30 11 2010

I’m going to blatantly swipe this blog post in the name of sharing it with you folks over here at the Advokate blog. I was just checking out ModernRags.com because they featured my buddy Casey the Candy Thief and scrolled down to see this, which I thought needed sharing, especially after my font post:

It’s made by A Girl Named Tor, who has it for sale. Sweet! I know what my office wants for Christmas.


Editing photos for Etsy using GIMP

29 11 2010

Well, we’re just toodling along here at Advokate! I had two phone calls today from attendees of my Etsy class, looking for more help on photo editing. While I’m excited to give one-on-one lessons with them, and there are a bunch of other great tutorials out there on photos, I thought the chiseled-down Kate version of editing photos of your work for online selling might make for a good blog post. I like to think it’s pretty simple.

I’m saving my pennies for Adobe PhotoShop, which runs $699. In the meantime, I use GIMP, the free knock-off. It does everything I need it to do. There’s also Pixlr.com which does all these things too, and you don’t need to install a program.

So I use my digital camera to take some photos. For my jewelry, I place the pieces on blank white paper in my studio, which has a lot of light. It can sometimes be more interesting to place items on clever objects to help “brand” your store. Since my stuff is so colorful, I think white sets it off well and makes it less visually confusing. I try to take close-ups, use angles, line it up next to a ruler, put it next to a business card, show what it looks like on a human being, etc. I take a ton of images and use the highest resolution setting on my camera.

Then I take my photos and put them on my computer and pick the five best to edit. They usually look like this.

First I might want to crop in to make it a little more interesting. I’ll just eyeball it and use the rectangle select tool to select something that looks kind of like a square shape and use Image > Crop to Selection. Then to make sure it’s square, I go to Image > Canvas Size, unlink the little chain, and make sure each side is the same. I’ll drag the preview around so I’m not cropping out something I want to use.

Prime size for Etsy is 1,000 by 1,000 pixels. So I go to Image > Scale Image and scale it down so it’s 1,000 x 1,000 pixels. Now I’ve got what I want.

Now for some simple color adjustment. I go into Color > Levels and select the white eyedropper. Then I click on the white background. Presto! The whole image adjusts and looks more like something out of a catalog. If it looks too blown out, I can drag the little triangles around to change it to be a little less drastic. You can do the same for black,but sometimes it comes out darker than looks right, I find. I want to have it set up so it shows the most detail and looks neat and clean but not cartoony or dramatic.

As a finishing touch, I give the color a little bump by clicking Colors > Hue-Saturation and dragging the Saturation up just a bit. If your image looks a little too blue or a little too yellow from being indoors or outdoors, you can mess with the Hue just a tad here, too.

And that’s it! You could go nuts editing images, but these are the quick steps I use in my everyday Etsying. Happy listing!

P.S. This item is for sale.

Boy, do I love fonts.

19 11 2010

It’s true. Me + Fonts = Love.

You should see my high school and college papers. Though it looks completely obnoxious these days to compose documents in a font other than Times New Roman or Arial, I was riding high on the wave of technology back in the 90s.

Originally I’d change the switch on my dad’s old Epson dot matrix printer to sometimes print in script or Courier. To start, we were using some basic word processing program on DOS. Then I got into this computer program called Creative Writer (Anyone remember? With that obnoxious skinny purple guy, McZee? Imaginopolis? The Vanishing Point? I’d give my right knee to be able to play that thing again.) where you could layout newspaper columns, mess with fonts, import clip art – and all hell broke loose. I handed in funky text every time; sometimes multicolored. I was the Punky Brewster of school papers. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was paving the way for Advokate.

I had little-girl love affairs with Flower Power and Captain Howdy. Me and Velvet had a thing in my late teens. An old friend and my ex used to use really small Verdana on their websites – I still do, in some places. More recently I’ve been a fan of Artistamp Medium, but now too many people are using it, most notably Crandall Public Library’s campaign a couple years ago that was done by Trampoline Design. Fontocide and I had a brief fling, but now I’m over that and on to more mature fonts like Century Gothic for Advokate and maybe a little Tuer’s Cardboard when I want something more old-fashioned. Semi-secretly, I really like Hand of Sean, but I don’t like the name so I don’t use it as often as I might, otherwise. Looks like we all agree that Papyrus is fired.

