artists.
  • I have also posted my questions from the blog on the Art of Licensing group at LinkedIn, which is managed by Cherish Flieder. I got some great comments and made some new connections. Here is a summary comment I made to at the end of the discussion, with some new thoughts:

I also tend to believe that putting the art on products doesn’t devalue the art itself. It also shows the manufacturers and agents that I am the type of artist that is willing to put his work on their products, therefore easy to work with!As for the merchants not wanting to use the designs that are already on Zazzle – first, I am not planning to put all of my designs in there, just some of them, so there is more where it came from. Second, what I am showing is my signature art and style. So I can always produce more new designs specifically for new clients/manufacturers. And lastly, I can always pull these designs from Zazzle. It is up to me to control it, and if I understood the licensing agreement with them, I give them the license to use my design only as long as it is available online. Once I pull it off, they can’t use it any longer. As for the mock-ups – I can actually create them on Zazzle and keep them private, so I don’t really have to sell it to anyone… just make screen captures from them…. which is really easy to do.

  • EmptyEasel publishing my article on Friday created a deadline for me. I wanted to have new designs and products in my store for all the traffic coming from EmptyEasel. And I know there will be a lot of traffic (relatively speaking) from the last time my article published there few weeks ago. So I cancelled all my evening plans this week (thanks due to my wonderful wife to keeping with that!), and worked till late to create some new designs. Here is what I came up with. I am not sure yet if these will fit into my MA5X4 project, but if they will, it’s an extra bonus! These are the 3 new designs, one for Season’s Greetings and two for Happy Hanukkah. I am showing here only the customizable cards, but the store has many more products with these designs, such as party invitationspostage, buttons, mouse pads, bags, and much more! So please check it out.

Snowy Pine Cone card
Snowy Pine Cone by mikanovsky
Browse more Season Cards

Hanging Hanukkah Candles card

Hanging Hanukkah Candles by mikanovsky
More Hanukka Cards

Playing My Dreidel card
Playing My Dreidel by mikanovsky
View more Hanukkah Cards

  • Now all is left to do, is tell everyone about this blog… Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/email are waiting… here I come….

I hope you enjoy my blog. There are few ways you can help me keep it up:

  • Subscribe, using the options on the top-right corner
  • Send a link to your friends
  • Refer to my blog or sites in your blogs, sites, email, Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else
  • Contact me and tell me what you think. I would love to hear from you

Cheers, thank you for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Moshe

Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | October 8, 2009

Launching my Zazzle online store and thoughts about Self Art Licensing

 

 Launching my Zazzle online store and thoughts about Self Art Licensing

 

Mikanovsky Zazzle Store

Mikanovsky Zazzle Store

Diversions from plans could be harmful to the original plan, or could they? Here is my theory – as long as the end result is clear, and making diversions will support the goal, then they could be beneficial. The main thing is to remember our goals, and if changing the strategy is required, then the diversions might be just the right way to do it.

And why am I talking about diversions while trying to announce my Zazzle store? Here is the deal – few weeks ago I launched MA5X4 project, in which I set very specific goals for the next 8 months. The goal was to produce enough artwork to present it to Art Licensing professionals at SURTEX 2010. Since then I did painted couple of new paintings, which I didn’t post here yet. And… I had couple of diversion from the plan!

The first diversion was more networking I did, an interview I gave, and an art show my painting was juried into. The second diversion, which actually took much more of my time, was setting up my Zazzle store.

Now, I believe these diversions from my main project are for the best, and will contribute to my end goal. There is a lot of talk online about social networking and its benefits in expending any business and building your artist and brand awareness. Same goes to interviewing with other artists, and with building a respectable CV with juried shows. 

But what I really want to talk about is why I joined Zazzle and how I hope it will help me with my goal –  becoming a licensing artist.

First of all, let me give you a bit of a background about Zazzle. There are several mega stores online that allow anyone to upload their images to customize products. I have registered to a few of them, and did my share of reading about the pros and cons of using them. But it wasn’t before I chatted with Jennifer Goode that she suggested for me to look at Zazzle (she has a store there too). Under one virtual-roof, they have a very large choice of items such as T-shirts, aprons, hats, bags, shoes, greeting cards, stamps, coffee mugs, stationary, magnets, and much more! The customization options are very impressive, and I also found it quite simple to create products. Using the Quick Create feature you could even create up to a 100 products from the same design, all in 3 steps. And moreover, their marketing tools are very useful, all centralized in one place, and giving each store owner many different way to promote their store.

