The employment outlook for creative talent is expected to remain relatively steady in the second half of 2017, according to a survey of advertising and marketing executives by The Creative Group staffing firm.
Just 9 percent of the executives surveyed said they plan to expand their teams. The majority (64 percent) anticipate maintaining staff levels and hiring primarily to fill vacated roles. About 4 percent of executives said they planned to reduce positions and 21 percent said they would be freezing employment (not filling vacated positions or creating new positions).
The executives who said they plan to add staff will be adding employees in one or more positions, including:
Account services: 24 percent
Mobile design/development: 21 percent
Marketing research: 21 percent
Public relations: 20 percent
Social media: 19 percent
Customer experience: 18 percent
Web design/production: 18 percent
Digital marketing: 18 percent
Print design/production: 18 percent
Brand/product management: 17 percent
Interactive media: 17 percent
Copywriting: 16 percent
Media services: 16 percent
Content marketing: 15 percent
Creative/art direction: 14 percent
Recruiting Challenges Persist
Forty-five percent of advertising and marketing executives said it’s challenging to find creative professionals today. Hiring managers at large advertising agencies (100 or more employees) expect the greatest difficulty, with 67 percent reporting it’s somewhat or very challenging to identify the talent they seek. According to survey, the hardest roles to fill are those in media services, customer experience, and account services.
To overcome recruiting challenges, companies may expand their search geographically. Forty-five percent of executives said they are now more willing to look outside their city or state to find the right person for a creative position than they were three years ago.
“Demand for digital content and services continues to grow, and companies struggle to find professionals well-versed in the latest platforms and strategies used to create unique and positive customer experiences,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “Given strong competition for these highly skilled individuals, employees need to take a proactive and streamlined hiring approach to secure top talent.”
The Creative Group Blog offers tips on hiring creative professionals in a competitive market and advice for job-seekers.
About the Research
The national study was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on more than 400 telephone interviews — with approximately 200 marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees, and 200 advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.
The Creative Group specializes in connecting interactive, design, marketing, advertising, and public relations talent with the best companies on a project, contract-to-hire, and full-time basis. Visit roberthalf.com/creative group.
If you sell art online, you might be encouraged by some online art sales statistics reported in the 2017 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report. Hiscox is an international provider of specialized insurance to small businesses and property owners.
According to the Hiscox report, online art sales reached an estimated $3.75 billion in 2016, up 15 percent from 2015. This gives the online art market an 8.4 percent share of the overall art market (up from 7.4 percent in 2015).
The online art market is predicted to reach $9.14 billion by 2022.
“For those who say the online art market has had its day, it hasn’t even had it’s morning yet. It’s still waking up,” says Robert Read, head of art and private clients at Hiscox.
Most online sales are for works priced below $5,000. In the 2017 survey, 79 percent of online art buyers said they spend less than $5,000 per piece. This is up from 67 percent in 2015.
People who have purchased art online once continue to buy art online. About 65 percent of previous online art buyers purchased more than one artwork in 2016.
Fully 91 percent of online art buyers surveyed said the quality of art available is one of the most important elements in their decision to buy art online. They reject the notion that the online art market is a dumping ground for works that can’t be sold offline.
Some art lovers continue to be hesitant about buying art online. Some fear the physical art will look different from the online image. Or, buyers worry that the condition of the artwork might be different from what was anticipated. About 73 percent of the hesitant buyers surveyed said they would like to speak to a human expert before making a decision to buy art online. Others would be interested in reviews and feedback from previous clients. Shipping options and return policies also matter.
Instagram has overtaken Facebook as the preferred social media platform for promoting and discovering art. Fifty-seven percent of art galleries said Instagram is the most effective in terms of raising awareness. About 35 percent of galleries said Instagram is driving direct sales, compared to only 7 percent of respondents who mentioned Facebook.
About $720 million in online art sales in 2016 came through online auctions by Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Heritage Auctions. This represents about 19 percent of online art sales.
For most traditional galleries, e-commerce isn’t a major sales channel. About 59% said online purchases account for less than 5 percent of their sales. The 18 percent of galleries that derive most of the sales from direct online sales deal in collectibles such as watches, design, furniture, and photography.
About 49 percent of galleries who sell art online do so through a third-party e-commerce platform.
Some online art platforms (29 percent) have either established a brick-and-mortar gallery space or are thinking about doing so.
The report predicts online auctions will become a key battlefield this year. Virtually every online art platform has started to offer an online auction services.
