Tag: Atlanta art

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.

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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.

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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.

Leading Lady : Kemi Bennings

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 final next Leading Lady for March 2017: Kemi Bennings

Kemi Bennings, freelance entrepreneur & life designer

Where do you work and what do you do?

I am a freelance entrepreneur, artistic “world – bridger” and life designer. I have a background in producing shows and cultural event programming, as well as the health and wellness industry. I bring my creativity, knowledge and experience to both worlds in an effort to impact and inspire change. As an artistic “world – bridger”, I combine multimedia, theatrics, music and independent artistry to create innovative productions and cultural events that move, touch and inspire people…
In the health and wellness industry, I am a health educator and life coach.  My primary focus is holistic transformative healing, where I empower clients to do the necessary work to create the lives they desire.  
 
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I became interested in the arts through poetry; I found my way into Atlanta’s artistic vortex in 1995 by way of an invitation to a local poetry reading held at Patti Hut Café on Thursday nights. The place was called Rio Mall; it was once located on the corner of Piedmont and North Avenue. Walking in Patti Hut Café was like going down the proverbial rabbit-hole, because there were a matrix of pathways that led to an experience of the Atlanta vibe in all of its glory and genre. From the West End to Midtown, Decatur to Downtown Atlanta, living rooms were turned into literary safe houses; there were people who had magic in their dream coats, stars in their eyes, a poem freshly penned and flyers in their pockets which led to other dimensions of artistic and live music hot spots – places where like-minded artists and those serious about their craft dwelled. From that moment, my life would change…I began producing shows in 2002 beginning with the premiere Southeast female showcase, Soul Sista’s Juke Joint, and I have been at it and expanding my scope since then.
 
What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?

I kinda I knew that I would become a nurse as I gravitated to the Red Cross around the age of 13, becoming a youth candy striper at a local hospital.  It was also in my genes – my grandmother was a nurse.  But I was also fascinated with culinary arts, watching all of the Saturday morning cooking shows and practicing in the kitchen.  Aside from being a nurse, I have created the opportunity to flex my gourmet vegan/vegetarian and personal chef skills in the film industry!

photo credit: Sue Ross; Kemi Bennings is shown on set for the 10th Anniversary shoot of A Great Day In Atlanta.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?

There are several women I admire, most of which I’d ask the same questions (did you want to list any of those questions?), but lunch!  Hands down, I’d have to have lunch with Harriet Tubman.  Not only from the perspective of her powerful contribution to African American(s) and American History, but what got her there – in mind, in consciousness. Therefore, I’d focus my conversation on my interest in human symbiotic relationships, in particular the relationship between human, life force (Source), and life purpose, relating it to the role of artists.
 
I’d sit and listen. I’d ask questions based upon my belief that we are a race of artists; a unique family of independent artists – underground, like the days of the Harriet Tubman, in the trenches working to empower peace, unity, equality and social change.
 
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

There are many people who have had tremendous influence in my life.  My parents have been two of my greatest influences, as they taught me values, compassion and love for humankind.   But, artists have been a unique influence in my life.  The role we play in society – imagine a world without art or music.  I’m continually inspired by the music we make, the pictures we paint, the poems we pen and the creating of artistic lanes unseen.

photo credit: Maurice Thompson

How is art a passion for you?
I am passionate about art and music being powerful mediums for social change: how we utilize them to inspire, entertain and educate.  I’ve been experimenting with life: this “notion” that we, a diverse and global community of artists, are guided by and have a unique relationship with a higher source.  It is my contention that within that source is where creativity emerges, where artist and spirit meet, where art and art form are born, where we become “alive” and where we have the potential to make great contributions and create change in the world. 

 
What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
When we speak about the equality and representation of women in the creative workforce, what we are really talking about is honoring the value that women bring to society as a whole – the qualities that are innate to us as women, our respective stories, in addition to our unique and diverse perspectives of creativity.
 
