Filed under: The Business Of Art
The key to success as a jewelry maker and designer is in the marketing. This is tough for those of us who just want to hide in our studios and play with our beads! Even if you are not interested in marketing yourself as a free lance writer or professional educator, doing a little of that work is not only a few extra bucks in your pocket, it is free publicity for your business that you just can’t beat! Success in any field is achieved by establishing yourself as an expert at what you do. Publication credits will build up your vitae, help you get in to gallery shows and juried shows. And, most importantly, it helps you sell your work at a price you have earned!
Of course you don’t have to write a whole article (and give away all your best design secrets). Most magazines also have a gallery section where they feature all the creative work their readers are doing. Whether you are interested in a gallery spread, or writing a whole article there are a few key dos and don’ts that are really important.
1. DON’T send “simultaneous submissions”. If you send a piece to a magazine, don’t send it anywhere else until you have a definite answer from them. This can be frustrating…it can take a really long time to hear back sometimes and you can end up shopping around a certain piece for months because of it. But if you get caught doing simultaneous submissions you will quite quickly become publishing persona non grata.
2. DO read the submission guidelines carefully. I’ve included links to some of the major jewelry design publishers in this article to get you started. Most of them prefer a proposal or article treatment instead of a finished piece. And they all want it done a little differently. Send them what they ask for or it is going to hit the circular file and all your work will be wasted.
3. DO send the best pictures you possibly can. Thankfully, in the digital age, we can get nice digital shots, which most magazines accept now. If you are sending a proposal by mail, you can burn these on CD-ROM, as well as include printed thumbnails in your proposal. Make sure they are the very best shots you can get. If you have a hard time getting good lighting and a well-framed shot, get a friend to help. Everyone I have ever talked to who invested in professional slides and photos said it was worth every penny…if you can afford it, do it!
4. DON’T discount smaller publications, websites, or occasionally writing for “free”. I agree that it is really bad idea to give away the farm. Your work does have value, and you do deserve financial rewards for it. But if you are just getting started, sometimes getting your name out there is the most important thing. Gallery submissions probably won’t get you anything other than a free issue of the magazine anyway and the first articles you sell might not be the money-makers you were hoping for. The first article I sold was to a parenting newsletter…and it made me a whopping 35 dollars! Writing for free (for example, all the writers at BellaOnline are volunteers) also has its advantages…if you don’t get taken advantage of! You get free publicity, you get your name in print, you get links back to your website, etc. This isn’t a bad trade sometimes. It helps build your reputation. But…
5. DO make sure you feel comfortable with who you are giving your content to. And that you are benefiting from the arrangement as much as they are. I have people ask me if they can reprint my articles on a very regular basis…and some are sites that I don’t want to be associated with. It’s ok to say no! You don’t have to sell your soul for a little publicity!
6. And DON’T give away your rights to your work and your designs if you are writing for free! Most places won’t ask you to, and I would be deeply suspicious of anyone that did. Even places that pay for your work are very specific in the rights they are buying (usually first serial and first anthology rights). If you sell all your rights to your work make sure that you are paid fairly for it!
7. DO thank them for their time and their reply even if they turn you down. Many people don’t do that so they will remember you. Also, it is just good manners! This industry is by far the politest I have worked in, and I have been doing freelance writing for about 5 years now. It is very rare to get such good feedback and it is important to acknowledge it. I’ve had a magazine editor (from a larger publication even) thank me for my submission, let me know it was going to the next level, and the date of the editor’s meeting where it will be presented, with a promise to contact me after said meeting. How great is that? So I always send a reply thanking them for their time and feedback, even if the response is “No, we aren’t interested in that piece right now”. Any feedback at all is better than you will get from a lot of places!
8. And, most importantly, DO be yourself. Not yourself with bad spelling typos and questionable grammar, of course, but comfortable with your own voice. Write like you were explaining your piece to a friend. It is something you are really excited about and want to share with other people who love the same things you do! It may be networking but it is STILL supposed to be FUN!
