OK, you're in for a treat today! Mark has to be my all-time favorite photographer, and I'm so honored he took time to respond to this interview. He has a unique way of capturing motion and color that is absolutely breathtaking. All day long, I'm surrounded by black and white images at work, in "my" archives. To come home and read Mark's blog is a real treat. If you are interested in photography yourself, you need to follow his blog and see the techniques he uses for capturing beautiful images. He has an Etsy account, but doesn't have a large stock there. You can always go by his online studio.
What's the name of your business/shop?
I came up with the name Aspect Studio about 20 years ago when I decided to start my own graphic design business. I thought it worked nicely for both design work and photography, so I have been using that ever since for both.
Do you have a registered domain name and/or a blog (urls, if available)?
My website is www.AspectStudioPhotography.net, with portfolio galleries and purchase info, and I have been writing a blog, "The Photographic Aspect" at aspectstudiophoto.blogspot.com for nearly a year. That has been a great project, because it allows me to examine my own motivations and thought processes, while at the same time getting feedback from a wide variety of viewers.
What type of handmade products do you sell?
Fine art photographic prints.
Show us a piece you recently finished
This image is from my most recent excursion (back in July) to Arizona. I already posted it on my blog recently, but maybe the readership here is a bit different than over at my place and I think it's one of my best from that trip. I haven't printed it full size yet, but it will probably be the first from that group to be printed and framed for sale as soon as I can get to it, in the next few weeks.
What are you working on right now? Any sketches?
Photography is really a multi-step process: traveling and shooting, followed by processing and ultimately, printing. I like to go back to shots I made months or even years ago and rework ones that I wasn't quite happy with, and often find new interest in ones that I completely passed over first time around. So I'm constantly working on something, even if it's just researching and planning a future trip, or something like printing greeting cards on scraps of photo paper.
If you have a website or blog, what do you use for advertising? What do your avatars look like?
Well, marketing my website was the original motivation to start up a blog, but then that in turn needs to be promoted, doesn't it? Fortunately there are quite a few tools for that and one of the most important is just visiting other people's sites and leaving your "footprint" in as many places as possible. I'm certainly not as good at it as many others, being limited in both time and energy while trying to run a business. Among all the blog directories out there, my favorite by far is BlogCatalog.. it's very useful for finding and communicating with other bloggers and being able to see who is visiting your site. I have been with EntreCard since I started the blog also.. I think quite a few readers have found me through that site and I like the proactive concept of it, but there are some things recently, especially with the paid ads and changes to the credit system that I don't like about it, too. I haven't been spending much time over there recently.
If you have a website or blog, tell us about your favorite widget.
I think the networking widgets like Friend Connect and BlogCatalog are very useful.. you can see who's been visiting and reading. I try not to go overboard with too much of that stuff in my layout; I don't like clutter and they really start to slow the site down when you get too many. I have actually stopped visiting a few blogs just because they take forever to load, with all the ad links, widgets and animations.
Which online selling vendors do you use? What do you like best about each one?
I do have a spot on Etsy, because with them you produce and ship your own work and they just facilitate the sale... but I haven't put much effort into promoting my presence there. The flood of art marketing websites and millions of artists promoting their work is making it very hard for anyone to stand out in the online environment, isn't it? Getting actual prints in front of people's eyes, in person, where they can see and feel the quality is the only thing that really works for me. I don't like sites like ImageKind or Red Bubble that just use your artwork to sell their products. If anyone is selling well under that type of system, I am happy for them, but that's just not my goal right now. I prefer to produce my own prints, and sell them directly.
Are you involved in social networking? What's your favorite and why? If you're not involved, you must have a good reason!
No, I've signed up for Twitter, and I think I even have a few followers, but I don't do anything with it. I already spend nine or ten hours per day working at a computer and that is enough for me. I haven't utilized Facebook or Myspace yet either.. I suppose I'll have to get into them eventually, though.
All of us can use a helpful business hint once a week. What's yours?
Try to work at something you enjoy, so that it really isn't work at all.
Do you have a "modus operandi" for computing the price of a handmade object? Tell us your formula?
Mostly I look at what other work that I feel equivalent to mine is selling for in local galleries or on the web... and try to stay in that range. Of course, there are a lot of variables with photography... size, matting, framing and all that, so I have quite a wide price range depending on the presentation.
We'd love to see your little corner of the world, where you create.
The answer to that is to look at my photos! It's much different than being a studio artist or designer... When I'm out shooting, I get to experience some of the most amazing, beautiful and isolated locations anyone could imagine. It's one of the true benefits of landscape photography that I need to make that effort to get out and find places that I would never otherwise see, if I wasn't so compelled to photograph them. Of course I have a work space where I do mounting/matting/framing and store my framed pieces... I guess I could show you a picture of my desk and computer, but neither would be very interesting.
Where do you see your artwork in one year? Any plans in the works?
Of course I'm constantly trying to add to my body of work and expand my audience. I plan to eventually run my own gallery, selling my work along with some complementary work by other artists/crafters; probably in the little mountain village of Idyllwild, CA where my wife and I have a home that we built back around 2000/2001. It's a very "arts-friendly" location, with lots of creative people and we plan to live there full time in the near future. In this current economic climate though, I'm very happy just to be making a living from doing commercial work, which allows me to pursue my photographic art at a comfortable pace and not have to worry every day if I sold something or not.
OK, it’s the storybeader’s turn to pick a favorite. This is very hard for me, because I love so many of them. Here’s one of the first images I saw that Mark had taken. Titled “Fall Saplings” from Utah , 2007.
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