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My beautiful husky Kiba died last week. He went unexpectedly, quietly, in my arms...wrapped in a blanket on the living room floor, in the only home he ever knew. He was 13 years old, and I loved him. He was more than "just a dog" to me. I work at home...we were always together. I was his pack leader, he was my family.

If you love my wolf masks and think they are beautiful, it's Kiba you see in them. He was the prettiest dog (everyone said so, everywhere we went) and living with his wild beauty every day made me a better artist. He was my muse and often my inspiration, and I'll miss him every day, forever.


Beach2 by merimask 

I'm doing my best to keep up with my order queue. Work is a good thing, but this house has never been so quiet and these are sad days. Thank you in advance for your understanding and patience, in a difficult time.



I am ~thrilled~ to be able to announce that my masks are appearing on stage all over the world right now, as part of Katy Perry's "Prismatic" world tour!  I created three modified versions of my Industrial Egyptian masks for costume designer Marina Toybina, and they are part of an extravagant, spectacular performance with an Egyptian theme.  

Great thanks to Allison Habel and Marina, for being so wonderful to work with.  Allison found me on my Facebook page...that's social media magic for you.  :) (Smile)
Merimask designs for Katy Perry by merimask
Thanks also to :iconarchaical: , for building this amazing graphic for me!

As always, you can find me at the following places:

Web site: merimask.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Merimask
Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/merimask

Waiting...waiting...

Journal Entry: Sat May 10, 2014, 8:33 AM


I have a big announcement to share SOON.  Just waiting for permission.  It's something really fun!  Stay tuned...

So excited to announce that I'm going to be speaking at a very fun open forum "art social" event in Toronto on Tuesday...a very sudden, unexpected opportunity that I just couldn't pass up. It's sponsored by Jane Siberry, a recording artist I've admired since I was in high school, so it's kind of a big deal for me.  :)
if you're in the area and you are interested in attending (good food, interesting  people, rub elbows with other artists and get to meet me in person), by all means please follow this link for more information. www.janesiberry.com/art_social…

busy busy...!

Journal Entry: Fri Mar 21, 2014, 10:42 AM
I love it when I nail the design for an important project on the first try...it's so satisfying.  It's better to ask all the questions and risk being a pest, rather than guess and fumble for the right design.  In the end the client is happiest when you save them money and time by being thorough. 

The project I'm working on...it's so cool.  I am not going to say anything to violate my contract with them but I WILL say that, when this thing hits, I'm going to sell every freaking piece in my Etsy shop and then adjust my price point.  It's that big a deal.  :)

Speaking of my Etsy shop, if you're looking to purchase something, do it SOON.  I'm shutting down in April for a while.  Taking a long-deserved trip!  I need a vacation.

Back to work, here.  So many things to do!

So much to do, so little time...

New developments that I can't discuss right now, but big news soon.  :)

Meanwhile I'm working on a new series of masks, definitely inspired by the Tumblr kerfuffle.  Feathers + animals = fun.  An endangered species series that's going to blow everyone away.  I already have a gallery interested in doing a themed show featuring them...very exciting!  Details when I have them.

I'll be speaking again at Buffalo's Burchfield-Penney Art Center; Buffalo State University's "Entrepreneurship in the Arts" program on March 13th.  Local people, feel free to contact the center.  I hope to see you there!
A most sincere thank you to everyone who left a comment on my last journal entry.  You were all wonderful and supportive and all those fabulous things.  I'm sorry I couldn't respond to every one of you, but your sympathy and understanding was greatly appreciated.

I'm still rather angry over the loss of my Tumblr (it didn't take long for someone who is NOT me to poach my old URL, either...good luck to them I guess.  If they think I'm going to pay them off to reclaim "Merimaskdesigns" on Tumblr they've got another think coming).  I guess it was a pretty popular blog.  My photo set of Onyx-Philomel wearing Industrial Anubis had gotten some pretty massive notes (almost 9,000) and my Venetian Foxes were up there too.  One photoset of a varied assortment of my masks had almost 40,000 notes.    All gone without a trace.  I hope the SJW trolls are pleased with themselves.

However, my Facebook fan page is experiencing a massive influx of new watchers, so that's nice. Sales at my shop are through the roof.  A number of new opportunities have opened to me as well, including a feature filmmaker who wants to collaborate.   All very good news. 

