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FASO Featured Artists


San Pedro, California IV

 

Artists about to launch an art career sometimes ask me what steps they should take to be a professional.  Almost always my answer is, create a professional art website first - before a blog, facebook page, twitter, etc.  That's what I did.  I chose FineArtStudioOnline (FASO) as my website host and I know I will never regret it.  If you are serious about art as a profession, the entire team of FASO is there for you in many facets on the business side of art.

 

FASO Featured Artists is their latest feature and I am truly honored to have my work featured there recently.  In it, Brian Sherwin, an art critic and a contributing writer for FASO, describes the quality of my watercolor paintings "pleasantly haunting" and says "Keiko's paintings can be interpreted as being caught somewhere between the 'physical' and the 'spiritual'...  The inspiration for these paintings may be a scene from present day but there is an underlining feeling that they are calling back to the past at the same time."

 

To see the entire description about my work in FASO Featured Artists, click here.

 

 

San Pedro, California IV

 

Click here for an enlarged view of this painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 15.5 inches (29 x 39 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

- Join me on Facebook and follow my blog on NetworkedBlogs.

- Follow me on Google+.
- Visit my gallery at Daily Paintworks.
- Follow me on Twitter
- FASO Artist Websites - Easy, Professional Art Websites for Artists who Sell

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Have You Googled Your Name Lately?


Los Angeles I

 

A recent  conversation with my student revolved around names artists use.  He said he was thinking about adopting a more English-sounding name.  This talented young man recently came from Europe and he thinks his name is rather long and not easy for Americans to remember and pronounce.  I said having a unique name was to his advantage.  I'm not sure if he was completely convinced but I said it wouldn't be an issue and even going by initials might be just enough for him if he became well established.

 

He then asked whether I ever thought about changing my name in America.  I'm proud of the name my parents gave me so I said the thought never crossed my mind… but a problem for me is that my name is fairly common in Japan. 

 

I share the same name with other artists, a university professor, a pianist, a researcher in science, to name just a few.  Strangely enough, there's another watercolor artist (illustrator) who came from the same prefecture in Japan and now lives in Los Angeles.  Although, in Japanese, each of us may use different kanji characters to write our name, in English or Roman alphabet, it's all the same: Keiko Tanabe.

 

The internet has opened up a world of new opportunities, so much so that I am generally glad to see other Keiko Tanabe's doing good work in their chosen fields.  However, this also means we are competing for a place in the world wide web where most people search our name using Roman alphabet.  For a professional who relies heavily on the internet, this can be a problem.  What to do to establish a strong internet identity if your name is too common?  This can be even worse if you share a name with someone you'd rather not be associated with, or a criminal?

 

I admit I don't usually spend time thinking about things like SEO.  But it is a cold hard fact that we must do our best to improve our online visibility - first by monitoring what other people might be finding online associated with our name (read more on the topic for practical tips).  Have you googled your name lately?

 

 

Los Angeles I

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21.5 x 14.25 inches (54.5 x 36 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

- Join me on Facebook and follow my blog on NetworkedBlogs.

- Follow me on Google+.
- Visit my gallery at Daily Paintworks.
- Follow me on Twitter
- FASO Artist Websites - Easy, Professional Art Websites for Artists who Sell

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Portofino, Italy IV, Italian Landscape Painting


Portofino, Italy IV

 

The internet has allowed us artists to reach virtually all over the world.  I, for one, have done business with many people, in the last few years, who are more diverse in nationality, geographical location, profession, age, and financial means than I can write in one blog post.

 

Communication with them is usually by email.  While some prefer keeping it strictly business, many tell me a bit of their background information - who they are, where they live, why they like a particular painting of mine, who they buy a painting for, etc.  Each of their stories is so uniquely different, therefore special, I don't know if I will ever be surprised to hear even the one beyond my wildest dreams. What I want to say is, these stories bring me such a joy as they give my paintings a special meaning in a way I can't possibly do.

