Screaming from Car Windows

I go walking quite a bit, particularly of late, because my doctor has told me my cholesterol level is far too high. Frequently, when walking near busy roads, I experience incoherent screaming from car windows.

This screaming is usually perpetrated by some young person, either male or female, traveling shotgun, with the sole purpose of startling yours truly, the pedestrian. Sometimes it even works (if you're someone who does this - works best if you're coming from behind. Shouting, coming from the opposite direction just makes you look clueless).

The thing is, sometimes these people will actually yell something, which I presume to be witty, clever or biting that makes their companions in the car think they are way cool. Unfortunately all I hear is "duhwaahhhhhzeeeeeeeeee....".

Doesn't matter what is yelled either. It's incomprehensible. If you're someone who screams from a car window, know this: I have no idea what you said. You're not cool if the person who's meant to hear, whatever it is you said, doesn't hear it.

Whilst I'm on this topic, here's another of my pet beefs directed at people in cars when I'm walking. If you're one of those people who beep their car horns at pedestrians because you know them and want to get their attention so you can wave. Ninety percent of the time I won't recognize your car and I can't see who you are through the reflection on your tinted windows.

If per chance I do finally click to your identity you'll have driven beyond sight before I get chance to wave - so really, don't bother beeping your car horn. Just keep driving. Otherwise you're going to think I'm ignoring you.

I've come across a lot of weird situations from car drivers whilst out walking. From having things thrown at me from moving cars to having people stop to ask for directions, then acting like arrogant pratts who think they're doing me a favor for giving me the privilege of helping them get to where they're going.

I've even seen people 'road skiing' - holding onto an open door with both feet (wearing joggers) on the road whilst the car is moving.

The sweetest thing is watching it all go wrong (so long as no one is hurt). Such as the time I saw the rear wheels fall off a car whilst doing a burn out. There's nothing better than seeing a fool in their car being inconvenienced by their own stupidity.

Creative Artists. Print-on-demand Highlights

Creative Artists is a blog by photographer, Emily (a.k.a. emele), that features her pick of the art and photography that can be found on print-on-demand sites like Zazzle and Red Bubble.

The blog is sorted into categories so you can go right to the kind of art and photography that appeals to you such as ummm... Cats.

If you clicked the 'Cats' link then you'll see that my work was featured, which I appreciate so much I'm returning the favor with this post.

It's easy for really good art and photography to get lost amongst the thousands of designs that typically appear on print-on-demand sites. If you'd like to narrow things down a bit then check out Emily's selections. You'll be glad you did.

Can you see the Elephant?

If you're familiar with those online market research sites where you can win reward points for answering surveys, you'll know that many of them contain preliminary questions. Questions designed to screen out people who may not be in the target market for the research.

In a recent survey I was screened out after one question: Which animal can you see? (take a look at the picture - I don't think it was a trick question?)

Of the seven possible answers I chose 'Elephant'.

I submitted my answer and clicked the button to continue to the next screen which informed me:
Thank you for your participation in this survey. Unfortunately, we have spoken to enough people in your category. Please click on the >> button below to submit your answers.
What the...??

Apparently enough people who can identify an elephant when they see one had taken this survey. I wonder if I would've been able to take the survey if I'd chosen one of the other answers such as 'hippo'. Do you think they'd had enough responses from people who mistake elephants for hippos?

Adwords for Artists - my journey. Part 3

Note: If you haven't read part 1 and part 2 of my series on Google's Adwords program then you should read those before continuing.

So many options - techno-fear!

My ad finally went live on Tuesday night (that's my ad on the right) and not only did I not have to take out a second mortgage (I don't even have a first mortgage... actually) but all my keyword choices were either lousy or pointless, or so I thought.

I'm going to admit I was completely overwhelmed by the Adwords Campaign Management pages. It all literally made my head spin (and I'm used to all this technical stuff). It didn't help that I was trying to make sense of it all at the end of the day either. In the end I decided to just leave everything as it was for a day.