Is controversy really that good for business?  I sincerely hope not.  My poor heart can't take that kind of turmoil on a regular basis; it upsets my balance and cramps my creativity.  PT Barnum once said something like "There is no such thing as bad publicity", but then, he was a person who likes circuses.   Me, I'm not really into circuses.

Anyway, stay tuned to this channel for some new developments, new designs, and hopefully markedly less drama.  If you want to see my (almost nightly) updates from my desk, including the occasional video, just follow my Facebook page, here: www.facebook.com/Merimask?ref=…      
Starting Friday night, I attracted the attention of SJWs on Tumblr.

From Urban Dictionary:

 SJW
Social Justice Warrior. A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation. A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of. They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will "get SJ points" and become popular in return. They are very sure to adopt stances that are "correct" in their social circle.

The SJW's favorite activity of all is to dogpile. Their favorite websites to frequent are Livejournal and Tumblr. They do not have relevant favorite real-world places, because SJWs are primarily civil rights activists only online.

In a period of about 28 hours I received three death threats, several reblogs from people calling me a "witch" and a "bitch" and saw several cheerleaders who had previously called themselves "avid fans" of mine  urging their friends to "take me on" because I needed to be "schooled".  I was called a racist over 50 times, mostly by people who don't even know me and weren't even following my blog.  All in the name of social justice, because a piece of artwork I had made reminded too many of them of Native American art.

By Saturday night, frightened and angry, I'd had enough and deleted my entire Tumblr account.  I had worked very hard on that account, sharing the best pictures I could create of my artwork and gaining almost 1,300 followers in less than a year...basically providing Tumblr with premium content.   I left myself somewhat open, by allowing questions and comments from anyone on Tumblr, because just as I do here I think engaging and talking to young artists is a good way for us all to grow and learn.   My biggest mistake was that I overestimated my audience there.

And really, as artists, how can we possibly control something as amorphous as peoples' perceptions?  All art is about the potentiality of perception.  If a group of trolls wants to stereotype a culture down to its most basic artistic elements (say, beads + feathers = Native American art always, for example), then unless you CENSOR yourselves as artists, you are bound to run afoul of this type eventually on Tumblr.  And they are gleeful in their vehemence and cruelty.

I thought, as a nationally known artisan, I'd be immune to that kind of treatment.  I was wrong.

I am sending this out as a word of caution to all artists and other professionals in the arts; Tumblr, according to their TOS, cannot and will not protect you from cyberbullying on their site.  Even if you shut down all commentary, bullying is allowed in the form of reblogs which quickly go viral amongst troll communities.   It can escalate so rapidly for almost any reason that your entire experience is ruined, your site looks unprofessional, and you'll possibly be faced with threats of physical harm...with almost no legal recourse unless you take matters outside of Tumblr and contact local and state authorities.

Facebook had similar problems, but their "hide" and "block" features have been updated so that any artist or entity can protect themselves from this kind of activity.  DeviantArt too, has an effective block feature and will even track offenders through their ISP if you notify them of repeat offenders, so that they may not simply open new accounts and continue their bullying.  Tumblr has none of these protections beyond a weakly worded TOS admonition to basically play nice. 

Tumblr is nothing without content.  Artists provide content.  For free.  And I don't think we should be subjected to the whims of rabid gangs of unregulated trolls for doing so.

So as I said, I have deleted my account and would urge other artists to think twice before opening a Tumblr account.  To be frank, it wasn't a great venue for me anyway.  In spite of many notes and reblogs I saw very little traffic coming to my business site from there.  All it got me were death threats, abuse, and a newfound mistrust of all social media venues.

I have sent this message to Tumblr, and am preparing a press release to the same effect. 

Commentary as always, is welcome.  Please be aware, though, that this is DeviantArt and not Tumblr.  I'll know who you are.

EDIT: Everyone, I think you should know; I've prepared and sent articles describing this whole event and Tumblr's non-response as a press release. Already heard back from Daily Dot and Huff post, and it will be published. Also, I contacted Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and my congressman Brian Higgins, and both of them are telling me they are working on new legislation aimed at Tumblr in specific and a few other social media sites, to track bullies and put an end to cyberbullying, and hold the providers of these sites responsible for the conduct of their uses. Senator Gillibrand asked me if it was ok for her to use my story on the senate floor. I said it was.
So in a weird way I'm sort of glad they messed with me. Because I'm actually a ~real~ activist and I know how to get things done.
         
