Talk Art to Me: You’ve Got Mad Skills by Vito Leanza

 

Vito in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in a costume he designed and built.

“Any acrobatics? Tell us more about your rope spinning.”

How many of you have gone to an audition and have been asked similar questions by the folks behind the table at your audition? For me, personally, it happens all the time.

When I first moved to New York City in 1995 to pursue a career in Musical Theatre, the buzz word flying around was “Triple Threat.” For those who don’t know what that means, it refers to being a Singer, Dancer and Actor. What more could Producers and Directors want? That was the whole package!

Back then (and still true today) many dancers, were strictly dancers, some could sing, but their forte was dance. They were known as Dancers who
sing. Singers on the other hand, same scenario, were Singers who could dance or Singers Who Move Well. No one really asked you if you could act, they just assumed you could. They would know more if they handed you sides to study.

In todays competitive world of Musical Theatre, Film and Television, its almost demanded that we have a special skill to make us stand out, to land that role. This is true especially in Musical Theatre where shows are much more flashy, technical and exciting! Take the recent revival of Pippin! You get the picture? Our special skills are just as important as our singing/dancing and acting lessons.

Before I found my way into musical theatre, I just happen to have many special skills. I learned because I was interested in them, not because I needed them for my resume. Here’s my list of special skills that I love to rattle off to folks for fun, but they are all true.

I am a Singer/Dancer/Actor/ Acrobat/Puppeteer/Stilt Walker/Unicyclist/
Juggler/Improv Actor/Writer/Costume Designer. In fact at one point, below
my special skills on my resume, I was bold and wrote “Creative Beyond
Belief.”

Vito as an acrobat in Joseph and the
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

I learned all these skills bit by bit as time went by. I learned how to ride a unicycle at age 9 because a unicycle club came and performed at my elementary school. As a kid, I was also a springboard diver. I competed in high school and was a scholarship athlete in college. I had always been acrobatic and one day, while hanging around my church gym, I took those diving skills and transferred them into tumbling skills, which lead me to being a Varsity Cheerleader for 3 years. After college, I worked at Walt Disney World where I learned how to be a puppeteer and stilt walker, which were jobs within my job as a character performer and dancer. Eventually that lead me to dance classes and Musical Theatre.

When I moved to NYC and had a real resume, I would be at auditions and the producers would glance down and look at my special skills and almost always ask about my acrobatics. In fact, I got 90% of my jobs because of my special skills.

In 1997, I auditioned for the national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I went in and sang and they asked me to return for a call back. Before I walked away, something compelled me to speak up about being an acrobat. It’s important that when you have the opportunity to sell what makes you unique, you do it! The folks behind the table lit up and said when I returned for my callback, I could tumble for them. The next day at the dance call, they asked me to tumble and I did a few tricks for them. I got the job and spent 15 months on the road.

I am now in the Atlanta Gay Mens Chorus and currently working at Stone Mountain Park during their Pumpkin Festival. I was called in to audition at Stone Mountain Park after I was seen at Unifieds. I was asked to prepare a comedic monologue and a song. I did my monologue then sang my song. They (and there were 4 folks behind the table that day) looked down at my special skills and began to ask about each special skill one by one. One director literally said “Stop, I didn’t hear a word after you said Costume Designer.” He was still trying to process that when the others where already asking about my circus skills and my puppeteering. Clearly I got the job. But I actually got 3 separate jobs from that one audition. I was hired as a Puppeteer, an Improv Actor and a Costume Designer. Here’s the kicker, I am also riding my Unicycle in a parade as well as Juggling. 5 skills utilized!

Life is a journey. We learn new things that lead us to other new things. As performers, we have a world of opportunity to learn new special skills.
Atlanta has more and more quality theaters opening all the time, plus more tv shows and movies filming here. I encourage you to seek out a
Puppeteering class, an acrobatics/tumbling class, a circus skills class. Make yourself more marketable. There’s a reason it’s called a Play.

Vito holding a Shrek Dragon Puppet that he made.

Connect with Vito:

Email: vitoworld@yahoo.com
Website: http://vitoworldproductions.com/

Talk Art to Me: Dancers – 5 Things To Do Today to Keep You Injury Free By Yenwen Kuo

The notion of a high injury rate in dancers has been established within the dance medicine community. An injury can be devastating to a dancer, whether you are in a full-time dancer in a company, a freelance artist who is always hustling and on the run, a pre-professional student, or a vocational dancer. Injury prevention has been a top priority in dance science research.

