Digital Spotlight: Annie Stoll and SquidSalad.net

We are very proud to present to you our second Digital Spotlight, featuring the immensely talented graphic artist and illustrator Annie Stoll! Annie has a quite expansive portfolio of work, ranging from anime- and video game- themed fan-art and jewelry she sells at conventions, to graphic design for clients like LucasFilm (yes, THAT LucasFilm) and Ani DiFranco (for whom she does CD packaging and merchandise design with White Bicycle and Grammy winning art director Brian Grunert). Not to mention her latest webcomic project, Squid Salad! In this latest Digital Spotlight, Annie opens up with us about the ways she gets her art noticed and how to make social media work for you as an artist.

Annie is also contributing her talents to our webseries, This Is Art. You will be able to see her illustrations featured in the opening animation that will start each episode. When it came to choosing an illustrator, Annie immediately popped into our heads. She’s such a flexible, professional, and driven artist who knows how to have a presence on the internet. Plus, she’s a blast with which to work!

Annie has inspired me as an artist since I first met her over two years ago (her artwork decorated my apartment far before I ever met her face-to-face). Here are four invaluable lessons that Annie has taught me, and that every new media artist can learn from Annie and the work that she’s done:

1. Be Fearless. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your work and network as much as possible, even when it comes to artists or producers who intimidate you. Have confidence in your own work and show no fear when it comes to promoting yourself.

2. Support your fellow artists. Twitter, Facebook, and all those other social media technologies are great for spreading the word about the work that your peers are putting out there. Also, when the other artists in your life need help that you can offer, offer it. Collaboration is key to discovering new things about your own work.

3. Get organized. Have a system, stick with it. Be as prepared as possible and plan ahead. This level of professionalism will show in the quality of your work.

4. Know your audience. Every demographic is a chance for someone new to fall in love with your work. Annie has a unique style that she’s been able to cater to a wide variety of clients (including yours truly – after all, she did the illustrations and web design foremilyfloyd.net!). Proper research and knowledge of an audience give you the edge that gets your work noticed on the internet!

Annie, we wish you nothing but continued success and we can’t wait to collaborate with you on our webseries! If you’re interested in being a guest on our Digital Spotlight series, leave a comment, DM us on Twitter, or email us at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com.

– Emily Floyd

@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
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Digital Spotlight: Honey and the Whirlwind

We’ve been talking about Digital Spotlights since May and now that we’re in post production for This Is Art, it’s time to put up or shut up! Needless to say, we’re really excited to FINALLY kick off this companion series. We’ve met so many amazing new media artists while working on This Is Art and we’d be crazy not to ask them to share the pearls of wisdom they’ve gleaned from their process with all of you!

So without further ado, here’s our first Digital Spotlight, featuring the creator of the amazing webcomic Honey and the Whirlwind, Tim Ferrara. He gave us some insight into how self publishing on the web became a tool for him to tell a story he’d had locked up inside him since being a creative writing major in college. He also offers some advice on how new media artists can begin to monetize their work and connect with new audience members.

 

What I love about our webseries, This Is Art, is that it’s about real people facing real obstacles while trying to make art happen at the outset of their careers. Tim truly embodies the struggle that the characters on our show face.

He’s doesn’t have a major publisher backing him or previous artistic successes to supply Honey and the Whirlwind with a waiting audience. He is independently producing work on a consistent schedule while still working a day job to make ends meet, but he stands out from the crowd because of his determination and the innovative strategies he’s employed to start making a living as a new media artist. He is making smart decisions and constantly refining his methods to grow his project from the ground up. The things he has done to monetize his work are things that anyone can do in the context of their own project. We can all stand to learn a lot from him!

Tim, thanks so much for letting us pick your brain! If you’re interested in being a guest on our Digital Spotlight series, leave a comment, DM us on Twitter, or email us at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com.

Anne Richmond

@annerichmond

@followthisisart

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Production Update: Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from the This Is Art family!

Feast your eyes upon this special video update from Anne and Emily about our nine day shoot in October. We filmed 74 pages and finished the entire first season of the show!


 

Now that we’re in post production, you can expect to see more Production Updates and Digital Spotlights! We’ve already filmed our first two and they will both be released within the next two weeks. You may even see some new articles from guest writers on the blog. If you’re a new media artist, contact us at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll set up a Digital Spotlight interview about your work in person or over Skype.

