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The Mike Hinge Experience
Albrecht Dürer was the very epitome of a Renaissance man. Born in 1471 at the height of the German Renaissance he excelled at painting, woodcuts, engraving, typography, book-making and writing. Having studied the family trade of goldsmithing, he went on to apprentice with his godfather Anton Koberger, the publisher and printer of the heavily illustrated Nuremberg Chronicle, published in 1493. While still in his twenties he established himself as an important illustrator with his chiaroscuro woodcuts, notably "The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse".
One of his lasting innovations was the poster. In 1515 he created a woodcut based on a sketch and written description by an unknown artist of an Indian Rhinoceros that he sold as a Broadside poster. Having never actually seen a Rhino, he depicted the animal as wearing armor, replete with breastplate, rivets and gorget.
Which brings us to post-modernism. Dürer actively utilized historical and cross-cultural influences in his work. His influences included the Greeks, the Italians and the Aztecs. He applied Da Vinci's proportions of the human body, as well as the mathematical theories of Euclid, to typography (you can read more of my writing on his typography here). He created textile pattern books for others to follow, and kept swatch books of others' textiles. His "knotwork print" was itself based on Da Vinci's own "knotwork roundels".
Significantly, thanks to booty the explorer Cortés sent back to Europe, Dürer came to view the work of the Aztecs. He was so moved by the experience he wrote in his journal, on August 27, 1520:
"At Brussels is a very splendid Townhall, large and covered with beautiful carved stonework, and it has a noble, open tower. . . . I saw the things which have been brought to the King from the new land of gold, a sun all of gold a whole fathom broad, and a moon all of silver of the same size, also two rooms full of armor of the people there, and all manner of wondrous weapons of theirs, harness and darts, very strange clothing, beds, and all kinds of wonderful objects of human use, much better worth seeing than prodigies [myths, fairy tales]. These things were all so precious that they are valued at 100,000 florins [guilders] All the days of my life I have seen nothing that rejoiced my heart so much as these things, for I saw amongst them wonderful works of art, and I marvelled at the subtle Ingenia of men in foreign lands. Indeed I cannot express all that I thought there. "
A lasting work of Dürer's is the monogram of his initial letters, which lives on in the Art Director's Club logo still in use to this day.
Milan-based tattoo artist Mirko Sata (previously) has mastered the art of inking snakes, creating elaborate tangles of scales and tails that wrap around the arms and legs of his clients. Sata frequently works with opposing color schemes, creating novel contrasts between black and white or red and green in the otherwise minimalist line-based pieces. He's also incorporated various floral motifs in place of the snake's scales in a number of recent pieces. You can follow more of his work on Instagram.
it always helps to use reference pictures but in general here's a quick basic process for really fast rose making if you're pressed for time :D just remember that the petals are usually more packed in the middle and get farther apart as you go outwards!
Artist and writer Chris Rodley utilized a deep learning algorithm to create these really lovely illustrations of dinosaurs composed of plants. The images were generated with an online service called DeepArt that lets you upload a "target" image and then apply a visual style to it. For step one he fed the network images of common dinosaurs and then applied the styles of 19th-century fruit engravings and botanical illustrations. The results are a sort of 21st-century artificial intelligence channeling Giuseppe Arcimboldo. You can read a bunch more about all the technical mumbo jumbo over on Sploid. (via Kottke)
At times you may feel you are just making art for yourself; no one sees it; no one knows about it; and, ultimately, no one cares about it. However daunting showing your artwork to others may seem, it can help you get out of a rut and become more confident with your art-making process.
Ready to be seen? Here are five helpful ways you can start exhibiting your artwork and garner more exposure as an artist.
If you don't have much experience, seek out possibilities to show your work at public libraries, government agencies and municipal buildings. Check into your local city hall or chamber of commerce, which may have empty space available to use for free. Likewise, you could find a native politician willing to put up your work on loan to decorate their office—a win-win for them and for you.
Another great way to start promoting your art is by joining a nearby art club, artist co-op or nonprofit gallery to exhibit your work. Restaurants, coffee houses, and other businesses in the area might also be willing to let you showcase your art.
Various places and businesses around your hometown are generally low-cost, high-effort prospects that offer exposure and free publicity and visibility for your work. Keep in mind you likely will pay for show cards, listings on social media, reception costs and doing any necessary legwork on your own, but this all saves a lot of money in the end (while also putting you in the right direction to start making money!).
