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Update on 2015's Grant-Winning Program, LDOC

On the eve of applications opening for our 2016 Crusade Engagement Grant cycle, we thought you may enjoy an update on the progress of last year's winning project. Read co-founder, Danielle Wilcox's update below -

LDOC Summary: LDOC is an arts publication that features Chicago artists and writers on a bi-monthly basis. It is distributed the first and third Mondays of every month at the following Red Line stops: Howard, Belmont, Lake, 35th, and 69th. LDOC was created out of a desire to engage the people of Chicago in an artistic, accessible way. The use of newsprint acts as an unintimidating and familiar material for Red Liners to connect with, while the work of local photographers and writers offers a few minutes away from our phones and screens.

As LDOC progresses into its sixth month of production, the arts publication has found a home in the Chicago photography and literary community, in boxes steps away from ‘L’ train Red Line entrances, in homes via our growing subscription service, and in the hands of commuters all over our enormous city.

For months we established ourselves via press, our website, and through volunteers posted in Chicago’s ‘L’ entrances distributing the issues. In December, we acquired newspaper boxes from an independent press in Ann Arbor that had recently ended their own print distribution. We cleaned them up, designed and produced vinyl stickers at the Chicago Public Library's Maker Lab, and posted them at various Red Line stops around the city, just in time for the cold weather. We have one remaining newspaper box, which we'll be setting up at Hubbard Street Lofts, a collection of artist studios in Chicago's West Town neighborhood.

One of our priorities as editors is to work closely with our featured photographers and writers so that their art is presented on the page exactly as they imagine it. Recently we had the great opportunity to publish the photographs of John Steck Jr., who creates photographs on silver gelatin paper, but never runs the prints through the chemical required to remove the paper’s sensitivity to light. This causes each print to slowly fade as time progresses until it is no longer visible. Because of the specific qualities of the work, we ended up going through 3 presses of one of the issues. We ended up using the third press, after a few weeks of intense collaboration with our printing company and the artist. It was important to present John’s work as he himself would. These are conflicts that online publications don't have to worry about, but we think are well worth the labor. The effect of a tangible print is something ephemeral and unique that only comes from ink and paper.

LDOC has received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from commuters. We distribute at the downtown Lake stop during the train’s busiest hours, which sees a lot of bus and transfers. People are excited to learn about the project. We typically get questions about how we’re funded, who the artists are, and where they might pick up an issue if they miss a distribution date. We also have “regulars” who consistently express their enjoyment of LDOC, stopping to say things like, “Yes, I love this!” or, “Finally, it’s the new one.” We’ve had interactions with commuters who were sad they missed a previous issue. We let them know where to pick one up but mail them one for the time being.

We continue to do press via Chicago’s large network of arts and neighborhood publications: Newcity Art, DNAinfo, our MFA alma mater’s Lesley University and Columbia College Chicago, and more. We’re happy to note that every issue of LDOC is now available on our website via the free publication platform issuu, and we look forward to what the remainder of the year has in store for LDOC.

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Why the Engagement Grant is Important for Photography

Yesterday we announced the winner of the $10,000 Crusade Engagement Grant, and while Matthew Conboy's idea is downright badass, I have said from the beginning, this grant is about a lot more than the winning idea.

Most photographers (and artists in general) don't think about what to do with their work after they've made it. Art school programs focus heavily on the art-making but leave out the practical applications like how to sell it and how to get it in front of people. And not just anyone, but the people most likely to appreciate it and want to buy it. We are churning out art and artists but not addressing the elephant in the room:  demand is not keeping up with supply. Not even close.

Crusade for Art as an organization was created to pick up where art schools and artists' minds left off - our mission is to educate, inspire and empower photographers to connect new audiences to art.

The idea for the Crusade Engagement Grant came before the idea for the non-profit organization, and Crusade for Art was built around it. This was the question I was trying to figure out: How can we get photographers to think about how to connect people to their work? It seemed like if I could crack that nut, then our most creative people would be working en masse to solve the supply and demand imbalance in art. Bam! Let's do it, right?

So here was the answer I came up with: offer a lot of money. Simple. All that was left to do was raise $10,000, create a non-profit organization (get a board of directors, a website, fill out the IRS paperwork), figure out how a grant gets announced and administered, publicize it with no budget, and pull the trigger. Well, it seemed pretty straight-forward after driving a temperamental VW bus around the country.

The goal is to get a lot of photographers to think about how to connect people to their work, whether or not they even apply. And by publicizing the finalist ideas and tracking the progress of the winner, hopefully even more photographers will be inspired to take action and work to build a collector base for their photography.

We will give this grant again next year. And the year after, and the year after. So you keep thinking, and we'll keep funding, and together we can create the kind of change the art world desperately needs.

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Matthew Conboy Wins $10,000 Crusade Engagement Grant

That's right folks! Matthew Conboy will receive $10,000 cash money to implement his program to create newborn collectors in Pittsburgh.

Here's a description of his project, straight from the application:

This project was born from the fact that a local hospital sends every baby home with a Terrible Towel, the towel that is waved at Pittsburgh Steelers football games. While I am a proud Steelers fan, I believe that babies could be sent home with something else that could change their lives and the lives of those around them—art. My project will ensure that each baby born at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania goes home with an original signed photograph from a local emerging photographer. The 3000+ babies born here represent a cross-section of the city and county and include everyone from the most isolated of neighborhoods to the most exclusive addresses in Pittsburgh. These photographs will include biographical information on the photographer and any pertinent information regarding the print. They will then be inserted into the bags that are sent home with new mothers and include other basic staples like diapers or formula. 

Out of hundreds of initial applications for the grant, a group of ten finalists were selected.  These finalists all proposed promising and innovative projects.  The entire list of finalists can be seen here. These finalists’ proposals were reviewed by an esteemed jury of photographic professionals, including Whitney Johnson (Director of Photography at The New Yorker), Karen Irvine (Curator and Associate Director at Museum of Contemporary Photography), and Rupert Jenkins (Executive Director at Colorado Photographic Arts Center). Conboy’s project was selected for its off-the-charts creativity.

Juror Karen Irvine says, "Matthew Conboy’s proposal for new audience engagement displayed dazzling creativity. We are excited to award this grant to someone whose idea feels completely original and unique. We also like the way his project will engage an extremely diverse audience, one that is for the most-part probably not already circulating in the fine art realm."

