Maxx Katt

Retro Art for Today

Maxx Katt Art

Jungle Girl Red 24 x 30 Inch Acrylic

Jungle Girl Red 24 x 30 Inch Acrylic

In the Beginning

Maxx Katt re-creates the 1940’s and 1950’s in his retro pop art paintings.  The artist’s paintings are available for movie and TV set dressing. All of the paintings on this web site are available for set dressing.  The artist’s skills allow him to create reproductions of many types of paintings. To inquire about the prop rental or purchase of any painting or a commission of a painting send an email to maxxkatt77 (at sign) yahoo dot com.

 

It all began in a 500 watt radio station in Cape Girardeau, Missouri when I was 16 and started my radio career. Wait, that was Rush Limbaugh. Oh, no it was in 1983 at the Fairfax High School in Los Angeles,  uh, no that was Anthony Kiedis starting the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Yeah now it is coming to me. It was in 2004 when I started my art journey.

 

This web site and blog is will chronicle my journey and what I am currently doing as an artist and how I create my art and how I expose my art to others. I am doing this via the heavy use of social media and other Internet marketing techniques I have picked up over the years.

Reading these posts: word press presents the latest posts first. To catch up in order read these post by going to the older ones first and reading them in reverse order. Sorry this is just the way it is.

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First work in new studio

Ok, it is smaller, but much better organized in the old studio that was twice the size but packed with the clutter from long forgotten hobbies. Now it is dedicated only to my art. There is no room from my inventory of canvases. They are stored in the attic in super large black trash bags to keep them dust free. Several time each year Dick Blick has a very good canvas sale and I stock up at that time.

I screen print signed a painting that needed signing. Nothing goes out the door unless it is signed. I use a small unique screen print to sign each original painting since it is more consistent than hand signing. When will I start painting again? Probably in three month when my current inventory of paintings are sold. The sales have slowed down due to lack of promotion on my part. Of course paintings are not my main revenue source this source has always been the sale of prints.

On the PC and web site security front. One of my other web sites is still down due to a virus. I recovered the two infected files from Dec 12 backup files and that did not work. So I just deleted the two files that had .asp extensions. .asp are like html pages but contain script that can execute programs. These are a favorite target of hackers to change things on your web site.

Today I am going to work on this web page and create the free screen saver images of several of my paintings. They have to be watermarked properly and sized properly for the screen saver format.

 

 

 

 

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Branding and Web Site Woes

For the last two days I have been trying to find good wordpress plugins for selling digital images and paintings and prints. Typically I only install plugs that have good reviews and tons of people downloading at least over 10,000. I don’t fool with plugins with just several hundred or less downloads. Because most likely you will be effectively a beta tester and that usually means a buggy plugin that can crash your wordpress site. It has happened several times years ago before I learned better.

What is a wordpress plugin? WordPress is the #1 blogging software that installs in a few minutes if you install it from your ISP like Go Daddy or Ipower. There are thousands of themes, widgets and plugins. These are basically features and functions that functions of any imaginable type that you install in a minute or two. Then you just make some changes to settings to adapted the widget or plugin to your needs. So you can maintain a very robust web site with absolutely no programming knowledge.

But some plugins can be complicated and you may not understanding the settings due to poor documentation. Typically you get no email or phone support and at best you can just locate a forum about a very popular plugin and learn from other’s problems with the plugin.

I wanted to find a plugin to handle both physical painting sales and digital image sales. Tried one or two and found them lacking. So I have now found one for physical paintings and prints and another different one for digital images sales. I think these will work. Both operate off paypal.

Branding – For a long time I just let this web site just show some of my paintings and did nothing to promote my brand (artists name Maxx Katt is not my real name). I selected Maxx Katt for several reasons. I had a dog as a child named Mutt and there is a very famous instance about a famous artist Marcel Duchamp  using a fake name on a piece just to see if it would sell. I had a cat named Maxx and I wanted a name that no other artist had for Google purposes. When you google Maxx Katt you get all the entries about me and nobody else. Had my name been John or Michael smith, you would gotten tons of other results about all kind of smiths and never find my artist web page.

