Rare Optimism

Inherently, I consider myself to be be an extremely skeptical pessimist. I think part of it is a defense mechanism that I employ to “protect” myself from bad news. Which is why in the rare instances that I feel optimistic, I know that something is actually happening for real.

I’ll admit that the most challenging part of Art Prof is maintaining my daily faith in the project.  I have never felt such an intense conviction about any project in my life, and yet Art Prof has also been a project that has tested all of my limits in patience and optimism. Some days it’s too easy to feel like no progress is being made, and I’m creating content in my own little black pit.

Which is why due some recent developments (which I can’t talk about just yet!) have been a monumental boost that have given me a renewed confidence in the future. I’ve had countless moments in this project where we were so close to a major breakthrough, only to have things fall apart with a deafening thud.

Last night I had a the final Skype call of the year with the TAs, and it was great to step back together as a group and reflect upon what has happened this year, and where we want to go in 2018. What’s been interesting is that two TAs mentioned that when I show up with good news, they’re excited, but also not surprised. Which is incredible that their faith in the project and belief in what we’re doing is so strong.

When I step back and look at 2017, it’s crazy to me that Artprof.org hasn’t been live for a year yet. (we launched in February 2017) On one hand, I feel like it’s been live forever, on another, it feels like the website is just getting started.  I’ve been really focused in the past year on simply beefing up the quantity of content on the website, and it feels like the content is now substantial enough that I can breathe a little more and redirect more of my energy towards achieving long term funding for the project.

Despite our Kickstarter campaign in 2016, we’ve burned through those funds.  Financially, we are barely surviving on a very thin thread, but we’re still here, and the community we’ve worked so hard to build is growing every day. Creating content and brainstorming new ideas and formats has always been the easy part, getting funding and sponsors is a completely different story.

Despite my struggle to maintain my daily confidence in the project, I couldn’t be more proud of the team at Art Prof.  They’ve lifted me up, brought ongoing energy and innovation to the project, and are the rock that I’ve come to rely on.

When I first envisioned Art Prof in 2014, I always imagined it as a solo project that I would have to carry on my own. Today, the thought of working on Art Prof by myself is inconceivable. Now, the project is so much bigger than one person, and everyday I’m inspired by what we’ve built together.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. Artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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Patience, Patience, Patience

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Self-Portrait from Life,  video course


Yesterday I was speaking to my Art Prof partner Thomas Lerra, about the pacing of the project and whether I was doing everything that I “should” be doing at this point. Tom has been so important to Art Prof because he has several decades of experience in digital production and strategy that I simply don’t have. I’ve taught my studio courses at RISD so many times, that I have confidence in my ability to evaluate where my students should be at midterm, and what I expect to see by the end of the semester.  With Art Prof, I have no clue about what type of timeline I’m supposed to be on.  Most of the time, I feel like I am just making things up as I go along, which is really exhilarating, but also tough as well!

For me, comparisons to athletics always work well when I think about my projects, specifically, marathons. The three years we spent developing Art Prof was the training period before you run the actual marathon.  Launching Artprof.org was us starting the actual marathon itself.

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Q&Art video:  Getting a Critique


Now comes the tough part:  you just have to keep going for a while, and to a certain degree, it’s simply a matter of time.  I think in some ways this can be the most challenging part of the process.  At the beginning of the marathon, there’s the initial thrill of getting started which is really exciting.  Then that adrenaline rush dies down and you realize how much further you have to go.

I’m a pretty impatient person by nature, so Art Prof is definitely testing my patience to a degree that I never thought was possible.  Generally speaking, I can stay focused on the crazy multitude of tasks I have to do every day to maintain video production and keep Artprof.org maintained.  However lately, I’ve had some brief moments of sinking doubt that I really need to break out of. Coming up with ideas and producing content for Art Prof is the easy part. The most difficult part is keeping your faith in the project.

Tom said to me yesterday that at some point, a “bike” might appear that we can ride on for the marathon. But until then, I have to keep running.

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Art Supply Encyclopedia


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

The Visual Artists Who Live “Among Us”

Lucy Saltonstall, our first Emerging Artist featured on Artprof.org


The first time I ever met a real, practicing visual artist was when I went to RISD as an undergraduate student.  It may sound odd to say this, but when I was in high school I didn’t really think about visual artists as people who were alive in my time period. To me, visual artists were people you read about in a textbook, or whose names were on the walls in an art museum.  It never occurred to me that visual artists were actual people I could interact with in my life.

Reflecting upon that now seems so ridiculous, since as a professional artist and teacher, almost everyone I interact with on a regular basis is a practicing artist.  In terms of making visual arts accessible to the average person, that’s really frustrating and I have to imagine that many people have a similar perception that I had as a high school student.