The Crusade Engagement Grant was created to foster the exploration of innovative programs to connect new audiences to photography. The grant will underwrite the full execution of Conboy’s idea. Conboy says, “The thing that excites me the most about this project is that I am sharing my love of art with an entire generation of kids in Pittsburgh. From the moment they're born, they will be collectors of art and photography and that is something that no one can take away from them.”

In addressing application questions about target audience, Conboy gave this compelling response:

The target audience includes underrepresented minorities within the city of Pittsburgh who might not otherwise be exposed to the world-class cultural and artistic institutions that their city has to offer as well as those children who will grow up within a culturally rich family. If these families (regardless of socio- economic status) can see from the moment that a baby is born that the arts provide a meaningful and important component of their lives, they will gain an appreciation for the power of art. 

This project will engage my target audience simply by not requiring them to “opt-in.” There is no need to cross the threshold of a gallery, no requirement to sign up for a mailing list, or purchase shares for a CSA (Community Supported Art). In fact, the only way to acquire one of these photographs is to have a baby within the city of Pittsburgh. 

We are thrilled to be launching this grant with such an innovative and democratic way to connect new audiences to art. We will be following Matthew closely over the next 12 months and giving you regular reports on the progress of this exciting project!

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The Big Reveal: Art CSA's First Photographs!

If you were one of the lucky 50 shareholders of the first round of Crusade Supported Art, you got some awesomeness in the mail last week! We shipped the first two original photographs, one by Shane Lavalette and the other by Heather Evans Smith. It was mighty challenging keeping these beauties under wraps, but the surprise is part of the fun!

Now that the secret is out, we can let everyone in on the big reveal:

 "Reliquary" by Heather Evans Smith from the series "Seen Not Heard". Created for the CSA as a 12x18" image printed on 13x19" paper.

"Reliquary" by Heather Evans Smith from the series "Seen Not Heard". Created for the CSA as a 12x18" image printed on 13x19" paper.

 "Ready to Roll" by Shane Lavalette. Created for the CSA as a 15x12" image printed on 19x15" paper.

"Ready to Roll" by Shane Lavalette. Created for the CSA as a 15x12" image printed on 19x15" paper.

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Museums Coming to Your Morning

In our quest to find innovate ways to bring art to the public, we must share news about Art Everywhere US.  Art Everywhere US stemmed from Richard Reed’s Art Everywhere movement, and began in Great Britain with the production of Art Everywhere UK, whose mission is “to share the nation's favourite art with as many people as possible…”  Similarly, Art Everywhere US aims to bring “the biggest art exhibition in history” to the United States this summer, displaying 58 great American works of art throughout the 50 states.  These works of art, offered by 5 leading American art institutions, will be reproduced and displayed in public spaces, including outdoor billboards, bus stops, subway platforms, street furniture, movie theaters, and more.  According to their press release, the idea is to transform these spaces “into a free, open-air art gallery across the country.”

Public vote chose the final 58 artworks, out of 100 artworks nominated by the contributing museums. Five of the chosen artworks are photographs – Erwin Smith’s Frank Smith, Watering His Horse, Cross B-Ranch, Crosby County, Texas, c. 1909, Imogen Cunningham’s Magnolia Blossom, 1925, Margaret Bourke-White’s World’s Highest Standard of Living, 1937, Robert Mapplethorpe’s Ken Moody and Robert Sherman, 1984, and Cindy Sherman’s Untitled, 2008Each museum was able to nominate 20 artworks, tasked with choosing pieces that would span the history of the US and paint a picture of the history of American art.  The Art Everywhere US website says, “All in all, the 100 works in Art Everywhere US bring us face to face with the story of our nation, told by the visionaries who captured our essence at the time they lived and worked, and who to this day compel us to find our place in the evolving story of America.”

The big kick off party starts August 4th in Times Square, where all selected artworks will be displayed on digital billboards.  The exhibition will continue for the following four weeks, as the works of art will be installed on various platforms across the nation.

As this is the first year this is being put together in the US, and only the second year the show has collectively run, I look forward to its potential as a means to educate and inspire more people to visit not just museums, but galleries as well.  In my opinion, the more artwork that can get in front of the public eye, the better.  Hopefully the movement will stir thought and conversation, and possibly lead to the inclusion of local art galleries and artists instead of just nationally renowned artists and museums.  At the very least, the program will bring some culture to our transit hubs and potentially inspire a few people’s morning commute.

The initiative stems from a collaboration between five prominent American museums – the Dallas Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC – and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and its members, along with artists, estates, foundations, and rights agencies.

Maxwell L. Anderson, the Eugene McDermott Director, Dallas Museum of Art, spoke for all five museum when he stated, “Art Everywhere US is giving our museums the ability to reach a vast new audience in a fresh and entirely accessible way. We’re literally changing the American landscape with art, and offering people everywhere the opportunity to learn about America’s artistic treasures, past and present.”

Let’s hope everyone stops texting and looks around.

 "Untitled, 2008" by Cindy Sherman

"Untitled, 2008" by Cindy Sherman

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Grant Finalist Interview: Cleveland Print Room

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

This project is inspired by Crusade of Art’s visit to Cleveland last summer. I spent the last year trying to figure out ways that the gallery, studio, and community darkroom could engage collectors in a similar fashion to what I experienced when Jennifer Schwartz's Crusade For Art came to town. I was personally struck by the interaction between the artist and the passerby on the street. The conversations that took place enabled the artist to discuss their work with the potential collector. This kind of connection does not occur often and seeing the possibilities set me out to see how this could work in other forms.

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

I have been mulling these ideas over since last year. Taking the art and the artists to the public is paramount. It is the ultimate goal. I love the concept of poetry slams so I just altered the idea to fit art and came up with photo slams, which are in essence the same concept with the same end. Give the photographers a chance to show off their work in any creative way that they choose in front of a more passive audience that just happens to be at the venue for some other reason, in most cases. The public art installation (in places where public art is not generally seen) is a no-brainer regarding promotion of the arts and the artists. They will be able to stand in front of their work one lunch hour and talk to passers-by. This was modeled after Crusade For Arts' visit last year. Take the art to the people. Put the artwork in their face and see who lingers to find out more. That is where you will find your new collectors.