Now, going back the Art Licensing business… In addition to trying to make few more bucks (I hope!), here are some other thoughts I had about why I should open the store. I call them “Reasons to Zazzle” –

  1. Product Mock-ups and Collections– one of the common advices of the Art Licensing professionals is to make product mock-ups in order to show how your designs can “work” on products, not just on the paper or canvas. Creating customized products on Zazzle can achieve this goal quite nicely! Using only one design, the “Seen by an angel 1” painting, I created several items under the product-line “Seen by an angel”. There are greeting cards (generic, and a customizable template using your own photograph!), postcard, US post stamp, mouse pad, coffee mugs (with many options to choose from), and even an apron. Now all I have to do is either get screen shots of these mock-ups and create my Art Collection to potential licensing agents, or simply direct them to my Zazzle store to view them online. 
    Mock-up Products

    Product Mock-ups

     

  2. Self licensing and self marketing experience– the Zazzle royalty model works similar to regular Art Licensing models, where the store owner receives a percentage of the sale price. The flexibility Zazzle gives the sellers is to choose the percent, starting from 10% and up. This way I can create sale items for period of times (by reducing the percentage), or change it for other reasons. In addition, the Zazzle store owner (me) is in charge of most of the marketing efforts. Although Zazzle gives many marketing tools, and they also scout for new talent to feature on the main page and blog, it is still up to me to spread the word, announce new products, get a fan base, and probably a lot more that I still have to figure out. Although with traditional Art Licensing the artist usually does not get involved in the marketing of the products, I think that some experience in this area will teach me more about this business, and ultimately help me understand it better.
  3. New talent scouting by manufacturers and Licensing Agents - I am not sure if this is something that manufacturers and Licensing Agents are already doing on Zazzle and similar online stores, but potentially they can browse through the billions of products available on the site and scout for new fresh designer-blood. With some luck, and a lot of hard work, one of these could be me. Being in the right place at the right time could be the difference between making it or not.
  4. Connect with other artists like me– Zazzle is not just a store, but store owners community, most of them artists and designers. And we are all trying to achieve success. Being in the community will make my artwork more visible, and I hope to connect with successful individuals, and learn from their success stories. I already mention Jennifer Goode, whose Zazzle store is selling her whimsical penguin (and other) designs on many products. I already made friends with another talented artist, Jude Maceren, whose beautiful paintings of cats, flowers, chicken and butterflies looks just amazing on all the products, and I think have wonderful potential for licensing. We have already shared tips and suggestions, and I am sure we can help each other grow.
  5. Additional place for people to view and buy my art – One of the arguments for mass production of art prints, or for that matter, any product that has the art embedded in it, is that the more people see it, the higher the originals’ value is. On the other hand, some people told me to be careful not to “devalue” my artwork by putting it on mouse pads and coffee mugs. I am not sure what the right approach is, and I hope in time I will be able to figure it out. There might be the problem of the chicken and the egg – do I first have to have a very valuable artwork and then it could be licensed to products (such as many masterworks that Museums are licensing, and selling in their own stores, to put on mouse pads and coffee-mugs…). Or, should I try to get my art on as many products and as many places as possible, and the mass acceptance will create the proper demand to increase the value of my original artwork?
  6. Let the art “work” while it waits for SURTEX 2010 and MA5X4 to finish – Last, but not least, let the art work while it waits patiently. And by working I mean generate money :-)

And now, after this long introduction, I am finally happy to announce my Zazzle store! You can view (and buy) it here and it has some cool Flash Panel and Blog Panel for marketing, but unfortunately I can’t show them here (WordPress, my hosting blog system, doesn’t support it), so you can view them on my website. This is how it looks like (just a screenshot…):

Zazzle Flash Panel

Zazzle Flash Panel

Now I need your help :-)

  1. If you like the store and the products, please tell your friends and family (email, twitter, Facebook or any other way), put links on your site and blog or even use my Flash Panel. If you need help on how to link, just let me know. I will also post this information on my site.
  2. Let me know what you would like to see added. Other products or ideas for products with my art.
  3. Buy as many items as you would like. You can personalize some of them. Some great options!
  4. If you are an Art Licensing or Marketing professional or interested in this area of the art business, I would love to hear your opinion on some of the points I made in this article.

And most importantly, I would love your feedback.

