Copyright and art

This article originally appeared at this site in 2004.

Someone asked me about copyright law, the Sargent images that I’ve used in my printed (reproduced) projects and products.

Copyright and art for artistsI’m not an attorney, so this is my personal opinion.

In general, works created before 1923 are in the public domain, at least in the United States. And, once something is in the public domain, the individual piece can’t go back into full copyright.

Despite Dover Books’ ominous-sounding copyright notices, for example, the individual images that they use – the ones that are already in the public domain – cannot be copyrighted by them.

In my non-legal opinion, all that Dover Books can copyright is how the images are assembled and used. That is, I can’t burn a copy of their clipart CDs and sell them as my own, or even give away copies of the CD if it detracts from Dover’s potential sales.

And, if I use a significant number of images from a single Dover source -enough to compromise future sales of that book or CD – I should pay Dover’s reasonable fees for significant single-source use. (About $5 per image, as of mid-2004.)

Completed works v. elements in them

Likewise, the Sargent image in my collage is in the public domain, but nobody can copy the collage that I created with that image, except by my permission. My copyright – which exists automatically, as soon as I created the work – protects my collage but not the Sargent image in it.

Sargent died in 1925, which is why I’m comfortable using his work in my art. Most of his published work was created well before the 1923 public domain date.

(But, if I use a recent photo of Sargent’s art, and I didn’t take the photo myself, that can be a copyright violation.)

Regarding copyrighted works used in collage… that’s a tricky question and if you ask a dozen lawyers, you’ll get two dozen different opinions.

Photocopies v. originals

Generally speaking, if the piece that you use is readily recognizable as a copyrighted work, don’t print copies of it. The risks are greater if the work/item/photo you’re using is still protected by copyright and represents a essential part of your finished work… but defining “essential part” is something taken up by the courts on a regular basis… and the laws change, steadily.

Except for US paper money, which you aren’t supposed to damage in any way, you can use pieces of anything copyrighted in your art… as long as you bought it (or otherwise acquired it, legally).

For example, I’m working on a collaged cigar box purse, using a whole lot of Elvis playing cards that I bought. That is perfectly legal… they’re my cards and I can do what I want with them, as long as I don’t do anything to defame the copyright holder in any way, or cheat him/her out of rightful income.

But, if I’d taken those same cards and photocopied them to use in collage… that’d be illegal. By photocopying instead of paying the copyright owner (or his/her agents) for the images that I’m using, I’d be technically depriving them – in this case, the Presley Estate – of their rightful income.

Using others’ work as collage elements

Regarding selling the finished art, even if all pieces of it were acquired legally… We’re again getting into a dicey area.

In some states – I think that California is one of them – if someone’s art is resold, the artist is entitled to a percentage of the profits from the sale. This protects, say, someone from buying a movie script for cheap, and then reselling it to MGM for big bucks without giving the original writers a cut of the money.

It also prevents you from using a published photo or even text as an important collage element, and then selling the finished work for huge money without sharing the wealth with the copyright holder. (I believe that Sonny Bono was responsible for this legislation.)

For an artist’s worst nightmare, see the Rauschenberg case, where he use a page from an old Time magazine in one of his “found art” collages, and was successfully sued by a guy whose photo was on the original Time magazine page. (The story of this is at ItsArtLaw.org)

Andy Warhol as a precedent

Andy Warhol and others used copyrighted images (such as the Campbell’s soup can) without thinking twice. Well, it’s a different era now in a more litigious society, and we’re working with different laws, and laws that are more strictly applied.

I wouldn’t use modern images as a significant part of any collage in a Cafe Press calendar, or on fabric created by Spoonflower, etc.

Many pages in Teesha Moore’s “Play” magazine featured collages & journal pages with copyrighted images. Today, several major monthly art magazines display collages with copyrighted images, as well.

I’ve avoided those kinds of risks in my own zines, but that’s a personal decision, and one I may re-think as other artists seem to establish a safe precedent.

