getting webbing

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Webbed fingers and toes! Patrick Duffy in a modified speedo! The best show ever!
The Man From Atlantis
: quality 1970′s television, people…there’s little I can do to convince you, if you weren’t lucky enough to catch this show back in the day…

One thing that seems to come up again and again in conversations with fellow creative types (at least, the avowedly non-commercial creative types) is how to create opportunities for others to see and understand their work…without having to grovel, sell, brag, spend money or do any number of other artistically difficult things to promote themselves distastefully.

I used to struggle with this too, but I’m kind of over it. Wofflehouse is not much more than a year old, but hello, can I tell you how much more pleasant, and less awkward, it is to have a site to send interested parties to when they ask the perfectly innocent but invariably difficult-to-answer question “So what’s your work like?” No more averting of eyes, muttering about cockroach costumes and all that. It makes things so much easier.

Artists are often the worst at marketing ourselves. Even using the word ‘marketing’ sends chills up our spines, at times. We’re often supposed to play this fucked-up game of being coy: focusing only on the art we make, and not on how it gets out to the public, because doing this would denigrate our studio work’s potency, somehow. But at the end of the day, it’s like this: many of us make amazing work. We live in a culture that barely acknowledges us as it is, and we often play into this further by not sharing the cool things that we do. So I’ve gotta ask: why not make it a little easier for people to appreciate what you do? And why not look at ‘marketing’ as not about the literal market (because that’s not that interesting to me, either), and look at it more as being about just sharing your talent and ideas?

But. Websites often cost bank, right? And it’s all very hard to do, yes? And this holds us back, oui? Here are a number of simple options, if you’re interested. If not now, then maybe over the holidays or as a new year’s resolution this will be helpful.

1. Blog.
It’s free. It’s really easy. You don’t have to write all sorts of blather like I do: you can just use it as an image gallery, with a few notes. I use a Max-customized version of WordPress, but you could also try Blogger or Vox, as far as easy-to-use forums for just posting up scrolling pages of your artwork. I don’t really know the guy, but I like the way that Brion Nuda Rosch uses his in this sort of diaristic, stream-of-consciousness way. Eliza uses hers to post occasional videos (and she swears by this how-to link on vlogging). The Galleon Trade art auction galleries were done on a blog, as well.
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2. Uber.
Uber is kind of like MySpace, but without all the cracked-out annoying backgrounds, twelve-year-olds, and freaky stalker types. Okay, wait, it’s nothing like MySpace, other than it has a social-networking aspect to it, and you need to be a “member” to join and to use it. Gina Osterloh and a number of other friends use it: the portfolio templates are really nice, reasonably customizeable, and geared toward showing work off professionally. There are links to interesting, legit galleries and art writers. Plus you can make Uber friends. (I’m on Uber. I’ll be your friend. If you want.)
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3. OPP.
No, silly. Not that song. Other People’s Pixels. I got curious about the teensy logo attached to my friend Bayete’s cool revamped website earlier this year, and clicked through to find the website for OPP. It’s basically a dream set-up for artists on a budget who want something more than a blog or an Uber page, and it comes with everyone’s favorite vanity piece, a custom URL that has your name (or whatever you like) in it. OPP costs some $, yes, but is insanely less expensive than hiring someone to custom-build you a site, and infinitely more humane than brow-beating that poor web-designer friend of yours into giving you the pro job for the bro price. The prices seems really fair for what you get: browse around the various templates to see the options. I’ve also noticed that a few other artists I enjoy like April Banks and Bill Jenkins are using it, too.
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If you’re able to pony up more cash for something custom, I also know of a few different web designers who would do an excellent job. And noo, I’m not getting kickbacks from any of these folks: I’m just writing this post because I’m trying to be helpful. If I’m over-evangelizing about the wonders of the internets, it’s only because it took me forever to figure this stuff out, so I’m hoping this makes it easier for some of you out there.

If you’re not interested in getting your work more web-exposure, that’s totally fine: I think that there’s a great deal of every artist’s personal practice that needs to remain intimate and private, so I’m not suggesting that you go out and exploit yourself against your own will. You don’t have to plaster yourself all over the internet if you don’t want to. If you are feeling those twinges about missed opportunities, or if it is bugging you that you don’t have any web-presence, then hopefully, this stuff will help. It just seems like the relationship between opportunities and googleability is hard to avoid, these days. I’d like to see more folks I believe in sharing what they’ve got to offer to a larger community. That’s it!

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