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A Different Look at Creativity Part III: Choosing The Marketing Ingredients

Welcome to Part 3! This rather short segment takes the separate needs of Creator,Makers and Producers and matches up with the  Social Media channels that will best help them accomplish their goals. In the next and final installment of this series we will take a look at how these tools can best be put to work to supplement and bolster your marketing strategy. Once again please note that for simplicity sake the overlap between each segment of the creative spectrum is not being considered here instead it is assumed that overlaps will occur in varying degrees and intensities.

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A Different Look at Creativity Part II: the social media mix

Before we go any further…

I want to point out that what I am describing here is a process, a way of looking at how we create whether it involves groups of people or individuals and what we need in the way of tools and environments to support us along the way. The  concepts and processes are not linear or pretty and admittedly leave lots of room for further exploration and development.

creative_spectrum_somedia A Different Look at Creativity Part II: the social media mix

Let’s get going..

Now that we have the creative spectrum somewhat sketched out let’s see how it can work with the social media. The primary element of social media, in fact its’ keystone is connectivity at levels that far exceed what we could have imagined even a year ago. And… this connectivity has different levels of applicability depending on the users intent and goals.  Before we  look in detail at specific social media let’s try to find what  Creators, Makers and Producers  need to succeed, what tools are most useful to them. The brief list below summarizes common tools and methods, some have been available but limited in their usefulness.

  • Brainstorming – This is one of the fundamental tools of creativity. While it is possible that it can be done alone,  in this context it is considered best used interactively with 2 or more participants.
  • Collaboration -Whether between those working in like media or dissimilar media collaboration is often a tool for generating new outcomes. Often new ways of seeing the same problem/issue or a new direction or concept emerges through collaboration and interaction
  • Critique and feedback -In order for creatives to successfully achieve their vision they need to engage the eyes, hearts and opinions of others as a reality check. Given their goal…does their concept or theory attain the desired outcome?
  • Moral and professional Support – Just as critique and feedback are important to the creative process so is having access to moral and professional support. This kind of support can be everything from a colleague being a phone call away to a regular mastermind group that provides encouragement and professional mentoring. provide  user friendly  tools for dialogue.
  • Background research – One of the early steps in a creative venture is background research designed to find out what if anything has been done before and what the results were.
  • Market research – Separate from background research is the particular type of research linked to the branding process. Market research is important in the concept stage as well as the producer stage, however, the intensity of its use may vary throughout the spectrum.
  • Client/customer support – Good customer support which can include helping customers use their products, to getting usability feedback is very important .
  • Visibility- Visibility contributes heavily to a product’s success…  the more extensive the visibility possibilities generally the better the sales.  For visibility to work it must give the users the ability to be seen by their buyers.
  • Customer/client communication -Being able to communicate in a direct and timely manner to  customers  keep them informed and up to date for new developments is a strong determiner of success.
  • Market connection – Having reliable channels to connect to markets is also very important to ensuring good communication  with users and being able to respond to changes in market preferences.
  • Relationship development – The relative ease with which potential relationships can be identified and developed between Makers and Producers and their markets as well as amongst their colleagues cannot be underestimated. This factor is particularly important now with the decline of traditional interruption based marketing.

Now lets take a more focused look at  these in relation to the Creators,Makers and Producers. A word of caution…this is at best an approximation and for simplicity sake implies that the spectrum overlap areas will also include overlap in social media usefulness.

Creators

Since this part of the spectrum leans heavily towards the conceptual  ( see part 1)   tools that will be the most useful are the ones most likely to enhance creative thought. Their primary needs are:

  • Brainstorming
  • Collaboration
  • Critique and feedback
  • Moral and professional Support

Makers

Again as described previously in part 1, this group starts to interact with the market while at the same time providing feedback to the original creators of the recipes and templates they are refining. Their primary needs include:

  • Visibility
  • Relationship development
  • Market and background research
  • Moral and professional support
  • Customer communication
  • Relationship development
  • Market connection

Producers

This part of the spectrum’s needs are quite different than the others in that it is heavily market focused. The primary needs of Producers are:

  • Visibility
  • Relationship development
  • Market and background research
  • Customer communication
  • Relationship development
  • Market connection

In summary  the Creative community needs the following environments and tools:

  • Interactive to easily sprout and nurture creative thought and interact with peers
  • Relationship building to enable easy relationship development with their markets peers
  • Market focused to help build and maintain visibility and disburse brand messages

The next step…

is to take a look at social media to see what tools are available and which type of  media works best for Creators, Makers and Producers respectively. Let’s first look at what constitutes Social Media by definition…Wikipedia describes it as

“Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences.”