Get professional advice

The only thing that’s clear is that there is considerable flexibility in terms of what can and cannot be used in reprinted collage art. Read as much as you can, talk with an attorney, and then decide.

The simplest solution is to use only public domain and copyright-free images, including things like photos that you take yourself.

Related links:

Be a successful renegade artist/writer

Have you wanted to see your own article published in Expression, The Artist, Somerset Studio, or Art Doll Quarterly?

Do you dream of someday writing a successful book about the art that you love?

Renegade Writer book One day in 2005, I had coffee with NJ writer Mary Beth McCabe Temple.

She & I discussed what we have in common, which includes writing. And, she’s far more successful than I am, by a lot. She’s making connections at light speed and landing some amazing deals.

Of course, I wanted to know her secret. She generously provided me with some great contacts, but repeatedly emphasized the book, The Renegade Writer. Well, all of the local bookstores had sold every copy they’d had. So, I ordered it from Amazon.

A few days later, the book arrived. My first reaction was, “This is it? This is a skinny little paperback!”

Then, I started reading it. WOW! This is one of those books that is utterly jam-packed with one very practical idea after another, and many of these are… well, renegade ideas. After reading maybe five or six pages of this book, no wonder Mary Beth is doing so well!

See, I’ve been writing professionally–off and on–for over 20 years. I thought that I pretty much knew the routine: Ideas, queries, proposals, editors, contracts… everything.

I was really, really wrong.

If you’ve been thinking that it’d be fun to be published, either with a self-promoting article in Somerset Studio or in a best-selling book, buy this book.

I don’t say this often about writing books, because many of them just repeat the same stuff over & over again, and you can get all the info you need by reading a copy from the public library. Or, you can get the high points in a single issue of The Writer or Writer’s Digest magazines… which your public library probably subscribes to.

But, this book is VERY different. It’s a must-own if you’ve thought about getting published. You’ll refer to it often for advice and when you need a common-sense pep talk. You’ll highlight it, make notes in the margins…

Really, buy a copy. Right now.

Your first article sale will probably more than cover the price.

“Plan B” Teaching

Most of us went from making to teaching, pretty directly. In many ways, the best advice is that slogan, “Just do it.”

But, how can you build confidence and prepare for the unexpected?

Start with some “dress rehearsals”

Practice teaching with less formal groups. Older Girl Scouts (high school students) are a good audience. If your church has a social group, especially for women, that might be good.

Consider teaching at senior citizen centers, give a free class at your public library, adult ed center, and so on… all provide ready audiences and good experience for you.

Then, price your classes low to get word-of-mouth publicity at local shops. Teach as many classes to as many people as you can.

I’d start with a project-oriented class… a single product… something that they can complete during the class. Then, find a balance between process and product. No two teachers work alike in that respect, and different students arrive with different expectations. Working around those variables takes some practice.

Bring more than you think you’ll need

Handouts are good.   They should outline, step-by-step, how to complete the product or process that you’re teaching. Illustrations are very helpful. Some students need to see it in print… it’s how they process information.

Bring extra supplies and tools. There will always be one student who didn’t bring the right supplies. Also, every student loves an opportunity to experiment with tools or unusual materials before buying their own.

For example, I often bring my grommet hardware if we’re working with fabric, or dies with letters on them if there’s anything where we can use metal (or even copper tape).

Which “extras” you bring will depend upon what you’re teaching, of course.

Every class has surprises

Start with a small number of students if one-on-one time is important. Five or six students can work well if you’re teaching a lot of technique.

If you teach larger groups, there can be trade-offs, and that can be a dilemma.  The larger the group, the more likely you’ll have more than one student who doesn’t “get it.”
In a class of 20+ (the size that I usually teach), there will often be one or two students who arrive unprepared, who didn’t really understand the class description, or who are simply feeling grumpy.

If it’s one student, you can work with them individually to help them overcome hurdles.  If two or more are unhappy, they talk with each other and there can be an unfortunate ripple effect.