Submission Guidelines and Information:
Polymer Café magazine is an independently run magazine, so working with them is a lot of fun with great personal contact and feedback. PolymerCafe features jewelry projects in most every issue, and dedicates one issue a year solely to polymer clay jewelry!
This PDF file will cover all the dos and don’ts for submitting your work to Bead and Button magazine!
Beadwork Magazine has very specific guidelines for the article proposals…make sure to read carefully before you submit!
Cloth Paper Scissors is a new magazine from the publishers of Quilting Arts…and it’s gorgeous! Because they are new, chances are you will have less compitition for publication. This is a great choice if you do fiber, paper, or mixed media jewelry. Do note that all inquiries are sent by mail instead of email so your response time will be slower!
Expression Magazine also features polymer clay and mixed media projects in each issue. They are currently running a series of Wirework 101 basics as well!
Belle Armoire has just upped their production schedule from quarterly to bi-monthly! Their turn-around time on submissions has been up to a year in the past, although hopefully that will decrease somewhat now with the two extra issues each year. But still, you have to be sure that you are the patient type before submitting here…and can live without the art you send in for a long period of time! They do accept brief email inquiries and are great about quick feedback so you can get a good idea of what to submit and what they would like to use it for.
Bead Unique is another magazine with a very in-depth submission process. But they are also a newer publication and have had their submission information on their website for only a couple of months now…less competition for you! Bead Unique is really publishing some interesting, quirky stuff…so this is a good place to be brave with anything that is more “out there”
BeadStyle Magazine is published by the Bead and Button folks. They are looking for simpler, quicker designs that are great for beginning beaders. They are definitely of the “crack the egg, pour the contents into the bowl, and throw the shell away” school of “cooking” so make sure your submissions are as clear, and in-depth as possible!
Step By Step Beads is published by Lapidary Journal. They focus on jewelry making AND bead making so this is a great place to submit your lampwork and diachronic glass projects!
Art Jewelry Magazine is another Lapidary Journal publication. The work all does have an artistic quality but it focuses on more cottage industry designs than benchwork metalsmithing. Stuff you can do it home like polymer clay, metal clay, and basic glasswork. This is another magazine that really impresses me as publishing some unusual and beautiful work!
There are many good stamping magazines out there right now. If you include stamping in your jewelry, don’t discount submitting to any of them. This website is a great resource for all of the stamping magazine upcoming themes so you can check it to see if any of them would fit the work you are doing!
Many companies will send you free goodies if you use one of their products in a project you have published. It’s great PR for them! So check the products you use, if you get your work published you may be eligible for some free swag!
Constant Content is essentially an online broker for freelance writers. You submit your work to them at your asking price, and they make it available for purchase to a variety of online and print publications. You retain all the rights to your work, your name stays on the piece no matter who buys it, and they monitor the sites they sell to make sure your rights aren’t even infringed on. In return they split the profit you make from each piece with you. You can offer content for free if you are just getting started and you want your name out there, or you can sell it a a price you set. These are mostly smaller articles that sell for ten to fifty dollars each. They cover a wide variety of topics…you can write about anything you want. They also keep a listing of currently requested topics so you know what their customers are looking for!
Most jewelry designers are used to seeing stones and beads identified by their MM diameter. But trying to explain MM sizing to other people, or trying to determine how many 5mm bead you need for an 18-inch necklace can be frustrating!
Feel free to publish this conversion chart on your jewelry website, or print it and hang it in your studio!
MILLIMETERS TO INCHES CONVERSION CHAR
1mm = just over 1/32 inch
2mm = just over 1/16 inch
3mm = almost 1/8 inch
4mm = 5/32 inch (a little over 1/8 inch)
5mm = just over 3/16 inch
6mm = almost 1/4 inch
7mm = almost 9/32 inch (a little over 1/4 inch)
8mm = 5/16 inch
9mm = almost 3/8 inch
10mm = just over 3/8 inch
11mm = almost 7/16 inch
12mm = almost 15/32 inch (almost 1/2 inch)
13mm = just over 1/2 inch
Filed under: The Business Of Art
It is getting easier and easier to take good digital photos of small art pieces, with higher megapixel cameras on the market in reasonable price ranges…but it is still a challenge that I frequently get letters from other jewelry designers about. When I still had time for a full retail website, the question I get asked most surprised me at first. How do I get such good, clear quality images of my jewelry?
