Digital Overhaul

Applying a technology makeover will open your business to more customers

investment of $100 in meat and $1,200 on a Chevy cargo van he purchased at auction back in 1990.

Art can be big business
Although Joseph Watson has no intention of quitting his day job just yet, his burgeoning part-time business could cause him to reconsider. Watson, 32, works as a commercial designer but studied illustration and painting at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. When he began looking for an alternative to lugging his portfolio from client to client, he says the Internet was his first and logical choice to maximize exposure.

“Before the Websites, I used to go to the different studios and companies to show my portfolio,” he says. Watson says his Websites have put an end to this time-consuming task. “Most of the people who view my online portfolio are in a different state or perhaps a different country. I don’t even know what most of my clients look like,” he says.

Watson launched Hyena-Empire Studio Inc. (www.hyena- empire.com) in 2001 initially as a way of displaying his work to a wider audience of potential clients. But with Aplus.Net (www.aplus.net), a Website-development and hosting service, the site has evolved and continues to change to reflect the needs of his clients and visitors. Hyena-Empire is a studio Website that specializes in graphic design, logos, films, toys, and character development of video games and more. Watson had previously worked with Midway Games, designing for video game systems such as Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation. He launched a second
Website, Joseph Watson Collection (www.josephwatsoncollection.com), in 2004 as an online portfolio for his more traditional work, which focuses on interior décor and fine art paintings.

“Since I’m an artist, the usual way of getting work is to show your portfolio,” says Watson. “The idea of actually getting your work seen or marketed while you’re sleeping appealed to me. [The Internet] gives you wider exposure. He chose Aplus.Net because a friend recommended it. “He had used them before and was really happy with them. The price was right, too, at the time, and the service was top-notch,” he says.

Still, Watson was cautious: “I was on a really tight budget. Every dollar had to count. But I knew that I needed to get worldwide exposure in order for everyone to see my work and see how my logo and design service could benefit their businesses.” Watson says that even though Aplus.Net came highly recommended, he was still wary. “I was really cautious at first because I never had a real Website before. For an artist, good site design is crucial.

According to Watson, launching Hyena-Empire was no easy feat for someone holding down a full-time design job. “I worked overtime and scrambled at night and weekends to get the Website launched,” he says, adding that the results were worth the hard work. “The benefits include a national list of clients, worldwide exposure, extra income, security, fan mail, and pride. It’s great when I turn on my PDA and retrieve e-mails from potential clients that have

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