Tag Archives: art

The End is Nigh

Standard

The calendar year is coming to a close. I love how people do end of year posts and they are always so supper sappy – as much as I love unicorns – I do have a special place in my heart for Unicorn Meat.  So this is going to be realistic yet magical…..

Although we have made plans, I’m not certain what’s in store for the band, the label, or even just little ol’ me in the year to come, but for everything that has been the past year:

Thank you

to all the amazing people who have been working alongside the band, the label, the community to continue to work against the random factors of Life through creating art! Thank you for fighting the good fight.  Your support and love and sheer wild bewildering believing has provided our little band with a beautiful community, a stunning audience at our shows, and the joy of performing.

To have you come to a show, post your thoughts on our Facebook page, hangout with us on Twitter, send us an email (see below), talk to us about your thoughts on music, life, love, community, change – we have been very privileged to engage with you.  Thank you for sharing in our music!

Our last show of the year is Friday Dec 16th at the legendary Velvet Underground in Toronto – it will be loud and lovely.  If you are at the show we would love to have your thoughts on the new songs!!! We will definitely need your feed back on songs!!!  (see below)!  SBS + Friends are then heading away to the Hart House Farm to write, and record demos for the upcoming album due out Spring 2012.  We will be sharing demos in late December an early January.

Every day is a new year – not in a shmultzy kind of way – but in the way that love, joy, merriment, peace and resolutions can be had at any time! Don’t sweat the insanity that is supposed to be “The Holidays.”  Besides – The End is Nigh! Which means we get to begin again.

Much love,  your band always,

SBS

We will be releasing new tracks very soon – if you’re interested in being a part of our listening panel – please provide your info below! In the comment section – you can write Listening Panel! THANKS!
 

Picking Up the Pen…

Standard

Why do I write? Why the resort to the pen? Expression, escapism, the need to feel productive, to merge the airiness of imagination with the earthiness of ink and paper, but my reasons have also changed with time. I was made acutely aware of this when reading my very first diary entry, dated December 1999 (let me defend myself in advance by stating that I was 14 ).I opened with the words “welcome people of the future”(I was also proudly nerdy)…I will not disclose the full contents of this first entry to save myself the embarrassment….but the overarching theme was an introduction of myself and my surroundings, documentation to be preserved for the future, something along the lines of a time capsule. The tone was an attempt to be impersonal, objective, a historian of sorts observing the flux of the world. “The world right now is in a stage of technological revolution” I wrote. I listed items “electrical fans”, “computers”, “wrist-watches”. I draw an elegant floral embellishment along the margins. Calm, cool and collected. I was trying to write to an audience, not self. However my efforts proved in vain… the first entry was an anomaly…my writing soon became infused with teenage politics, and rants, personal triumphs and dismay. Exclamation marks abounded. Underlined, capitalized words sprouted everywhere. Red ink came out, and pink, and silver. Words were blacked out with decisiveness, sometimes whole pages torn out in an attempt to discount the past and in a yearning to move forward unhindered. Plans were plotted, apologies to self were made, confessions were worded. Molehills became mountains, which shrunk into molehills again as perspective was gradually regained. There was absurdity and hilarity and silliness, the element of the ridiculous was dominant, but there was also something very redemptive in that brand of writing. An unburdening of thoughts. I also tended to gravitate towards writers with a fearless approach to the personal, Sylvia Plath, Osamu Dazai, Anne Sexton. I still keep a diary today but the tone is decidedly different, still personal, but not as zealous, perhaps a few steps closer to the objective historian but still ultimately subjective, as a diary is ultimately meant to be. Re-reading my old diary has made me aware of how the impulses to write, or draw, or creatively express in any other way, can be so varied. There are many reasons to pick up a pen, or a camera, or an instrument or a paintbrush, and they change by the days, and hours, and minutes. This is what can make art so unpredictable at times, but also so exciting and surprising. And yet there is also great comfort in the routine of it, in its rituals, I love stationary to this day because I enjoy the physical feel of writing as much as its less tangible rewards. So why do I pick up a pen? The reasons are many and complex I suppose, but I guess when I get old and grumpy it’ll give me something to do 😉

Discipline, Determination and other dreadful words that start with the letter D

Standard

Art is exhausting.

Let me tell you – art is exhausting.

 

 

To be an artist you need to think and feel with intense emotion and dedication and then translate your heart and soul to the average non-artist who is too preoccupied with why your art doesn’t make sense – they think about the works instead of experiencing the works.

Do you know why, so many people fantasize but never actually become artists? Because it’s damn scary that’s why! We don’t idolize cocaine fueled rockstars,  famously suicidal painters or happily hedonistic hip hop artists because of their celebrity and scandalous lifestyles (at least not in the beginning); we idolize them because they have balls.  They get up there and they command, not demand respect.  They have presence, they have sexual charm, they have courage.

