Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Brand By Any Other Name...Artist As Brand

If you haven't heard of Artist As Brand® - here is a brief introductionFounder Greg Spalenka (award-winning, inspirational artist) gives us a brief introduction to his career enhancing program to help artists connect their talent to their marketing. Greg says, "The Artist As Brand mission is to empower an artist's authentic purpose and prosperity". Everything about Greg's program is in line with my own commitment to this industry - supporting artists to find their true passion and make a living doing so. I'm thrilled Greg is sharing this and future posts with us.

Greg Spalenka - Artist As Brand

What do Michelangelo, Coco Chanel, Sinatra, Andy Warhol, Clint Eastwood, Auguste Rodin, Meryl Streep, Frida Kahlo, Picasso, Damien Hirst, Mozart, Michael Jackson, Henry Moore, Maxfield Parrish, Ray Bradbury, Joseph Beuys, and Madonna, all have in common?

They are all brands.

Generally when people think of what a brand is they conjure up images of corporate products or logos from companies, however the true essence of this word goes deeper.

For artists it has more meaning than you may realize.

–noun and verb
1. kind, grade, or make, as indicated by a stamp, trademark, or the like.
2. a mark made by burning or otherwise, to indicate kind, grade, make, ownership, etc.
3. a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic.
4. to impress indelibly.
5. a brand name.

In the beginning, before multi-national corporations, before boards of directors, before mergers and franchises and takeovers, there were family businesses founded on individual enterprise or invention. Before the corporate image or the company logo, there was the individual name stamped on a product, a service, a labor saving device, or a form of entertainment, usually because it was the proud handiwork of one individual. 

A brand is a purpose transformed into a product or service that connects to people, the planet, and beyond. The key word here is purpose, and specifically your purpose relating to the personal vision of your art. This is where the heart of your essence resides, where your most potent art manifests, and the strength of your perseverance matures. The purpose inside you aligned with your personal vision is the foundation of your creative power. When your heart is joined with your art, a vital one of a kind signature is formed. This brand is unique to you and your intimate product.

All visionary creators throughout time who have made their mark on humanity are brands. They are remembered for their impact on the collective consciousness of the planet and many are household names. Imagine making art that touches an audience so deeply, they not only support your vision financially but they show their appreciation by promoting your ideas too for the rest of your life, even after death. That is the power of a committed purpose. 

Over a lifetime a successful creative mind can burn a series of meaningful marks into the mindset of a generation, but if their passion is great it is possible to start a fire that contributes a brighter light to the world.

Peace and passion,

Greg Spalenka

Greg Spalenka

Greg Spalenka, Founder of Artist As Brand® started his award winning career as an artist after graduating from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California in 1982. Moving to New York City he began a twenty eight year journey illustrating for America’s most prominent publishers of books, magazines, and newspapers.
As a concept designer he has worked on feature CG animated and live action films such as The Ant Bully, The Golden Compass, The Voyage of the DawnTreader.

In addition to gallery exhibitions, Spalenka has created or aligned with companies to manufacture limited editions of his art as books, printed items, music, jewelry, and other products.

Spalenka also teaches, lectures and conducts workshops at colleges, universities, art institutions around the country and abroad. Exhibiting at the San Diego Comic Convention for the last twenty years inspired some of the principles now taught in the Artist As Brand® Workshop and Workbook. Currently he is focused on presenting Artist As Brand® workshops, and finishing a myriad of projects from interactive books to music.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

CREATIVES: UNITE to Diversify - Creating more business for you and good karma for our industries

Ed Shems - illustrator
You can’t go it alone. Being a freelance illustrator is challenging and competitive. The worthy competition challenges you to find ways to get out in front of your peers and prove your value to potential clients.
Editorial illustration for an article about creative quarterbacking
How can you do this? Naturally it starts with solving a client’s visual problem which may require additional skills that you may not have. Knowing how and what to deliver to get any job done right takes experience, professionalism and research. It often also requires ‘diversification’.

How many times has a current or potential client asked you if you can design a poster, packaging, business cards or a header for a website? How many times have you been asked if you have the skills to animate? Businesses large and small expect creatives to do more and more to solve their challenges without forcing them to hop around to multiple studios. When you turn down these jobs or refer them to someone else you’re not only losing out on opportunities but you could be turning away future business as well. It’s time to put your entrepreneurial hat on. Yes, it can be a beret.

