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Through this website and blog it is my hope to offer news bits about current graphic design challenges (my own and others) as well as fine art news. To continue with the theme of my new book, "Graphic Design Exposed," this blog will expose the development of graphic design and fine art projects. From time to time I will invite guests to blog here in order to keep the news and views fresh and informative.
Please click on the orange and white envelope icon to receive email updates.

“Our Sweet Tropics” Art Exhibit

On 19, Jan 2016 | No Comments | In Blog, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I’m thrilled that I’ll be showing a selection of my paintings from my “Our Sweet Tropics” collection at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center at Palm Beach State College in Belle Glade January 20 through January 29.

On January 22 I’ll be sharing the spotlight with Jarrod Spector, the singer/actor who played Frankie Valli in Broadway’s Jersey Boys.  He’ll be performing his latest show, featuring songs from the Jersey Boys era and talking about his time with the Broadway hit.

Palm Beach County friends: I hope to see you in the lobby exhibit area before and after Jarrod’s performance on Friday, January 22.

Location: Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center at Palm Beach State College, 1977 SW College Dr, Belle Glade FL 33430

Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM Monday – Thursday and 9:00 AM – 12 noon on Friday.

Information: Please call the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center at  561-993-1160.


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Commissioned painting is a recognition gift

On 29, Dec 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

It’s always a wonderful occurrence when I am able to use my fine art skills for clients with whom I’ve been providing graphic design and vice versa. I am happy to share with you a recently completed watercolor painting. The painting was commissioned by Palm Healthcare Foundation in recognition of Mark W. Cook’s significant contribution to the work of Palm Healthcare Foundation and the Mollie Wilmot Center.

Mollie Wilmot Center painting

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The Artist – The Dealer – A Match Made in Heaven?

On 15, Dec 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

Have you ever wondered if a person or company was acting as your art dealer, or was the relationship something else? An art dealer is any individual, group of individuals or company that buys, sells or trades in art. The dealer may or may not have exhibition space open to the public. The dealer can operate within varying commercial structures -from an individual in their home to a corporation with gallery space. There are neither government regulatory requirements nor a licensing body for art dealers. Many are members of professional organizations that provide education and networking opportunities.

Sheryl G. Wood, Esquire, discusses the artist dealer relationship in this article. Sheryl specializes in representing collectors, artists, dealers and those with an interest in the business of art. Sheryl has been generous with her time and expertise by contributing to this blog. She can be reached at

Please note: This is not intended as legal advice. Any advice will always depend on the specific facts and circumstances of the situation.

Most artists like to sell their work and to be treated fairly in the process. A good art dealer can be a significant asset to an artist. But, it is important for both the dealer and the artist to think about the relationship before entering into any type of agreement. A written agreement is very important to both! It is the framework for the artist-dealer or principal-agent relationship. A written agreement should include the following:

  • how the artist gets paid
  • the degree of artistic control the artist has in staging an exhibition of the works
  • the amount of commission payable to the dealer and how it is computed.
  • any other terms specific to a particular artist or dealer
  • counsel to review the agreement
  • a sales or consignment agreement for each piece of art to be transferred. The consignment agreement can be part of the original agreement or an attachment. Both the agreement and consignment form(s) must be signed by both parties. In addition, each time you consign work(s), a consignment form should be drafted and signed.

So how does a sale occur?

It could be an outright sale from the artist to the dealer. While this is rarer than consignment arrangements, a written document should still be drafted and signed to protect both parties, even if payment has already been made:

  • proof to the creation and ownership of the works,
  • confirmation of any agreements on reproduction rights or
  • any other portion of the copyright that is to be retained, licensed or sold.
  • mention of the right to collect royalties or the right to borrow back for exhibitions.

A consignment arrangement is usually how most art works are sold. And again, there should be a written agreement signed by both parties. In Florida, where I live, if the sale is for more than $500, without a writing evidencing the sale, the agreement is generally unenforceable. Under Florida law, consignments are presumed when an artist delivers a work of art for sale or exhibition and the art dealer accepts that delivery. In a consignment agreement, the dealer becomes the artist’s agent and owes a fiduciary duty to the artist. This means the dealer must act in the best interest of the artist. The dealer must care for and manage the works prudently; deal fairly and honestly with the artist; periodically account as to the dispositions of the works; and disclose all information relevant to the works and the artist.