But without discipline and drive and determination (oh my!) artists can implode and ironically by being so open, so giving, so vulnerable – by being the very things they need to be in order to fulfill the sense of esteem and meaning in their lives – they lose themselves.

Artists need incredible discipline and self restraint balanced with freedom of self expression and experimentation.  This is no easy task.  To make things more interesting, many artists have supplementary jobs (what the non-artist would refer to as a “day job” although we artists do work, in the afternoon, mid morning, evenings and even wee morning hours as well).  Attempt to do all of this mentally and emotionally fulfilling/draining work and work a full time job at the same time – it can be an energy sucker.

Quil4 has done a lovely job of having a single post every month – I’m trying to get back on the 1 post every 2 weeks band wagon.  It’s not the frequency of the activity – it’s the persistence and doggedness of seeing something through.

I’ve been working on a 5 song – a  5 song EP for 2 years now – I’m almost done….so close! But the closer you get to completing it you start to wonder – what the hell am I doing?!  Why has this taken so long? What is the point again?  That’s when determination kicks in and the questions morph into: Why have I pushed through for so long? What compels me to continue forward? What is the next step?  Artists – we need to have that discipline, that determination, that drive:  whether a project takes two days, or twenty years as long as you complete it and do so with some intention – you will find success.  Now granted – there is of course the little business voice in the background also saying – so….2 years eh….at some point you’ll want to see a return on your investment and possibly start generating some revenue from your works specifically in the hopes of becoming independent of your supplementary job. Well – duh – of course silly.  Seeing a project through to completion also means being flexible – it’s taken me 2 years to get to where I am because I didn’t want to be sitting in a pool of debt to see my works come to life.  A rational decision – balanced by the experimentation and freedom of the works themselves.

Everyone is working hard these days regardless of what they do.  But if you think your artist friends are just dreaming madly into the night sky – hopefully you’ll think twice about that and possibly offer them a cupcake and some tea. Be kind to your artist friends! And Artists – be kind to yourselves! Remember – every little step helps -every blurry photo – every wrong note – every writer’s block – with every mistake, you learn –  with every mistake you are moving forward.

Value$

Standard

We’ve had a couple of very interesting and diverse posts recently – however I do think there are some convergent ideas.

Quil4 had just written her first blog post ever (hooray!) and had mentioned the difficulty in defining ‘self-expression’ and the differences in the utility of different types of writing (how the skills of some arts will be used in non-art endeavours – for instance writing for academia vs. creative writing)

Micpen2 has made a great  point on the Artists and Entrepreneurs post about how artists should do not need to feel insecure about being paid for our work – all professionals are paid for their time, talent and skill.

Self-expression is absolutely necessary – I firmly believe that self-expression and the ability to self-express in a safe environment can play an important role in our overall attitude towards life as well as our physical and mental health. But we generally have a tendency to express when something has made an emotional or intellectual impact: new loves, new loss, old love, old loss, haunting, happiness, pain, sadness, joy – you get the idea.

Artists – and those who consider themselves professional artists – differentiate ourselves by being able to create and produce even when there isn’t a gut wrenching emotional response to a particularly intense period or set of events. Of course, professional artists are also moved by such great and tempest like times in our own lives – that was what made us want to initiate in art to begin with!  However, professional artists will also learn aspects of the craft or forms that are related to their own vision or art that allow the overall quality and intention of the message be delivered clearly to the audience.  Also – professional artists are willing to exhibit, perform, publish – they are willing to share.

Many people suggest that in order to be truly considered a professional artist, you must be paid for your works. I’m not sure if I buy that entirely (no pun intended – hahahaha).  I do agree with MicPen2 – if we are going to make our art and works available to others for sale, we need to learn to appreciate our own skill sets! We sometimes forget that not everyone has the ability to do what we do – even if they had the capacity they haven’t put in the time.  Our works have monetary value and we should slowly understand that our audiences (aka consumers) are willing to pay fair market prices for our works (you pay unfair market prices on things everyday and don’t even think twice about it!).

However –the quickest way to lose your passion is to start getting paid to do it! There comes this bizarro veil of resentment once you attach monetary value to work that has inherent intrinsic value.  Scott Belsky (CEO of the Behance Network) puts it brilliantly, “ Your challenge is to maintain an organic relationship with the craft that you love.  The expectations and rewards imposed by others will only compromise your passion if you rely on them as the source of your interests…..stay motivated by the means rather than the ends.” (Making Ideas Happen, Penguin Group).

Money makes it SEEM as if the value of the work is tied directly to the amount of dollars someone external to the artist is willing to pay – that is not the real value of the work;  the real value of the work and subsequently the value of the artist is the consistent, persistent and determined way in which we love, love, love the process of creating.