Organizing Social Media

  • Blogs and Microblogs web site that allows individuals or groups to produce an ongoing conversation, microblogs limit uses to small bursts of information.
  • Interactive/Social networking networks that allow users to interact directly either in real time of very close to it.
  • Social network aggregation sites that gather all of the social media messages and content and categorize it for reading
  • Events networks online networks that allow users to organize users around specific subjects and schedule live on-site meetings.
  • Wikis a web site that allows collaborative editing of its content and structure by it’s users
  • Social bookmarking sites that allow users to save, recommend and comment on web content
  • Opinion sites consumer evaluation, review of products and services
  • Photo and Video sharing sites that provide a means of sharing organizing and sharing photographic and video content with users
  • E-commerce sites that allow users to sell products they created or are re-selling

Matching the needs with the tools

Now lets organize these according to how they can help the creative community with an eye on the specific needs Identified earlier.

Brainstorming – Collaboration

Microblogs / Presence apps Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku
Photo sharing Flickr
Video sharing YouTube,
Interactive Networks shapshifters, deviant art, Behance network. Likemind, Ning
Wikipedia wiki’s, forums and membership sites

Critique and feedback

Blogs & micro blogs Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku
Wikis PB wiki
Photo & video sharing Flickr,YouTube
Social/Interactive networks shapshifters, deviant art, Behance network. Likemind, Ning
Wikipedia wiki’s, forums and membership sites
Opinion sites epinion,ask

Moral and professional Support

Social/ interactive networks Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, deviant art, Behance network Likemind, Ning forums
Event Networks Meetup

Background research

E-commerce Etsy, e-bay
Wikipedia
Microblogs / Presence apps Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku
Social bookmarking Delicious, StumbleUpon,Digg, Mixx, Reddit
Event Networks Meetup

Market research

Blogs
E-commerce Etsy, e-bay
Social/ interactive networks Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, shapshifters, deviant art, Behance network Likemind, Ning
Wikipedia wiki’s, forums and membership sites
Event Networks Meetup

Visibility

Blogs & micro blogs Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku, blog catalogue, good blogs
Photo & video sharing Flickr,Youtube
Social/ interactive networks Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn,  deviant art, Behance network, Ning
Event Networks Meetup
E-commerce Etsy, e-bay

Customer/client communication

Blogs & micro blogs Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku,
Photo & video sharing Flickr,Youtube
Social/ interactive networks Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Ning site
Event Networks Meetup
E-commerce Etsy, e-bay

Market connection

E-commerce Etsy, e-bay
Blogs & micro blogs Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku
Social/ interactive networks Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Ning site

Relationship development

Blogs & micro blogs Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku
Social/ interactive networks Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Ning site
Event Networks Meetup

Part 3…..

will will take a closer look at just what and how Creators, Makers and Producers can utilize social media from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube.




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 A Different Look at Creativity Part II: the social media mix

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Art Commentary ArtWorks Media

A different look at creativity

In previous articles I discussed some of the broader issues and benefits related to Social Media/Networking and how this new tool could benefit artists. The first article “What’s up with Social media” I introduced the concept of “ambient intimacy” and how the growth of social networking via the Internet has increased our ability to build relationships with our buyers. In “How to use Social Media”I talked about how social media gives us the ability to engage our buyers, build relationships with them and eventually develop a tribe organized around our art and our values.