Never, ever take that personally.

Adapt quickly and give one-on-one time if it’s clear that someone just isn’t getting it, and he or she is frantic to figure things out.

Otherwise–especially if two or more students are “stuck”–it’s good to have a second, less challenging project in the back of your mind, that uses the same materials.

After lunch, check with each student to see how he or she is doing. That’s the best time to identify people who need extra attention, while there’s still plenty of classroom time left.

At the other end of the spectrum, every class includes at least one student who’s qualified to teach, whether they do so or not.  Let them be helpful, if they want to.

Some of my best classes have resulted from fabulous moments when a student offered to share his or her special tricks and techniques with a particular medium… from cast toilet tissue ornaments, to a clever page-folding design for an altered book.

Your rapport with your students can make all the difference.

The occasional disaster

Now & then a grumpy student will let the anvil drop (sometimes literally) about ten minutes before the class is over, or as she’s going out the door.

It’s one of the hardest things to get past when it happens. We want every student to be very happy with our classes.

If they’re not, we’d like clues or comments while we still have enough time in the day to get them back on track… and happy.

Check with each student throughout the day. Look for hints when someone needs one-on-one time.

That’s the best you can do, usually.

If you have unhappy students in every class, or more than 20% of your students leave class disgruntled, re-examine what you’re teaching and how you’re teaching it.

You may need to make a small change or two, such as a faster or slower pace. Maybe your students each need more space to “spread out,” or need extra breaks during the day.

But, don’t let the occasional, very vocal critic wear you down, especially if you had no opportunity to fix whatever they thought was wrong.

Remember that it happens to all of us, and every teacher feels awful when a student leaves unhappy… no matter whose fault it was.

Fortunately, this kind of surprise is rare. I’m just telling you about it so you don’t quit teaching the first time it happens.

Nobody’s perfect. Just do your best.

Don’t try to be all things to all people. You can’t do it.

Do your best to keep the majority of your students happy, and teach only what you love.

Every teacher has an “off” day now and then. Sometimes it’s your fault. Sometimes, it’s outside your control… a too-hot (or too cold) room, and so on.

Try always to have a “Plan B” for every possible surprise. There will still be occasional disasters… the kiln that won’t heat, the darkroom that has a light leak, or rainy weather when your class includes an outdoor activity.

Students are generally very understanding, if you’re ready with an alternative project and a sense of humor.

And, in many cases, you can take what looks like a total fiasco, and turn it into your best class ever. It all depends upon the situation, your alternative resources, and how quickly you can think on your feet.

In most cases, you’ll come up with creative solutions to unexpected challenges.

Your students will feel that the class was entirely worthwhile, and even laugh about things that went a bit awry. Sharing creativity is what matters. Your students’ discoveries and “ah-HA!” moments can be tremendous. That’s what makes teaching rewarding, and that’s why we keep teaching… not the paycheck.

Practice makes… better!

At each class, you’ll learn more about teaching, about students, and even about your art techniques & materials.

As you gain experience, you’ll get better & better. Before long, you’ll be ready to teach in more professional venues such as shops with fabulous reputations, and absolutely amazing national art events.

Start small, learn as you teach, and keep it fun.

How to start teaching art

The first and most important rule is… Ask how to get started at the places where you’d like to teach.

It’s that simple. Just visit, call or email the people who might hire you to teach.

Other than that, anything that I say reflects only my experiences and opinions. The one and only opinion that matters is that of the person who’ll write your paycheque.

That said, here’s what I’d recommend:

1. Develop your skills as an artist, and think of projects that beginners can tackle–and complete–in a two-hour workshop. And, put your art online at your own banner-free website. (This means being hosted by a service that you pay for.) Learn to use the search engines to attract visitors. (That’s an entire course in itself, btw.)

2. Approach local shops–even Michael’s–with an offer to teach. Also check with Adult Ed, town Recreation Departments, etc. They’ll generally tell you what they pay, or what you should charge.

