Moonshell’s New Weekly Blog: I am pleased to announce that I am beginning a new weekly blog this year. Through these posts I hope to share some of what I am doing with my work, along with ideas about making art, creativity, and philosophy.
My job as a designer over the years has been to help other people visually communicate what they want to say. As a result, a good deal of what I created, in that role, has gone unsigned or only credited in some inconspicuous way.
Making a living as an artist/designer requires careful attention to branding – how the public knows you and what you do. Over the years my logo has evolved, but it has always included one or more moon shells which, for me, symbolize the relationship between the inward spiritual journey and outward service to others. Both are integral to the projects I choose.
Branding for a visual artist (beyond technique and style) means signing your work in a distinct and consistent way. I began signing my paintings with my maiden name when I was in college, because none of my siblings and only one first cousin, were showing any intention of being known professionally by that name. When I got married, it seemed unfair that that should subjugate my given name and heritage. So, then and now, I hyphenate my maiden and married name. And, I have continued to sign my artwork with just the name Kester.
Sometimes I watermark my photography with a copyright and my full name, but I have often neglected to do so when sharing it on social media. I am intrigued by the different ways other photographers do this. Some people put their name right in the middle of their image. Others use a large graphic, advertising their professional services.
Signing a work of visual art is a necessary business practice. It is important to try and protect your product from theft or misuse. In the current media climate, however, it is necessary to balance the risk of unpaid use of your work with the need to market it effectively. I see more and more artists, especially photographers, who splash their name or logo across every image they share on social media. This wrecks the image. It distracts the viewer from what ever the artist is doing well. Folks perpetrate this design no-no because they think it is a smart business practice and will help protect their bottom line.
Long ago I became resigned to being a comfortably poor artist. So, I am the wrong person to give business advice. More and more I have come to see any creative work that I do as part of my spiritual conversation with the world around me. When my images are shared, I want people to know who they were created by, and not just because I want to attract their business. I want them to know who they are listening to and perhaps respond. Providing my audience with something to think about is my goal. Toward that end, one of my new year’s resolutions is to be more consistent with my signature across all the media I publish online. So, I have created a watermark that blends my painting signature with my business logo.
I will continue to sign handmade artwork (paintings, sculpture etc.) as I always have. But all digital representations will carry the new watermark. I will try to consistently put it in the left bottom corner at 50% transparency. I will also keep the size small enough so that it does not ruin the image, yet big enough so people know how to connect with me.
It seems such a small and obvious thing to be disciplined about. It will be interesting to see if I can maintain this new and hopefully productive habit.