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Z Art Blog

Welcome to Z Art Blog. Z Art Blog is an essential part of the website. Current topics are centered on life as an artist whether of visual and tactile forms of art or audio art such as independent music.


The following articles are found on this page and in this order:

“Am I an Artist?” Post date: July 19, 2013 (Ages: 13 to 18)

“Choices an Artist Makes” Post date: August 2, 2013 (Ages: 13 to 25)

“Sitting on the Fence Post” Post date: August 16, 2013 (Ages: 13 to 25)

“The Artist’s Budget” Post date: September 29, 2013 (Ages: 18 to 25)

The Artist’s Assistant” Post date: November 2, 2013 (Ages: 18 to 25)

“Fans or Gang Stalkers?” Post date: November 29, 2013 (Ages: 18 to 25)

“Producers and Consumers” Post date: December 27, 2013 (Ages: 18 to 25)

“Talent With No Motivation?” Post date: February 17, 2014 (Ages: 18 to 25)

“The Discouraged Artist” Post date: February 23, 2014 (Ages: 25 and up)

“Food for Artists” Post date: March 13, 2014 (Ages: 18 to 25)

“Connections and Avenues for Artists” Post date: May 9, 2014 (Ages 18 to 25)

“What is an Audio Artist?” Post date: May 26, 2014 (Ages 13 and up)

“Artwork Standing the Test of Time” Post date: July 27, 2014 (Ages 13 and up)

“Artist Interview: Andrea Fairservice” Post date: September 14, 2014 (Ages 18 to 25)

Keep scrolling to read the articles . . .

KODAK Digital Still Camera

carved print work by RRam circa 1980 (“Saturday Night Repeat”)

Z Art Blog–1. “Am I an Artist?”

Student (and you are a lifelong student), you may be asking yourself questions such as, “Am I an artist?” “What is an artist?” and/or “What is life as an artist?”

As it is with life, one individual may have more choices than does another. These choices may or may not be related to the amount of money (or lack thereof) available to support a certain lifestyle. Depending upon your creative or artistic medium of choice, money may play a lead or lesser role.

So, money may be your first consideration or it may be lower on your list of considerations.

For example, if you draw, sketch or design graphically, you may be spending less money on supplies or equipment than would be someone who paints or someone who is working at becoming a recording musician or a recording artist. Sketch pads and pencils may be less expensive than are painting supplies or recording equipment, though in recent years the basic graphics and recording tools have been made available for free online. Either way, you may eventually need your own computer which you may not yet have.

If you are reading this article from a computer at your school or a computer at your local library, good for you! You have already discovered an economical avenue for exploring your love of art and/or music and educating yourself on how to enjoy life as an artist.

As you work at your art and therefore become more artistically experienced or advanced, money may become more of a concern. You may begin to discover that the tools available for free online are not sufficient for your more advanced knowledge and skills. You have outgrown the tools. Congratulations on your time and effort!

Hopefully, you are taking art and music classes and therefore have art and music teachers as resources—people who can provide new tools or point you to someone he or she knows who might be able to help you with your current needs for new tools. If you are already skilled at or become practiced at online and library research you will likely find your own artistic way. Finding your own way may be even more artistically gratifying than if it seems family members, teachers and friends are trying to tell you which direction to go.

Not that you should ignore the voice of experience and the voices of people who know you best. And not that you can ignore the fact that your talents came from somewhere in your family. Remain humble. Recognize your parents and your teachers as people who have lived more life than have you and therefore deserve a certain given amount of respect. That said, after you have considered what those around you are saying, only you as the artist will know what is right for you, because being an artist means discovering your own inner self.

Let’s assume you now believe that you are in fact an artist. How do you know this? You may have achieved A’s in your art or music classes. Art or music teachers may have told you that you have a special talent. Someone may have told you that you have a good eye or a good ear. Maybe no one has said anything in particular about your work. You may simply have a sense that there is something unique about the way you perceive the world or the way in which you express yourself artistically or creatively.

One of the most important realizations of an artist is that you are not the only one. Obviously, there are other students in your classes who have also achieved A’s. Will these students also choose art as a lifelong endeavor or will they choose different paths? Be conscious of them. Again, remain humble. Remember that you are not the only one and that you will always have room for improvement or new methods in your art. Keep working at your art and keep educating yourself.

Scroll to the next article in this series about the choices an artist makes to keep his or her art in focus . . .


Z Art Blog–2. “Choices an Artist Makes”

So, you have an inkling that you are in fact an artist or at least hope to pursue life as an artist, but will you? Hopefully, your life will present you with a few choices.

What are some of the choices you are about to encounter if you haven’t already? For one, you may be able to decide for yourself how you spend your free time. This assumes you have free time. Actually, even though you believe yourself to be an artist, you may have competing responsibilities or interests. For example, you may be the oldest of several children and are expected to care for your younger siblings when a parent is at work. In this case, your free time may be non-existent depending upon the work hours of your parent. Without free time, when will you be creating artwork?

Even with responsibilities, you absolutely must make time for both your school work and at least eight hours of sleep (seven minimum) each night. Enough sleep is physically necessary for persons of any age. Sacrificing your school work (or sleep) for your artwork may cause you to later regret not having achieved a higher grade point average.

Are you struggling with a particular subject? Learn to be a good self-advocate by asking for teacher assistance when you need that second explanation. Are you too embarrassed to ask during class time? Hopefully, you can arrive a little early or stay a little late to find your teacher before or after school and arrange for some one-on-one or small group time with the lessons. Most teachers are truly there to help you succeed in school and in life. If the teacher is unavailable, find a study buddy or go online. There are some great websites for homework help. Look for them, take notes and make certain to study for all of your quizzes and tests.

Do the best you can in all of your subjects. The higher your grade point average the better you look to prospective employers, prospective trade schools or colleges and the more you will respect yourself for putting forth the most effort you can. You are going to need that strong work ethic to become successful at anything, art included. Employers who are looking for talent or solid help can spot those who live their lives by putting forth the least amount of effort possible. Realize that you may be competing with many others for the same job. Learn to put forth effort, thereby making yourself worthy of the best opportunities. Then when given an opportunity, make people aware you appreciate the opportunity. There is nothing more annoying than someone who puts forth the least amount of effort while expecting the best results in life.

If you worked hard during junior high and high school but for whatever reason you do not attend college, you may still need or want to use some of that good high school knowledge as an adult. Also, knowing a little about many subjects will make you a well rounded person. Have we strayed from the topic of the choices you may make to become a lifelong artist? Not at all. The point here is that no matter what path you choose, effort is more likely to be rewarded than is lack of effort.

What if the amount of time and effort you are putting into your studies is keeping you from your artwork? Even as a lifelong artist, there may be periods of several months or even several years during which your artwork must be put on hold. If you are in fact a lifelong artist, you will pick it up when you can. Maybe not until after college or after your children are raised and living successfully on their own, but it is never too late to resume your artwork. Are we looking too far ahead? Not really, but the main focus of this article is those choices you may be making during your teenage years and into your early twenties.

Another situation you may encounter is having more than one area of talent and wanting to experience both or all of them. There is nothing wrong with this if you can actually make time for all of them (and enough sleep). You may be an athlete and an artist. Your athletic skill may be at a high enough level to attract scholarship money. If not, depending upon the sport(s) you play, you may be gaining valuable experience in working as a member of a team. Knowing how to work as a member of a team is always useful in life. The job(s) you have may require you to work as a member of a team. Who doesn’t appreciate someone who is helpful and humble? No one wants to work with a slacker.

What about peer pressure? What about it? If you are an artist you are likely less affected by peer pressure than the average person—then again maybe not. Is your priority to do what everyone else does because everyone else does? Are you afraid to be a positive leader? If so, do what everyone else does and you may or may not be happy you did. On the other hand, you might prefer to focus on building yourself up with knowledge and skill for your own future benefit and the benefit of your offspring if you plan to do the best you can to support their well being.

The choices you make as a young person, will likely affect you for the rest of your life. Depending upon your situation, you may have one or two choices about how you spend your time. On the other hand, you may feel as though you have few or no choices at all. The aspiring artist who has familial (childcare) obligations during junior high and/or high school or who spends more time studying than does the average student may just have to wait for that “free time” to free up.