To help further grow the market, online art platforms will seek ways to build trust with current and potential buyers. Expect them to offer buyers more background information the artist and the object. They may also boost the educational experience by producing more informative and interesting content.
Methodology and More Information
The 2017 Hiscox Online Art Trade report is based on a survey of 758 art buyers from ArtTactic’s client mailing list and a survey of 132 galleries and dealers representing a wide range of art and collectibles. The report also includes insights from one-to-one interviews and online surveys of key staff at online art platforms.
Some people envision freelancing as an escape from some of the more unpleasant aspects of full-time work — difficult bosses, office politics, rigid schedules, daily commutes, and unrewarding work. The truth is: freelancing may not really be much of an escape.
Yes, you do get the flexibility to work when and where you want to. But you won’t always be doing work that you love. Often, you must act as your own accountant, marketing person, and IT guy. (Your computer will crash when your workload is the heaviest and the deadlines are the tightest.) Freelancing can quickly become like a never-ending job search as you keep your eye out for new opportunities and write proposals for potential new clients.
Unless you prepare yourself for the realities of freelancing, you may struggle with an unstable and unpredictable cash flow, unexpected expenses, and the challenges of doing unfulfilling work for many difficult bosses.
The guide consolidates a lot of practical advice about some of the pain points and long-term challenges. For example:
Income isn’t guaranteed.
Not every hour you work is billable.
Employers don’t pay for your benefits (including holidays and vacations).
Financial due diligence is a must.
The guide notes that, “You need a head for business, especially when it comes to finances and expenses. It’s not just about taxes; you also have to learn about accounting, billing, licensing, and contracts. All of that extra work can be tough if you’re slammed during work hours with freelance projects.”
In the section of the guide about “Business Structure and Registration,” the authors discuss the advantages of formally establishing a business if you’re planning to build a long-term freelance career: “A registered business can shield you from personal liability and provide tax advantages. Less tangible (but equally important), a registered business builds legitimacy, so your clients forget you’re working from home in your pajamas.”
In the guide, you’ll learn about the need to set aside sufficient funds for estimated quarterly taxes and retirement. Setting aside funds can be difficult because when you freelance: “It’s tough to predict when money will come in and easy to say, ‘I’ll save when it does.'” Many new freelancers forget about taxes and some report that they haven’t been able to pay their taxes at some point.
In order to stay in the black throughout the year, you need to book a variety of projects and should know where your work will be coming from for at least the next six months.
When pricing your work, don’t make the mistake of basing your rate on the salary you earned as a full-time employee. Your take-home pay didn’t take into account some of the new expenses you will face as freelancer, such as FICA taxes, health insurance, materials, and travel.
If you are offered a project that will take several months to complete, don’t be afraid to ask for an up-front deposit. Your client shouldn’t expect you to devote months of your time to an assignment, then wait an additional 30 to 50 days after the project is finished to get paid.
The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guide consolidates a wealth of other practical advice about
managing your finances
what to do if you’re not getting paid
setting your freelance rate
how to find great freelance jobs and submit proposals
building your brand, portfolio, and professional network
Whether you choose to build a career as a freelancer or find yourself doing freelance work out of necessity, The Simple Dollar offers sound financial advice. Their tips and recommended resources can help you avoid some painful lessons that can wreak havoc on your bank account.
Digital printing technology has advanced so rapidly it’s hard to imagine everything the newest printers can be used for.
This is particularly true of “direct-to-substrate” flatbed printers that use UV-curable inks to print images on many types and thicknesses of rigid and flexible materials. Dye-sublimation printers are also amazingly versatile. With dye-sublimation printing, images can be permanently infused into polyester fabrics and polymer-coated metals, woods, ceramics, and plastics.
So how might artists and designers take advantage of these types of printers?
To help answer this question, Roland DGA invited artist and Roland-printer-user Bonny Pierce Lhotka to host a 3-day Imaginarium project at their headquarters in Irvine, California. Lhotka, author of the book ‘Hacking the Digital Print,’ helps creative professionals understand how photographic images can be manipulated and output or transferred to dozens of different surfaces. She has experimented with creative photo composition and printmaking techniques to create original mixed-media artworks on many surfaces beyond art papers and canvas.
During the Roland Imaginarium event, six artists, photographers, and multimedia designers made art with Roland VersaUV flatbed and roll-to-roll inkjet printers and Texart dye-sublimation printers. Jay Roberts, product manager for UV devices at Roland DGA, led a team of printing experts who helped the Imaginarium artists experiment with different processes, materials, and machines.