 

There's also a downside to having an internet presence, such as being targeted by art scammers.  I just had an unpleasant encounter with one through email last week and was made aware that having seen them and heard about them for years doesn't prepare you 100% against them.  Just as we artists become more familiar with their typical tactics, scammers invent a cleverer approach once their old tricks stop working.  Good news for me was that I didn't lose money or paintings to this scammer but he really wasted my time.  I was mentally exhausted and I felt I needed a vacation.  So I painted a beautiful villa on the Italian Riviera, overlooking the deep blue Ligurian Sea for a little escape.

Art is a way to express yourself and through that you can escape a bad situation.  - Russell Simmons


 

Portofino, Italy IV

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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2011 Art Calendars from Daily Painters & Watercolor Artist


Pacific Coast Highway III

 

Family photos, artwork, a clock... We carefully choose what we hang on our walls because we want to make sure that's something we want to look at all the time.  What about wall calendars?

 

This holiday season, I'd like to suggest as a gift idea art calendars from Daily Painters and Watercolor Artist magazine.  Over a dozen different themed calendars are offered by Daily Painters and available via their Lulu.com store.  I have my painting included in Cityscape and Landscape themes.

 

For watercolor enthusiasts, editors of Watercolor Artist magazine have a beautiful watercolor art calendar made up of their 12 top choices available through Zazzle.com.  I am pleased that my Paris painting was chosen to be in it.

 

 

 

Pacific Coast Highway, California III

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14.25 x 21.5 inches (36 x 54.5 cm)
Purchase: Sold

 

 

  Aux Tours de Notre Dame, Paris

 

Aux Tours de Notre Dame, Paris, France

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14.25 x 21.5 inches (36 x 54.5 cm)
Purchase: Sold

 

Click here to see more paintings in my California Landscapes Collection.

Click here to see more paintings in my French Landscapes Collection.

 

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San Diego 100 (#22) - Balboa Park, California Landscape Painting

 

Balboa Park (SD100-22)

 

 

This painting, a part of my San Diego 100 Series, was posted previously but, today, is being introduced to Daily Painters Gallery for the first time.  As I was contemplating what to write about this painting, I realized I had blogged quite a lot on Balboa Park already (Please click here here and here to see and read about other Balboa Park paintings).

Since I joined Daily Painters Gallery back in January, I have met so many artists, collectors, dealers, art students and those who simply love looking at our daily display.  Of course, when I say "met," I mean it's mostly online via email.  They send me comments, inquiries, opinions, or just to touch base, etc. and I so enjoy interacting with each one of them (except those who have a funny idea about "buying" - a.k.a. scammers).

I wrote a blog post a while ago about one thing I keep in mind for customer relations.  This was then re-published in FineArtViews newsletter by Clint Watson (By the way, there's a wealth of good information and advice in his daily newsletter.  I strongly recommend subscribing).  Please click here to read my article, if you are interested.

I'm glad that this painting was sold this week to one of my collectors who I "met" in January, and she now owns 4 of my originals.  My ichigo ichie with her has turned out to be a wonderful relation, and I even feel like I've known her for a long time.  The way art connects us may not be predictable but feeling it is one of the greatest things that can happen to an artist.


San Diego 100 (#22) - Balboa Park

Media: original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in. (on a 12 x 9 in paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Art Fairs and the Economy

 

Little Iatly, San Diego IV

 

 

With the arrival of spring, art fair season is starting across the country.  The most serious artists on an art fair circuit will find themselves at a different event venue almost every weekend for a few months from now.

Without a doubt, art fairs provide artists with a great opportunity to show their art to a wide variety of audience in a relatively short time.  Meeting potential buyers and actually selling is a real confidence booster.  I'm not exactly on an art fair circuit, but I do a few events a year and know first-hand how much work is involved.  I wish every art fair artist out there a great success!

This year, however, the impact of this economy may be forcing everyone to make decisions that are different from the past.  Are both artists and art fairs adjusting to the downturn?