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

I think the greatest obstacle for artists these days is the competition from all other forms of entertainment and communication available to the general public -- there is entertainment and distraction on demand for everybody, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So ultimately exposure is the real struggle for every artist.

On the other hand, real art is something that truly benefits from being experienced first-hand, in person, just the way it was made, and the way it was meant to be seen and experienced. No electronic gadgetry can deliver the same kind of impact as an in-person experience with art.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

Artists should be more open about the creative process with the public. By being more forthcoming about the "whys" and "hows" of their art, artists could encourage the general public to relate more to art, and to feel like art has some actual relevance to their lives; that it could be a gratifying and rewarding experience that they could also go on to share with others. 

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Grant Finalist Interview: Ken Winnick

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

I first learned about Crusade for Art through the Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW) in Seattle when they promoted Jennifer's VW Bus Pop-up event on their Facebook page in the summer of 2013.  That brought me to the actual Pop Up event, where I was lucky enough to pick up a great "snow portrait" by Seattle photographer Raychel Rogers.  The Pop-up was followed up by Jennifer's talk at PCNW about the need to develop collectors in addition to developing artists, and then another PCNW talk about collecting by John Bennette where he mentioned that he got started as a kid by collecting photos from magazines.  By that point the idea that emerging collectors were just as important as emerging artists was firmly established in my mind!

The specific event, "Speed Dating for Art" for emerging artists and emerging collectors,  really had it's genesis in watching what was happening at local Seattle area Art Walks.  These are held on a regular basis in various neighborhoods around Seattle.  Many viewers would enjoy looking at the art, and also enjoy talking with the artists and learning about their inspiration and challenges...but most people never took the next step..."asking for a date" (i.e., making a purchase).  So, the idea behind Speed Dating for Art is to put people in an environment that encourages and supports making a match, and getting that date!

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

The art business, just like the music business and many other businesses, is in the midst of disruptive and transformative change brought on by the information age.  There's nothing  new about change itself...before the information revolution there was the industrial revolution and before that other revolutions... and these all brought transformative change,  big challenges, and big opportunities to the arts and other fields.  Photography has always been a technology based process, and so perhaps photography experiences both more opportunity and more disruption than other fields.  That's part of what makes it so much fun!

So, I'm very optimistic and I think that there are great opportunities today for photographers to figure out how to harness all the new inventions of our age.... from advances in camera technology that open new creative horizons to the evolving social media landscape that offers new ways to connect with other artists and collectors... and then to harness that technology to new ways of seeing and experiencing the world.  

I think the greatest struggle may be an age-old problem... how to stay true to your art and to learn from the art community while at the same time to not be distracted by the promise of fame or the goal of acceptance, and within that balance to hopefully find an appreciative audience for your work.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

There are many paths available, from showing work on the internet to submitting to shows, and so on.  However, I think artists need more tools to work with, and more guidance, in getting their work out to the public in a way that can really resonate with the greater community.  So, it's up to each artist to seek out ways to engage with the public and to figure out what works for them.  Hopefully, the CSA engagement grant will generate even more tools and more methods to connect artists and the public. 

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

First of all there is the issue of price.  In many cases the price of "fine art" has been driven up to astronomical levels, and so everyday folks think that something with a more reasonable price tag can't possibly be good art.  I think that if people learn to trust their own instincts and listen to their own, personal, emotional response to a photograph (or any other kind of art), then they will be more willing to make a purchase.  We need collectors with self confidence, and who realize that collecting itself is also a type of art.

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Grant Finalist Interview: Photo A Go-Go

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

We are a small group of photographers and creatives that meet at each other’s house for dinner monthly to talk about art, drink wine and share details of photographic projects we are currently working on. We were having tacos and wine at Joseph Gamble’s house when he brought up the grant.  All of us have struggled with the concept of getting our work seen by collectors and everyone was very interested in participating or seeing what comes out of the grant. 

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

We knew we needed to have a great idea and the genesis of “Photo A Go-Go,” our subscription service, came from our discussions that evening. Jamie Jackson had mentioned the old “Record Club” services like Columbia House and BMG where you would get 10 CD’s for a penny and often one each month. At the end of dinner, he pitched the idea of signing up for a piece of photographic art to be delivered to your door monthly. The following morning Jamie shared via email his sketch of the concept and this became our grant application. He had the name of the project and had purchased the URL and we all were in favor of moving forward.

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

We think the greatest struggle is marketing. Gone are the days of photographers making appointments with John Szarkowski at the MOMA and having retrospectives within the year. There are so many talented, creative visionary artists but the gallery/museum structure can be restrictive and daunting. Connecting artists with a supportive market is critical for them to make a living that supports the creation of new work. Technology is equipping artists with the tremendous opportunity to connect directly with their audience via the Internet and social media. The Crusade for Engagement grant speaks directly to this opportunity in the art community.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

Artists today must do more than just make art. They have to run a business, market themselves and then potentially share their story to educate the potential collectors on the details of their process and/or story behind the image. Technology is critical in this endeavor. Partnering with other photographers and artists to create a presence when reaching out to the public and creating events can be highly beneficial in reaching and sustaining the right audience. A single artist can get overwhelmed with the options but when you build a team and share the responsibilities, it can be an extremely successful relationship for all. 

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

Galleries and museums are the main venue (and the most popular) for getting the public interacting with art but lavish events thrown for large benefactors builds the perception of exclusivity. Large catered events put the focus on the venue while smaller artist talks and casual discussion allow people to interact and build a personal story regarding the pieces of art they enjoy and hopefully (eventually) collect.

Historically art and art collecting have been a symbol of status for the wealthy.  Old ideas die hard. We think people are insecure about what is "good art" and "can I afford art?" While the wealthy have always been benefactors and vehicles for art, wealth alone does make art appreciation and collection mutually exclusive. Another reason for intimidation is the perception that one needs a fine art degree, either undergraduate or higher to have an opinion, preference or understanding of art.

To lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art, we believe we need to cultivate an artistic self-confidence in the potential collectors. Maybe a "build it and they will come" attitude. Our mission is to get high quality, curated photographic art into the hands of potential collectors in a fun, easy and Photo A Go-Go way.  Giving our collectors information that explains the importance of the image, why we chose it... and it's potential not just as art but as an investment.

