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Art Trends of 2021

Every generation is marked by specific fashion, styling, and art movements. These trends seem to arrive quickly and disappear before anyone has a chance to notice that they’re already hopelessly outdated.

However, trends like fashion and art have a tendency to be circular: Young millennials mocked their mothers’ high-waisted pants. But the next thing you know, everyone was filing into their local mall in search of “mom jeans” or the “dad hat,” which was briefly a faux pax when flat bill snapbacks were the rage (The coolest kids knew to leave the sticker on the underside of the hat brim).

Just like fashion, art goes through trends as well. Pop art, impressionism, surrealism, and more all resurface now and again. Each time they change and evolve as artists react to the world around them. Even when art nods to the past, it is still something new to behold. Interestingly, these trends are morphing faster than ever before, thanks to internet culture.

Read on to learn more about the top art trends of 2021.

Street Art

Street art and graffiti have come a long way. Its origins are clearly inspired and rooted in prehistoric cave paintings and went from illegal tagging to the high art form it is today. Modern street art is a direct descendant of graffiti and is now often commissioned and completely legal.

Early History of Street Art

The medium of street art has changed and evolved quite a bit. It’s no longer considered just spray painting a wall in an alley. Street art now includes sculptures, performance art, and much more. One of the main qualifiers to be considered within the medium is that the piece or performance should be in public. 

However, even that “requirement” has started to change as art galleries display spray-painted murals, and it’s becoming increasingly popular. Graffiti artists have gotten a bad rap over the years because they often create their work in legal grey areas. 

Recently, cities have adapted to this particular art form by providing blank concrete walls for people to freely spray on, which has largely worked. Instead of random buildings and alleys getting tagged, these parks provide a cultural space of free expression.

The Art District in Los Angeles has multiple building owners that offer their walls for artists to create stunning and impressive murals. It’s been nothing short of a success with reports of increased business thanks to sightseers who spread the word through social media and viral photos.

Street Art in 2021

The style and techniques of street art, specifically graffiti-style murals, have heavily advanced. New artists are making a name for themselves with some unbelievable work in 2021. 

Some of the best work in the world can be found in Bushwick, New York. Much of the street art scene in Queens was destroyed by a real estate project, so Bushwick became the new street art epicenter. 

There are even walking tours you can take through certain areas to see the best work. A great place to visit is the Graffiti Hall of Fame that not only features famous pieces by famous artists but also pieces by lesser-known artists. The Hall is consistently updated with new work. 

Art Inspired By Nature 

Trends in art change regularly, but these artists are being inspired by the natural world around them and the problems that they see in it. 

Banksy

You’ve seen their work even if you don’t know their name. Banksy is an anonymous artist who is known for their paintings, sculptures, and stenciled graffiti art found around the world. As an artist, Banksy and their works are critical of politics and capitalism. 

Most of Banksy’s street art is completely unannounced and has to be randomly discovered by passersby. It’s likely they create their work in the middle of the night to avoid detection. In the earlier years of their career, Banksy’s street art was not viewed kindly by the British government. 

However, Banksy’s work brought in significant sums from gawking art collectors and tourists traveling to the United Kingdom to witness these unique creations. The local government is now encouraging street artists to hopefully uncover the next Banksy and the next great piece of art.

Earlier this year, a possible Banksy mural was found on a wall in an English coastal town. The piece features three small boys playing as sailors in a piece of scrap metal with the words “We’re all in the same boat” above them. 

Two of the boys are looking ahead while one is taking a bucket and trying to stop the boat from sinking. This piece is believed to be a message about environmentalism and the importance of a unified approach to fighting climate change. 

Qi Lei

Born in 1986, Qi Lei is a contemporary artist who has earned a lot of praise in the abstract and nature-oriented space. He combines vibrant colors with traditional methods of Chinese landscape paintings. 

His oil paintings, like The Swimming Pool in Summer, feature striking compositions and have a liveliness that is rarely seen in concert with the two styles. Lei’s work is world-renowned. His exhibits have been displayed all over China, and he maintains a popular online presence. 

Qi Lei’s latest solo exhibition, “Stalker,” was revealed in 2019, but he continues to create in 2021.

Making Social Statements

There’s also a running trend today of using art to comment on social problems. 

Mark Jenkins

Art has amazing superpowers. It can instill a variety of emotions in the viewers. Not everyone has the same experience when seeing the Mona Lisa that the other tourists in the Louvre do. However, there is a general reaction with one street artist: and it’s not the warm and fuzzy feelings that Norman Rockwell’s 50-year career engenders.

Mark Jenkins, a Virginia native, creates statues and 3-D public art that shocks, awes, and hopes to inspire change. In a recent interview, Jenkins told Insider that his intention isn’t to scare viewers. His public sculptures ranged from a figure tied to several balloons, appearing to drown in a Swedish river, or a figure of a man leaning into a Washington D.C. wall, with his head disappearing into the bricks.

Much of his recent art is intended to bring light and resources to suicide prevention, especially in male demographics underserved by traditional mental health services.

Ai Wei Wei

Another artist that has shown themselves to be an activist is Ai Wei Wei. Part of the Excessivism movement, he focuses on human rights issues, often making use of multiple mediums like video, porcelain, and sculpture. 

Ai grew up in China, in a remote corner of the north-west after his father was exiled. His art isn’t the only way that he demonstrates his activism—he also investigates government corruption, and is openly critical of the government. 

One of his most famous pieces is called Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, and it’s a collection of three images of him allowing an ancient urn fall and break. While this is one of the more well-known pieces, he’s a fairly prolific artist.  

Virtual Exhibits

Not all artists get a popular reception when they first burst on the scene. However, decades or hundreds of years later, a more modern audience sits up and takes notice. 

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this is Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Famous for (as one prevalent theory states) selling only one painting (Red Vineyard at Arles) during his lifetime, Van Gogh is now one of the most revered and celebrated artists ever. 

In case viewers can’t see an authentic Van Gogh in a museum, now the museum is coming to them. No, there isn’t an armored car carrying dozens of priceless paintings; one would only need to walk into the Van Gogh Exhibition: An Immersive Showcase. Traveling to over 20 temporary locations, with this exhibit, viewers can walk right into a painting.

The combination of 15,000 screens, 500,000 cubic feet of projections, 60,600 frames of video, and 90,000,000 pixels create a 360-degree virtual reality experience where patrons can scroll through Van Gogh’s greatest works. Aided by music and shifting images, patrons experience everything from Starry Night and the Sunflowers.

Art in the Digital Age: How It’s Changing Things

With the rise of social media, the way we have consumed art has radically changed. If you go to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, you would be lucky to see past the barricades of cell phones and cameras. 

The advent of the internet created some of the best ways to stay up to date with new and changing trends. Museums can use social media to promote new artists and exhibits, drawing in record audiences to experience the beauty their fellow humans can create. During the Covid-19 pandemic, with virtual museums, people at home during lockdowns could visit any museum in the world with a simple click.

On the other hand, social media has created the need for proof of experience. People snap pictures of art to post on their own Instagram or Facebook to prove they were there. This trend of photographing and the capacity of others to reproduce public art might have far-reaching implications for street artists. 

For example, over the past several years, Bansky has tried to trademark his works to no avail. The courts of the European Union have decreed that since his art was created in public spaces (coupled with his anonymous identity), he cannot claim a trademark over his iconic images. This poses a potential risk for all street artists. 

Changing Art Trends

Art has long since adapted alongside our changing technological landscape. From different ways of creating paints to the use of technology in graphic design, technology and art coexist in a delicate balance. 

Art trends come and go. With the technology of the future, who can truly say what is going to happen next?

 

Sources:

A Brief History of Graffiti: A Look at 5 Modern Graffiti Artists – 2021 | MasterClass

An Artist Is Leaving Faceless Sculptures in Cities Around the World | Insider

Did Van Gogh Sell Only One Painting During His Life? | ThoughtCo

The ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ exhibition is coming to L.A. to devour your social feed | Time Out

Banksy trademark ‘at risk’ after street artist loses legal battle | The Guardian 

Entrepreneurship vs. Intrapreneurship: What’s the Difference?

Two similar words with very distinct meanings—intrapreneur and entrepreneur. 

An entrepreneur is a person who starts and owns a business. An intrapreneur is an employee in a company who uses entrepreneurial skills to innovate and improve the company. Just because you work for a company doesn’t mean you’re considered an intrapreneur. 

Risk vs. Reward

Entrepreneurs have different risks compared to intrapreneurs. They are also compensated differently. As a business owner, your income is entirely dependent on your work ethic and forces out of your control. 

Intrapreneurs can earn a lot of money via performance bonuses and raises but are somewhat at the mercy of their employer. 

The Advantages and Risks of Entrepreneurship

Opening a new business is challenging. The vast majority of new companies and businesses in America do not last. Only 25% of new businesses make it past the 15-year mark.