Thank you for all the kind and helpful responses on my last journal entry regarding copyright infringement woes.  A bunch of issues have been put to rest, so that's good news.  Thank you, also, for helping me by reporting some of the worst offenders...Alibaba has removed about 80% of the listings (that I know of) that had lifted my images illegally.  They were using them to "bait and switch" which is so disgusting, I can't even...  :/ 

Aside from all that, I'm keeping myself busy and trying not to get too upset anymore (because it is really monumentally bad for my physical and emotional health).  To be proactive, I've started putting big fat obnoxious watermarks on everything.  It cuts down drastically on the number of views/shares I used to get.  But then, it also probably cuts down on the amount of image and design theft that seems rampant here on DA so...you take the good with the bad I guess.  Even if I get less views, I still prefer the watermarks. I used to get a sick feeling when I'd find my images showing up all over the place with absolutely no credit or link to me whatsoever.

And frankly I'm proud of that watermark (and you should all be proud of yours too, if you use them) the same way I'm proud of my signature on every mask I make. It's my mark. I've thought about it. The kind of people who won't share or look at my art because it has my mark on it are the kind of people I don't want looking at it anyway.
I've been very discouraged and disappointed lately in the massive amount of copyright infringement I've been confronted with.  I feel like I'm supplying free design development for every talentless, unimaginative hack in the world, and it's got me down.

I'm involved in no less than three suits right now, and it's breaking me financially.  Legalities prevent me from saying who they are against...but they stalk my blog and mine my sites for designs on a daily basis, so I bet they're reading this right now.  All I have to say to these people is this; it's NOT cool to steal someone's designs and call them your own.  That "three differences added and it's MINE" defense only works for fashion design, not art, so get that idea out of your head.  Merimask is a trademark, and I've been busily linking all my copyrights to my trademark, and all registered under the category of "art", not "fashion".  Trademarked elements are always protected.  Underselling a popular artist with cheap badly-made versions of their own designs isn't just cowardly and lacking in character; you're going to be liable for royalties/damages by the time I get through with you.  And yes, I'll fight this if I have to take a second mortgage out on my house.  It's a matter of principle now. 

That said, I have to tell all my fans and followers this; I'm learning quite a lot about copyright infringement in the modern era via my attorney, and I wasn't aware that really, public campaigns against infringement are not only completely legal, it's encouraged.  There's no such thing as defamation or slander if what you're saying is the truth. I get notices ~daily~ from DevArt followers and friends, showing me this or that example of either my images or my designs being exploited in ways I wasn't aware of and do not sanction.

So do me this favor; if you see something of mine out there, and it's on someone's site and you don't see "merimask" anywhere in the credits, call them on it.  Or if you see an online craft shop and some hack is trying to sell a clockwork rabbit mask with all my design elements on it, badly executed and priced at a third of mine, supply them with a link to my original and ask them how they sleep at night.  You can do this.  It's perfectly ok for you to do this.

I'm very visible and that makes me very vulnerable to this kind of crap.  You don't have to be bitten by a big shark to bleed to death in this ocean; hundreds of bites from little fish can kill you too.  At this point I'm having a hard time wanting to keep coming up with new designs.  Not for lack of ideas, but because I'm sick of seeing everything I come up with copied within weeks (or even days) of inception.  I started making art so that I could support myself, and now it seems like I'm making art to support perfect strangers with no scruples.

But here's the good part; I KNOW there are so many people out there who really love what I do.  I've always been open and encouraging towards new artists and I've been an active part of the online art community, and I've made many friends out there.  If there's an army of copycats and cheats, there's also an army of admirers, customers and supporters of my art.   I'm certain of it.

I'm asking you guys to be proactive.  Don't get abusive, don't be trolls.  Do link sources when confronting a copycat or thief.  I have completely documented every one of my designs in my DevArt gallery here...everything is dated, copyright-protected, and unalterable proof that I came up with my design when I say I did, and you are welcome to share those links and images in public for everyone to see. 

Don't let me bleed to death alone here. 

Copyright infringement ahoy...

Journal Entry: Sun Jan 12, 2014, 7:05 PM


Digital piracy of your images is no joke.  Manufacturers, individuals and entities in certain Asian countries are having a ~field day~ at the expense of DeviantArt. 

