the 6 worst pieces of promotion advice for artists, and the real solutions.

After countless suggestions of sites to use for promotion, I’m starting to realize that several things do not help at all:

1. Selling on more sites, adding more print-on-demand stores, or more marketing profiles.

fff

When you ask most people “how should I promote my art?” you will often get well-meaning people, telling you “you should sell at *printsite*!” or “are you on *marketsy* site yet?” or even “maybe you should sell them on *auctionworld*!”  “Do you have a *deviantshit* profile???” It’s as if they purposely misunderstood your question! “But I already sell on *somesite*!” You protest. “I already have a *americanartprints* profile, do I really need to be on *shirthoarders* too?”
You know, and I know, that you already ARE selling your work on a site like these. There is already at least one site out there with your work on it, for sale, clearly marked prices and all. What you need isn’t TEN MORE OF THOSE, you need PEOPLE TO GO TO THE ONES YOU ALREADY HAVE, and spend their money on your work. Yet asking how to do this never gets that kind of response! This is because most people have one or two sites they have heard of, vaguely, or bought something from once, and so they assume- if you are asking how to promote, it’s because you don’t even know where to list shit.

Most people aren’t trying to sell art. They’re buying it. So yeah- if ten people suggest *randomprintplace*, you should check it out, maybe. Because you already know ten people shop there. But be wary of paying for a bunch of shops or profiles on these sites, because they usually don’t offer much return. (If you DO need to know which sites to sell on, you’re not ready to promote the art yet. concentrate first on listing it, a lot of it, all in one place. I like redbubble for print-on-demand and squareup market for direct sales of originals. )

2. Writing in-depth or posting art directly on social media sites instead of your own.

nooo

I keep my favorites to the left.

Let me guess- you post your work to facebook, twitter, tumblr, instagram, googleplus, wanelo, weheartit, pinterest, linkedin, and maybe even a few dozen other places like this. You’re exhausted. You put off making stuff because you spend way too much time in an endless round of liking and sharing and pinning and chatting with people who never buy a damn thing. Then you get caught up in talking to friends and family, and somehow the day is gone and you actually didn’t do anything you could call “work”. I know. OH TRUST ME I KNOW. Then you go look at your own site, your own blog on your own domain and there’s only like two views. Ghost town. Well, of course it’s a ghost town! You don’t live there, you live in social networks, and you don’t invite anyone there- you talk to them on facebook!

How many people on there do you NOT know? How many people on there BUY things from you that way? I know I get sales to previous clients or friends on these sites sometimes, so it’s tempting to post there a lot, and spend time interacting, and all that…and call that “promotion”. But it’s not, really. It’s not work-related, it’s not promoting, if you do it that way. It’s either time spent with friends hanging out, or you’re just creating content for free so someone else can make money off of your work.
How social sites work, you see, is that people who make things and write stuff, they post these things on that site. That site then slaps ads everywhere and rolls in the dough. If they find out they can charge you to post your work too, they will. They’ll take the ad money YOU and YOUR WORK attracted, and ALSO charge you too. Without your work and your writing and your time spent there, THEY DO NOT MAKE MONEY FROM ADS or datasharing or…or any money AT ALL. YOU ARE PAYING THEM TO GET PAID. There are solutions to this, which will be in the next section (if you click through)

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around the shop

I came in way early (for me) today, and I had a little time to spare, so I took some pictures of things from around the shop.

It’s funny how every shop has its walls of sketches- one of my favorite things to do is look at everyone’s rough drawings.

some of my prints at the shop  (you can dig through them in person there if you're local)

some of my prints at the shop
(you can dig through them in person there if you’re local)

Pig skull tribal mount, hanging among its friends (she is also for sale)

Pig skull tribal mount, hanging among its friends
(she is also for sale)

Lisa's sketches

Lisa’s sketches hanging on her wall

Three ways to end a creative block, right this very instant.

noncomplianceFirst of all, sit down. Clear a place on the couch and sit your ass down. Creative blocks are evil. I mean evil, wicked, bad things that get all of us at some point. I hate when it happens, and the worst is when you get into that feedback loop- you know, worrying about it and trying to start working on stuff, but it won’t come, so then you worry some more, then try and you still can’t do anything, and so you worry…that worry and fear is the root of it, sometimes, and it can turn into a neverending battle.

