Challenge of Blogging – Part 4 Your Audience

Challenge of Blogging by #artist @erskinec
Challenge of Blogging by #artist @erskinec

The Challenge of Blogging – Who is your audience?

The power of social media is the ability to create that special relationship with people who love and support your art. This relationship is what separates you from the hundreds of other artists.

This is not a competitive thing, it’s about your art being able speak to people in a way that no one else can; it’s about creating value and meaning.

In the past, this relationship might have occurred within the framework of institution like a club, bar, bookstore, or gallery.

In my younger days, my friends would always to go to particular clubs and bars when certain indie group returned for a local performance.

I also still remember the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at Bryan Prince in Westdale. There were hundreds of pre-teens and their parents waiting and socializing on King Street as everyone counted down the hours and then minutes to the release. It was an amazing and rewarding experience; something that marked a generation.

Finally, I remember a time when you could enter a gallery and not feel pressured into buy a painting on the spot. The owner would actually expect you to return dozens of times, educating yourself about the artist and his or her body of work. These days you are likely to get friendlier service at Tim’s Hortons than an art gallery.

So, when you are creating your blog and developing your personal narrative, reflect on who your audience might be. You will often get it wrong, but through trial and effort, you will gain a better sense of who likes you work.

While you are talking to the whole world, in reality you are not. You are trying to connect to people who are like you and want to find something interesting and different. You are throwing a party, who would you invite and why?

You need to have a focus.

Next week: How much of me should I put out there?

Fire and Wood Don’t Mix – Early Hamilton Wooden Churches

St. Stephen's Anglican Church built in  year 1837.  Photo by @erskinec
St. Stephen’s Anglican Church built in year 1837. Photo by @erskinec

In years before Hamilton became a city, fire was a constant danger and resulted in the loss of many early buildings. This lead to bylaws being pass around 1846 that encouraged stone or brick construction.

Rare Today, Common Then – Hamilton Wooden Churches

St. Stephen's Anglican Church built in yr1837.  Photo by @erskinec
St. Stephen’s Anglican Church built in yr1837. Photo by @erskinec

Prior to the late 1840s and early 1850s, almost all buildings were constructed of wood. Allan MacNab’s Dundurn Castle (1833-35) and maybe James Durand’s Belle Vue (1805) were the rare examples of stone or brick buildings in the Hamilton.

Hamilton cemeteries in the age of wooden churches

St. Stephen's Anglican Church built in 1837.  Photo by @erskinec
St. Stephen’s Anglican Church built in 1837. Photo by @erskinec

When we look at today’s historic churches, we are often looking at a later building that is much larger than the original church. Not only are these buildings later, but they are made out of different building materials.

The Age of Wooden Churches

The Age of Wooden Churches

St. Stephen's Anglican Church yr 1837.  Photo by @erskinec
St. Stephen’s Anglican Church yr 1837. Photo by @erskinec

By the 1820s and early 1830s, the several communities of faith became large enough to support the building of church and graveyard. These early churches were small and made of wood. They were typically surrounded by a small plot of land.

For example, the first church in the future town of Hamilton was the First Methodist Church that was built one acre of land purchased from Robert Hamilton in 1824.

Challenge of Blogging – Part 3

Chris Erskine, Urban Landscape Artist
Chris Erskine, Urban Landscape Artist

Challenge of Blogging – Part Three

The biggest challenge to blogging is feeding the beast.

Just remember, we are not just talking about a few postings, but hundreds of postings over many years.

If you post only once a week then you will need content for 52 postings. In the crowded world of blogs, expect 3-5 years of effort before your audience reaches a critical level of support (however, you define that).

Ask yourself, what topic will give yourself enough content to get to the promise land of brand recognition and then beyond?

I am a big fan of Film Riot on Youtube. Film Riot explores the techniques of film-making, but even these guys have mixed up things to generate new content and to keep things interesting.

Recently, they invited other film-makers to create short films with behind the scenes look at how they did it.

This raises another challenge, the content must be relevant, it must provide value to your audience. You know why you want people to follow you, but why should they?

For example, I love watching artists create their art, but it is a slow process and needs something more to keep me coming back until the project is finished. If all you offer is essays on how it is to be artist, then do you really believe that people will stick around?

My answer to the challenge is to be local. However, not just with a few references to coffee shops and places to shop, but detail studies on the urban landscape and how the past has shaped the places where we live and work. Further, I try and visit these places and create regular written and visual postings. All this being directly or indirectly connected by my art.

The results may be very rough, but it is my hope that the focus on local urban architecture and local landscapes will compensate for the lack of polish.

Next week – defining your audience.

The Private Cemetery of the George Hamilton?

Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton (Ont). Photo by @erskinec
Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton (Ont). Photo by @erskinec

Another example of a possible family cemetery is that of Dr. William Case 1776-1848). Dr. Case was Hamilton’s first Doctor and practiced medicine from 1809 to his death on March 29, 1848.

The death of Dr. Case posed a bit of problem for his family and friends because he never attended Church and as a result, he could not be buried in any of the local Church cemeteries.

George Hamilton (1788-1836) and he had been a close friend to Dr. Case. As a result, it was decided that Dr. Case could be buried in a private cemetery, located where the then Cherry Street came to an end at the foot of the Mountain. The Cherry Street was later renamed Ferguson Avenue and Dr. Case remains were removed to the Hamilton Cemetery in December 1950 as the result of the Claremont Access being reconstructed.

To date, I have seen no reference to family cemetery on the former George Hamilton estate, but there must have been something since George Hamilton died in 1836. I have also seen no references of George Hamilton’s remains being relocated to the then York Cemetery, now Hamilton Cemetery, which opened in 1847.

A lost Grave

The former grave site of Elijah Forsyth, who died in 1829, Hamilton (Ont). Photo by @erskinec
The former grave site of Elijah Forsyth, who died in 1829, Hamilton (Ont). Photo by @erskinec

On Thursday, I wrote that a grave is a statement about place and family.

Another example is the lost grave of Elijah Forsyth.

In 1801, James Forsyth purchased 400 acres from Robert Hamilton for his son named, Caleb.

Twelve years later, Caleb divided up his land between his sons: Calib Jr and Elijah. Elijah got the western portion which is where the campus is located today.

According to unsourced notes that are located in the campus archives, Elijah, who a Methodist, held very extremes views.

On the morning of Oct 13, 1829, his extreme personality got the better of him. According to the notes, “he kissed his children before leaving the house. He then went into the woods and ended his life with a shotgun.”

Since it was suicide, the family had to bury him in unhallowed ground. There is a legend that he was buried where he died, a solitary grave overlooking a creek valley.