Some fair administrators say they've received fewer applications from artists this year, and some of the sponsorship dollars have dropped off.  Cameron Meier, editor of the magazine Sunshine Artist, which covers art/craft fairs says artists are doing the most by adjusting their marketing strategies and revising what they sell.  Meier also says they're making smaller items that are more affordable and even items that function like bowls or even lamps (Click to read an entire story).

This weekend, I am participating in Mission Federal ArtWalk, the biggest outdoor art fair in San Diego.  Slow economy or not, I always look forward to being there.  If you're in the area, please stop by and say hello (my booth is located on Fir Street #774).


Little Italy, San Diego IV

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14 x 14 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 20 x 20 in. (color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

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Innovative Marketing of Nintendo

You've been painting for a while and it's time to start marketing your body of work.  Or you've been already in this game.  Along with many tried-and-true marketing ideas, you wonder what else you can do.  As artists, we have to produce first and foremost the best work possible; that's a given.  But on the business side of art, sometimes it takes novel thinking to give you an edge.

Today I would like to share a story that is a little old but illustrates how innovative idea helped one company lead a market.

As a mother of a 12-year-old boy, I've been hearing words like PSP and DS so often I started paying attention, from the sidelines, to the video game console market.  If you are like me, you may remember the big buzz surrounding Sony PS3 and Nintendo Wii when they were launched in November, 2006 to compete with Microsoft XBox that was already in the market.  As expected, a fierce competition followed.  As of September 2008, the market shares are: Nintendo Wii (54.2%), Microsoft Xbox (27.4%) and Sony PS3 (18.3%).

What is the secret of success for Nintendo?  I've never played on any of the video consoles, so obviously I am not the best person to talk about it from a consumer's point of view.  But from a marketing point of view, here's a thing that I thought was noteworthy.

When hard-core video gamers were usually associated with younger generations, Nintendo's marketing team took Wii to the AARP* Annual Event in 2006 to court older people (New York Times).  Positioning Wii as a system that should appeal to older adults, Nintendo said video games are a great way to help seniors exercise their minds.  AARP also realized boomers spend 100 minutes of their leisure time each week playing video or computer games and decided to follow their audience.

It seemed to work.  Today AARP's website introduces Nintendo Wii before its two competitors.

This was not about art marketing but it is an example that shows, in Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' words, "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."  Food for thought.

* AARP = American Association of Retired Persons, a non-profit membership organization for people of age 50 and over; With 40 million members, it is the largest organization in the U.S. for this age group.

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Turning My Thoughts to Holidays

There are always scenes to paint, chores to do, work to finish and meals to cook.  Our day gets easily filled with necessary routines, leaving little or no time for anything special.

 

This is a time to change our priorities a little and turn our thoughts to holidays.  What it means professionally may vary from artist to artist but, to me, holidays are a time to reflect on the year that has passed and write a special thank-you card to each person who was important to the progress of my art career.

 

I usually pick one image of the paintings I made that year, have it printed on the card and write a personal message inside to people on my list.  This year I am also sending them a free print of one of my recent paintings.  Their support made it possible for me to keep painting through the hard times, and I feel words are not enough to express my thanks to them.

 

On my list are: my customers (who gave an extra meaning to my paintings and also validated the value of my work), gallery dealers (who promoted my work and understood my artistic vision), artists and non-artists (who visited my art shows or left comments on my blog or signed up for my newsletter), and long-time friends from my pre-artist days (who still trust me and cheer for me).

 

I have met most but I would never have known several of them unless they had contacted me.  They all expressed an interest in my work, said they liked my work and/or purchased my work.  Without them, I cannot possibly be where I am.  I know I would be still having fun painting without their presence, but my life as an artist is so much more rewarding and exciting because they have responded to what I make to share.

 

Their support came in many different forms.  When a customer wrote to me after she bought my painting, saying she could easily sit and stare at it for hours, it touched me deeply and brought tears to my eyes.  Another customer emailed me recently after a long absence and said, "As soon as the economy picks up, I am going to purchase another of your incredible paintings."  I felt so humbled and blessed to have a fan like him.  Sometimes it was a nice short email like "Love your new work" that gave me a lift that I needed to finish another painting.

