Artist Conversations


When I remind myself that I started thinking about Art Prof back in 2014, it seems incredible to think that we’ve been working on Art Prof for 3 years.  Not only has the time passed very quickly, but the project continues to change and evolve so much that I constantly feel like we are just getting started.


The most significant change in our tutorials is we have shifted away from one person tutorials to tutorials that feature two people.  I got the idea from Jacques Pepin’s series Cooking with Claudine, where his daughter Claudine was on the set as a student learning and asking questions during the show. We were amazed that these two people tutorials were a billion times easier to shoot, as all of the pressure of being the only person speaking on the set was taken away.  On top of that, these tutorials also seem much more informative because someone is there to ask questions.


It’s also fun because even though I’m the Art Prof, I get to be on both student and teacher in these two person tutorials.  Not only do I get to learn so many new techniques, but I like that this emphasizes that even when you work professionally, learning is still ongoing!


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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Art Prof on NPR!

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I’m a major NPR junkie.  I listen to Morning Edition with Bob Oakes every morning in the car, to the point where I know all of his word pronunciations to the smallest detail.

So you can imagine it was a very, very big deal for Art Prof to be featured on WBUR’s Morning Edition last week!

We loved that the reporter stated in the segment that Art Prof is still in a “punk rock” phase, because that really does sum up where we are.  Despite the fact that we have video content that is polished, curated, and professional, anyone who visits our shooting space can figure out quickly how DIY our production is.


Yes, I wish we had enough funding to have a real production studio, full-time staff, and much more.  Tom and I joke about having our outfits already picked up for when we appear on the Today Show some day, but both of us have been in complete agreement for a long time that we are GOING TO THE MOON with Art Prof.

Looks like NPR brought us just a few steps closer.

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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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The Future of Artprof.org


Since launching Artprof.org, it’s been thrilling for me to watch our creative community grow. When I’m having a crummy day, I re-read viewer testimonials, which always gives me a lift. Here’s one that made me laugh out loud: “I’ve replaced Netflix with Art Prof Instagram Live videos.”  Now that’s a compliment!

In our staff group, we have many lists.  One list stands out: my queue of 34 videos that have been sitting on my server for weeks, some even for months. Why?  We don’t have the funding to hire a sound designer to do the sound mixes. (that’s not even counting the hundreds of hours of footage that have been shot, but not edited!)

With the exception of 2 interns this summer, I have done all of the editing since we started.  Not because I knew anything about editing, but because if I didn’t do it, no one else would. (only took me a year to learn Premiere!)

After being on sabbatical, I’m returning to teach at RISD in September. With my teaching schedule, I know that I won’t be able to keep my prior production schedule. The only solution is to hire editors and sound designers.

If everyone on this email list donated $5 a month, we could easily pay our TAs, editors, sound designers, a web developer, and cover critical expenses. Beyond that, we can show you what we are REALLY capable of!!!

One fundamental premise of our mission was for Artprof.org to be 100% free. I really, really don’t want to have to set up a paywall, but we’re at a point where we may have to. I literally have 20 years of content stuck in my head that I want to share with you! I care deeply about this artistic family and I want so much for us to keep thriving.

Clara


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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Art Prof Draw Along!

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We’ve been experimenting with Instagram Live Video at Art Prof, which has been a fun new format for us to connect to our viewers.  After getting feedback and troubleshooting the format, we are pleased to announce our Art Prof Live schedule through the end of the summer!

We strive for our video courses to be comprehensive and high quality, but the consequence is that without a large production staff, our courses are very time consuming to produce.  Art Prof Live is our solution to this situation, and it’s an exciting platform because our teaching will occur in real time, and gives us closer interaction with our viewers.

Get a sketchbook + pencil and draw along with me TONIGHT @ 9:30pm EST on Instagram Live Video! Post your drawing with #artprofdrawalong on Instagram, and we might feature your drawing on our Instagram.


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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Will Art Prof Survive My Return to Teaching?

Artist profile on Judy Brown, the latest release in our Emerging Artist section.


I was on sabbatical from RISD this past spring semester, so the last time I was teaching on campus was way back in December 2016! As much as it was wonderful to finally have the head space to think clearly during sabbatical, it’s also been lovely to come back to campus.  I missed seeing former students and colleagues on a weekly basis. (I’m not an artist who can sit in the studio by myself for 8 hours every day.)

However, my life is very different from where I was in December 2016. The difference? Artprof.org, which didn’t exist before I went on sabbatical. This summer I’m teaching studio courses 5 days at week at RISD Pre-College. While my schedule is still densely packed with my commitments in teaching and Art Prof, I’ve got an incredible team of interns who are producing written columns for our Emerging Artists section, writing thoughtful and constructive comments on Artprof.org, creating video content for future use, and much more.

Most importantly, I have 2 Assistant Editors, Monika Hedman and Anjali Shankar, who are burning through our vast stock of video content, which has been huge in terms of getting new content released. The preparatory editing process is extremely tedious, and having that part of the process lifted from my shoulders has made all the difference in the world.  Despite that support, there is still plenty to do. I’m still doing heavy lifting in the second half of the editing process. I’m compulsive about keeping our high standards of quality that regardless of my 2 Assistant Editors, the process remains very time consuming.

However, this fall I’m returning to RISD, and I’ll be teaching 2 courses in the Printmaking department; Relief Projects and Senior Print Workshop Seminar.

I’m worried.

