OFFICIAL BLOGHER '10 LIVEBLOG: Passions: Tranforming Online Places into Art Spaces

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Transforming Online Places into Art Spaces

Karen Walrond, Carol Gilliott and Khadijah Ali-Coleman

Karen: I write and shoot a blog called It’s always personally gratifying for me to be a in a group of artists. I’m hoping and almost insisting that you get involved in the conversation as well. We jave Khadijah Ali-Coleman, a spoken word artist and an actress and singer based out of the DC area. And then a very talented artist named Carol Gillott, she has some cards she’s going to share.

Karen: There’s sort of this thing that artists are not techies. When did you decide I want to start incorporating blogging into social media.

Khadijah: I came into the whole world of blogging in 2003, when my daughter was born. I became one of those mommy bloggers. Once I became a mom, I began to do more behind-the-scenes production. My blog became a calling card for a lot of the events that I put on behind the scenes.

Carol: A friend dared me to start a blog. I had been collecting these stacks of watercolors on the shelf. As an artist you’re very isolated. I went on these other blogs that are Paris-related and pastry-related. And it just mushroomed. I’m on Blogger, I’m on flickr, I’m on Etsy, and I’m on Zazzle.

Karen: How many people here started blogging because you were a new parent. I was working at a Fortune 200 law firm and I just had this hobby on the side.

How do you create community on your sites?

Khadijah: I wanted to start an online space. At the same time my business partner came to me with the idea of putting on a music festival. We used it to promote the festival and at the same time I was blogging about the arts community. I’m a journalist as well. I was trying to do everything. People were logging on, trying to be in the know. I began posting opportunities and we had actresses, fiber artists – all kinds of people joining this community. People were specifically coming to find out information.

Karen you’re sort of the guru when it comes to marketing online

Carol: I find marketing really fun. When I came up with the name Paris Breakfast – that really got me off to a great start. I realized that blogging is about entertaining and people will tell you what they want to see just in their comments. I get a lot of direction. Sometimes I get really nasty emails, and sometimes they’re the best ones. It’s a give and take thing.

Karen: When you use social media, are you thinking of it as a form of self-expression, are you thinking this is how I reach my audience.

Maria: I started my blog when I was a new mom and I was freaking out. I have a dance company and I do social media. We do live streaming, we do entire discussions with our followers through Twitter parties. I have found that posting rehearsals online and taking questions is amazing.

Alex: the idea of spending much time on promoting myself is hard. I had a website and another person set it up for me. And he didn’t I started an art blog as a way to show what I’m working on. One thing I missed after art school was the critiques. I’m really good at promoting something else, but not at promoting myself. I’m not sure how to shape what I’m doing to get more feedback and I don’t want to turn my life over to marketing.

Karen: I started chookooloonks when my daughter was a baby. My daughter was adopted and my company would not allow maternity leave. Later, I decided that I didn’t want to make her a poster child for adoption. I’m really terrible at self-promotion myself, I switched entirely over to a photo blog. I have a life list, 100 things I want to do in my life.

When I quit practicing law, I decided that I really wanted a professional-looking blog, so I hired someone. For me, it’s making sure that all the information is there, and then just do what you do, do your art.

Khadijah: I’m a playwright, and four of the women that were in my play are professional singers and we’ve had conversations about this. The way that Liberated Muse gains any type of recognition is that we promote other people. When people read the little tidbits that people put out on twitter, they know what you’re doing. One of the women in my play had 1400 friends on Facebook and half of them didn’t even know that she was as singer. Make sure that you have a link to promoting yourself.

Carol: I have no professional background in marketing. I make it up. My own thing evolves from other people. They’ll tell you what they get from you.

Karen: One of the best things you’re doing is coming to being here, coming to blogging conferences, it’s meeting other people who will Tweet about you and blog about you.

When I made the major transition out of law, it was really imperative for me to redesign my site to make it look like this is my profession, not just for other people, but in my own head.

Carol: You need a separate web site that just has your work on it and looks professional. When I got that and put that on my blog, people responded, I got all of these orders.

Karen: I’m from the Carribean, I’m from Trinidad. I wanted something that reflected that I’m West Indian. I used Chookooloonks when I started my parenting blog because it’s a word we use that means sweetheart. I’m glad that I didn’t use something that said mom. So when I built my site, I built it around Chookaloonks, because I already had followers and traffic.

Khadijah: Consistently updating your site. New content is critical. A lot of us know people who start blogs, and they disappear. Where we are as artists today is very different – in any genre – because of the online media, people expect to have contact with you, even if it’s your Twitter account. Your blog is that link that personalizes the art that you create. I’m going to be in a collection of ten-sentence long short stories and when I posted that, I had people say “that’s it?” And that dialogue was important.

Holly, how do you get your current readers of your blog to click through over to you portfolio without being redundant?

