Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Technology - Friend or Foe? By Karen McGovern

We live in a digital age.  We hover online via computer or hand-held device nearly constantly.  We have almost instant access to a sea of information, 24/7.  You are online right now to read this blog, whether it is on your laptop, desktop. tablet or smartphone.  I know I am a fan of gadgetry--quietly lusting after the newest iPad (iPhone not so much--I am a Samsung phone fan), and am drooling over the recent Office Depot commercial that features THAT UNBELIEVABLE BLUETOOTH LAZER KEYBOARD AND THE TEENY-TINY PROJECTOR!!!  Yes, I am all over that stuff, whether I need it or not.  I just WANT IT SO BAD!

The mighty Internet and Google Machine are no longer references used occasionally, they have become an integral part of our lives.  I know I rely on these tools of technology on a daily basis.  Heck, I just checked on Google to make sure I spelled "technology" correctly! (which I did not.  I stuck a "k" in there for no apparent reason.  I suck at spelling)  Whether used for mundane reasons or as a teaching tool, the digital world is just that...a tool.  How you use it is up to you (Seriously, how many cat videos have you watched today?). 
Whether you think of the Internet as a soul stealing time vampire or gateway to nirvana, it has transformed our lives without question.  The word "Frenemy" comes to mind--"refering to either an enemy pretending to be a friend or someone who really is a friend but is also a rival. The term is used to describe personal, geopolitical, and commercial relationships both among individuals and groups or institutions."  I just got that from Wikipedia, which I looked up via Google.  See???????
I have written about how YouTube has helped me IMMENSELY through the availability of instructional jewelry design videos and tutorials.  You can find a video for just about any technique you can think of, all free for the viewing.  I learned fold-forming, simple soldering, riveting, and SO MUCH MORE all courtesy of YouTube and the generous artists that post videos free of charge. 
How many of your supplies are purchased online?  Can you imagine not being able to purchase online?  I doubt it.  The virtual world is here to stay and most of us would not be able to do the work we do without it.
And, on to selling.  Online storefronts like Etsy, Artfire and more (plus Facebook and individual websites) are the only way many of us sell our works, besides out of our homes or the occassional local art show.  (Applause to you that make your work full-time and travel to art shows around the country, etc.).  And when we are at those art shows (which we applied to enter via online application) we use our smartphones and apps like Square and PayPal to accept payments.  As a marketing tool the Internet is vital.  Period.
So, how do we best harness this technology in our trade?  First of all, LEARN HOW TO USE IT.  A few of my good friends who are artists are still balking at using selling tools like Square and online storefronts.  I am in the process of walking them through some of this and strongly suggest everyone become 100% comfortable with handling online transactions.  These tools are the bare bones of business, and you can't ignore them or expect your clients to work around your reluctance to use them.  Now-a-days there really is no excuse for not being able to accept a credit card, anywhere, anytime, using nothing but your smartphone.  All of these online resources offer in-depth online tutorials that walk you through every step of the process.  You do not have to be a computer geek to do this, I swear.  Just go to the website and follow along.  I use Square and love it, and Square as relatively recently launched its own online selling platform, Square Market.  I'm looking into that... 

Speaking of online storefronts...it's not that hard to set up your own, you know.  I decided to do that since Etsy and I are on a "break" (It's complicated, I found out Etsy has been cheating on me with overseas re-sellers.  We're in couples therapy, but I'm not sure we can ever truly trust each other again...sigh).  I set up my own website and shop through Wix, and am very happy with the results.  Yes, it costs a bit more, and yes, you need to be a bit web savvy.  But, the site is very, VERY easy to use with tons of instructional pages and videos, as well as tons of storefronts and themes to choose.  All the hard work is done for you--you just choose the look you like and go!  Sets up with a PayPal account for sales, or you can use Wix's own marketing platform.

Beyond buying and selling, the Internet is also a source of endless inspiration.  I can't imagine not being able to reference favorite artists, view current works and exhibits I am interested in, and having access to a BAJILLION images.  Pintrest, anyone?  All my favorite magazines have online versions, all jam-packed with drool worthy designs and insightful articles.  THERE IS SO MUCH OUT THERE!!!  I am inspired every time I am on Facebook by the works artists I follow are creating, and I use Facebook to show my own work and am ETERNALLY GRATFUL for the feedback I get.  I recently got a "like" on one of my designs from Richard SalleyRICHARD SALLEY!!!  I am such a fan of his that when I saw the "like" I got goosebumps.  FOR REAL. (Yes, I am a nerd.  Deal with it)

One of Richard's delicious designs...sigh.
Even if you hate the 'Net, your computer can be a vital tool to store information.  I photograph all of my work using my smartphone.  I then download all of that to my computer so I have a record of what I am working on as well as access to past designs.  Just going through that can be an inspiring (and mortifying) adventure.  Sometimes I will stumble across an old design I had totally forgotten about and become inspired to revisit it.  I also look at some of my first works and cringe a bit, but still am very proud of how far I have come.  Everyone should photograph their work and keep these images for reference!!!  Then display them on a wall using the AMAZING TEENY-TINY PROJECTOR FROM OFFICE DEPOT.  Ahem, I digress....
Speaking of design--a tablet is now a WONDERFUL design tool.  Currently I am obsessing over the Apple "Paper" app and the electronic pencil/stylus 53 that works with it.  My iPad is too old and doesn not work with the 53, and IT'S DRIVING ME INSANE.  If you like to sketch out your design ideas on the fly, a tablet is for you.  I sketch ideas quite a bit, but don't always have the appropriate pen and paper handy when the muse stikes me.  That is why so many scraps of envelopes, lined note pad paper, napkins, etc, end up strewn all over the place with ideas scrawled on them.  With one of the bazillion art apps available, a tablet and stylus (or your finger), you can sketch like mad, save, and viola!  You have an easy reference.  Take a peek at the cool stuff Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio is creating with Paper.  A fantastic way to sketch your ideas and connect instantly with your computer...Like Etch-A-Sketch on MASSIVE STEROIDS. (Sue me, I'm old).

Not all of us can afford the newest tablet or gadget, but we all use smartphones and computers, and many of these apps and programs are available (inexpensively or even FREE) for both.  Bottom line, when we discuss the tools of our trade, the Internet, smartphones, computers and tablets all have to be included in one form or another.  And just like all the other tools we need, we must become proficient in the proper use of ALL OF THEM.  Who doesn't love a new tool???  So, go out there and play with all the tools available and create something WONDERFUL!

I just finished the pendant shown here, inspired by a spectacular work by Linda Ladurner I saw on Facebook.  Now available in my online shop!

 **Update - I just got an updated Ipad and Pencil for Valentine's Day!!!!!!  So, I am completely obsessed with the app and gadget.  If you don't hear from me ever again, I am in my bedroom doodling like mad.  Please send in the occasional pizza....



Lalit Panwar said...

good pictures of jewelry. i love jewellry picture. please visit my jewelry photographs on my website http://www.productphotographerindia.com/jewellery-photography.html

Shel said...

Great post. Although I do know I need to 'get with it' as far as technology goes, it truly is a time-sucker as far as the learning curve and getting sucked into the black hole of online do-da and gadgets. But I guess you either have to go w/the flow or go hide out in a cave! LOL!! :-)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...