The teaching load in the fall is a little less than what I’m doing now, but the big difference is that my amazing team of interns are going to disappear in the fall, along with my 2 Assistant Editors. I’m scared that we won’t be able to continue hiring our incredible staff of Teaching Assistants, maintain content production at a reasonable pace, and keep Artprof.org 100% free.


Our options aren’t pretty.

We could stop hiring our Teaching Assistants, and lose an extraordinary team that make Art Prof what it is. We could set up a paywall on Artprof.org, which in my opinion basically destroys our mission to provide a free visual arts education for everyone. Or our content production slows to such a pace that we release a tutorial only once or twice a year. And that still includes myself, my partner Thomas Lerra, and Alex Hart all continuing to work on a volunteer basis.

I have only 2 months to figure this out.  Despite our push for donations on our Patreon, the donations have been very slim.

Which is why I’m going to ask you, if Artprof.org is a resource you are learning from, please consider a monthly donation to keep us alive. Even $1 a month will make a difference! 

Consider this: if every person on our mailing list gave us $1 a month, none of the hypothetical scenarios will happen in September.


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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Harsh Realities at Art Prof

The heart of Art Prof’s mission is to make our visual arts education content free and available to everyone.  Now, 3 years into this project, there are some harsh financial realities that we have to face.

Our Kickstarter funds were the launching pad that enabled us to actually create Artprof.org and turn our abstract ideas into a tangible, fully functional platform. We purchased tons of video/sound equipment, paid our Teaching Assistants for one year, hired our web developer, amongst other costs.

Some people might think that the $30k we raised would make us flush with cash, but that simply was not the case.  Despite the Kickstarter funding, Thomas Lerra, myself, and Alex Hart still had to keep working on a volunteer basis.  Even then, we knew that we had to keep scraping the bottom of the barrel, cut corners on almost every expense, and squeeze every last cent. I’m quite frankly amazed that we were able to make $30k last for this long.

On top of launching our site/producing content/marketing over the past year, we have been constantly pursuing all other means of raising funds:  we have been courting several sponsors non-stop for the past year, we’ve researched all kinds of grants, and looked for private donors. Basically, we have tried everything that was within our means, given everything else that was going on.

While we will continue to keep chipping away at these initiatives, we can no longer wait around. Art Prof needs a financial solution now. We are at a fork in the road: our funding is gone, and we have to figure out how to stay alive.

Either we get enough donations to stay alive, or we will have to set up a paywall. 

I really, really, don’t want to have a paywall on Art Prof.  Yet we can’t pay for Art Prof out of our own pockets long term. (we have already done plenty of that) The scope of Art Prof is far too big for that to even be a possibility.

While a paywall would certainly be the easier solution, I always go back to thinking about the teen from Nigeria, who wrote to me 2 years ago. She told me that there was no art program at her school, but that when she found my blog, she saw “a glimmer of hope.” I remember the retired adult who wrote to me and said that because of his disability and lack of finances, he will never be able to pay for an art class. Art Prof was the art class that would always be open for him. Help us keep our classroom door open to these people.

Please donate, every amount counts!

DONATE

Leyla-Clara


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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New Tutorial Set: “Small Sparks”

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Last weekend Art Prof TAs Lauryn Welch, Alex Rowe, Deepti Menon, and Casey Roonan came to my house for a 5 days of shooting. Our retreats are really intense, require serious concentration 24-7, are exhausting, but they are also a total blast.  All of us live in different places, so we really only get together a few times a year to shoot our video content. What’s been really exciting is that with every retreat, we’ve become noticeably more efficient with our time, and our work flow is much faster than before. It’s wonderful to see our team settling into a stable familiarity in the process that wasn’t there when we first got started.

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It’s still incredible to me how much we managed to pack into 5 days.  Deepti shot a tutorial about how to create an animation piece using an eggplant, Alex did a tutorial on ink wash drawing which involved American colonial history and an on site visit to a farm to hang out with sheep, Lauryn showed us how to mix coffee grounds into acrylic paint to make a painting inspired by BBQ squid, and Casey showed us all kinds of ink technique that involved roadkill and toilet paper.

Lauryn

While we still want to include the basics on Artprof.org, we’re really excited about these quirkier tutorials that are a new hybrid of artist documentary and tutorial.  In our research, the video content out there is either exclusively a documentary (such as the PBS series art21) or a purely technical tutorial.  The idea of combining both documentary and tutorial in one is really exciting, as you’ll get the change to understand the initial inspiration for our work, but also have the opportunity to see every step of the process explained, using ordinary materials that are accessible and can be done in your own home.

We see Art Prof as a platform that is constantly growing, even since our site launch this past February so much of our mindset has changed. Ideas for new content formats keep coming up, which is exciting, but also frustrating at the same time.  With our extremely limited post-production staff (me, and Alex Hart occasionally) we just don’t have the man power to produce video content as quickly as we want to. We desperately need a sound designer, but without sustained funding that isn’t an option for us right now. (please consider a monthly donation to our Patreon!)

Clara

Now that Art Prof has been around for 3 years, we felt it was a good time to create a short “Making of Art Prof” documentary for people to see what happens behind the scenes.  Even thought our content is of professional quality, I’m not sure people realize how DIY Art Prof really is!  We shoot in a room right next to my kitchen, we scrape together whatever art supplies we own, we cook meals together, and make do with situations that are less than convenient. (I’m too cheap to buy comforters for everyone, so all the TAs have to bring their own comforter when they stay here)

Naturally, our retreat wouldn’t be half as fun without our guinea pigs, Bubba and Fluffy, who are now the official Art Prof mascots!

Deepti

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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