Artist Dorothy Simpson Krause came up with two imaginative projects: a limited edition art book in a decorated aluminum box and WarZone, a traveling board game.
“Ladies of the Night” is a concertina book, meaning that the pages are printed in one continuous strip and folded like an accordion; the pages can be viewed without the need for book-binding adhesives.
For this project, a 9.5 x 57-inch print was folded to 12 pages (9.5 x 11.5 inches each). It was housed in a 10 x 12-in. aluminum box that was printed with an image from the book.
The pages featured digitally manipulated photographs Krause had taken in 2003 of twin performance artists Abigail and Emily Taylor for a series called “Body + Soul.” Text on the final page of the “Ladies of the Night” book provides statistics about prostitution in the United States.
“My project had several distinct challenges,” says Krause. “The ink needed to be as rich on the reverse as on the front and not soak into the uncoated back side. The prints had to be scored and folded into pages without having inks crack on the edges of folds. And the images on the back and front of the 57-inch long print had to be perfectly aligned.”
Jay Roberts recommended ways to resolve these issues. The books was printed with Roland’s Eco-UV S ink on a VersaUV LEC printer/cutter which was designed for a range of flexible materials used in package printing.
The Eco-UV S ink is dense and flexible and was designed to shrink or stretch when wrapping vehicles.
For the “Ladies of the Night” book, the ink produced deep rich blacks on both the coated and uncoated surfaces of Roland’s Premium Matte Paper. And the ink didn’t crack when the pages were folded. A scoring machine was used to make indentations for folding the pages.
“The paper and ink were so heavy, it would have been difficult to score the pages by hand,” says Krause.
A Roland VersaUV LEF-300 flatbed printer was used to print the aluminum box in which the book would be housed. To replicate the look and feel of an embossed book cover, a layer of clear gloss ink was applied to the letters of the book title.
To prepare the image the cover image for the box, the white on the costume was selected in Photoshop, saved as a spot channel and designated to print as a 100% white base layer on the aluminum. After the image layer was printed, the clear gloss layer was applied, using a file that included only the letters of the image with the red omitted.
Before the box was printed, the edges were taped to keep them clean from overspray from the printer. An outline template was printed on the surface of the flatbed to ensure consistent placement as the layers were printed.
As an add-on to the book project, Krause used Roland’s Texart RT-640 Dye Sublimation printer to transfer six images from the book onto 11 x 14 –inch aluminum panels that had been painted white and treated with a polymer coating.
The images were first printed in reverse with dye-sub inks onto dye-sub-transfer paper. The image transfer occurred when the prints were subjected to a controlled amount of heat and pressure in a flatbed heat press. During the heat transfer process, the inks became gases that permeated the coated surface of the metal. The print are very durable and scratch resistant and feel smooth to the touch.
“The white details of the costume are crisp and vibrant, while the underlying metals provides a glowing reflectivity,” said Krause.
War Zone: A Game Without Winners
“War Zone” is a traveling board game with no winners. The suitcase-like polystyrene box, game board, spinner, and “us” and “them” checker-like magnets were all printed on a Roland devices.
After printing an outline for the box on the surface of the UV VersaUV LEF 300 flatbed printer, the box a white layer was printed under the entire title, followed by a layer of gray and red. Ink. Two layers of gloss ink was printed over the “War Zone” title to provide an embossed-like effect.
The box was lined with contour-cut board printed with an image of the first atomic bomb blast and text about the nature of armed conflict and human aggression. A spinner board was contour cut and printed with a map that shows countries with ongoing military conflicts.
A checkerboard-like game board was printed on 9 x 12-inch matte board with the “rules of engagement” printed across the bottom. The “soldiers” are red and black magnets that were printed with white ink to read “us” or “them.”
Other Projects at Imaginarium
In addition to Bonny Lhotka and Dorothy Krause, other artists at the 2017 Roland Imaginarium included Jake Welin, Ileana Frometa Grillo, Karin Schminke, and Seen Teegarden. They used Roland printers to transfer photos and multi-layered image compositions onto pre-painted and plaster-treated canvases, transparent films, film reels, birchwood, pre-cut wood panels, and other unique media.
In a blog post that showcases the work of the six artists, Ben Fellowes of Roland DGA writes, “It was a pleasure to watch this talented group of artists at work and eye-opening to see what they did with our printing technology. At Roland, we have always understood the potential of our machines as fine art tools.”
To learn more about how to use these printers for your own art or designs, find a print-service provider in area equipped with one of these printers.
