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?

The Challenge of Blogging – Part Two

Chris Erskine, Urban Landscape Artist and Blogger
Chris Erskine, Urban Landscape Artist and Blogger

This week: What’s your goal?

Speaking as an artist, you will be either selling your artwork or promoting your brand. Your choice will become a filter for what material is posted and how.

If you use your blog to sell your artwork then you are setting the bar fairly high with regards to content.

Based on my experience as a consumer, you want:

1. Postings that are not only relevant, but also tightly focused on the product. You are not going to wander into politics or give your opinion about a recent movie or game. Post nothing that weakens your case for the customer buying your art.

2. Postings that are consisted; yes there can be variations on themes, but your audience should know what to expect when they read or view your blog.

3. Postings have to be polished. You want to remove all grounds to saying no to a purchase. This means spelling, grammar, layout, visuals must look finished. The amount of work in getting those last little details right increases exponentially as you near perfect.

4. Postings need to be regular, whether it is hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly; your customer needs to know how often to visit to see new material. This will generate huge pressure on you to create new content and/or product.

5. Your blog needs to link into a secure form of online purchasing system. You need to carefully work out how the visitor goes from your blog to your site where the financial transactions take place.

A good example of the above points is Ghostly.com

From my perspective, building a brand is the easier way to go. You can experiment and discover your narrative.

What is your story and how are you going to tell it to the world?

It is a difficult challenge and takes time to work out the details.

Again, like selling a product you need to focus on the brand, but the brand can cover more things:

– How to make art
– How to appreciate art
– How to make art work in a home or office
– Review the latest gallery openings
– Profile local artists from an artist perspective
– Show people how you make your own art

My approach is twofold:

1. I show people how I create my works of art. I always love studio tours, so I try and show people what I am up to in my studio.

2. I use my skills as an urban landscape artist to reveal the world around me. How we shape and re-shape the landscape and the buildings that sit on the land, an amazing subject. So, a lot of my postings relate to the landscape, particularly with the past.

This leads into next week’s challenge of finding content.

Challenges of Blogging – HamOnt Urban Landscape Artist Chris Erskine

Urabn Landscape Artist and Blogger  @erskinec
Urabn Landscape Artist and Blogger @erskinec

Challenges of a blogging

My video post on video blogging really struck a chord with people. Clearly this is an interest to many of you. So, let’s explore the challenges of blogging over the next several weeks.

Blogging or video blogging holds the promise of building an audience for your particular interest.

Yesterday, the New York Times had an article on Tyler Knott Gregson, a 34-year-old who has a following of 560,000 on Instagram and Tumblr. Gregson’s following was so strong that he was able to publish a book of poetry that sold 120,000 copies and became a national best sellers.

At a recent event to promote his most recent book of poetry he was able to draw an audience of 150 individuals. Not bad for a bookstore event!

Using social media followers as evidence of support, other poets have been able sign book deals with national American publishers.

This kind of success would never have happen if they simply submitted their poetry directly to the publishers.
With razor-thin profits; publishers, music studios, and art galleries cannot take the risk on an unknown, unproven individual.

As many of you already know, the bad news doesn’t end there, once you have signed on to your relevant gatekeeper, you have to accept that they will do very little to promote your success.

If you want to generate the viewership or foot traffic and the related sales, then you must somehow let your followers know what you are up to and translated their support into sales.

This is the promise of social media. To bypass the traditional gatekeepers and establish your worth as a poet, musician, or dare I say it – as an artist.

Next week – is your goal sales or awareness

Art Post No.5 – Studio Clean-Up

The summer has been very busy and the result is one very messy studio.  Before I can start on my winter season of art projects, the studio must be cleaned, no matter how much I hatre cleaning.

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Soundscape Art

Once again, I am trying to do soundscape art. I haven’t had the best results with the Zoom H4n. As one blogger noted, the field recorder is a $300 system and the microphones as components are likely worth no more than $100. As a result, I have purchased a pair of Rode M5 small diaphragm mikes. Nevertheless, before hauling out the heavy stuff, I want to see if I can get any kind of results with the Zoom.

 

Here is the result with the Zoom at the site for this past Dec 6th remembrance of the Montreal Massacre. I am always amazed at the noise pollution on campus.