Please check this site here for your images---> www.etsy.com/shop/CoolStyleClo…   I know there are thousands, but I found two of mine there.  One is still there:  www.etsy.com/listing/173768211…; Look familiar?  It's my "Grinning Cat", which is right here from DeviantArt, in my gallery.  Don't bother reporting this image...I've already done it. 

That's not the only place.  These same items are in Amazon and on eBay, and on a third website as well, and those are just the ones I know of.  Look at this:   www.amazon.com/S1293-Egypt-Anu…  
...and this:  www.coolstyleclothing.com/s129…  That'd be the Anubis With Collar that I shared here in October.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  I saw a LOAD of fanart-type images from The Legend Of Zelda, Bleach, and anime too numerous to name...all undoubtedly stolen from DeviantArt just like my images were.

The shop sites to check: 
www.amazon.com/gp/aag/main?ie=…  (may take you to the Amazon main page...where you can do a search for a storefront called "coolstyleclothing"
www.coolstyleclothing.com/
stores.ebay.com/superb-shirt/C…

Want to know what to do?  If you see your artwork on one of these phone cases, send what is called a "take down notice".  You'll have to print it and sign it and put it in a mailbox the old fashioned way, because it requires an actual signature.  Some sites accept an electronic signature.  I don't monkey around.  I send hard copies. 

The wording should go something like this:

Re: Copyright Claim

To the ISP Hosting Company (fill in the name here..Amazon, Etsy...whatever):

I (state your name in full) am the copyright owner of the photographs (or art) being infringed at: (include the pirate's website address, shop address, listing URLs...everything pertinent to your images that have been stolen)

Copies of the photographs being infringed are included to assist with their removal from the infringing websites. (include links to your DevArt images...they're all date stamped and proof of copyright belonging to YOU is at the bottom of each image)

This letter is official notification under the provisions of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to effect removal of the above-reported infringements. I request that you immediately issue a cancellation message as specified in RFC 1036 for the specified postings and prevent the infringer, who is identified by its web address, from posting the infringing items to your servers in the future. Please be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to “expeditiously remove or disable access to” the infringing photographs upon receiving this notice. Noncompliance may result in a loss of immunity for liability under the DMCA.

I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of here is not authorized by me, the copyright holder, or the law. The information provided here is accurate to the best of my knowledge. I swear under penalty of perjury that I am the copyright holder.

Please send me at the address noted below a prompt response indicating the actions you have taken to resolve this matter.

Sincerely,

(sign your name in ink here)

(be sure to include all your contact information, including email, phone number, and home address)

(date it)


No, you can not do this on behalf of other people...it has to come from you, the artist being infringed upon. 

No, you do not need a lawyer to do this for you. 

No, I do not have the address for Amazon legal handy (or ebay, or Etsy)...all that info is under the "contact" link on their websites. 

No, you will not be compensated for any sales that these pirates make from your images...this is just a take down notice.  But it will get them to stop using your images.  Suing Asian manufacturers is costly and rarely successful.


Disclamer: I am not a lawyer.  I'm just providing information that is widely available.  Do not contact me in a legal capacity; I cannot serve as an agent for you in your case.  You, like me, are on your own.


Good luck.  


Edit:  :iconwallawallabigguy: has kindly supplied a link for a service that will search a site for pirated images.  It will save hours of exhausting searching, as some of these sites have thousands of products.  Here's the link: www.tineye.com/




 

Calling on all you internet angels out there...a really sweet lady and a friend of mine received the Christmas gift of a lifetime; a kidney transplant. She has been in kidney failure since 2010 and the procedure was the only thing (along with constant dialysis treatments) that could save her life.

A costly miracle though, for a family on a very limited budget. If anyone wants to help make her burden a bit lighter, it would mean a great deal to her and her family. Please consider giving what you can.

The donation website that her sister made for her:  www.giveforward.com/fundraiser…
What a busy season...I need three of me to do all the things I need to do.  But, alas, there is only me.

