Ballet Shoes and Pointe Shoes and More Flexibility

Summer Intensives offer a chance for increased flexibility. After your first morning class, you are partially warmed up for the rest of the day. That is, unless you are resting in between classes in highly air conditioned environments. I recommend not to do that. A cool but not cold place, perhaps shady outdoors somewhere, is better.

Also, allow your ballet shoes and pointe shoes to dry as much as possible in between classes, they will last longer, and will not lose that exactly right fit so soon. Having two pairs of each helps, if you can do that.

Intensive training in ballet means intensive use of the flexor muscles. Battment tendu, grande battment and developpe en avant mean heavy use of the iliopsoas (hip flexor) muscles. Without constant stretching, this tension will compromise your turnout, as the tension at the side of the hips will counter the thigh’s ability to rotate outwards. It will also lessen the flexibilty of the low back and front of the hip, in doing an arabesque.

A standing lunge done in between exercises will relieve the tension building up in the hip flexors and postural muscles. Finding exactly the right balance between strength and stretch is what creates power in your work.

One of the best ways to stretch for a good arabesque is at the corner of the studio where you can hold on to one barre, while placing yourself in your ideal arabesque position with your working leg on the barre of the other wall behind you. If there is a lower barre, use it so as to get an upright back position. Do a demi plie repeatedly, holding the position well-placed.

If there is no corner with barres, get a fellow student to hold your hands to keep you upright, and place your leg on the barre behind you to do your demi plies.

A wonderful stretch regimen for dancers is yoga. My favorite is “Ali McGraw – Yoga Mind & Body”. It is a few years old but still available. It is not for beginners, but dancers will love it. The positions are easy for most dancers, and give fantastic relief to muscle tension. Done in the evening it will leave you stretched and ready to sleep.

A more active stretching routine is the “Classical Stretch” series. On a lighter class schedule day, or on a no-class day, the “Athletes’ Intense Stretch” will get rid of the muscle tension while still allowing muscle recovery.

If you are recovering from injury, both of the above may be helpful, but please consult with your doctor, teacher or trainer as to whether you are ready to do these routines.

Losing electrolytes and dehydration can cause muscle tension and cramps. Real sea salt on your foods, calcium/magnesium supplements and “All 12” cell salts are a great help. Celery is one of the saltiest foods you can eat, organic, multiple mineral salts, and it is a hydrating food too – a perfect snack in between classes.

Marketing Prints

In the past lithography and traditional printing methods were used if the artist wanted to market reproductions of original artwork. While effective, these methods had serious drawbacks:

First and foremost, a high output number would compromise the value of any reproduction. Second, the quality of 4 color copies limited the color rendition of such reproductions. Also, the choice of substrates was dismal compared to giclée. The advent of high-end digital printmaking has opened a new world for artists: more paper choices, better color, limited production.

On a pure marketing standpoint, artists who have shows and lectures can now suggest giclees to potential buyers. Collectors in particular want to buy art that is not made in mass quantities. When buying a giclée they are assured to possess something rare and exquisite.

Giclees are well established in the art world; they are bought and sold in world class auctions as well as in galleries. Many museums display giclees.

Listen to your clients: I recently had a call from a portrait artist. She has a business where customers come to her for family portraits she makes on watercolor paper. She had a few inquiries regarding making copies so that more than one household could have the portrait of their loved ones. At the same time they asked for a quality print, possibly on the same paper. We reproduced the original and it was virtually impossible to distinguish it from the giclée. Now the artist was happy to make additional income and the families had as many portraits as they wanted!

No matter what the market is, whether it consists of commissioned art or not, high quality reproductions can generate an additional stream of income given the proper marketing.

How can you increase the value of your artwork?

One proven method is to create posters (It has been done for a long time by artists and photographers) and sell the posters at art shows. This creates a buzz and facilitates the selling of your work in a poster format to be displayed in various locations. A well designed poster is one of the best advertisements!

Second, create art and make high quality giclée reproductions without ever selling your originals. Make for example an artist proof edition of 25, sign it and release it as the only art available.