 

 

As you can tell, there is significant room for improvement. My goal is to achieve the kind of results that Vladimir Kryutchev is producing in Russia. He has created these amazing soundscapes and with mixing creates a beautiful sound narrative to his pieces.

 

http://www.oontz.ru
http://www.oontz.ru

 

Here is the link: http://www.oontz.ru/en/page/41/

It is only 6 minutes and well worth the listen.  Use headphones to get the best results.

Hamilton Artist Update 18: Heritage Permit Review Subcommittee

Sorry for the long delay, but was sick for the past few days.

The issue facing the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) is whether they are going to step up to the plate and protect designated heritage buildings that speak to a time when Ancaster was known for its mineral waters.

Despite the significant decay of the structure, the Hermitage still sparks the imagination of visitors for a time when we were connected to the land and the seasons. Over the past two months, I have made several drawings (session 1, session 2) of the building over 2-3 hour sittings, and dozens of individuals and groups have told me how much they love the place.

What the HCA is proposing is the demolition of a heritage site that they are responsible for maintaining. A four foot wall does not save any of the designated architectural features. The only reason they are willing save a four foot wall is the cost to demolish completely the building is about the same.

The only thing more outrageous than the HCA proposal is the Heritage Permit Review Sub-committee willingness even to consider their application. The committee’s job is to protect designated heritage buildings, not to ease their path to destruction.

There was very little discussion about how the HCA should change their plans so that Georgian symmetry of the surviving building is preserved, nor saving the remains of second floor Italianate windows, or French windows below that once allowed access to a long gone veranda; nor saving the surviving ring beam that was once supported by corbels.

It appears that the only people on the committee who seem understand the purpose of the committee is to save heritage is Joseph Zidanic and Rebecca Beatty. Mr. Zidanic was particularly effective in pointing out that the HCA has owned the property since 1972 and commissioned many reports over the past 40 years, but they have done little more than quick fixes.

It times for the HCA to set up to plate and start properly taking care of the Hermitage; even if the Board doesn’t consider it part of their strategic mission of watershed management.

(The above comments were first published on the Raise the Hammer website).

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Monday’s Artist Update for April 14, 2014

A weekly review of art related activities by artist Chris Erskine.

This week:

1.)           Will Cuts Impact CBC Hamilton?

2.)           Are We There Yet? – Backpack Journalism

3.)           So, what is this Blog All About?

4.)           Hamilton’s 24 Hour Film Festival Returns

 

Will Cuts Impact CBC Hamilton?

Commentary – On Thursday, CBC announced 657 job cuts over two years because of a budget shortfall.  I cannot help but wonder if there may be an impact on CBC Hamilton.

The CBC Hamilton is a digital outlet and may represent the future for the entire Network.  Working with limited resources, the station has done a remarkable job at covering significant stories from the community.

You could envision, however, that the unconventional format (digital) and the short history (opened on May 9, 2012) may make the Hamilton operations vulnerable to more established interests within the CBC Network.

I, also, believe that  CBC Hamilton has been weak in its coverage of the Arts and Music scene. This is particularly surprising given its location on James Street North. On my most critical days, I feel that CBC Hamilton is trying to be the next Hamilton Spectator rather than focusing on building its own unique brand within the Hamilton community.

This being said, CBC Hamilton is only two years old and needs to be given more time and resources so that it may develop to its full potential.

So, as this story plays out, I believe everyone must be ready to defend CBC Hamilton, and ensure that our stories continue to be told.

 

Are We There Yet? Backpack Journalism

Commentary – 10 or 15 years ago, the technology did not exist for an individual to document and broadcast to the world.  Today, with the internet and technology that can fit into a backpack, an individual can create documentaries or provide alternative news reporting.

Locally, we can see this with Joey Coleman and his coverage of Hamilton City Hall.

I recently came across some Youtube videos that may give you a better feel for this new type of journalism.

Bill Gentile is an independent journalist and documentary film-maker and he has some nice videos on backpack journalism.

 

 

So, What this Blog All About?

Fat Cats – Starving Dogs is a blog about my experience as an artist.  It is an open journal of my struggles to explore my truth, and express that understanding of the truth through inks, paints, and films.

I use text and film to tell my stories,  about the creative process, to the larger world.  I am not trying to be a reporter on the art scene, or to sell stuff, or to simply re-cycle information from other sources.  instead, I am trying to create original content based on my experiences as an artist.  I use other sources when that information impacts my interests as an artist.