 Here are five ways based on scientific research to help dancers stay healthy and injury free (as much as possible):

  1. A proper warm-up.

         It’s a no-brainer, and I’m sure everyone knows this one. However, not everybody does their warm-up correctly. The goal of the warm-up is to prepare your body for the activity that you are about to do both physically and mentally. 

We want to increase our core temperature, the flow of the synovial fluid in the joints, and prepare the muscle for the movements that you will be doing. A good example would be doing some jumping jacks or running in place to get your heart rate up, then mobilizing joints from a small and control manner and gradually increase to larger movements. Last but not least is dynamic stretching, which you would move through a challenging but comfortable range of motion repeatedly, usually 10 to 12 times.

    While you are doing the warm-up, you should also mentally prepare yourself to focus on the upcoming dance activity, whether it is an audition, a class, or a performance. A distracted mind could also be a contributing factor to an injury.

    So dancers: sitting in a split on a cold floor as the first thing you do and playing your phone doesn’t count a warm-up.

  1. Cool-down after dancing.

      Very often after classes, rehearsals or performances, we pack our bags and rush off to the next place. I get it, you are tired or have places to be. However, a cool-down after dancing helps prevents lactic acid from building up in the muscle and you will be less likely to experience Delay Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) the next day. It is also the best time for you to do static stretching if increasing flexibility is one of your goals. Be sure to avoid prolonged stretching more than 20 minutes.

    Start practicing cool-down if time allows and your body will thank you. To find out more info on stretching, check out, the resource paper “Stretching for Dancers” by International Dance Medicine and Science.

  1. Eat and Hydrate.

    Dancers are artistic athletes. Dancing is a physically demanding activity and fueling a dancing body requires a delicate balance with dancers’ busy schedules. Also, for the younger dancers who are still growing, a healthy balanced diet is even more critical for them. The energy in a dancer’s diet should be composed of about 55%-60% carbohydrates, 12%-15% proteins, and 20%-30% fat.2 

    Hydration is also important. Water accounts for 60% of the total body weight, and dehydration could result in fatigue and injury. Have you heard about the pee test? A well-hydrated body will produce a moderate volume of urine that is pale in color and does not have a strong odor.2

  1. Cross-training.

     To be a well-rounded dancer you should not only take different styles of classes but also do cross-training to keep your body strong and less prone to injury. Dance classes prepare you for dance techniques, performance quality, artistic expression, and more. However, it doesn’t provide everything for a dancer to be prepared for the physical requirements. Everyone’s body is unique.

Some people may be naturally flexible and require more strength training to perform the beautiful extension. Some people lack flexibility and need a personalized program for stretching. There are many options for cross-training; you could do weight lifting, Pilates, Gyrotonic, running and more, depending on your goal. Sometimes it is difficult to prioritize which goal to tackle first. I suggest visiting a physical therapist, who specialized in performing arts medicine, to do a screening for you, and the therapist will be able to help you customized a program for you.

  1. Rest.

    Aside from dance classes, work, school work, performances, rehearsals, social life with friends and family, going to the gym to keep fit, and oh yeah, more rehearsals, who has time to rest?! A dancer’s schedule can get crazy real fast, however not having proper rest can cause adverse effects on the body. Fatigue is a result of overtraining and insufficient rest, and is one of the contributing factors to injury. When you are scheduling your day, don’t forget to schedule rest into your calendar. Your mind and body deserve some time to breathe and relax.

Connect with Yenwen:

Instagram – @yenwenkuodance

References:

  1. Critchfield, B. (2012, February 19). Stretching for Dancers. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from https://www.iadms.org/page/353
  2. Challis, J., Stevens, A., & Wilson, M. (2016, May). Nutrition Resource Paper. Retrieved October 11, 2018, from https://www.iadms.org/page/RPnutrition
  3. Simmel, L., & Michael, J. (2014). Dance medicine in practice anatomy, injury prevention, training. London: Routledge.
  4. Edel, Q., Rafferty, S., & Tomlinson, C. (2015). Safe Dance Practice. Human Kinetics.

 

 

Talk Art to Me: Writing A Winning Proposal By Angela Bortone

The main difference between winning and losing proposals is clarity. Panel reviewers read dozens, sometimes hundreds of applications, often with a short amount of time to review each proposal. If it is unclear what your project is, what it will look like, or why it matters, then it is unlikely your project will make it to the top. This doesn’t mean you need to have everything perfectly spelled out before you’ve even started the project, but it does require giving the grant-reviewing panel a strong idea of your proposed direction.