Entrepreneurs need financial skills involving marketing, research, and business knowledge, and financial capital to get it all started. Luckily, there are more options to finance a business venture than ever. 

Being an entrepreneur means that you will either be doing everything on your own or hiring people to help you, like managers and consultants. Sometimes, people who own and run businesses completely on their own are called “Solopreneurs.”

The benefit of running a business entirely on your own is that you get to keep all the revenue minus expenses. Not having to worry about hiring staff can keep you more nimble and allow for more control, but this method has its costs.

Formal education can certainly help in the pursuit of starting a successful business, but surveys show that most entrepreneurs do not have a college degree. What seems to be a key factor to success is experience.

Advantages of Intrapreneurship

One of the biggest upsides to working within a pre-existing company or organization is the lack of risk. The worst that can happen financially is getting fired. Business owners have a lot more skin in the game if things go south. 

By not owning the business or its assets, you are free from the financial fallout of a company that fails. People who start businesses that fail usually end up in financial ruin and have to go through difficult processes like bankruptcy. 

Another bonus to intrapreneurship is a steady paycheck. Regular income and benefits is a staple in stability. As an intrapreneur, your job is not just to provide labor to your employer. You also need to actively add value to the company with new ideas and products that will make the company more profitable and sustainable. 

Another advantage for intrapreneurs is the number of resources immediately available when you get hired. There are managers, staff, and other resources at your disposal to help you through your career. 

The Risks of Intrapreneurship

Intrapreneurship is inherently lower risk than standard entrepreneurship, and it’s a lot more financially stable. Business owners are on the hook for not just their own labor but everything else involving the company. 

Regular business owners have startup costs and few financial safeguards. When working your way up and advancing through an existing company, there’s the risk of being fired, and that’s about it. 

An abstract risk to intrapreneurship is that you’ll have less control over your career, and it may take you places you did not intend. 

The Rewards

Entrepreneurship is a chance to have complete control over how a business runs. Owning your business means keeping the profits. And if you end up selling your company, you keep all of the money from that sale. 

As a business owner, there are innumerable perks like making your own hours, prices, and business approach. A good example of an entrepreneur you’re probably familiar with is J.K. Rowling. Today, she is considered a household name but had humble beginnings. 

Now famous for her award-winning Harry Potter novels, Rowling was living on welfare as a single mother before her rise. Her books are credited by many for the popularization of young teen novels, and the film adaptations and merchandise rights only added to their value. Today, she is estimated to be worth about $1 billion. 

A Case Study of Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs

Tim Cook of Apple Inc. replaced Steve Jobs as CEO in 2011. These two men are perfect examples of an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur working together. 

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is a classic example of an entrepreneur. He found a gap in the computer market and filled it with a company he co-founded: Apple Computer Company. 

Before the Macintosh, computers were not user-friendly, and they were primarily used by tech companies, scientists, and government agencies like NASA. Job’s recognized this and believed that computers could be a consumer product in the home. 

For the most basic of tasks, computers require that you learn their language and input unintuitive codes to achieve things. The Macintosh changed this with an easy-to-use interface that is widely considered the precursor to Windows 95. 

In 2007, Jobs revealed the iPhone to the public at the Macworld convention in San Francisco, and the world was never the same. Entrepreneurs don’t just start businesses. They come up with new ideas and change the world. 

Jobs was an entrepreneur in the truest sense in that he created a company and products that upset the natural order. 

Tim’s Early Career

Cook earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the Auburn University of Alabama. After graduating, he worked for IBM from 1982 to 1994 and became a director within the company. 

While working, he earned his Master’s degree in business administration from Duke University. After that, Cook had a couple more high-ranking jobs at different companies. In 1998, he met Steve Jobs, who offered Cook a position at Apple.

At this time in Apple’s history, it was not the tech giant we know today. It was actually nearing bankruptcy, and Cook went into the position understanding that things weren’t going well. 

Cook’s role at the time largely involved supply chain operations. He completely revamped the supplier operations by shutting down pre-existing manufacturers and signed new contracts with more efficient manufacturers. 

Within just a year of Cook’s hiring, Apple began to see profits for the first time in years. Other decisions he made early on, like investing in new flash memory technology, were crucial to Apple’s future success. 

These decisions had direct impacts on how Apple would produce products like iPods and iPads. While Jobs was battling pancreatic cancer, Cook would go on to take over more and more of the executive work and went higher up the ranks. 

Cook truly is the pinnacle of intrapreneurship. He entered into a company on the verge of bankruptcy and helped turn it into the most valuable company in the world in the span of thirteen years. 

Intrapreneurs and Entrepreneurs

Intrapreneurs are a necessary support for most traditional entrepreneurs. They play a key role in the vast majority of business venture’s success and adaptability. A lot of credit is given to entrepreneurs for leading the way in things like environmental protection and workers’ rights.

However, more credit needs to be given to those who innovate and create change from within existing businesses and organizations. It might technically be an easier path to success, but it still requires intelligence, talent, and experience. 

 

Sources:

Top 6 Reasons New Businesses Fail | Investopedia

Tim Cook tells climate change skeptics to ditch Apple shares | The Guardian

What is Intrapreneurship? | Elmhurst University 

What Is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship is an economic idea that plays off of the best elements of a few economic theories. 

The overall goal is to use capitalist business practices and socialist humanitarianism and environmentalism together, all mixed with a healthy dose of innovation. Generally, the aim is to work towards social change or solving social problems, especially as they extend to the status quo.  

What Is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurs are somewhere near the middle of the economic spectrum by striving for a profit while also contributing to the community for the good of the whole. They use capitalist mechanisms for social benefit on a more systemic level than regular philanthropy and donations. 

Characteristics of social entrepreneurs often include creativity, determination, a strong sense of ethics and empathy, and much more. They’re looking to implement solutions with their social business ventures, not to gain political clout or make a load of money. 

Where Social Entrepreneurs Fit In

With the economic system we have, where does social entrepreneurship fit? The goal is to simply start a profitable company and then invest those profits into the employees and community, often while being ecologically sustainable. 

Instead of taking the profits from your business and buying yourself a second house, you invest those funds into things that actively improve your community as a whole. It’s more than just simple philanthropy.  

Social entrepreneurs and their ventures self-regulate by taking profits and lifting others up. The definition of a social entrepreneur is so broad because there is a wide spectrum of them and their practices. For example, some may recruit investors and donors and raise money for a new venture, while others attempt to build from the ground up on their own. 

Some of them reinvest into their own employees by creating programs that use company profits to pay for college tuition and healthcare. Others may create low-cost clinics for impoverished communities that financially break even. These types of business owners are not driven by excess but by social, economic, and ecological advancement. The social entrepreneur aims to make a positive impact. 

They are basically philanthropists that use their business skills to create positive change with an intelligent and thoughtful approach. These social activists focus on social innovation and social ventures that target problems they see in the world around them. 

Where Do Non-Profit Companies Fit?

Non-profit organizations and companies are on the other end of the spectrum, opposite to standard entrepreneurs. They exist solely to benefit communities through charitable donations, memberships, and other forms of income like branded merchandise. 

These organizations are not out to profit from anyone. They make just enough revenue to break even. The owners receive nothing extra on top of normal fixed income. Amnesty International is a non-profit based in the UK. 

Their goals heavily revolve around human rights and generating campaigns for its advocacy around the world. The goals of these social enterprises are strikingly similar to a social entrepreneur’s goals. 

The key difference is that one strives for a profit by producing a product and or service that isn’t necessarily related to their social and environmental goals, while the other solely exists to serve social and environmental goals and only uses profits for expenses and not bonuses. 

Societal Changes Needed Today

America has some serious, deep-seated problems with its social fabric. Things like the environment and the ripples of past discrimination of people of color are major issues, and many social entrepreneurs are trying to solve these issues. Each has its own specific social mission.

That said, the United States isn’t the only country where social entrepreneurs work to add social value. For example, Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, helps women in Bangladesh break out of poverty through microloans. TOMs shoes are another example of social entrepreneurship in recent years, donating a pair of shoes to children in need across the world, often in developing countries. 

Marginalized Groups

Marginalized groups, like African Americans, have been left behind socially and economically. Not only have they been denied access to housing and adequate policing, but they have also had difficulties starting and maintaining businesses. 

Recently, Target has been actively practicing a form of social entrepreneurship by stocking and promoting black-owned brands like Mented Cosmetics, a makeup brand co-founded and owned by Amanda Johnson. 

This is a clever but simple symbiotic relationship between Target and Mented Cosmetics. Target gets to profit from a brand while economically promoting a brand owned by someone from a marginalized group. Everybody wins. 

Mo’s Burgers is a food cart located in Harlem, New York, and is owned and operated by Mo Robinson Jr. The founder sells fruity drinks, burgers, and hotdogs. Mo only sells the burgers for $2 and the hotdogs for $1.50. He specifically states that he keeps his prices down so that the young black kids can afford it. 