In the war between perfection and getting it out there, I will side with the latter.  Nevertheless, I am striving for the best content possible.  So, this blog is a work in progress and your patience is appreciated.

 

What Are the Stories?

As an Artist, I am interested in buildings and how these objects express who we are as individuals and as communities.

If you think about the time and resources that go into constructing, outfitting, and maintaining these creations then that must tell us something about who we are.

Like people, buildings have beginnings, middles and ends.  They not only influence the people who live and work there, but the surrounding landscape, as well.

I am particularly interested in historical and heritage buildings because we have the perspective in terms of time and experience to more clearly appreciate them. That being said, I do like contemporary architecture as well.

 

Who is my audience?

This blog is for people who are interested in the visual arts, architecture, and history.  Most importantly, this blog is about Hamilton.  My family has lived or worked in Hamilton for over 100 years.  Through my art, not only do I explore Hamilton’s history but my own family’s history, as well.

 

Hamilton’s 24 Hour Film Festival Returns

 

Hamilton's 24 Hour Film Festival
Hamilton’s 24 Hour Film Festival

After taking a year off, the Hamilton’s 24 Hour Film Festival returns this June.

With only five months of film experience, I and two other friends (Jane and Shani) have decided to throw our hat into the ring with our early registration this past Thursday.

As Team Fat Cats – Starving Dogs, we hope to meet the challenge with creative story telling.

It is my hope that by creating a film, we advance our skills as  film-makers. There is nothing like a goal to focus the mind.

Wish us luck.

 

 

Monday’s Update for April 7, 2014

A weekly update of art related activities with a focus on Hamilton, Ontario; by artist Chris Erskine. Updates are posted every Monday.

 Topics for this week:

1.)        Mastering Time

2.)        We Are Not Alone

3.)        Heritage List Goes to Council

4.)        Durand Letter Goes to Council

5.)        Printing Architecture

6.)        Kirk Cobain

 

1.) Mastering time

Time-lapse photography continues to be a challenge.  I am learning how to deal with bright sunny days that wash out the colours.  This means using neutral density lenses and learning how to do colour correction and colour grading.

I have provided raw samples of the work done over the past seven days.

The second challenge is learning how to tell stories with film.  How do you write a story that is interesting to the audience?  What are filming techniques for storytelling?  For example, when do you use wide, medium, and close-up shots?  How do you use sound and music to support the story?  How do you use editing bring everything together?

My goal is to create compelling visual stories Hamilton’s built heritage and thus make more people interested saving our history.

What makes history important is not what it says about the past, but what is says about our future.

2.) We are not alone

We are not alone is trying to save our past.  The Saturday’s edition of the Globe and Mail had an article about a condo developer demolishing an 1896 building in their heritage district.  What is particularly funny-sad about the situation is the situation is that the developer is going to copy the style of the 1896 building in the new building.

Heritage advocates are worried that the new condo project will weaken the support for the heritage district.  What is already sad is the 1896 building was filled with good paying tenants from the film industry.

 

3.) Heritage Inventory List Goes to Council

Last Wednesday, the Heritage Inventory List Project Report was accepted by Council.  The Report listed almost 1,000 potential heritage-worthy buildings in the down-town core.  Along with the list, the Project created a community statement that will act as criteria for determining what properties should or should not be included.  This community statement will vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, and hopefully capture how each area of Hamilton is the product of different histories.

Brian McHattie cited the example of Westdale and the pressure to build larger homes within a community mostly shaped by 1920s and 1930s architecture.

It will be interesting to see the list for the down-town properties.  While Westdale is largely shaped by one period, the inter-war period, others like the down-town are shaped by different eras that all have a valid claim for recognition and preservation.

 

4.) Durand Letter Goes to Council

Durand Neighbourhood Association Raises Questions
Durand Neighbourhood Association Raises Questions

The Durand Neighbourhood Association has expressed concern over the decision making process surrounding the partial demolition of the James Street Baptist Church.  The Heritage Permits Committee is a sub-committee of the Heritage Committee.  All Committees work for Hamilton City Council.  So, it is my understanding that the Durand folks are questioning why the approval for the partial demolition was not reviewed and approved by first the Heritage Committee and then Hamilton City Council.