But lately I have been feeling guilty for not making a good effort to promote my brand via social media. I know from reading that social media and viral marketing outperforms all other forms of direct marketing on the Internet. So that is what I am doing now in upgrading my web site to take advantage of social media. The big boys in social media are facebook and twitter and if you have a visual craft like painting pinterest, flicker and other photo sharing web sites.

Thus I have to have the big social web sites for maxx katt and use them every 2-3 days to develop a following. I have found that people under 30 especially women are more likely to like my art. Fortunately this category of women are high social media users.

This afternoon did my first work in my newly completed studio. I screen painted my Maxx Katt signature on a painting I am giving away as a Christmas gift.

 

WordPress Caution: On the dashboard under appearance you can click on the editor. If you are a programmer you can change any of the code. But if you do that, when you upgrade to a new version of the theme, your changes will be wiped out. If you are not a programmer and mess around with the code, you may likely screw up your web site. So just stay away from the editor.

 

 

 

 

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Search Engine Ultimate – wordpress plugin

I just installed the wordpress plugin SEO ultimate. Immediately it found that I had an internal setting that was set to discourage search engines from indexing my blog. I wondered why few robots were indexing my page when looking at my server stats. I am using the more popular social media for maxx katt and am trying to use SEO techniques that are acceptable (no spam techniques) and social media to attract more viewers to my blog.

 

 

 

 

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Thur 12/11/2014 – PC Security

Went to a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert last evening. They are more than worth the ticket price and they always give $1.00 of each ticket to a local charity in the city they  are performing. Last night they gave $8,000 to the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers. The concert was basically in two parts. The first was their “The Christmas Attic” series of songs and then the second half was more of their past hard rock songs. I enjoyed the later more than the former.

Today I hope to finish getting the furniture back into my slimmed downed art studio.

artstudio2

The old studio/bonus room had carpet floor. Great for the acoustics but bad for a painting environment. Ruined the carpet by spilling paint and resin. I will have to do something to dampen the hard surfaces. Probably some area rugs that can be replaced when ruined which will happen.

I have several people who have seen my super gloss covered paintings and wish to have me do it to the paintings of mine they have acquired. I am not sure I wish to do that, but it is hard to turn them down. My feeling is when I finish a painting, it is finished.

My PC’s. I have three PC’s that I use in my review and art business. I have learned the hard way that you must have 100% backup to an external hard drive (Seagate Backup Plus) and very good virus protection and firewalls. I use Zone Alarm and Malware’s Anti-malware bytes. All of these operate quietly in the background on all of my PC’s to give me a peace of mind. All of my web sites are on iPower and have site backup and restore enabled which protects all my web site contents. I have about 9 web sites at last count.

I am a PC’s guy. Not because I am in love with Windows, but that is what I spent my working career working with, the PC. Windows XP was the only good thing that came of Microsoft in terms of operating systems and they went and screwed it up royally with Vista, Window 7 and again with Windows 8. I hate Windows 8 which came on my new laptop. They tried to make it less like a computer and more like? What? a platform for aliens not humans? or for 3 year olds? I heard rumors that Window 10 will move more back to the XP look and feel. These designers seem to have no clue how much we have invested in knowing where everything is on XP and how much of our time is wasted trying to find the control panel on Windows 8. Does it even exist on Windows 8? What Microsoft is doing is making more people go to Apple. Maybe Apple has a mole in the senior OS design staff at Microsoft. Maybe this mole is long in Apple and short in Microsoft.

in closing, pay attention to your computer’s backup, firewall and anti-malware protections. They must be in place, operating and current.

 

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Gallery System & Latest Work Experiment

There is nothing wrong with the gallery system for the artist with an Art degree. For the self-taught artist, it is a difficult road that I calculated had limited returns for the time that I would have to invest in just trying to get hung.

