Posted by: Liz Massey | November 3, 2009

Surf’s Up: Top Creativity Links for November 3, 2009


Photo courtesy SXC.

Art Every Day Month: November 1st

Novelists have NaNoWriMo to put the proverbial flame to their backsides during November. The rest of us creative types can participate in Art Every Day Month, a challenge hosted by Leah Piken Kolidas of Creative Every Day blog.

Art Every Day Month is in its seventh year, Kolidas notes on a separate page dedicated to explaining the challenge, and its sixth year of being a group challenge. The point is for artists to create as often as possible, but not feel pressured to meet any kind of hard-and-fast rules around the contest:

“I keep the rules for AEDM really simple and very loose. I encourage people to make something every day, but my goal is to foster more creativity, so if you make just one piece of art per week or just one for the whole month, that’s fine with me. The idea is to bring more creativity into your life, not to make you feel overwhelmed, pressured or guilt-stricken. Art is also loosely defined here. I mean art in the sense of anything creative, whether that be painting, drawing, knitting, sewing, cooking, decorating, writing, photography, clay, jewelry-making or whatever!

“Look at AEDM as a soft nudge to add more creativity to your everyday life with a bit of group support. It’s the group support that makes it so lovely I think.”

This year, Kolidas has added a survival guide for AEDM and there is an AEDM Flickr page, which will be augmented over time by those who participate in the challenge. Readers who want to get in on this year’s challenge can still participate by e-mailing her at

Fifty Crows – Social Change Photography

Fifty Crows is a nonprofit that seeks to “bridge the gap between venues and distribution mediums for documentary photography” and ultimately cultivate social change as a result of the images that are produced. Founded in October 2001, FiftyCrows couples visual stories from world-class documentary photographer with action and media campaigns in order to affect change. Eschewing the “limited viewpoints and images” often purveyed by mainstream media, the group leverages its website and partnerships to unite communities to work together in confronting current social, political, and environmental challenges around the globe.

One of the core programs of Fifty Crows is the International Fund for Documentary Photography, which it inherited from Mother Jones Magazine. The IFDP has awarded more than half a million dollars to 78 photographers working around the world.

You can visit the main Fifty Crows site to view images by photographers associated with the project, learn about upcoming exhibits and action programs and purchase mind-blowing prints from famed documentarians at significantly discounted prices. The organization also has a terrific blog, which is updated almost daily with news about Fifty Crows artists and information from other like-minded documentary photography groups.

(I was alerted to this organization by my friend Julie Denesha, who is an amazing photographer in her own right. Thanks, Julie.)

Make Amazing Art, Be Authentic, Tell Your Stories and the Art Will Sell

If you read the Surf’s Up section on this blog regularly, you’ll notice I link to Clint Watson’s Fine Art Views blog quite often. I love his posts because he is both upbeat and unflinchingly realistic about making it commercially in the art world.

In this recent post, Watson talks about how storytelling is at the heart of building a successful following and business as a painter.

He tells us,

“Back when I owned an art gallery and spent most of my time selling art, I stumbled upon a little secret I’ll let you in on – I didn’t really ‘sell’ art, at least not in the way we think of a car salesperson ‘selling’ you a car.  The truth is, I spent most of my time being a storyteller.”

He provides several examples of the sorts of stories he told to gallery patrons related to specific artists. None of them are the least bit technical or aesthetic in nature—all relate to the artists as human beings, or what they had to go through to get a particular painting finished (including, in one case, the painter nearly being mauled by a leopard).

He explains why these are the sorts of stories artists should be spreading about themselves:

“If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that all these stories have something in common – they really don’t have anything to do with art methods, awards, exhibitions and the like.  And yet, over and over, I noticed that people I talked with in my role as ‘salesperson’ just weren’t that interested in knowing what awards an artist had won, what exhibits he/she had been in, what magazines had run feature stories. … Nope, what they loved was hearing about how their guy almost got mauled by a leopard.  I’m not being glib here.  I ‘sold’ a lot of art this way.”

Watson hypothesizes that this approach is successful because artists can act as what Hugh McLeod terms a Social Object, a concept he got from Jyri Engestrom of Simply put, a social object is a definable “thing” (product/service/idea) that connects people, and makes the core offerings of a business “sharable.”

This sharability factor is crucial when selling art online, Watson asserts. He quotes artist Linda Blondheim, writing in a recent forum thread,

“I have felt for a long time that some artists are on the wrong path in marketing. Most of the artists I know focus entirely on other artists and the artistic community. I think that is a mistake. Seventy percent of my patrons are not artists, and they are not really involved in the art community. They, instead, are involved in all of the things I love, like land and water conservation, history, nature, dogs, wildlife, cooking and foodie interests.

I think many artists have a narrow viewpoint and a narrow interest … They would be surprised to find that many art buyers are buying because of the subject and interest in the artist because of non-art related interests.” (Emphasis is Watson’s.)

Overall, the post is an excellent primer on how to use social media and Web 2.0 to further your creative career, and why presenting yourself with the utmost authenticity online is not only a good idea, it’s vital to having any success in that world at all!

Bonus Links!!

20 Ways to Stimulate Your Own Creativity

Diana Adams, writing on the Bit Rebels blog, presents a score of great tips for getting your creative mojo flowing.

10 Must-See Art Documentaries

From the Art Schools Guide blog. Ten documentaries that show artists at work or delve into their psyche, including films about Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Maya Lin, I.M. Pei and others.

Crediting Your Artwork

A brief but excellent reminder from Alyson Stanfield of ArtBizBlog to always credit your images when you post them to your blog, Facebook page or other places online.



  1. Thanks so much for the mention, Liz!!

  2. Thanks for the mention/quotes – I learned something too – didn’t know Hugh wasn’t the “inventor” of the Social Object idea.

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