Category: Social Media

Free Art

Yay you came here for free art. I’m glad that caught your attention.

The internet is a valuable tool for artists. It provides a means to get our work in front of many eyes. Whether it is a personal website or social media. It is good practice to post to social media on a regular basis. Not posting means that we no longer exist. As an artist you can get forgotten about very quickly.

The unfortunate side of the internet is thievery. Many feel that if they find an image on the internet it is automatically free. Free to use anyhow they please. Download it, right click on it, save it to their hard drive. It is very easy to do. For this reason many artists put gaudy watermarks on their images to help “protect” themselves. I do not watermark. I find them to be highly intrusive. I shouldn’t have to work hard creating an  aesthetically pleasing image just to plaster it with what people should already know. It’s my image, I created it, I own the rights to it forever. So instead of watermarking let’s educate. Taking an image from the internet without some form of consent is stealing.

Let me step back a little. I have had many of my images used commercially without my knowledge and/or I found them by searching or by just pure coincidence. When I confront the entities they immediately get defensive. They even go as far as ridiculing me and the image. It makes me laugh. If the image sucked, then why are you wanting to make yourself look bad? The truth is they used the image because they liked it. It spoke for them. It represented them. They tried to get something for free. My work, my time, my equipment. Nobody wants to work for free. Most people working for a corporation would not need to write a blog on this subject. Why? Because most people get compensated in a timely manner for their performance.

Another common response is, “You put it on the internet, it’s public, the whole world sees it.” Yep, it is very public. So are the city streets. This logic says that if I park my nice car on a public street it is free for the taking. It could be taken, but there are consequences. There are consequences to stealing images. There are laws against it that stand up in court just as heavily as stealing a car monetarily. Therefore regardless of justification, the law says you cannot do it. All images are protected whether there is a watermark, copyright symbol, fine print, etc. or not.

Most people wouldn’t walk into a grocery store and steal a banana. A banana seems harmless, what damage would come to the store for stealing one banana? Most people don’t think about it and wouldn’t steal period. That same logic needs to be applied to art and artists.

Artists need your support. Which means don’t take an image without consent. Don’t ask an artist for free work, yes, this applies to family and friends. Free art means someone is working hard and not getting paid. Don’t ask an artist for a discount. The art is already cheap. Not really a proud bragging right. ” I got this at a killer discount.” Insert sad face. You are investing in that artist. Every time you buy a piece of real art from an artist the value of that art and artist goes up. You can’t get that value from Ikea, Bed Bath and Beyond, or Target. There is zero value in purchasing “wall coverings” from these types of places. When you buy real art, original art, you are buying value and something that is one of a kind. Be original, buy original. Be proud you paid asking price, brag on that. Say no to free art.

Buy local. San Diego is a great art city. Start going to the many shows and open receptions. You will be amazed and pleased. If you don’t know much about art, you don’t need to. Go to a show, just look. What catches your eye? Why does it catch your eye? How does it speak to you? Art speaks, it doesn’t need to match your sofa, it needs to match you. A great place to start looking for shows is at ArtGuideSD.

I did not post any photos to this blog for fear they would be stolen.

Paul W. Koester is a San Diego based artist specializing in urban and landscape photography.

Check’s In The Mail

Like all artists I enjoy selling art. Of course I like getting paid for what I do. It’s the world we live in. Everything costs money. So when I sell a piece I am happy for two reasons. I am getting paid for what I love to do and I am making someone happy. This means that I spoke to someone through my art, it doesn’t get any better than that!

Recently I received an email from a lady in Ohio. She discovered her husband looking at my website. There are worse things you can discover your husband looking at online. So again I took that as a compliment. She wanted to know what inspired me and asked questions about a particular image that I created. I kindly and thoughtfully took the time to respond to all of her questions. We had a bit of back and forth dialogue over the last couple weeks.

Bad Check

Show Me The Money

A couple days ago I received this nice check FedEx’d to my studio. Sweet!! Right? Ummm not so fast. Let’s backup this a little bit. By the second email I knew immediately that this was a scam. I have had people try to run check scams on me in the past so I knew what was happening. I play along because I want these people busted. I loathe these people!! So in a nutshell what they do is butter you up. Try to gain your trust, ask about you, act all interested. Then comes the crazy story. I want this for my husband for our 10 year anniversary, I want it to be a surprise. He takes care of all the finances so I am having my assistant write a cashier’s check. I am moving to the Philippines, so I am having a shipping company handle all my affairs. It goes on and on. Sounds really legit actually. So here’s the part where they screw you over. The fine art print I was selling had the price tag of  $500. So that means the check is written over for the amount of $800. When I go to cash the check, the “extra money” minus my costs goes to the shipping company. When the check bounces, I am out the $800. The con artist then pockets the $800. I knew from the second email that this was the game that was being played. I contacted the credit union and verified that this was a scam. The check is counterfeit.