Much love and especially for today; many thanks!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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This Is Art New York Comic Con Meetup: Are You In?

As you may already know, we recently hosted our very own This Is Art Livestream party to celebrate the success of our IndieGoGo campaign and to thank our donors and supporters. You can watch the video and read about how we put it together here.

In our webseries, Anne and I tell the story of creating art through the main characters, D and Cami, and their artistic experiences. The art they create is vastly impacted by the people they meet along the way. That is, after all, a huge part of the artistic process. As such, the idea of community has always been an important one for This Is Art. This was one of the main driving forces behind our Livestream party; we wanted to give our community a chance to interact and share, and – most importantly – to show themselves! We were not disappointed. For me, one of the most exciting parts of the event was watching the chatroom scroll as our community – a vast combination of people of all ages, locations, and demographics – got to know each other. That sense of bringing people together is one aspect of art that is always a favorite of mine.

Of course, bring a community of people together and you’re bound to hear a variety of different opinions and ideas. One such idea arose from the community gathered at the This Is Art Livestream party: the idea of a New York City Comic Con meetup.

Anne and I instantly loved the idea the moment it came up in chat, but in the days that have since passed we’ve discussed it and are now growing even more excited at the prospect of bringing our community together in person, especially during an event that represents an even larger community of which Anne and I consider ourselves a part. We would love the opportunity to organize a meetup for new media fans and creators – in other words, the community we are creating through This Is Art! Anne and I will both be at NYCC all 4 days (we’ve got our press passes and we will be there representing This Is Art, of course!), and we’re confident that we could find a time convenient for everyone (ie, not during the Felicia Day panel).

So here’s where you come in. Friends, family members, fans, new media creators, and new media lovers – sometime between October 13 and October 16, would you be down to attend a New York Comic Con meetup hosted by This Is Art? Let us know! If there’s interest, we will be happy to put it together! Simply comment on this blog post, hit us up on Facebook, or tweet your interest with the hashtag #thisisartnycc to let us know!

 

Emily Floyd
@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
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Indiegogo Home Stretch Video

Once again, we set a goal and our amazing community has risen to achieve it!

With exactly two weeks left in our campaign, we are over $5000 funded. Thank you so much for all of your pledges! As promised, we have attached our Homestretch Announcement video for your enjoyment. In the video, we not only have a lot of fun, but we make two huge announcements for the webseries!

 

Announement #1: Donation Matching
Now that we have gotten within $1000 of our overall funding goal, an anonymous supporter has offered to match each donation up to a limit of $500 to help us reach our $6,000 goal.

If you haven’t yet donated to get us into production, here is a chance to make your gift work twice as hard. If you have given, thank you for getting us to the point where a like minded angel has decided to make this generous challenge grant.

Announcement #2: We’re having a USTREAM Party!
We’ve noticed an amazing community growing around “This Is Art.” Emily and I want to bring the community together in cyberspace to celebrate the home stretch of our campaign and to make sure all of you have a chance to meet each other. That’s why we’ve decided to throw a USTREAM Party so that you can interact with us in real time and living color while getting to know the many incredible individuals who have been getting involved with the show. This is your chance to ask us any questions you might have about our project and/or our process. We will be announcing the date of this LIVE streaming event as we approach our final $6000 goal. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, and check here on our blog so you don’t miss out on the event details.

Lastly, we want to take a moment to thank our most recent donors. Without you, none of this would be possible!

Kathleen Moran
Wendi Richmond-Brown
Bryan Munden
Terry Floyd
Christopher Feyrer
Anonymous
Andrew Park-Floyd
Anonymous

I continue to be profoundly moved by your support of our show.

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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50% Funded Surprise Video

As promised, here’s a surprise video update to celebrate how far we’ve come and the journey still ahead!

 

http://www.indiegogo.com/This-is-Art-The-Webseries

Featuring:
Emily Floyd (Creator/Writer/Actress)
Anne Richmond (Creator/Writer/Actress)

Editing:
Anne Richmond

Music/Sound effect Credits:
Starlight Lounge (iMovie)
Kingdom Celebration (Tangled 2010)
Breakbeat Long (iMovie)
Bossa Lounger (iMovie)
Drone Dark Suspense 1 (iMovie)
Bell Transition (iMovie)
Songify This- Can’t Hug Every Cat (The Gregory Brothers. Watch their video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP4NMoJcFd4)

5 Tips to Help You Commit to Your Art

Photo by Tara Lee www.Tarahleephotography.com

When we’re young, it’s easy to commit to being an artist with wide eyed enthusiasm and charming naiveté. When it comes to actually being an artist, the whole endeavor becomes clouded with distractions.

