Tuesday, December 10, 2013


AOM was instrumental in helping me locate reliable and established venues for my work. I will be ever grateful for all of the work you have put into this.  -- E. J., winner of First Prize, The Px3 2013 Competition.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why You Must Read the Prospectus and not Simply Rely Only on a Listing

From a reply to someone who said AOM didn't have enough information and she preferred to use listings that did not require her to "have to go off searching" for it.

Based on my 13+ years of researching and publishing opps, I believe failing to read the actual prospectuses is a very bad idea. It will cost you money and time and waste your talent. I guarantee it, whether you read AOM or another publication.

First, details -- deadlines, image requirements, entry fees, geographic restrictions, etc -- can and do change from the time something is publish on a website or in a newsletter and what the final version of the prospectus says. And if you get those wrong, more often than not the organization you send your submission to keeps your fee but doesn't send your submission on to the jurors.

Another serious problem is mistakes on lists and services that list opps. The vast majority of our more than 400 listings each month come from information sent directly to us by the organizers or by our going directly to the sites of organizations we have listed before. Even when we are sent something directly by an organization, we check the site and the prospectus for accuracy and more information.

After we have taken care of those, we often check other opps sites and newsletters to see that we have not missed something worthwhile (but never copy it), then we go to the original prospectus to get the info we publish. There four or five sites and newsletters we don't bother to look at anymore, because we have found them to be riddled with mistakes. You would have no way of knowing this unless you looked at the actual prospectus. And too many of the copy-and-pasters simply copy and paste an entire listing from another site or newsletter, mistakes and all. They don't care, but maybe you should.

The third problem is there are scams and rip-offs out there disguised as legitimate calls for artists. They work very hard to get their material out to every place that lists calls for artists, and these show up even on sites that should know better but are short staffed. Unless you go to the site that originates the call, as we do, you can't get a reasonable sense of whether it is legitimate or worthwhile. I won't bother with detailing all the ways to spot the bad ones here (they include looking at the "About Us" page), but I encourage you to never enter a competition without checking out the site and the prospectus thoroughly.

No Thanks, AOM!

Someone who had subscribed to the AOM Free for about 10 months (although she complained her computer would not allow her to reach many of the links) and also to the 3-Free-Issue Professional subscription wrote to reject our offer that she subscribe to the paid version. Here is her reply, cropped for space:

I think it is much harder to follow the opportunities on your site than the others I follow.  The format is hard to read and lots of work to learn what I need to know.  Having lots of lists combined under one roof is not as useful as clear reading of fewer at a time.  I know that I can and have selected by categories.  That does not solve the hard to read problem.

We replied  the only opps on our site were general samples, not mean for use, and did she mean the PDF? And had we made it clear enough that the highly-condensed listings in the PDF were "teasers," meant to allow the busy artist to scan quickly to separate out the "possibles" and then go to their actual prospectuses to get the complete, accurate information?  And that the search function could quickly make a list of those in her medium, location, etc.

She wrote back that she understood all that. 

Yes you were clear in your intent and how to use the listings.  And yes I mean the PDF. I can go quickly through  visually-well-designed opportunity listings and just pass by those that do not apply to my needs.  If I do need/want more information, it is there so I don't have to go off searching.  I found your lists not interesting enough to plow through, and I tried many times.

I was once at a meeting of seven people.  I had never mentioned anything about your publication.  One of the persons there said it was a good place to look for opportunities.  I sat silent because I do not think it helpful to be negative about something that works well for others.  The other five people groaned all together and said they did not think your listing was a good place to look.  So I don't think I am alone.

In all the time I have looked at your listings, I have found only one opportunity that I did not already know about [Ed. note: we publish 400-450 and issue].  All those I already knew about had been much easier to read and much more user-friendly because they didn't send me far away to get the information I needed. I am sorry to have bad news but I am telling you and not other artists.

