It’s Here, the Fandom of the Opera!

Director James Herron sets up a shot with Chad and Emily at Broadway New York to create Cami's dayjob, the Fandom of the Opera

Director James Herron sets up a shot with Chad and Emily at Broadway New York to create Cami’s dayjob, the Fandom of the Opera

No need for warbly operatic screaming – even though I know you’ve been practicing it in your bedroom. This Is Art’s third episode, Fandom of the Opera, is on Youtube for the world to see!

I am so excited to share this one with you guys, particularly because this episode features one of my favorite scenes, filmed with my favorite character to write – Jim, Cami’s boss. Jim is played to perfection by cast member Chad Anthony Miller. Let me tell you something about Chad – he was a casting day DREAM. Anne and I both loved writing Jim’s part in the first season and we knew we needed the perfect actor to bring him to life. When Chad walked in the room, we loved him right away and knew we wanted to work with him. Then he nailed the audition, and we couldn’t be happier.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes info for ya. The first half of Episode 3, along with the other scenes that take place at Cami’s day job, were all filmed on a chilly October morning between 1 am and 4 am at Broadway New York, a souvenir store in Times Square. We had to be in and out between cleaning crew shifts and while no customers were around. We were all dreading the crazy hours but this turned out to be one of the most fun days of the shoot. We loved the location, everyone brought the energy we needed to make the scenes happen (Starbucks helped, too), and working with Chad was amazing.

Chad has done a plethora of other webseries and Indie film work, and now works out of L.A. I encourage you to check out his Facebook, follow him, and see what he’s up to!

BUT FIRST, feast your eyes on Episode 3: Fandom of the Opera! Let us know what you think!

– Emily

It’s the Day of the Show Y’all

10857774_866554580045113_58243473146936873_n

We have been holding on to the finished product for almost a year in order to look for the perfect venue to share our satirical love letter to undiscovered artists in NYC. We could not be more excited to be premiering on Broadway World Comedy.

Emily and I have been so blessed with this project and are so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to tell this story. From the donors who enabled us to bring our writing to the screen, to the cast who donated their talents, to the crew who picked up the reins and saw us to the finish line, to Jenna Freed who made contact for us over at Broadway World – there were so many hands bringing this dream to fruition. Thank you one and all for your contributions and for your patience.

Now it’s time to share a story that is near and dear to us. There are so many tales of artists striking it rich in Hollywood and NYC, but not very many about the plight of the artists who never give up despite never being “discovered.” It always seemed strange to us because they make up the majority of our breed. We know oodles of people with limitless talent who haven’t gotten their big break, but are diligently plugging away doing what they love and sharing their artistic gifts in whatever way they can. For once, we wanted to break down the fairy tale of being an artist and expose the reality in an honest and humorous way. These are people that we know, people we’ve met, and in many ways, people we are. We hope that our show makes you laugh and resonates with you the way the concept did with us.

We’ve had our hands on the This Is Art steering wheel since 2011. It’s time to let Cami and D take over. We hope you enjoy the ride. Please share it with your friends!

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
Facebook
Tumblr

 

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

Facebook

Tumblr

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
Facebook
Tumblr

Introducing: This Is Art Composer Laura Intravia!

"I'm super excited about the project and really looking forward to working with such super talented people!" - Laura Intravia. Ditto, Laura!

One of the many exciting aspects of working on This Is Art is the ability to assemble a creative team that can perfectly execute mine and Anne’s vision for the show, and have a great time while doing it. Anne and I were ecstatic to recently announce a new addition to the team: Laura Intravia. Laura is the official This Is Art composer, and she will be writing all the original music and scoring for the show. Not only is Laura an exceptionally talented musician, she’s a perfect fit for the This Is Art team, and I’m here to tell you why.

Come with me, if you will, on a journey back in time. It’s the summer of 2008. Laura Intravia, a student at Ithaca college studying vocal performance and competition, has entered the Masquerade talent show/costume contest at Otakon in Baltimore. I am sitting on my couch in Manhattan watching Paprika while this goes on, as many of my friends are busy attending Otakon without me this year, but that’s neither here nor there.