When I meet people and tell them that I’m an artist, they frequently tell me that they “don’t get art” or that they don’t understand what the deal is with contemporary art. For me part of the problem is that to the general public, an artist is someone like Jeff Koons who built a gigantic steel sculpture that looks like play dough that cost well over a million dollars, and who had a retrospective at the Whitney Museum. The vast majority of working artists will never have their artwork shown at a national museum like the Met.

What has really been surprising (and fun) about Art Prof is how many artists I have met, people who you never thought were artists have this whole other side of them.  I met someone at one of our portfolio review events who told me that he worked construction and landscaping jobs during the day and then went home at night to paint.

I find it ironic that as a high school student, I never really met a working artist, and yet now I am discovering that artists are in fact, everywhere.

That’s why we are building a new section of Art Prof, where we will showcase artists of all ages, middle school students, college students, working adults, lifelong learners, everyone. I have many aspirations of Art Prof, and one of the biggest ones I have is to change the public’s perception of who artists are.  We don’t have create elaborate and costly installations like Christo or Yayoi Kusama to be artists.  There are many ways to be an artist, and on Art Prof, I want to show the artists who live among us.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Art Prof LIVES!!!!

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I had no idea when I wrote a blog post back in October 2014 about an idea that floated through my head for a few minutes that I would be here today. Our Kickstarter campaign was a real nail biter…. but we hit our goal this morning!!!

I am overwhelmed with the phenomenal support and enthusiasm that my partner Thomas Lerra and I, and our extraordinary staff of Teaching Assistants and Interns experienced over the past several weeks. We were all blown away by the amazing support we received from people from all different parts of our lives, it was truly incredible to see the way people came out to support us.  I was surprised by the large number of people who I have never met in person before, or people who I barely knew, but who went out of their way to help us! Running a campaign like this was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, (this coming from someone who usually salivates at the idea of a challenge)  but with the outcome we had, I have renewed faith in the universe. Knowing how intensely skeptical I generally am about everything, that says a lot.

It will take me many hours at my laptop to properly thank everyone who helped us, and that will all come over the next few weeks.  For now, I have to express my immense gratitude to my exceptional staff, who are seriously my favorite group of people I have ever worked with.


Interns

Anna   Makoto   Annelise   Enrico   Julia
crit_Vuthy   Tatiana Florival, Intern   Olivia Hunter, Intern   Jordan McCracken-Foster, Intern   Janice
Julia Orenstein • Vuthy LayTatiana Florival
Anna Campbell• Makoto Kumasaka• Annelise Yee• Enrico Giori

Olivia HunterJordan McCracken-Foster Janice Chun

I would like to thank all of our Interns, who joined Art Prof this summer by basically diving into an ocean in the pitch dark, (metaphorically) who bailed me out when there were more than a few fires to put out, who pointed out every stupid mistake I made, (of which there were many) who inspired me with their innovative ideas, and who made me feel way older than I would like to feel by explaining to me how Snapchat worked.


Teaching Assistants

square_Sara   square_Casey   square_Anniesquare_Lauryn   square_yves   square_Alex
Sara BloemCasey Roonan  •  Annie Irwin
Lauryn Welch •  Yves-Olivier Mandereau  •  Alex Rowe

When I first contacted our Teaching Assistants over a year ago, I am sure that they had absolutely no idea what they were getting into when they said yes to my email-I didn’t either at the time. Thank goodness they were all crazy enough to jump on board, or Art Prof would not be what it is today. I had no idea what a tremendous role the TAs would play a year ago, but as Art Prof grew, I realized more and more how critical the TAs were to Art Prof.  Example: I KNOW I am not the reason someone told me recently that Art Prof looks so “youthful.”

Beyond looks though, I am completely floored by the unwavering commitment of our TAs. Their enthusiasm, energy, and drive truly gave Art Prof the electrifying fuel we needed to take off.  The TAs brought diverse voices and opinions to the table.  We discussed everything from the most minute concern to the deepest fundamental premise of Art Prof. They were just as good at discussing what precise shade of yellow the top menu bar on the prototype should be, to talking about fundamental philosophical questions concerning Art Prof’s mission and goals. The TAs put up with my constant questioning, pushing, and yes, my occasional whining (okay, maybe it was more than occasional) with a smile and warmth. The balance of camaraderie, seriousness, motivation, sense of humor, and sarcasm (a requirement if you want to work with me) is one I believe will never exist anywhere else, at any other time.

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Thomas Lerra

I am still in utter disbelief that I ever found Thomas Lerra, my partner in crime. It took three degrees of separation and many months of searching and waiting in agony for me to find him, but boy, was it worth the wait. I like to joke that Tom and I were “dating” for several months before we made Art Prof official.  In our early meetings that go all the way back to February 2015, I kept thinking after every meeting, that our meeting that day would be our last.  But it never was, and so here we are today, jumping off the cliff every day with each other.

