I'm not the Immortal Artist. You are

Immortal Artist is dedicated to exploring all aspects of experimental art and creating new and innovative techniques which other artists can use to strengthen their own work.

The blogs creator, experimental artist Grey Cross pursues and discusses art across a wide spectrum of artistic mediums. They include painting, sculpting, body art, digital art, and photography. With an emphasis on teaching artists to utilize today's social networks to further their own art and reputations.

This blog uses the Living Blog concept, an idea created by Grey Cross

Grey Cross Studios/Immortal Artist Operations

New Orleans

Email: greyacross@aol.com

Friday, July 29, 2016

Fighting Apathy - The Artists Worst Nightmare (Updated 07-29-16)

As an artist, getting people to pay attention to my work is perhaps one of the greatest frustrations for me. I don't mind negative criticism towards my work as long as its done with some amount of diplomacy. "That's fucked up man" is neither criticism nor constructive. 

But worse than that for me is apathy in the viewer.  The feeling that no one cares. The sound of silence while your singing to the heavens about a new piece of art you spent months creating can be the most agonizing thing possible for any creative. Whats it all for? Sometimes we just want to cry out in anguish when we create and no one acknowledges that creation.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Image of the Day - Oberonus Cirque (Oberon's Crown)

Oberonus Cirque (Oberon's Crown) 
50% Complete
Size: 13" x 13" x 21"

This will be the 9th sculpture in the Deadwood series. This piece was extremely difficult to clean and cure. It was very easy to snap off parts of it during cleaning and it had to be worked at very slowly. It was mounted last night on its base and has gone through its first coloration. It will have at least two more blended coats before it will be ready to move on to its polyurethane coats. When its complete it will become a companion piece to Oberonus Scepterus (Oberon's Sceptre) which was completed a few days ago (see below)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Game of Knowledge - Artists Thriving in the Social Network Universe (Updated 07-26-16)

Social Networks to me are like playing a game using real knowledge and information. It took me years to grasp that the secret to social networking is to play it like a game, and that the game can be won by the intellectual capital (information) that an individual user brings to the table. 

Confusing? It was for me at first -- until I realized that the most important players on the Twitter board were the ones who interacted with knowledge and information, sometimes their own, sometimes from others.

Their are thousands of people on Twitters whose feed is nothing but quotes famous people. Many do nothing but retweet news articles and links. These are examples of playing the game using a viable information source readily available to each user, and it gets effects. These users have plenty of followers even though the information is readily available in a thousand other ways. I think of these folks as "base information users."

One step up from the base users are the "genre-specific information users". These folks take a subject such as art, music, or sports and spend a great deal of time retweeting specific information to other people. These users have made a science of finding out about their specific genre of information and moving it back out to others. Unlike the "base info users," who don't have to put a lot of energy into cutting and pasting links and quotes, the "genre-specific users" are dedicated to their task and put a lot more time and energy into their endeavor. In return they usually have a higher follower rate than a "base user" does. 

Both types of users are using information as their tool of trade. You may ask, "what about all the users who are just there to interact with friends?" What are they interacting with? Usually personal information about their lives, shared back and forth. We'll call these the "life users." They play a part, but their following is usually quite small and isolated to their friends, family. Their posts are usually about restaurants, life events, favorite hobbies, etc. I've noticed these users rarely let outsiders onto their followers list. They also rarely survive on Twitter. Life users will find a much more fulfilling social environment on Facebook.

Now we take a step up to the "power users." These folks don't only share information from others but create their own information flow in the forms of blogs, websites, original insights, etc. "Power Users" are truly the power players. They use information as a commodity, sharing it out, bringing people in, selling and buying in whatever subject they are working closely with. "Power users" are usually influential online even if not in the real world. They hold sway over public opinion and can often move those opinions with their commentaries. Their follower numbers range from 10,000 to hundreds of thousands.

Finally, at the top of the hierarchy, are the "celebrity users." These are people who just by their mere presence are a dominant force. They may only tweet out once a month, but their words are watched carefully both by fans and news sources. Celebs don't have to bother following anyone else, but those who follow them are in the hundreds of thousands and more. The interesting thing about celebs is that they've already paid with their intellectual capital far before they came online. The musicians, actors, writers made their mark and now they are reaping the benefits of it. We get jealous sometimes of how easy it seems for the "celeb users" to sell just about anything to others, but we forget that they already paid the price for admission with a lot of hard work in their area of expertise. 