If you were to sit down with me to brainstorm a direction for a grant proposal, after you’ve determined the general project idea and reviewed the questions, I would ask, “What’s the story here?” Each answer is an opportunity to pull the reader in through storytelling. Does the project or idea stem from a particular incident that can form a unique hook? Differentiate your project from all of the other proposals by making it as unique as you are.

What I mean by story is start with a clear idea that you build and expand. Use structure to keep your writing on topic. Remember in high school when they taught you the three paragraph essay? At the time, I honestly thought this was something I would never need to use again. I actually used to copy my introduction paragraph in the conclusion spot to make it seem like I had written more because I’ve always thought I was a slow writer. Now, I just skip the conclusion paragraph altogether for brevity. The general structure though, I use all the time. Write a conceptual thesis, and then break it down into supporting paragraphs, and then support each of those paragraphs with specific evidence.

With my collective Living Melody Collective, we use meetings to discuss personal and collective opportunities we want to pursue as well as brainstorm strategies.

What that looks like in the form of a grant proposal is a broad overview of what the project is, that becomes increasingly more specific as you write. Supporting paragraphs can expand what it will look like, how you will make it, and even connect your theme to contemporary events. I’m of the opinion that every sentence of your proposal should be purposeful, focused point. If you go in too many directions, trying to nail down every possible interpretation, you risk clarity and possibly the readers interest.

It is better to write it simply, the way you would explain it to a complete stranger, than it is to is to veer into vague art speak. Then elevate your proposal with a dash of poetic language used sparingly for feeling. Ask your peers to describe your work and then keep that language in a document “word bank” that you can refer to when writing proposals for that added flair.

Once you have a solid project written out, look for ways to expand projects by re-using said applications. I call this recycling, and I do it because it’s sustainable. For example, if you get the a project funded, then perhaps look for a residency that can provide the studio space and solitude to get it done. Finding multiple streams of income is not only financially responsible, it’s a good way to be productive and efficient. I keep everything I’ve written in a searchable repository like Google Docs or Evernote for this purpose.

Here’s the entire collective on site with our most recent project, painting a school bus for the upcoming midterm elections. From left to right: Angela Davis Johnson, Haylee Anne, Jessica Caldas, Angela Bortone and Danielle Deadwyler.

Connect with me:

www.angelabortone.com
Instagram: @angela_bortone

New Voter Engagement Initiative Using Art

C4 Atlanta collaborates with local artists to encourage people to vote in the 2018 Midterm Elections
DATE: Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Atlanta, GA – C4 Atlanta is excited to collaborate with sound artists, Meredith Kooi and Floyd Hall on Vote With Your heART, a civic engagement project designed to encourage people, especially the under-35 age group, to vote in the 2018 Midterm elections. This project is nonpartisan. Vote With Your heART is generously supported by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta through a $5,000 award from their Civic Engagement Fund. Part art project, part civic intervention, Vote With Your heART is an invitation to the citizens of Atlanta to vote on November 6, 2018.

Vote with Your heART seeks to encourage Atlanta citizens, particularly young voters, to participate in the voting process
through a simple invitation to join the process. Floyd and Meredith have captured the stories of local residents’ experiences with civic participation. Through our public art instillation and website, passersby can listen to these compelling stories from Atlantans of diverse backgrounds and points of view. The temporary installation will be located at two local universities this fall and in Woodruff Park during Atlanta Streets Alive.
During the in-person events, students and other participants are invited to record their own stories and reactions
with local artists Floyd Hall and Meredith Kooi. Participants will have the chance to share their stories inside Meredith Kooi’s Buckminster geodesic dome, known as the Bucky Dome. These stories will be broadcast over an internet radio channel during
Atlanta Streets Alive. All interviews are housed on the site c4atlanta.org/voteart
Additionally, research tell us that many people do not participate in the voting process because no one asked them. C4 Atlanta will be literally inviting people to participate in their community through voting. Designer and printmaker Lennie Gray Mowris is designing an actual handmade letterpress invitation to be a part of our democratic process.

“The website serves as a repository for stories about voting and civic engagement,” said Jessyca Holland, C4’s Executive Director. “But it also serves as a place where anyone in Georgia with internet access can learn about voter registration, polling location, and it links to information about the candidates. By setting up the listening dome we hope to engage with as many people as possible. Maybe this project will give us better insight into how people in Georgia feel the  political process.”
Vote With Your heART web address:https://c4atlanta.org/voteart
Atlanta Streets Alive – Activity PartnerWoodruff Park, Downtown September 30, 2018 Free & Open to the public
About C4 Atlanta:
C4 Atlanta Inc. is a non-profit arts service organization whose mission is to connect arts entrepreneurs to the people, skills and tools they need to build a successful artistic career in metro Atlanta. The organization was founded in July 2010 in response to a growing need for business services for Atlanta’s arts community. C4 Atlanta fulfills this mission by offering professional practice classes for artists, fiscal sponsorship, co-working space, and advocacy for arts workers. C4 Atlanta’s program offerings are geared toward creating a new foundation of sustainability for arts and culture in the Atlanta region. For more information, visit c4atlanta.org.