Cheers, and stay tuned for more

Moshe

PS There is a sale going on this weekend on Zazzle!!! Use the code 1492COLUMBIS on checkout, and you will get a 14.92% discount! Check here for more details [Update: This promotion is over, but new promotions are coming up all the time. I will publish new promotion codes in Twitter and in Facebook on my fan club, so please join in at www.facebook.com/ArtistMosheMikanovsky]

 [Update: This article with few small modifications was publised on EmptyEasel.com on October 16th, 2009. ]

 

 

 

 
Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | October 1, 2009

News from Moshe – Interview and Art Show

Even with the limited time I have to spend on developing my art business, I can already see how making few connections and reaching out is actually working. Here is some of my recent exciting news:
 
First, I made a new online friend, the very talented Jennifer Goode. I love her doodles and designs, and the way she is building here business, having several sites selling her artwork, such as etsy, ImageKind, and Greeting Card Universe. Since I mentioned her in my blog about MA5X4 project and Art Licensing, we chatted a few times, and Jen asked to interview me for her blog. I was extremely honored with the request. The interview was published today. Here is what Jen has to say about me:
 
“Moshe and I connected via Twitter and through an art licensing networking group we both belong to. His signature style is combining organic shape with measured line (squares) while incorporating a fabulous flow of color. It amazes me that he has such a talent for creating beautiful art while his main occupation is software programmer and technology manager… a rare skill set to create both art and technology.  I predict he experience grand success with his art career!”
 
Thank you Jen for the kind words!
You can read the entire interview here.
Talit, Acrylic on canvas, 20''x24'', 2008

Talit, Acrylic on canvas, 20''x24'', 2008

The second good news is that one of my paintings was accepted into a juried art show next week. York Region (north of Toronto) is organizing a new Arts Council. Their inaugural event, The Chairman’s Dinner for the Arts in York Region, will take place next Wednesday, October 7th. It will feature about 45 visual artists that live and work in the region, as well as several performance artists, including singers-songwriters Randy Bachman and Justin Hines.

I didn’t even know about this opportunity until I connected with and became a member of the Israeli Group of Artists in Toronto. The group’s president is Shaked Kaplan, a very talented potter and clay artist. Other than organizing and leading the group, Shaked also send us regular notifications about art opportunities locally, nationality and internationally. I missed the deadline for this show, but then I got another note from Shaked that the deadline was extended! So I decided to try it out, and at the end, Talit, one of the paintings I submitted, was accepted.

Talitis an Acrylics painting created last year. I was trying to explore lights and shadows and creating a fabric image with an object not usually depicted by other artists. Using the Talit on daily basis in morning prayers, it was just natural for me to use it. I actually plan one day to explore this subject matter even further, but again, all in time.

Lastly, I was very excited earlier this week when EmptyEasel decided to publish an article I submitted last week about 2 great examples of social networking success for online artists. Since it was published I already connected with couple of the Twitter 140 group of artists. You can read it in my blog and also on EmptyEasel.

Last word – believing in one self and following your passion is so incredible! If you like what I am doing, and would like to hear more about it, please subscribe to my blog, or send me a note here requesting to be added to my distribution list. You can also be part of it by sending your friends a note about my blog or my website.

Thank you for reading, and like always, I would love to hear from you.

Moshe

 

 
Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | September 28, 2009

2 Great Examples of Social Networking Success – for Online Artists

I recently wrote the following article, but did not have the chance to publish it, until today! I sent it last week to Dan, the editor of EmptyEasel.com, and he chose to publish it today. So here it is also on my blog. Make sure you visit EmptyEasel.com as it is an endless resource for artists, a must on your blog reads. And you can read this article also over there…

As artists in the 21st century, many of us are reading about and trying our best to jump on the social networking wagon. We maintain Facebook and mySpace fan pages, we try to twitter smartly and effectively to enlarge our electronic shoeprint, and we post our paintings anywhere we can.

But are we all following the same pattern, where only few will really be successful?

Lately I’ve found a couple of different examples on how to use our beloved, but sometime feared (!), social networks. Perhaps some of you have already heard these stories, but I find them quite intriguing and would love to share them with more people.

My first example is the Twitter 140 , a group of international artists that connected and met on Twitter, and then decided to organize group shows in the real world.

In their own words:

“Our mission is to write a proposal, submit our plan to art venues, and create an exhibition that can travel the world! We have already done this and have had our first show in Flagstaff, Arizona. We are still looking for more exhibition venues!”

