Friday, August 10, 2012

Flickr.com

I really like www.flickr.com. I've had an account there for the past few years, and it's great for seeing other people's work and sharing your own.

But you have to put time into it. You have to upload your images, caption them, and find groups you can put them into. Some groups have a lot of traffic, some don't. Some take on members by invitation only, others you can just join. And there are also 'safety' issues also, concerning nudity, each group has rules about that. But all groups have interesting images, and if you are like me and geographically isolated, it's a great way of seeing what other people are doing, and entering into a dialogue with them.

Obviously, with the Internet you have to be careful. Pretty much every comment I have ever seen has been something along the lines of 'good composition' or 'great colours' or 'great energy in this image' - I cannot remember seeing any comments along the lines of 'you should take up sport because you can't paint for shite' or perhaps the more moderate and constructive 'I like this but I think you could do better'. Obviously if you don't know the artist and their work personally, you can't really say this online. The Internet only allows you to see the potential of something, and let's face it, when looking at someone else's work every artist DOES think something along the lines of 'if I was making that painting I'd do it this way, with this colour, and not that one', for example - even though very few of us will ever actually admit to this. But because you don't know the person, you don't know how they take constructive criticism - and some people are very sensitive, and also very young, and the Internet is really the only showcase they might have for their work. So you really do need to think before you say anything.

I tend to say things along the line of 'Great use of the medium' - because they have used the paint, pigment, camera, whatever in a creative manner. Sometimes I might add a suggestion: 'Have you considered seeing how you'd get on with oils/watercolours/inks?' I'm very mindful of the fact that when it comes to art, most of the teaching that is done is actually the teaching of the self, the exploration each artist does with the media he or she works with. It's very important and very empowering. I'm also aware that artists need to make themselves problems in order to find a solution or breakthrough. Also important and empowering. And I am also totally cognisant of the fact that there are jealous, petty little bitches out there who would use the anonymity of the Internet to try and tear at a sensitive artist's already shaky self-esteem. (I will just interject here with a mini rant: people who do that are cowardly, gutless FAILURES before they themselves ever take up a paintbrush, pencil or camera. That's my take on those. Done.)

Given the fact that there are MILLIONS  of images uploaded to Flickr.com every day, and the page design pushes the edges of one image right up against the edges of another, it's very easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what we as artists produce. And it's also very difficult to pick ones you like to comment on them - me, I simply react to the first one that catches my eye. (And then I look at the ones around it, and I usually comment on several in a group. Like I said, there's a lot of super work out there. And it's very easy to miss.) There just isn't time to nitpick the ones you don't like, and most of us are not of that mindset anyway.

But it's important to comment. If you comment on someone's work, you make their day. You NOTICED it, for a start. And they will often react by going and looking at your works you've uploaded, and commenting on one or two of those, and possibly making you a contact, and maybe even inviting you to join a particular group. And there may be some dialogue between you - I've been invited to visit an artist in their studio in Tuscany, which is just lovely. (Haven't done it yet. But might.)

There may come a time when I am so taken with an image that I will ask for a print of it, or if it's a photo, I might ask if I could use it as part of a painting. I'd always ask, though. Copyright issues, see. Most people have no problem, but businesses are different.

And when I make a comment, I add a link to this blog. Why not? Who says geographic isolation is a reason not to share my work with the world? :-)

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