Other times a block isn’t really a block- it’s that you have fed your head so much that it is still processing. You’ve taken in a lot of inspiring work or ideas lately from other artists, and now your brain needs some down time in the dark to ferment it all into delicious beer. (or bread. whatever.) Either way, you can end it. You actually can end it, but it’s going to suck, just like breaking down a real wall sucks and is heavy work. It’s not easy but it’s pretty much dead simple. (more…)

The evolution of tattoo culture

tiger tattoo

tiger tattoo

To understand the current popularity of tattoo art in the US and Europe, it is important to know a little bit about its past.

Tattooing is one of the oldest art forms known to exist. The oldest preserved human skin ever found is decorated with tattoos that were done during life. It is used as a form of expression in the majority of the world’s cultures, and has been used for many purposes throughout history. In the last century in the West, it has been less common than in other parts of the world and in previous times. Recently, there has been a resurgence in its popularity.

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The ten reasons people get tattoos.

time to make the donuts

time to make the donuts

Tattoos do have a purpose, although to some it may seem they are merely frivolous decoration, or a ploy for attention.

After giving it some thought, I’ve realized there are ten main reasons people come in to get tattooed. I personally have been tattooed for all of the reasons listed here, and more.

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What are your reasons for getting tattooed?

anji-marth-tattoos-and-art-70Tattoos do have a purpose, although to some it may seem they are merely frivolous decoration, or a ploy for attention.

In indigenous cultures, tattoos are used to mark rank or status. In the west in modern times, this still holds true for many people. Getting a child’s name or portrait marks the wearer’s status as a parent, for example. Some use tattoos to show their membership in a group such as a fraternity or gang, and others wear them as status symbols to express their positive personal qualities, such as wealth or the freedom to look as they please.

Tattoos in the west in previous decades carried a heavy stugma of social unacceptability, and this has contributed to the use of tattoos to mark “outsider” status in some groups. Bikers, gang members, and prisoners may get tattooed as a badge of pride in their outsider status.

Tattoos can also mark a momentous occasion for the wearer. The birth of a child, the beginning or end of a relationship, or the attainment of some goal are all personal milestones that some choose to remember with a tattoo.

full-3Some use a tattoo to express their political or religious feelings. Many young Christians get crosses and fish tattooed on them as reminders of their moral beliefs, and many people get symbols of their personal opinions tattooed on them.

Others use the tattoo to commemorate the life of a loved one who has died. These are currently popular due to some television shows’ use of similar stories.

Yet other people will get tattooed for superstitious reasons. Sailors even today will get a pig tattooed on one foot, and a chicken on the other, to prevent drowning. Many also get tattoos of talismans or personal symbols of good luck. Horseshoes are always popular.

2a62883f6a5facde8cd4ba3b8f98258b-d4d2ojnBy far the most common reason to get tattooed is to express a hidden aspect of the wearer’s personality. The majority of people I’ve tattooed over the last ten years have stated that this was the reason they decided to get tattooed. For some this is as simple as getting a single word in english, or in another language, such as “truth” or “love”. For others, it can involve a large and extensive custom drawing that contains many personal symbols or images that express the personality of the wearer.

Another purpose of tattooing is simple decoration. Some people love the way tattoos look, and get abstract designs intended to emphasize or beautify various body parts. Some use a decorative tattoo to hide flaws such as scars, stretch marks, or older, less-attractive tattoos.

In the ten years I have been tattooing people, out of thousands of clients, I have only ever encountered two or three that claimed to get tattooed because they liked the sensation. Usually the pain is a sacrifice people are willing to make in order to accomplish the purpose of the tattoo.

 

Does it hurt to get a tattoo?

6368_117697942711_7645712_nPain is defined as an unpleasant sensation. Most people avoid pain at all costs. Tattoos do hurt- but not in the way you’d think.

