05 January, 2009

Art Blogs & Art Blogging

Photo: Lorie Klahn

A number of clues have me feeling that art blogging is going to be a focus for many this year. It is free, which helps since general advertising budgets are getting slashed. In that light, I'll be adding this thread about my perspectives on art blogging. An outline would be: tips, theories and observations.

No one is in greater need of improvement at blogging than moi, and that provides my motivation for this thread. Katherine Tyrrell at Making a Mark has focused early on blogging this year, and I am catching on myself that this blogging upgrade series will benefit the artist blogging community. Katherine's new posts include how to use Google Analytics, and a poll on posting frequency.

In the area of design, Rose Welty has taken the ball on Cleaning Sidebar Clutter. My own "how to" on this is posted here: Quick Key Links. Good work, Rose! Rose has emphasized clean and neat, but I choose communication over being tidy. I once had my labels shrunk, but now am leaning towards having them available for clicking - sort of an impulse shelf. The one thing that I mull is whether to consolidate the number of labels down to more distinct categories. What are your opinions?

Art Blogging Tips

First, a rant. The Weblog Awards still do not have an art blog category. Hello. Photography? Hottest Mommy Blogger? Hobby? People often ask me if I think our culture is in decline. My answer: "what culture!?" Here is another loser award blog without an art category. I have written them, and now reside in their troublemaker files. Power to the people, baby. *endofrant*

This reminds me of my other blog goal this year: to get out-of-genre to expand my reader base. My wife reads Ravelry, which is mega big, but I can't really see going there, myself. I did get some link-love from Pin Tangle recently, and I thank them for having an interest in art - that's what we like to see in our culture.

In the same vein, I will be setting a goal of following through with an exhibit at my alma mater, Northwest University. They now have an art class, or department, but didn't when I attended in the 70's and 80's. I ran into an old classmate at the Bellevue ArtsFair who is now a Hebrew prof., and he suggested a show. An exhibit there would be outside of the art gallery fold, and provide some extra exposure. And frankly, it would be a cultural event.

So, outside of genre blog interests should be just that - authentic interests for yourself. Mine include
Christianity, the military, particularly WW II and the Civil War, Italy and blogging and marketing technology (a little bit).

Here are my favorite blogs in these categories:

Christianity - Faith and Theology

Military - Michael Yon

WW II - Ordinary Heroes: Six Stars in the Window

Civil War - Civil War Blogs

Italy - Living in Florence

Marketing - Seth Godin

Another discovery of mine has been the art community website ArtSlant. I have avoided many such sites, usually because of issues with their layout. ArtSlant has an attractive layout, and meets my goals, so far, of cross-exposure for my art, and for The Colorist. Hat tip, Julianne Richards, for recommending me there.


Making A Mark said...

I think the improvement I'd like best on your blog is if you went for a stretch template.

I find I get a bit irritated these days with templates which are set up for a screen size which was superceded years ago - I have to scroll a lot more (and have been known to give up before getting to the end of a post).

Check out your stats and see how many people have 800x600 screens these days.

Casey Klahn said...

That is an interesting idea, Katherine. New templates are easy to try out (I was going to cover that).

And I am no fan of scrolling! In fact, I dislike clicking and scrolling both equally!

I just checked your blog, and it has about 20% more lines than mine on this screen vertically (my wife's big PC). Hmmnn...I'm going to try it.

Casey Klahn said...

That also means I'd have a fresh view of my sidebar - which is also up for re-vamping.

Rose Welty said...

Casey, thanks for the mention. I do appreciate it. As for a shorter list of categories...I support that. Actually that is in the "to-do" part of my blog updates. I think I could narrow down the subjects that people search on my blog down to around 10 or so. Those can each have a button...in a 3 column format, that would be easily accomplished. Anyway, I think that is where I am headed. :D

Adam Cope said...

There's a lot of good SEO key words in your labels.

If you're going down the 'art chat e-zine' line whilst incorporating your own art work, then how to easily in one click separate out your art work from the rest of the stuff? Or just keep on referring off-blog to an online exhibition? Persoanlly, I like watching an artist's evloving oeuvre in real-time.

blog on & pastel well

Unknown said...

Hi Casey,
I wonder how you are going to extend your genre - thinking about knitting? LOL - this would be a blast.
But honestly - I think the main problem of art blogs is that they are only a tiny niche. Also many people who blog in this niche do not stay where they are - this means that I am often disappointed realizing that suddenly the subject is not art any more but the dog's digestion problems which altogether might be of interest but do not belong into an art blog that's declared as such. Unless someone is going to use that poop as an art project??

I have diverse interests and focuses as well and decided to split them up in different blogs (6 now) altogether. Additionally I am blogging in 2 languages which makes the whole thing even more complicated - LOL!

Regarding scrolling - that's inevitable anyhow. The problem is mainly the sidewards scrolling which is annoying - not downwards.
I have the "advantage" of using the 14" monitor of my laptop - so from the beginning I have to be very careful with my designs.
Also I think a "generous" sidebar is much more pleasing even if you have to scroll more than to squeeze in as much lines as possible.
Your's is nice to read in my opinion.

Greetings Petra

Casey Klahn said...

Petra. That had me laughing hard.

I keep the personal stuff to a minimum and I label it as such. OTOH (on the other hand) the DDS (dog's digestive system) creates far more readership than you can imagine. Think about it. I often find the most vapid sites that are wholly and simply about the author - and they have Technorati scores of 400!

Balance may be called for!

I love your one photography blog, which is a work of art in itself. I'll be linking it soon.

Thanks for the design ideas - you are one I trust for design, that's for sure. I will be trying to keep my sidebar active, interesting and useful.

Keeping Katherine's good idea in mind, I also learned something from a conversation with uber-curator Michael Monroe this year. He said that one is presenting the negative space around the art as well as the art itself. That is true here, too. Hmmnnn...

Casey Klahn said...

Rose, the buttons on your blog have unity, which mine lack. I have tried, but they got out of hand. On the Do Do list...

Casey Klahn said...

Adam. Those SEO words seem like something that the powers that be just make up in the fever swamps at Microsoft. I should go have a talk with them - they are close to here.

Naw, I'd just come back more confused. For me, I just try to think of clear words that seem to label the subject. I do notice the huge impact that the artists' names get: van Gogh (like Elvis, almost) and Pollock. But, in order to stay topical, I will not be creating a button for either Donny Osmond or Teri Horton!!! You should see my hits for those names!

Ah, the balance! I did begin The Colorist as an e-zine about colorism. I am one who feels that the self is the worst of subjects, and that ideas are better. OTOH, the art is the authentic thing, eh?
Good to keep in mind.

Adam Cope said...

Well it's funny. How much of blogging is private, imtimate journalling & how much of blogging is a public medium addresssing an audience of mostly unknown people?

I tend to the later. But people who are interested in the art are nearly always curious about the artist.

Abstract Expressionism, Art Criticism, Artists, Colorist Art, Drawing, History, Impressionism, Modern Art, Painting, Pastel, Post Impressionism