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Grant Finalist Interview: Matthew Conboy

We sent questions to the ten Crusade Engagement Grant finalists so you can learn a bit more about them and their program ideas. Next month we will be setting up a poll for a popular vote, and the finalist who wins will receive $1000 to help them start their program (separate from the $10,000 award).

This interview is from Matthew Conboy, who wants to make collectors out of newborns! From his initial application: "As is typical in many hospitals, new mothers and babies are sent home with bags containing diapers, formula, and a range of complimentary supplies. However, in Pittsburgh, babies are also sent home with a Pittsburgh Steelers Terrible Towel. This is the towel that is waved by fans at home and away games and has been a tradition in Pittsburgh since 1975. While Pittsburgh is known to some as the “City of Champions,” it is also a city rich in art and culture. My proposal for the Crusade Engagement Grant is to include a signed and numbered photographic print from an emerging Pittsburgh-based photographer in this hospital gift bag. "

 

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

I recall reading a few years ago that there is a hospital in the greater Pittsburgh area that sends every newborn home with a Pittsburgh Steelers Terrible Towel.  These towels are waved by Steelers fans at home and away games and is the signature souvenir for the team. At the time, I thought it would be great to introduce newborns to art using this same idea, but it wasn’t until I saw the Crusade for Art grant that I finally decided to find a way to fund this project.

Walking into a gallery, art fair, or auction house may never cross some of these families’ minds so my idea is to include an original photographic print in the bag that hospitals send newborns and their mothers home with. This feels like a novel way for the photographers who will participate to cultivate an entirely new generation of collectors.  Most importantly for me, there is absolutely no cost to either the hospitals or the families involved. 

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

Once every five years, the Mattress Factory art museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania conducts an art auction.  Not only is it a great place to network and meet with other collectors and artists, it is also one of the few places where you could walk home with an original work of art from Yayoi Kusama, Carrie Mae Weems, or even James Turrell. While some of these works sell for more than $10,000, the majority of lots start at $100 and it is the absolute best place I have found to begin building a contemporary art collection.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

Beyond just having their work exhibited and crafting thoughtful and relevant artist statements, the best thing any artist can do to educate their audience is speak about their work in a public forum.  I have never turned down a chance to participate in an artist talk . These types of events offer much more flexibility and give the audience a better opportunity to interact directly with artists than any opening I have attended. 

In addition, there are so many online magazines and journals that photographers and artists should make every attempt to write articles for them.  Crafting writing and ideas is sometimes just as important as honing their own art and their online audience is immeasurably larger than the number of people who can go to a pop-up, gallery, or museum show.   

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

For intimidating art, it is the responsibility of the artist to ensure that the public is given the opportunity to understand the work presented to them.  If the artist wants to make their work more opaque, then that is their prerogative.  On the other hand, I have recognized that the public is more than willing to deal with difficult art if given an introduction by the artist.   

In terms of collecting, with the proliferation of art fairs, I feel that many potential art collectors may be discouraged by the high prices paid for art there.  While these venues offer amazing opportunities to see mass quantities of contemporary art in one location, they really cater to what is selling today and not necessarily what is redefining the boundaries of any specific genre or contributing to an artistic and social dialogue. At the opposite end of the economic scale, large editions of works water down the market and could make it more difficult for a new collector to know what to buy.  In the end though , I feel that collectors at different points in their lives will naturally gravitate from editions to unique prints or paintings and there is never a need to buy outside of ones pay scale. 

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Grant Finalist Interview: Jason Parker

We sent questions to the ten Crusade Engagement Grant finalists so you can learn a bit more about them and their program ideas. Next month we will be setting up a poll for a popular vote, and the finalist who wins will receive $1000 to help them start their program (separate from the $10,000 award).

So far, we've posted interviews with Matt Eich and Amy Parrish. This one is from Jason Parker, who wants to put photography on billboards. From his initial application: "This project seeks to introduce fine art photography to Atlanta commuters by bringing the work out of the galleries and inserting it into their daily lives. The gallery world is a closed system, and in order to increase interest in art photography, the scale of exposure must be increased. The grant will be used to purchase monthly cycles of digital billboards in the area."

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

I've been involved in the Atlanta art scene for some time, and had my MFA thesis show at Jennifer's gallery back in 2011. Since then I've been following and admiring her Crusade work.

This project was inspired by my success with a billboard project during my thesis. As essentially a nobody, I figured I could have my gallery show, friends and family would come, and that could be it.

Or I could put my work out in front of a much, much larger audience via a digital billboard and see what happened. I wanted to take the work to people who would not otherwise see it, and disrupt the commute and visual noise that we all experience every day in the signs all around us.

So in among the plumbing and weight loss boards, there was a sign that said, "Thank You", and "Please", and "You are Welcome." My signs interrupted the incessant "BUY BUY BUY" pitches and maybe added a little healthy confusion and let folks exhale just a little bit.

On a train once, passing through England, I was surrounded by high berms on both sides. Suddenly, a dinosaur appeared over the berm! Did I really see that? It was just amazing and a visual relief from the monotony of the dirt mounds we'd been passing through for what seemed
like hours. That brief moment kind of took my breath away, and I want to do that again. My friends traveling with me didn't believe it had happened, but I knew and was happy for the moment (turned out it was some kind of dinosaur park in the village on the other side of the
berm).

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

The project grew out of my thesis work, and is intended as a disruptive element inserted into every day city living, as well as an art awareness campaign. I see far more billboards and roadside ads every day than I do galleries and art. So why not, instead of trying to convince people to go to galleries to see art, take the art to the people and make the world the gallery? Digital boards are economical, easily changed and updated, and reach a LOT of people. While we're all sitting in traffic we might see something beautiful.

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

The Internet and social media have facilitated information bubbles. Online tools create a filter through which people (potential audiences) can eliminate serendipitous discovery. We want what we want, and there's little opportunity for surprise.

I think the world suffers from confirmation bias, and this affects art. If our minds are already made up, and we've eliminated any information that challenges our notions, then where will new things come from? What changes us? We see the same things every day, and that's what we want to see.

At the same time, technology allows us to take rectangles off the wall and put them (or any shape!), wherever we want. We have to find a way to get through the bubbles, over the walls, and into people's lives to show them something new. Artists are disruptive by nature, and finding
ways in is a real strength.