Scroll to the next article in this series, “Sitting on the Fencepost” about when and how your priorities may change.


Z Art Blog–3. “Sitting on the Fencepost”

Student, you may see this title, “Sitting on the Fence Post” as being a bit ridiculous, but don’t laugh just yet. Here are a few examples of how a situation may change for or time may get away from an artist or an artist wannabe. Which one are you?

Let’s assume you consider yourself an artist at least during your high school years. You have already spent quite an impressive amount of time perfecting your skills and talent. You are so organized that you even keep a time log. You can tell anyone exactly how much time you have spent on your artwork in the last year. Good for you! Now what?

Toward the end of your high school years, you decided that a social life and parties are more important than art. Good luck. Your competition (a future topic) may now have an advantage over you. You made a decision to start a family and therefore cannot afford to go to college, because you must now work to support your child. (Hopefully, you become employed sooner than later.) Not that a college degree is absolutely necessary for a career in art. However, if you are a young parent, don’t plan on having much if any free time for your artwork anytime soon. Your subconscious mind (or an older adult in your life) is (or should be) telling you that your chosen path is making it necessary for you to leave this website and start searching for articles about child development and parenting.

Ok. You in the front row. You’re not into parties. Are you attempting to pay your own way through college? In this case, you must work as many hours as possible to pay an unreasonable tuition rate that no one can justify. Continue to work hard on your school work and at your job (while somehow finding enough time for sleep), and you may be able to spend a little time on your artwork during holiday breaks, summer breaks and again when you have your degree.

Maybe you are receiving scholarship money because you play a sport or have another important role at college. You are fortunate. Even so, with your studies (mostly non-art related), your extracurricular responsibilities and a boyfriend or girlfriend, you may not have much if any time for your artwork. Are you hearing wedding bells? No? Don’t give up on your art just yet.

Other fortunate ones have some time on their hands, because their parents are able to help them with tuition. If this is you, what are your priorities? When there is no college near your parents, you may want to work part-time to pay for your dorm room, books and fees, so that you can start fresh without any debt when you graduate from college. In this situation, in order to keep art in the picture you must remain organized and determined–setting priorities and goals for yourself: schoolwork first, job second and artwork third.

Not to throw water on your fire. Even though you still enjoy the thought of becoming a lifelong artist, this is the most likely time a person begins wondering whether or not art is actually in the cards. Priorities and opportunities can change and/or disappear during the young adult years. You may be destined for marriage whether you had previously realized this or not. Someone you were not looking for or hoping for comes along and boom. This person becomes an instant priority—hopefully a worthy one. You are now realizing that even the best organizer all of a sudden may have no time to complete the most recent piece in progress.

Can you keep art on the back burner? Certainly. There may be some time now and then when you can continue to read topics related to art. Go online, check out books, etc. Keep the art options open if you can. You may have chosen a field of study that involves your art. Lucky again, as long as there is enough demand for your talents or you have done well enough in college to attract long-term employment when you graduate. If you land a job related to your specific field (of art), you have the best of both worlds if you choose to marry. Whether or not you can simultaneously play the roles of artist, spouse and parent without losing your mind is a topic for another series of articles found elsewhere.

What about you? College is not for you, college is not financially possible for you, or you just don’t want that kind of debt to worry about at such a young age. Keep your chin up. It sounds as though you are already wise beyond your years. If you have worked hard all through high school there is definitely hope for you. You have decided that you are an artist not only by choice but due to your current circumstances. How can you make the most of it? Keep it in focus just as you have been doing and begin to see not only the creative side of your art but also the business side of your art. Business? Yes, business.

So, you are the image that comes to mind when a person thinks of the word artist—working on your artwork during all of your free-time. Now you must realize that it is better to move forward with goals and plans than to move forward blindly. It certainly appears as though you are an artist. You have no trouble with productivity. Your body of work includes numerous pieces. But do you have any idea how you are going to make your artwork known? Artists dream that each piece of art will somehow miraculously attract its rightful owner. What a lovely thought. If only it were true. In most cases, pieces of art don’t have legs to walk around doing their own promoting without their artist’s or someone else’s assistance. Good luck finding assistance promoting your work. Guess what? You have just become an art promoter.

How do you proceed in promoting your art? That would be jumping a step ahead in our discussion. Your productivity has proven you know how to budget your time. Hopefully, you are just as good at budgeting your money–exactly the topic of the next article in this series. Keep scrolling . . .


Z Art Bog–4. “The Artist’s Budget”

You may still be contemplating whether or not you are an artist or you may be attempting to grasp how you will be able to continue on your journey as an artist on the typically meager artist’s budget.

By now you have realized that as an artist, creative time is just as valuable as is money. The challenge for every artist then is to find the most comfortable balance of the two. You were thinking you need time only to create your artwork, but are now considering the time (and money) it will take to promote and/or market your artwork?

Your method(s) for promoting your artwork will depend upon the type of artwork you create. Is it drawings, comic books, paintings, photography, pottery, music or something else? While you are creating new work, you will also want to be researching methods of promoting your particular type of artwork. Some of these methods may already be carved in stone so to speak. You might however be the first to attempt a new method of promotion. Keep your eye and mind open for new methods.

Here are several suggestions for keeping your time, energy and expenses in balance:

If you are going to be supporting yourself as an artist—paying your own economical rent and utilities; purchasing your own supplies and equipment; doing your own promotion work; feeding yourself; transporting yourself and possibly your artwork around in a basic, inexpensive vehicle; you will need a basic job. Why a basic job? Well, if you plan on climbing the ladder of success at work, applying for or accepting positions higher and higher up, you will also be adding to your level of responsibility, stress and likely your hours at work. There goes your creative and promotion time right out the window.

Since you need creative time, you won’t have any trouble refusing to purchase cable TV ($59 plus per month). When are you going to have time to watch TV anyway? Why pay for something you don’t use? A large screen TV? Don’t be ridiculous. You also won’t mind refusing to pay for internet access when you can use a computer at the library as needed ($850 plus for a laptop and $29 plus per month for internet service). Are you absolutely certain you need to keep up with the latest versions of phones? Think twice. (Save $100 for the new phone and another $29 plus per month for the service.) A basic phone with only the necessary plan features is fine for an artist who likes decent food.

Learn how to cook basic dishes with pasta, rice, beans and vegetables. Not that you would have to become a vegetarian but watch for the sales on meat. Avoid eating out. Even fast food is three times as expensive as is eating at home. Cutting back from eating fast food three times per week to only once per week could save you $12 per week and $48 per month. Every little bit helps when you are an artist!

These avoidances or choices just described could save you as much at $150 or more per month. You need that saved money for your artwork. With discipline, in a six month period you will have saved yourself near $1,000! In another six months you could justify purchasing that laptop as long as your other expenses remain at a minimum.

Does this mean you should never consider moving up at work? Of course not. If it makes sense and doesn’t create problems for you as an artist, it may be a sign that you aren’t a lifelong artist after all, you may be putting your artwork on temporary hold, or you just want a bit more income for the purchase of a computer (without having to do as much penny pinching elsewhere), so you can build that website to promote your artwork.

Ask yourself some questions. Is this position an actual promotion or a position that seems to be a revolving door with frequent turnover for some reason or another? If you have looked at the situation logically, asked enough questions of enough people who know your situation, haven’t jumped to any erroneous conclusions about the position and have a legitimate creative need for that extra income, you may be on the right track.

Assuming you have kept your basic job and are going to begin your own basic promotion, you may want to invest in a basic (getting tired of the word basic?) 3 in 1 printer. Without a computer? Yes, without a computer. You can make basic flyers and/or type basic letters at the library, save the work to a $10 flash drive, print one or two master(s) at the library, then scan/copy the flyer and/or letter at home as needed. Find a family member or close friend who can do a quick proof read of your promotion materials before you print, post and/or send them anywhere. You want to be seen as a professional.

These examples of staying in balance as an artist are only the most obvious if you are single. As mentioned in previous articles, changes in your situation can throw you off your intended course and onto an entirely different path–possibly a better one. For the sake of sanity, remain determined yet flexible. Keep scrolling . . .