And from a blog post by one of the group’s members, Deborah T. Colter:

“The show was the brainchild of Sheree Rensel whom I met through the twitter network. She has worked tirelessly to pull together this eclectic group of artists for this exciting and unique exhibition. Ms. Rensel states, ‘We have organized a diverse and unique group of artists whose work reflects technology and the use of Twitter. Twitter messages have to be 140 characters or less. Therefore, all works in our show are 140 square inches or less. The same with each artist’s statement and bio. All contain 140 characters or less.’”

In this case, the twitting and connecting didn’t stay in the virtual world of Twitter’s servers, but materialized into a real world show, with a unique theme—the Twitter theme—a new theme that could never have been used before the Twitter era!

My second example is from the very talented portrait artist, Matt Held, who started the Facebook meme, “I’ll have my Facebook portrait painted by Matt Held.”

The idea is very simple:

Send Matt your Facebook profile picture, and if he feels its intriguing enough, he will paint your portrait. He has many beautiful examples in his website and blog , and of course his Facebook page , but this one is probably my favorite!

What I find so appealing about Mr. Held’s idea is that the networking through Facebook is not just networking, but also the source of his material and subject matter. And the viral nature of social network is increasing his client base and subject matter at the same time.

As an artist, I would love to join (or start) such an initiative. . . wouldn’t you?

Think about it. How could a little creativity combined with social networking create opportunities for your own art?

Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | September 24, 2009

My Art 5×4 Project (MA5X4) or Finding My Way in Art Licensing

 

I have been reading a lot lately about Art Licensing from many excellent resources, mostly online, but also a few books. I have listed on my blogroll (to the right) some of the blogs I am subscribed to and enjoy reading and getting advice from, but I would like to especially mention some of the people who are in the licensing business, which is a whole section within the Art business. So the last section of this blog is dedicated to them. Don’t run away before you read it and check their sites! :-)

First, let me explain the difference between Art Licensing and other means of selling art – in art licensing you get a percentage of sales from products using your art. In the traditional way of selling pieces of art, you get paid for the artwork once, and that’s it.

Seen by and angel 1, 13''x10'', Watercolor on paper, 2009

Seen by an angel 1, 13''x10'', Watercolor on paper, 2009

The advantage for going into Art Licensing for me is, of course, my day job. I cannot dedicate my entire time to develop my art business, so I need to create art that will work for me (while I am working for others…)

I started with the Art Licensing when I first designed several Ketubahs (Jewish marriage contracts) for KetubahKetubah (www.ketubah.com)in 2007. It was very exciting for me to start selling my designs without the need to create or operate any website, handle product orders, manufacturing or provide customer support. I was glad to share my art with KetubahKetubah, get my royalties and concentrate on what I love doing – creating art.

Since the first day that I received my royalty check, I could not stop thinking “how do I make this work for me?” but not just to have a few extra bucks to buy candy for the kids once in a while, but as a living, to support my family. So, I started reading and following advice from people who have been there, done that. I have started learning the challenges, and rewards, that I can have pursuing this route. And I started taking actions towards this future!

So here comes My Art 5×4 Project, or for short, MA5X4. The plan is quite simple – I hope. Two of the most common advices are: (a) go to trade shows for the art licensing business, and (b) create a lot of designs to show who you are as an artist, and start at least with 5 sets of 4 artworks that “go together”. To achieve the first advice, I decided to go next May to the SURTEX 2010 show in New York City. This is one of the biggest shows for licensing, where everyone who is in this market goes there. Licensors, Licensees, Licensing Agents, Artists, card manufactures, and many more. What I am planning to do is meet with as many people as I can, network, and show my art. And for that I need to achieve the second advice. So, I am planning to come with at least 5 sets of 4 designs. Hence, MA5X4 project.

I have planned it ahead, using a yearly calendar view that shows my progress, and will help me focus on the target. And I have started working on the art pieces. The painting in this post is the first one I finished couple of weeks ago. It’s the first of the “Seen by an angel” series, which of course will have 4 images. I will post more images as I complete them, so stay tuned …

So wish me luck! I know there is a lot of work ahead of me, but I am excited about it!

And as I promised, here are some of the licensing artists and professionals I follow, and I owe them thanks for all their advices!

Yours truly,
Moshe

PS And if you are interested in licensing any of my artwork or to start networking, please contact me. No need to wait for SURTEX 2010 :-)

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