I've been handed an amazing opportunity.  Via networking, I've hooked up with a local professional fashion photographer, and he did a photo shoot with a few of my masks.  The pictures I've received so far are just stunning. 
Ray S Colombina by merimask

*Fashion photography by Raymond Sopczuk /Sopczuk Photography. Model; Marie Christiana

I'm also offering a limited in-store coupon for the holidays (actually it was my Cyber Monday coupon but I decided to extend it).  From now until December 9th, 2013, use coupon code MERIHOLIDAY and get 10% off everything in stock.  I'm also offering free shipping to the USA and Canada for another couple of weeks.  My Etsy store is here: www.etsy.com/shop/merimask

I hope everyone is having a safe and fun holiday season.  It's time for me to back away from the computer and string up some lights!  :)
I’ll be sharing this again as we approach the air date, but look for my black-and-silver fox mask to appear in season three, episode 4 of this fall’s ABC TV show “Once Upon A Time”. Episode 304 (Nasty Habits) airs October 20th. This mask (no, I don’t know which character will be wearing the black fox)…right here!
3 Flowers by merimask

You can purchase this design (while it’s in stock) and many others at my online shop: www.etsy.com/shop/merimask
Okay!  I don't usually do this, but I just received the MOST adorable ball-jointed dragon doll from a pair of very talented artists and I ~must~ share. I'm totally in love with this little guy. He's ferret-sized, completely poseable, and SO CUTE...I wish he was alive so I could feed him treats and take him for walkies. Their website is here: www.wormsandbones.com/

Profile by merimaskFace by merimask
Whole Body by merimask
Animal-friendly product, since it's a resin cast with fake fur, and NO wire armature...100% ball-jointed so he should last forever.  Every pose I put him in is cuter than the last.


Standing Steps by merimask
He reminds me of the luck dragon in "The Neverending Story" so I named him Lucky.  :)

Anyway...they take custom color requests at their shop, here ---> www.wormsandbones.com/
...and they also have ready-to-ship dolls at their Etsy shop, here --->  www.etsy.com/shop/wormsandbone…

And am I ordering one colored like Haku from "Spirited Away"??  You're darn right I am.  :)






Tumblr

Journal Entry: Mon Apr 8, 2013, 7:49 AM


For absolutely NO good reason (because my plate is full enough) I just opened a Tumblr account. It's here: merimaskdesigns.tumblr.com/
Right now it's ugly as hell. I don't really know how to customize my page yet. I suspect it's not going to be much different from what I have going on here, but if you have a Tumblr account please feel free to follow me. :)

It seems to be graphics-heavy, which is what I like best. There are so many amazing images! And it's super flattering to see how many of my Etsy listings and DevArt pictures are one there, shared by hundreds of people (with links and credit given, which is so cool!). I always wonder why some of my DA entries seem to end up with thousands of hits in a hurry...I think it's because of Tumblr.

How I Got Started...

Journal Entry: Tue Apr 2, 2013, 1:16 PM


A journal entry from a friend prompted me to think about my beginnings as a mask maker.  When I started making masks about 25 years ago (wow!) it was totally on a whim. I was born drawing. My fantasy art, when I was a kid, was pretty standard stuff (dragons, unicorns, things with wings) but I always had a good sense of design and color. I'd been dabbing in leather art...doing tooling on archery bracers and things of that nature. Nothing particularly spectacular or uncommon really but it ~was~ a good thing that I concentrated on tooling and carving first because I perfected my technique in that respect long before the masks happened.

Back then, NO ONE made masks out of heavy leather with detailed tooling. It just wasn't done. Masks of leather were either thick and plain or thin and swirly/curly in the Venetian style. People used molds for the thick masks, and molds press and mar carving. People used their hands shaping the thin leather, but obviously the thin leather wasn't suitable to carve. I was a ~carver~ and I liked detail and texture. Because of all the carving I was doing, my hands were strong. I've always loved sculpting with clay. 3-d sculpture was another hobby of mine. Leather was so pliable when soaking wet, i noticed...it was just a matter of "hey why not?". I like figuring things out on my own...it's my one real strength. It was a natural thing for me to experiment with different water temperatures, different degrees of soaking, and then different oven temperatures until I figured out how to get maximum pliability with minimal distortion of the tooling work.

My first mask was a fox...I remember that distinctly. A red fox. It was not good. But it had hairs carved over every inch of it and I was very proud of it, and it didn't look like ANYTHING else out there. That, alone, was enough to keep me working at it. :)

My advice to artisans (and traditional artists for that matter) who are struggling with "finding a style"; find your own way!  It's too easy today to just look up almost anything you want to make online.  There's a certain amount of grace involved in secluding yourself from outside influences, artistically speaking, and just ~playing~ with a medium.    If you are downloading line art or copying manga characters or buying craft kits from a chain store or buying patterns from other artisans, you'll have loads of fun but you're not really doing anything new.  Play around and don't be afraid to make a load of experimental botched pieces.  My path to professional maskmaking was paved with a load of singed leather and ugly lopsided masks.  :)  You need to accept that being unique means there will be a certain amount of stumbling and fumbling.  If you fear failure, you'll never succeed.