Five Ways to Optimize Your Website

 

With the continous rise of social media, creatives often wonder why it’s important to still have a website. Instagram allows you to collect your profiles data analytics,  connect with your audience , sell ads, and essentially expand your brand. However, there are still many incidents where popular influencers pages have gotten hacked and they’ve had to start all the way over. Your website is YOURS! This is where people are coming to learn about you. The question becomes, why should your audience visit your website? They can visit your Instagram , Facebook, and Snapchat to see what you’ve been up to.  Here’s five ways that you can optimize your website and keep your audience coming back for more.

  1. Update your website frequently –
    Keeping your audience engaged with what your doing is very important. Make sure that whatever new projects you’ve been working on or new achievements you’ve made in your career are featured on your website. Some artists have content that is exclusivley for their website. When you update your website frequently, you’re giving your audience a reason to constantly check your page for new content.

2. Offer discounted prices or promotions for people who join your mailing list through your website – 

People LOVE discounts! They’re also intrigued by recieving incentives for actively engaging with your platform. Once you’ve collected contact information from your audience you now have the power to engage with them more frequently. You’re able to see what they like, what they care about, and invite them to your shows/events outside of social media.

3. Use social media to drive traffic to your website – 

Whenever you post a new video,  put new artwork up for sale, post a blog, or an article that you like, let people know on your social media pages that there’s something new up on your website.. As a performing artist, I will often post a teaser performance video and tell people to view the entire video on my site. Make sure that you’re utilizing your Instagram and Facebook stories along with posting on your page.

4. Use your data analytics from your website to create your own marketing strategy – 

Knowing what your audience is interested in and how many times their visiting your site isn’t enough when you don’t know how to use the data to expand your brand. Anaylze your site data and come up with marketing strategies based off of what your audience wants. For example, if my unique visitors

5. Sell ad space/ offer ad space in exchange for sponsorship – 

When I started reaching out to potential sponsors for my debut concert, I created a sponsorship package which included ad space as perk for sponsoring the event. This is a way to generate income based off of how many people view your site. It provides an incentive to create new business realtionships.

 

Whether you’ve had your website for years or just starting out, these are great tips to help you stay up to date in the constantly changing digital world. People are interested in receiving information and content in real time! These tips can help to make your website the go to place for content in your artistic field.  If you’re thinking about starting a website or revamping your own, sign up for our Website Bootcamp class happening Tuesdays, Sept 25 – Oct 16, 2018 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.

 

Thanks for reading!

Marketing ≠ $$$$, and Why That’s Better for Artists

Figure Drawing Manequin embracing a figure that says play to the gallery.
Well maybe not play. But how well are you “dating” your key stakeholders?

I’ve been traveling for the last week to a conference in Austin, and as often happens with work trips, I’m brimming with resources and ideas. The Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations (or APASO) is unique in that it’s for all of the organizations who serve individual performing artists and other performing arts organization. Like C4, their primary purpose isn’t necessarily to present or produce art, but to provide services and resources to the field.

While there, I met with a group of folks working in adult education and professional development training from around the U.S. Most of us worked with individual artists by providing workshops or trainings in things similar to what C4 offers: business planning, understanding your career needs, fundraising, budgeting and finance, fiscal sponsorship and more.

And one thing we all seemed to land on: Marketing is perhaps one of the most misunderstood concepts that we teach. And yet it is also one of the most common things that artists say they need.

At C4, we often see marketing listed on our surveys as one of the concepts in which artists want more training. So we have a marketing class, AIM Atlanta, which provides artists with the tools to determine their market. AIM is also designed to walk artists through creating a marketing plan based on their current size and budget using tools/techniques they can put into practice immediately. But when artists show up for class, they often say their primary motivation in taking the class is learning how they can make more money by selling their art.

Let me be clear: Marketing is not selling. Marketing and sales are different tools you need to run your business. BUT marketing and sales are both important and feed off one another. Sales is a component of marketing but it is not interchangeable by definition or function with marketing.