Let them know whether you’re more interested in making money, or getting lots of exposure; that affects how much you’ll charge. Short, inexpensive classes will generally draw more students.

3. Teach. Teach a LOT. Make sure that every handout has a way for students to reach you… your website URL, your email, and offline ways for people to contact you.

Every time you teach, add that to your resume. At this point, I hardly ever use a resume, but sometimes it comes in handy. I relied on one often when I was a new teacher.

Also remember: It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a degree in art… or if you don’t have any degree. (I have an honorary doctorate, and that’s all.)

Your enthusiasm is what sells you as a teacher, most of all.

4. Keep expanding where you teach. Bigger shops, more students, and so on… that’s not only good PR, but it’s lucrative as well. Also, let TV shows know that you’re available. Many of them–such as HGTV’s “That’s Clever!“–are often looking for new artists to feature.

5. Apply at art events. Watch the websites of art events, to see if/when they say that they’re looking for teachers’ proposals.

A proposal generally includes:

    -Class description, sometimes a short blurb plus a longer version-Photos and sometimes actual samples sent to the event organizers-Supply list (what your students should bring)-Your bio, including your website URL

    -Your photo (either in a class, or your shoulders & face, aka a “head shot”)

    -How much you want to be paid, per student (if you set the fees) and how many minimum/maximum students in each class

    -How many days you can teach

    -Whether the class is for beginners, intermediate, advanced

    -Whether the class is process-oriented (you focus on materials and/or techniques) or designed to complete a project in class (product-oriented)

    -How long the class is (sometimes events specify only full-day classes)

    -The application form (often available online)

6. Send your art (or photos of it) and maybe articles to every place that you can find, for PR. This includes magazines such as Somerset Studio, of course, but also zines relating to art, as well as to the subject matter of your art if you’re working in a popular/themed genre.

7. Read as much as you can about your kind of art, as well as books about PR, about running a business, and specifically the business of art. Take courses–especially online courses–relating to this.

Keep doing all of this, steadily. If you let up, even for a few months, people assume that you’ve quit or something. The rule in PR is: If you don’t give them something to talk about, they’ll make it up, and it’ll usually be unflattering. So, keep the PR going.

Then, it’s mostly a case of waiting for things to open up for you. And, they will.

When to make changes

If your teaching career goes flat, you MUST make changes. Either start teaching something new in your field, or look for new places to teach. Every time you reinvent yourself, you are faced with the prospect of teaching at a loss, while you build up again.

If you teach a particular style of widget-making, consider how those widgets can be used in other fields. If you can’t get classes at the widget store, consider questions like these:

– Can you add widgets to a fiber project, to teach at a yarn or weaving store, or a quilting shop?

– Would a paper/stationery shop feature your handmade (or hand embellished) journals with widgets on the cover or the pages?

– Can your widgets be added to jewelry?

And so on. There are always new ways to look at your work, at your markets, and the places where students might be eager to learn what you can teach.

Your students come first, always

Put your focus on your students and ignore the paycheck as best you can. If you’re giving your students far more than they paid for, you’ll get word-of-mouth PR that’s invaluable. And frankly, that’s where the teaching gigs come from, most often.

It’s not far removed from saying, “Do what you love, the money will follow.” And, that is the sequence… do what you love first. If you love teaching, please teach.

(If you’re trying to teach just to make money, don’t even start. Really. The students can tell, and the experience will only make you bitter.)

Students pick up on how enthusiastic a teacher is, and how much he/she cares about them as individuals. That’s the most important part of teaching. If you get that right, everything else will fall into place.

How much do artists earn?

I’m not netting $50K right now, but in past years, I have earned in that vicinity. I earned the most right before my third child was born, and–if you adjust for inflation–my gross was around $180K, with maybe 3/4 of that being net income.

The bulk of my income came from three sources:

Original art

The largest part of my income came from my original work. I sold through galleries and art associations. I made the most at art association shows, especially one-day outdoor shows. My second best art association outlet was selling through banks; a local bank accepted our art (through the art assoc) for their lobby walls, and my most expensive pieces ($500+ in early 1980s) sold there. Art associations also take a lower commission than many commercial art galleries.