Back around 2006 (before social media had really developed) I scrapped some email addresses from an International penpal web site who indicated they liked pop art. I emailed them a free print offer. About six replied and gave me their mailing address. I sent them each a free 14 x 20 inkjet print of their choice. What followed was a number of their friends and then their friends purchasing these prints for $20.00 each plus shipping. That is how my print business grew.

Since then I have concentrated on selling my prints. Due to the nature of my audience, I sell more prints than original paintings. I still paint to create more sources for my prints. I also have moved into recovering and enhancing some popular public domain retro comic book covers. For the past two months I have not been producing anything due to the studio renovations.

The last work was several super gloss prints. It is very hard to photograph physical paintings to appear anything close to what they look like when viewing in person. Anyway this painting is 20 x 20 and has a thick final layer of clear resin.

ringtodayglossresin

 

I have experimented with several types of super gloss resins and prefer EnviroTex Lite Pour-On High Gloss resin. You can purchase it at Home Depot stores.

Caution even though the name sounds friendly, always use a very good mask when working with any resins. And I mean a very good mask like the kind painters use. If you can smell the resin smell the mask is not good enough. Ok working with a mask is a pain in the butt but consider would be going into your lungs if you did not use the mask. Now we move to the bubbles in the resin issue. The box instructions says you can blow on the curing resin and the CO2 in your breath will make the bubbles disappear. What a joke. Use the other method and use a butane torch and wave carefully back and forth a few inches off the surface. Works like a dream. The resin is not flammable to my knowledge but just in case I keep a sizable fire extinguisher in my studio. Get too close you can scorch the underlying acrylic paint which I have done. This gets rid of 99.9 % of the resin bubbles.

Today I will move my furniture back into my new studio. Teresa will be happy since my art studio stuff is now all in her new closet side of the bonus room. I purchased a very retro stereo amplifier and speakers from Goodwill. I don’t know about other places but here in Atlanta you can find some very good stereo equipment for less than $150 in Goodwill. Downstairs I have 10 inch Polk speakers with a great turntable and Marantz amp. These went for thousands of dollars back in the day.

The reward is listening to Foreigner’s Juke Box Hero or Dire Straits’ Telegraph Road at high volume. It is not exactly the same as being at the concert fidelity wise, but pretty darn close and even better if you have some crappy seats way, way back from the stage.

Before I leave to get some more baseboard trim from Lowes, I need to tell you about a good book I am reading about social media and the artist. It is Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. I am reading it in ebook format on my iPad mini. I have considerable experience in the past with Internet promotion and have found this a great little book that will not overwhelm you with technical details. The book introduces a concept of sharing your processes (eg this blog) instead of keeping them a secret. The purpose is to gain a following on your web site and respective social media pages. Here is the publisher’s page for the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Social Media and Art Sales

On September 04, 2006 I created this web site. It was done with the web site software PageBreeze which is a decent page editor. A year or so later I discovered WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Use wordpress.org if you have your own domain name and you should. Use wordpress.com if you wish to use their servers and don’t have your own registered domain name. I strongly recommend that any artist without a web site use wordpress.org and obtain a web site from ipower.com. Ipower offers you very inexpensive web hosting space and has excellent customer support with knowledgeable American customer support people.

On your ipower account you should also pay some extra to enable site back up and restore and domain privacy. It is not a good idea to have your domain registration address as your physical address. Site back up and restore is an extra feature that backups your entire web site several times each day. This is very important when you add a word press plugin or widget that crashes your web site and it will. Never use a plugin or widget that is less than version 2.0 has has many users.

The power of word press comes from these thousand of plugins and widgets that can add tremendous functionality to your web page in minutes. Remember word press is a programming-less web page.