If you decide to use Adwords I'd recommend you leave everything too for 24 hours after your first campaign goes live. The reason being, when I came back today my ad had been clicked seven times. Not earth shattering but better than Dan's (from Empty Easel) two clicks in two weeks. Apparently my keywords weren't all pointless after all.

The lesson here is to give your ad some time after it goes live because all that information you're confronted with is confusing and you may be tempted to fix things that aren't actually broken.

I won't go into detail about my keywords because these will be different for everyone. However closer inspection revealed that all seven clicks came from the same keyword phrase (or set), 'pictures of cats'. To get those seven clicks my ad was served more than 1100 times. Obviously a common search phrase as evidenced by the fact that, unless I significantly increase my five cent bid, my ad will no longer be served in search results (but it will still appear in the *content network, i.e. on web sites with related content).

In fact, by day two, all eighteen of my keyword phrases are inactive for search unless I raise my bid on each one to varying amounts. As well, eleven of my keyword phrases aren't even triggering my ad to be displayed. Could be because there are no sites with similar words, or my bid really is too low, or that no one is searching on these terms. It's hard to tell with everything inactive for search.

From here on I'll have to spend some time trialling different keywords, evaluating whether raising my bid is really cost effective and even trying differently worded ads (which doesn't cost any extra - so worth trying).

I'm not going to bore you with all the details of me trying to fine tune my ads. If you want an explanation of the Adwords interface then read Dan's series on Adwords. For now this is my final article about my initial experience.

Hopefully you've seen that, whilst there is a lot to learn, budget wise it is very manageable. You can learn the system for just AU$20.00 then once you feel a little more confident you can start fine tuning your ads (for which Google provides several optimization tools to help you).

Perhaps, some time in the future, maybe about a month from now, I'll write an update to let you know how things are going and whether Adwords has been a benefit to this site.

* Note that a day later, despite my ad not being active for search it had been displayed another 1000 or so times on the content network and netted another click.

Adwords for Artists - my journey. Part 2

Note: If you haven't read part 1 of my series on Google's Adwords program then click here.

Cost, Pay-per-click and Payment options.

Something that deterred me (and I'm sure many others) from using Adwords was the idea of pay-per-click. That is, every time someone clicks on your ad, you pay Google money. Google has the largest ad network bar none online which gives rise to the notion that millions of people will suddenly start clicking your ad and you'll be taking out a second mortgage on your house just to cover the debt.

Thankfully this notion is unlikely, as evidenced by Dan's experience in his article, Advertising Your Artwork with Adwords But Not Getting Many Clicks? in which he received only 2 clicks (at a cost of five cents per click) on his ads in his first two week period. More importantly though, you can set a daily budget and set a specific time period your ads will run.

For example, I signed up for Adwords and decided to follow Dan's lead, signing up for the Standard Edition, with a budget of five cents per click up to a maximum of one dollar per day. Doing the math, that's 20 clicks per day before my ads will stop showing across Google's network.

I also chose to pre pay my account via bank deposit rather than have the clicks automatically deducted from a credit/debit card. That way I can budget an exact figure and have my adds running until my prepaid amount runs out. If you pay by credit card then you'll need to pay more attention to how many days you want your ads to show up on the network for.

If you prepay your account the minimum spend is AU$20.00 of which AU$10.00 is an account activation fee. I decided to stick with the minimum for the moment just to make sure my bank deposit is successful before committing more funds.

Note that if you want your ads to start showing immediately then you'll need to pay via credit/debit card. The disadvantage of bank deposit is that you'll have to wait for Google to receive your money transfer before your ads begin to run. I actually chose this option because, for me, it makes my book keeping easier.

At the time of writing this article I'm awaiting my money transfer to reach Google. This can take up to 5 days. Given that I did the transfer on a Saturday, I'm guessing it'll be about Tuesday or Wednesday at the soonest before my ad becomes active.

By the next article my ad should be up and running. When that's happening I'll show the ad I'm starting out with and I'll also have a look at some of the keywords I'm using.

To finish up this article I think it important to remind you that, although Adwords does cost you every time someone clicks your ad, that is actually what you want to happen. People clicking on your ad - the more the better.