Z Art Blog–5. “The Artist’s Assistant”

This article applies to someone in his or her mid to late twenties who has already mastered a budget necessary to continue producing and promoting audible/audio or visual artwork.

Assuming you have mastered your budget and are also balancing your creative and promotion time, you may want to step up your promotion plan. Maybe you are ready to build your website or want to begin a campaign to promote to public libraries. Of course, expanding your promotion plan will naturally take more time and will consequently infringe upon your creative time. But rather than spending most of your time promoting your artwork, you want to continue spending most of your time creating your artwork. You are an artist. That’s what you do–create. Adding to the promotion plan always throws off the balance. This is the problem you hope to remedy.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a promotion assistant? Is there such a title? Maybe not. But wouldn’t it be nice? Making the decision to seek an assistant is the first step in finding one if finding one is possible.

After deciding you need an assistant, make family members and friends aware that you are seeking a promotion assistant. Being a member of a large and social family may work to your advantage unless you are the oddball in your family–no other artists and therefore no connections who understand your needs. Artists with active social lives may have an advantage in finding an assistant. They may have several acquaintances or several connections that may help in this endeavor.

Maybe you just need a runner/talker to visit or call managers at coffee shops, etc. You might know of someone who has good written communication, computer and/or office skills who could help you build your website or begin a promotion campaign to public libraries. The promotion methods are endless, but finding an assistant–the right kind of assistant who also meets your exact needs is the catch.

A large family and a large circle of acquaintances can help only so much if you live in a smaller community or a not-so-artsy community. Or your niche might be so unique that no one you know would be qualified to assist. Even with many family members who have many acquaintances, including a few artsy ones, it may be difficult to find anyone interested in or available to assist in your promotion efforts exactly when you need someone.

To increase the odds, make it clear from the get go that you would be paying this person for his or her time and effort in assisting you. State a pay rate when you mention your plan. Otherwise, family members, friends and acquaintances might lack interest in helping you, thinking they would not be compensated–the old, “Do me a favor out of obligation of our association” trick. Even after insisting that you would honor the agreement, some family members and/or friends might not believe you would follow through on payment, or they might feel obligated to refuse payment.

So, a few of your friends have helped spread the word for you. Now that the word is in motion, don’t assume that the first person who shows up is also the right person for your needs. It may not be a positive coincidence. Err on the side of caution. If the person is truly interested, trustworthy and qualified, it won’t hurt to proceed slowly. As a lifelong artist, you can afford to wait until the person has proven his/her track record before you invite him or her into your creative business.

Or, make certain you are looking for someone who has already proven to be a capable and productive person in his or her own right. If this is a new acquaintance, this proof may take several months to surface without you having to hire a private investigator to evaluate the individual. Having to go to that extreme is a clue you are on the wrong track.

As a young person, you may want to take others at face value and believe what they say, because you have always been honest and straight forward yourself. Know that not everyone is honest and straightforward. Hopefully, you will never have to learn this the hard way.

You may come into contact with people who say they can assist but then don’t or others who say they want to assist but have questionable motives. Don’t trust just anyone with your life’s work. There are always opportunists lurking in the mix. Opportunists (sometimes called “parasites”) have ways of making your work a game or a control match. (They may be part of a larger entity called gang stalkers which will be described in greater detail in an upcoming article.) Some of them give themselves away fairly quickly. Here are a few ways to recognize when a person is not on the level.

The receptor type seems genuine at first until you notice that every so often he or she says something that makes you think you heard it wrong—it doesn’t add up. Or, he or she may ask so many questions you become uncomfortable with the conversation. Actually, he or she may have “watched you” for some time before approaching you or making some kind of “play.” He or she may know far more about you than you would ever want to know about him or her.

The aggressor type may seem overly friendly or claim to have something (everything) in common with you. This person may also have “watched” you. He or she may claim some association with you that isn’t actually there. He or she may insist on spending more time with you than you want to spend with him or her. Then just as you are beginning to wonder whether or not to continue the association, he or she may try to play on your emotions, especially when you begin to “back away.”

The shifty or twisty type is the one who purposely misinterprets something you said or did to latch onto you in a way you didn’t intend or to invite him or herself to some of your “goods.” Some of them are also practiced at turning the assistance around on you. The old, “No I can’t help you but I need your help” trick. Imagine starting an acquaintance or association because you were seeking assistance, but you somehow wound up spending all your extra time helping that person. You don’t have time to fall for that unless you are ready to give up your art. (That’s a different article.)

Most necessary information about a person’s character is revealed in everyday conversation—real-time conversation over an extended period of time–more than a few days or a few weeks–more like several months. Even shifty people love to talk about themselves. Always weigh what a person says.

After you have become acquainted with someone, having had several long conversations with this person who seems credible, you might suggest a very small task for a very small amount of pay. If the person completes the task efficiently, assign a second small task. Build the association a step at a time just as you would create a piece of artwork. You still aren’t certain this is the person you want assisting you for the long haul? Don’t suggest it.

Never lose sight of the fact that it is your work. You are the only person with any right to call the shots about promoting your work or profiting from your work. If the “assistant” is not doing what you ask, this is not the right person for the job. If the person can prove some degree of expertise then you might consider what is being suggested. Otherwise, sever the association before the individual has time to make it appear that you are the problem. Again, it is your work–no one else’s.

Continue creating your artwork, researching promotion methods, putting a feeler out now and then, and doing the best you can at your own promotion work until a trustworthy and qualified person has proven fit. Until then, pat yourself on the back for sticking to your artwork! Keep scrolling . . .


Z Art Blog–6. “Fans or Gang Stalkers?”

This is the sixth in a series of articles about what it means to be a lifelong artist and the myriad of situations you may encounter along the way.

For example, as you begin promoting your artwork and you begin attracting some attention or interest, you may notice a behavior common to what in the world of mainstream celebrities is referred to as the paparazzi. The difference is that in the world of independent artists or other creatives, these “curious” types are likely at a lower level of “professionalism.” They may be considered peeping Toms or just plain strange ones.

Rather than using expensive cameras to capture images worth thousands of dollars, they may use their cell phones for questionable purposes. Other clues that these persons are of the less professional type is that they seek work that requires the least amount of work. They either have few skills or would rather sit around or stand around than be productive.

Another characteristic of this type is that they often give themselves away very readily. They themselves want to be “known” by the person they are stalking. As a result, they may also suffer from the “poor timing syndrome,” the “poor judgment syndrome” or the “foot-in-the-mouth syndrome” so to speak. They may laugh too loud and too often thinking that everyone else who is laughing is laughing with them when in fact everyone else who is laughing, is laughing at them—a bumbling or bungling type.

These types often attract each other. So, if they are “working” in a group, they may also be categorized as “gang stalkers.” Gang stalking may or may not be a new phenomenon. What is clear is that less expensive technology has made their activity much easier. Before electronic locks, cell phones and laptops, much of the activity they engage in would have been near impossible.

Though there is currently little information available about gang stalkers, they can be analyzed and categorized psychologically. The goals of the gang may vary. One of the members may be attempting to “get to know you,” figure out how much money you have, thwart your promotional efforts or become your assistant. Someone may believe he or she has some score to settle with you.

Rather than become annoyed by the members of the gang, attempt to understand them so that you can easily spot them and point them out to others if necessary. They are likely “lost ones.” They may be the “black sheep” of their families for various reasons such as laziness or a personality disorder. Does the fact that there may be a disability mean you should befriend such a person? Not unless you truly have time to befriend him or her. You, as an artist who is attempting to maximize your creative time don’t have that kind of time. Befriending this type would not help your artistic efforts.

Befriending any member of a stalking gang would do just the opposite–avert your focus from your work onto them as “needy types,” starving for attention and/or purpose. You cannot feed that kind of void. It is never filled. It is a bottomless pit. Leave the “finding” and/or “saving” of the lost ones to the missionaries. In fact, missionary families and pastoral families have “lost ones” even among themselves. Any connections you make should be with persons who can increase your success as an artist.

