9 years of YouTubing!
Yesterday Was My 9th YouTube Birthday!
9 years of YouTubing!
9 years of YouTubing!
I’ve changed my website hosting company, because I’ve had some issues with my website’s former home.
This turned out to be a much bigger ordeal than I had expected.
When I first started my website, I had zero idea what I was doing, I just coded inside Gedit and kept everything inside a disorganized blob – an entire website with over 10,000 files, all contained within a single folder. Ugh…
When I upgraded from handed coded crap to WordPress, I made a few more bad decisions – I took some lazy shortcuts to save myself some trouble, which required a few creative work-arounds.
Over the years, more and more creative workarounds were introduced with every major change or update.
When I switched hosts, every single workaround broke, and the issues they were covering up reared all their ugly little heads.
What a mess.
With the help of a good friend, we were able to solve the problems…we think
I hope everything is working flawlessly, but if I missed anything, please let me know.
I recently came to the realization that I was using the internet as a tool of procrastination far more than I was using it as a tool of production.
I have gotten myself into the nasty habit of coming home, having every intention of working on something, but first, I will do a quick check of some fun sites. I tell myself, “it’s not a big deal, I’ll only be spending 5 or 6 minutes doing this, then I will get to work.” Then I start loading up various social media and link-sharing websites. I quickly skim over the headlines, looking for something that sounds interesting. When I find something interesting (which I always do) I open it in a new tab. Then I keep reading, going down the page, looking for the next link to open up in the background. Then the next link. Usually by the end of all this, I have something in the range of 20 to 30 tabs open on my browser.
Now, I can’t get to work with all this interesting stuff loaded up in front of me. What if I find something interesting, or a new idea to get my work done faster? I’d better read these articles first, then I will get to work. The wordcount on these isn’t that high, how long can it take?
I start with the photos, since they take seconds a piece. Getting through a good 5-10 tabs feels good. Then I move on to blog posts that are written in accessible everyday language. They are usually fairly quick to read through. I end with the longer, more academic articles, which often stay open in the background for several days before I get around to reading them.
Occasionally I do come across a great new idea that merits taking down notes, but normally what I read is close enough to my existing body of knowledge that I can trust myself to remember it after a single reading. All this info will come in handy…someday…right?
When I have finished reading everything, my eyes drift to the corner of my computer screen towards the clock, and I am stunned by just how much time has gone by since I booted up my computer.
“I’ve wasted how much time on this stupid thing? Oh, man I need to stop doing this! From now on, no more….hmmm…I wonder if anything new has been posted on reddit”
Frank Schirrmacher might call me an informavore, someone who mindlessly consumes knowledge as a form of passive entertainment. Seth Godin might say that I’ve fallen into the trap of believing everything I do on my computer is work because the same physical device is used for work and play. I end up reading a ton of light-but ultimately pointless information because it feels like work, so I don’t realize just how unproductive I have become.
I knew this was something I had to change, so I installed a browser extension called ‘Stay Focused” (there is a similar tool available to FireFox users, but I’ve forgotten the name.) Stay Focused is a completely free extension for Chrome (and Chromium, which I use).
One of the things I like about blogging is how it gives people a back-stage pass to the mess that is going on just out of sight to make the show possible. It allows people see just how thin that veneer of professionalism surrounding an artist really is.
I have this theory that artists actually aren’t all that weird. They are just severely sleep deprived whenever they are showing their work, because something always pops up at the last minute and requires a long night of building something so the show can happen.
I had just that experience myself at Toronto’s first Mini Maker Faire. (Really! I’m not always that twitchy, grumpy, forgetful, and out of it!)
The venue provided some interesting and unforeseen challenges for installation. Set-up went on for much longer than expected. When the project was up, I realized that our invisible paintings were being washed out, and I had to do something. I took my project down and moved to a darker spot, which was slightly better, but not perfect.
Upon returning home, I constructed some sun shades for my paintings. My words can’t properly describe the situation and my state of mind. Luckily, I made a brief video documenting the experience (and my sleep vs. caffeine levels).
After watching a series of recorded talks and presentations, I have become a fan of Seth Godin. Like his talks, his blog is an explosion of ideas, and each idea is worth spending some time with and giving some serious thought. They are the type of ideas that even if they all turn out to be wrong, a person is still better off for having thought about them. The ideas are fresh. One idea that is stressed more than once is the importance of abandoning the idea of perfection, and shipping a product that is good enough.
At first, this didn’t sit very well with me. “Good enough” is a phrase I use very often. I am by no means a perfectionist with every detail in my life. The only area where I do strive for perfection is my art, because the arts are one area where I strongly believe that “good enough” is never good enough. Only the very best that I am capable of producing is ever good enough. This must be an area where business advice does not apply to the art world.
But this might be too literal of an interpretation on my part.