I feel that overall gender inequality is still prevalent.  We saw it recently, when the presiding chair interrupted Sen. Elizabeth Warren while reading Coretta Scott’s letter, and Bernie Sanders (I like Bernie, but the fact is that he is male) was allowed to read the letter.  We must be diligent and courageous in making sure women’s voices are heard and acknowledged (and those voices influence and drive change), and we must come together in a way that we ourselves have not seen in our lifetime.
 
What excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
What excites me most about the  Atlanta arts/music scene is that just beneath the surface, there is always a melting pot of new artists who are willing to push the envelope.  I’m excited about the artists that live in the south, as well as, the artists that are attracted to Atlanta (The South).  I love the diverse perspectives and how they sometimes become mixed with Southern hospitality and what I feel exists as an undertone for those that dig deeper; the inherent responsibility to build community, create awareness and impact social change.  Also, I appreciate that there still exists a lineage of artists, trailblazers and creatives from the late 80’s, early 90’s that are still here to support the ever-evolving Atlanta arts scene.  
 
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
Continue to produce fresh, thought-provoking and innovative programming. Continue identifying, supporting and collaborating with creatives of all genres.
Where can we find you on Social Media?
FB: Kemi Bennings
Twitter: Kemi Bennings
IG: Kemi Bennings

Why We Support the Arts – Chelsea Steverson, C4 Atlanta Operations Manager

Each of us in the Atlanta arts community has a unique and inspiring story about our relationship with arts and culture. C4 Atlanta would like to share our own personal accounts of what the arts means to us at and what brought us here:

Chelsea’s Story —

Chelseas first summer in Atlanta.
Chelsea and her best friend, Rachel, hanging out during her first summer in Atlanta.

If you had told me 6 years ago that I would one day be the Operations Manage for an arts service organization, I would have laughed in your face. 6 years ago I was simply trying to graduate with my BFA in Media and Performing Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design and figure out what my next acting gig was. In no way was “non-profit administration work” part of my vocabulary as I was dedicated to the idea of being a professional Shakespearean actress or nothing at all. Of course, things change, priorities shift, and you simply can’t deny “your calling”.

Of course, all stories have a beginning and I would be doing both myself and you a disservice if I didn’t divulge a little history into how art shaped me into the lady I am today.

You can take the girl out of the South, but not the South out of the girl.
You can take the girl out of the South, but not the South out of the girl.

I would like to say that I lived a normal, small-town childhood, but that would be a lie. Coming from a military family the world I existed in was always black and white, and because I grew up in the small farming community of Blackshear, Georgia this was easy to do. No one thought outside of the box, everyone attended church on Sunday, and your personal business was never kept secret for long. This was all I knew until a few weeks prior to my 7th birthday when my whole life changed. I was diagnosed with Burkits Lymphoma, a type of Nonhodgkins Lymphoma…. in layman’s terms…cancer.

For the next year of my life I was poked, prodded, and tested only to be pulled from the 1st grade early. Chemotherapy was the only answer, and within weeks of beginning treatment I had lost every speck of hair on my body.

I mention this not because of what I learned during my time in and out of the hospitals, but what I learned when I came back and had to begin 2nd grade. As one can imagine, I was ostracized immediately on my first day back. No one understand why I was the only one kid who got to wear a hat; why I couldn’t participate in recess; and why the “girl” from last year now looked like a “boy”. Needless to say, I learned the hard way how to be my own best friend.

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Chelsea Steverson, 7 years old, wearing her new hat with the bow.

As a young girl, my self-esteem was quickly smashed and socializing was a thing of my past. My nights were plagued with nightmares of humiliation and my days were lonely. Therefore, I looked to my education and reading a way to entertain myself. Unfortunately, my quickly rising grades and high academic level was more fuel for my peers to make fun of me.