Writing articles & books

My second highest–and most consistent–income was from writing. I wrote & wrote & wrote… mostly how-to articles for magazines, for book publishers, for anyone who would buy. I found my markets through the annual guide, “Writers Markets.” (Always get the latest edition. Your library probably has a copy.)

I sold first rights and then reprints, and the money added up. Those twice-yearly royalty checks from books are nice!

A little here, a little there…

I also made money in peripheral ways… doing custom illustration for printers, doing graphics for convention brochures, zines, and so on. I was always finding new outlets for my creativity, and it paid off in word-of-mouth referrals. I placed no paid advertising for my art, anywhere.

Working at home

In those days, I did no teaching at all. I’m painfully shy (really) and even one-day outdoor art shows were excruciating. So, almost all of my work was done at home, with two toddlers underfoot, and I provided the sole financial support of my family.

Then I remarried, had a third (wonderful) child, and my career seemed to threaten my new husband.

20 years later, I divorced and began the rebuilding process. So far, so good!

Back on track

I have been very successful in the past, working almost entirely from home. I expect to continue in that mode.

The “starving artist” cliche isn’t your only option if you want to earn your living as a full-time artist. No two artists will follow the same path. Find what works for you.

Remember that the average toddler falls down over 300 times before learning to walk. If you try career options that result in dead ends, don’t give up. Hope that it doesn’t take you 300 tries to find your best career path, but don’t give up!

How do you face your creative fears?

Aisling’s notes: As artists, we all deal with that double-headed demon, fear of failure/success. In this article, musician Bob Baker discusses some options when immobilized by these fears.

How Do You Face Your Creative Fears?

by Bob Baker

Gloria, a subscriber to my “Quick Tips for Creative People” e-zine, recently sent this note:

“Do you have anything on self-discipline and overcoming the fear of failure/success? I feel very enthusiastic when I do things, but the demons of fear just creep up on me. I do not want to repress them any longer; I am fed up with them. But I know it’s easier said than done. SOS: I do not want to be a chained slaved to my fears any longer. Help me help myself!”

Well, I’m flattered that Gloria felt comfortable in turning to me for some advice, but I’m also a bit fearful myself in tackling such a widespread obstacle to success. But I’ll give it a shot.

First, let’s turn to Marsha Sinetar for some perspective. In her book To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love, she writes: “Almost all of us fear our potentials … Generally, fear’s message is that we’re not yet ready to be, do or have what we want. The way out of this dilemma is through a change of mind about ourselves — not simply the gaining of technical skills or textbook knowledge.”

Throughout her book, Sinetar encourages readers to play with their visions of a life that’s true to their purpose. I agree. Using your head for “possibility thinking” is extremely important in gaining confidence and getting mentally prepared for reaching higher levels of success.

But I also belief the best formula for living dreams is a balanced combination of THOUGHTS and ACTIONS. Nothing gives you confidence like having attempting something new that is in line with your creative passion. Whether it’s taking a painting class, going to a theatre audition, writing the first chapter of your novel … each small step builds a stepping stone to the next level.

Taking a closer look at Gloria’s note, I find the solutions to her dilemma woven into her very own words.

She writes: “I feel very enthusiastic when I do things …” She feels best when she is engaged in your passion. As she continues to do more things, her enthusiasm (and belief that she was meant to pursue her path) will grow.

“I do not want to repress (my fears) any longer; I am fed up with them.” Gloria has taken it upon herself to face her fears, not avoid them. By acknowledging her paranoia, she brings it out in the open, where it’s far easier to tame. She’s also grown frustrated with her fears, and discontent can be one of our greatest motivators.

In her book, Marsha Sinetar also says that successful people have “belief systems and self-ideas that support their life’s objectives. Underneath doubts, stronger than fear, lives the thought: ‘I can do this. I will do this. I am doing it!'”