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ArtWorks Media

How to use your winter to help your sales


Marketing Monday

begins today, born from conversations with a couple of artists over the weekend. They  asked me if I had an thoughts about how they could use the winter down time to help build their businesses and their sales. The consesus was a winter long series focused on different aspects of marketing would be helpful. Here is a tentative list of subjects we came up with:

  • Beginning the branding process– a brief outline to help give direction to the process along with some homework.
  • Learning to use the 80/20 rule to get more productivity and sales.
  • Getting familiar with the internet – Learning how to use the internet to increase your visibility and build connections with your following.
  • Developing a show strategy– Finding the right shows with the right buyers and leveraging your existing contacts to bring you more sales.
  • Developing a stay in touch strategy – learn how to build a keep in touch strategy that works on vitual auto pilot.
  • Identify and develop other income streams – Relying completely on art fair or gallery sales greatly increases your vulnerability to economic shifts, find out if this strategy is for you.

There will be more as I think of them and please feel free to request expansion of a subject or even a different one.

Today’s Monday  Marketing tips start with Branding

Start the branding process
Now is a perfect time to step back and take a look at how your buyers see your and evaluate if it matches with how you want to be seen. A brand is not a logo or collection of graphic symbols instead it is the sum total of who you are, your values, your ideas, your personality. Branding is all about transferring value from your products to you, so that YOU are the value associated with attracting  buyers instead of your products. If done right your buyers will think of you first when they have a need or problem that you can solve because you will be foremost in their minds.

Briefly the steps to branding are:

  • Know your vision and claim your vision. I wrote about this in an earlier article.
  • Know your competition and claim your difference– As an artist your competition can range from other home decorating products to other artists. You need to not only examine who would buy from you but also who would best be served by going to your competition and why.
  • Know your target market and claim your perfect customer – Successful small businesses know who their best buyers are, how they spend their time, how they make their buying decisions and where they hang out. They also have taken time to develop a profile of who they like most to work with. Refining all this information is important because it helps you develop a following of people you don’t have to sell to, who instead are eager to buy whatever you offer in short they are your ….Tribe.
  • Know what makes you unique and claim it– As an artist your uniqueness is personal and emotional and in large part seated in your own value. Your uniqueness sets you apart whether you are vying for a gallery representation or to stand out among other artists at an art fair. It is the value you provide to your buyers above and beyond what others offer.
  • Know how to spread the word about what you have to offer and claim your happy tribe- Knowing how you will attract the perfect buyers you described earlier is very important to your success. You will need to know which of the myriad of choices will work best for you and you must know that discovery of the right combination will take time and testing.
 How to use your winter to help your sales
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Spreading the word…with a new connection.


No too long ago I received an e-mail from digital apple juice, an art focused blog network, asking me if I was interested in writing for them. Of course I said yes so that means that the content created here will be spread quicker and over a wider network than we currently have. They will be creating a dedicated column for our feed which will either be titled ” The Working Artist” or ” Art Works”…we are still brain storming.

What is amazing and yet not so much when you consider the context, was their editor ran accross this blog on a social media site! I doubt seriously this would have occured without the internet’s ability to remove geographic barriers. In fact I doubt it could have happened even a year ago because the net was still not fully up to the level of interactivity it has now. So if you have any doubts that social media can be a useful tool I hope this example will help you put your hand up in the crowd. Of course intention had something big to play as well because I spent most of last week making connections all the time keeping my intent to evangelacally spread the word about the importance of art in our lives.

So click on the image above and check them out…you will find a lot of useful information on the site. Here is how they describe themselves:

We are a group of Academics and Professional Artists and Photographers who have thoughts and opinions about the digital computer world, and we have in common two things—we all use Apple computers, and we all produce in the digital world.

First, we talked among ourselves about equipment and software, asking one another about the ins and outs of particular hardware and software.  Then we talked about ideas. We had thoughts about the ways our lives have changed in the last fifteen to twenty years as we evolved from typewriters to word processors, from film to digital photography, from snail mail to email, from paint and easel to high-end inkjet printers, and don’t forget telephones over IP.

Our workflow’s have changed, and as that has occurred, even the way we think about creativity has changed.  Those of us who are teaching realize that the way we approach teaching has evolved and bears little resemblance to the 1970’s or 1980’s.  How many of you can remember the purple ditto sheets once used for class handouts?  If you can, you are telling your age.  If you remember mimeograph machines you aren’t quite as old. I don’t see slide projectors much anymore either.