Most people, that is, who don’t work out, diet, wear makeup or high heels, or get tattooed. The phrase “no pain, no gain” is as apt with tattooing as with any other uncomfortable act people perform for a better reward. The profit, in this case, a permanent decoration, outweighs the discomfort.

Tattoos, while painful, are not distressingly so. The pain results from surface nerves in the upper layer of skin and the hair follicles being punctured or pressed on by a group of small, hair-fine needles inserted rapidly about 1-2 mm into the skin.

Tattoo needles in a typical tattoo machine move in and out so rapidly that they can’t be seen in motion, only as a blur. The sensation is not like punctures or pokes, but more like a continuous tingling scratch. Most of the damage to the skin is from the friction of the needles’ motion, not the punctures.

During a tattoo, sensations range from mild and almost dull to very sharp and intense. When the process first begins, the body responds strongly to the sensations, releasing endorphins (the same hormones that cause a “runner’s high”) and adrenalin. Adrenalin can cause a fight-or-flight response, making the process very uncomfortable at the beginning.

Once the endorphins are absorbed by the system, however, the sensations rapidly become duller and less urgent. The pain may be just as unpleasant, but becomes less intense and attention-grabbing. This is the stage some people refer to as “numbing”. Some people even fall asleep during this stage of a tattoo.

14991_381213057711_3789778_nThe endorphin rush associated with getting tattooed, or with running marathons, is notorious for becoming addictive. It is the same internal reaction that’s mimicked by the drugs ecstasy and morphine, among others.

Endorphins cause a warm inner glow, like that caused by running or tanning. They block the body’s pain receptors, so while they’re in the system other pains (like a sore back, or previous injury) are also diminished. They also flood the brain with dopamines, which allow the body to recover from injury by relaxing. This after-tattoo “buzz” more than makes up for the previous pain for many people, and can account for the addictiveness of tattooing.

People who are getting their first tattoo have usually weighed the pros and cons, and are interested enough in the personal expression to be gained by applying the image to deal with some level of pain. It is for most a planned decision; and most tattooed people will say that the first tattoo they acquired hurt much less than they’d anticipated.

So why, if they think it will be so painful, would they still get it done? Most would say it’s because they wanted the tattoo badly enough not to care. Some are seeking personal pride in having conquered the pain, using mind-over-matter as a test of their willpower or inner strength. Others are already adept at dealing with physical pain, and don’t see it as an obstacle at all; and a very small group actually enjoy pain. In ten years as a professional and busy tattoo artist, I’ve only met two of these out of thousands of clients.

Some say pain is change resisted, or that pain is growth, or that beauty is suffering. In short, people are willing to suffer in order to look the way they’d like to look. They will deal with some pain in order to bring their soul to the surface.

 

(written by me, originally published at this link)

How much does a tattoo cost? Here's the answer.

424611_10151055899257712_1661654307_nGood tattoos are not cheap: cheap tattoos are not good.

I’ve been a tattoo artist for many years, and I’ve heard, and said, this phrase too many times to count. Often times people will hunt for the cheapest price, without realizing that the cheapest price is usually a red flag to poor quality or bad health and safety precautions.

When you’re searching for a tattoo, the first thing on your mind should be safety. You’ll want to get tattooed in a professional shop, with the proper licensing from the health department. Your health is more valuable than the few dollars you’d save otherwise. Think about the long-term cost of your tattoo. You will be wearing this art until you die. Compare it to the cost of your shoes-which wear out every year; a tattoo costs less in the long run than any other purchase you can make.

Most tattoo shops in a given city or area will cost about the same rate. There may be a few artists who are booked far in advance, who charge more than this. If you are seeking a large, custom-drawn original tattoo, you’ll probably be better off to pay more, and wait longer, for one of these artists to do your tattoo.