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

The best art is disruptive and transcendent. People in general are creatures of habit and find the unfamiliar intimidating. The popular perception of art, at least where I come from, is "weird", or maybe those flower water colors that somebody's mom painted, or a picture I like.

We see "art" every day, but mostly it's the shrink wrapped prints available at the end of the aisle, or somebody's Instagram sunset, or a "can you believe?!" story on Gawker. So it's either pretty and familiar or strange and threatening. And it's nearly always expensive.

In photography's case, with everyone a photographer now, we are over saturated. When everything is "art", nothing is. So exposing a wider audience to what art is is an imperative.

I don't think it's a problem of quality, but of perception. We see SO MANY pictures, and so little art. We need to take the art to the people. To spur collection, we need to make it more affordable and ease the process.

We also need to create or promote the transcendent feeling that art should provide. As people become more inward looking and isolated, art should inspire outwardness, and curiosity, and willingness, and saying yes. Art, like music, is a state of mind. It is a visual trigger that expands consciousness and helps us see through ourselves to something deeper.

My goal with this project, taking art out of its rarefied gallery context and putting it in familiar situations, maybe providing a bit of relief from the same same, will soothe any anxiety people have about art and help them approach it with new eyes.

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Grant Finalist Interview: Amy Parrish

While the ten Crusade Engagement Grant finalists plug away at their detailed applications for review by the selection committee, we are featuring interviews with each of them so you can get a better sense of their program idea. Get inspired, and pay attention too, because next month we will be setting up a poll for a popular vote, and the finalist who wins will receive $1000 to help them start their program (separate from the $10,000 award).

First up was Matt Eich, who proposed a photobook collective program. This one is from Amy Parrish, who wants to create a reality TV show around collecting. From her initial application: "The overall message in this series will highlight the emotional value of owning an original piece of art (compared to buying a generic image from a big-box retail store). It will also show the process of acquiring art, step-by-step, through a variety of outlets to demystify the process for first-time buyers and lift the barrier of intimidation."

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

You know how you do a search on the Internet, and some way or another an entire hour has passed,  you have landed on a page and you can’t possibly remember how you arrived?  Thankfully, this unknown path led me to Crusade for Art.  I think the website drew me in, initially, because of the VW bus logo, having recently purchased a 1972 hippie bus of my own.  

Needless to say, I read through the site content and became enraptured by the movement.  I’d never before turned the tables to think about how to create more purveyors of art as opposed to selfishly thinking of how I could promote and perfect my own work.  Between the moment I first learned about the grant and the open application date, my mind began turning until the idea for this project struck me.

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

Believe it or not, I actually experienced the very same connection that I’m seeking to document in others.  It must have been buried in my subconscious, having so profoundly affected me just two years prior when I had the opportunity to spend time with photographer Joyce Tenneson and learn about some of her work.  When she shared her story of how one of the images came-to-be, tears immediately began welling up in my eyes.  It touched on such a deeply personal part of my own life that I felt an immediate bond with the work.  Now on display in my home, it’s so much more than aesthetically-pleasing decor, but a reflection of my own life; and a common story shared between the artist and myself.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

Based on my own experience, I feel that photographers have the challenge of sharing the deeper messages within their work.  This can be tricky since photographic artists work in a visual medium, suggesting that an image should stand on its own without the need for further explanation.  However, in a consumerist society, we’re relentlessly fed an immense number of images (primarily photographic in nature) that make bold statements with just one glance.  In this way of ingesting media, there is no time allowed for savoring the subtleties of a photograph.  

With this in mind, we can work to retrain audiences to truly take the time to see and explore an image along the path of their own inner dialogues, leaving the artist’s insights and secrets embedded within the work; and/or we can extend written and verbal cues to help the viewer access something deeper.   For instance, I know, as the artist, that in a particular photograph inspired by the Japanese folktale of “The Crane Wife”, a long train of fabric represents magic sails from the story, a half-mask speaks to the half-woman-half-bird character and specific colors pay homage to a storybook representation of the same tale.  However, if my audience is not familiar with the narrative, they’ll never recognize these important details.  Sometimes giving context to our work can be the best education we can offer.   

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

Ha!  Well, pop culture has certainly reinforced the phenomena of serious collectors pulling out obscure references from a seemingly meaningless piece of work and simultaneously chuckling smugly at the person who walks in from the street and sees only globs of color (lets not get into the fact that a photograph is rarely the piece of art hanging on that gallery wall seen in films or tv).  And, of course, in this fiction that image sells for a million dollars.  While the jabs are often directed towards the pretentious, there is nearly always embarrassment from the other party.  As harmless as this may seem on the surface, I think this broadcasted stereotype has unintentionally informed many perceptions by reinforcing the idea that there is a right way and a wrong way to experience art and that unless you have a thick wallet and can keep up in heady conversations, you may as well go home.  

Logically, the way to best combat that is to broadcast opposing mass messages to the general population.  Show “regular” people with art photography adorning their walls.  Feature comfortable gallery environments with friendly staff.  Showcase other outlets such as open air art fairs where photographers may be accessible to the public.  Ask artists to speak about their work.  Encourage curiosity (having more questions than answers) as a good thing.

This still doesn’t touch on the perception of value though.  It’s extremely difficult to place generalized numbers on what art should cost (regardless of the medium) without sticker-shocking some buyers or devaluing the work of other artists.  For example, by assuring future collectors that you can easily obtain original art for $50, you’re training them to think $100 is too high.  But by focusing only on images in the tens of thousands of dollars, you’re beckoning back to that pop culture stereotype of art being outrageously expensive.  There are countless budgets and priority sets to take into consideration.  In whatever form, when messages linger on price, it’s telling the consumer that price is of weighted importance.   

If we can publicly expand the definition of “value” to mean more than monetary value, that alone can lower a perceptual barrier to entry.  There’s a saying that goes something like “when they cry, they buy.”   It suggests that true value lies within an emotional connection between a purchaser and a product, not on an arbitrary number.  Of course then there’s the entire concept of perceived value that is based on numbers, but that’s a whole other story!   