So we asked ourselves what we wanted to talk about?  The answer is simple; we’re always interested in new software and new hardware, but it is the process of production and the end product that most concerns us.  Simply put, it means we want to write tutorials about processes and techniques that will serve to guide one another and serve equally to advance the knowledge and skill level of others who are working their way through various software’s. That’s the beginning.

We want to talk about the creative process in graphic design, photography and in the fine arts and how the computer and the digital camera have influenced them.

We want to talk about the end product–the artistic Statement– and we want to talk about new, emerging artists who use the computer or the digital camera to produce their works of art.  We welcome inquiries from those whose creative processes use the computer or the digital camera.  It may be possible that you can share your work with us, and we can expand all our experiences, both for others and ourselves.

 Spreading the word...with a new connection.
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Yes WE can…Co-Create a Vision!

hands_creating-400x260 Yes WE can...Co-Create a Vision!

“Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation profoundly
affecting the roots of human spirit.”

-Ansel Adams

I got the quote above in an e-mail today and added it to the feelings that have been circulating in my thoughts since last night. For many years I have firmly believed that we all are creative, that we all posses the spark that can turn dull into bright, boring into interesting and night into day. For most of my life I have walked with the wonder of the world of the possibilities that exist everywhere and have been quitely puzzled as to why more don’t see their potential, why most think they need the perfection of the masters before exposing their creative gifts.

On election night, bearing witness to yet another amazing shift I was struck by generational differences, differences in seeing the world, differences in self confidence, differences in turning dreams into reality. You see my generation ( boomer) like so many before us grew up not knowing that it was possible to follow your dream, that success was only defined in terms of money, only interms of left brained linear thinking. Except for the lucky few of us most were repeatedly warned that “you have to be practical” or “you need to get a real job” and even those of us who had supportive teachers and mentors were constantly reminded of the futility of our dreams. Watching the young and old faces in the audience last night I felt blessed to see the energy of the young re-igniting the fading dreams of the old, with each “…yes we can!” I noticed also the unspoken appreciation of the newer generations for the work and foundations put in place with blood, sweat and tears. I saw a generation that no longer seemed to worry about “…being practical” because they knew the importance of being true to themselves, they knew their paths were self created and self navigated…there was a belief and energy present I have only seen glimpses of in my life time.

John Kennedy’s inaugural speech was the first time I saw that glimmer, it was followed by Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream…” speech. While these and other landmark events were key to getting us to where we are today I don’t remember the depth of empowerment that I witnessed last night. That empowerment was inviting us into a new journey alone and together, a journey of co-creation and collaboration, a journey to bring out the best in each of us by giving everyone their own candles to light their path, a journey in which we freely share our light without attachment, without preconditions. This is the shift that occurred last night on the shoulders of a generation that asks “what if..?” or “why not…?” or “what this look like…?” because they know no different.

This is the basis for Open Source Art…empowering everyone to see their own creativity and sharing the result so that we may all grow, so that all may  experience the light, the joy and the reward of creating. Open Source Art is about bringing down the Ivory Tower of intellectualized art and replacing it with it with art that comes from the heart and celebrating the tiniest baby step forward of shy creative.

Finally, I was reminded of Persephone’s journey especially because we are heading into that time of the year, a time many creatives suffer being stuck, a time in which they struggle  heavily often in isolation with self doubt. Their struggle has often been intensified by clinging to a belief that they should not be feeling the way they do. Last night reminded me that nothing has to be the way it is and there is no right way to be creative…there is only our way. Last night reminded me that those afraid of letting their creative side show need not be afraid of judgment, and like Persephone they will emerge from the darkness bringing beauty and change to all of our lives…because in the end we are all artists, shaping our world as we see it and no matter our skill level challenged with the mission to bring beauty into the world… YES WE CAN!!

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 Yes WE can...Co-Create a Vision!

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Recipes, Rules and Heretics

loki-400x340 Recipes, Rules and HereticsToday while walking my pal Loki I started thinking about recipes and how they differed from deeper and broader approaches to a problem. For many years I did a lot of baking from cookies to cakes to french Brioche and I remembered that I always new what I was going to make, if it was bread I knew whether I wanted whole wheat or oat bread. I would pull the recipe from my file review the ingredients and then begin. this is where most people would continue…following the recipe, addint the right amount of everything that was called for and setting the oven at the prescribed temp.

