Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Self discovery through art

As I was putting together this latest video about my 100 cloud paintings project, I realized that there seems to be a right brain left brain game going on while I create the paintings. Despite the fact that my intent while creating the paintings is always to make them look different, perhaps because I paint them in pairs, the pairs have a lot of similar traits, just like non identical twins. 

This didn't occurred to me until I saw them side by side in the video. I wonder if it's because of my setup painting them side by side or because I used the same colour palette. Maybe both? Even the first two, sold painting to two different collectors, were from the same painting session. What does it mean? Who knows. 

Another interesting insight from this discovery is that, is it also reveals another part of my personality: a particular affinity for balance and symmetry. The more I paint the more I discover about myself. How you do anything is how you do everything. I think this says a lot about how art can support people in figuring things out about themselves if they are open to it. For me it's a great way to find clues to many existential questions such as : Who am I?   

If you're looking in finding things out about yourself, I would definitely recommend using a form of art as a tool to bring out some clues from your subconscious mind into light. It may even help you find your true purpose in life. 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Failing Forward - 5 benefits from my "unsuccessful" Kickstarter project



You win or you learn. Despite not reaching my goal for my Kickstarter project, I survived the imagined humiliation of having an unsuccessful crowdfunding project online. Who knew it wasn't as big of a deal as I thought it would be! Don't get me wrong, it was quite the roller coaster of oscillating between confidence and self doubt, constantly switching between my desire to keep going vs my desire to give up. What kept me going is that I really want to make these paintings and I kept learning new things along the way. Besides, all of the people I admire for achieving great things, failed many times before. What's one failed project? The thing is, if you're not failing you're not trying hard enough. If you're not trying hard enough, you'll stay where you are. So I kept going and came out the other side with a handful of insights and skills that will surely serve me in my current and future endeavors.

My benefits came in the form of five upgrades in the following area : 
  1. Quality
  2. Productivity
  3. Creativity
  4. Social media
  5. Online business

1. Quality : I improved my art  

Practice makes perfect. Although  I haven't reached the famous 10,000 hours of painting clouds yet, I'm closer today then I was a month ago. Repeating the same process using various colours and shapes gave me insights on how to best use and mix the colours to be able to get more depth into the paintings. With practice I came to better understand how to mix the light and the dark colors to create more depth and I also allowed myself to experiment with colours I may not have tried to combined together otherwise. Some were surprisingly complementary.  I can already see the difference from the first painting to the 30th, and can only imagine how much better the will look by painting number 100. 

2.  Productivity : I made more art 

This is what 30 cloud paintings look like
One of the things I kept in mind while learning about the life of Picasso is that he was very productive. He has thousands of paintings to his name. In order to become better and more successful I know I have to produce more work: pay the 10,000 hours entry fee to the Notable Artist Party. Challenges like this was a great excuse to get to it. No amount of theorizing, reading or watching instructional videos will ever come close to the effect of taking action. This project was my main focus for the month of February. Being focused on one goal made me more productive and I probably created more paintings in that month then I ever did. 30 paintings, that's a little more then a painting a day. The Make 100 Kickstarter challenge made me accountable and as a result I became more productive and I have 32 finished artworks to show for. It doesn't stop here. I'm only a little over 30% done and despite not being funded, I'm continuing the process so that I get to 100 painted clouds by the end of March,  as planned. 



3.  Creativity : I got many new ideas

Doing something for the first time forced me to think outside the box and what I'm used to. For me, thinking of new ways to bring my artwork in front of people required more creativity. It also let me to create different videos (like the one below) based on suggestions from peers and ideas that emerge from various conversations about this project. It also gave me a chance to come up with new ways to present the artwork on social media, different ways to photograph my work, and different ways to describe my work.


This focused challenge also made me see my subject from a new angle and I'm realizing that I'm not only painting clouds, but I'm painting thoughts or a reflection of them. The more I'm diving into the "why" behind my inspiration to create these paintings, the more I'm discovering opportunities to express my own thoughts and insights through my art and also it enable others who see it to discover more about their own thoughts through them as well. I'm realizing that clouds are thoughts and we give them meaning depending on our own stories and experiences of life. I get a feeling that the clouds are just the first step in this creative journey, which makes me more eager to complete my challenge this month so I can dive into its second stage.

4. Social Media : I have a better understanding of its impact

First : Gary Vaynerchuk is right : Facebook trumps all social media platform at the moment. I documented all the actions I took over the course of the month (where I posted, what I posted, how many times I posted, etc) and got the results from Google Analytics regarding where the clicks came from. By far, Facebook was the most effective, followed by Instagram. I also saw the difference videos make compared to pictures. Video created spikes of interest compared to any other posts. Working on this project also made me realize that I'm not yet fully benefiting from the capacity of social media platforms to reach the right people. I've barely skimmed the surface. 

I also learned that while it's great to get views they don't equate purchases. I was fortunate enough to have my project partially funded so I also got a bit of insights regarding where they came from and as I suspected, it's far easier for someone in the Kickstarter community who has backed projects before to back your project then to get someone new in the system. Nevertheless my click to sale ratio, based on the available data was 1%, which is good for a beginner. This means that had I been able to get the page viewed by 5000 people, I likely would have reached my goal. 

As it turned out, both backers had backed projects before and I suspect that had there been a way to reach out to art backers via Kickstarter's mailing list, this project would have gotten a better chance at being fully funded. The main issue for me was not enough views. Perhaps a 60 day campaign would have given me a more time to get a better hold of the online marketing aspect of the project. I would say marketing is probably one of the most important aspect of a Kickstarter project like this. 

I've always kept google analytics at bay because there seems to be so much data to look through, but at the same time, its valuable information tells you how your presentation and products are received by the public. It's definitely something that I need to use more often.Throughout my campaign, I've learned about the benefits of using tools like Google Analytics to get an idea of what's working and what's not, what gets attention and what doesn't. Starting this project with the goal of making it successful prompt me to look for avenues to spread my message and reach the right backers looking for such a project. This meant that I had to be more active online and post on a consistent basis. Using Google Analytics, I was able to see the impact of my posts.


5. Online Business : I have new tools to create a better online store 

Participating to this project made things a little more real in terms of the process of creating a piece of artwork, selling it and shipping it to it's collector. I realized that I had a few steps in the process that needed tweaking and refinement. For example, once the Kickstarted was over I realized that my artstore on Square, only accepts purchases from Canada after a client from the United States tried to purchase one of the paintings. I had no idea this was even an issue. Why they would create the system that way, is beyond my comprehension, but that little bit of information got me working on alternative ways to enable clients from other countries to purchase my artwork. It's still in the works, but I'm currently using Paypal, which makes it easier. If there's anything I learned from listening to people like Gary Vaynerchuk and Tai Lopez is that when it comes to selling items online, make it as easy as possible for any interested party to get your product.

Conclusion

All in all, this experience turned out to be very valuable for me. It was worth it, and dare I say, I would do it again. I guess, going through it made me grow a little more and I have a better appreciation and understanding of what it takes to succeed : repeated failures leading the way to success. So, no matter what difficulty or obstacles lies ahead of your dreams, don't give up. The guys in the video below didn't and look where that attitude took them.