Money and Value are not synonymous – however both have their place in the life of the artist – it’s just a matter of you creating the right balance between the two – what works for you? what fits? what feels right? There are no right answers and fortunately there are no wrong answers either.

Peas in a Pod us Artists and Entrepreneurs

Standard

In my last few posts I’ve been obviously obsessed with combining the ideas of art and business.

Do art and business always go hand in hand? Of course not!  But there are times when they do.  Everyone should have the ability and a safe space to self-express and business has little to do with that.  (Self-expression is not exactly the same as being an artist or creating art – if you want to argue with this please feel free). Business is really an exchange of goods or services – forget the dollar sign if it makes you uncomfortable.  Think of business as a way to fulfill a need that you have (instead of a want which is what we do in consumerist culture). Cool?  Cool.

Artists and entrepreneurs share similar characteristics and our work has similar properties:

  • We both have great passion
  • We move from initial concept through stages of development to a final product or work
  • We are constantly looking to explore and learn
  • We have to deal with a lot of constructive (and not so constructive) criticism
  • Financing or Funding our dreams is a hefty aspect of our work
  • We find what we do very satisfying
  • We are willing to invest emotionally, physically and financially into our projects
  • If we fail (or deem something a failure) we will eventually get back up and try again or try something new
  • We are risk takers (even if the risks seem small)

If you are a CEO or a COO or a HR Manager or a Team Lead (essentially someone who is allowed to make final decisions) you should consider hiring more artistically inclined people to your teams.   Artists aren’t sensitive – we are critical and analytical. We synthesize great amounts of information and see patterns and themes in disparate ideas.  Business leaders always tell their teams to think outside of the box and then put them in a closed bare walled boardroom to brainstorm.    I have no idea why so many brainstorming sessions (even in creative industries) take place inside of board rooms – this is brainstorming not contract negotiation.  You would actually have to be a very skilled artist to make use of a blank space like a boardroom to create  brilliant ideas without external inspiration- and let’s be honest the vast majority of your staff are not creatively inclined.  Alternatively you could provide time or encouragement for your team members to express their creative sides or propose ideas which are tangent to your business.

Artists – we need to be more business saavy – the world of the record label, large gallery, movie studio or television network, essentially the idea of big media business currently is in pieces and in future will be replaced by the Apples’, Googles’ and Yahoos’ of the world. These companies are not made for artists – they are entrepreneurs – they use art, music, literature to further their businesses – but they are not in the business of art. Google is not really interested in meaning – they are interested in information – these are very very different ideas. And in practice Apple is not interested in creativity – they are interested in facilitating creativity.  Now of course, inherent in the Apple process are aspects of art and design – but they use these as tools for their software business (as discussed by Colin Gibbs in the post “As Always Mobile Music faces Uncertain Future” Jul 17 2010 on GigaOm.com).

The profitable and meaningful media future will require a hybrid  in the media industry.   A hybrid company that has the brains of a technology based corporation and the heart and soul of a community based artistic organization.    Any thoughts on building the foundations or staples of the a sustainable new media ecosystem or the real ticket – the business model to support that ecosystem?  If you have the monetization aspect down – I’d love to treat you out to coffee ;).

What’s a post about environmental capital have to do with Art?

Standard

Finally here is the interview that I had with Manu Sharma from the Natural Capital Project!

Disclaimer:  I have known Manu for a very long time.  We’ve been friends since we were kids.  When we were little we always said that we wanted to do good in the world.  He recently moved from Toronto to Paolo Alto to work on this project with Stanford.  When I learned what the project was all about – I had questions.  This is not a random encounter – nor was I approached to do this interview by the project.  I was just sincerely intrigued.  I still have questions and will likely have a follow up post.

This interview in total lasts about 15mins. It’s been split into 3 pieces for easier consumption.  The 1st and 3rd part are audio only.  The 2nd part integrates the video desktop recording I’ve always been so curious about.     Also note that ‘B is for Blog’  is a work room so our contributors like to muck about with new ideas and new ways of presenting ideas.  Like, Social Return on Investment,  natural capital and trying to capture value in processes that have traditionally not been valued,  is a very tricky business.   It’s a project with huge scope, great hope and amazing minds working behind the scenes. (The first post we did was titled “The Natural Capital Project – What is that Forest Really Worth?”)

Part 1: The Basics (6.5 mins)

http://naturalcapitalproject.com

Part 2: The Model (6 mins)

Part 3: Why Manu is a part of this project (2 mins)

Now back to the question posed in the post….What does a post about environmental capital have to do with art?

Lots really  – if you think about it.

Something that’s always bothered me about many disciplines, (in particular, art,  science or engineering based disciplines) is the weird way we compartmentalize what we do and keep it far away from those whom we deem simply too inept to understand what we are all about.