On pricing your artwork and creating a career...

Journal Entry: Thu Mar 21, 2013, 8:28 AM


I am going to be speaking at an "Entrepreneurship In The Arts" program later today, and I've been organizing my thoughts.  One subject that is certain to come up; "how do you arrive at a fair price for your original artwork?"  I have some definite ideas regarding that question.

I was always told that the accepted model for artists and artisans, when it comes to pricing, was double your costs for materials, figure out an hourly price (double that for your retail price if you plan to have wholesale/retail differentials), add it up and there's your item price.  I think this model is pure bullshit.

I was also told "charge what the market will bear!"  Again, vague bullshit.  What if you live in a depressed area?  What if you live in a third world country?  What if you're at some artist's ally at a little convention and there is a kid sitting next to you selling her character sketches for $5 each?  

Here is what I think.  There are so many variables when it comes to pricing original art.  You shouldn't base your prices on materials.  Some artwork, like watercolors for example, can be produced with very little overhead.  Some art is entirely digital...no supplies necessary whatsoever!  Some artwork is created with found objects or natural objects...what if your art costs absolutely nothing for you to create it?  It's really what you DO with your materials that creates the value.  Charge for your skill...not your materials.

If you pay yourself by the hour, you might as well go into some other skill trade.  Be a plumber or a lawyer or a factory worker.  You are ~incredibly fortunate~ to be an artist.  You're in a trade where your hours DO NOT MATTER.  You are not trading time for money, like almost everyone else in the world has to, or at least you shouldn't be.  You're trading skill, vision, and technical artistic ability for money, and those are rare commodities.  Don't you dare price your art based on how long it took you to make it.  Do you really think it's okay to charge $20 for a drawing because it only took you a few minutes to do it?  That's a mistake.  Add all the years of your life, plus a few minutes, because that's really how long it took you to do that drawing.  Add the value of your innate ability to create art, plus the few minutes (or hours, or days) that you took to create that art.  Add every mistake you ever made, every sketch you messed up, every practice piece you did, all the hours of sweat and failure you endured while striving to create your own unique style. What is that worth?  $10 an hour?  $20?  $50?  And what if you get better at it, faster at it as the years go by and you perfect your skill...do you charge less because it took less time?  It's an exercise in futility to come up with a formula for pricing your artwork based on the time it took you to make it, so don't even bother.

Instead (and here is where we are all incredibly fortunate to be born in the time we live in) base your price on what the GLOBAL market will bear.  You have the tools handy to do this pricing research right here at your fingertips; just fire up your laptop/tablet/PC and get to searching.  Look for artwork you like, look for artisan crafts similar to your own.  Figure out what your genre is and go there for answers.  Compare prices (there will be a range) and be critical of your own work as it pertains to the global conglomerate of all the other similar artwork out there.  Is your stuff still amateurish?  Are you still learning?  Is it derivative/heavily influenced by a particular style that you see everywhere?  Then price yourself at the lower range while you continue to develop as an artist.  If your pieces are unique, you're creating them in a professional way, your quality is as good as you can possibly produce (and consistent!) and your work ethic is strong, you should be charging at the high end.  

You may just be the person who is happy creating mediocre, poorly-executed character drawings/ cheaply made crafts for fun, and in that case by all means, charge a few bucks for your work and enjoy the pocket change you are making.   I have known very few true artists who feel that way...most of the good ones are driven to improve and excel and won't even consider selling the work they don't feel good about.  So I really don't think that someone who considers him or herself "an artist" should ever be underselling their work to get by if they are confident in their artistic vision, ability to execute, and quality of work.   If you're making beautiful, unique work and you're still not happy with the amount you are getting paid for it, you're doing something wrong.  If you say "but I CAN'T charge more for my work because then no one will buy it", then you have to ask yourself three questions: Is your work not as good as you think it is?  Are you taking the time to showcase your work in the most professional manner possible?  Are you selling your work in the wrong place?  All those problems can be fixed if you just work harder and smarter...if you are truly an artist, you'll be willing to do both those things.