The Roland VersaUV LEC series of UV printer/cutters was designed to print, contour cut, varnish, and emboss flexible substrates used to create bags, folding cartons, labels, and specialty graphics. This printer is available in 30-inch and 54-inch widths.
The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop Flatbed printer can print directly on rigid and flexible materials up to 3.94 inches thick and up to 13 inches wide and 30 inches long. This printer is typically used to make promotional products, giftware, awards, smartphones, tablets, jewelry, and specialized signs.
Opportunities for Artists, Photographers, and Designers
Artists and print-service providers can both benefit from working together to envision new and exciting ways to push the boundaries of what’s possible.
Some artists, photographers, and designers are already benefitting from new printing technologies by creating and licensing designs that print-service providers can output onto print-on-demand products such as apparel, accessories, decorative art, tabletops, laminates, and fabrics.
You can also use new printing technologies to design and create your own branded lines of products for sale online or at art fairs.
According to Dorothy Krause, “Artists are becoming more and more aware of the advantages of flatbed printers, dye-sublimation printing, and contour cutting devices.” Printers that can use gloss, white, and metallic inks (such as Roland’s) are particularly versatile for creating interesting designs.
Inkjet printers today are being used for much more than printing photo enlargements or reproducing artwork created in traditional media. Today’s inkjet printers can be used to create new products or original mixed-media art. Printed images and backgrounds can be combined with additional layers of inks, paints, varnishes, and special effects.
Bonny Lhotka created her Image Imaginarium workshops to give artists opportunities to take a hands-on approach to exploring new imaging technologies. The first Image Imaginarium was a pre-conference event at the 2016 Adobe MAX Conference for creative professionals. That workshop was based on techniques described in her book “Hacking the Digital Print.”
At their third annual Digital Couture Project, Epson will show fashion designers and fashion entrepreneurs some of the limitless design possibilities created by advanced digital imaging technology. In keeping with the theme “Textile Stories,” 13 design teams from North and Latin America will leverage Epson’s world-class textile printing solutions in a one-of-a-kind fashion presentation.
The Digital Couture Project is scheduled February 7, two days before the official start of Fashion Week in New York City.
“In the high-fashion business, nothing stands still. The designer’s vision is constantly advancing, ultimately creating and driving fashion trends that change how we look and feel,” said Keith Kratzberg, president and CEO, Epson America, Inc. “Our goal with the Digital Couture event is to spotlight the power and potential that digital printing technology plays in the apparel industry. From haute couture to sports team apparel, Epson technology gives designers and apparel manufacturers the digital platform necessary to launch the next great design.”
At the Digital Couture Project event, each designer or design team will tell a story through their collection via textiles created with Epson dye-sublimation and direct-to-fabric printing technology. These technologies enable high-quality, original prints on fabrics that will convey the signature style of each designer.
Design teams featured at the Digital Couture event include:
“For the third year in a row, the Epson Digital Couture event showcases how digital textile printing helps designers expand their vision for creativity without limits,” said Agustin Chacon, Epson America’s vice president of international marketing. “The future of fashion and technology is in the process of being shaped. We are excited to be at the forefront of the industry – providing designers with printing solutions that offer a host of new and exciting opportunities.”
During the Technology Showcase portion of the Digital Couture Project, Epson’s global president, Minoru Usui, will outline Epson’s continued vision for the role that digital technology will play in fashion.
A panel of fashion and apparel industry experts will discuss market trends and the role of technology in fashion. The panel will be moderated by Anthony Cenname, vice president and publisher at WSJ Magazine.
The 2017 Digital Couture Project event will also serve as the official introduction of the Robustelli-Epson brand to the international fashion community. Based in Como, Italy, Robustelli has developed and manufactured the Monna Lisa series of digital textile printing equipment with technical support from Epson. Robustelli became part of the Epson Group in June, 2016.
Attendees at the Digital Couture Project event will see an array of textiles that have been printed on the Robustelli equipment.
Epson Digital Textile Printing Solutions
“New technologies from Epson are allowing designers to push the boundaries of color and quality while simultaneously giving creative teams incredible versatility and productivity,” said Kratzberg.
Epson’s dye-sublimation and direct-to-garment printing technologies give entrepreneurs and fashion brands the creative freedom to print on a variety of fabrics, including cotton and synthetic fibers.