Most of these types do not make the first effort to communicate verbally. They likely won’t say anything to you unless you say something to them. Don’t. That’s fine. If they say anything to you at all, it may be apparent that they have been given scripts. There is a reason your parents told you not to talk to strangers. These people see you as being the one with the strength. Any attention you give them will cause them to seek more. It is a vicious cycle you do not have time to get sucked into.

It is likely that many of these gang members struggle with addictions. You might notice a type of litter in your path that brings attention to their addictions—drug addictions, food addictions, even sexual addictions or sexual perversions. Addictions can stunt a person’s level of mental and emotional development. These people may continue to talk and act like teenagers (or even children) well into their adult years. You might overhear one of them say to another something that sounds goofy—not in the comical sense but in a strange, immature manner. This might explain why their families become frustrated to the point of disowning them—sheer public embarrassment.

These types may also have difficulty controlling their emotions. You might hear them tapping and pounding around their vehicles or in a shared apartment building. They may slam doors–anything to make you aware that they have “needs.” You are not a psychiatrist. You are an artist. Very few people overcome their addictions for life. Don’t think you have all the answers. If you feel so strongly about helping these persons give up your artwork, go to school and study to become a counselor.

Again, this is not your problem. These people want you to pity them, but what affect will your sympathy have? They will eat it up and want more. You will get sucked into their world of addiction. You need time for your own “addiction” in life—your artwork. The more time you spend with your art, your craft or your area of study, the more likely you will become a highly skilled, knowledgeable and well adjusted individual.

God is well aware of the lost persons and may even have sent one or two of them in your direction, because you are kinder and more patient than the average person. Depending upon how long the gang members have been “following you around,” anyone else would be yelling at them, throwing things at them, damaging their vehicles–possibly beating them or worse. Don’t stoop to that level. Think about it. If these persons have been rejected by their own family members, they are a sorry lot. Don’t be cruel to them but don’t befriend them either. Be aware of them and go about your business. Your mission is to impart whatever it is you are hoping to impart with your artwork. You may have an artistic calling from God. Let the mainstream continue to operate in the mainstream and the lost ones continue to seek someone who has time for them.

Finally, there are good cops and there are bad cops. Bad cops can be influenced by gang stalkers. They may even join the gangs, especially if they lose their jobs to errors in perception, judgment or decision making. If there is truly a score to settle, the most productive one will likely prevail. Idle persons usually wind up in the most trouble. Let God settle the score. Keep your thinking on a higher level and you will be A-OK. Keep scrolling . . .


Z Art Blog–7. “Producers and Consumers”

As you begin to or continue to think about your priorities as related to your artwork, you will also realize that not only do you want your artwork to somehow supplement your income, ultimately you want your artwork to be so sought that you would even be able to quit your “day gig.” Not to shatter that illusion, however the percentage of non-performance artists who support(ed) themselves solely with revenues generated by the sale of their artwork and over an extended period of time is very small–probably less than 1%. So, if you haven’t yet reached that pinnacle of success, consider yourself typical. What’s wrong with being a typical artist? Nothing really, unless you want to raise a family on a typical artist’s income. That kind of thinking would require a serious reality check.

For you, the thought of having/raising your own family rarely if ever enters your mind, and you therefore do not need a reality check but rather an occasional mental carrot to keep your creative juices flowing. At this point in your journey, it may be of some consolation to think of yourself as a “producer.” Because you are an artist, you may never become as much a “consumer” as the average (American) person who is forever busy trying to keep up with or outdo the Jones family—and as a result in these times also goes into extreme debt.

Simply attempting to pay your way through college can also cause this problem, regardless of whether or not you “consume” much of anything else but food. As an artist, you know you can’t afford to go any further in the direction of debt than absolutely necessary, because you have learned you need to continue purchasing your supplies and equipment and spend a few additional dollars on promoting your artwork. In avoiding and ignoring the whole keeping up with the Jones family scenario, what are you missing anyway? Nothing but stress.

The only down side to resisting the temptation of economic competition (if you actually think of such as a temptation) is that the “status quo” may perceive you as being a bit odd at times. Not that this should bother you. Your family members and true friends are going to love you no matter what. Nevertheless, it may be helpful to anticipate certain situations that arise in conversation with not only your family members and friends but also with people who don’t know you very well. Don’t be surprised when it seems even your family members don’t know you very well, especially if you are the only practicing artist in the bunch. There are likely many creative people in your family (talent is hereditary), but most of them probably chose paths other than becoming a lifelong artist.

So, what do most people (non artists) do in their free time? A large majority of Americans go see or watch movies on a regular basis. Watching TV and movies is so common because it is so easy. It is easier than reading. Listening to music is also widespread but music is another matter. While listening to music, it is possible to add an activity such as cooking, cleaning or painting a wall or a picture. The only creative activity you might be able to accomplish while watching a movie is working on your guitar licks, (without an amp or headphones of course).

Imagine attempting to work on your brush strokes while watching a movie. It would take you twice the amount of time to complete the project and would probably look absolutely ridiculous. There you are, looking up from the canvas to glance at the TV, shifting your focus from the rhythm of your work, then returning your focus back to the canvas where you then have to reposition your brush, because while you are glancing at the TV, your glance becomes a gaze, then a stare . . . Your brush begins dropping from in front of the canvas to closer to your hip, and the paint soon dries on the brush. This may be a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea.

A movie is considered “popular,” because most of the general public goes to see it at the theater or has seen it on cable, etc. When most everyone sees the same movie, it becomes food for conversation, even years after the movie was made. As an artist however, you have likely spent much more time working on your artwork than watching TV, playing video games, going to movies and whatever your cohort deems “the thing to do”–You know, consumer style activities.

Frequently in everyday conversation, someone makes reference to a specific movie or a specific actor in a specific movie or a specific line in a specific movie and you have no idea what they are talking about because frankly, it doesn’t interest you. But of course, you don’t want to let on that it doesn’t interest you (or maybe you do).

The conversation goes something like, “Remember that scene from . . .” or “I just love that line from . . .” or “That reminds me of what Johnny Stardust said in ‘Big Screen Magic’ . . .” When the conversationalist pauses in his or her dialogue, noticing the blank expression on your face (wondering if you are even paying attention), he or she says something like, “You’ve never seen that movie? (What is wrong with you?)!!!” How can you answer this question politely? Just feign a patient and pleasant expression and shake your head ever so slightly. As you stare at each other, depending upon how well you know each other, the other person might experience an ah-ha moment and say, “Oh, that’s right . . . While everyone else was rushing out to see that movie, you were attempting to perfect the bar chord.”

Not that the conversation has to end there. It is just as entertaining (and usually less time consuming) to listen to someone’s retelling of a plot as it is to take the time to go rent and watch the movie yourself. Then at some point, the conversation might take a refreshing detour from the norm and involve a discussion about what artists do in their free time (not that anyone would get it), and at least one person in the crowd will chime in with, “I always wanted to learn how to play guitar (but watched movies instead).”

So, though you may feel a bit uncomfortable in some conversations (if not bored to tears), you will be comforted in remembering the difference between producers and consumers and in continuing to spend your free time the way you want to, not the way the general public thinks you should. Keep scrolling . . .


Z Art Blog–8. “Talent With No Motivation?”

Have you ever known someone who had artistic ability but never seemed able to accomplish much of anything after high school? Maybe this person achieved As in art classes with plans to continue in art but then couldn’t come up with ideas for new work. Or maybe this person would start a painting and never finish it. Then start another painting and never finish it, etc. Art teachers give their students the direction for each piece. So, how would a fledgling artist know what to paint if no one was giving him or her the ideas for each piece?

Is this problem a lack of motivation? It may rather be a lack of direction or organization. In other words, this artist has not yet made a decision about “genre” or “theme.” Does he or she want to paint nature—farm animals, zoo animals, prairie scenes, jungle scenes, mountain scenes, or ocean scenes?  Maybe he or she prefers to paint pictures of humans—humans at play, humans at work, etc. Does this artist use oil, tempera or water color paints, pastels or chalk? The more an artist can narrow the focus or purpose of his or her work, the more likely he or she will be able to develop a unique style and perfect that given theme. This concept also applies to photography, pottery, music, and other visual art forms.