If you wish to be able to sell your original you can do so and still increase the value of your art. Start with small limited editions. As soon they are sold out the value will increase. Always establish and maintain a personal relationship with every past, current and potential buyer of your art! Buyers connect emotionally with the art as well as the creator. They will be more receptive to collecting more work if they feel a bond.

Use the Internet

Create a website with a portfolio so people can see the art. Add the URL to business cards, posters, postcards etc. Optimize the site for keywords you want to target (i.e. abstract paintings, oil paintings of flowers, portraits on oil etc.)

The artist is encouraged to pre-sell the complete limited edition if a LE is decided. It is a good idea to track the collectors and notify them when the particular edition is sold out. Another advantage of having a website is to create a newsletter notifying people of limited edition publication as well as accomplishments and new art. These practices reinforce the added value of their current (or potential) purchase. Last but not least, ask for a Certificate of Authenticity from the printmaker.

Why Image Masking Is Necessary

In Post-processing, it is nearly impossible for a designer to avoid using the image masking features and methods. Image masking opens up a new window of endless editing effects and a dedicated designer is bent on taking every single opportunity.

Sound knowledge about these options and functions will ensure a satisfying end result. Now to address the question at hand:

Non-Destructive: As opposed to erasing a background using the Eraser Tool, masking technique does not obliterate the image details. They are cleverly hidden below various layers so that they can help us out in case we need to make changes. On the contrary, the Eraser tool permanently deletes these pixels and it is close to impossible to bring those back in case a tweaking is required.

Transitions: The basic or simplest function of image masking technique is to have a “hide and seek” effect in some areas of the photo. This transitioning effect can be created using brushes and gradients for soft masking. This requires delicate strokes and soft brushes. This transparency of pictures can be controlled. The opacity level can be adjusted to suit the photo and its background. This is not the only technique for achieving this effect, but it is the simplest.

Editing Specific Areas: Many times we are faced with projects where we need to edit a small portion of the photo; such as, changing the color of someone’s clothes in a photo and fixing shadow/light issues. You can use masking techniques to highlight the portion and edit it as you wish e.g. color correction, brightness, contrast, exposure, shadows etc.

Removing / Replacing Background of Translucent Objects: Masking is an easy option when it comes to removing backgrounds of translucent objects. Any object with any level of transparency can be isolated from its background by careful masking. Even in cases of semi-transparent clothes’ photos, this technique can be applied.

Single Advantage of Clipping Mask: Clipping mask, when compared to Layer Mask, has the advantage of making different areas visible by simply moving the clipped image. It can be determined by the user which part of the background they want to be visible and which part they don’t by using clipping mask. Other than this one advantage, regular layer masking is more than good enough for most masking work.

Creating Collage Photos: Collage images are fun and it is even more interesting when you play with the masking tools while making a collage. Interesting and cool effects can be made by using a number of pictures and masking them. Soft brushes in varying gradients and hues of gray will definitely make these blending smooth.

Using A Broker For Your Business Mobiles: What Are The Key Benefits?

It is the question on the minds of procurement managers and business owners nationwide and one that could significantly impact the productivity of a business, “is it better for me to go direct to a major network for a business phone contract or use a broker?”

Often businesses operate under the misconception that going to a network directly will garner them the most cost-effective prices and ultimately the most ‘secure’ deal due to the fact that they are dealing with a big name in the telecommunications industry. But is this always this case? Below we explore some of the benefits that a business mobile broker could bring to your business.

Why should businesses use a mobile phone broker?

Contract range
With extensive marketing budgets and overall market share it may appear that a network will have anything and everything your business needs from a mobile contract, but the packages that networks offer to businesses tend to be rather rigid in their offering and therefore a business may end up with a deal that is not necessarily the best package for the requirements of each individual. The end result of this is multiple contracts with multiple networks that not only leads to an administrative nightmare but also increases costs exponentially.

Moreover, a business may not even fully understand the intricacies of their requirements, with which the business is able to run efficiently. Where a broker can assist is in the negotiation of these contracts due to the strong connections they have with these large networks, developed over many years of working alongside each other and due to the sheer volume of potential custom they can bring. This ultimately leads to the brokers effectively negotiating the ideal contracts to suit a business model.