Most of these scams originate over seas. They are getting better at it now. Using addresses within the US. Their English is better, i.e. writing and spelling. They are using common names. So as a warning be careful. If you sense something is wrong, then something is wrong. If it is too good to be true, be careful.

As an artist I work very hard to put a quality product out there that will sell. I do this full time. This is my sole source of income. So it pisses me off being a target to a scam. It pisses me off that artists as a whole are targeted. We are targeted not just by scams but also to offer up our services for free. This happens all the time. Not just from family and friends, large companies as well.

The film industry and agencies make up all sorts of excuses and promises, “We have no budget, but we would like to place your art in several scenes.” Ummm, no budget? How is that possible. Does that mean you have no money, or so much money that you decided not to budget it? I don’t know. I just saw this today in an art community. Don’t fall for it!!! Exposure, possible future work! It never comes, it is a scam!

The point is artists need to be paid. If you like it, or love it, then pay for it! We work very very hard for very very little. Our prices are already dirt cheap. Nothing I create was free for me to create. My supplies, my rent, utilities, etc., and my time all cost me a lot of money. So how can I simply give anyone my work for free? No artist can.


What is confidence? How do you obtain it? Better yet, how do you teach it? Good questions. All with varying or even elusive answers. We all struggle with it at times. Some more than others and seemingly there are those who have obtained all the confidence in the world.

As an artist I often struggle with confidence. Not so much in my abilities, more in my confidence in surviving in the vast wprld of artists. I am but a speck in a huge sea of talent and creativity. How do I shine? How do I stand out? How do I get noticed? Yet at the same time I do what I can to not dwell on that much. It is a waste of time for my thoughts and energy to waste away on that which really is not realistic. If we all thought, “Well, there are an awful lot of artists out there, I don’t see myself succeeding. So I am not going to be an artist.” That then is an admission of defeat from the beginning.


“Opportunity” By Natasha Myrick

I believe in persistence. I have been persistent for several years. Putting my work out there. Growing, bettering myself, posting, blogging, etc. I could have easily given up based on feedback or the lack thereof on my Facebook posts, Google + posts, etc. If I were to compare myself to others, then I should quit. I should throw in the towel based on the numbers.

Don’t look at the numbers, don’t look at the stats! They mean nothing! What matters? If you are posting something, your art, a photograph, your passions, then that means you believe in that. You enjoy, love, what you do and you post it. What matters is that you feel it is important. It mattered when you shared it with the world and it still matters! What matters to you is truly all that matters, do not forget that!

Had I given up, I would not have my work hanging at the amazing Incredible Artist Gallery  in Cathedral City, CA. Had I given up, I would not have met many amazing artists who today I call friends! Had I given up, I would not be writing this blog and you wouldn’t be reading it.

Had I given up, I would not have had the opportunity to mentor 14 year old Natasha Myrick. Due to my ties with the Incredible Artist Gallery, I was given an awesome experience to meet the Myrick family at the beautiful Colony 29 in Palm Springs, California. The Myricks were brought out here to California to give their 5 year old son Liam the experience of a lifetime. Liam was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma when he was only 3 years old. Needless to say the lives of the Myricks has been hectic, many ups and downs. Their time here in California was meant to create an up that would be part of their memories forever. For me it was a wonderful experience getting to meet all of them! Playing with Liam and his 8 year old sister Natalie. Watching them paint, play, swim, and simply enjoy life without worrying about anything for a few short days.

Look What I Did!

“A Proud Moment” Natasha proudly stands before her works at the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

A good portion of Liam, Natalie, and Natasha’s stay in Palm Springs was spent preparing for their very own art show at Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Natalie and Liam created paintings to sell at the gallery to raise money for Liam’s medical expenses.

Natasha is the oldest of the Myrick siblings. She has not had it easy. With Liam’s numerous hospital visits, being the oldest means having the most responsibilities. She doesn’t live the typical life of a teenager, yet she doesn’t complain. She understands and loves her little brother. Yet through all of that there is a creative side to Natasha that strives to be revealed, it has been suppressed. I discovered that talent as I mentored Natasha and helped guide her in creating some pretty amazing photos.

