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BookSmithStudio.com | Nikki Smith Book & Visual Artist

Handmade books and various art explorations

Archive for May, 2012

Music Was My First Love…Self Portait

May 15th, 2012 by Nikki Smith

OK, I was feeling a bit brave and daring!  I loved my guitar series so much that I just had to do a self-portrait… So, what do you think?

Music Was My First Love, Self Portrait by Nikki Smith (Digital Art Watercolor)
Copyright 2012 Nikki Smith of BookSmithStudio.com; All Rights Reserved. Model is Nikki Smith – me, myself and I. Fine art prints available up to 45″ x 60″

My husband likes the photography version, but I’m not quite *that* brave!  Seriously, though, I love the positive energy vibes that I get when listening to great music.  I feel like it is racing through my veins and I can do anything.  Nothing is impossible with the right sound track!

P.S.  ~ if I ever do get a tattoo, this would probably be it ~

UPDATE:  This was just voted the Coolest Image in Music on FineArtAmerica.com!

FineArtAmerica.com / Pixels.com – 8 Tips for Artists on Getting Discovered

May 12th, 2012 by Nikki Smith

Artist tips for getting discovered on Pixels.com and FineArtAmerica.com

With over 5.4 million pieces of artwork on FineArtAmerica.com and Pixels.com, the trick is to avoid being lost in the sea of art.  Here are some great ways to stand out from the crowd and get your artwork seen on FineArtAmerica.com / Pixels.com.

1. Use tags effectively

FAA allows up to 500 characters of tags, comma-separated.  Use them!  Enter relevant keywords for your artwork including variations.  Here are some brainstorming tips (first shared by Andy Smy) to get you started:

Literal – e.g. “boy, girl, children, beach, sun, sand, sky, car, shadow”.
Attributes – e.g. “happy, smiling, walking, blue, young, old”.
Location – be specific, e.g. “The White House, Washington DC, USA”; or generic, e.g. “office, school, home”.
Interaction – e.g. “chasing, playing, moving, touching, shouting, flying”.
Concepts – e.g. “heat, power, happiness, strength, humour, teamwork, tranquility etc”.
Broad subjects – e.g. “lifestyle, travel, sport and business”.
Techniques – e.g. “predominant colours or shapes, black and white, grainy, blurred, digital manipulation”.
Standpoint – e.g. side view, rear view, from above, from below
Environment – e.g. spring, summer, autumn, fall, winter, sunset, sunrise, indoor, outdoor, interior, exterior
Composition – e.g. close up, macro, extreme close up, low angled, full length, cut-out, isolated
Minimalism – e.g. nobody, empty
Redundant – e.g. shots, pictures, images, macros
Pose – e.g. looking at camera, smiling, angry, standing, lying, sitting, walking, facing front
Human – e.g. one man, three women, crowd, queue, group, people, person
Qualifiers – e.g. large, big, small, multi-generational, black, white, Caucasian
Abstract – e.g. odd, unusual, concept, quirky, funny, humour/humor
Decades – e.g. 1940s, 1950s, 1960s
Nationality – e.g. european, dutch, british, english, american

To which I would add:

Variations – typos, plural/singular, alternate spellings (color vs colour), two words vs. hyphenated (high-res, high res)

2.  Consider Niches

There are thousands and thousands of flower images.  It is far easier to be discovered under a search term with less competition…

3.  Participate in groups

Submit your images to groups where they are relevant.  Be sure to follow group guidelines — many limit your submissions to one image per day.  The groups are run by volunteers who spend considerable time managing image submissions, promoting the group and answering questions.  Be courteous and considerate of their time.

Also consider joining one of the many groups focused on promoting your artwork.  These groups have active memberships and valuable information in the discussions tab.  Here are a few I would recommend:

4.  Enter contests

This is a fun, low-pressure way to gain exposure for your artwork among your peers, and potentially comments, favs and votes on your image.  Plus, if you win it give you something to blog about!  🙂  You can also create a gallery within your FAA account for any Award Winning Artwork.

There are three types of contests in terms of how voting is handled: Juried, FAA Only (only members can vote), and General Public (anyone with a FaceBook account can vote).  Juried and FAA Only contests will tend to have the best images ranking the highest.  General Public contests can sometimes morph into popularity contests as a few participants will solicit votes on their FaceBook account (a practice that is frowned upon by many).  I choose not to solicit votes because it doesn’t feel right for me personally.  Whatever your opinion on the subject, be sure to abide by the rules of each contest.

5.  Comment on artwork

When you leave thoughtful, heart-felt comments on other artist’s images, they are likely to return the favor.  Consider voting for and favoriting artwork that you love.  Votes on images will help raise their rank in the internal search results.  When you see “v/f” in a comment, that is short for “voted” and “favorite.”  The images you comment on will also appear in your activity stream, and as you follow other artists (and as they follow you) it becomes a method of shared discovery.

6.  Sponsor pages

If you are on page 23 or page 78 of the search results, how many people will see your work?  Fine Art America / Pixels ranks search results by evaluating several criteria including sales, votes, comments, tags/keywords, etc.  It takes time (and a measure of good fortune) to improve your ranking.  They also reward artists for “sponsoring pages” by showing their artwork on the third row of the first page of results.  Yes, that’s right.  You can skip right to the front page of a keyword search by linking to that page from your blog or website.  For example, by having the below links in this post I am sponsoring each of these search terms and my artwork will appear in rotation on the third row with other artists sponsoring the same pages:

Ummm…overkill? LOL!