Mo probably doesn’t even realize that he is partaking in social entrepreneurial practices, but he is aware of the social benefits of his business model. Hotdogs usually go up to $3 in the city, so it’s important that lesser-advantaged youth have access to affordable food vendors.

You may be thinking that $1.50 isn’t a significant price difference, but that could mean the difference between a kid eating lunch twice a week and four times a week. 

Systemic Healthcare Problems

You know there is a systemic problem when a third of GoFundMes are for medical care costs. Based on 2015-2017 data, over 39% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, out-of-pocket costs for newly diagnosed patients frequently represent 23% to 63% of their household incomes. 

And that’s just cancer. These numbers don’t include the flurry of other medical challenges Americans face on a daily basis. Two-thirds of Americans filing for bankruptcy cite medical debt as a key element as to why they file. 

One of the biggest criticisms of health insurance in America is that it is often attached to our employers. The original concept and intentions behind this were well-meaning but unfortunately had unintended consequences.  

Because people’s insurance companies are tied to their employers, there is basically no competition, thus allowing for unregulated price hikes. 

Some companies, like Boston Consulting Group, are attempting to remedy this issue by covering employee health insurance completely. 

Health insurance is expensive—really expensive. By completely covering these costs, they are bolstering their employees’ financial positions. 

The Environment

The field of social entrepreneurship is usually very conscientious of the environment and sustainability. Companies like Allbirds concentrate heavily on sustainability and dampening the environmental issues caused by the fashion industry

Fast fashion is responsible for dumping billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. Allbirds and other such organizations rely on sustainable materials like wool, trees that rely on natural rainfall as a water source, and even sugar. 

Leaving a positive impact on the world is a key component of the concept of social entrepreneurship. Economically speaking, being environmentally friendly isn’t just good for nature and marketing; it’s good for the business. Companies that rely on finite resources typically have a hard time surviving in the long run. 

Oil companies constantly have to find new locations and underground reservoirs to get oil out from. Once their wells are dry, that particular operation is over. This results in entire operations, including equipment and employees, completely uprooting the worksite. 

Operations like these are not sustainable. They end up costing the oil companies millions and billions of dollars just to grab a resource that will not replenish for literally millions of years. Solar panel technology has seen some huge strides in just the last few years. 

Future generations will likely rely on natural resources like solar, wind, and other renewables for energy because the oil will eventually disappear. It’s going to take characters like Elon Musk, who are driving us towards socially beneficial things like satellite internet available to everyone from almost anywhere. 

You may not think of Musk as a social entrepreneur because he definitely strives for personal gain but you can’t deny the positive societal impacts his company’s products and services produce. 

Social Entrepreneurs and Business

What is the point of high profits if the world and its people are set on fire anyway? 

After all, you need people with disposable income and a healthy planet to maintain any business model. If you’re going to make a profit, you might as well invest in the future of our world. 

Social entrepreneurs can look to places like Bill Drayton’s Ashoka, The Skoll Foundation, and The Schwab Foundation for help getting started, too, so they don’t have to do the whole business venture all on their own.

 

Sources:

New data on Americans crowdfunding medical expenses | Yahoo

Cancer Statistics | National Cancer Institute

This is the real reason most Americans file for bankruptcy | CNBC

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW | David Bornstein and Susan Davis | Asokau 

Your Guide on How To Create NFT Art

NFTs are extremely hot in the online market right now in both a creative and financial capacity. This relatively new technology has changed the art world and is flooding it with money and opportunities. 

What Is an NFT?

NFT stands for “Non-Fungible Token.” It operates very similarly to cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Many of them are part of the Ethereum blockchain, although not all. It basically allows for creators to have “originals” of their digital artwork. Of course, NFTs don’t stop at art—at some point, there might even be concert ticket NFTs. 

NFTs aren’t just short sports clips or pixelated cat gifs; almost anything in the form of a digital file can be one. In fact, Jack Dorsey, the founder and CEO of Twitter, sold his first tweet as an NFT.

A Brief History

In 2008, a person under the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto” created the idea for a decentralized digital currency that didn’t rely on any government or bank. They called it Bitcoin, and the concept cut out the middleman. 

In January of 2009, the blockchain was launched, and the first transaction was made. However, it was just a test, and Bitcoin didn’t have any real value yet. The first real transaction that established Bitcoin’s real-world value was done by negotiating for two pizzas. 

The two pizzas cost $25 in real money, and the two parties agreed on 10,000 Bitcoins. This translated to Bitcoin being valued at $0.0025. That’s 4 Bitcoins per cent. The value of the cryptocurrency was completely arbitrary and negotiated on online forums. 

In 2010, Bitcoin became available on exchanges and was now more accessible to the public. By 2011, the price had finally reached the perceived and agreed-upon value of $1.00. Today, Bitcoin’s price stands at over $54,000 per coin—but this fluctuates constantly. 

Between 2012 and 2013, the very first NFTs came about in the form of “Colored Coins.” They were essentially smaller denominations of Bitcoins and were used to represent many different kinds of digital assets like digital collectibles and other types of property like shares in companies.

The NFT Today

NFTs really gained serious momentum in January this year thanks to companies like NBA Top Shot and CryptoPunks. It’s all thanks to perceived value and hype. Technically, these tokens don’t have any inherent value, but they do because we say they do. 

NBA Top Shot became wildly successful recently and has sold over $230 million in professional basketball highlights as of February 2021. Basically, these digital collectibles are the new trading cards. 

Earlier this year, a new record was set for the highest sale price of an NBA Top Shot NFT; it was a clip of LeBron James emulating a dunk Kobe Bryant was famous for in his honor. It sold for over $387,000. 

CryptoPunk NFTs are pixelated digital art pieces, and one just sold for nearly $12 million. The piece in question, CryptoPunk 7523, is a pixelated blue alien wearing a red hat, a facemask, and gold earrings. Believe it or not, the top ten CryptoPunks ever sold were all valued in the millions. 

In March of 2021, NFT history was made when Mike Winkelmann, aka digital artist Beeple, sold a piece of NFT artwork called “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” for over $69 million. 

The future of NFTs is relatively uncertain. Tech bubbles have been created and popped before due to excessive speculation, and it would be foolish to think that NFTs are somehow immune to that possibility. 

Most of us probably didn’t predict how valuable Pokemon trading cards would become. Those cards we traded for candy bars in the schoolyard are now valued in the thousands. For all we know, NFTs may have the same fate as Beanie Babies. 

The thing that makes NFTs fairly unique in the space of collectibles is that almost anyone can make them and sell them. This makes the value of these digital items more difficult to understand. 

How To Create an NFT

Luckily, creating your first NFT is pretty straightforward. You’ll need to design your piece and then decide what blockchain to have your work issued on. Then, there is the process of marketing and selling your NFT.

Blockchains

When you go out for a cup of coffee and pay for it with your debit card, there are multiple parties involved with the transaction process: your account, one or two different banks, and the shop’s account. 

With decentralized currency like Bitcoin, there are no banks or governments involved. Transactions are peer to peer and logged on a public record permanently. It’s sort of like each Bitcoin has a serial number that is logged and tracked through many computers connected to the internet that constantly cross-reference each other for discrepancies. 

NFT Marketplaces

NFTs are sold on a wide range of sites. In the high-stakes world of purchasing NFTS, most people are flocking to platforms like Flow, Ethereum, Axie Infinity, and World Asset eXchance (WAX).

While digital wallets are all the rage, this isn’t exactly an Apple or Google Pay situation. Instead, buyers must use cryptocurrency. This highly volatile type of digital currency is complex and difficult to predict. Each site can have its own rules. You may have to buy dollars to use from a particular site (like Axie) or use a digital wallet like MetaMask or Bitski. 

How To Sell and Buy NFT Artwork

It’s easy to assume that iconic artwork like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Edvard Munch’s The Scream has staggering monetary value (after all, these and similar paintings were targets of famous art heists). 

It’s a little harder to comprehend how a distorted drawing of The Simpsons is one of the highest-selling NFTs of all time

Basics of Selling

If you have an iconic internet moment or an interesting piece of art, you might just be sitting on the next multi-million dollar NFT. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. First, you have to “mint” your NFT. This happens through the website of your choice, and the site requires you to pay certain fees for this service.
  2. Make sure to load up funds on your digital wallet (also called a crypto wallet).
  3. Upload the media file to the site of your choice (OpenSea, AtomicMarket, or Mintable).
  4. Set the price — this price is set in cryptocurrency (Bitcoin or Ethereum are popular).
  5. Wait for the crypto market to soar and price accordingly. 
  6. Profit (hopefully).