Not just any people either. The strength of Adwords is that those people clicked on your ad because they are interested in what you have to offer. If you're an artist in the business of selling art (like me) then the ideal situation is that, for every click on your ad (costing a few cents), you make a sale that brings in a few dollars pure profit.

It's not that different from paying a commission to a gallery for selling your art.

Read the final installment of this series here [ Part 3 ]

Adwords for Artists - my journey. Part 1

Are you an artist looking for someone who's tried Google's Adwords program to sell their art or promote their art web site? Well this article (or what looks like will be a series of articles) is for you.

Before we go any further, if you're looking for a step through, blow by blow account of the Adwords process then I highly recommend Dan's series of five articles on his site, Empty Easel. I made a point of reading them first before starting my journey because I trust Dan's insight. He does a superb job of explaining everything and recounts his own experience of using Adwords to promote his site.

However Dan's site isn't an 'artist' site as such. It's a collection of articles and resources all related to art and selling your art. This is where my experience can supplement what you read there.

I'm an individual artist running an artists web site. I maintain a blog, sell my own art on ebay and I have a Cafepress shop. All common pursuits of modern web 2.0 struggling artists.

So... back to me. I'm a complete noob at Adwords. I've studied everything I can on the other side of the equation - which is Google Adsense. You can see Google ads all over my site, placed where you'll be tempted to click but Adwords is all new to me. So let's stumble through this together.

Obviously succeeding with Adwords is all down to keywords and choosing the right keywords to bring targeted traffic to your site. People who you know are interested in your art because they were either searching, using keywords that describe your art, or they saw your ad on a site that shares some common themes, subject matter or keywords with yours.

With this in mind, before I signed up for anything, I went to look at my sites visitor stats (which I monitor using Google analytics) relating to search keywords. I discovered that I really have a problem and it relates to my blog.

My web site, each month, brings in around 700-900 visitors, approximately 60% of which comes through search engines. My most popular keyword sets for the first half of June 2008 was 'Krippin Virus' - What the..? (I am Legend fans will know it). The second most popular keywords were Hazel Dooney - great, female Aussie artist but... not me. Both keyword sets come from posts in my blog.

If you've read a few articles in my blog you'll know it's an eclectic mix of topics from movie opinions to humorous personal observations on life along with art commentary and more. My problem is that most of my search engine visitors, once they've read the article they followed a link to, rarely stay on and browse. Many never see my art or visit my shop. I can tell this because of another stat called 'bounce rate' - the number of people who leave my site from the same page they arrived.

The lesson here: If you're writing a blog for the benefit of attracting search engine traffic, make sure you are writing about your art, how you create it and more importantly the subjects and themes your art covers. Otherwise you'll be like me with an eclectic mix of traffic, most of which is only interested in the specific article/post they clicked on.

I have very little interest in writing about my art. Not only that but it took me a long time to warm to the idea of writing a blog in a way that would fill a creative void for me. I have no intention of changing tact now. I like my eclectic mix of articles - they are another aspect of my creativity and not simply something I write to get search engine traffic.

My solution has been to write about each artwork in my Cafepress Gallery shop in the hope that search engines will start to pick up on that text over there. It's early days yet so it'll take a while to see if that strategy is successful.

This is why I'm considering Adwords. Adwords seems like it works best when you can target a specific subject or theme. Since the majority of my art is related to whimsical cat paintings I'm thinking Adwords might be a great way to get seen on other web sites relating to cats and the people who like them.

From selling my art on ebay, I know my cat artworks are bought mostly by women, often mothers with young children, particularly girls. Quite a few of my artworks have ended up on children's bedroom walls. However my art doesn't just appeal to children. Cat lovers everywhere enjoy my artworks and a few take pride of place in lounge rooms too.

If you're thinking about Adwords then, given that it is going to cost you money, I think it's important that you establish a specific profile of who it is you're trying to target. I've read a few stories on various forums about people who say Adwords is a waste of money. At this point that could well be true if you don't at least start with a notion of who you'll be writing your ads for.

So the next step is to sign up with Adwords. Looks like I'll be writing about that in part 2.