What I’m not saying is that you shouldn’t take a marketing program if your goal is to grow your sales. But I’m a fan of realistic expectations when it comes to career growth. And in order to make sure you set realistic expectations, it’s important to know what you need and what you’re asking for.

So hopefully, the following info can help with getting the most out of marketing programs and education such as our AIM program.

2 figures in a statue putting their heads together romantically.
Romance isn’t dead. It’s alive and well in marketing.

WHAT IS MARKETING?

Marketing, in the simplest definition possible, is relationship building. And if you think of it like dating, it makes total sense. Sometimes you date folks, and it leads to a fruitful relationship in which both of you mutually benefit. In the marketing world, a fruitful relationship might be getting larger appeal for your work, write ups in journalism, patrons that are loyal and return buyers.

Sometimes you date folks and realize that they aren’t for you. There’s lots of reasons for this, but at the core, no one person is right for everybody. Likewise, as much as we would like to believe that art holds universal appeal, that doesn’t mean every artist’s work will appeal to every person. And it’s ok that it doesn’t. Imagine dating all 7.6 Billion folks that currently walk this planet. HOLY MOLY GUACAMOLE (did I mention I was just in Texas?)…that’s a lot of dates. Dating, as with marketing, takes time, energy and maintenance. Dating that many people at once would be exhausting. Likewise, marketing to the masses also takes a lot of time, energy, maintenance and resources (read: MONEY!!). That’s a long list of things most of us artists tend to be deficient in most of the time. Competing with someone else who does have those resources puts you at a huge disadvantage. So how can artists and small arts businesses compete?

Never fear! Just as you wouldn’t go out with every single person you see on Tinder, you also shouldn’t treat your business marketing that way either. Think of your dating “type” (and I do use that word in the LOOSEST sense possible to demonstrate this analogy) as what we would refer to as a marketing persona. Personas are based on who has been interested in your work before, and who might be interested in your work in the future. Why target folks who ALREADY seem poised to be into your work vs. those who aren’t familiar yet? It’s likely to take less of your resources initially to convert a customer who already demonstrates interest. And most of us don’t have the time and money it takes to launch a brand loyalty campaign that would make us attractive to folks who weren’t our “type” in the first place. Not to say that those folks definitely won’t be interested. But when time and money are in short supply, go with trying to find the folks in your market who are already interested in what it is that you do or create. From there, you can begin to branch out, and those “early adopters” will be your best advocates to the customers/stakeholders who don’t know you as well. Think of this as your best friend who tells everyone how great you are.

You end up with a great relationship through hard work and building trust. Likewise a great marketing relationship is built on spending time to earn your market’s trust. Trust requires constantly showing up and being consistent. Your work as an artist should reflect a consistency on which your stakeholders can rely. Being dependable in what you offer, how you offer it, how you present yourself – it all matters in building a relationship with your market. Just like it all matters in how you build a relationship with another human being. And some of the same rules apply: be the best version of yourself, treat people well, present yourself genuinely and be honest. Marketing isn’t about tricking people – it’s about finding the ways in which they authentically connect with what you already offer.

Sales is the act of actually trading a good or commodity for money. It may or may not be based on having a good relationship, and it is dollars focused.

The best businesses know that a good marketing strategy and hard work over time to implement it can pay off in sales. And that is where I would like to identify an opportunity for realistic expectations about your marketing. It takes time to get to the sales part. It takes effort and intention. And if you’re patient, over time you can hope to begin to see increased sales and interest in your work based on the strong relationships you have built. But without putting in the work, the payoff isn’t as secure. And, it isn’t an overnight happening.

Build a following that really hearts your art to the core. Genuine marketing can help strengthen the artistic connection to your work.

FORMING THE RELATIONSHIP

Here’s the best part: focusing on relationship building instead of sales is WAY better for artists. Why? Well for starters, the value of our work is not based on it’s material worth but on the relationship that our patrons have with what we are trying to present. They aren’t paying for 1 paintbrush, a half pint of green paint, a couple splashes of blue, some graphite pencil, and a piece of canvas attached to some wood. They’re paying for a connection to a greater understanding of connection of heritage and culture of our ancestors to the present day. Or maybe they are into your work because of the symbology that is significant in their own life, too. That relationship to the subject matter of your work is a powerful one. And that is the most genuine and honest value on which you can form the basis of a solid relationship that will lead somewhere mutually beneficial for the both of you.