An artist must also make a determination as to whether or not to grant exclusivity to the dealer. There are generally two types of exclusivity arrangements:

1) An exclusive agency arrangement where the dealer is the only dealer, but the artist can also sell their own works without paying the dealer a commission.

2) An exclusive power to sell is more advantageous to the dealer. In this arrangement the artist cannot sell on their own without paying their dealer a commission for the work sold.

Enforcement can only be realized in most cases with a signed agreement. The artist-dealer relationship can no longer be built on a conversation and a handshake; many artists and dealers are now entering into written agreements. This is not an insult, but a part of the economic times and legal realities of today’s art market. It is important that the agreements be as specific and as clear to each party’s intentions. If not, even with a written agreement, you could leave yourself open to court or other administrative determination.

Here are examples of two opposing court rulings:

  • Georgia O’Keeffe’s dealer of many years never requested a written contract. Even though the dealer had been promised many things by the artist, when there was a falling out and no written contract could be produced, the court found the alleged oral promises to be unenforceable.
  • In contrast, the artist Peter Halley entered into an oral agreement with his gallery. When the relationship soured the artist alleged that written contracts had been discouraged by the gallery and therefore there was no contract to be breached when he found alternative representation. The gallery alleged it had built the artist’s career and reputation and had incurred costs of over half a million dollars in doing so. After some preliminary rulings by the court, the parties settled with the artist paying undisclosed sums to the gallery. 

So what are the lessons to be learned? There should always be a written agreement/ contract that is clear and complete, otherwise it can require interpretation by the courts. The agreement should be drafted by professionals looking at your specific circumstances. You can start with a template, but should be customized for both buyer and seller. The need for written agreements should not discourage artists; if done properly, these agreements can be a tremendous help in the long run by ensuring those tough conversations are had before the parties enter into a relationship. It is never a good time to review those terms after something has occurred to the artist’s detriment. This creates a more professional relationship between the artist and dealer that will hopefully last a long time and be mutually beneficial.


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Sea Gull Paintings

On 01, Dec 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I would like to introduce two of my newest artworks; “Gulls Conversation” and “Orange Feet.” I chose this subject matter because I enjoy the graphic quality of the birds’ markings against the background of their environment.

I enjoy exploring visual intersections; observing the edges of things where the light meets the dark, where the natural meets the human-made, where the old meets the new, land meets water.

During the recent few years, my concentration has been the development of textural techniques with 2-D media to better express the qualities of the subject matter. The recent works use many techniques to depict and express the mood of the birds in relation to their environment. The process is an integral part of the product. I work freely, incorporating materials and tools that satisfy the mood and spirit of the painting. For these pieces, I used traditional watercolors, gesso, acrylic paint, thai unryu paper, mat board scrapers, sponges, button thread, a stiff bristled oil painting brush, traditional watercolor brushes, my fingers, a toothbrush, and spray water bottle.

Gulls orange Feet inspired by sea gulls flying close to the Singer Island beach. Mixed media on 100% rag Arches; 22" x 15"; $750

Gulls Orange Feet inspired by sea gulls flying close to the Singer Island beach.
Mixed media on 100% rag Arches; 22″ x 15″; $750

Gulls-Conversation inspired by sea gulls flying close to the Singer Island beach. Mixed media on 100% rag Arches; 22" x 15"; $750

Gulls-Conversation inspired by sea gulls flying close to the Singer Island beach.
Mixed media on 100% rag Arches; 22″ x 15″; $750


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Communicating with caregivers and parents

On 17, Nov 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design | By Caren Hackman

Upon completion of the preschool project (November 10 post) I wondered how a school principal at a public elementary and middle school might handle the challenges of communicating with a large, diverse, and very busy parent and caregiver population. I asked Teresa (Tere) Stoupas, Principal of the Conservatory School @ North Palm Beach.

Part of the school’s mission states, “We seek to empower a diverse range of scholars, artists, and leaders through a unique and rigorous academic and music education.”

CH: Parents are very busy. How often do you, the principal, or administration communicate with families and caregivers?

TS: We use several methods of communication, for example: weekly email blasts to parents and community, monthly e-newsletters, back-pack messages, call out to home/cell phones, Twitter and marquee messages.

CH: About what topics does the school need to communicate with parents and caregivers? Policy changes? Days-off?

TS: School events, policies, calendar, testing, community activities, deadlines, and many subjects.

CH: Do teachers send communications home everyday?

TS: There is a home/school folder in K-2 and a student agenda (composition book) in 3-7.  Notes and information from teachers go home in these ways.

