Wednesday, February 8, 2012


8. Molly Rom I'm considering doing an overhaul of Robot Portraits.  A couple things have happened lately that have sparked a desire to abandon it completely or really push the project.  Honestly I'm not convinced that pushing it much longer will be of any use.  I really liked doing this to start, but each time I get a new order I have to make myself draw and that's no good.  I find myself stalling and putting it off.  I think there's no joy in it, but it may be because it's so sporadic.  Doing it for fun might bring back some of that love, and I'm willing to give that a try.  Lately I feel overlooked and that after five years of doing this (that's right, five) I'm not sure it's worth it.

Assuming I continue, there are some things that need to be done.

First of all, I'd like to register the site and have it hosted somewhere.  Living on Blogger isn't bad and has offered me a great opportunity to run virtually cost free.  However, I believe it doesn't give an impression of professionalism.  It would require some design work and possibly a relationship with a web designer.  And I want to pay for services.

Additionally, I want to find out a better way to offer music with the videos, assuming I continue the videos.  I've been fortunate again to be able to pull royalty free music from Jamendo.  I'm not using the videos to make money, but it is part of the process.  When I upload videos to YouTube, 1 out of 10 are flagged for content matches.  It hasn't prohibited anything from being shown, but I want to avoid doing anything nefarious.  I think I'm okay now, but I'd love to have an alternative.  I can see offering some exposure to new or unsigned musicians, or those who offer creative commons music.  But me offering exposure is akin to an unpublished writer offering a comic book artist "exposure" instead of money.  Again, I'd like to be able to pay for music if needed.

Then there's the question of exposure myself.  I thought I had a good thing going when a couple of robotics groups and engineers ordered a few drawings, but that didn't go very far.  Then there were a couple orders for relatively well known individuals online, but that really only resulted in a dozen or so Flickr and YouTube views.  Next was the listing on Neatorama, but I'm undoubtedly being overshadowed by (admittedly) wonderfully creative products.

Each time someone orders, they are really impressed how inexpensive the work is and how good it is for the price.  I've been hoping word of mouth/keyboard and the strength of the project would be enough, but it's obvious it isn't.  What that means is more promotion, which means I need to work harder to get my name out there.  It actually might take some funds to get some targeted ads.

So each of these points ends with needing cash.  Web hosting and domain names are dirt cheap and could be paid for with just a couple orders.  The bigger issue promotion, music licensing, and web design.  I might be able to pull some strings but I would rather not be beholden to anyone.  I know the feeling of getting paid for doing something you're good at and I would want to be able to offer that to someone.

I've been watching Kickstarter for some time now and while I'm interested in it and would definitely benefit from its services, I'm unsure of what I can offer other than the drawings (which is actually what they want you to offer as backing rewards.)  I'd need to come up with a pitch, essentially, outlining what the project is and what the funds would be for.  Since I don't know how much web design would cost, or purchasing music, I'm left to play guess work at the funding.  What's a good price for web design, $500 flat? $20/hr?  What about licensing music?  I could continue with the Jamendo usage with the idea that the music is only for enhancement or I could completely switch to Creative Commons music and offer something to unsigned musicians, but my name doesn't carry any weight, so who cares?

And in the end, maybe the art just isn't good enough to warrant more attention.  I've thought of that too.

It's at this point I could use some input.  If anyone is still reading this and has any thoughts on the matter, I'd love to here from you.


Design Prescription said...

Just found your work through a friend and I love it! I hope you end up sticking with it.

My boyfriend is a programmer and said an average hourly rate for web design is around 30. And he suggested checking out for a better idea of what's available. Hope this helps!

themusicbed said...

its great its really helpful for you Royalty Free Music

Ben Rollman said...

@Design - Thanks for the heads up. I will check that out. I do plan on sticking with it. :)

@themusicbed - That's a great site, thanks. However, if I pay $50 for a single use/streaming, that's $10 more than my most expensive product. I wouldn't be making any money. But I'll keep it in mind, thank you!

Map.SpaM said...

If you don't mind me asking: What type of portrait might motivate you to get back into loving it? Is there a style or type of photo that you like to transform and get excited about?
I came across your blog over a year ago but have just now remembered it wandering around the internet at the wee hours of the night. Back then, I thought I'd wait for a special occasion to order, but I read this post and figure "why not now?"
If there is something that might be special for you in the way of creating your portraits, I would love to help inspire that!

Ben Rollman said...

Hi Map.SpaM!

No, nothing in particular. I blame posts like this on being a flighty artist. I'm given to bouts of despair about being a creative type. I just move from impulse to impulse and right now drawing robots isn't among my impulses, or things I like to do. I still do them, and I still find some joy, but I'm not drawn to it as I am other things.

I honestly think something a little more challenging and time consuming might be in order. I've been doing so many short and immediate projects that I've forgotten what it's like to put time into art.

So, thanks for your response. If you'd like a drawing, I'd be HAPPY to do one. Even if it's not a robot. :)