Their effective negotiation skills and their ability to identify the most suitable packages for a business is precisely the reason why a broker is a much more cost-effective solution. Many perceive that a broker’s cost is simply added on top of an already established cost structure, however, the buying power that a broker will bring to the table is second to none and therefore effective negotiation is part and parcel of their role. Furthermore, as brokers aren’t supplementing substantial marketing budgets or operating their services with a specific profit target to maintain their share price, they are able to offer these cost-effective solutions without adding an astronomical fee on top.

Account management
Now a business has a contract in place, what happens when something goes wrong, they have a query or they simply need some support with a mobile device? For those dealing directly with large networks this usually means waiting on hold for an inordinate amount of time and subsequently being passed from pillar to post until you reach the right person. The fact of the matter is that large networks are simply inundated with these type of queries, and more often than not your first contact will not have adequate training to provide you with the support needed and don’t know one business from the next.

Mobile brokers will have a strong team behind them, with decades if not centuries of expertise between them in the mobile communications industry. These teams will know a business, know their requirements and will ultimately be able to regularly assess that their current mobile contract meets the ever-changing needs of a business. This investment in high quality customer service is one of the major factors that entices businesses to use a broker each and every time they require a mobile contract.

As we have demonstrated, the use of a mobile phone broker can be an invaluable asset to any business looking for the right mobile solution. Whilst deciding to go with a broker is a fantastic first step, choosing a poor broker is on a par with a poor network, therefore choosing that ideal broker for your business is essential; check their reviews, their finances, ask for referrals, anything so that you feel confident that they will provide your business with the best service.

Entrepreneurial Mind Frame

Entrepreneurs make up only about 15% of the working population in the US. Far fewer actually succeed than those who attempt to become self employed business people and venture out on their own. So what makes people decide to take the entrepreneurial path, when so few actually make it a reality?

Is the American dream a possibility for anyone, or, does it take more than most to become a successful entrepreneur?
The success of an entrepreneur does depend on their mindset. A large percentage of business owners will quit in their first five years in business. What is needed is the fortitude and belief that goes with attaining success.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers and dreamers. The difference between the dreamer and the entrepreneur though, is that the entrepreneur takes actions based on their dreams. They persist through the hardships and never give up! Many entrepreneurs start with an idea. Their success is determined by their belief that they can create something greater than simple monetary success. Often, it is about creating something which will benefit the world.

James Dyson, for example, came up with the idea of the bagless vacuum cleaner. Despite multiple set backs, over 5000 prototypes and not being able to get any manufacturers or distributors to accept his idea, he persevered. It was over a decade after his initial idea when his concept came to fruition. Even then, it was after a lot of difficulties and hardship due to the vacuum replacement bag industry, which was worth £100 million in the UK.

In Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start With Why’, he suggests that the biggest companies in the world are so because of their “why?” – their reasons for building a business in the first place. In all cases, it wasn’t just to make money, or make technology better, or some whimsical ideology.

The Wright Brothers, for example, became known as the pioneers of the first manned flight. But their competition was much better funded and well connected – Samuel Pierpont Langley had worked at Harvard, had a number of powerful connections, including Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell. The War Department funded his project with a $50k grant, a seemingly massive advantage to the unconnected Wright Brothers who had no money or influence. However, their passion and devotion to change the world with this new technology drove them to attain the first flight in history in 1903.

Desire for material things and monetary wealth can only carry someone so far. Unless you have a goal or passion which is bigger than that, you may lose the momentum and fail to maintain your enthusiasm for any length of time.

The entrepreneurial mindset is one which taps into your purpose. Without a purpose driven goal or aim, it can’t take long before disillusionment kicks in. With a mindset which takes into account a larger purpose, entrepreneurs can build huge businesses because they ‘saw’ a vision of what they wanted to create. If the purpose is greater than the obstacles which lie in the path of attaining it, no amount of setbacks will stop you from achieving your goal.

On the other hand, if you set out to do something and something gets in the way and stops you, your initial reason, (your “why?”), may not have been strong enough to endure all the battles along the way.

Entrepreneurial mind frame (or mindset) therefore, must be aligned with both your vision, your values and your purpose. If your values are not in alignment with your purpose and vision, you’ll come up against road blocks which will stop you from achieving your goal.