If you are really ambitious, make up your own show with a group of artists by renting a space in a vacant storefront and sharing the costs. You likely can get free publicity from news outlets looking to cover something unique—an art "happening" rather than just another gallery opening.
I organized a show in a local hardware store where the artworks were placed in and among the tools, nuts and bolts, fertilizer bags and barbecue grills, mixing art into an everyday business.
Local as well as national media sources covered this peculiar event, which brought in more than 150 people at the opening reception. In fact, the store doubled its business over the two-month run of the exhibit.
Please feel free to steal this idea if any hardware stores in your town would be up for the exhibit. At the very least, I hope this unusual art exhibit inspires you to think outside of the box. The lesson here is to use your own creative brain to make a place for your art.
A cautionary tale, there are lots of opportunities to exhibit your work all over the web. These online exhibits most likely will encourage you to enter art competitions for a fee, sometimes exceeding $30 or more. Though many of these are legitimate contests and galleries offering actual exhibitions and prizes, it's important to remember there are a lot of scams, too.
Read over the entry guidelines, look for past winners or featured artists from preview competitions and galleries, and find out what all is included if a fee is charged.
Remember, these competitions are pretty much art lotteries that may or may not go your way. Make sure if you do enter any online galleries or competitions, that they are worthy of your investment. For example, international shows and contests will attract large numbers of people from across the globe, which means tons of other artists are also submitting their art, too.
Moreover, look into how the online gallery/competition requests your art. Are there shipping or uploading costs involved in addition to the entrance fee? Are there any limitations or extra charges for weight and size dimensions?
My advice: Do your due diligence and research, research, research. Make sure there aren't any hidden fees and that the online gallery/competition is legitimate before submitting your work.
Oftentimes, open calls are available to artists to apply for shows organized by public galleries in museums and colleges that have little or no application fees. If you find an open call for such an event, it's well worth the effort to apply. Often these sites have thematic exhibitions that your work may fit into—landscapes, portraits, still life, abstracts, etc.
Due to the exposure and the likely large-scale audience that will be in attendance, these opportunities are very desirable to most artists. What's more, being accepted into a museum show is also a very good footnote on your resume, too!
Applying to show with an established private gallery can be an intimidating and frustrating process. A reputable gallery already has their own group of artists, many of whom have been with them for several years, and they rarely look for newer artists to invest in.
Running a private gallery is indeed a huge investment of time, effort and money which can be a tough road no matter how good the economy. So when a gallery director looks at your work, it's not just about whether they like it, but rather if they can sell it for a profit.
Private galleries typically get 50-60 percent commission to exhibit your work, and that's standard in the business. If that seems outrageous, keep in mind they have to pay an expensive rent, a salaried staff, for advertisements of your work as well as foot the bill for the reception and any other expenses.
The real talent of sales managers at galleries, however, is to convince a prospective buyer that your work is worth the price they're asking. If they fail, you fail, too; and that's a lot of pressure all around.
Dean Nimmer is a North Light Books author, artist and teacher. Check out his art his fun-filled video workshops on ArtistsNetwork.tv and/or at the North Light Shop. You can also learn more about Dean and his art by visiting his website, DeanNimmer.com.
This article originally appeared on Column Five.
With over 4,000 under our belt, we've learned a lot about how to make infographics in our time. (We even wrote a book about it.) It's been almost a decade since we started, and although the publishing landscape has changed since our early days of million-view infographics on Digg, they're still a great way for brands to build brand awareness and communicate with the world. The format has even evolved since we've been in the game, allowing us to create more exciting, dynamic infographics than ever.
But there are still a lot of awful infographics in the world. Some are made with good intentions, some could just use a little tweaking, and some are a straight-up nightmare. But most of those ineffective infographics could be great with the right direction.
We've made infographics for everyone from small startups to Fortune 100 companies. We've learned what works and what really throws a wrench in the infographic process, from that first brainstorm to the moment the project goes live.
We don't want you to waste your time creating less-than-awesome content, so we're sharing our best tips to create solid infographics, based on everything we've learned. Here's our step-by-step breakdown of the process and what will help or hurt you at each stage.