The Light

“The Light” image created by Natasha Myrick

Grandma's Promise

“Grandma’s Promise” Image created by Natasha Myrick

Natasha's Reflection

“Natasha’s Reflection” Taken while on a photo walk in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

Here is where this whole thing comes full circle. How do you teach confidence? The moment Natasha and I picked up our cameras, Natasha began saying to me, “I can’t do this.” “I am not good enough.” Lots of negativity was sensed. It was strong enough that I thought to myself, “I am not going to be able to teach her.” How do you teach something to someone who is this critical of themselves? I knew some of her intimidation was derived from me. So instead of addressing her insecurities I had her shoot away. I lead by example and just started taking pictures of the surrounding area.  She asked questions and I answered. My words were simple to her, “just have fun”. In my opinion that is lesson number one with photography have fun, then learn, always have fun. Setting her mind at ease was important to me. Being overly critical of our inadequacies does very little to help improve ourselves. Recognizing them, yes, that is important, but then move on and work on improving. How do you improve? Well that is simple too. Look back at those things that intimidated you. Are they as intimidating now as they were back when you were first introduced to them? Did you improve? Chances are good you did. Due to that knowledge, now know that you can do that again, and again, and again.

Soon I saw a change in Natasha. I saw her relax. She began to enjoy being behind the camera. I watched her get lost in the moment. That’s the golden moment, getting lost, that is when you truly create. As you can see she created some amazing images that she has every right to be proud of. Together we edited the images and Natasha gave them titles that she felt from her heart. While Natasha was out getting ready for the gallery showing I went and had them printed and framed. The next time she saw her images, they were prominently hanging on the walls of Gallery 446. What a proud moment! I was proud of her as was everyone else, simply amazing!

Natasha's Creations

“Natasha’s Creations” Beautiful images created by Natasha Myrick hanging on the walls of the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

Paul and Natasha

Paul and Natasha at the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Rick Pantele

Believe Tree

“Believe Tree” an amazing and beautiful tree with words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation written on it’s branches. Image and design created by Paul W. Koester

Believing in yourself is the key to confidence. It starts with us. If we don’t believe then how can others? Never underestimate yourself or doubt yourself! We all go through it and we all need to be reminded of our self worth. Chances are good others will not remind us of our self worth, we have to do it for ourselves. When others are down on themselves I do what I can to encourage them and remind them of how talented they are and how important they are. As an artist I know what it is like to be down and have those dark moments when things just seem like they are not coming together the way I would like. The doubts creep in, we all need reminders that we are better than that! We all need from time to time reminders that we need to BELIEVE IN OURSELVES!! The Believe Tree is a beautiful and amazing tree with words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation written on its branches. It serves as a visual reminder that we can get through and overcome any challenge. Quite often that biggest challenge is convincing ourselves that we are good enough.

Socially Speaking About Social Media

Sun Dog

A sun dog and the setting sun in La Jolla, California.

Over the past several years I have spent a great deal of time on the various social media platforms marketing my work and promoting myself. Up to the beginning of this year my main focus and strategy was to reach my audience through Facebook. I spent a great deal of time posting and advertising there. Up until about a year ago it was a good experience for me. The interaction was decent, not great, but I really did not have anything to compare it too. I did begin to realize that my following and interaction were not very well matched. Those that saw my posts averaged around 10-12% of my page Likes, which is called reach. Then only 10% of my reach interacted in some manner with the post.  I also paid to reach a specific audience, in particular the San Diego metro area. I made the assumption that people who related to my work would be more likely to interact with my posts. Some actually did, but I do not believe that most of my followers even saw my posts in their feed. I even tried promoting a few of my posts from time to time to increase the exposure with little to no results. I also noticed that many of my new Likes were not coming from my targeted market but were coming from areas out of the country.

A little over a year ago I joined Google +  as a result of following Trey Ratcliff at Stuck In Customs a really great photographer who has created quite a few video hangouts on Google +. As I watched the hangouts, Trey and the other photographers would talk about circles, tagging, and etc. I paid little attention at first then eventually bit-the-bullet and I set up an account. At first I really didn’t get it and I thought it was just another social media site with its own unique spin on the same ol’ thing. Never-the-less I did post to Google + regularly as I posted to Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter at the same time.

Over the course of this past year time frame I became more and more frustrated with the results of Facebook. I also saw other people posting and blogging similar frustrations and I could totally relate to their experiences. In the latter part of 2013 I began to shift my focus from Facebook to Google +. As my focus changed so did my results. I began to get noticed on Google + and the people there were far more engaging than my previous social media experiences. I began to create relationships with other artists and businesses. Some of which I truly believe will develop into life long friendships. I know it sounds to good to be true, but it is reality.

I’m not writing this to promote one brand over the other. I just know what is working well for me at this point in time. This is about my personal experience and journey from one place to another. So if you were sitting there wondering, “Where has Paul been lately?” well now you know where to find me. If you would like to see more of my work please come find me at Paul Koester On Google + or at my business page at Paul W. Koester Photography.

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