Periodically, we pose questions about issues artists face in their work and lives. This month, we’re revisiting a question we first posed to artists in 2013: How do you use online platforms as an artist?
Judith Motzkin, ceramic and mixed media artist
I value direct, personal contact. Using MailChimp, with signup forms on my sites, I send occasional e-blasts to the whole list and specific interest emails to smaller segments. My websites (Motzkin.com, BreadPots.com, and SpiritkeeperUrns.com) are hosted through one account at iPage and are ever in need of updating. Linked to them are BlogSpot pages for special projects and timely announcements that I can post on social media or use to send images of work to attend to a customer need. In response to a need for an urn, for example, I can personalize a post containing suitable available pieces, with payment links to my SquareUp online store, to post directly to the client for consideration in a private, unpressured way. My flame-painted vessels are available at ArtfulHome.com. I use Facebook business and personal pages to keep up with others in my field and to update friends and followers on projects and events. On Instagram, I post images of my work and inspiration. The studio/business is listed on Google Maps with a note that I am open by appointment. A few videos about my work are posted on my YouTube channel. I create my own sites and online presence in hope that, while not well integrated, together they reflect the voice of my work.
Greg Lam, playwright
As a playwright who has been trying to advance his writing since 2002, there have been a number of developments in recent years that have made the pursuit easier. First is New Play Exchange (NPX), which is a site that allows playwrights to list and post their scripts in a searchable database. So people can read new scripts, make connections, write reviews, and create opportunities for new productions.
Secondly, there has been the use of podcasting as a playwriting platform. I created a podcast called Boston Podcast Players in which I interview a local playwright every month and produce an excerpt from one of their plays. A number of other podcasts produce new play readings or interview playwrights.
Lastly, the process of finding playwriting opportunities has been made much easier in recent years through sites which aggregate the playwriting opps that would in years past be only available by those lucky enough to come across announcements in print or in limited online distribution. It’s possible to send your plays out to hundreds of opportunities, all around the world, finding your opportunities in the NYC Playwright’s Blog, the Playwright Marketing Binge email list, Kat’s Play and Musical Submission Facebook page, etc.
Sally Clegg, visual artist
I mostly use online platforms to find and view others’ work. Instagram has been useful for me to follow what is happening in different corners of the contemporary art world and read commentary, but I’m mostly a voyeur. I see really interesting things happening in curation through Instagram, and people building incredible networks. I also think that it is critical to experience art that exists in person whenever possible. I have a relatively limited online presence, but I think my website and Instagram are helpful and important so others can reach me. I’ve made some productive connections this way. For the most part, I try to focus on my keeping my practice and community strong outside of digital spaces and use online platforms to supplement.
Sara Hendren, writer and artist
Working in public has been important to me for a long time—as a way to model the provisionality of ideas, to gather collaborators when appropriate, and to seek exchanges in the digital public sphere that help me refine and sharpen my projects in real time. For many years, I’ve used the digital sphere to document not just finished products but process, excerpts from relevant reading, precedent project inspiration, and more.
At a critical stage in my career, I did a lot of blogging as a way to transform my personal web site from a formal gallery to an interactive, magazine-style venue to think aloud. It was practical and also inventive: I was raising three very young children, so I couldn’t get out as much to gallery openings and lectures. But I was also trying to think my way into an expanded practice that included art, design, and engineering. Working online was a way to find likeminded thinkers and makers, and to ask my questions publicly in a time of intense personal demands on my time. Many of those online relationships have become concrete partnerships in the last decade since I started out.
The landscape has changed from that time, naturally. When I started blogging, social media platforms hadn’t yet become the default consolidated forms of networked sharing. But I’d argue that the principles are the same: asking generous and generative questions, being interested in the work of others, and working on ideas in the provisional all still create serendipity for my work to grow and to find colleagues to make it happen.
Sally Clegg (Drawing & Printmaking Fellow ’18) is a printmaker, painter, and multi-disciplinary artist whose most recent solo exhibition, Bundle, was at the UMass Amherst Hamden Gallery in Spring 2018.
Sara Hendren (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Fellow ’18) is an artist, design researcher, writer, and professor at Olin College of Engineering. Her first book, about the unexpected places where disability is at the heart of design, is forthcoming from Riverheard/Penguin. She will join author George Estreich for a literary discussion at MIT Press Bookstore (3/14, 6 PM). Find Sara on Twitter: @ablerism.
Greg Lam (Dramatic Writing Fellow ’19) is a playwright, screenwriter, and board game designer who is the inaugural Pao Fellow of the Company One PlayLab. He is the co-creator of the Boston Podcast Players podcast and co-founder of the Asian-American Playwright Collective. His play Repossessed will have a reading/live podcast recording at Dorchester Art Project (3/9, 6 PM reception, 7 PM broadcast) – RSVP to attend.
Judith Motzkin (Crafts Fellow ’19) is a ceramic and mixed media artist whose vessels are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Crocker Art Museum, Danforth Museum of Art, Jingdezhen Ceramics Museum, and Fuller Craft Museum.
Images: Judith Motzkin, from ALL IN THE SAME BOAT (2017), ceramic, 8x24x18 in; Sally Clegg, RIDDLE (2016), etching with aquatint and a la poupee, 13.5×10.5 in.