In general, the infographic creation process looks like this:
The most important thing to remember is that each stage builds on the other, so you need clear communication and sign-off at each stage to move things forward and create a piece of content that works for everyone. (Basically, by the time you see your first infographic design, you aren't looking at an entire "first draft." The idea and copy should have been locked and edited several times by the time you get to that stage.) There should be no surprises on the back end.
The process to make a successful infographic starts way before you ever come up with an idea.
People often get excited at the idea of an infographic and want to head into design immediately, but this is the number one thing that sabotages an infographic. Whenever we kick off a fresh project with a partner, we start with a meeting to confirm what the project's goal is.
At this stage, you're setting the groundwork for the project. Your job is to ask the right questions to identify exactly what you want to achieve.
If you want your infographic to succeed, knowing who you want to reach is paramount. You should be able to identify who your audience is or who your audience segments are, as well as their pain points and desires. This will help you create an infographic they actually care about.
If you haven't already, create audience personas that include demographic and psychographic information to guide these discussions. (Try our quick exercise to build your personas in less than an hour.)
What are you trying to achieve with this piece of content? How does it fit into your short- and long-term marketing goals? Wanting to create an infographic because they're "cool" is not a reason. It can actually be a huge waste of time if it's not tied to your larger strategy.
This is a big one. Way too often we see people get excited about a certain format or trend and go all in. Sometimes they want to create something because a competitor did. Other times they just want to appease a higher-up who wants what they want because they want it. Over and over, we remind people that format should be determined by the story you're telling. An infographic may absolutely be the right format, but a GIF series, interactive infographic, motion graphic, or video might be the better solution.
Your KPIs will tell you whether or not your infographic worked; they should not be an afterthought. If you need tracking links or analytics set up, these are all things that should be locked down before you go into production.
Other things to consider:
Once your team understands the project goals, only then can you move into the fun part: coming up with awesome ideas.
Too many brands try to make infographics for themselves—not for the people they're trying to reach. Great ideas are only great if they work for the core audience. It's easy to get hyped up on a fun or interesting idea, but it will ultimately fail if you forget who you're creating it for.
Bring the right stakeholders together at this stage, including your copywriter, art director or designer, and PR. PR is particularly important, as they know what publishers and influencers are interested in. They can also help facilitate co-partnerships, which is a strategy that we love to use. (Read more about how to approach publications for this type of content.)
Brainstorms can be tricky when you have a lot of stakeholders (or egos) in the room. Remind your team what the ultimate goal is to keep discussions on track. Something that helped us tremendously was learning about the 4 different types of creative brains. (Understanding what type of thinker you are and how to better communicate with others will save your sanity.) You can also try these 16 methods for coming up with great infographic ideas.
A freestyle brainstorm sounds fun, but you're here to achieve a goal. Vet every idea to make sure it really will capture people's interest.
This document keeps everyone on the same page and outlines everything anyone working on the project needs to know. If you don't have that information available, you might end up with an infographic optimized for web publication that was supposed to be an enormous visual for a tradeshow presentation (not that that's ever happened to us—multiple times).
If you need a little help there, follow our guide to writing creative briefs your team can actually use.
Also, we find that there can be some confusion when talking about infographic creation. Before you head into production, make sure your team is all on the same page with the same language. A few terms to know:
A lot of people think infographics are eye-catching and therefore effective, but that's way off. A well-crafted infographic is effective because it tells a story. Combined, the text and visuals make that story easier to understand. Your words are the backbone; design enhances your words. The stronger your story, the better your infographic.
Dig into your data: Data storytelling is a powerful way to communicate, but only if you have a strong data set that actually has a story. A few things to keep in mind:
Tell a single story: We've all encountered monster infographics that never seem to end. It's tempting to cram as much as you can into your story, but an infographic is effective when it tells a strong and straightforward story that brings more clarity to a topic. If you have multiple angles or aspects of a story, it may be better told through a series of infographics.
Here's a good litmus test: Is it easy to write the headline for this story? Can you summarize your message in a few sentences (or a PR pitch)? If you have trouble writing your story succinctly, people will have trouble understanding it.
For more help, find out how to craft a strong infographic narrative.
Structure content in a logical hierarchy: Good design starts with copy. The better you structure your content, the easier it is for users follow the story and the easier it is for designers to lay it out intuitively.
