The Salem Art Fair Report

After months of planning and preparation, my first art fair has finally come and gone! The Salem Art Fair & Festival was a whirlwind over three days of talking with people, meeting other artists and sharing my art. It was melting hot at times, hard work in set up and take down, and long hours on my feet.

And it was So. Much. Fun.

Photo Courtesy John Ritchie

Photo Courtesy John Ritchie

If you ever want to feel good about your artwork, do an art fair. I heard the words “pretty,” “gorgeous” and “beautiful” more times than I could count. I got a new word to add to my description list, too: Ensorcelled. I really love that word as a description! I’m going to keep it, along with the phrase “layered, nuanced and hauntingly beautiful” used in the Statesman-Journal article. I heard how unique it was; how unlike anything they had seen before.

One woman told me she had chills, as she looked through my work. Another woman, with her husband and son dashing ahead, stopped in her tracks at the edge of my booth and just took a deep breath. She discovered she was left behind and smiled at me slyly, “They don’t know what they are missing.”

It was interesting to watch the people who resonated with my work. They might be in a busy conversation, but they would see something that caught their eye, and were reeled in, as if by an imaginary force. They would come in the booth and carefully look at each image, very quiet. It was if my booth was an island of calm in the crazy world just beyond.

Which, if you’ve ever read my artist statement, is exactly what I am hoping to achieve. To see that reaction physically play out in so many people was incredible. To have my work going home with some of them, knowing they would enjoy it for a long time to come, was even better.

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Along with sharing my art with the public, I got to meet some really wonderful artists. There was a breakfast every day for the artists, and I learned the protocol. Whoever you talked to at breakfast, you went by and visited their booth later in the day. It was a fun way to get to know artists in other mediums.

And then there were my neighbors! With three long days at the fair, you end up chatting with the artists around you a lot. On one side was Jennifer Mannila of Jenny M Studios, who made whimsical yet functional ceramics. On the other side was Nate and Mandie Fleming, the other Emerging Artists for this year. They make very cool art, furniture and lamps from recycled materials. Check them out at Velorossa Design.

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I wish I had more pictures to share of all of the great artwork I saw! I barely had time to scratch the surface of the artists there. I’m going to have to do some artist profiles in the near future, because I met some artists creating amazing work.

And then… 5pm Sunday came along, and the magic ended. It was time for the tent city to come down. Two hours later, the booth was dismantled and packed up in a pile.

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Which, miraculously, all fits into my Jetta Sportwagon! (OK, so for those of you who know me, it was not miraculous. It was meticulously planned and measured in advance. But it barely fit, and I was very worried when I packed it up the first time.)

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After three long days on my feet, in the hot sun, barely eating, driving 45 miles each way, setting up and taking down a booth on my own, you would think that at the end I would have been exhausted, barely dragging myself home. But I wasn’t. I was buoyant.

You see, when you do something you really and truly love, you get energy, you don’t lose it. I left the fair feeling great. Sure, I was physically tired, but I cannot begin to describe how exciting the whole week was, from the newspaper article to the OPB interview and the whole art fair experience. Getting my art into the world, connecting with people through it, is something I love to do.

Next time I go to a fair, I will probably be doing what the other artists do: Comparing my sales or the weather or the crowd to the previous fair or the previous year. Looking to see who I know; who got in and who didn’t.

But this time, I had no idea what it would be like. I got to go in and enjoy the whole thing, start to finish, without expectations. I will never have another “first” art fair, I will never be the Emerging Artist again.

I have emerged. And I’m planning to hang around for a while.

My Brush with Fame

What a crazy week! I am slowly coming back down from the high of the art fair (more on that later this week) and the wave of publicity that came my way last week. I now have a tiny taste of what happens when something “goes viral.” It’s fun, exciting and more than a little disconcerting.

First, let’s tell the internet story…

The Salem Statesman-Journal article that ran a little over a week ago struck a chord with the media. The idea of a photographer choosing an iPhone over a dSLR seemed to pique their interest. The same day, it was picked up by a couple of other sites, most notably Business Insider. It seems they take the quotes and the gist of the story from the original article and publish as a new article, using photographs I’ve posted online. They never talked to me.

From Business Insider, the story proliferated, rewritten and repackaged on other sites all over the world. It was weird seeing my photographs accompanied by French, Russian and other languages. It was even posted on Yahoo News a couple of days later. My website has never seen so much traffic!