If the artist we are talking about is you, you may want to start by imagining exactly where you want to see your artwork. Then do some research on competition in that market. Yes. An artist must be aware of the competition. Who are some of the artists who are currently being hired in the area you hope to see your work? Observe the work. Ask yourself, why is this artist being hired? Of all the artistic people you know personally, how many are getting paid for their artwork? Probably none. What does this mean? Does it mean the competition is tight? Does it mean very few ever pursue professional art? Does it mean those who are being hired blow everyone else away? You may feel that your work is already as good as that of those being paid for theirs. How should you proceed? Remain humble. It is often more than just talent that causes an artist to become “chosen” or “successful.”

Many people who become successful in a specific area have family members who “preceeded them” in some way, possibly blazing the trail for them–establishing connections. So, the younger artist did not reach his/her level of success entirely on his/her own. He/she had groundwork in place. Another example of shared success might be a band of musicians who support each other. In that case, success is a group effort. You however, do not have the “connections” just described and must somehow make up for that lack of “advanced placement.” You must study harder/smarter, work harder/smarter, and seek new opportunities as often as possible, etc

Lets say you decide your theme is going to be stuffed animals and other toys from childhood and your style or brush stroke is soft and fluffy. You recall the stuffed animals from your childhood and observe some from the present. You imagine or sketch several scenes, decide upon one and begin creating your first piece. When you have completed the first piece, you decide on a second scene, begin creating your second piece, complete the second piece and so on. Hopefully, in these scenes you are also developing that style all your own.

If after completing several pieces, family members and friends recognize the uniqueness of your work, you might then begin making your work known to people who know writers of children’s books or designers of nursery décor, etc. Look online and go to the library. Find books that explain in detail exactly how to ask for permission to submit your work. You also need to know how many pieces are reviewed and in what standard form such as digital. If you studied hard in high school, it will seem a natural progression of events to begin studying the business side of art which was probably not taught in your art classes. As you study, continue to create new pieces to keep your collection fresh. It might be more difficult to submit work that was completed five years ago while you were still in high school. Employers want to know that you are an active artist–working on a new piece or project at all times as much as your life allows. See previous articles in this series.

So, is your problem a matter of talent without motivation or talent without direction and organization? You may now be answering this question a bit differently. A unique theme and style may lead to name recognition and later success. If potential employers or consumers can’t quite put a finger on what makes your artwork unique, they won’t be able to mention you to someone else, much less someone who is looking for a specific type of work for a specific project. Get the picture? Keep studying the business side and keep spending time on your artwork. Keep scrolling . . .


Z Art Blog–9. “The Discouraged Artist”

We all become discouraged now and then. The discouragement may be due to any number of situations or events in life. For the artist the discouragement may be related to one or all of the following:

  1. a lack of artistic inspiration or creativity—“Have I lost my touch?”
  2. being overwhelmed by the process—“Where if anywhere can I find assistance?”
  3. a change in responsibilities—“What happened to my creative time?”
  4. seeing no payoff for the time and effort—“Is it time to give up?

Some of these questions or situations were addressed if only briefly in a few of the first articles in this series which were written for young people contemplating whether or not to pursue life as an artist for the long haul. Rereading those entries may help you regain your focus and help you answer the question, “Why did I start this journey in the first place?” The answer is, “Because you are an artist.” No one said you can’t take a break from the artwork and the promotion of the artwork. You will most likely have to take several breaks from the process throughout your lifetime. This does not mean you have ever given up on your talent. It just means it may be time to take another temporary breather.

Let’s look at each of these discouraging situations and consider what they may mean:

  1. a lack of artistic inspiration or creativity—“Have I lost my touch?” If you have already been creating art for several years, you likely have some measure of talent. Talent doesn’t go away. You may have developed obstacles to creating new work such as arthritis or other health issues, but the talent itself does not go away. Your lack of inspiration or even motivation is likely temporary. Remember that this is a lifelong endeavor and your subconscious (or God) may simply be telling you it is time to rest your creative mind for awhile. If you believe your recent lack of creativity to be more than a lack of inspiration (such as depression), seek the help of a doctor.
  2. being overwhelmed by the process—“Where if anywhere can I find assistance?” When you do all your own production and all your own promotion you may often feel that you are wearing too many hats. Independent art is a specialized field of work and therefore assistance may always be difficult to find. People don’t study to become “an artist’s assistant.” If you don’t yet have much of a relationship with God, this is a great time to start developing one. Spiritual help is far more effective than is human help. Humans are imperfect. You don’t necessarily need to join a church, but it wouldn’t hurt you to crack the Bible once in awhile. You will be surprised at what you discover about yourself and about God. In the words of a wise grandma, “God helps those who help themselves.”
  3. a change in responsibilities—“What happened to my creative time?” Someone came along, you are thinking about marriage, you are expecting a child, you are now caring for an elderly parent, whatever the case may be, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will never again have time for your artwork. Even events that are non-family or non-relationship related, such as a seeming creative derailment can soon manifest itself as a new creative direction or a new avenue for promotion that you would never have thought of before. Such seeming upheavals may be the catalyst for a change in outlook or perspective which may add depth to your work.
  4. seeing no payoff for the time and effort—“Is it time to give up?” No. Look at the body of work you have created. You should feel accomplished. Creating artwork has given your life meaning and purpose you may not have had without that activity. Again, it may just be time to take a little break, not give up. You knew that life as an artist holds no guarantees for outcomes. Nor does any other life choice if you are realistic. It is what you make it. That is why it is considered a journey. You choose your theme (your instrument, genre or creative mode, etc.), work at it and see where it leads you. Assuming you’ve made good decisions, being responsible in all aspects of your life, things will happen when they are supposed to. Eat nutritious foods, get a little exercise now and then, get a good night’s sleep, and you will wake up convinced you are still on the right track.

There are likely many other situations that bring discouragement, especially to an artist. Remember that you are not the only artist to have been in difficult situations. Such is life. A wine connoisseur once said that the harder a wine berry must struggle to find water, the more character the wine will have. Struggles will give you strength of character. Observe your creative efforts in tangible form and you will feel accomplished for all of your time well spent. Continue adding to your body of work and you will have no regrets. You are an artist. Look for the article about healthy activities to engage in during your breaks from your artwork and promotion. Keep scrolling . . .


Z Art Blog–10. “Food for Artists”

Some artists use food for thought to create the next piece. Some artists create food for thought for those who observe their work. All artists need food for the body and few should ever have to starve. In the worst case scenario, the artist has only one skill or talent—his or her art. Does this mean the artist should mooch off of someone else for living space and food? If the artist is mooching off anyone for anything he or she may be better described as a con artist.

It is likely that most artists have more than one talent, one of which should generate enough income    to put food on a table for one. So, we shall assume for the purpose of this article that the artist we are referring to–you has/have more than one talent, has/have little time to con others because you are too busy creating a body of work, and is/are also likely wearing several hats in the process. Should you have to eat your hats? Maybe for awhile . . .

What kind of food for the body can an artist find that is economical, filling and nutritious? Why not start with the most obvious—bread? (Go for the 100% whole wheat whenever possible). Day-old-bread stores or factory outlet bread stores are great places to find a loaf of bread for a buck. It may be a day old but it may take at least two days to get through the loaf even if you eat bread for breakfast lunch and dinner. You may only have two meals a day during your lean years but again, it is going to take you at least two more days to get through that loaf of bread. Bread keeps very well in a refrigerator. You have room. You don’t have much else in your refrigerator. How many people can say they spent a dollar for three days eats? How many people can say they spent only $30 for food for the entire month?

What if you live in a small town and there are no day-old-bread stores? Even if you are paying three dollars for a loaf of bread, you are still only spending a dollar per day if you eat two slices per meal. Slather a little peanut butter, squeeze a little honey or slap on a slice of cheese. With a glass of milk this treat can’t be beat.

Ok. So, most people would get tired of bread after the first loaf. But you are an artist. You are accustomed to sacrificing steak and potatoes for your art. Potatoes? How about a nice fat russet every other day? Top it with margarine and a slice of cheese one day and salsa the next. That meal is still under a buck. Pasta is usually very inexpensive. Make enough for a few meals and just reheat the pasta when you are ready to top it with whatever—pasta sauce; oil, vinegar, honey and some olives, peppers and tomato. Use your creative imagination for other tasty and inexpensive toppings.