The biggest mistake (and I've been very guilty of this in the past, though in my defense it was because the venue simply didn't exist when I was "coming up" as an artist) is pricing yourself for a certain market.  It'll almost always warp your perception of your art's value.  If you live in an economically depressed area, you may be told to "be happy" with whatever you can get at the local art fair.  If you sell at conventions you'll be competing for the limited funds that young people/students will be able to spend on art.  If you're doing the craft show thing...good luck.  Everyone wants a bargain basement deal.  You might have fun hanging out at the art fair (and for that reason alone it might just be "worth it" for you, if that's your goal), but if you want to really make a LIVING as an artist you'll come away feeling undervalued, and your idea about what art is worth will suffer.  

Instead, price yourself for a GLOBAL market.  Do those searches...seek out other professionals on line.  Forget about what's happening in your local scene.  The tools are all there for you to use, so use them!   There's never been a better time to be a self-representing artist.  You don't need an agent, you don't need a gallery to represent you, you don't need a storefront (I have none of those things).  You just need your skill and your vision and the willpower to go to work in your own best interest.  Learn how to create accurate digital images of your best work (photoshop skills are a must), learn how to write decent copy, learn how to use social networking to your advantage, and get working.

An Afternoon At The Opera!

Journal Entry: Tue Feb 5, 2013, 8:54 AM


Just a quick announcement!

My masks are appearing on stage NOW in the Metropolitan Opera production of "Rigoletto". There will be one live broadcast of a performance on Saturday, February 16th in theaters worldwide...just go to this link and click on the left for tickets at theater locations no matter where you live. :)
www.metoperafamily.org/metoper…

Updates!

Journal Entry: Tue Nov 20, 2012, 11:20 PM
Wow...it has been TOO LONG since I updated my journal here.  I've had my busiest summer ever.  In fact, it's been my busiest year ever.  I think I've reached some kind of threshold or turned a corner or something...pick your metaphor.  But basically I'm almost TOO busy and definitely moving into a different realm of mask-making.  And that's a good thing.  It's nice to finally be taken seriously as an artist (not an easy thing to do for a self-representing outsider who didn't go to an important art school and has never had a gallery show of her own).

This summer I spent a great deal of time making masks for the Metropolitan Opera, which was a huge honor and very exciting.  I have to say, of all the different theatrical productions I've ever designed for, their art direction was the best.  I can't share pictures (or even go into detail regarding the show I worked on), because it hasn't opened yet and The Met gets dibs on the big reveal, but as soon as I can share those pictures believe me I will!  

In other news, my white fox mask has an important starring role in a cool independent film called (drum-roll); "White Fox Mask"!  Yes really.  I finally made it to the big screen.   A GWYCKY FILMS production...official website here: www.gwyckyfilms.com/home.html  You can see the trailer here:  vimeo.com/gwyckyfilms/whitefox…  I haven't seen it yet, actually, and I can't wait!  It seems cool, a little creepy...just the kind of movie I like.  :)  I hope it's just the beginning of more to come.

Doors keep opening for me.  It's an exciting, exhausting time.  As ever, I am FULL of new ideas, and new designs just keep popping into my head.    I'm doing my very best to keep the shop stocked with pretty new pieces, but I'm limiting custom orders at this time.  I understand I could probably JUST make the same wolf mask and kitsune mask a thousand times and sell them instantly...but I have no interest in doing that, really.  The only way to stay fresh is to constantly challenge yourself, and making the same mask 500 times is not a challenge; it's manufacturing.   So hopefully people will understand that.

Meanwhile, whenever I add a new mask to my repertoire I'll do my best to share it here.  I always cross-post new masks to my Facebook fan page (  www.facebook.com/Merimask?ref=… ).  My only online shop, as ever, is here: (merimask.etsy.com ), and hey, Etsy is selling gift cards now and my shop accepts them!  So, if you have had your eye on a mask and just can't quite swing it financially, the holidays are a great time to request an Etsy gift card from family/friends.  Here's a link to the gift card page: www.etsy.com/giftcards?ref=si_… ...just to make thigs easier for you.  :)  Etsy also accepts credit cards without Paypal now, so if you have no Paypal account, no problem.  Onward and upward...  

I hope you are all well and happy and busy creating new things!  Ciao for now...
Andrea

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