Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Code Pushing

I have been working on the wiener-dog.com website redesign for a few days - endless hours of hand-coding HTML (I'm very old-school about that). I have been surprised about how confusing I am finding the organization of all of the prints. I have always had them categorized by coat, and I am planning to do that again as people do tend to want coat-specific art, but because many of the prints have multiple coats I am having to really sort out the images multiple times in order to avoid coding the same thing over and over again. I'm already a lot of hours into this, but I begin to wonder if I've taken the right direction from a coding standpoint. If I knew how to create a database or knew more Javascript this could probably be done a lot easier. Since I stopped being a full-time web designer/developer about five years ago much of my knowledge about these things has atrophied.

I am putting some of the black and tans up for testing, so if any kind soul wants to take a look and comment I would be ever so grateful. Start at http://www.wiener-dog.com/cloudangelbtB.html.

I also spent a day re-doing one of my early websites that I designed and maintain for Expresive Pixie Cattery at http://www.pixiebobs.com/. It was still using frames for gosh sakes - how late-90's was that? I just cleaned the site up and changed the code on all pages to get rid of the frames, but I think it looks fresher.

I will likely take a break from the coding because now I am terribly behind on emails and haven't painted in way too long.

My birthday was on the 1st and we splurged on a new 22" LCD Viewsonic monitor. Of course my old video card wasn't compatible with the ratio so then we had to go buy a new video card and while we were at we got a new hard drive because all of mine were nearly full. These days a single scanned image is sometimes larger than the 250mb hard drive of my very first computer back in 1994. Add that to my first 2400 baud modem and it was a stylin' system. I was debating about getting a new 6x11 Wacom tablet as mine is about 7 years old, but that will have to wait for some future financial solvency.

Easter was fun at our house. We dyed hard boiled eggs on Easter Eve and left them to dry in the egg cartons. Unbeknownst to us Kelly decided to start the fun early and hid about two dozen of them in the living room. It was almost unbearably cute. We found them in the bookcase, nestled on her stuffed Echidna, balanced between the horns of the goat ottoman (yes, I said goat ottoman), and in several socks that happened to be lying around. One of the sock eggs was notably squished from pushing it in there, but she meant well. Naturally in the morning we re-hid the eggs and woke Kelly up with her Easter Egg Baskets. Her favorite presents came from her Grandma Betty, a plastic gumball dispenser and a stuffed bunny with a carrot motif. Betty always sends stuff that Kelly loves.

Here is a picture of Kelly waking up (reluctantly) to see her baskets: We also went to the Tulip Festival on Friday, which was less of a success. A lot of driving, not a lot of actual activity. Kelly's favorite thing was finding a few mud puddles to throw clumps of dirt in. We also got to see some Alpacas, which were adorable.
And so it goes. I better get to all those emails I've been neglecting. Hope everyone had a hoppy Easter!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Dogs on a Beach

And now for another update! I have a new painting of dogs on the beach:

The original is a large size for me, 12x16. I have no idea what to do with it - since it is not Dachshund specific (though there is a dox in it) I don't know that I would find a buyer among my regular collectors, so I won't risk it on eBay. My husband tells me I should just hold on to it for now. I created it for a project I am working on with Dog Speak Cards (http://dogspeakcards.com/). I am happy to report that they will be licensing some of my images for their charming notecard line.

Here are a couple of scenes from the painting - still a bit of a work in progress:

This is exactly the direction that I have been wanting to take my career; licensing for the gift and greeting card market. I have been reading my Artist's Market book and many other books on the subject of entering this arena. It is a lot of information to absorb! I have submitted samples to a couple of calendar companies. These companies are a Very Big Deal in the calendar world, but I was emboldened to submit my work based on how popular my Dachshundicity Calendars have been the last few years. I really need to be submitting art and queries to several companies a week, but I haven't quite ramped up to that level yet.

Another Big Project I am working on is a complete over-haul of http://www.wiener-dog.com/. I am basing the new design on what I just finished with my other new site, http://www.terrypond.com/. I hope to make prints easier to find, and eventually I would like to link each image with the other products available, such as mugs, shirts, calendars and the like. Another thing I am undertaking is to re-size and crop many of my most popular prints to make 4x6 and 5x7 images. I think that a lot of people have limited wall space and might enjoy these smaller sizes (and smaller prices). I may also look into printing my own notecards again - I have to analyse whether I can offer them at a reasonable price and still make them a quality item. The way I churn through ink now they would have to be very popular in order to make them a viable thing to offer. The real benefit to my customers is that they would no longer be stuck with 6 cards of the same design as on Cafe Press. I could offer sets. Of course if I could just get a publisher to take on my line everyone could buy the cards at their favorite gift store

Saturday, March 24, 2007

It's been a long time...

Yes, a very long time since I posted to my blog. A lot of time and art under the bridge! When I last wrote I believe I was preparing images for my calendar and for my planned vacation with hubby and daughter in Disney World. Hmm - maybe even longer than that. I was pretty busy leading up to the holidays. In an absolute burst of productivity in late October/early November I managed to paint several new images for my 2007 Dachshundicity Calendar and for Christmas cards to sell on Cafe Press. We had a great time at WDW, one of our finest trips ever! It was uncrowded and we were able to experience both the Food and Wine Festival, be there on our 7 year wedding anniversary (and revisit the spot in Epcot where we actually got married) and see the Christmas decorations. Here is my favorite picture from the trip: We got Kelly one of those Viking hats with the blonde braids in the Norway pavilion, which as you can see were a great match in length for her own hair. She wore that hat everywhere, earning a lot of grins from other guests. In this photo she is practicing her teenager scowl.
Through Christmas I was pretty busy filling orders and even did three commissions.

As usual after Christmas sales on eBay fell off dramatically, but thankfully that is when the commission checks from November and December sales on Cafe Press come in. My 2007 Dachshundicity calendar was once again consistently in the top 10-15 calendars on Cafe Press in all subjects. Yea! I am so grateful to all of the folks who continue to enjoy and support my work.

Which brings me to this new phase in my career (which is how I am choosing to see it). I will be closing my eBay store at the end of this month. During the summer not only did eBay raise prices (again and dramatically) for stores, but they also stated that they were trying to de-emphasize stores (read: direct less buyers there) because they don't bring in as much revenue for eBay. They raised the final value fee to 10% (ouch), and doubled the listing fees. For the last few months I have seen sales drop off there by as much as 75%. It now costs as much to have that store as I make there in some months. That is just not good business sense. Well, not good business sense for me; maybe it is for them. In addition I have seen my originals go for less and less since December. This is the nature of auctioning art - the artist is totally dependent on the interested collector seeing your art at the right time, during that particular 5 or 7 day auction. Those who have purchased my art over the years have seen the prices go up and down in cycles; in the low cycles one can purchase an original piece of art for a very low price, or if one is a crafty eBayer they can wait until the last 10 seconds of the auction to make sure any competing bidders don't have a chance to bid the art up further. It would not be fair for me to compain about this, since I am the one who chooses to put my art out there to the highest bidder, so I don't blame anyone for trying to get a bargain. But the fact is I can't afford to do this (sell originals on eBay) to my self or my family anymore, or at least not as often. eBay again raised prices a couple of months ago, this time on live auctions. I see a lot of artists sell their work for less than it costs them in fees to list it.
I am still taking commissions, and of course my store at http://www.wiener-dog.com/ is still open!