Gloria also writes: “Help me help myself!” This is the most encouraging line in the note. She’s not blaming the world for her ills or laying excuses at the feet of her circumstances. She’s taking on the responsibility of wrestling this demon herself, which makes me realize she is right on track to slay this dragon.

Keep in mind, though, artists never reach a point where their creative lives are void of fear. It will never go away. But with a solid combination of positive thoughts and self-affirming actions, you can keep the little monsters very much under control.

P.S. Be sure to take a closer look at Marsha Sinetar’s two best-selling books: To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love and Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

Whose fault is it…?

Aisling’s notes: We’ve all had comments, emails, posts, and even our art misinterpreted… sometimes badly. In this article, musician & business consultant Bob Baker gives insight into what may have gone wrong, and how to prevent it from recurring.

Whose Fault Is It When You Don’t Get the Career Results You Want?

by Bob Baker

Human communication is a crazy thing. You tell somebody something with the intention of getting a certain response … and the person reacts in a completely unpredictable manner, sometimes with disastrous results. Let’s examine this topic and see how we can apply the lessons learned to promoting, selling and enjoying your creative talents.

You’ve had this happen to you at one time or another: You make a funny comment to a friend or family member based on something silly you’ve just been thinking about. Instead of laughter, you get frustration, maybe even a hostile reaction.

“How could they react that way?” you ask. “My intention was to make them laugh or feel good. How dare they misinterpret what I meant to do!” A lot of folks place the blame on the deranged individual who responded so radically.

Now switch to a freelance writer sitting down to write a sales letter she’ll use to drum up work. She knows she’s capable and has won a number of contests and has lots of published clips to show. So she gets to work writing about her qualifications and why editors should call her when they need freelance help.

The letters go out. Weeks pass by. No editors call.

“What’s wrong with these people?” she cries. “I gave them all the reasons I’m a good freelance writer, but none of these jerks is calling me!” She knew what her intention was. Why wasn’t her vision becoming reality?

This writer had made the mistake of not separating INTENT from RESULTS.

Intent is what you WANT or HOPE will happen. Results are WHAT HAPPENS. When it comes to communicating, your intent doesn’t matter. Results are the only thing you should be focusing on.

If you aren’t getting the results you want, do a little research and try a different approach. Even if you think your new brochure is the best thing since Ricky Martin … If it ain’t gettin’ the results you want and need … figure out what’s wrong and change it!

As a creative person, you are very focused on your art. You’re dedicated. Your brain percolates with dozens of ways to approach your current project. You nurture and refine your talent. In other words, you are very focused on … YOU.

That’s great for art … but not for marketing, promoting and selling your talents.

Our writer friend above, like many freelances, might eventually discover that sending letters that pitch specific story ideas get the most response from editors. Some writers I know even list five or six different tailor-made topics — one of which is likely to catch the editor’s eye.

Of course, that would mean the letter would have to focus primarily on the editor and publication receiving it … NOT on the writer herself.

So don’t get too attached to your intent, or get too angry when people don’t react as much and as quickly as you want. The only thing that matters are RESULTS. Focus on them and you may end up getting a lot more of what you want.

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

Ultimate Creative Conspiracy Theory

Aisling’s note: We’ve all had times when the deck seems stacked against us. And, we’ve all had times of soaring success when others around us seemed to falter no matter what. (And vice versa.) This article by Bob Baker offers an intriguing alternative view that’s worth trying.

The Ultimate Creative Conspiracy Theory

by Bob BakerWhether it’s the second gunman on the grassy knoll, the alien mystery at Roswell or what really is hidden within the high-security confines of Area 51… conspiracy theories abound. Many of us are amused by the speculation, while hardcore buffs examine every nuance looking for clues to support their version of the story.

