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📙 #13.5 A mild sense of unsettling PANIC
When your planned plan looks like it's not going to go to plan.
The sun is up, I’m in a fresh new “Quarter” of the year, based on dividing it up into 12 week lumps, it’s light, full of flowers and not freezing cold each time I head to and from the studio. It’s very much traditional, positive start of new things season.
However, this year I feel an unsettling shifting of, well, pretty much everything. We always knew when we put out content onto other people’s platforms that it was a risky move. Getting everything I do onto my own website has been bubbling around at the top of my to-do list for years now. I make plans, pick at it a little bit and then go back to:
One: it’s just so easy to put things everywhere else, that’s where all the people are, and…
Two: keeping your own website going is hard work and there’s only so many hours in the day.
For people following along you’ll know I’ve had trouble enough just keeping my shop updated with pen plots, let along putting everything about whole projects on there. Keeping track of works in progress, all of the outputs, a write up behind the thinking and a look under the hood of the code. All things I wanted, want, to do, but other things pick at my limited time.
But then, suddenly places like Twitter maybe/maybe-not blocking links to Sub Stack, or whatever random arbitrary decision they’ve made today make you go “oh shit!”, quickly followed by “I really need to get everything I do somewhere I control, because if all of this goes away I want my little life-raft already set up”.
So here we are with newsletter #13.5 (because for busy reasons) I missed last week and I want to test that hiding SubStack links behind my own domain name works for the moment. This video from Laura was also very timely…
…if you’re an artist (even if you’re not) it’s well worth a watch. Of course it’s also creates one-more-thing to do on your ever expanding list of things to do, which is a whole different issue.
# more UNSETTLING
A tiny bit of NFT news before we get back to pen plotting stuff. And I’m sharing this here first because a) you’re my team and b) I haven’t fully figured out what I’m thinking yet.
I’ve had this idea in my head that my work falls into two areas, the print & pen plots, and then the digital NFTs. At the moment the income from the digital NFTs covers the expenses involved with the printing and plotting.
This worked because I had the good fortune to be an artist on the ArtBlocks platform, and I’ve been creating a series of works while working towards the big curated (to be confirmed) project at some point in the future.
I’ve enjoyed this series based approach, because I’ve had the ability to explore and evolve the project through a series of small releases in a way that not many artist have been able to. There’s very much an air of either go-big-or-go-home or every project has to be significantly different otherwise there’s a group of art collectors who’ll get cross at you for “diluting” a previous project. When you look at a series or work spanning years or even decades in the traditional art world this is clearly bullshit. I’ve been able to fortunately, somewhat by design, sidestep that.
Here’s the thing…
As ArtBlocks changes and new artists come onto the platform, and the market changes and [points wildly at everything] I have a choice. I can keep releasing the 70s/80s/90s Pop on ArtBlocks, but with a lot longer time (like LOT LONGER) between each release. Considering each of the next few releases (80s Pop: Roxy, Pop95, POPY2K) are “mini-drops” of around 88, 95 and maybe 200 that doesn’t make much sense for me.
I can spin up a White Label “ArtBlocks: Engine” version of the platform and go it alone, something I’ve been chatting with Art Blocks for a while about anyway.
The market is currently terrible, so I’m really feeling like I’ll miss the safety of it being an official ArtBlocks release, there’s no denying there’s a boost from being directly there. But at the same time the draw of striking out on my own, and being able to set my own release times, and use the Engine to do extra things like super-mini-drops and AirDrops has a certain appeal.
Although, I must confess, very scary.
This could be the best idea ever, the worst idea ever, or either may makes no difference because the market is screwed anyway 🤷♂️
Either way, starting next week (on twitter of course), I’m going to start floating the idea of spinning off 70s/80s/90s/00s Pop into its own thing. Even though that also means getting my own website sorted because all the information about everything needs to go somewhere!! Honestly a bit terrified!
# Back to pen plotter world
Meanwhile, back in the safety of pen plotting, anyone who watched my #WeekNotes, (more about WeekNotes here: A pre-history of weeknotes, plus why I write them and perhaps why you should too (Week 16)) - will know I’ve decided to double down on pen plotting for most of this 12 week “Quarter”.
Last week, before the whole “go out on my own” ArtBlocks thing, that made sense, I guess now I’m doubling down on pen plotting and all the other stuff related to above, oh well!
What this means is I’m finally going to get around to making the “Introduction to Coding for Drawing Machines 101” series of tutorials.
The plan was to have them all made and then release the whole course (on YouTube, for free) in one go. But over the year I’ve come to learn that I can only really make one video a week (plus the Weeknotes), so if I do that I either just don’t post anything to YT for about 3-4 months, or, what I’ve decided to do instead, just post roughly one a week until they’re all done.
It’ll be a bit frustrating at the start for someone finding them because there may be only one or two, but it’s hopefully the kind of content that stays relevant for two to three years, so for future-people it’ll make perfect sense.
With that in mind I’ve grabbed a few more pen plotter things, a new-new brushless servo, one of those magnetic board things (which tbh I kinda love after even just a couple of days), and a whole ass iDraw machine, because people ask me about them all the time and if I’m making some tutorials I figured I needed something other than just the AxiDraws.
The last two videos are here, one VERY LONG, and one VERY SHORT.
This week I’m shooting the unboxing of the iDraw machine, of course I forgot it was stupid EASTER so I’m a couple of days short this week.
I haven’t really celebrated this anywhere else, but we hit 5,000 subscribers on YouTube, which honestly is kinda amazing for a channel about pen plotting and generative art (and being an artist in general).
I’m interested to see what weeks of posting tutorials will do to subscriber rates (I’ll let you know), but now it looks like I’ll be dropping “Why I’m using ArtBlocks: Engine”, “How to set up ArtBlocks: Engine”, “Look, here’s my project on ArtBlocks: Engine, please go an buy it”, and “Here’s how launching my project on ArtBlocks: Engine went” videos in there too 😅
10k is the big target!!!
And with that, don’t go follow me, go subscribe to Laura’s channel instead: https://www.youtube.com/penfriendrocks ‘cause she’s got a series of videos coming up about being a creative artist in these current testing times.
Hah, this was supposed to be a quick point-five newsletter, so I’d better go. I hope you have a lovely week, and…
I love you all!!