Friday, July 27, 2007

BlogHer Live-Blogging Session: Blogging Is More Than Words

Friday, July 27, 4:30 PM
Many bloggers actually consider their online space a visual medium. Can the online rendition of your visual output really do it justice? What do visual artists get out of showing their work online? What about virtual collaboration? Gayla Trail moderates a conversation with bloggers Tracey Clark, Renee Garner, Keri Smith and Zoe Strauss, who are making the most of technology to further their non-textual art.

Gayla Trail moderates. The group is small enough to be very interactive, so the panel will be discussion-based. Panelists are Keri Smith, Renee Garner, Tracey Clark, and Zoe Strauss.

Discuss: The way visual artists use their blogs. What do you get out of showing your work on your blogs?

*Tracey (paraphrased): To get feedback. Putting something "out there" and then getting response immediately is how a lot of people start. Having people critique work in progress is challenging, but can be insightful.
*Renee (pp): Usually posts completed work, keeping the process more private, to increase exposure without really "chasing" it.

Question/comment--this process brings a different set of "eyes" to your work than might otherwise see it.
Question: How important are fonts? A. by Zoe--Can be unique and identifying, can set a mood, so to speak--Zoe has left hers alone for several years, and feels it is a part of her identity. Keri says that all aspects of your blog become a part of your self-expression.

Gayla asks Zoe why have an internet presence as well as a gallery presence, as an artist? She lists accessibility, transparency, and the value of viewing the process, especially in a long-term project.

Q: How much effort do you really want to put into promoting, as opposed to just finding a connection...i.e. using an artistic font that doesn't search well? A., by consensus: being websafe is important, especially for example, for people with disabilities, but you CAN have it both ways with just a little work. Keri says that for her, if she gears toward promotion, the work winds up different than she might have intended otherwise, and if you do what moves you, people will be drawn to it, and will find you. Tracey adds that, again, you can live in both worlds, if the way you choose to "promote" comes from the same place as the work itself. Gayla sums: If you're making it, you should LIKE it.

Q: Have you thought about how active promotion might change the context/interpretation of your work, the meaning of it. Zoe leaps to field this question, and says that if you are mindful of the context of your own work when you use the internet as a tool, then you can give that context.

Q: How do you sell your work, if the idea of self-promotion bothers you? A: Keri says she is pushed (by publishers, etc.) to promote her work, and resists it, but enjoys discussing her work, for example in interviews...the idea of how to make the distinction is brought up, and she says that it's really internal, and some things just make her feel "icky," like asking people to "plug" something in exchange for a freebie.

As women, we're often reluctant to accept compliments and attention--it makes us uncomfortable sometimes.

Tracey fields the topic of the term "selling" and draws a division between making something acccessible and "pushing" it on people.

What about the idea of "authority?" This depends on how comfortable you are being considered a "professional" or an "expert."

Comment about how women like these give others of us "permission" to present our art, in whatever form it takes.

Q: Do you know of any collaborative websites that focus on process? Keri mentions "52 projects" and "Learning to Love You More." Also "Supernatural" for crafting. There is a flickr group based on Keri's book, "Wreck This Journal."

Q: How do you build a community based around your passion? Tracey says that working through ClubMom gave her high visibility, but that the key is building upon SHARING everyone's work, because people really do want to share. Tracey is building a new community called "Shutter Sisters" (audiences gasps, "ooooooh!") that will be a supportive place for women who love to take pictures.

Gayla asks for discussion about how allowing interaction in sharing your process might shape your work--for Zoe, it doesn't. Comments on her blog are welcomed and responded to, but they do not make a dialog which forms her decisions as an artist. Keri and Gayla have both turned off comments on there blogs, to minimize distraction from the intent of the blog.

Q: Does blogging drain energy away from your primary work as an artist? Keri says that having a regular audience nudges her to keep work "out there" so that she's always creating--it "provides a space" for her to create. OTOH, it can set a trap in which she might be tempted to cater to her audience. Feedback can become part of an "addictive cycle," hence her experiment with discontinuing comments--she finds that direct emails can give a more insightful discussion, but admits to missing the regular feedback...which she characterizes as a little weird!

Renee discusses her blog's beginning, and how it has changed over time from a very personal one to one that focuses on her artwork. As she built a community, she also built a clientele, as people sought out her work. Positive feedback is good, but not required.

Tracy says she shoots far more pictures since having public feedback on them, because she's having a lot more fun, which in turn encourages her to share even more work, and reminds us that you can (and probably should) "unplug" from time to time.

Zoe talks about the difference of a gallery setting, and the different quality of the feedback from that source, and agrees with the idea that having an internet presence does push her to produce works regularly.

Q: A blogger/artist who maintains separate websites for her art asks about that distinction. Tracey describes her own website as "an online gallery," and describes the blog as giving her much more freedom to post anything she wants, and adds, "If any of you craft-blog? CRAFT-BLOGGING ROCK!" She goes on to discuss how blogging has changed the very way she looks at things, as she thinks about sharing her life with others.

Comment about how artists sharing their personal lives on blogs informs the context of their artwork, because you have a better feeling of what's "behind" the work.

Q: When you know that your work will be viewed mainly online, does it inform your choices as to what you create? Gayla says not really, but it does encourage you to get your work out in other places, and that she would never change the way she takes pictures to look good online. An actual print is always going to look far better than a scanned image of a film print. Renee adds that there are media in which an internet image is never going to look anything like it does in person.

Q: Have you ever posted something that you thought was brilliant, and then evolve in your thinking so that later, you don't like it as well, and changed it? No one on the panel has, and Renee adds the tangential comment that you cannot change what you do to satisfy an audience, without losing part of what makes your work special and unique.

Comment about not changing what you made in the past, but using it and learning from it as a part of the history of your development as an artist. Other attendees here really appreciate being able to see an accomplished artist's early work, because it inspires them and shows that everyone goes through a process, and evolves and grows in their art. Tracey reminds us that we are none of us perfect, and are more alike than not, and are all "equals."

Much assent with the mantra, "Don't undervalue your work!!" Leah Peterson mentions her craft-trading site, where no money is ever exchanged.

Comment about how everything discussed here translates well into other efforts, such as business, and how creative integrity equals success in many areas. Keri says that she has been learning that sometimes blogging encourages you to be neutral, so as not to be attacked for stating a strong opinion, but that there is much more strength and integrity in being true to yourself and taking a stand with what you believe or want to create.

Discussion about the idea of the "honorable starving artist," and how taking money for your work seems to make some artists behave as if money for art is somehow tainted. Artists: Stop that.

Tracey takes on the concept that when your work speaks for itself, it gives you the power to decide what you do and don't do, sell and don't sell. Zoe speaks about how these decisions are personal and individual, and everything can work for someone...you must be flexible and willing to adapt within your own personal parameters: It's all about balance. Discussion flows back to "the money issue," and how class/culture might inform our feelings about this issue. An important distinction is drawn between "selling out" and maintaining artistic integrity.

4 comments:

  1. I sure wish I could attend this one!

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