CH: What format (media) is the most effective communications tool? Paper notes, text message twitter, facebook, phone robo calls?

TS: A combination of many formats are used to reach out to as many families as possible.  Paper messages are also translated into Spanish and Creole as well so that we can get information out to parents who need language translations.

CH: Has the school found any creative ways such as backpack tags or SMS in communicating with parents and caregivers?

TS: We have occasionally used QR codes on materials if that counts!!

CH: Is there anything that you might want to add as a suggestion for optimal parent/school communication?

TS: I recommend that school staff communicate their ideas to each other.  Sometimes teachers find new ways to communicate that can ‘catch fire’ on a campus and is quickly shared across grade levels….this is what happened with Shutterfly at our school.

I also recommend a Twitter account for all administrators/teachers.  I have a large PLN (personal learning network) that helps me see what other schools and districts are doing.  I have hundreds of educators that I learn from which help me keep an open mind and awareness of new opportunities to better connect with parents and community.

CH: I’d like to thank Tere for sharing her knowledge and time. If you would like to follow Tere on Twitter she can be found @stoupasteresa.


An example of digital information that is sent via email to parents or used by Tere via Twitter

An example of digital information that is sent via email to parents or used by Tere via Twitter

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A communications plan is good marketing strategy

On 10, Nov 2015 | No Comments | In Blog | By Caren Hackman

A recent client project involved designing communications materials for preschool programs. I worked closely with Christy Potter at Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County to develop materials for the Strong Minds preschool program.

What is Strong Minds? 

Strong Minds is Palm Beach County’s voluntary, quality rating improvement system (QRIS) for child care providers. This is a national movement, with more than 30 states implementing their own quality rating improvement systems, so more U.S. children enter kindergarten ready to learn.

Quality early learning programs, like those participating in the Strong Minds Network, can make a big impact by:

  • Improving children’s learning and development
  • Encouraging strong adult-child relationships
  • Empowering families to be more involved in their child’s learning

Please click on the two brochure cover images below to view two of the items that I designed.



In addition to creating brochures that explained the Strong Minds program, projects included templates and a tip sheet to assist preschool staff in utilizing the materials to communicate in the most effective way. The tip sheet went beyond the collateral materials and offered suggestions for consistent communications through all media including a scripted phone greeting.

The project helped me to realize the importance of developing a supported communications plan. Beautifully designed web and printed collaterals have little worth if they are not part of a consistent communications plan that is flexible and easy to execute.

Upon completion of the preschool project I wondered how a school principal at public elementary might handle the challenges of communicating with a large, diverse, and very busy parent and caregiver population. I asked Teresa (Tere) Stoupas, Principal of the Conservatory School @ North Palm Beach. My conversation with Tere Stoupas will be published next Tuesday, November 17.

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Artist, Yogi, Cousin: David Michael Hollander

On 13, Oct 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I have a cousin with whom I’ve only met once or twice as a child. I have no idea what circumstances kept us apart, but we never had an opportunity to become well acquainted.

We both became artists. David is also a highly respected yogi and instructor in New York City. And I, after experiencing several years of very serious back pain, have found myself very devoted to practicing yoga as therapy for my back and my psyche.

A recent trip to New York City seemed like the optimal time to develop a dialogue with David. Upon meeting, questions came pouring out about David’s choices of subject matter, the relationship of the yoga practice to his artwork, methods of drawing and painting and the figurative art scene in New York.

One of my first questions to David was an instructional one. I plan to begin doing life sketches in yoga class. Because, I haven’t drawn from life in some time and feel very rusty, I asked David, who draws everyday, and attends life drawing classes, how to begin. He told me to prepare by familiarizing myself with structural artistic anatomy. The skull, rib cage and pelvis are the most important.

David professes to be an anatomy geek and has worked with master dissectionists to study the human body. He has gone so far as to attend human body dissections that help to inform his work as well as his yoga practice and teaching. In January David will work with Tom Myers, Master Dissector, in Arizona, to learn more about human anatomy.  For his personal work, David prefers to work with live models, but also uses photos.

He advised me to treat the process of drawing a person the same way I might draw an apple; as light on form. I’ll be publishing more art, anatomy and yoga Q and A with David Michael Hollander in the future. For now, wish me luck in my yoga class sketch endeavor!