Basics of Buying

If you’ve got cash to burn and are in the market for the best fun fact you can share at a future party, here is how to buy an NFT:

  1. Join a market dedicated to buying and selling NFTs.
  2. Acquire a digital wallet (also called a crypto wallet). Every market basically uses a different digital wallet, and, like gift cards, these wallets don’t work at competing sites. 
  3. Go to the site of your choice. You have to decide if you want to buy at an auction or do a buy-now transaction. 
  4. Keep in mind that crypto is always in a state of flux, so watch the market to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. When ETH goes down, sellers are more likely to try to sell in case the market takes an even deeper dive.
  5. Pick a piece: either keep an eye on the auction or buy immediately.

Notable NFTs

Perhaps the new version of the art collector and aficionado is the NFT collector that delves into the world of digital artists. If you’re interested in ownership of one of the following NFTs, we’re sorry to say these particular ones are off the table (at least at the moment). 

The Nostaglia NFT

It’s no secret that nostalgia is pretty powerful. If you can remember back to the internet days of 2007, you might recall a viral YouTube video called “Charlie Bit My Finger” (sometimes called “Charlie Bit Me”). This 55-second video made the rounds on everyone’s Facebook. In fact, way back when, this iconic and hilarious clip was the most-watched video on all of YouTube.

“Charlie Bit My Finger” starred Harry, age three, complaining that his younger brother, Charlie, age one, bit him on the finger. As of July 2021, this video is pushing at upwards of 900 million views.

In an auction in May of 2021, Charlie and Harry’s parents sold the NFT of this clip for £538,000. That translates to $728,807.32 in US dollars. The boys have stated that they intend to use these funds to attend university. 

The Ironic NFT

In the world of street art, no name is as prominent as Bansky. Known for iconic pieces like “Girl With Balloon” and “Flower Thrower,” this artist is no stranger to controversy and drama. 

To this date, two Bansky NFTs have hit the open market, although it should be noted that the artist themselves was not involved in either of these big-ticket transactions. In what many deemed a tasteless stunt, Injective Protocol (a Blockchain company) and the owners of the Bansky piece burned Bansky’s 2006 screenprint called “Morons (White).” 

Injective Protocol forked over $95,000 for the work to burn it and then sold the NFT of this piece. The NFT of this piece taken before it was set aflame brought in a huge sum of $380,000. 

The seller noted that they chose this piece due to Bansky’s inscription on the original screenprint. It reads, “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit.” Some appreciated the irony, while many others found the whole debacle to be rather unfortunate.  

The Art Heist NFT

In August 2021, a Bansky work was once again involved in the NFT market, but this one was certainly less than savory. A hacker gained access to Banksy’s website, and the hacker then auctioned off a Bansky NFT on OpenSea. However, this NFT wasn’t an actual NFT: it was a total fake. 

The hacker was able to sell this fake NFT for 100 Ethereum, which equates to $336,000 in real-life dollars. In a surprisingly wholesome turn of events, the scammer returned all the money to his victim.  

Art in the Age of the Internet

The first computers were basically as powerful as the calculator you used in Geometry class. When the internet took off, some people barely noticed its presence and called it a fad. 

Now, pictures on the internet are selling for similar prices to oil paintings that take years to produce. If one thing is for sure, the internet is astounding. It constantly finds new ways to surprise, entertain, and educate us.

 

Sources:

15 Most Expensive NFTs Sold (So Far) | ScreenRant

How to make, buy and sell NFTs | CNBC

NBA Top Shot, CryptoPunks And More: What You Need To Know About NFTs | Yahoo Finance 

Banksy art burned, destroyed and sold as token in ‘money-making stunt’ | BBC

Fake Banksy NFT sells for more than $300,000 | CNBC

What Is a Workation?

Workation simply means working and vacationing at the same time. It can also be interpreted as adding leisurely elements to your work. This idea is usually with either people who work remotely or managers and senior staff that have the privilege of being able to take work on the go.  

Top Five Places to Visit for a Workation

Wouldn’t you rather be writing reports on a warm, sandy beach than your office or room? Work doesn’t always have to be underneath fluorescent lights and a cubicle. With the rise in popularity of remote work, traveling while still fulfilling your job’s duties has never been easier.  

Cabin in the Woods

The idea of sipping on a fresh cup of coffee while overlooking a lush forest is no longer reserved exclusively for writers. As long as you check to make sure the place you rent has a secure internet connection ahead of time, you’re golden. 

Cabins in relatively remote places with trees and rivers promote tranquility and focus. There won’t be any cars or people to distract you from your work. All you’ll hear is the rushing of the river and birds chirping. 

Imagine tending to a fire and roasting marshmallows while checking your email. Fresh air will do you good and allow you to concentrate more easily. It’s in our nature to feel good and have better blood flow when we hear the sound of water. Being near a river will help with that immensely. 

While working remotely in a cabin, it’s important to have a designated space for working. Having a separate room or patio altogether would be ideal. However, don’t be afraid to migrate around the property if you’re feeling stuck. 

Being in a cabin has an unexpected benefit; exercise. You’re probably going to be in for a workout in more ways than one. Keeping active is a great way to keep your energy up. Every hour or so, go out for a quick walk. Maybe chop up some firewood for later that night.

Tropical Resorts

Perhaps it’s time to get away from the cities and suburbs. Reading reports while sending emails at a resort in Mexico or Hawaii might be just the thing you need. Getting sun isn’t just fun and relaxing. We need natural sunlight on a regular basis to stay healthy physically and mentally. 

Getting into a bathing suit and taking the laptop to the beach or pool will help you feel less lethargic or isolated. Just because you’re working doesn’t mean you can’t have a little bit of fun at the bar. Order yourself a virgin drink, like a margarita or pina colada. 

If you stay at a hotel, try to get a room that’s high and has a great view. You might as well enjoy the view of a beach and boats passing by if you’re going to work in the room. If you don’t already live in a tropical climate, these areas of the world will be a good change of pace. 

Bed and Breakfasts

There are small towns with so much to offer sprinkled throughout the country. If you’re looking to escape the bustling of big city life but don’t want to travel very far, a bed and breakfast is right up your alley. 

Bed and breakfasts are great for stimulating local economies and historic preservation. Most B&Bs are older buildings that are typically decorated and preserved in older styles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

They are focused on coziness and comfort first and foremost. In contrast to normal hotels, bed and breakfasts pay special attention to your experience and accommodations. Usually, each room in a B&B is unique. Part of the fun is choosing your room beforehand. 

Most hotels have typical meals available, but some don’t serve food at all. B&Bs take pride in their homestyle food, especially the breakfast. And it better be good, considering it’s in the name of the business. 

Lots of these B&Bs are located in towns with great boutique shops and mom-and-pop restaurants. Some of these towns are better at keeping big food chains out with local regulations than others. 

Big Cities

You may already live and work in a small town or more isolated areas of the country, so a workation in a busy city could be fun. New York City is a real treat in so many ways. The city is known for some of the most amazing food, sights, and sheer density. 

Currently, there are over 26,000 sit-down restaurants in the city and even more street food vendors. A fun idea, if the weather permits, is to work outside in Central Park. Grabbing a New York hotdog from a street cart or a classic slice of pizza is the perfect complement to your workflow. 

Another great place that can be fun to work in is one of the thousands of independent cafes. Be prepared for high prices, though. New York City has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the most expensive cities in the world. 

Try to find cafes that have rooftop views of the city. Imagine how jealous your coworkers will be at video conferences when they see the Empire State building behind you. Other cities, like San Francisco, can definitely offer views and amazing restaurants. 

However, San Francisco has other benefits that New York City can’t claim to have. Take your laptop to the Redwoods just outside the city. Cell phone and internet services may be spotty or even not available at all here, though. 

It can get a little overwhelming being in a big, loud city like San Francisco. Taking a walk in a beautiful forest and finding a spot to sit down and get some work done can help you refocus. You might end up finding out the city’s too distracting. 

Home, Sweet Home

Sometimes all you need for a workation is to simply add elements of a vacation while at home. There’s no packing involved, no traveling, and a lot fewer expenses. There are some things that sound like a good idea, but you should probably avoid them. 

Do not work in bed. While working from home, it’s incredibly tempting to wake up, roll over, grab the laptop off the nightstand, and start working. This practice can turn into a bad habit with potentially serious consequences. 

When you work in bed, it’s extremely comfortable, but you may end up messing with your sleep quality and patterns. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary that protects you from stimuli and stress to promote good sleep. 

Adding something potentially stressful, like your work, to that environment will start to make you associate where you sleep with stress and activity. This can have effects like not being able to get to sleep and staying asleep. 

If you have an outdoor patio that you want to work on, add some things to make it more comfortable. Add decorative lighting and footrests to keep your feet up on. Play atmospheric and relaxing music at a low volume. 

Mobile Workstation Essentials

There are a handful of accessories you can add to your workstation that will make you wonder how you were able to work without them. Ergonomics tend to suffer when you travel away from a designated office space with all of your favorite accouterments. Here are some things to help you on your workation.  