All I can say is this: Laura walks on that stage in her Link costume, and magic happens. And, of course, that magic later appears on YouTube for the rest of the world to see.

Nine months later, Tommy Tallarico discovers the video of Laura’s Flute Link performance on Youtube and invites her to be a part of Video Games Live, touring the world while performing some of the most iconic video games music of our time in front of hundreds of thousands of audience members across 47 cities.

The year is 2009 when Laura joins the VGL tour, which is also the year I snag tickets to see Video Games Live at the Beacon Theater in New York City. I take my seat at the Beacon totally expecting the Warcraft segment to be my favorite, but Flute Link blows me away with her talent and, of course, the unique aspect of her performance. When I leave the theater, it’s the Flute Link segment, plus her unexpected vocal abilities in some of the other segments, that have me raving.

Fast forward to the year 2011. Anne and I are cast in the Beautiful Soup Theater Collective‘s production of Alice Au Pays Des Merveilles at the SoHo Playhouse. Halfway through rehearsals we learn that “Beautiful Soup,” the one musical number of the show, is being written by composer Laura Intravia.

Laura as Flute Link

Laura as Flute Link

I’m sure you all can picture the total nerd freakout I had when I realized that I was going to be singing music written by Flute Link.

I finally met Laura when she came to see Alice. Of course, it’s always nice when you find out that someone of whom you’re a fan is also a totally cool, incredibly nice person; Laura is and was both of those things.

So when Anne and I lost our original composer and were tasked with finding a new composer for the show – and quickly, too! – Laura immediately came to mind for both of us. Working with her during Alice had been great, we were both fans of her work, and she shares so many passions that Anne and I share – passions that went into the making of all the other aspects of This Is Art and deserved a place in its music, too. Besides, Laura’s unique career is the perfect example of an artist using new media to share their art with the world. From the beginning, This Is Art has sought to widen the community of artists in the world of new media, and Laura is definitely an inspirational figure for that community.

We approached Laura about composing for us and she hopped on the project at full speed. Now, as the calendar quickly approaches our production dates in October, we are working with Laura to put together the musical numbers of the show. I have to say, it’s incredibly thrilling to have your work come to life through the eyes of a collaborative artist. Hearing Laura’s musical demos has inspired an exhilarating new excitement in us. More than ever, Anne and I can’t wait to get This Is Art off the page and on its feet. Now, thanks to Laura, the musical piece of the puzzle is solved, and we’re that much closer to making it happen!

We’ll try and keep you posted about musical-related developments as we head into production, without giving too many surprises away! Meanwhile, check back here to learn more about our recent additions to the This Is Art team!

You can find out more about Laura by visiting her website!

 

Emily Floyd
@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
Facebook
Tumblr

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
Facebook
Tumblr

How We Exceeded Our Crowdfunding Goal

Last night marked the end of our Indiegogo campaign for This Is Art. Our funders reached our $6000 goal ten days early and we’ve had the last leg of the journey to exceed our goal by as much money as possible. After 34 days, we’ve raised $7,010. Because our donors have exceeded our goal by such a significant margin, we’ll be able to make the show just the way we envisioned it and still have enough money left over to help us start promoting the show. Needless to say, our gratitude is boundless!

Meeting our goal presented us with the challenge of incentivizing our community to go above and beyond our original request. We knew that once we met our goal, we’d have to give our donors a good reason to keep giving and that our influx of funds would slow down significantly.

We decided the first thing to do was to lay out exactly what the extra funds would be used for and to show donors the effect that those additional donations could have on the project. We knew we wanted to take the show to conventions and film festivals, but that gets surprisingly expensive. Originally we hadn’t put that into our budget because we were already unsure of our ability to even reach our initial $6000 goal just to cover the show. Exceeding our goal gave us the opportunity to cover those potential costs. However, we realized that some people weren’t going to be familiar with the kind of impact festivals and conventions could have on a webseries, so Emily wrote a great blog post about developing a community and garnering support through attending these events.