Write to your reader: You should be telling a story they want to hear—and telling it in their language. Write to their level of understanding, explain terms that may be unfamiliar, and, dear god, avoid buzzwords.
Channel your brand voice: Your brand is made up of humans. Your brand voice should be human, too. No one likes corporate speak or dry language. Always give your content a second edit for tone and word choice. Here are a few more ways to take the BS out of your content.
Don't get too clever: Sometimes marketers get excited about a certain story concept or metaphor, but if it doesn't fit the story, it will do more damage than good. (Would a beauty brand campaign be about "scoring a homerun"? Probably not.) The same goes for headers. Be careful with puns. People want to know what the infographic is about—not decipher some obscure reference.
Kill redundancies: Be as succinct as possible. Context is important, but there's no need to over explain. Design is there to do the heavy lifting and bring elements to life, so let it do its job. If a graph shows a 50% increase, the body copy, subhead, and callout do not need to reiterate the 50% increase.
Watch your wordcount: Infographics are not term papers or opportunities to prove to the world that you went to grad school. In fact, they require much less text than you'd expect. Condense and cut as much as you can. This allows more breathing room for design and helps you keep your story tight.
Edit and approve: Save yourself headaches and make sure everyone signs off on copy before you go into design.
Great infographic design is meant to enhance the copy, increase comprehension, and make the content as visually appealing as possible.
The number one question to ask when designing: Does this serve the story?
Know your specs: Are you designing for print? Social? Web? Mobile? Responsive? What's your resolution? This is relevant not just for practical reasons but to help achieve your goal. If the goal is to increase FB followers, the infographic better be optimized for social.
Read the content before you design: It's an obvious one, but it's important. You need to know what you're really trying to express and you need to double-check that all copy is there.
Design data according to best practices: Good data design doesn't just depict data; it uses design to enhance comprehension and bring clarity to complicated subjects or concepts. The design elements and copy should work symbiotically to tell a cohesive story—rather than design just reiterating what the copy already communicates. To make sure your data visualization is on point, read up on best practices and find out how to design the most common charts and graphs.
Follow your visual language: Every brand needs a visual language. Imagery, photography, and iconography are all tools to communicate your brand story. That said, follow your brand guidelines! If your brand is all about minimal line drawings, a brightly colored photo-based infographic is a fail. For more on that, find out what 4 things your brand style guide needs.
Be consistent: Six different typefaces and sizes or 2D and 3D illustration combined in one infographic—these are the eyesores to avoid. Again, your brand's visual language will likely have guidelines for these things, but keep an eye out for consistency. You should also avoid these 8 design mistakes in your visual content.
Experiment when you can: Not all infographics have to be static illustrations. If your visual language allows, you can try working with papercraft, photography, or motion. For example, we turned our infographic about the trends for the future of infographics into an animated infographic for INC, which helped us tell the story in an even more exciting way.
Solicit useful design feedback: Ask the team to tell you what they think is working and what is not working instead of what they like and don't like.
Proof the infographic: Before you send your infographic into the world, triple check that the copy is clean and the design is on point.
Nothing's more embarrassing than a major error. (Let's not forget the Fox News pie chart that totaled 193%.)
Writing a great story and designing a stellar infographic are only half the battle. Getting eyeballs on your work is what will help you ultimately succeed. To help your team distribute the infographic effectively, there are a few extra steps.
Optimize your infographic for SEO: Make sure you have the right file names and keywords to get the most SEO traffic. For a full rundown of everything you need to do, follow our guides to optimize your infographic for SEO and optimize your blog for infographic publishing.
Create shareable assets: Coordinate with your design team to get assets for your channels. Make sure you have the right resolution, file formats, and sizes, whether it's going out via email, blog, or social. Breaking up an infographic into different assets is a great way to get more mileage from the content. You can read more about how to do that with a divisible content strategy.
Craft a compelling pitch: If you're trying to get coverage (and you should be), you need a pitch that explains why your infographic is interesting and relevant to their readers.
We hope these tips help you create better infographics and think more critically about your current process. Things are always changing in the marketing world, and even some of these tips may be outdated in a few years, but we'll do our best to share everything we learn. If you have some of your own tips, send them our way.
Need some more infographic inspiration?