At the beginning of my 3rd grade year I was encouraged to audition for the school chorus by my church youth leader. After mustering up the courage and buying a new hat with a bow to cover my peach fuzz of a haircut, I  went out for the auditions. To my surprise I was accepted, but what I didn’t realize is that moment would change my life forever. Chorus rehearsal were filled with an energy and friendliness that I had never found before, and the people accepted me regardless of my hair. This was my first step in finding performance as a outlet for expression and rebuilding my damaged self-worth.

Because all Storm Troopers look better in a sundress.
Because all Storm Troopers look better in a sundress.

As one can imagine, being diagnosed with cancer caused me grow up very early. I was faced the concept of death early on and had to deal with many problems and situation that an average 7 year old should never have to face, but I found an outlet in art. Performance was the first, and from there I found painting, writing, and acting. If you had told 7 year old Chelsea sitting in the bathroom crying during recess that 10 years down the road that I would graduate from high school at the top of my class with a scholarship to a private arts school for acting I would never have believed you. Truth is, those experiences of misunderstanding from my peers taught me to value each and every person for their uniqueness while art taught me that being unique is perfectly okay.

I have spilled this story forth not to induce pity, but to express a sense of pride I have in myself and the art that I make. All of my priorities stem from these early life experiences and how they have shaped me into the person I am today. It led me to college and helped me find a life purpose in the arts.

In 2007, I begin my journey through the Savannah College of Art and Design. There are no words to prepare a small-town southern girl for the experience of private art school. It was single-handedly the best 4 years of my life. The education was great but the opportunities and the people I met left the most important impressions on my young adult life. Where else could I share a beer and have a single conversation that encompasses both Star Wars, Buddhism, and gender equality? This was a truly revolutionary time for me.

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Backstage fun time at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Chelsea (left) as one of the witches in Macbeth.

I spent my summers in undergrad acting for Shakespeare companies across the US including the Utah Shakespeare Festival and the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ. Upon graduation I moved to Atlanta to fulfill an internship with the local theatre Actor’s Express. As many free-lance artists, I found a day job in corporate retail and was quickly moving up the internal managerial ranks. By 2012 I was managing the number one store for Paper Source in the nation. Sounds perfect right? Unfortunately I was deliriously unhappy, and not just with my day job. I was finding myself unfulfilled by acting both on stage and on screen. After much soul searching and the normal mid-20’s breakdown I realized that I loved art but I loved the ARTIST more.

Its the people and the minds behind the work that were really inspiring to me. I found that more and more artists in my life (myself included) felt like they had no control of their artistic careers and were wondering around a diluted and often unfriendly market. I had found a new calling…. the artists and their needs. There was untapped inspiration in the idea that my efforts weren’t specifically focused on just the product of art, but instead supporting the people and their process of making it.

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Chelsea Steverson as young Lara Croft, DragonCon 2015

In 2014 I took myself back to grad school to answer for this hole in my life. SCAD welcomed me back with open arms, and I found a new home in the Arts Administration field. Here I was able to use my innate skills in business while also being more active than ever in the arts. Thanks to my graduate degree I’ve had the chance to work for organizations like The Atlanta History Center, Arts for Learning at the Woodruff, Actor’s Express, and the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta.

When I’m not busy wearing my administrator hat I run a small arts collective, Catalyst Arts Atlanta, perform with theatres around Atlanta, paint in the comfort of my own apartment, spend my summers at arts/music festivals, and let my nerd flag fly actively cosplaying at DragonCon each year. Additionally, I’m honored to serve as the inaugural chair of the Ambassador program at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia.

Chelsea advocates for arts funding at a local Commissioners Meeting.
Chelsea advocates for arts funding at a local Commissioners Meeting.

I am a very blessed and lucky woman. I’m educated, have the best friends and family in the world, and have been in remission for almost 20 years. I have many people to thank for where I am today, but mostly I want to say thank you to each and every person that loves and supports an artist. I am who I am because of the arts, and so I dream of being an ambassador for the arts. Thanks to C4 Atlanta I get to actively work towards that goal everyday.