Friday, May 8, 2009

dolan geiman : artists who blog

Dolan's website:
Dolan's blog:
Dolan's shop:

Why did you decide to start a blog?

Many people who see my work wonder about the inspiration behind the pieces, as do most viewers of art, and I decided a blog was a great way to give clues to my creative process. For example, Nature Corner is a monthly segment pertaining to my musings on and observations of the natural world, sometimes imbued with anecdotes from my youthful encounters with jellyfish and sundry fauna of my travels. Over time, Ali has expanded the blog to include other features like 15 on 15 (15 Handmade Items We Love), highlighting other handmade works we have discovered through our travels across the country and web.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

I was looking for something easy to remember, but wanted the title to also fit together with our website so it shows up regularly during web searches for my name. Daily Dolan Geiman encourages people to check back daily while giving them a name to follow.

How has blogging affected your work as an artist/designer?

Blogging itself hasn’t really affected my work as an artist, but it has been a great measuring stick for my progress, allowing clients to freely watch my progress and comment on the information I have been able to share. I like the idea of being able to create a work of art and then share a bit of background information on that piece, all the while remaining open to instant comments and critiques from the online community. It’s nice to know people are watching and it also adds a necessary pressure that I think all performers would agree keeps us working hard and challenging our creativity.

What are your favorite artist/designer blogs? Why?

Ali spends more time checking out other artist blogs, while I’m usually checking out the birding and nature blogs. For example, Ecobirder. I recently have been getting more into typography, so I’ve been trying to find a blog devoted to typography. Any suggestions blog readers? I think the first artist blog that I ever read and still my favorite is Chicken George’s Chicken Dead Chicken blog. Chicken George (George Zupp) is a friend and artist living in Texas and was a great inspiration to me in starting my own blog. Another blog we have long admired is Emily Hamma Martin’s blog, The Scoop.

Do you have any advice for artists/designers who are starting a blog?

When you are just getting started, I think the most important key is to blog fairly regularly, at least once a week, so people can rely on coming to your blog on a regular basis. This way, your readers will take you seriously, and you will build the readership that will stay with you and help promote your blog elsewhere.

What has been the most positive and inspirational aspect of having a blog for you?

Having a blog has been a good way for me to keep a public journal of my progress, and so it has been nice to look back over that progress, when I get stuck or a little depressed, to see that I have done quite a few things and have discovered a handful of great people along the way. Featuring other artist’s work on the blog has also been a way to stay inspired, as well as stay connected to the larger art community. There is no real race in the art world, but there is a heavy sense of competition for new ideas and trends. I like to think that I can rub shoulders with those who are in the upper ranks and even pop out in front every now and then. Having a blog gives me a chance to let others decide if this is true!

What do you find the most difficult/rewarding part of having a creative profession?

The most difficult part of having a creative profession is dealing with your significant other when it comes to discussing the bills. For me, I’m totally screwed because I happen to work with my significant other..haha. But besides that, it can be a challenge to stay optimistic and to feel that I’m working toward something I feel is noble. Lately I’ve been battling a few mental hurdles and for me the past year has been full of ups and many downs, but it’s been challenging and that means it’s still worth it. If things were too easy, I’d probably lose interest. The most rewarding part is when someone looks at a piece I created and really digs it or decides to buy a piece I’ve put a lot of my heart into. Reward for one's labors—that’s a big bonus in these trying times.

Other than your blog, what has been the most effective way for you to promote your art/design?

Thankfully Ali, my fiancĂ© and business partner, is an online marketing whiz and devotes many hours each week to the promotion of my artwork. It’s difficult to separate the individual components of our marketing program and say this piece, above all, is the most effective way we promote my artwork. E-mail marketing, online and print advertising, social marketing sites, a link exchange program, and a regularly updated website have all been fundamental to our growth and business development.

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

Ha ha. Seriously? I really don’t think it’s possible when you own your own business and live in a major metropolitan area. We’ve always struggled with trying to find a way to work less, but that just doesn’t seem to happen. I know there are hoards of designers who have these lovely places and who are raising families and sitting at home reading this and to them I say way to go. But as a self-employed working artist, it’s been a hell of a struggle. And not for a lack of work ethic. Ali and I clock 14 hour days every day of the week. No weekends off. No joke. And I ‘m not bragging, it’s just how we roll because we are 100% nuts. Of course, if I had a trust fund or worked another job before devoting myself to my art, I’d probably be great. Or if I had a ton of debt, I would probably be living on credit cards and just pretending to be doing fine. But we’re actually very concerned with the bottom line and things like insurance, retirement money, etc. If some art product of mine isn’t making money, I don’t make it any more. Simple as that. So, that means I have to take time to come up with sure fire artwork that sells. This leaves little time for “play”. And I know all that stuff about a well rounded life; heck I preach that stuff all the time. Yet, it’s really hard as an individual artist to make the money necessary to afford a house, kids, etc. On a lighter note, we get to travel to a lot of shows and so when I can, I take my fishing pole and sneak off after the show is over to meditate on the possibility of breathing underwater.

What are your main goals for 2009?

To catch a big catfish, to see 50 new birds, and to spend time with my nephew who is currently learning how to talk and also eating a giant mango somewhere in the Philippines.

Thanks Dolan!

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