 

Their feedback was not always praise, though.  One time a lady, who’s been on my list for some time, came to my show and said that she was disappointed and criticized my prices and display.  We exchanged several emails afterward to better understand each other.  I know she did what she did because she cared about my art business and I appreciated that.

 

Without people supporting us, making art would become just a self-serving endeavor - not that there is anything wrong with it.  But isn’t it true that many of us thrive on sincere (better yet positive) feedback?  Knowing that we have an audience who will pay attention and respond to our art is truly a blessing.  As Alyson Stanfield reminds us, saying thank-you should be a serious component of our art business.  Holidays are a perfect time to let people who love our art know we are really grateful.

 

Thank you for reading.  Happy holidays to everyone!

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Drop Everything and Have a Cup of Tea

 

Silence at Eiheiji Temple, Japan (14"x21", 2005)

 

 

Whether you sell your art or not, we all know how important customer service is.  We all have been on the receiving end, first of all, as a customer and remember how we felt when we were treated nicely or rudely.  That experience often determines whether we want to favor or avoid the business we dealt with.

Now, going back in history to the 16th century, there was a well-known master of tea ceremony in Japan, Sen no Rikyu who described the art of tea in simple language.  He said, "the way of tea is naught but this: first you boil water, then make the tea; then you drink it properly."  I mentioned Rikyu because his famous words ichigo ichie is one that I try to keep in mind when it comes to customer service.  Ichigo ichie is usually translated in English as "one time, one meeting" or "one encounter, one chance."  Simple yet very profound, this expression reminds us that we must treat every meeting with somebody as if the meeting were the last chance to interact with him/her.

As we spend more time online nowadays, we are having less and less face-to-face meetings.  Some messages are just hard to get across in written words alone.  We cram our day with so many to-do’s though not everything is absolutely necessary.  We live a very hurried life, maybe not spending enough time in each meeting, on-line or not, with our customers.  I am talking about myself.  Maybe it is not a bad idea to drop everything and have a nice cup of tea once in a while.  And think about the importance of ichigo ichie.

"Though many people drink tea, if you do not know the Way of Tea, tea will drink you up." – Sen no Rikyu

- Read more on Sen no Rikyu and ichigo ichie.

- Visit my website to view other paintings in my Japanese Landscapes Collection.

 

 

Silence at Eiheiji Temple, Japan

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 14 x 21 inches

Purchase: Sold

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Art Market and Recession

 

"Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, California I" (21"x14", 2007) - Sold

 

Even if I don’t watch TV or read newspapers, there’s no escaping from hearing depressing news about economy and worrying about it.  In many art-related blogs, too, financial crisis and its impact on art are being widely discussed.  Many artists, including myself, are shifting their approach to the market as it changes.  The difficult part is to know what is changing in the art market, particularly in buyer behavior.

Take Hollywood, for example. They say people will still go to the movies in slow economy like they did during the Great Depression, but when you hear they are “still booming” at one time and they are “vulnerable to recession” at another, what to believe?  In fine art, there’s the Mei Moses Fine Art Index as one indicator.  Its focus is big names whose works can command thousands or millions of dollars at art auction houses like Sotherby’s.  Although it’s interesting to see what’s selling at auction, it only shows how quickly the investors’ tastes change.  So it is not really helpful for me.

It would be nice if an expert market watcher could tell us what is going on and what to do about it.  However, every artist’s market is a unique one like their artwork.  I think the best market watcher/adviser in this changing economy should be ourselves.  So it is even more important to go out there and meet and learn from our buyers and prospects.  I say this because I learned a lot myself at a recent art show I did.  Some of my collectors returned to buy more while some told me they are just not buying right now (So I know I shouldn’t be discouraged too much).  I saw which price points were more attractive than the others (So I may spend more time working in sizes for the prices that are more affordable).  Most people would still like to choose an original over a giclee (So I shouldn’t rush to have more prints made), etc. etc.

Concern should drive us into action and not into a depression. No man is free who cannot control himself. – Pythagoras

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