Comments from my customers confirmed this as a problem for many cottage industry designers…. I often receive feedback about how nice it is to see such clear, detailed, color-true photos of my work, and the difficulties they have had with other sites.
Jewelry is notoriously hard to photograph, even for the best of camera whizzes. It is small, highly detailed, and most of the time the surfaces are so shiny they attract and reflect more light than the Hubble telescope.
Although it is not impossible to get a decent camera for a price that won’t force you to sell your first-born, there are a host of problems that go with photographing such up-close, detailed images. Even with a basic point and shoot camera, you have to know something about lighting and angles, and all that scary technical stuff to get the shot you want (I don’t). Then you have to wait for the pictures to come in to make sure you did get the shot you wanted (I never do). Then, chances are, you want these images on your hard drive to upload to your commercial site, your online gallery, or just to share with your family and friends so you need the images transferred to a computer file format.
You can cut out the last two steps by using a digital camera, but therein lies a whole other host of problems. Digital cameras that can produce high quality images, although getting cheaper all the time, still can be prohibitively expensive for many people. And you are still required to have some basic knowledge of taking photographs to get the kind of clean, detailed images you need for a website. My complete lack of skill at photography has my professional-photographer grandfather rolling in his grave as I write this. And with all the email I have gotten about this very subject, I relieved to finally know I am not the only one with the same frustrations.
So I am going to let you in on one of my best secrets. The very things about jewelry that make it so hard to photograph? Make it a snap to scan directly.
In order to get fantastic, clear images; all you need is a flat bed color scanner. It doesn’t even have to be an exceptionally high quality one. For about 40 dollars, I purchase a basic Visoneer scanner complete with editing software, and that is all I ever use.
Most flatbed scanners have removable tops. If you can pop the top off your scanner without breaking any hinges, do so. It will be much easier to position and scan your jewelry without having anything jostled. Lay your peace face down directly on the scanning bead and arrange it to your satisfaction. Because you have the lid off, or at least sitting open, you will need to diffuse the light coming from outside sources. White tissue paper works brilliantly, and even plain white typing paper isn’t bad in a pinch. Another designer I know bought small remnants of dark blue and black velvet and uses them as a very luxe backdrop. No matter what you choose to use, drape it over your jewelry taking care to make sure you cover the whole piece.
When you run your scanning program (my scanner runs and edits with MGI PhotoSuite III), make sure you take a preview scan so you can test your placement and cropping angles. Whichever software you use, you will have different scanning options. You want something to choose the one that is photo, not document quality. With my program, I choose a custom scan, in true color mode, with the highest DPI I can get away with without making an unmanageably huge file.
After scanning, I perform any little picture tune-ups I need in my editing software. Sometimes I need to adjust the coloring a bit, or use the “Sharpen” feature to bring out intricate detail. I do all this before I save the final picture to my hard drive.
And with minimal effort, I have the instant gratification of my jewelry design ready to be uploaded to my website and/or my long-suffering friends. Should you want hard-copy pictures but don’t have a photo-quality printer, you can upload the images to an online photo-processing center. (I use ofoto.com and get excellent quality and service, but there are many other web photo processing that are also very good.) The pictures will be printed, and sent to you, in the same amount of time it would take your average photo lab to process them, and usually for a lot less money.
Whether your jewelry images are designed for professional purposes, or if you just want to share your creations with others, direct scanning should get you the result you want. In fact, I have become so addicted to direct scanning that if there is any way at all for me to squish something onto my scanner I avoid my camera all together! But whether you are camera-savvy or a convert to the direct-scan method, you have no excuses no to share your work…and I would love to see it! Please email me links of your work and I will share them in a future blog entry!