Continue reading Perfect vs. Good Enough
The last two entries in the Wasted Time series, Business Advice from Art Blogs and Repeated Advice from Art Blogs dealt with two central issues:
1. My frustrations over the plethora of art blogs that offer vague, generic, and repetitive business advice.
2. My scepticism of their claims on the importance of blogging.
I also ranted a bit about why visual thinkers should be asked to write.
It is important to keep in mind that these business and marketing centric art blogs represent a small fraction of what is out there in the blogosphere, and dismissing every art blog thats out there as repetitive and generic would mean missing out on a lot of great, unique content. Trying to read everything thats out there would take many lifetimes, so strategies to quickly assess they quality of an art blog is critical. This post covers some of the techniques I use while skimming over a blog to gauge weather I should read more, or move on to the next one.
When I come across someone’s art blog, I start skimming through their advice. If their ideas seem insightful, unique, genuine, powerful or authentic, I will give it a good, detailed read.
But, I wont automatically take their advice to heart until they pass one very crucial test: is the art on their site any good?
Continue reading Wasted Time? What to Look for in an Art Blog
In my last post, Wasted Time? Business Advice from Art Blogs, I talked about the repetition of advice that was so common on the art blogs I came across during my research. They all presented lists of advice, and the advice was always the same.
One piece of advice that came up everywhere was the importance of blogging. Every single art blog stresses the importance of blogging. The advice reads like this: If you aren’t blogging already, start yesterday. If you are blogging, blog more!
I know that I went into art because I am a visual thinker. I’m a Modernist at heart, believing that a medium should focus on its specific areas of competence. Ideas that are best expressed through words should be expressed as words, and ideas best expressed though images should be expressed through images. The ideas that are in my paintings are the ideas that I don’t know how to put into words. If I could say it better than I could paint it, I’d have written about it.
I suspect that a good number of my fellow artists are also primarily visual thinkers. Visual thinkers can best express themselves though images, not words. In fact, based on the vast majority of artist’s statements that I’ve come across, I’d suspect that many artists aren’t really familiar with words at all, and I’d like to suggest that they stay very far away from them in the future.
Some of the worst writing I have ever seen came from an artist. And thats fine. Not every writer is a great artist, and not every artist has to be a great writer. But these art blogs are telling artists, telling visual thinkers, that they have to write about their art, and write a lot.
So, when everyone is saying “blog blog blog, then blog some more!”, The easiest thing for a person wanting to take that advice is rewording and repackaging what has already been said. The temptation to copy and paste other articles, do a quick re-write, and hit ‘post’ is very understandable. I’d do it too if it wasn’t for that little Modernist inside my head screaming, “be more original than that!”.
Continue reading Wasted Time? Repeated advice from Art Blogs
Lately, I have been spending a lot of time trying to focus on the business end of my art career. I feel like the creating art side of my life is in a very good place right now. I’ve been working on paintings more or less non-stop for over a year now, and with every brush stroke I make, I can feel the difference that my constant practice has made possible. I would imagine that I am really close to my 10,000 hours by now, or maybe I’m already past it, I honestly don’t really keep track of my hours in the studio. All I know for sure is that this past year has done wonderful things for my art making skills, both in technical ability, and in problem solving abilities. When a painting just doesn’t work, I used to feel stuck, and I would either work myself into a creative rut, or I’d give up on it for the time being, with every intention of coming back to it later. Those aren’t problems any more, I’ve developed techniques for dealing with those situations, and I get the feeling that something wonderful could begin to come together in my work at any time now.
But the whole marketing and business side of my life has been at a standstill. Other than the occasional website update, which I don’t do nearly often enough, or mass mailing, which I never do (How can I spam people, then expect to sleep at night?) I really haven’t done much of anything to keep up with or expand upon the business side of things.
After the solo show at Open Gallery, and the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and Nathan Phillips Square, I took 2 weeks off to read up on a bunch of art business stuff. I wanted to know more about branding, marketing, and presenting a more professional image to the world.
I’ve always been the type of person to research something quite heavily before getting started in it myself. I like to know what I’m getting myself into, what to expect, and how to handle unexpected situations that might pop up along the way. I like to make sure that I’m not getting ripped off, screwed over, and most importantly, I like to be sure that I’m not making a huge mistake that I will regret for years to come.
So, like any curious person who wants to know about something, I turned to Google. After a few keyword searches, I discovered a glut of art blogs; and much to my (initial) excitement, most of them paid a lot of attention to marketing and selling art online, and had a lot of ideas about getting noticed.
“Perfect, thats exactly what I want!” I said aloud, without any concern for what the neighbours must think of this strange fellow talking to himself at 4 in the morning.
I began clicking on every link that looked remotely interesting. Over 50 tabs were opened in my browser, and the next 2 weeks were spent reading, jotting down notes, and adding them to the wall of crazy that lives beside my computer. After I had taken all the information in, I began sorting through it, organizing it, comparing it, and I slowly began to realize something.
Continue reading Wasted Time? Business Advice from Art Blogs.