Rice is just as versatile as potatoes and pasta—just a bit trickier to fix. Brown rice is even healthier than white rice and is much less likely to turn out sticky. Someone is complaining that all foods mentioned here are carbohydrates or starches and are therefore high in calories. No one is suggesting you have a heaping helping of all of them every meal. As an artist, a helping of one of them is your meal. Some fruits and vegetables are still fairly inexpensive if you want to add apple slices, carrot sticks and cucumber coins to the menu. Everything natural is nutritious as long as you don’t overdo it with one food type—except bread. Is it possible to eat too much bread?

Rice is too boring for you? Add beans. Beans are also very economical and nutritious adding color, texture and flavor, not to mention fiber to your diet. Skip the onions if you want to avoid the after effects of beans. It isn’t the beans. It’s the onions in the beans!

Some can live without starches but might go into withdrawal without a steady diet of vegetables. The problem is that many vegetables can be pricy and have a short shelf life. If you don’t eat them within a few days they spoil and become wasted money. Purchase only those that keep longer and try some substitutions. For example, if you love lettuce which doesn’t keep long at all, try a cabbage salad topped with the same items you use to top your lettuce salad. Cabbage is usually much less expensive than lettuce, keeps four times as long and is healthier than typical head lettuce.

What about meat you say? Tuna, sardines or mackerel are all perfect on crackers. Throw in a little (but not too much) cheese. You cannot do better than fish and cheese on crackers for flavor and nutrition. One can of fish might cost you a dollar (due to the cost of the packaging and/or advertising. Always consider off brands or store brands which are often of equal quality.) However, even with crackers and cheese you are still under two dollars for the meal. Try keeping it under two dollars at your favorite burger place. The soda alone (mostly ice) will cost you a dollar. Not to dis burger places. Everyone, even artists has/have to splurge once in awhile and go get a burger.

Just because you are an artist doesn’t mean you have fewer food choices. Your choices must be wiser and will usually prove to be healthier if you consider food straight from the ground or water source. Additional processing, packaging and of course advertising costs money that you don’t have right now. You will. Keep your nose to your guitar or easel. Your life will be fruitful and your health will be better than that of the average wealthy person or con artist. Keep scrolling . . .


Z Art Blog–11. “Connections and Avenues for Artists”

Art education in public schools has been one of many gifts to Americans. At times, funding for art education has been at risk. (That is another topic—possibly for a different blog.) Those who were and have been fortunate to grow up in areas and during times when there was/is funding for art education  have been exposed to and have experienced a world that makes life more enjoyable and interesting—artistic expression through traditional and not so traditional mediums, depending upon the instructor.

One of the other Z Art Blog articles mentions that art teachers give budding artists the ideas for their first works. Some may even give a student enough direction and inspiration to take that artwork to the next level—either to college or to a guided or an independent effort to promote the artwork. In the worst case scenario, the artist doesn’t receive the kind of recognition that leads to scholarship money, cannot afford college and doesn’t have any familial connections outside that high school situation. Does the story have to end there? No. Direction, ambition and determination can make up for a lack of connections even when there is little and no money.

A young artist might be thinking, “I know how to make art. For what reason do I need ‘connections?’” Do you plan on continuing as an artist? If not, you don’t need connections. There are probably those few who are content making art for the pure enjoyment of making art whether or not anyone ever sees it. However, this becomes difficult to argue. Your neighbors may begin to wonder what you are doing behind closed doors. Don’t give anyone any reason to be nosy or suspicious. Not that you have to make an announcement every time you brush your teeth in the morning (an example of an annoying side effect of social media), however part of your work as an artist is to find ways to promote your work. If it is worthy, it needs to be seen and/or heard.

Worthiness comes with practice and you will figure that out as part of the ongoing process. You will learn how  to evaluate your work either in comparison to that of others (your competition) or as a unique niche type of artwork. Of course, you will hear comments by others. You might even be laughed at. You don’t like to be judged by others? Get used to it. It is all part of the process. The time you have spent creating artwork will speak for itself. Your collection of artwork will speak for itself.

Criticism will strengthen you and give your work more value. When you make it a habit of keeping your nose to the grind and minding your own business, you will have the last laugh. It will make your story more interesting than it would be if you never have to overcome obstacles. As a guide, your artwork should be “real”—true to you. Once you try to please others with what you say and do, you have lost your soul as an artist.

You will know you have something special to express when attempting to promote meets with either strong emotional reactions, strong verbal reactions in other people or in the form of friction or interference. People you don’t even know may try to get in your way—all the more reason to continue with what you do. Good art has always pushed boundaries or made statements. That makes some people angry. As long as you don’t offend God, you’re ok. Not that making people angry should be your goal. Only that political correctness does not necessarily make the best artwork.

No matter how much of an introvert you are, if you are making art, you might as well come up with a few ways to promote—get the artwork in front of viewers and potential buyers. Easier said than done? Yes. So why try? What else are you going to do with your free time– watch TV? Not that there is absolutely nothing worthy of watching on TV, however everyone watches TV. You are an artist. It isn’t good for anyone, much less a creative person to sit in one spot for too long without putting forth some creative energy. It’s fun to be entertained and it’s great to absorb information, but what are you then doing with that information? Does it inspire you to create another piece? If so, your time absorbing that information has not been wasted. Even negative experiences which can create negative energy can inspire artwork in a positive and non-violent form.

You are wondering what is meant by the title of this blog? What kind of opportunities are there for a young aspiring artist to get his/her work in front of viewers? As many as anyone has the vision to imagine, or as many as the angels have the time to drop into someone’s mind. The classic European method of promotion is to find a community in which the general population appreciates artwork and find a spot on the sidewalk. You’re not yet that confident? Maybe you can find an artist friend with whom to set up your sidewalk painting sessions. If you’d rather create your artwork in private, then there are many other opportunities for promotion.

You may need to come up with a script and practice explaining your artwork. If speaking is not one of your areas of strength, have a family member or friend help you create and print several copies of a half-sheet, basic flyer or brochure that explains who you are and what you are working on, including photos of your work. Ask all your family members and friends to post one of your pieces on their social networking page.

When the initial promotion process causes you to feel naked or overexposed, you might want to choose an alias. Send letters to regional libraries asking if they would consider displaying a piece or a collection of your work. Ask a few of the owners of privately owned restaurants if they could use some new life on their walls. A good rule of thumb is to look for “pull” methods rather than “push” methods. Forcing your artwork on others leaves a poor impression. When someone brushes you off, makes excuses or says no, move on and don’t take it personally. Eventually, your artwork will find its home.

The main focus in the process as an artist should be in keeping your artwork as fresh as possible by studying the history and progression for experimenting with new techniques, by creating new artwork at all times, or if your collection is already extensive by finding new avenues for promotion. The collection comes first and the promotion is secondary but necessary. Find your balance. Keep scrolling . . .


Z Art Blog–12. “What is an Audio Artist?”

In 2013, the terms “audio art” and “sonic art” became coined to describe the work of an individual who writes and records music–a modern day composer of the digital music kind. Not that analog recording is no longer a valid creative medium–only that since the late 1970’s, digital music has made recording possible for an individual musician/programmer, much like a traditional composer who sits at a piano and draws individual musical notes onto paper that contains the lines of the musical staff. In this case, the composer is recording (in special visual, written code) the melody line for a song or creating a song or composition that includes parts for various human voices or parts for specific orchestra instruments.

Historically, pop music recordings were created by combining the work of several individuals who scheduled a date and time to rehearse a song as a group and eventually record it onto wax discs, vinyl discs and magnetic tape. This process involved a song writer who may or may not have been present for the recording session, a few or several musicians each playing a separate instrument, one or more singer(s), and a recording engineer to balance the volume levels of the sounds via microphone placement and adjustment of knobs and sliders on the mixing and recording equipment.