Carol: You can make up a story that’s on the web site about something you want people to see. You have to use your imagination and your ingenuity really to get people to click and scroll.

Karen: I have so many portfolios on my web site – Travel, portraiture, nature. And then I have a portrait site – a thousand faces. This is just fun stuff that I do. Blog readers have short memories, once it’s scrolled off the front page, if I really like it, I put it in my portfolio. I don’t think it’s a problem to have redundancy.

Khadijah: My personal blog, where I talk about raising my crazy kid – I have about 19 people who follow it. I don’t so that so much because I’m trying to promote what I do, it’s because I want the space to talk about it. It may require to put something on that blog that links directly to that portfolio. You’re active online – that puts you a step ahead.

Carol: Business cards are so cheap and so beautiful now. I have one that’s my blog, You would not believe the number of stuff. It’s endless.

Karen: You want a space where you can talk, and then you do your art thing. I’ve never been much of a ranter. People come to my blog for a moment of peace. How do you guys feel about having a professional site merge with a blog?

Steohanie Roberts, little purple cow photography, shutter sisters; As a professional photgraher, it’s really important to define your style. N striving to do that and sort of hone it and focus, I lost a little bit of my creativity. I set up a separate site that is set up to be my free-form experimentation. It’s not intended to look cohesive, no comments. It’s just a good

Karen: I was very resistant to getting a phone with a camera. I love putting my stuff online specifically for critiquing. It’s not prominent, but you can find it if you go to my site and its much more personal.

Now that you guys are really sort pof savvy about what you’re doing online. What mistakes do you think artist need to avoid. What do you wish you knew then that you know now.

Carol – The look of my blog has changed after four years and now it really says it’s about my art. People don’t have time, you’ve got to think about your audience. You might waste hours and hours surfing around – they want to know does it interest me, can I relate to this, is it relevant. You’ve got to encapsulate really really fast what you want to say about yourself.

Khadijah: In performance art, the music is key. What I think the mistake is, a lot of time performance artists want an audience, they want people to buy their music, but they don’t know what they want to sell. They don’t know their brand. It’s not that quick and easy to discover that but your have to discover that – we talk about elevator speeches. You need to be able to say it in a nutshell.

Jane Pollock: I write about successful women who do it because they are passionate about what they do. I feel like I’ve come to Oz. This is the community that’s going to change everything. I’m committing myself to jumping into Twitter full force.

Karen: It is far more easy to censor myself on my blog than on Twitter. My advice to you before you get on to Twitter is to think about how it works with the rest of your social media. I use Twitter a lot to find things out in the world that inspires my work, and it helps promote people who are like you. You put up things like “I just found this amazing link on TED,” or “how did I not know about this blogger,” and it elevates the entire group.

Dana: I’ve been resistant to the Twitterverse – it sems so time-consuming. If you could convince me otherwise.

Audience: The opportunity I was talking about earlier – we did a Tweet-up about Tattoos. We had a live tattoo artsist, my husband is a musician and was able to play. If it hadn’t been for Twitter, that wouldn’t have happened.

Karen : It can be a time-suck. There’s Tweetdeck that can help you filter. I have a friend who is a novelist and in the course of her work, she puts out questions like “what does a typical Parisian breakfast look like?” And she’ll get pictures, tons of answers.

Carol: There’s n informational thing and there’s a conversational thing. And the informational thing is more solid.

Karen: I don’t know, I’ve had a lot of people find me out of these conversations.

Ry Pepper: I put a photograph out there, I met this woman from National Geographic who found a retweet of a retweet of a retweet. So ever since, I always use Twitetr.

Audience member: How do artists protect their work?

Karen: I was an intellectual property lawyer, so I tend to freak out about it. If you create something, you own the copyright. But you want to tell people you own that copywright. I always have a copywright on my web site. And I update my copyright each year. When it comes to the art, you can configure your site so nobody can click and drag. It’s a deterrent but it’s not going to stop someone who wants to steal your work. I never put anything in high resolution on the web. Ever. (A free desktop monthly she gives away.)
If you find somebody who’s got your image. I write and say “Hey, I see that you’ve got my image on your blog, I appreciate that you like my work, but please ask my permission,” or you can just tell them to take it down. If they refuse, you can go to their hosting provider as the owner of that copyright and get that shut down.

Angela from Toronto: I show in exhibitions. What drives me crazy is that people come to receptions and bring digital cameras and take pictures of the artwork.

Carol: It’s something you have to learn to live with. They love your work, I don’t think they’re stealing it. It’s a positive thing, not a negative thing. They’re probably not

Khadijah: I think this is something you handle as a contractual agreement before you do a show. I’ve had it happen as a playwright where you don’t want someone coming in and YouTubeing the work. I’ve had one person looking out into the audience just to ask people to put down the camera.