And then, there’s the radio story…

Stemming from the same Statesman-Journal article, a producer from Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud radio show contacted me. Think Out Loud is a lunch hour, Monday through Friday radio show on current events in the OPB listening area (all of Oregon and SW Washington). She was interested in my transition from the dSLR to iPhone as well. We talked a little bit on the phone on Wednesday, and she said it would be a Thursday segment if it was chosen. She’d know by the end of the day.

A couple of hours later she called and said they’d like to do the segment, and could I come up to the studio in Portland? This would be in the middle of setting up for the fair, but I was already halfway to Portland (45 miles), so I could drive up from Salem, do the interview, then drive back to finish my booth set up. It would make for a crazy day, but how do you say no to that? You don’t.

Photo Courtesy Aleida Fernandez

Photo Courtesy Aleida Fernandez

So, sweaty from setting up, I drove up to the OPB station, and sat in the green room waiting for my segment, trying very hard not to think about what I was about to do. Live radio. After thirty minutes or so, I was whisked into the booth, shook hands with host David Miller, put on my headset and the interview began. It was over before I knew it. A quick photograph in the booth, and I was back on the highway, heading to the fair to finish set up, souvenir Think Out Loud mug in hand.

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You can listen to the segment here. I haven’t listened to it yet, I just can’t. I keep thinking of better answers to the questions, things I wish I would have said. But I heard lots of nice things about it from other people, so I’m going to believe their compliments and leave it at that.

And the rest of the story…

Because of the internet articles, I was contacted by others who saw my work and had interest in connecting with me for future projects, so there could be some longer term ripples coming out of my little media storm.

And in the shorter term, all of the publicity certainly helped at the art fair. Many people came by my booth specifically because of the newspaper article or the OPB interview. I don’t really want to be gimmicky and have people interested in my work because of the device I use, but half the battle is just getting people to SEE my work and this helped. They will either resonate with it or they won’t, once it’s in front of them. Judging from the response, many people resonate with it.

My viral experience felt big to me, but it was really tiny in the grand scheme. It was a case of the sniffles, not a full-on flu. But it showed me how small things can snowball very quickly into bigger things on the internet, and you just hang on for the wild ride. The experience opened my eyes to a number of things…

I realized that no one needs to talk to you to post an article about you; you don’t really have any say.

I found out that your photographs can be pulled and posted anywhere, so make sure they are watermarked. When you put your work out on the internet, you are giving implicit permission.

I discovered that random people can be mean in their comments, or I take them too personally, so I stopped reading them. I don’t need more negative input, I generate enough of that in my head on my own, thank you very much.

I also discovered that many of the people who work in the media world are really cool. Tom Rastrelli of the Statesman-Journal and Aleida Fernandez from OPB were both awesome. It’s fun to talk to people who are interested in what you do and want to see you succeed. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunities they provided.

Finally, I learned that once in a while, if you are working hard and putting your art out there, it gets noticed. Be ready to take advantage of it.

Listen In!

Today I’ll be on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud radio show, talking about my iPhone photography and how smartphones are changing the realm of photography. The program is Noon to 1pm PST and I’ll be near the end. You can listen online or, if you are in Oregon or SW Washington, on the radio.

Tree Under the Surface Kat Sloma iPhone Mobile Photography

Under the Surface

See you this weekend at the Salem Art Fair & Festival!

T Minus Three

It’s three days to my first art fair, the Salem Art Fair & Festival, this weekend on July 18-20. The art is printed, signed, matted and framed. The boxes are inventoried and packed. The checklist sits, ready to be checked off as I load the car. There are a few last things to finish up, but not many.

In three days, I will have done all I can. Then comes the test… My art, in front of the public, with a big “For Sale” sign on it. I’m excited, and I’m terrified.

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This whole art fair business has been way more work than I anticipated. Putting together 12 framed pieces for a show is one thing. Filling a whole 10 ft x10 ft booth with your artwork is quite another. Isn’t that the way of most big projects, though? The vision at the end seems so clear, it’s the work to get there that isn’t fully envisioned. You start, with all of the enthusiasm of a novice, and realize what you took on somewhere along the way.

But it’s done. I’m ready.

And I very, very much hope to see you there.


The Salem Statesman-Journal newspaper did a very nice feature article on me as part of a series leading up to the fair. You can read it here. Check out the other articles in the series, too. They are all very interesting!