In the late 1970’s and early 80’s, the invention of digital sequencing/recording equipment–drum machines, synthesizer/sequencer keyboards and digital recorders (and eventually home computer software) combined all of these various writing, rehearsing and recording processes for an individual musician/composer. The individual was now able to create, mix and record tracks of various digital sounds such as drums, bass guitar, piano and any sound or instrument voice having been digitally sampled and made available to the public. Some composers/musicians would also add actual physical instrumentation to the mix to create a unique piece. Those who had created several songs began producing their own CD albums to make a complete collection of work for distribution to the public. A good album has an apparent theme or appealing order to the songs to an extent that when played completely through, the work leaves the listener with the mindset of the composer—an experience comparable to that of watching a movie. Some movies (a separate topic) could be considered art.

When is digital recording considered audio art? Depending upon any number of definitions of art, a piece of visual art (a painting, a sculpture, a photograph, etc.) is normally created by an individual—an artist. Likewise, a piece of audio art—a song is written, mixed and recorded by an individual—an artist. Sonic art would refer more to a piece that has fewer or no lyrics and may contain a more fragmented melody line if any melody line, fewer melodic or tonal sounds and more percussive or non-musical sounds such as dance music ala Dubstep with frequent machine gun drum rolls and swooshes and whooshes. DJs (originally “disc jockeys” now turntable and drum machine or beat masters) are live or performing artists in that they create combinations of rhythms and sounds for dance settings, whether or not they record and name the mixes to generate replayable pieces of their work.

It is debatable whether or not the current state of pop music could be considered art when there are many hands in the mix of each song or album. During several periods, singer/guitarist/songwriters have enjoyed popular success as an answer to music that becomes “over produced” by too may different people—a writer, a different singer or group of singers, separate musicians, and several others mixing, recording and mastering each song—assembly line music. When there are many people creating one song, the song is consequently more expensive to produce and begins to sound more like money than like music. Soon the style becomes copied by others and eventually becomes common or generic pop music. Groups of musicians who are capable of writing and creating a new and recognizable style or sound often catch on as refreshment to the ears of music lovers. In some cases, these groups could be considered artists and in some cases, unique instrumentalists and vocalists could be considered artists. All singers have their own tone but not all singers can be considered truly unique.

At times in popular music, the single song becomes more important than the album collection. One album and one radio chart hit has made many a one hit wonder for various reasons. The timing was wrong; the public was worn out on the style; newer technology changed the rules, the studio closed its doors; the studio team or distribution team disbanded; the individual chose a different life path, lost creativity or interest, or was too difficult to work with, etc. In terms of art and connoisseurs of music, the album or collection of songs is often the proof of the artistry of the individual or band.

Some connoisseurs might argue that only time can determine the true artists—those who stand out from generation to generation no matter how little or much work the individual created. In some cases, an individual was a member of many different bands of musicians but is recognized as the unique one. Others might argue that a high measure of notoriety or popularity during and/or after the lifetime of the individual does not necessarily qualify the individual as an artist, because the most uniquely creative individuals are not necessarily the most connected in terms of distribution of their work. As with visual art, there are examples of musical artists whose work was unknown or undervalued until after their death. Maybe only artists can recognize other artists. Many individuals create for the enjoyment of the process regardless of the opinions of others. Most hope that their work will at least help them subsist, so that they can continue the work that they enjoy most—creating.

What qualifies as a good and/or valuable piece of work and exactly what persons can be considered artists are always topics for extended discussions and varied opinions, because the quality or value of a piece depends on the affect it has upon each individual viewer or listener. Those who enjoy art look for certain aspects that appeal to their specific tastes, and those who deal in and sell art or music look for what might appeal to those who are in the market for art or music. In visual art, rarity may be key. For music and audio art, the dance and/or social aspect may be key. All in all, in the history of music, it is now certain that digital recording technology has become the newest canvas, paint, palette and brush for many an audio artist, widely known or not.


Z Art Blog–13. “Artwork Standing the Test of Time”

Looking at a piece of artwork or listening to a piece of music may take you back to an earlier time in your life or to a time long before you were a conscious being. Some people are attracted to certain time periods and surround themselves with music and artwork from that period. Others are all about everything new. Is anything “new” actually new? Sometimes and sometimes not.

Just as music or clothing styles are modified and new styles emerge—often as combinations of previous styles, older styles (or “schools”) of painting are revived by new artists, and newer generations may be unaware of their previous existence. Discovering and creating artwork, clothing designs and music are among the most enjoyable and productive way(s) a person can spend time. Art and music make life more interesting and for some, serve as an escape from the doldrums or harsh realities of life.

How many people do you know who are bored with their lives because they either have no hobbies or they don’t take the time or put forth the effort to explore their talents? Maybe this describes you. It is difficult to imagine that there is anyone who has absolutely no useful skills or little beneficial talent in any area. On the other hand, all of us have known a person or two who just can’t seem to find a valid niche in school or thereafter–always seemingly lost in life.

Having no money can limit how free time is spent, however there are many activities that don’t require much money. Most towns have or should have an antique shop. Looking through a collection of items that had a purpose in a past generation can spark interest. You don’t necessarily have to buy one of these items to enjoy its purpose. Decide which type of items interests you most, such as pre electric home appliances and make a photo journal of those you find—ice boxes, coffee grinders, hand mixers, etc. Some people have enough relatives, that items belonging to previous generations adorn the attics, basements or sheds of homes. Rather than snooping around in your boredom into the business of others, explore your own family history—money or not.

Some only think they have no money. Anyone who can afford cable TV, can afford to cancel that account and purchase some art supplies. Or, sometimes where there is talent or at least sincere interest, there may also be a benefactor. So, someone who has always wanted to explore a certain area of art but doesn’t know where to start, need only begin looking around or asking around to see if someone can help him or her get started or make a few suggestions about obtaining inexpensive art or music supplies. You might even find an old set in the antique store. Why not start with those? Art tools haven’t changed much in the last 1oo years.

Now that you have your first set of drawing utensils (actually you could have just started with your #2 school pencil and notebook paper), what should you draw? Whatever you saw in the antique store that peaked your interest. Snap a photo with your phone and start drawing. Draw a picture of your shoes—always an interesting and available subject. At this point, it doesn’t really matter what you draw as long as you are drawing, rather than whining and complaining about your boredom or being annoyingly in the business of others. Take phone shots of your drawings and post them to Pinterest to get your first feel for what it is like to be the center of someone else’s attention. Most likely, someone is looking for the work of budding artists.

Here is the ultimate surprise in this scenario. As you begin making your family members aware of your drawings, someone in your family makes you aware that he or she has a collection of artwork no one else knew about. Imagine being informed that your great grandfather was an artist. What an exciting discovery that would be! No wonder you have a natural talent in drawing. Talent is inherited.

In observing the work of the source of your talent, what else does that artwork tell you? Other than the condition of the paper–having yellowed or become brittle, the images themselves probably come to life and seem very timeless. You can probably imagine someone sitting at that paper and applying each brush stroke. Every artist has his or her own set of influences and uniqueness which become evident in their work. Wouldn’t it be fun to attempt to emulate the work of your grandparent or paint the same picture in your own style and then display both works side by side on your favorite web page for your family members and friends to see?

There are so many ways in which artwork seems or becomes timeless. Famous paintings and murals are reconditioned to restore the paint/paintings to their original visual vibrancy, giving old works renewed attention and interest. Depending upon the content of the artwork, some pieces never seem to age. It is very common for singers and bands to rerecord their favorite songs/recordings from the past, giving those songs new life. Pottery will always be pottery until humans stop needing bowls, mugs, pitchers, vases, plant pots and interesting décor. Old photography is often given new life in print.

There is so much artwork to behold from past to present times. If only it were possible to seek and find each piece. Only the angels have unlimited access. Which pieces will remain in the closet, which will be revealed, what will be revealed along with the artwork and who decides? Who will be allowed a peek into the past?

Artists may have different reasons for creating artwork. Some may hope to achieve fame, some money and others simply enjoy exercising their talents. Life can have purpose and artists are often among those who have purposeful lives, spending their time in an enjoyable and productive way. Ultimately, persons who create artwork have something to show for their time or a given time period, even if no one else is aware of the collection for another generation or two.


Z Art Blog–14. “Artist Interview: Andrea Fairservice”

Andrea Fairservice is a twenty something visual artist, currently working as a full-time textile designer. Andrea is a very goal driven individual, dedicated to her work. Z Art Tones Dot Com is excited to share some of Andrea’s valuable insight about her visual talent, her experience and her work ethic.