This kind of challenge happened early on in my illustration career. Clients started asking me to create the illustrations for their marketing postcard PLUS to design it. I had to quickly learn how to choose fonts, design with bleeds and prepare the files for print. The best part is those clients kept returning with bigger jobs and larger budgets which sometimes doesn't even include illustration work!


“Do what you do best and delegate the rest.”
Jessica Hische, designer

Editorial illustration
I would not recommend that you become a jack-of-all-trades. If you do too many things it becomes overly difficult for your potential clients to understand what you actually do (and your elevator pitch becomes impossibly long!). This is why you need to get out and meet some of your fellow and sister creatives. Go out and shake hands with designers, schmooze with web developers and toast with copywriters. Check out creative organizations such as AIGA, Graphic Artists Guild or one of the many local-to-you organizations sponsoring networking events and gallery openings. Or if you really don’t like to leave the house, join various Linked In groups to meet other creatives.

Connect with:
·       Graphic designers
·       Web designers
·       Web developers
·       Animators
·       Copywriters
·       Printers
·       Photographers

Do some research to determine whose work you like and whether or not their work will mesh with yours. Get in touch and discuss ways in which you might collaborate on projects. Or just make some new friends who you can tap into for insight, advice or even a tutorial.

Illustrative designer Von Glitschka has what he calls an Inner Circle of people he can rely on to kick him in the ass (his words) if his work starts getting lousy. We could all use that. Sure it’s nice to get compliments from your friends, and friends of your parents, when you post your work on Facebook but it’s the constructive criticism from professionals you respect that will help you grow

An illustration from Ed's most recent book: Hamstigator


Working together
Rather than send my client elsewhere for any part of a job, I offer to bring in someone proficient with that particular skill to work ‘with’ me. I give that contractor full authority to communicate with my (now our) client as long as I am kept in the loop. Because I have recommended this person, their good or bad work will reflect on me and my business so I make sure to vet my contractor carefully.

What to look for when choosing a contractor:
·       Great work
·       Good communication skills-Good writing/spelling/grammar
·       Good organization
·       Professionalism
·       Open to feedback
·       On time (for meetings/calls and with delivery of the work)
·       Portfolio of samples to show your client
·       Make sure they will not undercut you to your client

While working with other creatives, it’s important to take advantage of the additional benefits from your collaboration: learning and sharing. Whether you’re learning new skills, software tricks or a better way to compose and send sketch files, you should always recognize that other creatives have something to teach you (and lest you feel belittled, remember that you have different things you can teach other creatives as well).
Kid's book illustration about a mechanical frog

I usually have the contractor bill through me so that I can be sure that the job has been completed to my satisfaction (After all, once again this contractor is representing my business as well as their own). Some creatives add a percentage to the contractor’s estimate as a fee for playing middleman. That’s entirely up to you and you should be ready to disclose this fact to your client and be able to back it up with sound reasoning (such as: it helps cover the time you’re spending on conference calls, discussing the contractor’s work, tracking the job and invoicing).

If payment for the contractor goes through you and reaches a certain amount, (find out what your state requires - I’m in Massachusetts and the amount is $600 and up) and whether that entity is an individual (unincorporated business), partnership or LLC, then you might need your contractor to provide you with a W9.

Not only can you learn from the contractors you work with, but you also have the opportunity to share some of what you know with a newbie. Perhaps the photographer you met is just out of school and has no clue how an invoice should look. Or her portfolio could use some reorganizing. Creative karma can do everyone a lot of good.

Start meeting other creatives and start adding to the types of work you’re capable of excelling at. You’ll be surprised by how diverse your portfolio will become in a very short period of time.

Ed Shems is an award-winning graphic designer and freelance illustrator specializing in editorial illustrations, kid’s books, character development and identity design. Ed is the former President of the Boston Graphic Artists Guild, and cofounder of Creative Relay: A resource for creative professionals. He is on the design advisory committee for DIGMA: The Design Industry Group of Massachusetts. Ed lives in Needham, MA with his wife Bree and their two kids, Leo and Cora. You can find Ed’s illustration and graphic design work at edfredned.com and his writing at creativerelay.com.

Ed's most recent collaboration is on You Tube. From August through November 2013, Ed worked with Zach at Cut to Create to produce an animated explainer video for a client. You can see the collaboration here: http://youtu.be/-5eEek2GRgI