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Turning the Tide in Favor of Photographers

I'm writing this after a long and thrilling day for Crusade for Art, and I have to admit, I'm pretty emotional. When I first thought about creating Crusade for Art as a non-profit organization (as opposed to just a stand-alone project, i.e. the tour) and offering a $10,000 grant, it seemed like a crazy idea. Which, of course, is why I went for it.

When I was driving around the country, talking to groups of photographers and getting my arts engagement groove on, I spent a lot of time trying to think of a way to turn the tide. Galleries couldn't be the only outlet for a photographer who wanted to sell work and grow a collector base - there are simply too many photographers, too much supply. But in a system where artists have been conditioned to rely on other people - gallerists, dealers, publishers, curators - to advocate for them and their work, the prevailing impulse among photographers seems to be to sit and wait.

The gallery path is too narrow. There are not enough galleries to show all of the really strong, salable work, not to mention the work that is not as commercially appealing. But just because a photograph may not end up on a gallery wall does not mean there aren't people who would connect to it and want to buy it. And the gallery path is also narrow in terms of reaching potential collectors. There are a lot of people out there who are not currently seeking an arts experience but would love art, if only they were given the right introduction to it.

If you don't limit yourself to how it's always been done, then the road is wide open. All you need is to be smart - Who is your target audience? Who is most likely to connect to your work? - and innovative - How can you reach these people? How can you create an opportunity for them to have a meaningful engagement with you and your art?

The problem is, most artists do not think beyond the creation process. They don't have the skills or the inspiration to figure out ways to advocate for themselves and their work and to create their own collectors. So that was my puzzle - how could I get a lot of photographers to do this? How could I motivate artists to come up with ideas to connect people to their work?

And then bam! The idea. Cash money.

More than just funding the winning project idea (which will be amazing! Have you seen the finalists' project descriptions??), the goal of offering a grant of this size was to motivate a large number of photographers to think about their work, their potential audience, and how to connect the two. 

We got a lot of feedback like this:   "It's just a very different type of application"and project focus, which as artists, we don't always think about.” That is the point.  Many of the early applications were photographers submitting artist statements, not a plan to engage people with photography.  This grant really stumped people and made them think about creating demand for their work for possibly the first time - which is exactly what we’re trying to do. Ultimately the applications that were on-point started streaming in. Narrowing them down to ten was incredibly challenging but also very validating.

I think we are on to something here. And this is just the very beginning.

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#CCPNext - The Next Conversation Is a Meeting of the (Photo) Minds

To say that participating in Center for Creative Photography's Next Conversation in Tucson was an honor would be a gross understatement. The event was described this way:

Andy Adam's Instagram photo
Andy Adam's Instagram photo

The Next Conversation brings together colleagues from all facets of the world of photography to talk about issues important to the field and to CCP. There are no keynote speeches or panel presentations. Instead, there are a series of focused discussions in which you bring your expertise and your voice to the conversation.

Participants from all across the photography industry were invited to attend and engage in conversations on topics such as the role of technology, the photobook, photography's place in the museum and academy, the state of photojournalism, the photography market, the definition of an archive, conservation. . . The choices were staggering.  Almost as staggering as the attendees - some of the most recognizable names in the museum, editorial, curatorial, publishing, educational, and gallery worlds.  And working photographers too!

photo by Tanja Hollander
photo by Tanja Hollander

There were many nuggets of wisdom to take away from the event, as well as questions raised that will take me a while to fully absorb and determine my position on.  But I do want to talk about one session that definitely stuck with me.

Julia Dolan (Portland Art Museum) and Mitra Abbaspour (Museum of Modern Art) moderated a discussion titled, "What is the place of photography in museums and the academy?".  This was a particularly engaged group, and it was interesting to hear opinions of both curators and educators.  At one point, someone implied through a comment that he did not feel curators needed to accommodate people who are unfamiliar with photography (I believe "dumb it down" was used) and instead should focus on creating shows for the people who know what they are looking at.  I should say, this felt very out of line with the spirit of the conference, and as you can imagine (if you have ever heard me speak or read anything I have written), my head just about exploded.

In my opinion, there is nothing "dumb" about not having an arts education.  It is increasingly not being taught in schools, which is causing not only a lack of knowledge, but a lack of appreciation for art.  It is not about being smart or dumb, it is about having exposure or not having exposure.  He asked me if I thought museums should be held responsible for picking up this slack, and I feel that everyone needs to pitch in to fill this huge gap in art knowledge and appreciation.  Otherwise, we will be left with an increasingly aging crop of arts lovers, patrons, and collectors without younger generations to replace them.

I believe, and there is research to support this, that in order to engage new audiences with art, we need to create opportunities for them to engage with art in multiple ways (visually, intellectually, emotionally) and in a manner that is not intimidating.

Nate Larson, a photographer and educator based in Baltimore (and all-around great person), shared a fantastic program he helped facilitate at the Baltimore Museum of Art.  The museum was putting on an exhibition called SEEING NOW: Photography Since 1960, and they reached out to Nate to collaborate.  Nate created the QR Code Project, where he invited his students to write personal essays about their reactions to certain photographs in the exhibit.  People who viewed the exhibit could go beyond the wall text and (using their smartphones) read another person's personal reaction to the image they were viewing.  This is a great example of how to engage viewers on multiple levels and break down some barriers to entry to appreciating art.  Go team!

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One Hour Photo Show: Talkin' About $10K

One Hour Photo
One Hour Photo

Yesterday I co-hosted the One Hour Photo Show with Anderson Smith, which I LOVED, since my not-so-secret dream job is to be a talk radio host.  We had a great time, and spent a lot of the hour talking about the Crusade Engagement Grant and what we are looking for in a project proposal.  We also discussed the best practices book, Crusade For Your Art, that will be coming out in a couple of weeks, and some of the gems of info you will find inside. So take a listen here!

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Art Subscription Programs Deliver Financial Support, New Audiences for Artists

By offering collectors an opportunity to subscribe in advance to receive a certain number of artworks, art subscription programs are helping to fund the work of photographers and connect them with new audiences of collectors.

By Jennifer Schwartz

Finding ways to engage new collectors and give artists the freedom and funding to create new work is no easy task. But art subscription services, which deliver new work to subscribers on a prearranged schedule, are popping up all over the country to do just that. They are a win-win for artists and collectors alike, and photography seems to be a perfect match for this platform, because photographers can easily produce multiples of their work for subscribers.

