How to Improve Your Photos and Videos with Affordable Lighting

The big difference between good looking photos and video and bad ones comes down to how well things are lit. Whether you’re an amateur photographer building a home studio or a budding YouTube star, here are some simple tricks for casting the right light without spending a fortune on professional equipment.

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Handmade Business Cards

I needed a handful of business cards for an art fair I was doing. I only needed a small run and it seemed like a bit of a waste to order such a small batch from a professional service. There are a few professional printers that I like to use for higher runs and business products. I decided to look into DIY options for handmade business cards.

I looked through some ideas on Pinterest. I was particularly interested in these watercolor business cards I found made by Akula Kreative. The cards looked super clean and each one was one of a kind. This was a win win for a DIY project.

Handmade business card

Business card inspiration

What I Did

The recommended custom clear stamp was not available so I decided to make my own rubber stamp. I looked through some tutorials and decided to go with the Parchment Paper Method for transferring ink to the stamp for carving. Instead of going out and buying watercolors I just used acrylics that I already had.

Materials

  • Speedball® Speedy Carve Kit $10-$20 from Michael’s (cost depending on how many cutters included)
  • Parchment paper from grocery store $4.31 (including tax)
  • Black ink pad from Staples $2-3 (I found a tutorial to make your own stamp pad but I decided not to go this route)
  • An hour to carve the stamp (more if the design is complicated)
DIY Handmade business cards

DIY business cards try #1

Thoughts

The text on the card doesn’t look as clean as the inspiration. I think this is because the stamp was carved by hand instead of being machine made. Instead of being a bad thing I decided that I liked the handmade business card look and that this added to the meaning of the card.

The acrylic doesn’t look the greatest. I could have tried again and watered the paint down more. Instead of fussing with it I decided to just go without a background color. So far I’ve probably handed out 50 of these and everyone seems to be pleased with them.

DIY business card black and white

DIY business cards final product

Further Reading: Tutorials

Rubber Stamp Materials – particularly helpful if you are new to carving your own stamps like I was

Parchment Paper Method

Boomshaka: A New WordPress Solution For Artists

When you really get down to it, WordPress can be frustrating for image based designs. I’ve been using WordPress since 2008 and have helped many artists with their websites. I see a lot of the same problems. Navigation can be overly complicated and take too many clicks to see images. Images and galleries usually only look good on large monitors. Lightbox plugins look cool but they complicate analytics. Those are some of the big ones and those situations don’t even include e-commerce which complicates things even more.

I recently teamed up with master coder Jordan Kanter (also a longtime friend) to embark on designing a theme from scratch. We figured that given our knowledge we could design out a lot of common problems that we had noticed.

We’ve been working hard for the past three months. Today, I’m pleased to present the first live version of that code, which we call Boomshaka. You’re actually looking at it right now on this website. We saved a lot of time by using the amazing codebase from the underscores theme (thanks guys!).

We are currently in Beta testing and accepting applicants. As of this post, the Boomshaka theme has grown to solve more problems than initially intended. Here are some of the big ones:

  1. responsive design and adaptive images (mobile and tablet friendly)
  2. artist oriented usage of WordPress (rather than blogger oriented)
  3. e-commerce ready (WooCommerce supported)
  4. analytics on everything
  5. easily (but not annoyingly) sharable
  6. handicapped accessible
  7. robust styles – allowing for easy browser minimize/maximize functions

If you would like a new beautiful website that uses our code we’re ready to help. We can also accommodate existing WordPress users with transitioning their site. Please visit our signup page or send us an email at boomshakadesign@gmal.com. Also If you have any feedback on the project we’d love to hear from you.

6 Scanning Tips from an Artist

Here are 6 Scanning Tips from an Artist that will help you get the best possible scan for your buck. These points will apply to any scan wether the desired output is a fine art print or an instagram.

  1. Before you scan, clean the scanner bed. This will help cut down image editing later on. There is dust on the scanner bed even if you can’t see it. (Detailed instructions on cleaning the glass here)
  2. Scan in high resolution. If you plan on printing later on your images should be at least 300 dpi. If you want to print larger than your source material you will need to scan larger than 300 dpi.
  3. Scan more area than what you need. This leaves some room for error. You’ll be especially happy you did this if you need to rotate the image later on.
  4. Keep a copy of the original scans so you can revert back if necessary. An extra pro tip would be to keep whatever source material for your scan as well. If there are problems with the scan then you could do a rescan later on.
  5. Beware of level clipping. Some scanner software is horrible and you have to make sure it doesn’t blow out the highs and lows.
  6. Don’t have the scanner software do anything fancy if you don’t know what you are doing. There are some settings the scanner understand what type of material it is scanning. These settings are good. There are a lot of other potential adjustments that will actually degrade your image. Real image editing and enhancements should be saved for post production in Photoshop.
6 Scanning Tips from an Artist

acrylic on paper scan

Tips for submitting your work to galleries

Here are some tips for submitting your work to galleries and to get your submission the attention it deserves. I’ve looked at thousands and thousands of submissions by artists and I’ve noticed some reoccurring issues.

  1. Read any directions for submitting work. This may seem too obvious to mention but you would be surprised how many times I have looked over incomplete submissions. Directions for submissions are in place to consolidate the interaction and to give the reviewer the best chance for making a good decision for their organization.
  2. Personalize your submission to each specific gallery. A lot of people buy bulk lists and blast their submission to every nook and cranny on the internet. I received many submissions to our abstract gallery by artists working in figure painting. It was obvious who was familiar with the kind of work that we showed, and those who were not. Make sure you are sending a quality submission and not just spamming gallery owners.
  3. Don’t demand an answer. People may disagree with me on this one and that is fine. I understand that submitting work can be anxiety provoking and sometimes it seems that hearing a definitive yes or no is priority number one. I think this is being shortsighted. One scenario that submissions fell into was of “not right now.” These were artists whose work I genuinely liked, however given the current lineup of shows and artists the work just wouldn’t fit in the near future. When these artists demanded an answer, I was forced to say “no” when in reality the answer was “not right now.”
Tips for submitting your work to galleries

Tips for submitting your work to galleries

Guide to photographing artwork

Here is a guide to photographing artwork (2d and 3d). It’s the best one I’ve found and has been very helpful to me in photographing my own work and others. It covers beginner topics as well as advanced.
http://www.dallasartsrevue.com/resources/How-to-Photo-Art.shtml

If your art involves color, shape, dimension or texture, direct sunlight is the best light source, and it is widely available on this planet. Not talking about full — or open — shade (illuminated by the overly blue sky above), not dappled light (like from a tree’s varying shadows), not overcast sky light (when the sun goes behind a cloud), but direct light beamed down 93 million miles from our local star.

Direct sunlight, however, is not always available, and other natural and unnatural light sources have their qualities, too. (See Other Light, below.) They’re just not as good nor cheap nor easy to deal with as the light from the sun.

Guide to photographing artwork