There are constraints and requirements outside of your artistic career that take up a lot of your time and attention. You must pay rent. You must eat. You must socialize and be able to afford some form of entertainment to keep yourself sane. Sometimes it feel likes you have to maintain a whole second life on top of the first one and that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. It’s too easy get caught up in the “everything else” of our lives.

This even applies within artistic projects. With a webseries, you are forced to take on multiple areas of responsibility. Very few people have just one position, mostly due to small budgets. It is easy as a producer/writer/designer, to forget entirely that one of the prime reasons you started the project in the first place was to provide yourself with an opportunity to tell a story onscreen as an actor. This is what I call, “Too Many Hats Syndrome.”

In addition to this problem, most people can’t take time off from their lives to spend on creating a new project. You have to do it in the so-called “down time” from your other career. Sometimes when I look at my work schedule, I have to stop and ask, “When, exactly, am I supposed to be pursuing this second career?”

This brings me to the biggest distraction of all. There is a point at which your “day job” becomes your job. Your art is your career, your day job is your fall back. Day jobs are supposed to net you enough gains that you can pursue your dreams when they don’t pay off as well as they should. More often than not, you find yourself spending increasing amounts of time trying to build a resume for a skill set you don’t even like just to pay your bills.

Recently, Bryan Vu, our “webmaster-at-arms” for This Is Art, offered to redesign my personal website. Currently, my website is a wordpress hodge podge of projects, tabs, resumes for performance, resumes for professional positions- overall a giant mess. He wanted to give me something clean that would really represent what I do in a striking and eye catching way. I asked Bryan if he thought I should include a resume for professional office administration positions somewhere on the site.

“What for?” He replied incredulously.

“I should have all my resumes up there, shouldn’t I? In case a perspective employer googles me? I don’t want them to think I’m not serious about office administration or whatever I’m interviewing for.”

“You’re a professional performer and a writer. That’s how you should represent yourself.”

I started to disagree with him before it hit me. “I am a professional performer and a writer!” I realized with renewed fervor. Somewhere along the way I had forgotten to look at myself in the mirror and recognize my success. I don’t intend to be a receptionist for the rest of my life so why insist on telling the world I was one?

Maybe, I told myself, the very thing that is holding me back is the fact that I haven’t let go of the extraneous things in my life that make me feel secure. On Bravo’s Inside the Actor’s Studio, I’ve heard many successful actors claim that they never would have been successful if they had clung to a back up plan. I suppose, if you never commit yourself fully to your artistic aspirations, then you don’t have to fall as far if you fail.

It’s a brave thing to declare yourself an artist, but truly being an artist bears the responsibility of that burden. You will starve, you will pay rent checks late, you won’t always be able to go out with your friends when they ask you, or take luxurious vacations when you desperately need them. Now this is not to say that you have to live with spartan dedication to your craft, but there are things you can do in order to stay focused on your career in its early stages.

#1: Time Management. You will be exhausted all the time. Plan ahead and figure out when you have to get everything done outside of your day job schedule. More importantly, commit to it. If you say you’re going to spend time on your new monologue, or go to a networking event, do it. Additionally, if your day job becomes your job, its time to start looking for a new one.

#2: See Art. Every time I see something I love, it inspires me to continue working on my craft. If you let your artistic mind flatline, then you’ll leave a huge space open for all those distractions to tumble through your front door and bury you. Study the people you love and learn from them.

#3: Journal. Even if you’re not a writer, it’s important to stay self aware. Day jobs eat creative brain cells for breakfast. Journaling or free writing allows you to check in and remember what’s important to you emotionally and artistically. Keep yourself and your heart open. It’s a vulnerable experience, but in that scrutiny and weakness is the beauty and truth you should probably be exploring with your art, whether it manifests in a new idea for a character, or a self depricating stand up routine. You have to be in touch with who you are at your best and at your worst. For an easy start, try Oh Life. It’s an online private journal bank that emails you every night to remind you to write SOMETHING- anything. You simply reply to the email and it stores what you wrote in your private journal. It’s unassuming and you don’t have to risk having your private thoughts discovered or read by anyone else. Take five minutes and get started. That’s all it requires. When? On the subway, drinking coffee, on the toilet if you have to. Get your mind working! Writing a journal will be a constant reminder that you are an amazing, breathing organism with the gift of creation beating soundly in your heart.