I hear many people talk big about taking risks, but so few actually take concrete actions to make things happen.   Tom is one of the rare people I know who really does relish experimentation and risk, and I love the dynamic quality of our conversations, where we push and pull together at the task at hand. Having been micro-managed in the past by more than a few people at various jobs, I cannot express how immensely appreciative of I am of Tom’s trust in me as a teacher and professional. I know how lucky I am!  If it weren’t for Tom, Art Prof would not exist.

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Alex Hart

Finally, there is one person who has logged more uncredited hours on Art Prof than probably anyone else in the history of video production.  My husband, Alex Hart, who was always hidden behind the scenes, where his labor was seen by none.  Alex saw the bloodiest side of Art Prof, that I never let anyone else see.

Alex was there at 3am when I was panicking because I couldn’t figure out how to do the sound mix in Premiere.  He threw together a film shoot on 2 weeks notice to create my “audition” tape to show Tom. He sat patiently and watched me fall on my face left and right trying to learn Premiere. He fixed tiny glitches in the prototype. He scrounged up equipment, consulted on every piece of hardware and supply I needed for video shoots. He has been practically a single parent for the past 2 months; and altered his schedule on a moment’s notice on several occasions when video shoots ran far past when they should have.  (there’s even a story of him forgetting that he didn’t have a car, and ended up strapping 2 kids’ bikes to his bike and then rode a mile like that to my kids’ school) He was there to calm me down when I had meltdowns, when I was convinced that Art Prof was going nowhere, and when I needed to vent for hours on end.  Through all of that, Alex kept telling me that he believed in me.

All of this, which for most people would be grounds for divorce within 48 hours.  And hardly a single complaint the whole time through. Thank you Alex, for believing in us.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Just $823 Away From our $30k Goal!

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ART PROF is 97% funded! All we need is $823 to hit our $30k goal!
Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform; if we don’t hit our goal, we get no funding.

Our campaign ends TOMORROW, July 19 at 11:59pm EST.

donate


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Your Donation, Doubled!

For the 2nd time, our anonymous donor is offering to match all donations between today and July 18 for up to $2000! If you donate by July 18, your donation is doubled!!

Our campaign ends Tues., July 19.  We are $5300 from our goal. If we can get $3300 from you + our donor’s $2000, ART PROF is going to HAPPEN!!!!

donate

donor - Copy

A 2 Year Artistic Roller Coaster Ride

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In 2014, I had a fleeting thought for a project that seemed like complete pie in the sky. As an artist, ideas for projects float in and out of my brain.  Some ideas are stay for about 3 minutes, some linger and hang out for a week or so, and some permanently attach themselves, refusing to leave.

When you have those pie in the sky ideas, they’re fun to dream and fantasize about.  You think in your head “wow, that would be so awesome…” and “if only I could pull that off….” However, there’s the skeptical, practical side of my brain which reminds me of the brutal logistics of reality, and basically obliterates those pie in the sky dreams before they even get a chance to be even considered.

Well, this particular pie in the sky dream didn’t get obliterated, it survived-for a very, long time. And yes, it got me into a lot of artistic “trouble.”  I slowly started following a trail of tiny bread crumbs that started to appear in the forest.  Sometimes it was months of waiting between each bread crumb, and it was the greatest test of patience for someone who has very little patience to begin with.

Then, some wheels really started turning, and I realized that I was on a gigantic roller coaster ride that I wanted to stay on forever. Except that this roller coaster was in complete darkness, and it didn’t have all the tracks ahead finished yet. I was moving on the roller coaster, but frantically laying the tracks in front of me about 3 seconds before I went over them, all in the dark.

Sneak Peek

And then before I knew it, I realized that the roller coaster had grown so big that I couldn’t do it by myself anymore.  I needed a partner and a team:  a fantastic, superb group of art students, emerging artists, and numerous professionals who could help me build the tracks, shine some light on the roller coaster, and make pie in the sky real. This is the most extraordinary group of people I’ve ever worked with, and I cannot remotely come close to accurately expressing my tremendous gratitude towards their tenacity, perseverance, and faith in our project. Without my team, pie in the sky would still be an idea floating in my head, or it would be a mediocre effort that lasted for a few months and then drifted away.

This has been the most exhilarating, terrifying, stimulating, difficult, electrifying idea I have ever experienced in over 15 years as a professional artist and teacher. Every time I thought I had just finished climbing Mt. Everest, I was told “You have to climb Mt. Everest again.” I would finish my second climb, come back to the bottom and be told “Sorry, that wasn’t enough-you have to go again.”  Every time I thought I had reached a milestone, or pushed myself as far as I could, the challenges only grew increasingly larger and more difficult, and I had to rise to the task in a way that in a way that was unprecedented in my life time. On top of that, I had to keep this project top secret for TWO YEARS.  I’ve been jumping out of my skin, and can’t wait to release the hounds.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.