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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Creating Licensable Art: Composition Tips

If artists have a formal art training they may already know what makes a painting appealing to consumers besides the theme. But if they are self taught artists like I am, learning what makes good art by using the principles of design and compositional techniques to give the art unity may help them create better art so that it is more licensable.

The correct placement of motifs and color in a design or painting is one important aspect in a good composition. The techniques used to achieve it are well documented. For instance, the Rule of Thirds gives the design a pleasing balanced composition. The Rule of Odds makes it more interesting. Using an asymmetrical balance of the principal image in a design also makes it more interesting (see the example at the top of this article). The Rule of Space, Simplification, Limiting focus are a few more ways to attain good compositions. Note: Do not forget to apply composition techniques to colors beside motifs in a design.

The techniques mentioned above are not used individually but several are combined. Each artist chooses their own combination of techniques and some artists purposely break the rules of a good composition to create their own effect. But breaking the rules may be okay in paintings for home decor but not for designs to be placed on products. For instance, using both the Rule of Thirds and the Rule of Odds works well for patterns. The balanced look of the composition creates pleasing repeats. Those techniques also work well for backgrounds with motifs. The balanced background motifs do not detract from the central image(s) but still gives interest to the overall design. And using the technique of limiting the focus in the main image(s) works for greeting cards and decorative flags because the main image is the most important element of the design. Note: An artist does not have to blur the background to focus the eye on the image shown in the article "Composition (visual arts)" from Other techniques such as using saturated colors on the central image and unsaturated colors for the background also focuses the eyes on the principal image.

Read the following articles for information and to view examples on the principles of design and how to create good design compositions.

• "Art Composition Rules: Rule of Thirds" by Marion Boddy-Evans"

• "Composition and Design, elements, principles, and visual effects" by Marvin Bartel"

• "Composition (visual arts)" from

Make sure that you read the comments.  Artist and photographer Erin Sparler has posted more links to in-depth articles on composition.

Comments are welcomed. Enter them in the below comment section.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Photoshop Version CS6 to be Released First Half of 2012

It has been over 18 months since the release of Photoshop Creative Suite version 5 (CS5) and the new version CS6 is expected to be released the first half of 2012. Based on previous version release dates, speculation is that it will be in May. Read "When Will Adobe Creative Suite 6 be Out, Including Photoshop CS6?" for more information. Adobe developers have already released the prerelease (beta) version of CS6 to those interested in testing it and some videos showing CS6 new features are already posted on the internet. Ps CS6 will include a new user interface (interaction of the software and the computer) that improves the rendering of some effects and has a different looking window. Tools and features are enhanced such as the camera raw processing, 3D effects, addition of three image blurring effects, greatly improved vector pen tool, a new color replacement brush, and will include an auto file saving feature.

New Adobe Software Updating Policy
Because updating software is expensive, many artists do not update every time a new version is released. It normally is not a problem with Adobe software because in the past Adobe has allowed discounted software upgrades for users of three previous versions of the software. But Adobe's policy has changed starting with CS6 and now they only discount an upgrade of the previous main version. However, users owning CS3 and CS4 will be allowed to purchase CS6 at the upgrade price until December 31, 2012. An alternative way in using many of Adobe software packages is to sign up for Adobe Creative Cloud. Creative Cloud is a membership service (starting at $49.99/month) that allows the member access to all the CS software, Adobe Apps, services, and new products as soon as they are released. Unfortuately very few artists can afford it.

Below are some videos of a sneak peak at the new Photoshop CS6. Note: The sound in a few of the videos is not very good or the presenter is hard to understand.

• Camera Raw Processing tool: "Sneak Peak #1"

• Liquify Tool and Background Save: "Sneak Peak #2"

• Vector pen improvements: dash and dotted vector lines along a shape "Photoshop CS6 sneak peek video #3"

• Vector pen tool: "Photoshop CS6 New Features - Pentool / Stroke /Layer Palette Filters"

• Color Replacement brush: "Photoshop cs6 - new features - color replacement brush"

• New blurring filters: "Photoshop CS6 Review ( NEW 2012)"

• Magically move and remove images in painting: "Photoshop CS6 Content-Aware Sneak Peak"

Comments are welcomed. Enter them in the below comment section.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Art Licensing: High hopes that successful 2012 Gift Markets translates into licensing deals

The 2012 gift market season started off with a bang with a significant increase in buyer attendance and order writing at the Atlanta Gift Market. The reason is that retail sales were up during the 2011 Christmas season and buyers hit the showrooms to restock their depleted inventory. And the increase in buyer attendance and purchasing continued with many of the following markets although not all were hopping like Atlanta. That is not too surprising because the high cost to exhibit at trade shows and the reduction in number of retailers makes it tough to support the abundance of regional shows. Instead retailers are traveling farther to the larger ones, purchasing over the internet, and depending on vendor sales reps to visit their stores. There are over 20 U.S. Gift Market shows in January and scads more throughout the year.

The increase in spending during the Christmas season was mainly due to heavily discounted prices to entice consumers. However, this may not be a good marketing tactic in the long run because merchants may have to keep cutting prices as pointed out by Anne D'Innocenzio of Associated Press in "Retail group forecasts 3.2 pct growth for 2012." Retailers expect there will be a slow growth in the economy as it pulls out of the recession. They report consumers without jobs are cautious in spending while ones that have jobs have increased their spending. Online stores are growing rapidly but brick and mortar stores are still important avenues in selling merchandise. Products need to be aimed to where buyers shop and that there is a huge growth in emerging international markets. Learn more by watching a video of retail experts discuss "2012 Retail Trends and The Economy" on The Marketing Boutique website.

So what does this all mean to the art licensing industry and property owners? The sluggish economy is not out of the woods yet but agents and artists hope the increase in retail buying at the start of 2012 will mean an increase in licensing deals as more art is needed for more products. Artists should be aware of the kind of art consumers are looking for so that they can enhance their opportunities in getting deals by creating it. Or in reality what kind of art that manufacturers "think" consumers want. Read the following articles and view the videos to learn about the trends seen at six major 2012 gift markets.

• Atlanta Gift Market - January 11-18, 2012

artist Joan Beiriger article "2012 January Atlanta Gift Market: surge in buyer traffic gives high hope to economic recovery"

agent Jim Marcotte of Two Town Studios article "Atlanta Tidbits"

• Dallas Gift Market - January 18 - 24, 2012

Gifts & Decorative Accessories article "Direct from Market: Dallas"

Dallas Market Center article "Ground-breaking Dallas Market Signals Success in 2012"

• Los Angeles Gift Market - January 18 - 24, 2012

Gifts & Decorative Accessories article "Direct from Market: Los Angeles"

• Chicago Gift Market - January 19-25, 2012

Gifts & Decorative Accessories article "Direct from Market: Chicago"

• New York Gift Market - January 28 - February 2, 2012

Gifts & Decorative Accessories article "Direct from Market: New York"

• Las Vegas Gift Market - January 30 - February 3. 2012

Gifts & Decorative Accessories article "Direct from Market: Las Vegas"

Gifts & Decorative Accessories videos "Video coverage of Gift + Home Show" (overview and interviews with One Coast, C.R. Gibson, Evergreen Enterprises)

Comments are welcomed. Enter them in the below comment section.