#4: “If God calls, pick up the phone.” Lady Gaga said this in an interview and it’s absolutely true. No one is constantly inspired to make art twenty four hours a day. If inspiration strikes, let the adrenaline pump through your veins and get cracking! Don’t put off your ideas. These will be your most productive and most magical moments as an artist, even if it means waking up from a dream and writing down your ideas right then and there.

#5: Declare yourself. Whether it’s on your website or at cocktail party, be who you want to be. Your website is your creative calling card. You can be everything you dream of, even that wild artistic mastermind who only has a chance to emerge after quitting time. When people ask you what you do, tell them, “I’m an artist.” If people judge you, so what? People may never accept your choices in life or who you are, but if you can’t come out of the closet to yourself, then you’ll never succeed.

So, I’ll start. I’m Anne, and I’m an actor. Who are you?

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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The 10 Best Sites About Webseries

A successful webseries isn’t just about good content. It’s about learning the territory.

As we developed the script for This is Art, and now as we march through preproduction and fundraising, I have been doing my best to keep up with industry news, watch as many other web shows as possible, and engage in meaningful dialogue with other webseries creators. The following is a list of sites that I check almost daily in order to improve my knowledge of new media entertainment.

News

Tubefilter aims to be the leading authority on web television and webseries. They were the creative minds behind The Streamy Awards (think of it as the Oscars of web tv) and the IAWTV (International Academy of Web Television). They post articles daily about developments in the industry, previews for new shows, and they cover major distribution deals as well.

Slebisodes not only provides news and reviews, but also amasses a broad list of webseries for you to browse.

 

 

Gigaom has a lot of great articles not just about webseries but about new media entertainment news in general in their NewTeeVee section.

 

Discovery

Koldcast is an online webseries channel that features several shows and even sponsors some of them. It’s just a great collection of shows with a lot of variety.

 

Blip.tv is a site that webseries creators use to distribute their shows across multiple platforms. They also feature episodes on the front page as well. This is a great tool if you’re creating webisodes, vlogs, or video podcasts. It can be helpful to see how others are using it.

Digital Chick TV was created by writer/director Daryn Strauss, who seeks to amass a reliable database of the finest online video content available for a female audience. The site breaks down its featured shows into a broad spectrum categories, from comedy to experimental, so you can easily find shows that might be similar to yours or explore genres you haven’t looked into yet.

Dialogue

Dialogik Digital is a boutique digital marketing consultancy for entertainment properties. They have several notable clients including Tubefilter (mentioned above), Anyone But Me (an award winning webseries), and the IAWTV. They also publish a blog that shares their PR strategies and news about their clients. I think it’s generous and very much in keeping with the spirit of this industry that they share their “how-to’s” with the rest of the community.

Celebrate the Web was created by Kim Evey and Jenni Powell in 2010 as a way for web content creators and their supporters to start a dialogue about the current state and the potential future of web tv. They mostly hold events on the west coast, but they also ran a pilot contest online that gave creators around the world an opportunity to win money to put towards producing their show. It’s got a serious “by the people, for the people” vibe that I really dig.

BigScreen LittleScreen is a monthly meetup series sponsored by Digitas, Tubefilter, 10ton, Focal Press, AskLocal/Zami.com, and Mo Video Mojo and hosted by Matthew Semel and Paul Kontonis. Every month, they present a group of videos and post viewing, you get a chance to do Q and A with the creators. There’s always great company, good conversation, and many opportunities for networking. I check their meetup page to sign up for the events because there’s limited capacity. If you are in NYC, definitely start attending. They also recently announced that there will be an LA version starting up soon.

“The New York Webseries” Facebook Group is a site I check daily without fail. You have to be a series creator/writer in order to join the group, but people post questions, suggestions, and show links every single day. It’s a very active hub and an extremely welcoming/supportive community. This is, of course, geographically focused, but if you’re a NY series creator, you’d be shooting yourself in the foot if you didn’t join the dialogue.

Those are my best 10 resources for the webseries industry. If you have more suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comments below!

-Anne Richmond

@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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