Smartphone Art 3: Creative Editing beyond Photography

[This week I am reposting a series of articles originally written for another site, because they are no longer available there. Note that some of the app icons have changed since these original screenshots were created, but functions are located in the same place in the app. Enjoy! --Kat]


It’s time to take your Smartphone Art in a new direction! In Smartphone Art 1, you learned how to get a good photograph with your smartphone camera, and in Smartphone Art 2, you discovered how to make that photograph even better with basic photo editing. In this installment, we’ll look at some creative editing apps that take your images beyond photography, and how you can combine and blend the output of different apps to create unique works of art.

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One of the best things about mobile photography is the proliferation of apps that can quickly and easily take your photograph and transform it into something different.

It can be a painting…IMG_0786

App: Glaze

a drawing…IMG_0788

App: Portray

or something wholly new…IMG_0793

App: decim8

The apps range from simple one-click transformations, such as the Glaze app shared in the painting example above, to effects with multiple setting adjustments to customize the look, such as the Aquarella example below.

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App: Aquarella

The outputs of these apps are fun, but I often find that the look of an image after processing with a single creative app is predictable, especially if it doesn’t allow customization. It doesn’t look like a unique piece of art to me; it looks like a photograph processed with an app. To go beyond the predictable, you can blend app outputs to create something new and interesting.

Blending Apps

A blending app allows you to combine two different starting images in a variety of ways to get an alternate effect. You can blend two different images, adding textures or creating collage effects, or you can blend two of the same image, each image processed by different apps to develop unique looks. This second way, blending the same image processed in many different apps, is typically how I use a blending app to create a finished piece.

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The best blending apps will offer multiple blending modes (like multiply, darken, soft light, etc.), as well as masking and arranging/resizing of one image relative to the other. Image Blender, Juxtaposer, and Superimpose are all examples of iOS apps which have these features. (Note: I have not been able to identify a similar app for Android yet! Please leave a note in the comments if you know of one.)

My favorite app for blending images is Image Blender, so I’ll share a few instructions on this app. When you open the app, you first have to load your images. At the bottom of the screen, tap the empty frame on the left to load your bottom image, and tap the empty frame on the right to load the top image.

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For this example, I’m loading these two images:

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Bottom Image. App: Distressed FX

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Top Image. App: Autopainter II

First, I select a blending mode. When you tap the blending mode icon, the menu shows up. Tap each blending mode to see a preview of the blend. When you find a blending mode you want to play with, tap the blending mode icon again to commit the mode.

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Now, you shift the slider back and forth to change the relative blend of the two images. Some blending modes, like Normal, work the same regardless of which image is on the bottom or top. Other blending modes, such as Lighten, change depending on which image is on top.

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If you have an area where you don’t want to blend the top image with the bottom image, you can mask the top image. Tap the Masking icon, and now you can erase parts of the top image from the blend. If you accidentally take away too much, you can tap the pencil to switch modes and add the pixels back in.

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If you want to change the size of the top image relative to the bottom image, you can do that via the Arrange function. Pinch in or out to change the relative size of the top image, shift left or right, or twist to change the angle.

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You can always reset your mask and arrange settings by tapping on the top image to get to the reset menu.

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When you like the blend, you can save by tapping the Export icon and selecting the “Save to Camera Roll” option. From here, you can either play with more blending modes with the same two images, or you can combine the newly blended image with more processed images. To do this, you need to flatten the two images you’ve blended, which is done by going to the Export menu and selecting the “Flatten” option. After the image is flattened, you can import a new image to the top.

You repeat the same process of importing, blending, saving and flattening with a variety of processed images until you get a finished product you like. Don’t forget, your newly blended image can be processed through other apps and create even more unusual effects.

Variable & Unique

When you use this method of creating altered photographs, you come out with a distinctive image which varies greatly with the starting photograph and the apps used to process, along with the sequence and method of blending.

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This is what makes each final image an inimitable work of art. Even for myself, I couldn’t exactly recreate the output for many of the images I create, because the sequence, blending mode and percentage of blend are not recorded.

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To me, part of the fun is in the serendipity of the process and knowing that each piece I create is truly unique.

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Now it’s your turn! Try editing your images with apps that take them beyond a photograph, and then blending them together to see what you can create. You may be surprised at how addicting this process can be!

If you’d like to learn more about blending apps to create interesting images, you can review the mobile tutorials on my site or take a Smartphone Art workshop with me in the future. I’d love to share more with you!

