Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

On photography and styling, part two

Light is a photographer's best friend.

Natural or artificial, properly wielded light is absolutely key to great photos!

I've relied on artificial light for my hand knit photos, but have been increasingly unhappy with my photos as my light - both natural and artificial - changed.

Monday, August 2, 2010

On photography and styling, part one

For online businesses, photos - and styling for photos - is absolutely key to success or failure.


I've been pretty bored with my photos lately.  I've never figured out the lighting in my living room since changing over to natural lightbulbs for my lighting kit.

I finally realized the reason is simple:  I'm missing a tree's worth of branches from the oak tree that shaded my living room!  The light in my living room is so harsh now - I've struggled with photos since last Fall.

Natural light anywhere in my house is problematic.  Except for my kitchen window, where I shoot all of my button photos.  I can get great photos in the morning, afternoon and even in the evening.

My kitchen is terribly dark (that's another story), but my front step is all white walls, which reflects all of the California sunshine right into my kitchen window.

I've had an image in my head for months and months about new photos for my hand knits (which includes knitting patterns).  I finally tried some test photos this afternoon and am cautiously optimistic!

I want to accomplish several things with my photos:  natural light, a sort of rustic romance, very editorial, with depth and texture.

I'll talk more about styling in part two - I'm still experimenting!  I'd love to hear what you think so far.  I'll be trying more photos with evening and then morning light in the same spot, and want to add a lavender bunch to the right of the straw hat.

Reprinted from Phydeaux Designs, On photography and styling, part one.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Listen while you work

As promised, following are a few suggestions for audiobooks/online talks for you to listen to/watch while you work! (And if you do so, let me know what you think!)
  1. Purple Cow (Seth Godin) - if you haven't listened to/read any of his work yet, start with this!
  2. TED talks - any topic at all! Excellent talks by business thought leaders, as well as scientists, artists, writers, politicians, you name it!
  3. This American Life (Ira Glass, NPR) - listen to the radio archives online or subscribe to the podcast.
Just a few - and notice they're not all business-related (feeding your brain can take many forms!)!

I'd love to hear about your favorite business audiobooks/podcasts - I may add them to my queue!

What do you watch/listen to while you're making?

Many artists/artisans/makers listen to or watch something while they're marking their art or craft: tv, netflix, hulu, the last season of LOST, podcasts, NPR. When I first started working fulltime with my business, I'll admit to going mad watching cable all day, while knitting or working online. Then realized I was watching TV first, then working, so turned off the TV!

What do you do while you work?
  • Are you watching reality TV shows? Or TED talks online?
  • Are you listening to Lady Gaga on your ipod? Or to the latest Seth Godin book?
I don't think there's a single thing wrong with listening to or watching something fun while working - we all have our "guilty pleasure" listening and viewing.

But what would happen if you started listening to/watching something that would help improve your business or feed your artistic soul? Maybe just one day a week?

I'm watching Seth Godin talking about the tribes we lead as I'm typing this. It's just 17 minutes long and I was able to write a blog post at the same time (while downloading skype for a videocall!).

But I'll be listening to one of my favorite playlists this afternoon while working on a new design, because the music I'll be listening to always helps me tap into my core.

If you don't currently listen to or watch programs/talks/podcasts/audiobooks that will help you grow as an artist/artisan or business owner ... try it! Try it one day this or next week. I'll even post a few suggestions a little later this afternoon.

What do you listen to or watch while you're working? And what might you think about trying out for a day a week?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Art, artisanal or craft?

I'm fascinated by the labels we artists, designers and artisans give ourselves, which says everything about how we perceive ourselves.

I dislike the word "craft" when used as a verb (come over and craft with me!).

However, I love "craft" when used as a noun (she learned her craft at the feet of her grandmother).

I grew up an artist (fine arts), then designer (typography, posters, graphic design, before the advent of computers), and now consider myself an artisan and designer.

I think this says something about how I see myself and my own business. I love bringing old ideas and techniques into my modern world. I love using artisanal materials (like handspun and dyed fiber). I love digging into the history behind a particular form of art or craft - the "art" of making that particular thing.

For me, "artisan" makes sense, particularly thinking about my love for artisanal materials and techniques.

Labels are just that: labels. But what we call ourselves says something about how we see ourselves.

So how do you see yourself?

Summer blossoms by Lori H.

Summer is a magical season, full of childhood memories involving sprinklers, lemonade stands, fireworks, watermelon, camping, and my mother's or grandmother's gardens.

The beautiful blossoms that you can find in Photography by Lori H.'s Etsy shop take me right back to a childhood in a teeny, tiny town, in my grandma's garden of old fashioned, brightly colored flowers. Thank you, Lori!

Images: Daisy, Passion

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Originality in the culture of copying

I wrote a weekly column for the popular papernstitch blog for a little more than a year called "Craft Venture." My last post (in May) was about originality in a culture of copying.

I'm fascinated by the concept of copying as a cultural norm. Love it or hate it, once something becomes ingrained culturally, change is very difficult to achieve.

Following is my original post. I'd love to hear your thoughts! Amy at Pikaland wrote about copying today (she's written a series of excellent posts on the subject). It's a challenging subject on many levels, which makes it all the more worthy of discussion!


Two topics sure to ignite passionate discussion in the world of art and craft are originality and copying. What a perfect topic for my last Craft Venture post on papernstitch!

I’ve thought quite a bit about what I’m calling “the culture of copying” in the handmade community. I’m not alone, as 198 (as of this writing) comments on this very topic will attest, on a recent decor8 post on this very topic!

There are so many facets and levels to defining what constitutes “copying.” Are we talking about actual copyright infringement? Trademark violation? Exact materials and colors that a competitor used? Tracing? Jumping to join the latest popular trend in art or craft?

Welcome to handmaken!

I've been plotting a new blog for more than a year. A blog focusing on the art, magic and myth behind what those who make and create things actually do.

The art of making. More specifically, the magic and myth of making.

But I wanted to also incorporate the business of what we do, and worried that readers would be put off by equating "art" with "business" (oh me ...).

Then, after thoroughly enjoying Seth Godin's latest book, Linchpin, realized just how silly my worries were. There is an art to business, as well as storytelling, as well as deep mythologies and psychologies, as well as making, as well as creating, as well as anything we do.

"Handmaken" brings to mind an old European artisanal world. Where people spent entire lifetimes mastering a craft. "Hand maken" is, literally, Dutch, for "make by hand" (mind you, I'm not fluent in Dutch and hope that my translation is accurate).

The word, "handmaken" hit me more than a year ago, as I spent a month or more brainstorming blog names. I'd come up with a great name, google it, and discard it. I was trying on a few names for size, the domains for which were already purchased (ah, technology). I was excited when I couldn't find blog names or domains already in use for handmaken, yay!

So welcome to handmaken! The beauty of a new blog is the thrill of the journey. Which I look forward to sharing with you!

I'll post a few of my more recent business-related posts to kick things off. I hope you'll feel free to engage in discussion (which I love) - I'll always engage right back.