The Artist's Muse Art Blog
When I first heard the word "blog" in a conversation among colleagues, I had trouble conjuring up a visual image of what it might mean, so I simply nodded as the conversation continued, hoping I wouldn't give away the fact that I was completely out of the loop. At the end of the day, I went home and asked my 20-year-old musician son what a "blog" was. Was it some strange bodily function people didn't usually speak of? He laughed and shook his head and then gently explained it to me.
I guess I never imagined I would be this out of touch with the trends at forty-five. I have always prided myself at being a "hip" mother, worker and artist, but the concept eluded me. Although my son didn't mention that the word "blog" originated from "web log," he did show me some sample blogs on myspace. I saw journal entries, pictures, weblinks, music downloads, pages of commentary on favorite bands, favorite foods, favorite colors, as well as pictures of favorite pets, hot girls and cute guys. I surmised that a blog is a way to share information about yourself, your life and your interests with friends as well as strangers. A blog is an online interactive communication tool that has made chat rooms and guest books obsolete. Further research demonstrated that it is not just a tool to keep your social life thumping, businesses use the blog as a way to disseminate information and market products, lawyers use it to dialogue in legalese. The blog is a forum for expressing opinions and an opportunity to share links to interesting articles and websites relevant to the topics being discussed. Although weblogs started out as logs of interesting websites, they have evolved into an exchange of information and ideas.
!IMAGE141!I have never been much of a computer nerd and would rather be outside kayaking or in my studio with a paintbrush in hand than sitting at a computer; my first experience reading an artist's post was quite productive. I had been searching for an obscure artist material for over a year, and although I didn't always think to mention it when conversing with artist friends, I had made a number of efforts to track down this item. Less than two minutes into reading a post on an artist's site, I was thrilled to come by an answer with very little effort. It started me thinking, 'what other unanswered questions did I have?' This sharing of ideas and information could be quite useful. The possibilities of blogging for artists could be very intriguing: an interactive discussion about creating more authentic work, an exchange of ideas and solutions to technical problems, a way to solicit input from colleagues (you can post digital photos of completed works or works in progress!). An artist's blog is also a way to share interesting tidbits of information found on the Internet in the form of direct links to artists websites, resources or anything else that might come up in this informal conversation.
Cyber-communities have been popping up all over the Internet since its inception, but very few are devoted to artists. In the next few weeks Mindsisland.com will be launching a blog option on its website which will be free to its members. This will be the first community artist's website to add this feature to its structure. It will be a great opportunity to commune with like-minded creatives and build a network of connections to people, resources and weblinks. It allows artists to hear about current trends and news in the art world with very little effort. The networking possibilities inherent in "blogging" can be likened to having a cocktail party with all your favorite artist friends and their friends. The conversation would much more diverse than if you simply invited one other couple to dinner. You would get introduced to friends of friends with similar interests and have the opportunity to share and market your own work. Blogging also offers the unique opportunity for the host or artist member to control the content of the blog as well as the frequency in which it is updated. It offers users the ability to interact with each other in a timely fashion adding digital photos, video clips, etc. The beauty of blogging is that it can serve an artist's need for community, which combats isolation and can operate as a marketing tool at the same time. Just by listing your interests and information about your work into a blog, the material begins to work as your lead sales, marketing and public relations assistant, free of charge. When artists introduce other bloggers to weblinks and artists websites (introducing friends of friends) the blog gets larger, gets more hits, becomes a well traversed site and has the potential to rising to the top of the heap on major sites like Google. This means that your artwork and website will be viewed by far more people if you chose to join the "blog brotherhood" than it would if it simply sat on your website. It is the equivalent of bringing your paintings out from behind the couch and hanging them on a wall in a high traffic area.
Blogging also allows visitors to get to know artists on a more personal level (through their blog) as well as introduces them to the artist's work. It is as if they are attending a virtual open studio. As journalist Andrew Sullivan wrote in his article, The Blogging Revolution, blogging "brings a personal touch to the web that is much more in tune with our current sensibility."
The closest thing to a blog (although not interactive) on a community artist site are the forum posts listed on artscuttlebutt.com. which is part of the Art Calendar website. If you visit the site you will see what I mean. There is a lot of information and resources listed but it is absent of the open-ended, on-going dialogue that a blog could provide. To get a sense of what other bloggers are writing you can go to Google. On the front page click on the "more" button you will see a list of items. Next, click-on "blog search." There you will get a listing of the most popular blogs in the Google search engine. There are blogs about every topic under the sun. The number of "bloggers" has increased and is estimated to be at one in every twenty adults. I hope that mindsisland.com members will take a risk and try this innovative tool supporting the website's latest endeavor.
Julia Courtney is a Minds Island member and the Curator of Art for the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA. Julia's artwork has been presented in this article. If you are a member who is interested in writing for the site, please contact Maria Williams-Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org