Headphones

One of the most important tools in a mobile workstation is something you probably already own; a set of headphones. Wireless buds are crucial to be able to somewhat privately conduct video calls and listen to music while working

If you don’t have a pair of quality, noise-canceling headphones, you’re missing out. Not only are they great for blocking out annoying noises an airplane makes, but they also help your focus when at your workation destination. 

If you can’t escape big city noises, a pair of these kinds of headphones will almost completely block out those distractions. If you’re taking a workation at home and have kids around, throw these headphones on, and you’ll be teleported to another dimension of tranquility. 

You’re probably going to be wearing these headsets for many hours at a time, so the lighter the headphones, the better. Your neck will thank you in the long run. Heavier headphones usually squeeze harder to your head to stay up, and that can cause discomfort and headaches.

Ergonomic Assistance

If you’re taking your laptop on the go, a fantastic addition to it would be an angled laptop stand. These products fold flat and hardly take up any room in a bag. They not only raise your screen higher but also provide a more ergonomic angle for your wrists. 

Having a raised screen will encourage more comfortable sitting positions for long work periods. The last thing you want flaring up on a workation is carpal tunnel syndrome. Angled laptop stands reduce the odds of that happening significantly. 

Casual Work Life

Balancing your work life with pleasure is a difficult task, especially when traveling. Take the time to think about how you work and what kinds of things can distract you too easily. This will inform the type of workation that will be best for you. 

 

 

Sources:

Why Trees Can Make You Happier | Greater Good Magazine

Muir Woods National Monument | US National Park Service

The best laptop stands in 2021 | NBC News

How To Start Wholesaling Real Estate: A Step By Step Guide

Wholesaling property is an exciting way to make a lot of money very quickly. There are certainly risks, but this guide will help you figure out how to make sales and get business connections that land you good deals. 

What Is Wholesaling Real Estate?

Wholesaling real estate is a strategy that some investors use to make money in the relative short term. It’s important to note that it doesn’t follow the same principles as retail wholesaling, either. 

Basically, an investor will find a property, often a distressed one, that’s for sale, and make a contract with the seller to purchase it. However, instead of taking on the property themselves or making renovations, the way that someone flipping property would, they simply find another buyer, and charge them more than what they contracted with the seller. The wholesaler keeps the difference in sale prices and thus makes a profit. 

Finding a Property to Wholesale

Finding houses and other types of property is particularly difficult right now, based on market trends. Right now, the housing market is appreciating at a rapid pace. There are more buyers than there are sellers, so finding property is more difficult than ever.  

Strategy

Properties that are in desperate need of repairs are the most desirable when it comes to wholesaling. There are two types of agents; buying agents and listing agents. Listing agents are the people who put the house up for sale and publicize it on sites like Zillow. 

Buying agents are the people who help those who are looking to actually buy the property. Typically, both of these types of agents would collect about 3% commission when working together in helping two parties sell and buy a property. 

When looking for a distressed property for sale, it’s best to contact the seller directly without using a buying agent. This is called dual agency. Under this circumstance, the selling agent will get twice the commission if your offer is accepted. 

The selling agent is now much more inclined to give you a better deal on the property because that agent’s commission just got doubled no matter what. The selling agent is, in a sense, working for your interests now. 

This strategy will facilitate a foundation for future relationships with selling agents. They will eventually start to reach out to you with property listings because they want the double commission. Sometimes, listing agents will even let you know of future listings ahead of when they will be officially listed.   

Sellers Who Are Motivated

One of the types of sellers to look for are estate heirs. These are people who inherited a property but don’t actually want to keep it. These people likely already have homes themselves, or they can’t afford the taxes on the newly inherited home. 

Absentee owners are people who own properties but don’t actually maintain or even occupy the property. These types of owners are distinguished from active owners by being very hands-off and are much more likely to be motivated to sell. 

Properties that have liens attached to them have owners that are likely trying to get out from under debt. They see selling the property as a quick way of getting the funds necessary to pay off their debts. 

Foreclosures are public record, and many areas even offer lists of them. The reason they can be bought for so cheap is that they are being sold by the lender, and they only make a profit from any sale. Their goal is to simply recuperate the costs of the failed loan and then some.  

Making an Offer

It’s important to understand the local market of the property you are looking to acquire. It’s not all about paperwork and negotiations. You also need to strengthen your relationship with potential sellers.

Transparency

If you attempt to go about negotiations and offers with sellers in a way that seems dishonest, you’ll likely have your offer declined and damage your reputation. Selling agents are people just like you, and it’s best to be as transparent as possible with them. 

Take care in explaining exactly what your intentions are and discuss what your process will look like. If done right, you will foster a lucrative business relationship with many selling agents that love working with you because it will benefit both of you. 

Teamwork

There are three other parties that you need to have involved in the process; an appraiser, a contractor, and a title company. These parties will help assist you in making the process not only easier but much more lucrative. 

Appraiser

An appraiser determines the value of a home by examining the quality of the property and making sure that everything is up to code and safe. Appraisers know where and what to look for on properties. They can point out things you might not know to think about. 

They will perform a room-by-room walkthrough of the home and inspect for damage, quality of construction, and possible local code violations that need to be amended. The appraiser’s assessment can be used to leverage a better deal when negotiating a price. 

Depending on the state you live in, an appraisal can cost anywhere between $200 and $400. It might be tempting to skip out on this part of the process altogether, but it’s not a good idea. Without a professional appraisal, you’re basically going into the sale blind. 

Homes can look great on the surface, but who knows how many problems could be lying just underneath? Appraisers can point out things that may end up making the value of the property much less than what you were looking to sell it for. 

Contractor

A contractor can also inspect the property and assess what repairs or changes are necessary. The contractor will also be able to generate an estimate for the needed work. This estimate will inform your selling price later. 

Always check your contractor’s history and follow up on previous work that they have done. The internet makes it earlier than ever to find reviews to ensure you’re getting a realistic estimate. 

Title Company

Title companies analyze the title of the property for liens, defects in the title, and claims of encumbrances. They mostly examine public records. This process can be complicated, though, so it’s best to leave it to a professional. 

These companies ensure you’re actually buying a house legally and in full. If you don’t hire a title company, you could end up buying a property from someone who didn’t fully own it. It’s kind of like scam insurance. 

Finding a Buyer

You can’t sell a property if you can’t find someone willing to buy it. Luckily, there are a number of ways to attract buyers and investors, and most of them will either cost little or no money at all. 

Networking

Go to trade events that promote making business connections to possible investors. Social media is another great tool in your arsenal for connecting with other professionals in a quick, free way.

Starting your own website can also be a great way to attract higher-end buyers as long as it’s done well and is advertised. If you go to trade shows and events, be sure to have the website on your business cards. 

This is also an opportunity to utilize your new connections with selling agents. If you’ve gained their trust, they can provide you with leads and potential investors. They have access to connections that you can possibly tap into.

Closing the Deal

Before discussing a final number on a deal, you need to agree on a finder’s fee for the property sale. Most wholesalers charge anywhere between 5% and 10%. There are two ways to finalize a sale; an assignment of contract and a double close.

Assignment of Contract

These types of contracts are fairly straightforward. You’re basically signing a contract that says you have the right to sell the contract to the buyer for a fee. This is a simple transfer of the rights of contract. 

Double Close

A double close is where you essentially have two separate transactions; one between the wholesaler and the seller and one right after between the wholesaler and the buyer. This method allows you to keep your capital gains secret from the two other parties.  

Closeout

Real estate is a risky market but also lucrative if done properly. The great thing about wholesaling real estate is that you really don’t need a realtor license. You also don’t need a lot of capital to get started. 

Wholesaling has the potential of huge profits in a very short period of time. After you become more established and have the proper connections, you can do this practice many times over very quickly. It may take a few times before you get the hang of it, though. 

There are certainly risks to wholesaling, namely, not being able to find a buyer. Greed is often the biggest killer of deals. If the prices you set are too high, you will struggle to not only find a buyer but also struggle to stay in good standing with selling agents. 

Wholesaling real estate is not a consistent occupation, and there is no guaranteed paycheck. Income and profits are wildly unpredictable, so this type of work is probably best done on the side next to your full-time job.  

 

 

Sources:

Dual Agency In Real Estate | Forbes

Absentee ownership | Britannica

Appraisal Definition | Investopedia

NEW YORK, USA - SEP 25, 2015: Picture gallery in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met), the largest art museum in the United States of America

Why Is Art Important?

Human beings have an incredible capacity for complex language, but sometimes the things we want to express can’t be put into words. This is where art, and all its forms, come in. It is the language of the self. Without art, humanity would likely crumble. 

Windows Into the Past

Art is an amazing method of transporting yourself to different times and perspectives. Just by picking up and reading an old journal or book or engaging with an old painting, you are opening a portal. Literature and other kinds of works are like abstract wormholes for our imaginations to explore. 

Prehistoric Art

Culture is the method human beings use to communicate with members of our kind from the past. Ancient cave paintings, sculptures, and pottery can teach us about how people lived and what they thought. 