As I thought more about recipes I remembered the hours and even days I spent in darkrooms. The process of developing film and printing images also relies on recipes. The film needs to be developed with the chemicals at the prescribed temperature with each successive step. The same was true once the film was dry and ready to print. The process followed prescribed times and temperatures. Like baking, if the recipe was followed the outcome would be the same regardless of who was using the recipe.

The “what if?” question

For the non-curious, the fearful, following the recipe is what life is all about…not breaking the rules or even bending them. Now don’t for one minute think I am advocating wholesale lawlessness…what I am saying is that there is a difference between the person who approaches life as something to experience, an adventure and one who lives from fear of failure mostly. One is not better than the other and we all make our choices along the continuum, somewhere on the more risky side of that continuum innovation starts to happen.

Those on the innovation side are the restless, the curious, the discoverers and more often than not they are also outcasts because of their deviation from the norm…these are the heretics, the original thinkers, the ones who see the recipe as simply the starting point for many different and unpredictable outcomes. They can take the status quo and project it into the future and see not only the predictable outcome but also an almost infinite number of variations all based on asking “what if”. They know that “what if” could lead to a great succuss as well as it could lead to a major flop. The difference for them is they learn, they adapt and they have faith in their process, knowing that the drama of failure is just that…a drama.

“Just tell me what to do!”

bread Recipes, Rules and HereticsToday, many are looking for recipes especially given the current state of the world economy…we want a fix which is often code for “tell me what to do”, fix me but don’t ask me to learn to fix myself that is to scary what if I fail! The innovators know that the recipe is just the process which cannot work without knowing what the recipe is for, what the predictable outcome might be. If you want bread you get a bread recipe not a cookie one, and if you want a specific kind of bread a specific kind of recipe is needed…but for the innovator the excitement has just begun. The non-innovator will settle for the predictable. For the innovator the vision must come first so that the recipe can be adapted to changes in conditions, the room is colder than usual which means that the yeast will rise slowly if ever, a few pinches of sugar, a warm damp cloth will help the yeast rise.

Look inside…

If you are concerned as an artist about how to be successful in the face the challenges and uncertainties we are seeing everyday, if you are wondering how you can harness the coming changes…then don’t look for recipes first. Look inside yourself, rediscover your vision, revitalize your voice and rediscover what you really want to do. Once you have rediscovered your voice and owned it, also realize that your voice may change with time and you are in control of what if at all that change will look like. Only after you have the clarity of your vision tacked up on your studio wall should start to look at recipes. Your clarity and faith in your voice will lead you to select the recipe or recipes that can serve as your starting point.

Finally, because artists (most seem to at least) routinely challenge the status quo, mixing up their own adaptations of recipes they are well suited to lead because “what if?” is a question always present. That is why I have not discussed recipes. In order for the recipes to succeed we need to know where we are and where we want to be.

So what is your vision? Do you know with Chrystal clarity where you are and where you want to be? Does your voice reflect that? So here is something to help you get there…

Be a time traveler

Pick up whatever you use best to record your thoughts and go to a quiet place, take a few cleansing breaths,close your eyes and put yourself 2 years into the future. Look around as if you are there right now, this second! Don’t put any limitations on it and don’t look at as something you will do in the future…you are there right now so describe it…

  • What do you see?
  • What are you doing?
  • Who are you with?
  • What did you do to get yourself there?
  • What is important to you? What do you value?
  • Who are your friends? What is important to them?
  • How are you making a living? What is like to work in the enviroment you are in?

Feel free to post your vision as a comment and if you don’t want to share it let me know and I won’t publicize it. If you would like some help feel free to contact me by e-mail.

I am looking forward to hearing from you…tell me about your future. Use the Comment button at the very bottom of this article (below everything else) to post your vision.

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Invite Beauty To Remind Us Of Hope

tree_reflection-400x271 Invite beauty to remind us of hope Ah, my last outdoor show — last weekend, in Peoria, IL –and it was actually quite good, considering…
and I had to do a lot of grounding to keep myself from panicking — one of the things
I did was write this piece –