Finding ways to engage new collectors and give artists the freedom and funding to create new work is no easy task. But art subscription services, which deliver new work to subscribers on a prearranged schedule, are popping up all over the country to do just that. They are a win-win for artists and collectors alike, and photography seems to be a perfect match for this platform because photographers can easily produce multiples of their work for subscribers.

Andy Sturdevant, the director of Minnesota’s Springboard for the Arts and project coordinator for Minnesota’s CSA (Community Supported Art) says their program was inspired by a desire to provide an entry point to art for people who may be interested in collecting but felt intimidated by the process. “It was a way to put local artists directly in contact with people who were interested in getting their feet wet with collecting art,” Sturdevant says. These subscription programs are inspired by agricultural share programs (also called CSAs – Community Supported Agriculture), where shares of a local farm are purchased in exchange for regular deliveries of produce. 

While similarly structured art programs already existed, Minnesota’s program was the first to use the term CSA.  They have since created a replication kit to encourage other organizations to adopt the CSA model, and to date there are approximately 30 in existence around the country, according to Sturdevant.

In a typical Community Supported Art program, fifty shares are available for purchase for around $300 per share (Sturdevant has seen the range go from $75 to $500, and the number of shares available can also vary).  Artists are paid in advance to create work for each shareholder, and shareholders receive original works several times per year. On average, organizations run one or two CSA cycles per year and include nine artists in each.

Depending on the economic setup of the subscription program, artists can be paid well or negligibly for their work. But there are benefits to artists beyond the paycheck. For one, it puts the artist directly in touch with 50 people who are interested in buying art, creating an opportunity for relationship building. Sturdevant feels this format allows artists to try out a new project or smaller idea that may not fit into their regular practice.

Subscription services also give artists incentive and support to work. “I think artists… have to work so hard to make ends meet that it leaves very little time for studio practice,” says Chandi Kelley, co-founder and artist-member of Project Dispatch, an art subscription program based in Washington, D. C. that allows subscribers to select an artist and opt to receive monthly works for either three-, six-, or nine-month periods. Subscriptions are available for $30, $60 or $90 monthly. “If I can do something to encourage the process of art making while helping artists gain exposure and sell work, then I feel my efforts are worthwhile,” Kelley says.

Kristoffer Tripplaar, who is part of the Project Dispatch roster, is a news photographer by day and says the subscriptions encourage him to spend time creating art.  “It is motivating to keep working on your personal work knowing you will be sending an image to someone,” Tripplaar says. “It is validating after a few weeks of working on press conference photos to get an email saying someone subscribed. I can switch gears and be creative and print an image I’m proud of to send to someone who is really interested.”

“Knowing that someone has specifically chosen you as an artist they would like to subscribe to is incredibly empowering and motivating,” says Jerry Skiscim, another Project Dispatch artist.  Skiscim is a Washington, D.C.-based photographer who had been intimidated to try to break into the art world prior to joining Project Dispatch. “Being a part of this group of talented and accomplished artists pushed me way ahead of what I could have done on my own,” Skiscim says.

TBW Books is an independent photography book publishing company that also uses a subscription model.  Each year, TBW Books invites four photographers to create a body of work for book publication in that year’s subscription set.  Artists are encouraged by TBW to experiment and think in a new way.  “These publications are not intended to be full-blown monographs,” says Paul Schiek, founder and publisher.  “They are intended to be experimental capsules to allow the artist to go outside their normal practice and try something new.” According to the TBW website, “The books provide an unparalleled glimpse into the thinking processes of who we consider to be four of today's most exciting image-makers.”  Beyond the creative output, the entry-point pricing is also appealing (previous subscriptions cost $100, the most-recent is priced at $150).

A huge part of the draw for subscribers seems to be the element of surprise. “People like the surprise and the mystery of not knowing what will come in the mail.  Maybe it’s not even about collecting art for some people, but the experience of the surprise and supporting the creative process for the artists who are involved,” Kelley says.  The idea for Project Dispatch came from her long-distance friendship with Rachel England (Project Dispatch’s other co-creator who no longer runs the program but is still a participating artist).  Kelley and England would send each other packages of artwork in the mail, and they loved the excitement of receiving artful surprises in the mail, so they decided to create a model to share this experience on a wider scale.

“Anticipation is a great motivator,” says Schiek. “With TBW Books’ subscription service, you don’t know what you have paid for, but you trust the publisher and the photographer, and you are willing to put your money on the table and see what comes your way. Consuming photography this way is surprisingly unique because we live in such a screen world, and getting tangible books in the mail is exciting.”

Sturdevant agrees that surprise is important. For their CSA pick-up events, they have begun creating staging areas where shareholders can sit and open their box of art goodies.  “Dramatizing that moment has enhanced the enjoyment of the experience,” he says. But he also stresses the importance of getting artists and shareholders in the same room so the artists have an opportunity to talk about the work. “In a lot of ways that’s what people are paying for – not just the art, but the social element of connecting to other people interested in art and having opportunities to meet the artists,” Sturdevant says.

Kelley also notes that the physical shows Project Dispatch produce to give additional exposure to their artists always result in a spike in subscriptions.  She feels the opportunities to see the work firsthand and to engage directly with the artists are powerful motivators in attracting subscribers. The exhibitions are another advantage of participating – artists get the opportunity to have gallery shows and meet collectors first-hand, providing a platform to launch their careers.  Skiscim just had his first solo show in the same space as his work was exhibited in a Project Dispatch exhibition.  “Project Dispatch has allowed me to build an audience for my work, which was the thing I just could not figure out how to do on my own,” Skiscim says.

The reproducibility of photography makes it a natural fit for CSAs. For a CSA where 50 shares are sold, each artist has to create and send 50 unique works to shareholders.  Sturdevant says they do not want the final product to suffer because of the volume, so they tend to select artists whose work can easily be scaled (photographers, print-makers) or artists who are used to working in high volume (ceramic artists).