Here’s how (it’s easy):

  • Log-in to FineArtAmerica.com / Pixels.com
  • Search for artwork by using the keyword(s) of your choice.
  • Look above the third row of artwork.  There will be a link to “Sponsor this page” – click it.
  • Follow the directions!  FAA will provide you a snippet of code to place on your website or blog to link to that page.
  • Once you’ve added the link on your website, enter your URL in the box provided on the “Sponsor this page” form and press submit.  That’s it!

7.  Limited Time Promotions

This is a tool behind the scenes.  FAA has a special section on the website for limited time promotions.  There, you will be one of a few hundred images rather than one in 5.4 million.  Promotions run for no more than a week and you can offer between 1 and 25 canvas prints at a discounted rate you set.   You choose from one of several standard sizes and then choose your mark-up.  FAA will give you a special link that you can use in your marketing efforts.

8.  Promoting Elsewhere

Above all, remember that Fine Art America does not market your artwork for you – that’s your job!  They do provide an excellent print-on-demand service, but it is up to you to bring the traffic.

I hope this list has been helpful!

Guitar Siren by Nikki Smith

Guitar Siren by Nikki Smith
#17 on the Best Sellers

P.S. When I first published this post in May of 2012, there were 2.7 million pieces of art. Now there are over 5.4 million! My “Guitar Siren” (pictured at left) is currently number 17 on the Best Sellers page, so it is possible to get discovered with the right image and a little luck and effort!

Artwork featured on FineArtAmerica.com home page!

May 9th, 2012 by Nikki Smith

Wow, I’m honored!  My “Guitar Siren” has been featured on the home page of FineArtAmerica.com!

I unveiled this series of digital watercolor pieces last week.  Since then, three pieces in the series have won top awards in five fine art competitions.   “Guitar Lover’s Embrace” has won 1st place in the Life Is What Happens – Lost And Found competition and tied for 1st place in the Digital Manipulated Nude Photography contest; “My Guitar can SING” won 2nd in the Digital Mixed Media contest and 2nd in the Musical Instrument Abstracts competition, and  “Guitar Siren” (pictured above – model: Sarah Fleming) has tied for 2nd in the Altered Digital Photography competition.

Then this evening I was thrilled to learn that Fine Art America staff have chosen to feature Guitar Siren on their home page!  If you aren’t familiar with Fine Art America, they have over 2.7 million pieces of artwork by over 100,000 artists.  To be singled out for a feature on the home page is truly staggering.  I don’t know what to say — I’m so honored!  (Understatement!)  This to me is a real validation of my artwork and my drive to create.  My art is connecting and resonating with the people who view it.  What more can any artist ask?

I have been hard at work (OK, hard at play) creating more pieces in this musical series.  There are several more in my Music Lovers gallery , and I will leave you now with a glimpse of one new piece:

Violin Fine Art Prints

Good night!
~ Nikki

Music in my veins and art in my soul…

May 5th, 2012 by Nikki Smith


My Guitar can *SING* by Nikki Smith

Copyright 2012 Nikki Smith of BookSmithStudio.com; All Rights Reserved.  Fine art prints available up to 45″ x 60″!

Recently, I’ve been so busy creating art (and, I admit, getting distracted by life in general) that I realize I’ve neglected to blog about so many things!  Even big things like getting published – twice!  So I decided to correct that today (at least a little) by sharing my latest artwork series, inspired by music.

The below piece just tied for 1st place in a competition on Fine Art America this morning, which made my day!


Guitar Lover’s Embrace by Nikki Smith

 Copyright 2012 Nikki Smith of BookSmithStudio.com; All Rights Reserved.  Fine art prints available up to 45″ x 60″!
A kind thank-you to the beautiful model and photographer, Lina Tsu

I’ve decided that I love to create a body of work in a cohesive series whenever possible.  So, naturally, I couldn’t stop with just two.  Here are the next two in this series:


Sexy Saxophone by Nikki Smith

Copyright 2012 Nikki Smith of BookSmithStudio.com; All Rights Reserved.  Fine art prints available up to 45″ x 60″!


Guitar Siren by Nikki Smith

Copyright 2012 Nikki Smith of BookSmithStudio.com; All Rights Reserved.  Fine art prints available up to 45″ x 60″!
A kind thank-you to the beautiful and talented model Sarah Fleming.

I am very tempted to do one of these guitar art poses as a self-portrait, too.  I’m just short a guitar at the moment…

In keeping with the music theme, below is a great resource list of Public Domain and Creative Commons music and sounds.  If you have ever wanted to add (legal!) background music to a YouTube video, needed a stray sound effect or just love to explore new music this list is just what you need:

  1. IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library – over 67,000 music scores
  2. The Freesound Project – A variety of sounds such as: birdsong, thunderstorms, voice snippets
  3. ccMixter – Creative commons licensed music, perfect for backgrounds
  4. Wikipedia Soundlist – Thank-you again, Wikipedia!
  5. Digital History Project – From the University of Houston, this is an incredibly interesting collection of historical, public domain music divided by type and historical period. Jazz, the Gilded Age, the Civil War, World War 1, etc.
  6. Dewey Music – An organized way to search Archive.org’s public domain music
  7. Musopen – Plus, they also have a great collection of public domain sheet music

(Please double-check the license before downloading music files.)

I hope this list helps someone!  I know there are a ton of interesting resources out there.  What are your favorites?

Now, I mentioned that I’ve had a lot going on in my artistic life recently that I haven’t blogged about.  I didn’t want to cram everything into one post, so expect another post in the next week or so on my Steampunk collage mixed-media series (those are so fun to make!), or my patent artwork series, or my recently published artwork and articles…  Hmmm, what to share first?  In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little taste of music.

I’ll leave you with a question — what do you enjoy listening to when you create?  What music moves and inspires you?