You can count on paying anywhere from one to two hundred dollars per hour of time spent tattooing. Most studios have a minimum price for any tattoo, no matter how small. This price usually takes into account the cost of new, disposable equipment, and time spent sterilizing/disinfecting. On average this can range anywhere from forty to a hundred dollars, depending on the ability of the artist. Some top-name artists have a waiting list of a year or more, and may cost up to a thousand dollars each sitting. New or apprentice artists may cost much less, or be willing to work at a deep discount, in order to gain experience. A word of caution is in order for these young artists, though, as many of them will NOT do the best work for the money. The base hourly rate will vary depending on cost of living where you are at.

Tattoo artists are often paid on commission, earning from forty to eighty percent of your payment. This means that for a fifty dollar tattoo, the artist gets paid less than ten dollars, after equipment costs and commission are subtracted. Artists that own the studio may be paid a higher rate, and artists that are working part time may be paying a flat amount in rent to work in the shop. The majority of artists, however, work on commission or “percentage”, and are independent contractors.

In most cases, a smaller tattoo will be quoted a flat price, while a larger tattoo will be quoted at an hourly rate. Tattoos on hands, feet, and faces will often cost more. The minimum for tattoos from me is $60, but it’s $100 for those areas, because the possibility of a needle stick for me is higher, and because they will most usually need a touchup.

Your best gauge for pricing in your area is to call one or two studios and ask if they have a minimum price, usually an hourly rate will be about double this minimum cost.

31148_403057647711_1851485_nSince most tattoo artists do not have health insurance, workmens’ comp, or any standard paycheck, and since they do not get to keep the majority of the price of the tattoo, tips are always appreciated. Tips can range anywhere from five to twenty percent; depending on the difficulty of the tattoo, your ability to sit still, and the service you felt you received. A large, difficult tattoo that you could not sit still for, during which you wiggled, cried, and made the artist pause, and during which the artist was polite and entertaining to you, represents a situation in which you should tip very well. Industry standard ranges from 5% (for a huge tattoo) to 20% (for smaller pieces).

Most tattoo artists will also be able to suggest alternative placement, rendering, or ways to simplify a tattoo so that the basic idea remains the same, but will cost less overall. If you have a budget, let the artist know and see if they can work within it– often there are ways to do this, and usually the artist can find a way to make your tattoo affordable, within reason.

Your tattoo should be a point of pride, so when you’re shopping for one make sure to look at the artist’s portfolio, photographs of work they have already done, to be sure they can do good work that you think looks right; because what you paid for your tattoo will be forgotten in ten years, but you’ll still be looking at it for years after that.

If you like my work, check out the new horror coloring book I made!

(written by me and originally published at this link)

How much does a tattoo cost? Here’s the answer.

424611_10151055899257712_1661654307_nGood tattoos are not cheap: cheap tattoos are not good.

I’ve been a tattoo artist for many years, and I’ve heard, and said, this phrase too many times to count. Often times people will hunt for the cheapest price, without realizing that the cheapest price is usually a red flag to poor quality or bad health and safety precautions.

When you’re searching for a tattoo, the first thing on your mind should be safety. You’ll want to get tattooed in a professional shop, with the proper licensing from the health department. Your health is more valuable than the few dollars you’d save otherwise. Think about the long-term cost of your tattoo. You will be wearing this art until you die. Compare it to the cost of your shoes-which wear out every year; a tattoo costs less in the long run than any other purchase you can make.

Most tattoo shops in a given city or area will cost about the same rate. There may be a few artists who are booked far in advance, who charge more than this. If you are seeking a large, custom-drawn original tattoo, you’ll probably be better off to pay more, and wait longer, for one of these artists to do your tattoo.

You can count on paying anywhere from one to two hundred dollars per hour of time spent tattooing. Most studios have a minimum price for any tattoo, no matter how small. This price usually takes into account the cost of new, disposable equipment, and time spent sterilizing/disinfecting. On average this can range anywhere from forty to a hundred dollars, depending on the ability of the artist. Some top-name artists have a waiting list of a year or more, and may cost up to a thousand dollars each sitting. New or apprentice artists may cost much less, or be willing to work at a deep discount, in order to gain experience. A word of caution is in order for these young artists, though, as many of them will NOT do the best work for the money. The base hourly rate will vary depending on cost of living where you are at.