But many of the photographers participating in art subscription programs go beyond shooting an image and creating an edition of fifty single photographs. Areca Roe created stereographic images and sent a viewmaster and slides to each shareholder.  Stefanie Motta shot a tarot deck with herself as the model, and every shareholder received a full deck of the tarot cards.  Gene Pittman and Rebekah Yaker collaborated to create a photo-based fabric design. Each shareholder received some of the fabric and a sewing pattern.  “When I think about some of the projects I have really loved over the years, many of them have been photo-based”, Sturdevant says.

When Julia Vandenoever, a Boulder-based photographer, found out she had been selected as a participating artist for the 2014 CSArt Colorado, she knew she wanted to go beyond creating a single image for shareholders.  “I wanted to make work that told the story of the change in the boulder landscape, and so I have decided to create a small photobook to be able to better convey the entire story,” Vandenoever says.  “I really want to take the opportunity to explore another way to exhibit and show my photographs.”  Vandenoever is also looking forward to expanding her creative community, getting more exposure for her work, and connecting with 50 new collectors. Artists across the board seem to share these same hopes and successes, making subscription art programs sound like a dream come true.

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Make Less Pretty Photographs

This past weekend I saw the movie American Hustle. It was a great movie, but one small detail got me thinking about photography and the artists I've been working with lately.

Jennifer Lawrence's character sniffing her nail polish in "American Hustle"
Jennifer Lawrence's character sniffing her nail polish in "American Hustle"

The crazy wife character is kind of addicted to the smell of a particular type of Polish nail polish and talks about how she can't get enough of the scent. She describes it as being pleasant but with a hint of something rotten. In the movie, she claims that all of the signature perfumes have that same combination of beauty with a bit of disgusting. It's what hooks you.

The day after I saw this movie, I had a consulting session over Skype with a photographer who makes really beautiful images. And it was interesting, because I found myself having a conversation with her that I have been having a lot lately. I asked her to try to push past making an image that was all about beauty and get something in the photograph that feels more raw/vulnerable/awkward/uncomfortable/(insert emotion-evoking adjective here) or that has a harder edge. Give the viewer something to hold onto. Something that will make the image stick.

I told her to try to "make less pretty photographs". Not ugly photographs or images that were not her style or visual aesthetic, just less pretty ones. Give us something a little rotten.

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Crusade Summit Creates First Local Chapters

This past weekend marked the first annual Crusade Summit, where directors from Crusade for Art local chapters met to collaborate, plan, and get inspired to bring new ideas back to their member artists. As this was the first Summit, the goal was to set up guidelines and organizational structures for the local chapters and create both short and long-term strategies for success at the local level. While Crusade for Art provides resources and inspiration, the goal is to empower photographers to activate and begin implementing ideas and programs at a local level to create demand for their work.

Independent, volunteer Crusade for Art chapters around the country are the ground force of the movement.  The chapters are provided with the program guidelines, best practices, support, logo, and brand of Crusade for Art, as well as use local resources and creative talent to develop new programs.

Local chapters create and implement programs and events that both create exposure opportunities for their artist members and cultivate new collectors within their communities.

We are launching two local chapters - Crusade for Art Chicago (with Matthew Crowther as director) and Crusade for Art Pittsburgh (with Matthew Conboy as director). So the Matthews came to Atlanta, and we got to work. Each chapter will have a maximum of ten member artists, and artists will rotate out of active membership in the group after two years. Local chapters will have their own websites and will plan and execute a minimum of four programs or events per year.

The challenge (for all of us, yes?) is to create programs that not only give member artists exposure and exhibition opportunities, but also actively cultivate new collectors in the community. That's what Crusade for Art is all about, after all.

And I must say, these two guys. . . incredible. Not only are they absolutely wonderful artists and people, they have the heart, passion, and commitment to really make a difference in their cities and beyond. I am thankful for them, and Chicago and Pittsburgh will be thankful for them to.

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Art Is a Therapeutic Medium

I have long felt that art can add value to your life in a way that is unique and powerful.  I think most art-lovers would agree.  It's why it's hard to understand why someone wouldn't have art in their life.  Why wouldn't you want to surround yourself with things that can make you feel. . . everything.  The closest example I can give is the way music can make you think and feel, no matter what kind you like. So when I read this article in The Guardian about art as therapy, it struck a chord.  The author, Alain de Botton, says, "I believe art is ultimately a therapeutic medium, just like music. It, too, is a vehicle through which we can do such things as recover hope, dignify suffering, develop empathy, laugh, wonder, nurture a sense of communion with others and regain a sense of justice and political idealism."  Agreed.

Art-beautiful1.jpg

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2013: An Adventure of a Lifetime

Twenty-thirteen felt like a tornado - a thrilling adventure that was both terrifying and gratifying.  I drove around the country in a temperamental (but adorable!) bus and met more challenges than I knew existed.  I worked with photographers who blew my mind with their talent and their creativity.  I closed my gallery to focus fully on something I believe in with all my heart.  That was hard, and scary, and beautiful.  I made friends, and I learned how to (mostly) brush off negativity.  I was pushed past my limits and realized that maybe limits are optional. I am grateful for every small encouragement and especially for the big ones.  I am also grateful for every tough question and harsh criticism that pushed me to work harder, to be better, to keep moving forward.  I am grateful for this photography community and the inspiration I feel every day to share it with the world.

Thank you for an unforgettable, life-changing year.

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Have You Sent Holiday Greetings to Your Collectors?

One of the things that absolutely makes me crazy is when photographers do not regularly check in with their collectors and advocates.  These people like your work and support you.  Make them feel special and appreciated.  It does not take more than a postcard or personal email twice a year to build a relationship that will pay dividends your entire career.

Holiday greetings from Heather Evans Smith
Holiday greetings from Heather Evans Smith

I first wrote about it in this post, but goodness knows if you have ever heard me lecture, attended a workshop, or just sat with me for more than ten minutes, you've heard this speech before.  So it came as no surprise to get this bit of awesomeness in the mail today from Heather Evans Smith.

To be fair, Heather has heard my rantings many times over, but it sunk in!  The top is a hand-written note wishing me happy holidays, and the bottom is an envelope stamped with her logo (seen here) on one side, and then when you open it up, it says Happy Holidays and includes two small prints (brand new images).  #nailed it

The holidays are a great time to reach out to your collectors and all of the other people who have been advocates for your work (whether they own a piece or not).  And by "collectors", I mean each and every person who owns a piece of your work.  Say hello.  Tell them you appreciate their support.

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