We had originally intended to do a Livestream event when we got close to our goal, but we reached it so fast that we didn’t have time to put it together beforehand. Instead we turned it into a celebration of our success and our donor’s valiant efforts to make the show the best it can be. I contacted our cast and crew and invited them to participate, whether it be on camera or in our chat room. We ended up with one special guest on camera, Clint Okayama, and Bryan Vu, our webmaster joined us in the chat room to moderate. We also had cast member Chris Ruth stop by the chat room for a little bit. We hoped that this event would function as an opportunity for our growing community to see the results of our efforts and to get a little more insight into the people behind the project. If you want a more detailed description of the event or if you want to view the recorded video of the broadcast, you can check out our post about it. In the end, this was a great community event and we’ll definitely do more like it.

When we got close to $7000, we pretty much stalled out and stopped getting donations which was completely understandable considering how many people have been so generous with their contributions. Still, I couldn’t resist setting just one more incentive milestone for our donors to see if we could in fact raise $1000 more than our goal. I released an announcement on all of our social media streams that if we broke $7k, we’d release our favorite piece of concept art yet. It was down to the wire, but we did reach that last milestone! So of course, we released our final bit of concept art for the campaign. I can’t believe our supporters met every goal we set forth. That just blows my mind and I love them for it!


As I drew up our four main characters in this image, I couldn’t help but to swell with excitement as I realized that very soon they’ll be leaping off of the page. It’s absolutely thrilling to be done with the daunting task of fundraising. I’ve been so humbled by the outpouring of support for the project and I cannot wait to tell our story!

I’d like to honor the funders who brought us through the home stretch of the campaign! Thank you all so much!

Anonymous
Markus Hunt
Katharine Nathan
Alan Ruscoe
Anonymous
Alexandra MacArthur

A full list of our donors can be found on our Donor page and I’ve done my best to link back to those with projects of their own. If you are one of our donors and would like a specific link attached to your name, please feel free to drop us a line at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll be sure to include it as soon as possible.

We’re now entering a new phase in our journey and we have lots of plans for production updates as we move through this part of our process. One of our major plans for the blog during this period is to feature content by other new media artists. So if you have a webseries, podcast, blog, vlog, webcomic, sketch blog, etc., link to your project in the comments and we’ll get in touch with you to do a feature. We already have a few submissions, but we’d love more!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
Facebook
Tumblr

Tips for Livestream Broadcasters


 

Last night, we hosted our “This Is pARTy” Livestream event. We planned this event as a way to get our community interacting with us and each other. We wanted to publicly share our excitement and gratitude with them for all of their support in funding the project on Indiegogo (66 hours left!) and spreading the word. We’ve had over 6,800 views of the project and a thousand of those views were referred by donors. Thank you so much for carrying our banner!

This post will give you some insight into our process for the event.

Originally, we were going to use USTREAM to do the event, but when Emily and I tested it out, the whole system seemed super slow, clunky, and hard to operate. There were a few different chat streams and the one it automatically put you into was not actually the chat room. Most notably, Emily said that the sign in process was confusing. The last thing we wanted to do was discourage people from logging in to the system to start a dialogue with each other, so we thought we’d try Livestream and see if it worked any better.

The entire Livestream system was cleaner from start to finish not only from the viewer side, but from the broadcaster side. It puts everything on the same page (recording monitor, view counter, chat room, twitter, moderator privileges, etc), so that you can easily monitor your broadcast and interact with your viewers without having to move all sorts of windows around the screen. Note: Close down the actual channel when you start the broadcast or you’ll get a horrendous echo. The biggest plus for Livestream was how easy it was to enter the chat room. You start typing, the system asks them for a nickname, and you’re put into the chat room. It doesn’t require any involved account making or registration.

The ease of chatting resulted in viewers of all ages and demographics being able to participate in the Livestream event. It was incredible to see people gathering for the stream a whole hour and a half early. When I peeked in the chat room, folks were already buzzing about what was going to happen and starting to meet each other.