It’s likely that our modern interpretation of what art is may be rooted in ancient forms of communication and the transfer of knowledge. Ancient cave paintings from thousands of years ago give us a glimpse into how ancient people thrived in their environments. 

The oldest examples of cave art that we have discovered so far dates back 65,000 years. That’s when Neanderthals were still walking around. Most of the cave art we’ve found is less than 40,000 years old and was made by Homo Sapiens. 

All kinds of animals from the Ice Age have been depicted in cave paintings, like horses, mammoths, deer, and even saber tooth tigers. Most of the pieces found were painted with black and red pigments from stones and sediments. 

Not all ancient cave artwork was painted. Some examples were actually carved into the rock walls with tools. The meaning behind cave art has been a subject of debate among scientists for a long time. Some say that it may have been a practice conducted by shamans on spiritual journeys. 

There have been symbols found to be repeated across cave locations, hinting at the possibility of some of the earliest forms of graphic communication. Paleolithic art can help us have a better understanding of our species and how our minds evolved. 

Artistic remnants of the past are integrated into our technology today. The common asterisk symbol can be traced back to European caves of the Ice Age. 

Historical Works and Styles

You may have taken an art history class in school and might have pondered the subject’s importance. Why bother deep-diving the music, literature, sculptures, and paintings? The works of the past have ripple effects that permeate our culture today. 

The Renaissance is a wonderful example of a time where art was the driving force for innovation and cultural advancement. Thanks to countless artists and works, we have a relatively clear view of what life was like in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 

The contents of paintings and writings are not the only elements to pay attention to. The styles utilized can give some pretty interesting insight into people’s thought processes and perspectives. 

Thanks to popular culture, many believe that English men and women of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries spoke very similarly to modern people, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, you would barely be able to understand English speakers in the fifteenth century, if you weren’t used to the old-fashioned language. 

Regarding contents, much of the literature and paintings made back then were heavy on religious themes, and that is reflective of those times. Catholicism was at the forefront of daily life and culture. 

Creating Our Mark on the World

Art is a way of speaking from the past and to the future. Something that no other species can do. In the age of the internet, everyone’s art can be experienced and saved for future generations. 

The downside of historic artwork is that we can’t see all of it because we can only enjoy the work that has survived. Many pieces throughout history will never get to be seen because of wars, accidents, and acts of god. 

With new technology comes new mediums of art to experiment in, like movies and video games. Art is becoming more and more difficult to describe and define. It has evolved in ways we never expected. 

Even though there are new platforms for artists to experiment and innovate on, some of the classic mediums will seemingly thrive regardless of the times. Today’s painters have created stunning works that are worthy of preservation. 

Artists like Jenny Saville have created stunning work that will likely be studied and appreciated for generations to come. Depending on style and subject matter, paintings can capture what the artist was feeling, not just what looks interesting.

A Modern Form of Art: NFTs

An NFT, or a non-fungible token, is a modern form of art that’s taking the world by storm. They’re unique, digital pieces of art that are part of the Ethereum blockchain. They can be literally anything—from images of wine bottles to GIFs. It’s the next step of fine art collecting, and there’s huge money in this field. 

Economics

Art is not just a distinct and separate part of the economy. It is integrated into nearly every aspect of all markets. Think about that the next time you see an advertisement that has nothing to do with art. Someone had to direct that commercial, and someone had to create those animations. 

The Financial Impacts of the Arts

Artists need to be used in just about every part of the goods and services we consume. A large chunk of what we buy and the services we pay for rely on artists. Every movie, videogame, song, and trading card you consume was made possible by talented people. 

Even things like cars first had to be commissioned and sculpted by people who can paint, draw, and carve out the designs we see on the road. Unfortunately, there is a huge disconnect between what artists create versus how much money they usually make. 

The Dark Side of the Art Dealings

Many artists are given the shaft after creating a piece or set of pieces. H.R. Giger, the artist famous for creating the “biomechanics” style, was responsible for the design of one of the most famous movie monsters in history. 

Alien (1979) was a groundbreaking sci-fi horror movie with creature designs that shook people to their cores. H.R. Giger was given credit for his artistic contributions to the first two Alien films. However, he was not given proper credit for his designs in Alien 3 (1992). 

According to Mr. Giger, 20th Century Fox was supposed to credit Giger as the creature designer but was credited as “Original Creature Design.” This distinction caused Giger not to be eligible for that year’s Oscar nomination. 

Things like this are far too common in not just the film industry but in the artist industry as a whole. There is also a huge problem of artists either getting paid very little or not at all. Musicians are struggling to make money with new streaming platforms

Have you ever seen a seemingly ordinary painting bought for an extraordinary amount of money? There is a possibility that it was used for money laundering. These schemes are often utilized by people who want to evade sanctions and other international financial laws. 

Expression and Thought Provocation

Art is a uniquely human way of expressing complex emotions and creativity. It is created not just for work but as a form of meditation and stress relief. Artistic expression is important, no matter the skill level of the individual or the medium.

Neuroscience

Scientists say that creating art is beneficial to our brains in many ways, like preventing memory loss and building cognitive strengths. It also activates the reward area of your brain, giving you feelings of accomplishment. 

A new type of therapy is on the rise; art therapy. It’s used to help people of all ages with stress, depression, and anxiety. There is a reason why wine painting classes are so popular. Creating something can help process our emotions and have a better outlook on life. 

Experiencing art can have similar effects. Sitting down and absorbing a painting at a museum is a tranquil experience. It’s also really fun to play the latest video game and appreciate the sheer level of detail. 

Even the architecture that you drive past every day had to be designed by someone with an artistic vision. With art therapy, the therapist might ask the patient some questions while they’re creating a piece. They might inquire about the patient’s feelings about the process and so on. 

After the piece is considered finished, the therapist will ask further about the experience and provide observations about the patient’s emotional state. Decoding abstract messaging in art is a difficult task, and it requires a high level of skill in both therapy and art. 

Humans Need Art

Art is a vital part of the human experience. It’s entertainment, a profession, a form of therapy, and so much more. Some say that artistic expression is the language of the soul. Not everything we feel can translate into a written or verbal language. 

 

 

Sources:

Cave Paintings Found in Spain | National Geographic

Renaissance | Britannica

What Happens In Your Brain When You Make Art | NPR

How To Become a Fashion Designer

Being a fashion designer is like being a circus plate spinner; you need to be skilled in multiple areas like business and art at the same time. 

Your Very Own Brand

Creating your own business is difficult enough, but becoming a fashion designer is a whole other animal. There are other creative and ethical challenges that you will contend with and important decisions that will have to be made. 

The Beginnings of Your Clothing Line

The first step is to write a business plan. It will be a roadmap and guide for your business. Business plans are not mandatory, but it’s strongly advised to make one. It doesn’t mean that you can’t change or modify it later on. Improvements and updates are welcome. 

You will have to adapt your business to your local market if you plan on selling locally. Your advertising campaigns will also need to be tailored to the groups you’re looking to sell to. Business is a game of adaptation and evolution. 

It’s important to know what you’re good at and to find a gap in the market that isn’t being filled by another company or brand. Finding your niche starts with identifying your audience first and then developing products for that market. 

There are several things that go into understanding and catering to any particular market. Figure out what types of materials they are interested in, sourcing, and aesthetics. Then, do some research on your competitors and what they’re doing. 

Knowing what your competition isn’t fulfilling for your target demographic is half the battle. The upside to this part is that researching doesn’t require special techniques or skills. Your competition has advertising and social networks to draw data from.  

The next step is to register your business with the state and file the appropriate paperwork. Depending on where you live and want the business to be, you’ll probably need to get a business license and maybe even permits. Lastly, you’ll need to apply for an EIN to pay business taxes to the IRS. 

Then Comes the Designing

Now comes the time to actually start designing your clothing line. Depending on what you want your clothing to cost, you’ll have to figure out what type of material to design with. This is a critically important part of the designing process because your budget is dependent on it. 

Unless you have manufacturing equipment at your disposal, you’re going to need to partner with a manufacturer. Most designers have overseas contracts but if you plan on having a brand associated with ethics and environmentalism, try to work with a domestic manufacturer. 

Later Stages of a New Clothing Line

Pricing is difficult because you want to make a profit, but you also don’t want to make your clothing so expensive that your target audience can’t afford your products. This is a balancing act, and it’s entirely up to you to figure out what your market is willing to pay. 

Where Will You Sell?

Next is to decide where to sell your line. There are a handful of options; brick and mortar, established online retailers, your own online storefront, or any combination of these options. Opening your own physical store with your brand is a monumentally difficult task. 

Most designers sell to established stores and boutiques. Some of the most successful brands start on websites like Etsy and do very well. Amazon is certainly an option, but the margins are not very good on that storefront. 

Consider Marketing

Your market research will come in handy when it comes to marketing. Luckily, the internet provides a flurry of free methods and platforms to advertise your product—namely, Instagram and Facebook. These are truly useful for marketing to particular groups. 