I’ve always gotten really excited when I can recognize a font somewhere. I recall a time back in the 90s when there was a bottle of some salad dressing in the grocery store that used Party and I jumped up and down and showed my mom. Same with the Crandall Library campaign – see how smug I was up there about that? That’s because I felt ownership over discovery of Artistamp Medium. It was mine and then it sold out, being plastered all over town like that. Even though I had it on my site before the campaign came out, I feel crummy about using it now; like it’s not my own any more. Trampoline rules at what they do; I respect them a lot. I just was bummed they found “my” font. It’s like a guy you liked being into someone else. I don’t want to hang out with Artistamp Medium any more.

Yeah, so me and fonts. We go way back. It’s pretty awesome that this is what I do now, with the design end of things.

Another thing that I go way back with? Teaching people stuff I know. Check this thing out, at left. Back in 2000 or so I put a step-by-step guide together to help the elderly with setting up email accounts, back when computers with the internet in libraries were kind of a new thing for us in Killington. My mom’s a librarian and I interned for a summer at her place, the Sherburne Memorial Library, and helped the snowbirds set up email so they could keep in touch with their children and grandchildren. I rocked it. I started right at the very beginning for them and walked them through it, from mouse and cursor to Hotmail account.

So here’s where that’s gone in ten years: Couple weeks ago I taught a class at LARAC on how to design your own website. On Wednesday I went to Fort Edward to help a quilter set up her Etsy account and learn to list things herself and do some basic image editing. It was the same thing; Start at the beginning, answer questions along the way, keep it cool and help folks laugh when they’re frustrated, and get them to feeling empowered and capable so they can do it on their own. I love it!

I’m feeling like where I am with Advokate is pretty perfect; the most logical place ever for a certain Kate E. Austin from Killington, Vermont to end up.

Leif Alexander Bernard “Fire Series” photography reception

18 11 2010

Glens Falls photographer Leif Alexander Bernard exhibits his abstract photography at the D.H.B. Thomas Gallery, located on the third floor of The Shirt Factory at the corner of Lawrence and Cooper Streets in Glens Falls, New York.

The show, Fire Series, is the first of four elemental series that he plans. The exhibition opens amidst the Shirt Factory’s festive annual holiday open house with a ‘Meet the Artist’ preview and discussion with Leif on Saturday, November 27 from noon to 3 p.m. An artist’s reception follows on Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. Refreshments will be served and admission is free. Prints and framed photography will be available for sale. The gallery will also be open for a preview on Friday, November 26, from 5 to 8 p.m. A closing reception is being scheduled for December.

The exhibition is comprised of a series of abstract high-energy photos.

“The images are free flowing, expressive and open,” says Leif. “I am grateful for the element of fire. Its warm and powerful energy is cleansing. You can lose yourself and find yourself in its dancing flames and purifying light. To experience and capture it is a meditative and healing experience for me.”

The artist will also exhibit pieces of other freelance work, including landscape and portrait photography. Currently he is available for fashion pieces, event photography and creative portraits.

“In all of my work, my aim is to really step back and let each gesture unfold naturally. In this environment it becomes a dance with my subject where we create and express whatever is occurring in the grace of the moment,” he says.

A portfolio of his current and past works is on his website: www.LeifAlexanderBernard.com. Prints may be purchased through the site.

What to-do, what to-do

9 11 2010

Well, folks, I’ve discovered irony in my business plan here.

The whole idea of this biz was to help artists and small businesses with their skyscraper of a to-do list. I went so far as to say on my promotional materials, “Hand over the to-do list. We can help.” We means me, of course. Me, who is now up against a mountain of to-do lists — now not only my own personal one (make shadowboxes of wedding stuff for the family, put away the junk I decided not to get rid of at this summer’s garage sale, make a decision on a 2011 planner already, yaddah yaddah)…

And not only my personal one AND my art one (frame Big Sky, get ready for the Shirt Factory Open House, get to the studio and make some art, yaddah yaddah)… AND my to-do list of responsibilities to take care of as part of the Shirt Factory management team… (you don’t even want to know) –

I actually have a file of past to-do lists - pictured here.

AND to-do lists for the two boards I’m on (Art in the Public Eye and North Country Arts Center) –

So BESIDES all that, now I’ve got a business to-do list. Actually, I have two. One of the lists is business stuff like working on my advertisements database, mailing list, insurance and all of that, and one of the lists is checking off things I’m actually getting paid to do:

Other people’s to-do lists.

So while I’m helping my clients with their to-do lists, mine is mounting ever higher. I need to hire Advokate to help me with my to-do list! (There’s the ironic part. I know you were waiting for it.)

I used to dream of the day when I would have everything checked off my to-do list. With seven separate ones going, I daresay I may never get there. What a frightening thought!

Luckily, I’m good at lists. And since they’re so big, I really get a kick out of crossing things off of them.