Posted by: Liz Massey | January 8, 2009

Surf’s up: Creativity links for January 8, 2009


Photo courtesy SXC.

How to start the new year right as an art-maker, an exciting new way to use mobile devices during face-to-face meetings (that actually enhances the meeting!) and fabulous art studio photos are part of this week’s cream of the creative blog-o-sphere’s crop. Plus, we share a couple of fun visually-related links in our bonus section.

1. It’s that time of year: everyone is making, already breaking or at least contemplating making New Year’s resolutions, or setting goals for what they hope to accomplish in 2009.

One brave blogger-artist who is joining in this ritual is painter Allison J. Smith, who recently posted her art goals for 2009. Her vision, as she describes it, is to become 100 percent self-employed as an artist, and she lists very assertive production goals (painting five days a week and producing 50+ works this year!), which I think are good. She also lists some supportive goals, both to enhance her art (networking, doing mailings, viewing the work of her contemporaries in a gallery) and her life generally (exercising 3 days per week).

Allison explains her preference for goals with numbers attached to them:

“Getting more quantitative is in line with my resolution of staying focused and being selective. Being more specific really helps me to see what to do on a monthly, weekly and daily basis, like not just saying how much I want to paint, but how many paintings I intend on completing.”

I have found myself being more specific as I formulate writing and blogging goals for myself this year, so I can definitely recommend Allison’s strategy.

In a related vein, but taking a different approach, New Year’s Day found Tammy Vitale over at Women, Art, Life blog finding a new, more playful way to approach making to-do lists by treating them as “discovery lists.” There is a darling small photo of her lists and the concept fits with her current exploration of getting away from the “shoulds” of making art and back to the joy and passion of her work (which, if you have ever visited her blog or website, is readily apparent). If you are struggling to enjoy the goal-setting process, yet feel it is vital to your success this year, try casting your list-making in a more colorful, visual setting, as Tammy has, and see what happens!

2. We all know people who sit glued to their BlackBerrys during an important meeting, oblivious to the people in the room with them, but what if mobile devices enhanced a gathering, rather than detracted from it? That possibility was raised recently by creativity researcher Dr. Keith Sawyer, who reported on a new system, the Meeting Monitor, in his Creativity & Innovation blog.

As Sawyer describes it, The Meeting Mediator (MM) is a wireless system that monitors group conversation and provides real-time feedback.  The idea is that participants can get feedback and then modify their behavior when they’re doing something that reduces group effectiveness: for example, one person dominating the conversation instead of everyone contributing equally. The system was developed at MIT in Alex (Sandy) Pentland’s lab.

Each person at the meeting wears a special “badge” containing a wireless microphone and a transmitter, along with a motion sensor like you have in the Nintendo Wii, and each person carries a cell phone that displays the feedback on how the meeting is going.  The badge can measure body movement and can track a few simple voice features.  A computer system can track everyone’s badges together.

The most interesting feature of the system is the display: when everyone is contributing equally, a ball appears in the center of your cell phone screen.  But if some people are talking alot but others are quiet, then the ball moves off-center.  Around the sides of the screen are tiny icons that represent each of the participants, and the ball moves closer to the ones who are talking the most.

Pentland’s research shows that use of MM decreased overlapping speech, increased interaction between group members during meetings, and encouraged less dominant members of the group to contribute to the gathering while reducing the input from more dominant participants.

It will be interesting to watch to see if systems such as MM enhance the group dynamics of teams tasked with finding new solutions to problems, collaborating on creative deliverables or developing new products.

3. Finally, Alyson B. Stanfield of Art Biz Blog recently invited readers to send her pictures of their art studios, after explaining one big advantage of sharing studio photos with the world:

Sharing your workspace connects you with your community on a deeper level by taking away some of the mystery … People love to be let in on a secret! We realized this when I worked in museums and we offered “Behind the Scenes” tours, when we led museum members into storage and office areas that they weren’t normally privy to. They even love seeing the shipping docks!”

Alyson also points out that the studio photos of artist Shirley Williams, which she features with the post, show her artwork in situ. She notes that photos of artworks that show how they look within a space helps people to better visualize their scale and how they relate to furniture and architectural elements.

All in all, some sound advice here, and several readers come through with some lovely studio shots of their own.

Bonus links

Lenses for your camera phone? Yes!
Good news for enterprising mobile device photographers!

Share your Art Journals in Process
A new Flickr group, courtesy of Tammy at Daisy Yellow blog.



  1. Great post – and thanks for the shout out! I have already visited 2 of the folks on my discovery list and discovered lots of new information (and remembered how easy it is to learn new information if you just go out and ask). =] And thanks for reminding me about Alyson’s request especially since I just cleaned my space and have a good picture of it! Happy New Year!

  2. Thanks for the quote! The article is interesting and informative, a rare thing in the blogoshere!

    I think as creatives we seem to be the last to embrace networking and communication. But this exchange of creative ideas is what will help grow art awareness and in turn help all of us!

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