That was so 1990.  Welcome to the new age and the world of the ‘interdisciplinary.’  These interviews with amazing people I’ve met are a way to stimulate discussion in and between the disciplines we, artists or otherwise, belong to.

The environment is what we all live within.  FStop10, our resident photog, has utilized the landscape around us, animals and their natural and not so natural habitats as inspiration and muses for her work.  Edward Burtynsky, one of the world’s most influential photographers, utilizes his perspective and use of the lens to bring  us into a part of our world that is so daily and yet so hidden. (You totally need to see this video that describes his collection titled ‘Oil.’)

The beauty of having an interview with an environmentalist or learning about a discipline outside of your own is that integration aspect – that integration aspect is what I think has been missing from problem solving and addressing the world’s most devastating issues. The world is three dimensional – there is no single discipline that will save us.

Artists are amazing critical and creative thinkers.  We can bring a completely different or complimentary point of view to any issue.  Moving from compartmentalized disciplines to interdisciplinary thinking is like moving from 2d to 3d in the films;  it helps to make the picture fuller and more detailed – it brings life to the perspective.

Prickly pear of the sea

Standard

In preparation for my twilight years – when I will unceremoniously drop – and later, without rhyme or reason, unabashedly pick up the telling of a story again…I will now continue my tale about inspiration. (see last week’s post entitled The blue lizard…excellently crafted moment of self-promotion…check!).      

Picture it, Sicily 1931…OK…had a Golden Girls moment there for a sec. (twilight years and all, see)      

Inspiration, she’s a tricky bugger. The hunt, the capture, the grossly self-indulgent gloating afterwards is made effortless by the subject matter at times. When the world you inhabit is filled to the very brim with dazzling colours, shapes, jazz-hands! (hehe…figuratively speaking of course)…and yes critters…it is nigh on impossible to suffer a bout of photog-block (kinda like writer’s block…but it rhymes better).      

The first 18 + an additional 4 years later down the road of my life were spent in paradise. At my doorstep I had at my disposal, a veritable cornucopia of fauna and flora…jewel-hued sugar birds (humming birds) performed aerial stunts outside my diningroom window over breakfast, whales splashed and whooshed plumes of air and spray into the star-filled sky, lulling me to sleep at night. Following their own mysterious and at times inconvenient schedule, the baboons would descend upon our garden, leaping from the tall, peaked roof in reckless abandon into the fig tree’s laden branches…sending my dog into an indignantly undignified and futile frenzy.      

What's purple and yellow and potters around on millions of suckers for feet?

 

My playground was dotted with sea anemones, nodding in rockpools like agreeable crayola flowers, and spiny starfish and punk rock sea urchins decorated every nook and cranny of the fertile and salty seascape.  The sky was huge and deeply blue, the waves resounding and frothy white.      

Parading on a rock ledge, the urchins gleam like predatory brooches

 

Gosh – notice the past tense up there?? To reassure you…it is all still there…this rose-tinted Utopia of my youth…I am the one in past-tense (no…not dead and blogging from beyond the grave…just across an ocean).      

So…whenever I have the occasion to make my much-anticipated pilgrimage back to the homeland…I capture even the most pedestrian detail of life. I suspect my folks reckon my brain has been irredeemably addled by lack of clean sea air and an over abundance of snow and smelly city…as in years gone by, I would never have gone sprinting for my camera bag at a sighting of a green grasshopper on the patio. I would simply have greeted him politely and implored my late, great cat to kindly refrain from making a snack of the poor fellow.      

Gorgeously green grasshopper graces...patio? Crap...lost it at the end there

 

I see you!

 

Now, today I make my home in an equally majestic place…but decidedly more subdued in terms of its local critteridge (nice…rather proud of that mangled word-ly creation). Few things come spiny or bright purple (of their own volition) in the animal kingdom here. But, to my delight…the birds dress up like Michael Jackson – sporting red shoulder patches! The hornets resemble sharp corner chevrons on the road (am I speaking foreigner again?…many apologies), and the larger beasts sport comically bulbous noses and outsized furry tiaras on their proud heads.      

The fact is though – as in a family with two offspring – one being the loud-mouth clown who dances a lively jig on the furniture of an evening, and the other being the nice sprog who vacuums its own room and thanks you for the clean clothes – the clown gets the attention.      

Therefore, the task at hand is: Look harder, be open to the possibilities, and sprint like the blazes for the camera bag when the MJ birdies parade across the lawn! And the dastardly snow and frost…is made beautifully ethereal and oh so photogenic by the rays of the rising sun.      

The autumn sun burns the frost away, leaving bedazzled blades in its warming wake

 

Project of the week pour moi…with a spot of luck I will furnish you with delightful captures of aforementioned feathered pop-star impersonators and any manner of lovely things.