 

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Wed 12/10/2014

Teresa and I worked last night on my new art studio. To catch up some of you, Teresa is my new bride, we were married last Sat. I am so lucky to have found and married her. My old studio was in the bonus room over the garage and it was a mix of the remains of old hobbies like repairing old 1940’s radios and selling them on ebay for a profit which seldom materialized, the profit that is. But it was fun. I also amassed a very large (3,000+) collection of Mid century Marx playset figures. We added a wall and door to divide the before 30 x 12 room and now I have the back half with the window and she has the front half for a large walk in closet since my home’s master closed was only 5 x 5′ in size. The back half is more than enough for my screen printing since I have given a ton of stuff to Goodwill. The window is good since I get lots of sun from 1:00 pm to sunset.

bonusroom

 

 

An example of my Marx playset art prints.

cow001a

cow001b

 

 

 

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My art business education

As indicated in the prior post I used a series of art students working for me to teach me more art. They were either graduates of SCAD her in Atlanta or in their jr or sr year. It was much cheaper and less time consuming than for me to attend SCAD. In short I only wanted to know what I needed for my art. Having an extensive prior knowledge of business I found I knew nothing about the business of art.

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.

Andy Warhol

Warhol said it all and he did very well in the business of art. Few people realize that he was the top commercial artist creating line drawings for department stores in the top New York magazines. I think he made around $100,000 a year in the early sixties. This is before he became a fine artist creating pop art. Warhol created the Interview Magazine (still being published) in order to interview rich and famous people so he could sell them his art. The printed version of the magazine still has his name in the masthead as the founder. Warhol was a very smart business person and way ahead of his time. He was NEVER a staving artist.

Well in 2004 when magazine circulation numbers were crashing with the rise of the Internet, I felt that creating a printed magazine was out. But I knew how to create a web site and created www.southeasternartgallerynews.com. This gave me easy access to gallery owners and artists in the southeastern US. I learned a lot from a lot of art gallery owners in Atlanta. Specifically Alan Avery, Rob Matre and David Nielsen.

Few gallery owners will take a chance on a self-taught new artist. This is why I have switched my efforts to making my art available on this web site. I will chronicle those efforts in the next post.

 

 

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Looking back at the beginning

Prior to 2004 I had no interest in art in any form. Yes I had been to the High Museum in Atlanta several times, but only to realize those paintings were created by artists and that the average person was incapable of creating art. Since I retired from working 20 years in the IT industry I was mostly retired with a side business of doing book and product reviews to keep busy.

One day I received Andy Warhol’s  catalog raisonne of his screen prints. I found myself reading this book every night during that week. For a guy who had no prior interest in art, this struck me as strange. Warhol was very a very interesting person. As a book reviewer, I could get virtually any book free. I took advantage of this and eventually read about fourteen books on his life including his Diaries. You have to be a Warhol fan or nuts to slog through that fat tome.

Seeing pictures and some film clips of Warhol and his assistant Gerard Malanga creating his screen print paintings caused me to think, “Hey, I can do that.” So I set out and purchase a small 14 x 20″ speedball screen printing set and started experimenting with screen printing. This went on for several months with prints that I would never show anyone. But I did learn some of the techniques. Warhol used large screens that required the help of Gerard. I found that buying these large screens was very expensive so I made my own. I purchased about 20 yards of high quality screen mesh from Japan. In my opinion they are the best. I built my own wood frames and stretched the screens. To measure the proper tightness of a screen you use an expensive meter.

I found an easier method. I simply bounced a marble on a factory built screen and measured how high it bounced and adjusted my screen tension to the same marble bounce height. So began my journey. I was technically and mechanically adept at creating my screens but there was something wrong that I could not figure out. I had selected old comic panels for my painting sources. Short of going to art school, I was at a loss to what was the problem. In my review business I needed some help so I hired an art student figuring I could get double value by paying this person to work for me. It worked while we worked in the same room on the book and product reviews she taught me what I wanted to know about art. She indicated that my paintings suffered from my lack of colorization skills. So I gave her an unpainted (just the black outline) of a comic panel and she took it home and painted it for me. What I was doing was trying to reproduce just the faded out primary colors in the original faded comic. She showed me that yes, there are some rule, but in art you are pretty much free to do what you want in terms of color. For instance my “Blue Phone” screen painting is just blue, grey and black.

bluehandebay

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