If you’ll notice, all of these conspiracy theories involve some type of dastardly deed or cover-up. Someone is out to brainwash us or hide the facts from the public. After all, “the truth is out there,” according to X-Files scripture. I never seem to hear people suspecting, for instance, a conspiracy by furniture salesman to stuff money into the nooks and crannies of the couches they sell. Yet I always find change under the cushions when I clean. Hmm… maybe they’re secretly… Oh, never mind.

There’s another kind of conspiracy conjurer. You know the type. The artist, musician or writer who believes the deck has been stacked against him or that nobody will ever give her a break. “This town is just not artist-friendly,” he/she proclaims. “This sucks. Why bother?”

To listen to these people, you’d think the radio stations, theatre groups, art galleries (or whatever venue applies) were all part of a sick joke, trying to obliterate creative growth. And just like the bigger conspiracy nuts, they find clues and plenty of ammo to support their claims.

“See, that guy never returned my call,” they announce. “I can’t buy a job in this town.” Anything even remotely inconvenient that happens to them lends credence to the devious master plot.

Here’s a fun little game that I challenge you to play. It’s called the Inverse Conspiracy Game. For one entire day, I encourage you to go through the day believing wholeheartedly that there is a conspiracy involving you. Only with this Inverse Conspiracy, the whole world and everyone in it are involved in a conspiracy to help you succeed.

If you’re familiar with the recent Jim Carey movie “The Truman Show,” you know what I mean. In the film, everything that happens to the main character is a preplanned scene — only he has no idea it’s fabricated.

So for one day, imagine that everyone is pitching in on a secret mission to help you. There’s a positive reason behind everything that happens to you. Even seemingly negative events are put into action in order to propel you toward a reward that’s just around the corner. And it’s your job to break the code and figure out exactly how the world intends for you to use what happens to your advantage.

True, this isn’t your father’s conspiracy theory. It will take some brain work to reorient your mental perspective — especially to keep it up for an entire day. But just think how this shift in attitude might alter your progress. You’ll be forced to view everything in a far more constructive light. And when bad things do happen, it will be your mission to find the hidden opportunity (instead of more reasons to stop trying to reach your creative goals).

Give this inverse conspiracy theory a try. You can always go back to looking for evil schemes and cover-ups. In the meantime, you just might discover an alien on a grassy knoll waiting to help you succeed.

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

Why New Year’s resolutions fail

Survey finds that only 9% of Americans are serious about achieving their goals. 51% don’t have New Year’s Resolutions and of those that do, 79% don’t have a plan to achieve them.

Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) December 1, 2004
A survey conducted by the Gail Kasper consulting group, a leading speaking and coaching company, found that Americans aren’t taking their futures very seriously.

Specifically, 51% of those surveyed do not have New Year’s resolutions. To the contrary, 99% of respondents felt they were capable of accomplishing more in their lives.

So the question remains: Why aren’t we doing something about it?

The survey which was complete by a random group of 104 adults over 18 years of age, also asked respondents to identify the biggest issue that prevents them from achieving their New Years Resolutions or goals. The top 3 reasons identified were as follows:

  • Procrastinating 33%
  • Lack of discipline 24%
  • No game plan 19%

Interestingly enough, 10% of individuals felt the biggest issue that prevents them from achieving their New Year’s Resolutions or goals was “doing it alone.”

Supporting these results, participants were also asked if they felt they needed to improve their lives in specific areas such as personal confidence, family relationships, involvement in clubs/organizations, developing supportive friendships, their physical appearance (excluding weight), weight, financial stability, health/working out, career, and education.

99% of respondents felt they needed to improve in more than one area of life while over 90% of respondents felt they needed to improve in 5 or more areas.

The area that required the greatest improvement was developing financial stability, followed by health/working out, and losing weight.

To summarize, the survey indicates that 99% of respondents feel they need to improve their lives, but only 9% are actively doing something about it.

“We do want more and we all know we can do more with our lives, but 91% of us aren’t doing anything about it. We are an instant gratification society and advertisers count on consumer’s need for instant gratification to keep them purchasing.

“Whether it’s the latest technology, a new home or new car, we thrive on adding that next big thing to our own personal inventories.