Why I'm THE Extraordinary Tourist


I recently received a question on one of my ebay auctions that was simply an observation about my name, TET. To quote the message in full (name withheld but if you wrote this you'll know):
hi there,
you should call yourself tET (i.e. from ET)
Not TET.....the insignificant word "the" should be in lower case, thus, tET. (further, inbalance in artwork is good, adds interest....ie. the symmetry of TET is too much, should be tET)

looks better...looks good.

all the best !
For those of you that don't know how I came to be called The Extraordinary Tourist there's an explanation on my biography page which includes a nice video explanation too however this is a discussion on the merits and importance of the word the.

Back to the message above. I understand the author's logic and it is very sound. Insignificant words like the, a, and, or etc. aren't usually abbreviated and are often even left out altogether, hence The is not as important as Extraordinary and Tourist and therefore should be a lowercase t in the abbreviation tET. Visually the lowercase t unbalances tET as a signature or monogram thus creating interest for the eye when viewing.

All good logic except that within the context of my name The is a very significant word that distinguishes me from all the rest i.e. I am not one of many extraordinary tourists, I am THE Extraordinary Tourist - The ONE and only - if you will.

Another reason why I'm TET and not tET is that the emphasis on the letters ET would invariably attract a barrage of alien jokes along with many references to the movie of that name. This would distract people from me and my art. So the first T plays an important role in quashing all the alien jokes again making the word The a very significant part of my name.

Finally in pronouncing the abbreviation TET as a word Tet it makes for a better sounding name than tET where people may simply drop the first t because of its lack of emphasis. In fact people may be less likely to call me Tet and start calling me E.T. and thus open me to all those alien jokes again.

That's three compelling reasons why I am THE Extraordinary Tourist and not just any extraordinary tourist (of whom I'm sure there are many).

Sometimes I like to joke that I'm THE Extraordinary Tourist because I never actually travel anywhere but this isn't actually true. You can follow my extensive, month long road trip across Australia in 2007.

In actual fact the name has become something of a life goal. Eventually I want to spend my life traveling whilst earning a living from creating art and writing about my experiences. Then I would be The Extraordinary Tourist.

The Artist Palette, Acoustic Rock Guitar



The poster above was designed by Kampy using my original photograph of my three dimensional artwork, 'Artist Palette, Acoustic Rock Guitar' (see the small image on the right).

The poster advertises a music and art event at an underground gallery located in Los Angeles, California, USA. I was happy to lend my image to promote this event free because, I have to admit, knowing that a bit of my art will be circulated around art/music circles in California is actually pretty cool for someone like me - at the other side of the world.

I'm very impressed with Kampy's photoshop work on covering the palette with paint - so much so that I nearly had to go out and check to make sure he hadn't come around and painted the real guitar. The word change on the front of my shirt is a nice touch too.

In a way this poster is a collaborative completion of my original artwork because, when I created the photograph of my artwork, I positioned myself to one side of the picture, thinking ahead (it's the Graphic Designer in me), that the photo could have text added in the space on the right. To add further weight to this I'd like to quote from an email Kampy sent me after finishing the poster (and I hope he doesn't mind):
...thanks again for letting me use your photo... it's so weird, that photo was almost exactly what I saw in my mind's eye before i went looking for source images... you saved me a lot of photoshop time... I thought i was going to have to digitally morph a guitar into an artist's palette, so I was thrilled to find that someone had already done it in real life! It worked perfectly for what I had in mind, and the organizers of the event really loved it.
Beyond providing the photo I had no say in Kampy's design but I'm really pleased with the end result. Whenever anyone I don't know requests the use of one of my images, for free, there's always a bit of apprehension about how that image may be used. Ideally you hope your work will be enhanced. In this case, I can safely say the final result was beyond my expectations.

A Painting of your pet Dog or Cat.


"Hey David, wanted to send our sincere thanks for painting four fantastic interpretations of our pups. Each one of them is unique and really captures their essence. To be honest, it's not often that one can expect such great service, especially over such a long distance, and over the past four months, working with you on these paintings has been fun and enjoyable."