In order to succeed and not hit too many bumps on the road, surround yourself with experts. Hiring a consultant can give you a major head start. Be very careful who you hire, and be sure to run a background check on the previous work they claim to have done. 

Financing

The financing aspect can get a little complicated, but there are some basics to keep in mind. Open a business account with your bank. Keeping your personal and professional finances separate can save a lot of trouble with bookkeeping in the long run. 

While you’re at it, apply for a line of credit for your business. It’s a great way to help finance the business and build your own credit at the same time. If you already have a good credit history, you can even apply for a business loan to get the company off the ground. 

The best way to source materials is through eCommerce sites, where you can buy large quantities for wholesale prices. Try to work out a deal with the manufacturer to get the best deal possible. 

Types of Fashion Design

The world of fashion is vast. There is so much history, culture, and economics at play with every area of it. However, modern fashion design can be broken down into three basic areas; fast fashion, ethical fashion, and haute couture. 

Fast Fashion

Designing fashion that is cheap and trendy is profitable and tempting to pursue. After all, it’s a lot easier to find overseas material suppliers and manufacturers that are cheap, regardless of their methods. 

However, you get what you pay for, and that philosophy and cost-cutting will reflect in your product quality. Polyester is used in over 50% of clothing, and it is terrible for the environment. And it gets worse; it’s not biodegradable. 

Fast fashion companies have intensely large marketing budgets that attempt to constantly convince people to upgrade and change their wardrobes. 

Fast fashion is likely not worth designing, considering the eco-friendly push and demand for ethical working conditions that we’re seeing today. 

Ethical Fashion

Fashion and sustainability have never really gone hand in hand. The fashion industry, as a whole, has been getting better about environmentalism and conservation over recent years, though. Many companies have been adapting to carbon-neutral sourcing. 

If you’re looking into fashion design with an emphasis on sustainability, you need to define what you believe is ethical. Your focus could be on a number of issues, like working conditions at the manufacturer’s workshops, organic material sourcing, and more. 

Eco-friendly materials are not only good for the planet, but they can also be a marketing bonus for your brand. 

For example, Allbirds is a shoe company that has recently been branching into clothing and are known for their ethical supply chains. The company claims to be carbon neutral, and their eco-friendly marketing has worked well in garnering them positive reviews. Most of their product line includes materials like ethically sourced wool, tree material, and even sugar. 

When pursuing ethical design concepts, the first step is understanding where your materials come from and what exactly they are made of. If you don’t know what materials you’ll be working with, you can’t make the designs.

Haute Couture

Haute couture is the highest level of fashion possible in terms of style, construction, and materials. Pricing your garments at extremely high points is not enough to consider your clothing couture. There are rigid standards required to be met. 

In France, there is a trade federation called Federation De La Haute Couture Et De La Mode. The organization sets dates for Paris Fashion Week and is also responsible for setting industry standards. There are three separate bodies within the federation; couture, men’s fashion, and women’s fashion. 

There are specific qualifications to be considered an official couture house: a minimum of two collections per year and 35 pieces per collection. The pieces must be made to order for mostly private clients and usually involve three or more fitting sessions per piece. 

Your workshop must employ at least 15 full-time employees and at least 20 technical workers. The federation does have a famous school that teaches all facets of fashion and the skills required to make them. Studying at this school is not a requirement to work at a couture house, though.  

Each couture house piece takes hundreds of hours to create and must abide by the federation’s strict standards. Pieces from these designers average between roughly $40,000 to $80,000, but they can be less or more expensive depending on the piece. 

Couture clothing itself is not particularly profitable in and of itself. What really makes money is marketing accessorization around the clothing that is shown off in magazines and runways. 

If you’re interested in designing couture, moving to France and designing is your best route. You will likely have to work and design for years before a couture house is willing to hire you. It will also take knowing the right people. 

Getting a degree from a respected fashion school is helpful, but by no means does it guarantee you a position. Showing your experience and skills is what will get you into a couture house. 

The Last Thread

Becoming a fashion designer requires a lot of knowledge, experience, and creativity. With the right vision and passion in your heart, your dreams of becoming a successful designer can come true with the right path. 

 

 

Sources: 

Write your business plan | U.S. Small Business Administration

French Fashion Federation changes name | Fashion Network

Sustainability in fashion | CNBC

Successful young business woman start up, crossed arm and smiling in workplace

How to Start a Business With No Money

Starting a business from absolutely nothing is no easy feat, but it can be done. There are some tools necessary, like good credit, internet access, and certain skills, but anyone can start a company or a startup these days. It just takes determination and following the right steps. You don’t have to be a billionaire or a venture capitalist to become a successful small business owner.

Business Planning

Just because you’re starting with no money doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brainstorm and write out a business plan. A business plan is like a map that you lay out in advance to help you achieve your business goals. Your goals, however, need to be concrete. 

A solid business plan can help get you the funds you need to get your services or goods off the ground. This plan will not just be something you use to reference personally; it will be shown to possible investors or partners to convince them to get on board with your ideas. Think of it almost like a marketing pamphlet. 

Type of Plan You Need

There are two basic types of business plans: lean and traditional. Lean plans are much more simplistic and streamlined. They work well for business goals that are clear and have fewer steps or boundaries to overcome compared to more complex business goals. 

Usually, lean plans only take up a single page and may only take an hour or two to write up. Examples of business ideas that may only require a lean plan include selling a single product on a popular eCommerce storefront. 

Creating and selling a single product on your own is relatively easy compared to more complex businesses that include multiple products and services that you plan to expand on. For more complex and expansive business ideas, you may need to consider a traditional business plan. 

Traditional business plans are usually much more detailed than basic business summaries or lean plans. They take more time to write because of how much more comprehensive they are. Traditional plans are much more complex, and you may need help in coming up with the outlining sections.

Business Plan Basics

Several core sections should be included in a good business plan. The first is an executive summary. This is the basic summary of things like what your company is, what product or service you are offering, and other things like who you will employ. 

The next section is a detailed description of your company. This is an opportunity to brag about how good your product or service is and why it’s better than your competitors. After that, you may need to include a section for market analysis. Prove that there is an unmet need that your company will be fulfilling. 

A section about the company structure and other important legal details regarding what type of company it is should be included. After that, write a section on the details of your product or service. This will include information about copyrights and patents. 

Some sections will have overlapping information on marketing, financials, and business costs, but it’s imperative to iron out those details with as much information as you can come up with. Will you maintain your own inventory, or will you make use of dropshipping? What kind of market research have you done? The final piece is the appendix, where all of the other things go, like resumes and credit reports. 

Once you have your business plan down, it will guide you and keep you focused on what you need to do. One of the biggest killers of new businesses is a lack of focus and planning. Business plans are technically not needed, but your company’s future will likely suffer if you opt-out of making one. 

Financial Support

There is no way to get around it; your business is going to need money, whether it’s yours or an investor’s. The good news is that this means you can still start a company from nothing. There are many ways to acquire funding to get started. 

Business Loans

Acquiring a business loan is a great way to get funding for your project. There are some hurdles and hoops to jump through, though. First, you’ll need to check your credit score and make sure it’s in good standing. 

Virtually no bank will give a business loan to someone with poor credit or little history. You can improve your credit score with credit cards that you regularly pay off. If you can’t get a credit card on your own, you can have a cosigner apply for a credit line under both of your names. 

An easy way to start building credit with cards is to apply monthly bills and regular expenses to a card. Things like gas, electricity bill, and groceries, for example, are common starters. Always pay your bills on time and keep your balance low. 

Remember that credit is not only used in your life for big purchases like cars and homes. Credit will be used for business opportunities, like small business loans. It’s also advisable to try and acquire a loan from a bank with which you already have an established relationship. 

They will be more likely to grant you financial services as opposed to banks that you have no history with. However, much of this depends on the financial climate you’re dealing with and can change annually.  

Banks are not the only place to get loans for your business. There are government-sponsored programs that financially help new businesses and companies that specialize in finding potential investors that match your company’s goals. 

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is the practice of acquiring startup capital from a large group of people, often through platforms like Kickstarter. Crowdfunders differentiate themselves from investors by not expecting a return on the money they put in. They have no stake in the company and are basically donors, rather than lenders. 

Crowdfunders often expect something in the form of a gift for their contributions, such as a discount on the product you’re selling, some sort of recognition, or potentially even to be used as a consultant. For example, if a film project is crowdfunded and someone donates enough, a perk may come in the form of appearing in the credits of the film.

Crowdfunding is becoming increasingly popular because of the low risk to the business. Loans need to be paid back, usually with interest, whether the business is successful or not. It’s a lot riskier. 

With a crowdfunding campaign, there is essentially no accountability or risk associated with getting donations, even if you end up getting a lot of money. Nobody will expect you to pay them back, depending on the agreement parameters you set. Sometimes, crowdfunding intermediaries require performance and results, or the money must be refunded. 