Smartphone Art 2: Improve your Smartphone Photos with Basic Photo Editing

[This week I am reposting a series of articles originally written for another site, because they are no longer available there. Note that the Snapseed icons have changed since these original screenshots were created, but all functions are located in the same place in the app. Enjoy! --Kat]


In Smartphone Art 1, you learned how to get a good photograph with your smartphone camera, and now it’s time to make that photograph even better with photo editing. In this installment I will cover the basics of adjustments, filters, and effects, taking your photographs to the next level.

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Processing App: XnView PhotoFx

In all cases, I do my photo editing in different apps than my camera app. I choose my camera app for its functionality, and I want to do the same with my processing apps. I want full control of how the final image looks, often using multiple apps to get the right look. Most processing apps, even if they are considered a “camera app,” will allow you to import and edit a photo already saved on your device. Look for the icon that looks like two boxes overlapped, or the menu selection that allows import from your device’s image gallery.

Basic Adjustments

You don’t always get the perfect photograph out of your camera, and that’s why you need options for basic adjustments like brightness, contrast and saturation. My go-to app for basic adjustments is Snapseed, a free app available for both iOS and Android. It’s fast, intuitive and powerful.  I’ve tried many other apps for basic editing and they are definitely not created equally.

I’ll quickly share how and why you would want to do some basic adjustments in Snapseed. Here’s the starting photograph, captured using the ProCamera app:

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It was a windy day and getting focus, exposure and composition perfect in the camera was nearly impossible. This image has great focus and the elements I want, but it’s too dark and the composition is not quite right, so it needs some basic adjustments. To get to the basic adjustments for your overall photograph in Snapseed, use the “Tune Image” option.

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From there, by swiping up and down you get the menu of options to tune your image. Select an option from the menu, such as Brightness, and then swipe left to right to make the adjustment. You can see the changes real time and tap on the button for your original image to compare. You commit the adjustment by tapping the right arrow. If you are not sure what each menu option does, play with them. If you can’t see much difference, go to extremes to observe what the adjustment does. If you don’t like the result you can always cancel out by topping the arrow or “X” on the left to cancel.

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To save your changes, save from the main screen after you’ve committed. It’s that simple!  Here’s the image after the basic adjustments, where I increased brightness and adjusted contrast slightly.

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One warning about Snapseed: There is no “undo last step” button. If you make multiple edits using different menus you can’t undo the last one, you can only revert to the original image. I’ve made it a habit to save after each editing step so that if I want to “undo,” I can load a previous version of the image from my camera roll.

If you just have a specific region you want to adjust, Snapseed is one of the few apps that also provides a spot adjustment tool, and it works amazingly well. Go into the “Selective Adjust” menu and then tap the circled + Icon to add a marker. Place the marker where you want to make the adjustment, and then select the range of the adjustment by using a pinch motion. As you pinch in and out, you will see some pixels switch to red – these are the pixels you are selecting to adjust. Once you are happy with your selection, swipe up and down on the marker to select Brightness, Contrast or Saturation for the selected region, and then left to right to adjust. You can do multiple adjustments for each selection, and add multiple markers if you have more than one place to adjust.

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Other basic adjustments within Snapseed include the cropping through the Crop menu, straightening or rotating your image in the Straighten menu, or sharpening using the Details menu. Here’s the same image again, after a selective adjust to brighten one side of the main flower, cropping to a square, and rotating 180 degrees.

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The basic adjustments can take an image that wasn’t perfect out of the camera (too light, too dark, low contrast, etc.) and make it look great.

Processing with Filters and Effects

Now you have a nice photograph, but you may want to change the mood or the feel beyond what you can do with the basic adjustments. Maybe you want to convert your photograph to black and white, or give it a 1960’s vintage feel. How about making it look soft and dreamy?  For these types of adjustments, you’ll use filters and effects.

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Processing App: Handy Photo

Filters are automation which adjust the colors, brightness and contrast of your photograph to give it a specific look. Many photography apps also add effects such as textures, vignettes and frames. It’s like having the power of Photoshop or Lightroom in your mobile device. You can now do with a few screen taps and swipes what used to take expensive software and specialized training.