David Michael Hollander with portraits

David Michael Hollander with portraits

Sandra Hollander, David's mother, who is currently suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

Portrait of Sondra Hollander, David’s mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease.


The big art insurance question

On 06, Oct 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

badge-nyu-art-bizOnce again, I was asked to exhibit my work in several locations during the coming season. Each location sounded like a wonderful opportunity for exposure and possible sale. The downside was that few of the venues provided insurance. In fact some insisted that I sign an agreement, not holding the venue responsible for the safety of my work. This sad situation is all too common.

I turned to Sheryl Wood to see if she could enlighten me about art insurance for artists. Sheryl is an attorney who has studied the art business and fine art appraisals at NYU for the last several years and will be attending Art Law Day in November. This article serves as an overview. We’ll compile some more detailed questions about art insurance for Sheryl for a future article. Please submit a comment in the area provided below or email me to ask some of your own questions.

Please note: This is not intended as legal advice.  Any advice will always depend on the specific facts and circumstances of a particular situation.

CH: Do artists need to have insurance?

SW: Dependent on value of course, it is important for professional artists to insure the work that is in their studio. Certainly galleries and museums need to be covered, but the artist cannot always count on that when consigning work or loaning out for an exhibition.  It should be clear in their agreements who bears the risk of loss.  Not something artists like to talk about when getting excited about doing an exhibition.

  1. Artists should always have an agreement.
  2. READ it BEFORE signing it.
  3. Ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Agreements are usually one sided as to who drafted, that is why it is a good idea for the artist to have their own agreements that can be negotiated.  Obviously, depending on who bears the upper hand and how badly the consignee or museum wants the work will play a hand in that negotiation, but that doesn’t mean the artist shouldn’t take the lead when it comes to his or her work.

CH: how does an artist determine the value of their work for insurance purposes?

SW: If insured for replacement value, make sure it is for “retail” replacement value, not the artist’s cost for the materials (which unfortunately is what the IRS allows when the artist makes a donation of his work — as opposed to a collector who gets a fair market value deduction for the same donation).  You have sales comparables for work so I would imagine you can use that for reference. Then I would think you would need some sort of schedule that allows for rotation when you make a sale.

CH: Sheryl thank you so much for your time and expertise.

SW: You are very welcome. I look forward to responding to more questions. I can be reached at

Illustrate Your Resume

On 22, Sep 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

I recently worked with an enormously talented arts-education integration specialist and photo-journalist, Jean Hart Howard. She asked if I could add some interest to her resume. The resume was robust. It was filled with lists and descriptions of Jean’s credentials, experience, exhibits and awards. However, the text heavy resume prevented the reader from grasping her high level of creative energy and expertise.

We worked together to select photos  from her arts integration teaching classes to create a grid in the center of the resume that showed the work of her students. Text  was edited and headings were bolded and colored to match elements from the featured artworks.

Visual elements add more interest and “personality” to a resume or one page business information sheet.

Below are a couple of links to previously published articles about this topic:

  1. on my blog:
  2. A very comprehensive article that I wrote for The Rickie Report:


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Steve Blackwood, In Three Simultaneous Exhibits in Palm Beach County

On 15, Sep 2015 | No Comments | In Blog, Design, Fine Art | By Caren Hackman

poppyA few weeks a go The Rickie Report asked me to complete an article about internationally acclaimed sculptor, Steve Blackwood. I always enjoy working with Rickie but this time I was particuarly excited about the request to write an article. I had recently returned from the “Reimagined” exhibit at the Delray Center for the Arts at Old School Square. I found much of the work captivating and was thrilled to learn that I now had an opportunity to speak directly with Steve Blackwood, one of the artists whose work I admired.

My focus was on Steve’s process. I have a background in industrial design and currently work as a graphic designer and fine artist. I appreciate that in order to produce the mixed-media, sculptural pieces Steve must combine numerous materials, forms, and finishes.  For many of his smaller pieces, Steve works with found objects. The smaller scale permits him to experiment with the elements’ position and relationships until the assemblages look just right. The larger pieces are planned more carefully because of the time and cost involved with experimenting. Many sketches are begun in Photoshop which allows Blackwood to simulate how parts will come together. Sometimes Steve uses ebay and etsy to get parts for projects. When the items in his imagination cannot be found, he calls upon other artists and craftspersons to fabricate items.

Please visit The Rickie Report to read the entire article: Steve Blackwood, Internationally Acclaimed Sculptor, In Three Simultaneous Exhibits in Palm Beach County


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