It’s not a free ride, however. Part of getting funds with crowdfunding is an advertising campaign or a social media presence of some kind. Some people make videos describing their goals, services, or products and publish them on Twitter, Linked In, or YouTube. They often follow a similar outline to a basic business plan. 

Online Businesses

Thanks to the internet, starting a company from home or your local coffee shop has never been easier. There are three types of online businesses: companies that provide products, companies that provide services, and companies that provide both. 

Ecommerce

Let’s say you have your own products, like jewelry or decor items, you want to sell online. You have a couple of options. You can choose to sell your product to potential customers on an established website that can facilitate payment processing and advertising—like Amazon, Etsy, or Ebay. 

The other option that is initially more challenging but possibly more profitable in the long term is making your own online storefront. It’s certainly a lot cheaper and easier than brick and mortar, but it’s still an obstacle. You can use websites like Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace to do this. 

Luckily, there are endless free resources that can teach you how to build a website. Some sites have templates that make it incredibly easy to customize your webpage and quickly get your online store up and running. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create a logo and get to work here. You can also aim to create a company blog to help funnel organic search to your website, as well as making use of social media marketing. 

The downside to these sites is that they do have a small upfront cost. If that’s something you can’t do, the established eCommerce sites may be your best option. They will usually take a cut of your sales, so that’s something to be aware of when deciding on pricing. 

Digital Services

With free online tutorials and resources, you can create a company by just learning a digital skill. There are endless examples and ideas yet to be conceived, but here are some examples:

  • Programming
  • Marketing
  • Content Editing and Creation
  • Data Analysis 
  • Online Security
  • Reselling
  • Online Learning Platform
  • Ebooks

And the list goes on. There are endless possibilities. Most of these business ideas require that you do some freelancing and contractor work before you actually start a business. This is a benefit, though. Working with these other companies first will give you the experience necessary to become the founder of your own company. 

Endgame

Starting from nothing and building something successful is part of the American dream. It’s tough, but it can certainly be done. If you have a great business idea, don’t let concern over funding hold you back–you have options. 

 

 

Sources: 

Fund Your Business | Small Business Administration

How to Write the Perfect Business Plan | Inc.

15 Free Online Learning Sites Every Entrepreneur Should Visit | Entrepreneur

The Cheapest States to Live In

With the rising costs of homes, Americans are keener on savings than ever before. Houses that were once considered average homes for the middle class are now being seen as luxuries. There are still a few states where homes are affordable and in good condition. 

Shift in Priorities

The 2008 financial crisis was thought to be a once-in-a-generation event that we would recover from. That didn’t turn out to be the case at all. It’s arguable to call this generation of young Americans to be the unluckiest generation in modern history

The Economic Challenges of Housing

After WWII, the greatest generation built a foundation for the economy and handed it to baby boomers on a silver platter. Things were going great with some of the highest recorded growth in economic history. America was booming. 

The housing market was seen as the foundation for much of the American economy for decades after WWII. Houses were plentiful and cheap. Low-skill jobs, like factory work, paid well, and the cost of higher education was also cheap. 

Millennials were told and shown by their parents how normal, middle-class life was supposed to look like; a house with a white picket fence and 2.5 kids. Then, in 2008, when many millennials were graduating high school and college, the housing market crashed. 

Jobs were scarce, pay was low, and college was astronomically more expensive compared to when baby boomers went to college. Because of this, millennials took lower-paying jobs and took fewer risks, choosing not to start a business or have children. 

Then, Covid-19 hit in 2020. There is no way to put it lightly; this ongoing event decimated the economy and has destroyed countless lives. Just when we thought the worst economic event since the Great Depression was in the rearview mirror, something worse comes along. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, housing prices have skyrocketed out of control. Because of a labor shortage and higher costs of materials, few houses are being built. Job relocations have partly driven people from the cities to the suburbs

High demand and low inventory created the perfect storm for would-be home buyers. Millennials are a generation of mostly renters, and with the rising prices of homes, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better. 

WFH Is Giving Us a Choice

There is one silver lining to the pandemic. Because of the surge in the Work From Home business model, many people no longer necessarily have to live near their work. People can live pretty much wherever there is internet access now. 

WFH cut out daily commutes and the costs associated with it, like vehicle maintenance and gas. There are certainly challenges and downsides to working remotely, though. People have to contend with internet disruptions, children, etc. 

There are a few obstacles that make people hesitant about moving to a new area or a new state altogether. First is the cost of moving. Packing up and moving to a new place can easily cost thousands of dollars and time off of work. 

Another deterrent is the possibility of employers pulling the rug out from under people and forcing them back to the office. We already see this happening with some companies that only embraced WFH as a temporary measure. 

Companies have made it very clear that WFH isn’t great for every single type of job. It would be incredibly risky to move to a new place away from the office without a WFH guarantee. 

It’s also difficult for some of us to move because it would mean leaving friends and family. Many people have families in more expensive parts of the country and are later priced out of being able to live in the neighborhoods they grew up in. 

If you are willing to move and have a flexible job that allows WFH permanently, moving to another state with more affordable housing may be the right play to make. Luckily, there are many areas in the US that are still within financial reach. 

Lowest Real Estate Costs

Much of the best properties for sale are in the Southern states. The number one reason why southern states have such inexpensive real estate is simple; there are fewer people. A lower population means lower demand for housing. 

Big cities are not more expensive because they are of higher quality. They are expensive to live in because of high populations and high demand. A lot of people want to live in the same spaces, but land is not something you print more of. 

Why Buy Cheap Property?

One of the biggest advantages of investing in a low-cost home is that it will likely only rise in value. It’s projected that millennials and younger generations will not be as financially well off as their parents, so low-cost housing will rise in demand. 

Larger and more expensive homes may not necessarily rise in value in the future because it’s unclear if the demand will match the supply. So, that area of the market will likely fluctuate. Homes for the middle and lower class are virtually guaranteed to rise in value. 

Another reason to buy cheap is to keep your mortgage payments as low as possible. In this day and age of job insecurity, you never know if your income will be slashed by unexpected layoffs or big life changes. 

Doing so will allow for easier budgeting on additions and repairs to a home. Having to replace or fix things, even in new homes, is almost a certainty. You might as well save by having a lower mortgage. This will also minimize the interest you’ll have to pay off. 

Having to pay a lower down payment will also take a load off your shoulders when comparing homes. A lower down payment means more money left over for a rainy day. It’s a good way to lower your financial risks. 

You will be dealing with a lot less competition for cheaper properties. Less expensive property is, by association, less desirable because it’s often in less than ideal areas of the country. 

Least Expensive Houses in America

West Virginia has the lowest home values in the country, with an estimated median value of about $115,000 to $120,000. However, those numbers are steadily rising and showing no sign of slowing down. 

This state has a lot to offer. There is a lot of history and the seasons are very beautiful, especially autumn. A big perk to living there is the national parks. The Appalachian Trail is a wonderful source of free outdoor fun. 

Mississippi Is also a great state to find inexpensive homes. The median price for a house is about $140,000. The cheapest cities are Jackson and Greenville. Rent is also fairly low, but Mississippi is rapidly getting more expensive. 

Home prices have surged approximately 17% in the last five years. The state still has the lowest living costs in the country, though. Costs for homes are expected to go up because of the rise in material costs, buyer interest, and competition. 

Arkansas is another promising prospect for good deals. The median price of a house is just under $150,000, and the cost of living is far below the national average. Things like healthcare and public transportation are decently below the national average as well. 

Despite the higher costs of houses, the average cost to rent is actually a little bit lower in Arkansas than in Mississippi. 

Be Careful What You Buy

There are all kinds of risks associated with buying a house, no matter where you are or how much it costs. Keep in mind that cheap houses are cheap for a reason. A good way to get a feeling for a neighborhood is to simply ask your would-be neighbors what they think of the area.

They can give you a keen insight into the pros and cons of the neighborhood. Ask questions about the crime rates, HOA benefits, and the quality of the local businesses. How they respond will inform your decision greatly. 

There could be major problems uncovered that your research didn’t tell you about. Maybe the HOA doesn’t do a good job of maintaining plumbing systems or issues involving the local schools and universities.  

Your would-be neighbors can also tell you the positives of the area you’re looking in. Maybe traffic is much lower than the state’s average, or the neighborhood has an annual block party that everyone goes to. 

Once More Unto the Savings

Some of the cheapest states to live in have a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty and quality of living. If you are willing to move to a southern state, you can save big on a home or rental and get a lot more for your money. 

Houses in states like Mississippi have homes that are relatively new and much larger compared to what you would get for the same amount of money in a coastal state. 

 

 

Sources:

Millennials are the unluckiest generation in US history | Washington Post

Implications Of Bringing Employees Back To The Office | Forbes

Those Surging Home Prices May Not (Totally) Be A Bubble | NPR