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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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
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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)

Launching our Indiegogo Campaign

Things have been very busy for the whole This Is Art Team. We had our first table read of the script with our cast and we have been tweaking it and making some changes that were illuminated by this process. After a year of hard work, writing, and planning, I’m very proud to announce that our fundraising campaign on Indiegogo is now LIVE!

We have 34 days to raise $6000 in order to fund our project. Our production team is currently ready to shoot the entire first seasons if This Is Art at the end of August. We have a big idea, the passion, and the drive to make this happen, but we’re reaching out to everyone we know to ask for your help.

So please, take a moment to view our introductory video featuring test footage and behind the scenes interviews with some of our cast. You’ll find more information about the show and our goals listed below it on our campaign’s page. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and by email. Each donation comes with it’s own thank gift or “perk” so take a look on the right side of the campaign page to see what we have to offer! Please consider donating to our project because you’ll not only be helping us realize our dream, but you’ll also be supporting new media entertainment, an industry that redefines what art is every single day.

 

 

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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