Part of this is because I recruited a bunch of friends from online chat rooms I frequent to come and help us break the ice. This was wonderful, because it made our chat room active when the bulk of people arrived around 9PM EST when we officially started the broadcast. Thank you to everyone who came and “pre-gamed” for the event in the chat room!

In addition, give your supporters their time in the sun. This kind of event gives you the unique opportunity to thank specific people in the chat room who you haven’t been able to thank face to face. Because we’re all about bringing artists and creators together, we also tried to plug their projects whenever possible.

We filmed the whole thing on my MacBook Pro, but in the future, I think we’ll try to use a nicer camera. This would allow us to get a better picture that wouldn’t require us to huddle so closely. As much as I love my cast mates, it made lighting difficult and one of us always had to be far from the mic. Having a separate camera would also allow us to keep the computer closer to us so we could interact more with chat room while filming. Having reviewed our footage, the biggest issue is that I think we need to be closer to the microphone, which is also in the computer. So, those are all things to think about if you’re putting one of these events together.

One integral part of the event was having a moderator in the chat room. In our case, this was Bryan Vu, our webmaster and graphic designer. I chose him because I wanted to involved as many cast/crew as would come and because I know he’s frequented these types of events in the past so he would know what to expect. He’s also based in Texas, so unless he flew out to NYC, he wouldn’t be able to be on camera. We did have a few “trolls” pop into the chatroom, but we banned them as soon as we were able. This is bound to happen with an open event on the internet. It’s just part of the territory. Don’t panic, just deal with them accordingly. Note: When you ban them, select ban IP address instead of ban nickname because they’ll just create a new name and come back.

You’ll also need someone to keep track of interesting questions that folks in the chat room ask because you will be so busy talking most of the time that you won’t be able to follow all the text that’s scrolling by on your own. I also tasked Bryan to instant message me questions that people asked so when we got to the final section of the show, we could answer them. Bryan had a big job that evening, so thank you so much for being an absolutely integral part of our This Is Art team!

One of our less successful parts of the event was our contest. Here are the details:

Anyone who Tweets about this event with #thisispARTy or tags “This is Art: The Series” in their Facebook status (http://www.facebook.com/wa​tchthisisart) between now and the end of the party on Thursday night will be entered to win a digital download of our score and original songs by the amazing Laura Intravia (www.lauraintravia.com).

In theory, we hoped this would help us spread the word about the event and increase interest, but I think it may have been premature. We’re very early in our process for the show and while we do have a growing number of supporters, we didn’t get very many entries to the contest. The biggest factor here was that our incentive doesn’t carry much weight at this juncture. While Laura is a wonderful composer and has a lot of fans of her work, we haven’t completed the scoring process for the show and people don’t have much to go on when imagining how cool that reward might be. In addition, because we’re so early in the process, her fans probably aren’t even aware of our show. In my opinion, this kind of contest will be more successful once we have our episodes online. If you choose to use this kind of reward system for those who help publicize your events via social media, choose an incentive that will have a more immediate reaction and, as always, let us know how it goes!

The last suggestion I have is that you plan the event as best you can. Don’t script it, because then you’ll be visibly wooden and the whole point of this is interaction and spontaneity. We just plotted out sections of the broadcast- Welcome, Introductions, Thank the Donors by name, Clint Interviews Anne & Emily, Emily & Anne Interview Clint, and answer questions from the chat room. With this loose framework, it allows you to know where you’re going and watch your timing, but it will also allow you to move freely with whatever is happening or being requested/suggested in the chat room.

In fact, we are now creating a This Is Art meetup at New York Comic Con because someone in our chat room suggested it. So be open and aware of the ideas your viewers throw at you because they may not only be brilliant, but your audience will enjoy knowing that they had an effect on you. Interactive projects go both ways. You affect your viewers and in turn, they’ll affect the project. That’s one of the biggest joys when it comes to working on the web.

If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what everyone thought!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
Facebook
Tumblr