Tattoo artists are often paid on commission, earning from forty to eighty percent of your payment. This means that for a fifty dollar tattoo, the artist gets paid less than ten dollars, after equipment costs and commission are subtracted. Artists that own the studio may be paid a higher rate, and artists that are working part time may be paying a flat amount in rent to work in the shop. The majority of artists, however, work on commission or “percentage”, and are independent contractors.

In most cases, a smaller tattoo will be quoted a flat price, while a larger tattoo will be quoted at an hourly rate. Tattoos on hands, feet, and faces will often cost more. The minimum for tattoos from me is $60, but it’s $100 for those areas, because the possibility of a needle stick for me is higher, and because they will most usually need a touchup.

Your best gauge for pricing in your area is to call one or two studios and ask if they have a minimum price, usually an hourly rate will be about double this minimum cost.

31148_403057647711_1851485_nSince most tattoo artists do not have health insurance, workmens’ comp, or any standard paycheck, and since they do not get to keep the majority of the price of the tattoo, tips are always appreciated. Tips can range anywhere from five to twenty percent; depending on the difficulty of the tattoo, your ability to sit still, and the service you felt you received. A large, difficult tattoo that you could not sit still for, during which you wiggled, cried, and made the artist pause, and during which the artist was polite and entertaining to you, represents a situation in which you should tip very well. Industry standard ranges from 5% (for a huge tattoo) to 20% (for smaller pieces).

Most tattoo artists will also be able to suggest alternative placement, rendering, or ways to simplify a tattoo so that the basic idea remains the same, but will cost less overall. If you have a budget, let the artist know and see if they can work within it– often there are ways to do this, and usually the artist can find a way to make your tattoo affordable, within reason.

Your tattoo should be a point of pride, so when you’re shopping for one make sure to look at the artist’s portfolio, photographs of work they have already done, to be sure they can do good work that you think looks right; because what you paid for your tattoo will be forgotten in ten years, but you’ll still be looking at it for years after that.

If you like my work, check out the new horror coloring book I made!

(written by me and originally published at this link)

Things you can do in the tattoo shop!

10155773_10152250490517712_7514931959268399540_nI don’t care if you are getting a “cool” tattoo. I don’t care if you know the etiquette or not.

All I care about is that you ask me the questions, I give you the answers, you know what you want and pay me to do it.
That’s my tattoo etiquette lesson. Just ask questions. I’ll answer them for you. I don’t mind, that’s the job.

I mean, if you smell, I might ask you to go home and wash up. If you argue about prices I might just tell you no thanks, find another artist. If I think the tattoo is a terrible idea I will just tell you that, and try to suggest ways to make it a better idea. If you start talking like you know a lot about tattooing, I might laugh at you a little. That’s it.

The only thing that really bugs me at work is people arguing about price. Tattoos aren’t groceries or brain surgery, you will not die without one. I can’t lose money just to tattoo you. The prices are pretty standard, you’re not paying much more or less than you would in any decent shop.

Other than that, there’s pretty much nothing you can do to phase me. I know a lot of people get nervous coming to the tattoo shop, and I know a lot of people get weird or awkward when they get nervous. So it’s ok if you feel nervous or have lots of questions. If you can’t get a sitter to leave your kids at home, just wait until another day. If you need more time to save up money, just let me know. If you have a budget just say so- I’m used to drawing things to the right size or level of detail to try to stay within budget. If you’re worried about pain, let me know so I can talk you down.

walkenI’m not a nurse or very good at babying people, but I’m willing to talk you through all the things you’re not sure about. I mean, I do have hard days or bad days. Of course, I’m human. But my worst day as a tattoo artist? Is better than my best day ever, before I was one. So I’m not going to freak out on you. I love my job and you are the job. You know?

 

 

.

(“walken from sleepy hollow’s severed head, with the horseman ghost behind him and some creepy trees. can you do that? I wanna be able to see the sharpened teeth.”

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