The Epson SureColor® F-Series dye-sublimation printing technology gives designers an accessible means to bring their ideas and inspiration to life. The Epson UltraChrome® DS ink in these printers has an all new high density Black ink. The density of the black ink delivers printed designs with better tonal transitions, rich colors, and smooth gradations. The Wasatch SoftRIP workflow software included with the printer includes features for textile and fashion printing. The software enables designers to create and print original designs with greater flexibility and control.
The Epson SureColor F2000 Series direct-to-garment (DTG) ink jet printers can print high-quality images directly onto garments. The printers can handle fabrics ranging from 100 percent cotton to 50/50 fabric blends.
The SureColor F2000 offers fashion entrepreneurs a quality, affordable printing solution. The Epson SureColor F2000 Standard Edition is a high-speed CMYK-only model and the White Edition offers the added benefit of white ink for printing on dark or color fabrics.
Fashion designers and professionals interested in learning more about Epson’s digital printing technologies can visit www.proimaging.epson.com. For more information about Digital Couture, visit www.epson.com/nyfw.
Kodak’s new KODAKIT on-demand photography service can help professional photographers in major cities gain access to a steady flow of assignments from global brands who promote services related to travel, food, and real estate. The KODAKIT service provides a central hub through which global brands can find and hire qualified photographers to provide high-quality digital images.
“Companies understand the power and benefits of high-quality photography. Consistent, high-quality images are vitally important for brands, especially when selling products and services online. Yet this has been a time-consuming challenge for companies to manage, especially across borders of currency and language.” explains Eric-Yves Mahe, chief executive officer of KODAKIT. “Similarly, for photographers, global brands generate a lot of work. But it’s hard for individual photographers to connect with them.”
KODAKIT solves pain points for both photographers and companies by managing all of the end-to-end operations and logistics.
For photographers, KODAKIT eliminates a lot of the nitty-gritty of marketing, booking, pricing, scheduling, invoicing, and payment processing.
Companies only need to indicate when, where, and how they want to a photo shoot to be conducted. KODAKIT handles all of the other aspects of the process and delivers the images in a dedicated private cloud.
Quality Photography Delivers Results
According to research from MDG Advertising, companies with compelling, professional photography see their businesses soar. In the travel market, businesses using quality photography see a 46 percent increase in conversion rates. In real estate, properties with quality photos see a 47 percent higher asking price per square foot and stay on the market an average of 10 days less than those without quality photos.
Photography is a $30 billion business globally, but has remained a hyperlocal business. KODAKIT makes it easy for businesses to acquire consistent, high-quality imagery in many markets. Photographers can gain assignments that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
“KODAKIT has boiled down a complicated process into a user-friendly platform that addresses a huge and growing need in the market,” said Jeff Clarke, chief executive officer of Kodak. “Kodak founder George Eastman once said, ‘You press the button, we do the rest.’ For photographers and companies, KODAKIT operates on this same principle.”
KODAKIT is now live in 92 metropolitan areas in 37 countries. In the U.S., KODAKIT is live in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas, Washington, DC, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Diego, Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Atlanta. In Canada, KODAKIT is live in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.
UGallery.com, a curated online art gallery, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The milestone marks a decade of devising new ways for buyers to shop for original artwork. Since its founding, UGallery has transformed the traditional art gallery into an accessible online experience by connecting buyers with one-of-a-kind artworks at price points lower than typically seen at brick-and-mortar galleries.
With roots as a business school project at the University of Arizona, UGallery initially served as an online outlet for student artists to sell their work. When the site launched, it featured 25 works by 5 artists. Now, UGallery.com represents 500 emerging and mid-career artists from around the world.
“In the past, art was a black box – brick-and-mortar galleries were intimidating and there was little price transparency,” said co-founder and CEO Stephen Tanenbaum. “We launched UGallery with a mission to flip the art industry on its head and make original art accessible to everyone.”
UGallery operates much like a local gallery but has a global reach. UGallery has more than 2 million followers and sells art in 45 nations.
Curators choose the artists and works that will be featured, post detailed descriptions for each artwork, maintain individual relationships with artists, and host events for artists and clients. UGallery.com has offices in San Francisco and New York and a presence at art fairs. But they do most of their marketing online.
The company credits their service-oriented approach to e-commerce for their 40% year-over-year growth over the past three years. Art buyers get free shipping and returns. The artist ships the purchased art directly to the buyers in custom-built shipping boxes.
“We strive to be the premier online gallery,” said co-founder and Gallery Director Alex Farkas. “We focus a lot of energy on finding the most talented artists and connecting them with enthusiastic art buyers. Our mission is to develop lifelong relationships.”