“The average American spends $1.22 for every dollar they earn and the average credit card debt per household is over $8500,” said Gail Kasper, time management and motivational strategist.

Want To Do Something About It? “Planning for the future would bring long term positive results and achievement,” continues Kasper. “Initially, you may feel that you are sacrificing because you are not out on a Saturday spending your paycheck and you are now at home learning a new software program, but only your choices have changed.

“You are taking steps to achieve excellence in specific areas of life and this process becomes a personal growth experience – whether it’s learning a new software package, taking an aerobics class, developing your creative mind through reading, joining a club, or taking a college class.

“You will be healthier and your life will be more fulfilled. You will find immediate gratification because you are developing you.”

Gail Kasper, the author of the recently released time management and life strategy audio program, Make a Decision to Win, suggests these 6 simple steps to getting on track and living your New Year’s Resolutions and goals.

1. A support system is essential. When growing up, you have your parents to keep you on track. At work, you have your boss. Eventually you must come to the conclusion that you are accountable for your life.

With 10% of individuals indicating that their #1 reason for not achieving a New Year’s Resolution is that they don’t want to ‘do it alone’ and over 30% indicating that they ‘procrastinate,’ it’s time to develop a support system to keep you on track and hold you accountable.

It may be a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or family member, or perhaps it’s time to have a “goal planning” party. There are Tupperware parties, make-up parties, botox parties, so how about a “goal planning” party.

19% of individuals don’t “have a game plan” and many times goals don’t get achieved because of our inability to know how to proceed. One brainstorming session where others share their ideas and experiences can propel you to the next level of achievement.

2. Schedule a meeting with yourself. That’s right, schedule a 30 minute meeting… with you! When you decide that you “want” something whether it’s a purchase or a vacation, you are tenacious about it. Isn’t it time to be tenacious about your life? When you meet with yourself, ask yourself this question: where do I want to be 5 years from now? And write down the response. This will give you a clear direction for where you want to go.

3. Have a Daily Planning System. Gene Donohue once said that the difference between a goal and a dream is the written word. So get your electronic organizer, daily planner or other method of choice and write down your goals. Writing them down will make it “important” and give seriousness to the task. It will bring your goals to life.

4. Identify the specific date and time to start tasks. Next to those goals, write down the specific tasks you must do to complete those goals. These specific tasks are placed in your daily planning system.

So if next week, you plan to go to the gym, identify the specific date and time you will go. For each task, identify the date and time you will do that task.

5. Design your value system. A value system is who you are and how you choose to live your life. It’s your standard operating procedure. If you are a caring, hard working, honest with yourself, loyal individual – these values will define the process for how you will move forward with your goals. And these values will define the choices you make with your life.

An individual who is “honest with themselves” will not pretend they are working toward a goal when they’re not. They will admit that they have fallen off track and will get back on. A value system is key. It defines you and the steps you take.

6. Celebrate every accomplishment. We are a negative society. We see what we haven’t accomplished, rather than the steps that we have taken. Any effort or energy you give to what you haven’t accomplished will only slow you down. Celebrate every accomplishment, keep the momentum, and look toward tomorrow.

Action creates results!

Gail Kasper is an internationally renowned motivational strategist. Multi-billion dollar companies, top CEOs, associations, Ivy League universities and professional sports teams have adopted Gail’s ideas, leadership techniques and sales programs to increase performance and achievement. She is the author of the life strategy audio CD program Make a Decision to Win.Gail is the former Mrs. New Jersey America 2002 and has co-hosted the Emmy award-winning America’s TV JobNetwork (airing on CBS and Fox). She currently hosts The Visitor’s Channel. Coupling a business degree with psychology studies Gail is a nationally recognized certified trainer. For more information please visit www.gailkasper.com.

For survey results and holiday tips, please visit: www.gailkasper.com/2005survey

To arrange an interview or appearance with Gail Kasper, please contact: Laine Latimer 503-859-2299 ###