Back towards the beginning of February, my artist friend Gary Bedell posted this on Facebook:
A challenge to all my artist buddies (i.e. visual, music, etc.). Share a fellow artist page or a piece of theirs (that you KNOW) everyday for a month. Share more than one a day if you like. Who will accept?
On the face of it, it seems like a simple challenge. If you’re like me, then about half or more of your friends are creatives of some type so we should have no shortage of posts to draw from. I mean, what could be simpler than clicking the “share” button on your newsfeed? Here’s a funny thing about that though, Facebook only really puts things in your newsfeed if your interact with that person or company regularly, so before long you run out of new people to share. This is where it becomes challenging, and kind of awesome at the same time.
I hit that ceiling after about five days. Either my creative friends weren’t posting about the cool things going on in their lives and studios, or social media wasn’t showing them to me. (There was at least one friend too, who only posts from his personal page for some reason. I try really hard to let people’s personal lives stay private, so he didn’t get shared.) So, out came the pencil and paper and I started going through my friends list. At this point, it stopped mattering whether they were doing a show that weekend or just came out with a new product. It gave me a chance to think about them as friends and creatives. I started thinking about what they do, why I liked it, and why I think my other friends should like it too. I started writing posts about that, making sure to tag them in the post using @ before their business name, and sharing pages directly using the drop down menu on the side of their page.
Even better, once I did started doing this I realized that facebook actually has other tools that could help out, because like I said before, not all posts from friends show up in the newsfeed. I could cut the chance that my friends would see my posts out of the equation all together and go directly to friends I thought would like these cool things too. I could directly invite my friends to like a page after sharing it to my timeline.
I didn’t make it the whole month, sharing everyday. Like every new habit, it’s all too easy to get sidetracked and then start forgetting all together, and it’s really difficult to do from a phone. I do try to share regularly though, because honestly I’d rather see the cool things my friends are up to than another upworthy video or buzzfeed article. Sharing your friends is partly about showing off that you know cool people, and also partly about educating the publilc that there are options out there other than big box stores. Sure, Etsy is a household name now, but people don’t necessarily relate buying handmade from the site to the fact that there are individuals actually creating these things. We’re about individuals as part of a community, and a community of individuals that helps each part succeed.
I challenge you all to go and share some of your friend’s work. Maybe not every day, but often. It’ll make them feel awesome, and also help strengthen the community as a whole.
-You can find Gary’s retrospectice artbook “Thawed” on Lulu. It’s massive, and has just a TON of art spanning several years of work.
-My friend Eleanor of Scarlett and Maria makes amazing Kanzashi flowers. Check our her Facebook page, and buy something from her website. Her work is just stunning. http://www.scarlettandmaria.com/
-The Novel Neighbor is my favorite indie bookstore in forever. Check out their facebook page for updates on news and events, and if you’re ever in the Webster Groves area stop in and say hi. They’re fantastic! http://thenovelneighbor.com/