So, what do you do to find the person who wants what you have to give? Focus on incorporating that relationship foundation into all aspects of what you share and do. Don’t just have a Facebook page: have a page curated with topics and posts that related directly to the work you do. With your website and logo, pick fonts, colors, images and layouts the express the kind of experience someone might have with your work. Flyers for a performance? Again, give your audience some kind of indication of the experience to be had through what you are handing them to get there. Let your marketing materials speak for you when you aren’t there to explain yourself. And stay connected by giving your audience multiple ways to engage with you through email newsletters, responding to comments, regularly updating social media, blogging and more. Remember how much your significant other hates when you don’t call? So does your following. Feed that connection regularly as a part of your day-to-day business operations. Some artists even approach these communication channels as another creation opportunity. Others see it as a means of connection to a community outside their studio/work environment when what you do requires being sequestered from the rest of the world for long stretches of time to create.

So many of us get into the arts for reasons that are not money, so it’s somewhat surprising to see how focused it we sometimes become when asked about growing our careers. And I get it, because at the end of the day, we all need a means to pay our bills and our rent. But I challenge you to change up your focus from making more money off of your art to building stronger relationships with your market that can lead to increased revenue. Long term, the work you put in now can benefit you over the lifetime of your career.

C4 Atlanta focuses on this type of relationship building in our AIM (Artists In the Marketplace) class. Marketing is an important skill for every artists, whether you’re doing your thing as a freelancer on your own or as part of an organization/collective. Understanding how to build relationships with your work is essential to building your arts career and building sales. Over four weeks, we’ll dive deep into the tools artists with small marketing budgets can use to do this. As you grow, your tools and techniques can be scaled along with you. At the end of four weeks, you’ll walk away with a fully fleshed out plan for marketing your artwork based on your own creative offering. Join us this May for AIM. Click here to register or find out more about this program.

 

Five Reasons Why You ABSOLUTELY Need A Website Right Now

As a professional artist myself, I’m all about embracing what makes our work unique in our marketing and branding practices. Utilizing your creative DNA in this way isn’t just smart, it’s essential. The more customized you can make all aspects of your customer’s interaction with you, the more he or she will feel connected to your artist brand. We know the look and feel of our favorite brands or companies before we even see their newest products based on how they have cultivated their presence. Tone of voice, language, color, font and style all share the details of what we can expect. As artists, we inherently understand this about our creative work. And many of us work hard to cultivate this creative voice.

Yet unfortunately, taking this highly customized approach to managing online presence is something artists can often neglect. Sure, I know lots of you spend time cultivating your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat as if it was a MOMA exhibition. We agonize over hashtags and make sure to like and chime in on every comment. But how many of you spend that kind of time on your website? Better yet, do you even have one?

Why in the name of Instagram do we even need websites anymore anyway? Aren’t they irrelevant? You can sell work through Facebook and Instagram, share live feeds through Facebook Live, meet new fans through Soundcloud, and use those fun bunny filters in Snapchat. So what do I still need a website for anyway?

One thing you still can’t do on the Instaface? Brand everything directly to yourself. At the end of the day, Facebook still feels and looks like Facebook, even with all the apps, features, filters, and functions you could ever have. It’s not built with you in mind. Not only are websites relevant, they can enhance and boost your social media following if they are well maintained. But left to rot in the netherworlds of the interwebz….Well, we’ve all seen those artists who haven’t updated their sites since Geocities was still a thing. Don’t know what Geocities is? You probably still need a website.

Image result for website funny

Not convinced? Here’s a list of 4 reasons you need a website (or a website upgrade for you Geocities folks) right now. #LetsDoThis

