Why you shouldn't use a Magic Wand Tool

Before we begin, I have three brand new promotions running until Saturday. These are some of my most popular pieces and they're available at a huge discount, but only 25 of each are available at these prices.

Melting http://fineartamerica.com/weeklypromotion.html?promotionid=168244

Looking Up http://fineartamerica.com/weeklypromotion.html?promotionid=168243

Blue Mountains Watercolour http://fineartamerica.com/weeklypromotion.html?promotionid=168242


We live in a world where everyone is a great photographer. Everyone who has a mobile phone certainly thinks so. Admit it, there are times when you snapped a landmark from an odd angle, and completely ignore the two strangers heads in the lower right corner. Let's face it, if it were a difficult skill there wouldn't be quite so many cat photos on Facebook, and not quite so many photos of your last great night out. If this is the result while completely intoxicated, wow, just think how great a photographer you'll be when you're sober.


I'm not sure why it is that people occasionally want to share their holiday snaps with me, I'm a digital artist who occasionally draws on paper as well, and I have a day job that is as far from art as you can get. I'm not a photographer although I do enjoy tinkering with black levels and chroma. The reason they share their snaps with me is generally because they have an eye on being the next David Bailey and want to make millions on print on demand sites. They know I sell the odd piece, they should also know that I am quite frank. The conversation usually goes like this.


"What do you think? Will it make a good stretched canvas? Do you think it will sell?"


"No, it's really bad"


"It's the only one we took of the Colosseum, can it be fixed?"


"Yes, if you go back with a real camera and learn about the rule of thirds"


"I'll run it through my hooky copy of PhotoShop"


"Oh life, here we go"


Now this is were things really get interesting. They generally load up PhotoShop and press the magic wand. Here’s a Photoshop tip for you. There are many ways to create an image on a white background. If you think the magic wand tool is the best and only way to do it, you should never be entrusted with Photoshop without adult supervision. A Magic Wand doesn’t make you Harry Potter. Photoshop is a very dangerous thing in the wrong hands. Believe me when I say I've seen first hand some of the deadly results.


And so they return, we have exactly the same conversation, but they go ahead and create an account on a print on demand site. The resultant images have been shot in near darkness, cutout badly and saved as a tiny compressed jpg. There is no detail, no colour balancing, no definition, no sharpening, no path, no layers, no file size, and the images have had every last ounce of quality compressed out of them. They are usually compressed to around 25Kb. Our friendship at this point is at best, rocky.


Next time I see them they ask me why their PhotoShopped masterpiece hasn't sold. Generally this is the defining moment that our relationship takes a turn for the worse. I offer more advice. I explain that you need to make a decision that could be life changing. Start coloring more with crayons than using your phones camera. Much safer, far better results.


I must admit that there is some great artwork and photography available from print on demand sites. But equally there are some very poor photographic examples, suffering from lack of exposure, and generally that little something that makes a photo pop. I rarely see very poor traditional artwork on print on demand, unless of course it was painted on a cheap canvas and scanned in using a mobile phone camera. I'm also conscious that each to their own, and some people won't like everything I do.


What surprises me much more though is that some of these poor examples actually sell. The reason is generally because someone uploads their life long family album, finds a few decent spam tags, and they over populate the recently added searches. A quick check on Fine Art America and the number of results was close to the population of China. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've looked for my work immediately after uploading, and within a few minutes it's buried 367 pages beneath Uncle Joes family album, which you can have the pleasure of owning on everything from a canvas to a key ring.


Don't get me wrong, the camera on the iPhone 6 and 6+ is great. Other models are available but I'm an Apple fanboy. Results could even be amazing in the right hands. Add in a touch of properly learned PhotoShop and the results might even be worthy of a sale or two. My issue is that there are so many bad examples, pictures of cats, pictures of landmarks with stray head shots, that make it much more difficult for any great single pieces of 20+ hour works to be found.


In my early days of Print On Demand, I'm pretty certain my work wasn't all that great on reflection. But one thing I very quickly learned is that there is some truly great competition. It has taken me over fifteen years to find an art style I am comfortable with, in the last twelve months that style has had to be reviewed. I am now going through a process of experimentation with some new styles, not because my older styles are no longer in the niche, but because there is so much talent on Print On Demand, and I need to compete.


Having to compete hasn't compromised the range of work I create, I find it broadens my range of skills. What I find difficult though, is often I am competing against Uncle Joes family album. Maybe that's a good thing though. What I'm having to create in order to compete are higher quality pieces of work. The difficulty is that where I was once spending two or three hours creating a piece of work, I'm now finding my quickest works are taking five to six hours, more detailed works take me the best part of 20+ hours.


Meanwhile my issues from the lift experience last week are taking their toll. My back is bruised and swollen and I ended up giving in yesterday and going to see my Dr. The outcome is that because I have a rare form of Colitis, I'm limited to the choice of medications I can take. Funnily enough, Crystal Meth wasn't on the list of no, no's but my Dr advised against it saying it was pretty addictive and it wasn't available on prescription.


In the end I was given some cream and I kid you not, this stuff could dissolve titanium. It also has a very weird smell. I'm avoiding going out this week because people know that I always smell of Hugo Boss aftershave. This stuff isn't even close to a freshly manured country field. I'm not even sure it's helping, but I will persist. Hopefully by next week I will be confident that the only smell will be of Hugo Boss, and I can go to my 17 meetings knowing that no one will be sitting as far away as possible. By the end of the meeting they might be, but at least it won't be because of the countryside scent.


For the remainder of this week my plan is to attempt to finish a couple more pieces of art immediately after I log off from the day job. The only problem I seem to be having in creating anything this week is that I think I've also fractured my motivation. It's been one of those weeks so far where I have the occasional arty idea, but by the time I get around to it, I have either forgotten what it was or I think no one will like it. I'm not sure if anyone else gets artists block, but it's becoming slightly worrying. It could be because I have found a new box set on Netflix and I'm doing that whole let the next episode play automatically thing.


Does anyone else get the occasional artistic block, or is it just a me thing?






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