We replied that whatever listings she used, she should always go to the original prospectus because 1) there could be changes made after the listings were published; 2) there could be mistakes in the listings that made them substantially different from the original; and 3) scams and ripoffs may look attractive because they are slickly prepared but going to the site may offer more clues about their legitimacy. (More detail on all this in a future post)

Her response: You totally misunderstand who I am and how I work.  I absolutely go to the source and always read the prospectus.  It is much easier for my style of thinking and visualizing information to do that from the sites I use.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Advice from Artist Career Training

Artist Career Training, run by Aleta de Wal, has long been supplying information, advice and training for artists interested in the business side of art. Their website is well worth investigating.

ACT recently published a blog article, 
Art World Insiders: Advice for Artists Who Want to Succeed in Any Economy , which contains quotes from various people including your editor. Aleta writes she would appreciate comments on the article.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Question on Protecting Images from Being Copied

Q: I have an assistant who does a lot of work on the computer for me. He uploaded an image for the AOM gallery and possible inclusion in an AOM issue; however my concern is that if the image is sent out full resolution that it can easily be stolen.  Can you help me with this?
A: It's not as much a problem as you might think. Of the millions of images on the Web, relatively few are ever stolen. Mostly what is stolen are already famous images or those  of popular subjects such as movie or rap stars or cartoon characters. Almost no fine art by artists who are not famous yet is. And what's stolen is normally used on the Web rather than printed out, mostly for technical reasons.

In any case, the first protection you have is that what your assistant sent will not reproduce well on paper. By saving it at 72ppi, he made sure of that. He could have saved it at even a lower ppi or dpi. Contrary to popular belief, ppi or dpi, has no effect on how the image looks on a computer screen, only on how it will look if printed. You can save the image at 7 ppi; it will look the same on the screen. The one in the issue will be small enough that it will look too fuzzy if blown up.

Secondly, you can -- and probably should -- put somewhere on your site, a statement to the effect that, "All images on this site are copyrighted by the artist. The one-time use license (fee) for reproduction of any image via electronic media is $________." Then continue, "For all other licensing please contact the artist."

I much prefer this to a statement that simply says the images are copyrighted and cannot be copied without permission. This way, if someone takes something, there is a price they have to pay. That in itself is more of a deterrent than simply "Don't." Furthermore, you'd probably want people to use your images if they pay for them. You have to catch them first, of course. But it still leaves you in better shape than had you to try to sue them for copyright infringement.

And there is a way to catch people who do take something: TinEye. It's far from perfect but it's a start. I know of at least one person who benefited from approaching things as I've outlined above, a photographer who had one of his portraits used by a news site and by a TV station. He tracked them down and after a few emails and phone calls ended up with a total of over $1200.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pricing Question

Q: A friend wants to act as my agent. He says I should price my paintings based on how much time I spend on them. Is this a good idea? 

A: That method is quite unusual among professional artists but beginning artists and non-artists sometimes think it is appropriate. The problem working artists and gallery owners see, is it overvalues time and undervalues the things that separate art from mere labor. It means pieces that were struggled with end up being priced higher than things that were not, even though the latter may be way more successful -- or smaller or bigger. Furthermore, very few artists punch time clocks and, as you well know, much work is done while not actually wielding a brush or snapping the shutter. What makes this pricing method even more unsatisfactory is that most artists work on more than one piece at a time and will often put something aside for days or weeks then come back to it later.

The idea of an hourly, weekly or monthly wage comes out of the industrial revolution as a way for factory owners to control costs. These owners did not base their own incomes on how much time they themselves spent, however.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Highlighting AOM

Q: I'm trying to highlight things in AOM but can't find the highlighter. Is there something you can do on your end?

A: Fortunately, the highligter tool is built into Adobe Reader 7 and higher by default. If you are using Adobe Reader X or XI, and it's best if you do, it should be right there as an icon on your toolbar. If it isn't, go to View | Show/Hide | Toolbar Items | Comment and then check Highlight Text.

You can save the file and it will keep the highlighting for future use. You can also use the commenter tool, for instance to make todo lists, which can then be copied and pasted into a small notepad-type or post-it-type  program for future use.

Readers: any other PDF Reader tips and tricks to share? Let us know.