  1. You need a home for your work. Think of your website as your online address. Just like your real home has furniture that you love and walls painted in colors that make you feel good, so, too, should your website look and feel like you and your work. Fonts, colors, photos and logos can say a LOT about you before your customer ever makes it to your “About Me” page. Everything should look and feel like your work, and the more it does, the more your customer will connect with you. You know what I’m talking about – there are those places you like to browse or shop just because it feels good to be in their space. You like the environment. Give your customers the same feeling when they come to visit you.
  2. Facebook isn’t made for you – or your customers. As great as social media platforms are for interacting with an audience and sharing content, they offer a cookie cutter platform that isn’t tailor made to the needs of you or your audience. Social media platforms also don’t play well with others. Content shared from one platform to another doesn’t have the same traction as if it’s organically shared within the platform. Functionality is constantly changing. Your own website allows you to host the features and content that are specific to you are your work, without other distractions competing for your customer’s attention.
  3. It makes you look like a professional. Having a website makes you seem like someone who has their …ahem…STUFF together. Having everything laid out in a format that’s easy to navigate for your customer makes you seem like you have thought through their buying/experience process before. The easier it is for a customer to find the information about you that they’re looking for, the more trusted you become in their eyes. If information is hard to find because it’s between several different platforms, it’s gonna look like you don’t know what you’re doing. And buyers aren’t the only ones looking. Are you applying for residencies, grants, awards, exhibitions, shows or any other kind of work? It’s guaranteed that folks who book and work with artists are also looking to see what you look like online to know whether or not they should risk working with you.
  4. People want to know how to contact you. This is my biggest pet peeve with professional artists. Have you ever found someone’s work that you just loved only to never be able to find them anywhere else ever again? No cards, no phone number, no email address…nothing. You hope maybe one day you can find them at a festival around town, but that’s a longshot. Don’t be that person. Have a home for your work online and a place where people can find out how to contact you. Another word of advice? Contact forms are great, but have a REAL email address or phone number available, too, just in case. Sometimes “Contact Me” forms aren’t the easiest way for folks to send you information. And you want people to be able to get in touch if they want to know more about you and your work. You can always get a separate business email or Google Voice number to keep your personal contact info separate.
  5. New and different is attractive. Updating your site regularly with new information, new work, and new content helps to keep folks coming back again and again. Train your audience to use your site as a platform for finding out new information by driving traffic from your other social media accounts and email marketing. Updating your website regularly also helps to show folks that your constantly working as an artist, which inspires trust and confidence in the value of your work. Remember that Geocities artist with the website from 1998? Who knows if that person is even still working anymore? Make keeping your site up to date a part of regular part of your creative work.

Image result for website funny

Need a helpful hand to help you take the first step? Never fear, C4 Atlanta is here! A new Website Bootcamp class is starting on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Over four weeks, you’ll learn how to build an attractive, easy to use site for yourself that you can easily update and maintain on your own. We’ll also cover some basic user design info, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and a little content marketing to help you drive traffic to your site. If all of this still sounds scary, we promise that there is a lot of hands-on work and facilitator feedback in this course to build your confidence.

Join us for Website Bootcamp!

Date/Time: Tuesdays, April 17 – May  8, 2018 – 10:30am -1:30pm

Location: Fuse Arts Center

Cost: $125 for non-members, $100 for members Register Online Here

For more information or to register, visit: Website Bootcamp Course Page.

Sponsor Spotlight : Megan Dougherty Photography

                                                        

Megan Dougherty Photography

Thanks to Megan Dougherty Photography in there generosity in sponsoring for the Atlanta Unifieds Auditons. It’s important to C4 Atlanta that we support Atlanta businesses that support local artists. Learn more about Megan Dougherty and her support for Atlanta Theatre community.

What makes your style of photography unique? 

I specialize in acting headshots, and so I’m usually only photographing the head and shoulders. I rely on different angles, and lot of expressions to make each shot unique. I’m very well known for bringing out my client’s eyes, and making their headshots look like them. My retouching is very light, and I do my best to photograph accurate representations of my client’s on their best days! I love doing headshots, but also enjoy fashion and family portraits when I get the chance.

How long have you been in Business?  

I’ve had my studio for a little over 11 years now, and am so happy that I get to do photography as my career! 

Why is the Atlanta theatre community important to you?
I love meeting all kinds of different people, and working one on one with actors (film and theatre) really inspires me and creates great energy during our shoot. I believe theatre and the arts is truly important to our communities. When a child, or anyone, sees a play they can be transported right then into a whole different world and the actors on stage make that world come alive! The lighting, set designs, costumes and everything is just amazing to see when you are there.
What do you love about your business?
I truly enjoy everyone that I am able to meet because of my career. I’ve met so many amazing people. I try my best to be an inspiring person on their acting journey, and I love keeping up with my actor’s recent bookings and what they are up to. My favorite thing is showing a client a great photo of themselves, and how awesome they look!
 
What inspires you as an artist?
I love interior design, traveling, being outside with my family, and all kinds of art. I can be inspired so easily, something as simple as a walk with my child and seeing different colors out in nature, or traveling to a totally different place and experiencing totally new things. I love to stay open and try to take as much in as I can.
Are there any promotions that you would like to share with us?
I’ll offer a discount to anyone who mentions “MDP C4”, they can get 10% off  any session until June 30, 2018.

Jessi Queen Invites Us into Her World of Chalk

Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.

For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions. 

