Post from February, 2015

Sixteen Blogs You Should Be Reading and Probably Aren’t

Monday, 23. February 2015 1:25

One of the problems of the 21st century is the glut of information. How do you know what to give attention to and then how do you separate the worthwhile stuff from all the rest? My solution is fivefold:

  1. Use a good news reader to aggregate the articles that you might be interested in and keep them in one place. There are a number of newsreaders out there that can be used on your smartphone, tablet, or desktop; most are free, but you might put in a little time researching since different readers have different features, and you want to be certain you get the one that fits you.
  2. Use your reader software to subscribe to worthwhile websites and sit back and wait for the information you want to arrive.
  3. Scan the headlines and articles of interest. Read only those that really make you pause.
  4. Scan regularly; otherwise you will be buried in information.
  5. Prune from time to time. Sites appear, move, change, and disappear, so updating your list in a timely fashion will ensure that you are getting the information you want.

To help you on your way, I have listed here (alphabetically) my favorite arts sites with a tiny explanation of why I think they are worth considering.

  • Art Attack” is a collection of Houston Press art and culture blogs and stories. These range from local to international and include some regular “columns” that are worthwhile.
  • Art Biz Blog” is a blog where Alyson Stanfield deals with topics related to the business side of art: everything from practical “how-to” articles to thought-provoking articles related to the business of art.
  • Artist Marketing Resources” is Maria Kazalia’s blog which features articles designed to address all aspects of the art-marketing problem. She presents lots of sound advice and useful resources.
  • Arts and Letters Daily” Daily in-depth articles about subjects related to arts and letters. It gives you a teaser so you can decide if you really want to read the article.
  • Arts on Huffington Post or “Huffpost Arts & Culture” is a compendium of arts news from around the world. This is one that you have to pay attention to for a couple of reasons: first, almost anything that is anything in the contemporary arts world is reported here. Second, if you don’t watch it, your news reader will collect hundreds of posts from this feed; the number of daily postings is astounding.
  • Arts Journal: Daily Arts News” is another aggregate site, but instead of whole articles there are summaries and links which makes your scanning and evaluating even faster. This site will often have the stuff that Huffpost doesn’t.
  • The Art Newspaper” is a collection of up-to-date international art news.
  • Austin Kleon” is a blog named for its author, Austin-based poet, writer, and artist. Kleon always has something worth reading, whether it’s his latest blackout poem or observations and advice on creativity.
  • Beautiful Minds” is Scientific American’s blog on the mind by Scott Barry Kaufman. Well-researched and documented, these are complete in-depth articles.
  • Brain Pickings is Maria Popova’s outstanding site that provides articles on art, thought, and creativity. Popova documents heavily and scatters pithy quotes throughout. Her site should be required reading for all thinking artists.
  • The Creative Mind” presents Douglas Eby’s writings on creativity and the plethora of issues and conditions associated with creativity.
  • Glasstire Texas Visual Art News” offersTexas arts news.
  • Juxtapose Magazine” is an in-your-face collection of articles and features about contemporary art, or art that is making contemporary news. Some of the work covered is a bit edgy.
  • The 99 Percent” presents articles and interviews by a variety of writers. The common thread is that all the articles are about ideas and creativity. Some interesting stuff can be found here.
  • Self vs. Self” is Hazel Dooney’s blog. Subtitled “Outside the White Space,” the blog contains the passionate and insightful writing of this successful Australian artist. Dooney has not posted since 2013 for a number of reasons (search online if you really want to know), but this archive contains eight years of worthwhile reading about the role of the individual artist and his/her relation to the gallery system as well as other thoughts on art-related topics.
  • Seth’s Blog” is Seth Godin’s daily musings and advice. The proponent of tribe theory has daily suggestions for marketing and shipping the work as well as keeping the business side of things running effectively and efficiently. He always provides food for thought, usually in very small doses.

This list is far from exhaustive, and it’s only a starting point. It contains the arts sites I already scan on a regular basis, but I would really be interested to hear your nominations too.

Remember, you can never have too much information—if it’s the right information, and if you can manage it.

 

Category:Creativity, Education | Comment (0) | Author:

Where is the Line?

Monday, 9. February 2015 1:10

Some artists have been told in school that their work is “too commercial.” Some have been told their work is “not sufficiently polished,” which is another way of saying that it is “not commercial enough.” Ultimately, most artists do what they want to do and try to express their inner vision. But somewhere down the road, they decide that selling to an audience wider than friends and family seems desirable, and unless they have already established a practice that produces salable artifacts, they may be faced with the decision on which direction to take their work. Advice is always forthcoming—often from many directions and with zero consistency.

The questions confronting an artist in that situation are always which direction, if any, to go and how far. And exactly where is that line that indicates that he/she has gone too far?

These are questions that producers of both film and the theatre know well, as do other theatre and film artists. Playwrights, actors, and directors all want to do edgy work. If the work is too bland, it won’t be appealing to the artists. On the other hand, general audiences want material with which they are comfortable, and that usually means less edge. If the audience gets too much edge, they close their pocketbooks.

One might think that the solution is to find a niche audience, and that does help for some artists, but regardless of the size or specificity of the interests of the audience, these questions must still be answered.

These questions are just the beginning; others follow: how much, if any, am I willing to change what I’m doing? Will the potential change still allow me to say what I need to say? Will it allow me to better say what I have to say? Will a change really benefit me as an artist? Am I selling out?

Of course “selling out” is not really selling out. What it really means is “trying to reach a wider audience.” This sometimes means the artist modifies what he/she does in order to do that. This happens often with bands. The band signs with a label and suddenly are faced with the prospect of a larger audience. They play larger venues. They record in a different studio with a different producer. They may develop different concerns. Somehow their work is no longer “pure” in the eyes of their old audience. The band probably thinks it is just trying to reach more people with its music.

And the ultimate question, of course, is “where is the line?” and that is a question with many dimensions: where is the line that separates “real” art and “commercial” art? Where is the line between “real” art and self-indulgence? Where is the line between staying true to oneself and “selling out?” Where is the line between “just enough” and “too much?”

Like film and theatre producers, the individual artist who is interested in selling art must try to determine where that line is, or if the line even exists. And then, of course, comes the question of whether that artist wants to approach the line or just stay where he/she is. Maybe that depends on why the artist is making art in the first place and how widely he/she wants that art distributed.

Only the individual artist can answer. Where are your lines?

Category:Audience, Presentation | Comments (1) | Author:

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