Social Media Artists

Social Media Artists
Happy campers, helping clients

Smart Group

Smart Group
Not exactly a rock band, but close!

Smart Group Associates

Smart Group Associates

Social Media Discussion Board

Be part of the discussion about Social Media. Here is your chance to promote your business, your product, your knowledge. Follow this link and leave your thoughts!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wit and Whimsy

Self Love by Juli Cady Ryan

Our first art show in our new building will be a week from this Friday on July 2, 2010 as part of First Friday Art Walk, in downtown Springfield, MO. For more information about FFAW see here.

The exhibit, with over fifty original works of art, will feature the witty work of local artist Carla Stine (who is currently exhibiting at Good Girl Art in Springfield) and Indianapolis artist Juli Ryan whose whimsical "storybook" art makes everyone feel like a kid again. Also we will be featuring some of the fun sculptures of Sally Baird who is a long time supporter of the arts in Springfield. Her lamps and mixed media sculptures are playful and full of surprises. Appropriately, the show is named "Wit and Whimsy."

Also featured will be photography of Smart Group photographer Brannon Estis and a few pieces by Creative Director Kevin Richardson. If time allows, I'll have started on a sculpture which I concepted well over a year ago, called Mother and Child which will be a study in clay, my first modern work in sculpture.

Our first show will be an unofficial opening or what we used to call a "soft" opening in the restaurant business. In other words, it won't be highly promoted as we still have much to do for our Grand Opening on August 6, 2010.

There will be hors d'oeuvres prepared by Mike Bleil of Big Mike's Crab Shack and Pizza, from Nixa, MO. Mike and I have worked together for almost 20 years. We are both graduates of the Culinary Institute of America and Mike's food is explosive with flavor. He is very conscientious about the environment and much of his seafood comes from the Gulf Coast, so he is totally "plugged in" about seafood issues and environmental problems.

With just a week to go, we're "crazy" busy with details. Never a dull moment at Smart Group and Gallery!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

You say you want a revolution

I've been writing about internet, social media, governments, rights, privacy and the arts. Somehow, this is all jumbled together in my mind and related. But I think stress has been playing a part in my disposition and it feels like the right time to tell you--I want to be happy.

What could possibly keep me from being happy? A guy who has so many gifts to be thankful for? The moment feels "drenched" with complications. New business, very difficult economy. Managing a home which includes a head-strong teenager. But if you were about to take in your last breath, would any of that seem important? Like, just before you died, do you think images of opening a new business is what would flood in, or temporary flare ups with your children? Probably not.

One of the reasons Kevin and I (Kevin Richardson, the Creative Director for Smart Group) started this business is so we could also pursue our artistic hobbies. In other words we didn't want to find ourselves back in the situation we recognized when our art was something we weren't finding time for. So making art is important to insuring my happiness.

My philosophy about a new genre of art is one of the things that integrates with my recent predisposition about internet considerations.  You may have seen me mention this new genre I call The Social Media Artist Revolution. It is a revolution to me and yet how often have you heard someone say they're a social media artist? Still there are scads of them, even though they may not call themselves artists. Take for instance the millions of YouTube videos produced by people who obviously love to make funny short videos. Most of these people seem to pursue their interest as a hobby, without any thought to how they'll be "paid back," for their time. If this isn't art, I don't know what is. Certain bloggers too, go after a style of writing with a vengeance, even though hundreds of thousands of them probably have fewer than five readers--talking about a starving artist!

This morning on my facebook page, I posted a series of photos which I made in photoshop. A group of friends and I have a blog called Smiling Heart. One of the authors posted a picture of a cloud which appeared out her office window. In a much earlier post, I had "snatched" a photo from the internet and used it along with a post I submitted, which also depicted a heart in the clouds. Seeing the similarity to the two photos I decided to play with the images in photoshop. Eventually this lead to a short video I produced along with a great saxophone and piano composition snagged off of YouTube. Both the series of photos which I posted on my wall this morning and the video which was shared between blog authors are examples of what I call Social Media Art. These are self expressive art forms, though very non-traditional. This kind of art is quick and exists almost exclusively just on a computer screen. It is shared in the "cloud" of our new web 2.0 world. Anyone can do this and it should bring millions of people together, sharing feelings and being satisfied because it is doing something with your hands.

While many people may debate how much this is really art, I propose that it will be very legitimate and eventually seen in galleries, on large screens and will include mixed media of all kinds, including videography, music, fine art and something new, which we couldn't even imagine yet.

Revolutionary really. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Whose Internet is This?

Peter Klein, author of the book Capitalist and Entrepreneur, writes extensively about how the internet was created by the government but how the internet has flourished because of market enterprise. His point is that the internet wouldn't have come about had it not been for government funding and cultivation. He makes room in his understanding for how markets and governments compliment each other. His article from the Ludwig Von Mises Institute from four years ago this month was written before the most recent rounds of debate about the internet--privacy issues--and freedom.

The current issue of Newsweek has an article by Julia Baird entitled "The Front Line is Online--Freedom should trump privacy." One of the emphasized points of her article is that an overwhelming majority of people (even those few who currently don't have access) feel that it is a fundamental right to be able to use it. The counterpoint is that privacy issues may be best handled by the information a person decides to share.

These are very interesting times we're in. People all over the world are feeling the impact of governments and corporations and a growing number of us are finding it more difficult to earn a living. Major problems such as environmental disasters and economic upheaval are leading people to reach out to other like minded individuals to seek solutions--often by using channels other than a political process.

The internet is more than just Facebook and Google. But taken together Google and Facebook (as symbols of search engines and social networking) compose the most powerful communication tool which has ever been imagined. Peter Klein couldn't have known how the internet would evolve.  Nor can we begin to know what it will look like by mid-decade. But all of us expect it to be much more powerful than it is today.