We are proud to introduce the Next Leading Lady for March 2018 : Jessi Queen

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am very lucky to get to use both sides of my brain on a daily basis. I am a UX designer and a street chalk artist. During the week I work at Sapient Razorfish in Atlanta and spend time creating complex web and app experiences for large clients such as AT&T, Delta, Bridgestone and more. After work and every weekend I live and breathe chalk. Literally breathing chalk dust… I create large chalk pastel murals on the sidewalks and streets in Atlanta and around the world. This is not your average child drawing. I use specialized street chalk pastels and rhender large, 12ft or more, lifelike portraits. I travel almost every weekend with my family creating art. I co-founded the Georgia Chalk Artists Guild to help encourage and support events all over the southeast. We have over 20 local members as well as out of state/country members.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
Art has always been my north. My mother and grandmother are very talented and have always encouraged me to express my creativity. My oldest sister is an illustrator and was always keeping a sketchbook with her when I was growing up. I looked up to her and when I moved to Savannah, GA at age 10 I was inspired by the city and arts culture there. I attended Savannah Arts Academy and later enrolled at SCAD at the Atlanta campus. I have been in Atlanta ever since and I love this city! In 2007 I participated in and placed in the high school category for the SCAD street arts festival. From that moment on I was hooked. I worked hard to become a professional chalk artist and am now hired to draw at local events and lead workshops at schools and businesses.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I firmly believe that we create our own paths and I have been building on mine for a long time. With that said, I have a timeline of my life that I made in 6th grade. In it I stated that I was going to be a dentist and would have a son and a daughter. It also said I would win in the olympics in a cycling race… I still love biking and am a member of the Atlanta Bike Coalition but never made it into any professional races. I am now an artist/designer and have a husband, infant son and two sweet dachshunds. I love my life so far and would not trade it for anything.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I had an opportunity at a chalk festival recently and was chosen to draw an influential figure from the 1940s. Of course I was led right to Hedy Lamarr. She is an actress and known as “the most beautiful woman in the world.” But in the 1940s, in an attempt to help the war effort, she invented what would become the precursor to many wireless technologies we use today, including Bluetooth, GPS, cellphone networks and more. I love that she was both a talented artist and an influential figure in the tech world.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My biggest influence has been my chalk family. I call them “chalk family” because at every festival I travel to, there are the same people who do the circuit. I have met artists from all over including Italy and Germany. We all learn from one another and explore different techniques. I have met so many people from different backgrounds and am inspired by every one of them. It is fun learning what the Italians do versus Mexican artists etc. They are all the world’s best artists and I aspire to become better because of them.

How is art a passion for you?
I believe everyone is talented but some are more inclined than others to strive towards a goal. Art is my north star and I hope to continue to grow my talent. Without that purpose I would be lost.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Equality is still a challenge. Those who do not believe it are blind. Being a woman there is an expected way to dress, act and express yourself. The differences are subtle, but they are there. In the office environment you have to really make your voice heard. Mansplaining is a thing and guys who do the same amount of work either have a higher title or get paid more. Some clients do not respond well to a woman’s voice and only listen when a male is present. Chalk art is public and many other females have experienced the same issues. Being on the street, just walking or spending a day drawing; you will get cat called, phone numbers asked, and people will linger and stare. I hope that one day art and design will be appreciated for what it is, no matter the gender of the creator.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The people. There is a growing community of artists and street artists. Our Pop Up chalk festivals have influenced many individuals. Chalk art is a medium that is so easy to get into and people of all ages can participate. It is so awesome to have a grandpa chalking next to a 3 year old, both enjoying the creation process. People see my work and say “Oh I cannot even draw a stick figure”. This phrase makes me so sad because they haven’t tried. I think that anyone can do chalk art and create in this way. I reply “It just takes practice.” and encourage them to join in.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
It is my dream to have a festival in which everyone can just come up and draw, adding to the bigger image. In a way that is a metaphor for life. We are all in a way contributing to the bigger picture. Chalk art is ephemeral and is meant to be shared in the moment. I want to educate the community and encourage future artists by getting on their level and simply drawing on the sidewalk.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
My personal website- www.jessiqueen.com.

Instagram- jessiqueenart

Twitter- jessithequeen

Facebook- jessiqueenart

You can join in the chalking and find events through our organization www.gachalkartists.org and facebook.com/gachalkartists

Sponsor Spotlight : The Pixel Pusher

We appreciate the support of “The Pixel Pusher” who sponsored the Atlanta Unifieds Auditons. It’s important to C4 Atlanta that we support Atlanta Businesses who support artists. Learn more about The Pixel Pusher team and their support for the Atlanta Theatre community.