Just as with basic editing, not every processing app is created equally. The best apps will have:

  • Full resolution output. The files you save out of the app should have the same resolution of the files you load into the app, or you might find yourself with files too small to print.
  • Adjustments available for the filters. At a minimum, it’s nice to have at least an opacity or intensity adjustment available when you apply the filter, to tune the application of the filter for your photograph. The best apps allow you to adjust many different aspects of the filter
  •  The ability to apply multiple filters and effects to the same photograph. At worst you can save the image out after each filter is applied and reload it into the app to process further, but it’s nice when you can apply multiple effects within the same session in the app.
  • An ‘Undo last step’ option. When you can apply multiple effects within the same session, it’s nice to be able to undo the last step. You want to try different options without worry that you are going to lose a good edit by going one step too far in the processing. If the app doesn’t have an ‘Undo last step’ button, you can save your edit at various points so you don’t lose your work.

Every photography app has a different selection of filters and effects, so you have to play with the app to see what the app offers and when you might use them. Snapseed (iOS/Android), Pixlr Express + (iOS/Android) and iColorama (iOS only) are all great apps to get you started, since they include a broad range of filters along with effects such as textures and frames.

Since it’s a free app, Snapseed is a great place to begin playing around with filters and effects. It has an amazing array of filter choices which include adjustments, it saves full resolution files, and the app supports multiple filters/effects applied to the same photograph within the same editing session. The only thing Snapseed doesn’t have is an ‘Undo last step’ option, so be sure to save between your editing steps.

Just like the basic adjustments, Snapseed’s filters have a similar operation. After loading your photograph, start by selecting the type of filter you want to apply along the bottom menu. For the main filters, you can choose between Black & White, Vintage, Drama, Grunge, and Retrolux.  Other effects you will find on the main menu are Center Focus (for vignette and other edge-specific effects), Tilt-Shift, and Frames.

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Within the filter menu, you have an array of selections. Look through the available styles and textures by tapping the icons on the bottom bar. In this example I’m in the Vintage menu:

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Once you select a processing style, swipe up and down to see the adjustment options menu, and then swipe left to right to make the adjustment once you’ve selected the option, the same as in the basic adjustment menu. Once you like what you see, commit the edit and you will be taken back to the main menu. From there you can go on to apply additional effects. Here’s the final image, after all of my edits:

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Pretty cool, huh? And that’s just a quick taste of what you can do in a single processing app. As you start to explore apps, you realize the possibilities are endless.

Finding and Choosing the Right Apps for you

Each available app is different in its options and operation.  The fun of mobile photography comes with trying different apps and seeing what they can individually do, and then combining them in creative ways. Each app has different strengths and weaknesses, and fits different styles. While it’s fun to explore new apps, it can also be frustrating to purchase an app and find out it performs poorly.

To choose an app, I recommend doing a little bit of research first. The amount of time you spend in research should be commensurate with the cost. If it’s free, just download and try it. If it’s a more expensive app or you have a limited budget, you might want to do the research to make sure it has features you want before buying.

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Processing App: Alt Photo

How to find and research apps:

  • Look for recommendations from photographers you like. Hashtags in Instagram, tutorials on blogs, and app reviews are great ways to find new apps. If you like an image you see posted on social media, you can always ask what apps the photographer used. Most people will readily share which apps they used in the creation of an image.
  • If there is a free version of the app, download and try it yourself. Nothing is better than a few minutes of playing with an app to see whether it has the potential to be useful for you. If you like it, you can spring for the full version or make the in-app purchase.
  • If you don’t have a recommendation and can’t download a free version, then use the information provided in the app store:
  • Read the description for information on the included features, such as the ability to make adjustments, and supported file resolution. If it’s billed as a “camera app,” make sure you can upload files already saved to your device for editing.
  • Look at the images supplied in the app store previews. Do the example images fit your style, or can you see the potential to fit your style?
  • Read the reviews in the app store. You can get a quick feel for how well the app performs through the reviews. Often you get more information about actual app operation in the reviews than in the description from the app maker.
  • Search elsewhere for reviews and tutorials on the app. Do a quick internet search to find blogs or YouTube videos on the app. You can get a deeper understanding from an independent source who has used the app.
  • You can often find an amazing array of information on a single app, so don’t get too bogged down. Check a couple of sources and make a decision, and then get on to playing with your photographs.

    Because really, playing with your photograph is the whole point, isn’t it?

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    Processing App: Noir

    Next time, we’ll look at some creative editing apps that take your images beyond photography, and how you can combine and blend the output of different apps to create truly unique works of art.