- Peter & Amanda, Colorado, USA
The above comment is part of an email I received from Peter and Amanda after they received the final three of their four commissioned paintings of their family pet dogs (see the paintings above).

Whilst I have always offered commissioned art as a service through my Art Time Productions web site it is not something that I actively promote here on my TET site. However people occasionally are inspired by both my cat and dog paintings and ask if I would consider painting their pet in my style (which is what happened with Peter and Amanda).

For those of you interested in the idea of commissioning your own piece of art I thought this is a good opportunity to describe the process, given that it's the same whether you live in the same country as me (Australia) or some other country that I can't get to by bus.

The Process

Firstly, I don't paint realistically or paint portraits. If that's what you're after then I'm the wrong artist for the job. What I like to do is to try and capture personality and character within a cartoon-like image that says more about the subject than just a straight portrait might.

Modern technology means that all communication can be done online, usually via email. You initiate a commissioned work by contacting me, suggesting what it is you have in mind for a painting then I'll send you a quote. My prices are based on the size of the canvas you want, which can be any size up to 90 x 90cm (35" x 35").

In the case of painting your pets I ask for some good photos of them including a good face shot and a good side view (for profile and markings). Photos of your pets in action are good too. I'll usually suggest you upload them to a photo-sharing site like Flickr so that you can upload as many photos as you wish and I don't have to deal with multiple email attachments and large file sizes.

Along with that I'll ask for a couple of paragraphs describing your pets personality and the things they like to do (depending upon how specific your suggestion was on what you wanted painting - some people like me to come up with ideas of what their pet might be doing in the painting).

Once I have all that I'll start sketching my ideas and email three or four back to you to choose from - just like I did with Peter's dog, Lucy - see the sketches on the right. In this case Peter had described a specific idea to have Lucy grounded with a Frisbee on the grass nearby. My idea was to make it still look like a fun image with Lucy kind of waiting for the Frisbee to be thrown again.

Peter liked the third sketch but felt the face from sketch two looked more like Lucy. Rather than redraw a new version I simply photo-shopped the head from sketch two onto sketch three to get sketch four (see sketch 4 bottom right). Peter liked this sketch so that's what the painting was based upon.

You may have noticed that I haven't talked about colours. That's because I don't plan my colour schemes too much, however if you want a particular colour to be dominant in the overall image than I usually ask that you let me know.

Otherwise you won't see the colour scheme I have in mind until the painting is virtually finished. Bearing in mind that I will try to match the colours of your pet to the best of my ability and you won't get any psychodelic backgrounds unless that is what you've asked for (sky will be blue and grass will be green etc.).

Once the painting is finished I'll email you a scanned image for your approval. At this time you can ask for small changes - within reason. For example, with Lucy I had trouble getting her facial expression just right (see image below). Peter and I emailed back and forth a bit on this until he felt Lucy's face was to his and Amanda's liking.


When everything is just how you want it the final step is payment and postage. I don't ask for any upfront payment however once it's finished I expect payment plus the cost of postage before the artwork is sent.

If you live in Australia then there are a few options for how to pay me however my preferred method is via PayPal - which is the only method available to international clients. I'll usually send a PayPal invoice via email. You simply pay the invoice and I'll put your artwork in the post.

For international clients I can send your artwork via registered mail and I can insure it too however you will have to cover all the extra costs of that. Artworks to overseas destinations are sent via Air Mail and usually take up to ten business days to arrive.

Hopefully this longish article has demystified the process of commissioning a piece of art from me. If you live outside Australia don't let that put you off. I'm trying to build my reputation globally so I have no intention of not delivering your artwork to you.

As well PayPal makes the conversion process between currencies a snap. I can invoice you in Australian dollars and you can pay the equivalent in your own countries currency.

Should you be interested in seeing more samples of my commissioned art then visit the following pages in my gallery shop. Each one of these works were commissioned by the owners of the pets depicted:
You may also like to read my Testimonials from people who have either commissioned an artwork or purchased either one of my own original artworks or something from my Gallery Shop.

If you have an idea for a commissioned artwork then feel free to contact me at etourist@arttimeproductions.com
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