The letter was addressed to City Council and Joey Coleman noted that it was addressed, but I could not find a discussion (if any) during the nearly six hour meeting of Council.  I do not know if the letter was merely accepted into the records or whether Council offered comments.

If anyone knows, please send me a tweet.

 

5.) Printing Architecture

I came across this amazing VEMIO video on using a 3D printer to create room with architectural features.  It was amazing and reminded me of “I Robert” where the home of the creator of Roberts is demolished because he was dead.  Like fake wood furniture, the home little value after the owner died.

If the home were built in a traditional manner, this would seem like a terrible waste but imagine if they a 3D printer built it.

 

6.) Kirk Cobain

Kirk Cobain dies 20 yrs ago
Kirk Cobain dies 20 yrs ago

Saturday’s was the 20th anniversary of the suicide of Kirk Cobain – it is amazing how time flies.  I remember buying cassette tapes of Nirvana from Sam the Record Man on James Street North.  The Globe and Mail had a good story on Cobain in the Saturday edition.

Monday’s Update for March 17th, 2014

A weekly review of art related activities.

This week:

1.) Installing Magic Lantern on my Canon 600d DSLR

2.) Failure to complete my film project on the history of the Irish community of Cork-Town, located in Hamilton (Ont).

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Cork-Town is known for being the historical heart of the Hamilton’s Irish community, but during the 19th century, most Irish lived outside its boundaries. So, why did Cork-town become so associated with the Irish? This is the question that I wish to answer with a film project entitled “tales of Cork-Town”.

Last year, I did extensive research on the history of Cork-town. It is surprising how little historical research is available on Hamilton. You would think that there would be lots of research available given the age, size, and importance of Hamilton; to both Ontario and Canada. If you read the history books, it seems only Toronto had any significance.

Another challenge is how much of the past has been demolished or reshaped beyond recognition. Even when you have photos, things have changed so much that it is almost impossible to place a building within the contemporary landscape.

Last year, I hoped to create a series of prints that captured various aspects of Cork-town. The perspective that I hoped to use was the arrival of the Irish at the docks in the 1850s-1880s. Unfortunately, the project never gelled, and I decided to move on to other things.

This year, I decided to use art and photos to create a film project. Each short film would be 1-2 minutes in duration and would tell a different story of Cork-town.

While I did not expect to have the project completed by March 17th, I did hope that the previous efforts would quicken the development process. Unfortunately, film-making is proving to be more challenging than I originally imagined.

For example, I needed to install the firmware, Magic Lantern. This should have been straight forward task, but it took over 24 hours to discover that the software only works on 32 GB memory cards when you are installing it for the first time.

I want to do time lapse photography, but the Canon DSLR 600D only permits intervals of 5 seconds. To do anything faster would require an expensive timer remote controller (for example, the Canon TC-80N3 for $200) or installing of special software. Since Magic Lantern is free and can be used for other film-making tasks, I choose this option.

My current 32GB card was partial filled with family photos, so I decided to buy a new card.

The office supply store had a 32 GB card priced at $99.00 (Lexar 32 GB SDHC 600x class-10 card), but you can get a 64 GB card for $120 (Lexar 64 GB SDXC 600x class-10 card). So, for extra $20, I could double my memory. Unfortunately, I did not realize that Magic Lantern does not support on 64 GB cards, unless you first install it on a 32 GB card.

So, I did want I didn’t want to do; I backed up my family photos on my external hard drive and formatted the 32 GB card. Once this was completed, I then installed the latest Canon firmware and Magic Lantern software on the card. I was then able to repeat the process on the 64 GB card.

By 3 pm on Sunday afternoon I was set to go, but exhausted by all the technological twists and turns. As a result, I decided to start preparing my weekly update.

As a friend noted, the Updates are created on Sunday and not Monday, but once the filming, editing, rendering, and loading are finished, I would run the risk of missing a Sunday deadline. So, the Updates are posted on Monday.

Next week, I will need to do my calculations for how often the camera should take a picture, then what should be the proper light exposure and film speed settings.

Once the filming is finished, I can then convert the digital photos into a format that is acceptable for my film-making software. This will complete the work on this aspect of the project.

I will do a test using time-lapse photography, likely a melting ice cube. I will post the results to the blog next week.

Chris

P.S., thanks you to everyone who provided feedback.  I am pleased to read that the sound on my videos is improving, and that the reflection in the Tim Horton’s window provides an interesting effect.