What if governments and corporations consolidate the power and enterprise of the internet?  What history exists to suggest some other course is likely to occur? There has been one grand experiment in the history of mankind, and that is called The United States of America, in which power was fully taken back by the people and a new form of government was created. Is the experiment fully functional today? Are there indications that the people, even in the United States are losing their power, and that power is residing mostly with corporations, that in fact control the government? And is that same model something which caused revolution and the need for people to regain their rights which had been lost?

These may be dangerous questions to ask but they are only questions. Thank goodness we have the ability to debate and to question and we have the greatest tool ever created for doing so--and that tool is the internet. Both corporations and governments are really just networks of individuals. How we look deeply at the issues of privacy and freedom and how we decide to manage this vast internet network will also deternine how we handle the biggest challenges facing mankind. How we take care of the planet and how we take care of each other--will decide the fate of human culture. This all starts with our ability to communicate. Who controls the internet then, may be the most pressing question we face.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Social Media AS art

First of all, I'm weird. Most people wouldn't necessarily think of how someone wears their hair as ART. Or how someone walks down the street. You see--I DO!

To me, self expression is art. Or it can be...should be. Artists are always expressing a feeling with their art. That is really what they're doing. And they use mediums which aren't (typically) linear to accomodate and communicate their feelings.

So along comes social media, which of course is NOT new but is certainly exploding. If you don't know that and you're reading this, some whacky mishap has occurred or we're in the most recent episode of the Twilight Zone. I call a new phenomena which is going on THE SOCIAL MEDIA ARTIST REVOLUTION. Think about it.

There are artists (many of them kids really, at least compared to this grandpa) who may have never done a finished piece of art in their lives except great coloring book projects or school collages or whatever, who are making crazy funny videos. There are bloggers coming out of the webwork. Granted, usually you want to blow your brains out when you read the drivel that is being positioned as "worthy." But some few writers, again--many of whom may have no idea what a curriculum vitae is, have the art of blogging down. In fact, they lead the way for "schmos" like me, who are just sort of stumbling along by picking up scraps here and there--faking our way.

Welcome to the Brave New World of Social Media Art. If you know of a video or a blog or a Flickr page or a Wikepedia article or even a particular tweet of renown which qualifies--will you share it with us? If I really dig it, I'll give you Five Social Media Art Dollars, which I'll personally design myself and put in a very special YouSendIt envelope, addressed to your social media address of choice. Hey, maybe we need to do a special Facebook page--whatayathink?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Arts and Social Media

Arts groups such as non-profit community organizations have their greatest marketing tool at their finger tips--their computer keyboard! Social media is a custom made solution for arts organizations which are challenged by shrinking public funds, desperately needed to support their missions.

Photography is one way to tell the story. Putting together virtual "galleries" is not that difficult using Flickr, Facebook, blogs and websites. Arts galleries, in fact are finding that their on-line galleries will drive traffic to their physical location.

Compared to print collateral, gallery owners find that the best way to promote their public presence is effectively using Flickr, their homepages, and the thumbnail versions of their logos. When it comes to good, solid content being shared in multiple ways, Flak Photo has made a model of itself. With a six day a week photo newsletter and links to Twitter and Facebookthe site is well positioned for necessary links. But the distinguishing factor of Flak is how it offers photographers a chance to promote their work.

A great project that illustrates effective use of social media for the arts comes from the Brooklyn Museum of Art. They run a crowd-sourced exhibition with curation via the photography exhibition.

Arts organizations have learned to be creative and nimble to stay alive. The smartest ones are using all the help they can get from experts who know how to get the most bang for the buck by expertly managing their social media opportunity.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Alex Badalic

Alex Badalic is a writer and a businessman and he happens to do so in five languages. He is also very astute at social media marketing, though he wants to point out that he is not an agency or an "advertising man." He likes the saying by Ogilvy, "Not rules, fools, tools," which I read for the first time on his website today and find to be an anthem of wisdom.

As the fifth part to a series "Tracking and Measuring Buzz on Social Media," he posted this article in mid-April. I suggest that everyone who wants to be more effective using social media and with internet communications in general should follow his discourse here

Enjoy and remember--leave him a note and suggest him to others who you want to help!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are we communicating better or worse?

Twenty five years ago the internet was at the lowest rung of communications. Arguably, TV was at the top and newspapers were vital. Now every medium except internet is threatened with economic and strategic problems.

TheSmart Group is interested in developing the "art of the conversation," and it won't serve our best interest to become known as political commentators. But it does make sense to keep our eyes on the industry to understand what is happening so that we can help our clients and friends navigate the waters of effectively managing communications.

I was just watching a debate on the Newshour on PBS about whether the internet is enhancing or detracting from the process of effective communication between people. Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia argued that the internet is helping people be better informed. Farhad Manjoo, a columnist from Slate Magazine argued that people are more fragmented and more lonely who spend time on the internet and less well informed.

Much of the debate focussed on the siloing affect that people tend to "silo" themselves by reading the viewpoints and blogs of their own political persuasion. It was pointed out that the network news shows which are the most popular with the highest ratings are one-sided such as Fox News or Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

It seemed to me the debate was easily won by Mr. Wales arguing in favor of the internet. The issue is of great interest to me though because if the internet is leading to the general break-down of communications or is actually the "last shoe to drop" while peole of the world talk less to each other, then my suggestion that social media marketing is a great solution for businesses would be a weak one.

What is your opinion? Are we getting better at talking? Is our internet world a real community which encourages conversation--or are we becoming more isolated by having fewer face-to-face conversations?