Andrea, you work a full-time job, do side work as an independent artist/designer and also sell your artwork and crafts online. Not everyone would be able to keep track of so much. What are a few hints for staying organized?

When I first decided to open up my Etsy Shop and take on freelance jobs like most independent artists, it’s been a slow build. I’ve learned a lot about time management and organization through trial and error over the years. I’ve also learned quite a bit at the two design jobs I’ve had since 2009.

A lot of it is knowing yourself–what you are capable of in the time you have to complete a project and also being honest with your clients. From what I’ve learned, clients generally really appreciate your honesty if you think you will not be able to complete a task in the time they are asking for it, especially because it is their dollar at work. And this goes without saying–they all want the highest quality product possible.

Also, keeping a calendar and planning out your weekly tasks is a life saver.

Artistic ability is usually inherited. From whom did you inherit your eye, and how are your abilities similar or different from his/her/their abilities?

I think I inherited most of my love for art from my Mother’s side of the family. Both of my grandparents were/are artistic. My grandmother has owned a ceramics shop and has taught classes there for many, many years, and my mom has taught painting classes there as well. She even attended art school for a time. Both of my parents really encouraged me to pursue an artistic path throughout my adolescence, but it was my mom who I would always go to if I needed help drawing something.

Although I must say my father is the one who helped me get into photography which is also another huge part of my life.

It isn’t always possible to make college students aware of and prepare them for all of the “behind the scenes” aspects of a particular career area when most training occurs in the college classroom. For example, most first year school teachers are probably surprised by and overwhelmed by the amount of after hours paperwork involved. Are there any surprises for a newbie graphic artist/textile designer?

The number of valuable lessons I’ve learned since working in an office setting over the years are countless–from what to wear and how to write emails to making sure to label your creamer in the shared fridge in the break room.

I think most students pursuing a career in design are usually required to take part in an internship while they are still in college, and if they aren’t I would highly recommend going out and finding one for yourself between your junior and senior years. I would go as far as saying, try to get more than one internship.

Find a place that is seeking interns vs. waiting to be assigned an internship from your school. That way you know there will be work for you there and you will be a valued piece of the puzzle. Then while you’re there, don’t just coast along. Really take the initiative to stand out, be driven and be as helpful as possible. Also, ask questions and be genuinely interested in that business. It is from my experience being an intern and also working with interns, I know that taking an interest in the job really goes a long way. 

I was actually hired into my first full-time design position from an internship I had found on my own, and I will forever be grateful for that experience.

Also, keep your cell phone in your car or tucked away. Although now a days, I have my phone at my desk with me and it’s acceptable to check it out from time to time, I think it is really unprofessional when interns are on their phones. It really says that they don’t care about the experience and opportunity they’ve been given. You want to be as professional as possible. Even if you don’t actually have much “real world” professional experience yet.

Describe a typical work day—from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.–or whatever hours you usually work.

Currently, I’m a textile designer. So, that means I am given a piece of reference material–a print from a piece of clothing, artwork, photograph, etc., and I am to interpret that visual into four different prints that are then taken to clients who can then choose to buy them and use them for whatever they want. Usually, it’s women’s clothing.

Instead of telling you what a day looks like, I am going to take you through the process of designing a “group” of prints.

So, the first thing I do is meet with my art director who gives me the reference image I am going to interpret for the original print designs I’m going to make. Let’s say for example it is a watercolor floral print for a dress.

We discuss what age group the design is for, which season, a painting technique, color palette, and layouts for each of the four prints.

I then take that information and seek out my visual reference for use to paint the flowers—usually found photos.

Once I have my reference I will then paint it out, scan it, bring it up on my computer, clean the scans, adjust the color and then put the flowers for each design into the discussed layouts, such as an all over, a stripe pattern, a big placed pattern where the design never really repeats itself, etc.

Then once I’ve completed my designs, my art director and I review them and I make any changes we discuss.

Once I’m to a place where I really like my designs on screen, I print out swatches from the prints onto special fabric we have. I test the colors, make sure they look right and when everything is approved, I send my full designs to be printed on fabric for showing to our clients by our sales team.

Then the whole process starts over and I receive a new reference image.

Since working at this job I’ve designed over 1,900 original prints.

How has the popularity of the internet and internet marketing affected competition in the field of graphic design? Is the field more competitive and closed or more available and open to artists than in past generations?

This is a tough question as I’ve only really worked as a designer during the age of the internet. I’m assuming that the market is competitive but it is easier than ever to get your work out there and reach out to potential clients.

Some fields are closed to anyone without a college degree. What percentage of people working in graphic design/textile design have college degrees, and what can those without a degree do to enhance their chances of success or at least enjoyment and longevity in this field?

This is also a really tough question for me to answer since I have a degree. 

Sometimes I get aggravated, thinking about how what I’m doing in my current professional position was mostly self-taught. Then I remind myself that a big reason I got this job was from my past professional experience, and the reason for that was absolutely from being in college and pursuing a degree.

As much stress as my student loans bring me, I think having that degree and college experience is a huge factor to success. I know for sure some people are able to climb the ladder and succeed on their own as self-taught designers but I think the percentage of success is much smaller than that of people with a degree.

Your portfolio is broad. You enjoy all kinds of work from crafts to calligraphy to drawing to painting to graphic design to photography. If you could illustrate a book, what would the book be about?

I have illustrated books!…As a child anyway. (laughs) As an adult, I have yet to have this opportunity, but I would definitely love to illustrate a book! I’m not quite sure what the book would be about since I wouldn’t  be the one writing it, but I really love to illustrate things from nature, botanical images and lately I’ve taken a real interest in anatomy, specifically scientific illustration.

As much as I would love to be more of an impressionist artist, I always find myself getting swept back to the realism side of illustration and art, so something in that area.

Which is more important—talent or work ethic and why?

It’s most definitely a pretty even mix of both. I’ve known people who have these incredible talents but are just so lazy and they go no where. You need to be ok with having both and realizing that just talent isn’t going to get you where you want to be in life. You need to have the drive to work hard.

Obviously, visual artists and designers are visual people who communicate very well in the visual mode. To what extent in your daily work is effective verbal and written communication important? Give an example of how ineffective communication can affect a project or business in general.

Being able to communicate clearly with a client or your art director is absolutely vital. Feeling confident you are on the same page for a project will only make things easier for you and the other party. I’ve also learned that there is a big difference between thinking you’re on the same page and knowing you’re on the same page. You have to be able to push some of your own thoughts and opinions on a project aside to leave room for an even balance of your ideas and their ideas.

I’ve found over the years that a verbal conversation is the best way to make sure you and your client or art director are all together before a project is started. Email communications are good for referring back to the information provided, but I think it’s just easier to have that immediate response to bounce ideas back and forth from.

Ask any designer. We all have a horror story or two when we thought we knew what our client wanted and presented them with the project only to have them tell us this isn’t what they pictured at all. This is in no way any one person’s fault. Conveying a visual idea through words is extremely difficult. This is why I will usually ask clients to provide me with visual references on top of a written questionnaire.

There has been more than one occasion at my job now where I will design a group of prints only to find out my art director had something totally different in mind. Then it’s back to the drawing board, which believe me is frustrating. But I always take it as a learning experience and because of that, situations like the above very rarely happen.

What is your favorite piece of advice from your favorite mentor?

I’ve received so many wonderful pieces of advice over the years. 1.) You must work hard to get to where you want to be in life. 2.) Do not loose sight of your dreams. 3.) Keep it simple–whether this applies to a painting, the design of your portfolio website, or the wording of your cover letter. Keep things simple. Don’t over complicate or make something overly flashy, just because. 4.) Don’t let yourself become frustrated if you are feeling uninspired. Inspiration comes in waves, and I’ve learned that sometimes when I don’t feel inspired I should use that as a good time for relaxation and to let my brain reset.

See samples of Andrea’s artwork on Z Artist Spotlight page here at Z Art Tones Dot Com.

View more of Andrea’s work at these links:

Keep creating and keep returning to ZArtTonesDotCom to read ZArtBlog . . .