What these types all have in common is that they are trading in intellectual capital. They may be there solely to sell a product in real life, but what many fail to realize is that when you're here in the cyber universe, information has to be your starting economy. If you sell tractors, you can't plan to come on and get a hundred thousand followers and keep their attention just by offering your tractor deal of the week. 

If that's why you're here, you may get a few followers just because they like your products, but if you want to keep them around, you must put some time and energy into your intellectual capital. You may need to offer expertise on tractor maintenance and repair, free advice on ways to use your tractor, even online classes. Most important, you have to show you're a real person behind your tractor business, not just some bot tossing out information hourly without ever interacting with your followers. 

In other words, you have to play the game just like the smallest player on the board. You may have more resources and cash to put into your intellectual capital, but we've all seen huge companies who never grasp a social network because they haven't learned to play it like a game and to use the information they have at hand. 

I am using Twitter as the example for this article, but its really no different on any social network. What is different are the social rules by which you play the game. Every social network has its rules that make the game unique to it. Google+, Instagram and a host of others all work the same but have fundamentally different social rules for how you spend your intellectual capital. 

As I said at the beginning, it took me years to grasp Twitter and I am not even sure how I did it. It was more intuitive for me than anything I read or researched. Once I got the hang of it, I could maintain at that "genre specific" level almost immediately. But it was not until I began to consider what I have already outlined above that I suddenly went from a "genre user" to a "power user".

I finally understood and did so well with it because first I stopped looking at it as a business tool and started looking at it as worldwide game of strategy and intricacy that rivals any damned video game ever created. And second I was playing with the one resource I had in abundance. My brain! I may be a poor struggling artist, but the one thing I have is knowledge, information, learning from a thousand directions, and a life full of experience. When I coupled those things with what I do best, "creating art," I suddenly had the keys to make this work for me.

In the end everything around us is built from information. Ideas, products, even social interactions in a bar, are built from tiny bits of information that we use to interact. We do it so naturally that we don't even realize we are doing it. Think about the last conversation you had with someone. What was it composed of? Dd it involve tell the other person about your day? Perhaps how work went? Or how crappy life is? All of that is information tinged with emotion. But when you break it down to the fundamentals, everything we share is information that we've gained and then spewed back out. 

Jackson Browne put it well in the song "For a Dancer" when he said:

Just do the steps that you've been shownBy everyone you've ever knownUntil the dance becomes your very own
Into a dancer you have grown from a seed somebody else has thrownGo on ahead and throw some seeds of your ownAnd somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you goMay lie a reason you were alive but you'll never know

This is true of everything we do. We start out learning from everyone around us then apply that information towards our own path. And if we are lucky we start to create new information to augment the old. 

Are you playing the game with your own intellectual capital? If not, you may get to the level of the game of being a "genre specific user," but until you start using what you naturally have and not just playing with other people's intellectual capital (e.g. retweeting other people's work), you will never attain the level of "power user." So think carefully about it and observe how the social networking game is played. By changing your perspective you may change how you play. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Photographic Anomalies - What the Camera Sees (Updated 07-24-16)

When I am teaching about photography I am always quick to bring up that the camera captures details we often don't see or notice with the naked eye. The cameras ability to see everything is one of the reasons that its such a satisfying art form. 

When I have this discussion with students, I am rarely talking about the camera seeing things that don't make sense. But there are other things that defy explanation. I often run across the occasional image that doesn't make logical sense to me. With well over a million photos taken in my 20+ years behind a camera I think I have a fairly good understanding of light refraction. I see it all the time when working with night photography. But rarely do I see photos with light anomalies that I can't explain. 

In fact I can think of only a handful of photos that challenged my perceptions. Now I am not claiming the camera is capturing ghosts or spirits or UFO's. What I am claiming is that I can't explain the occasional anomaly that I come across. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Image of the Day - Pandora's Bones and the Dead Wood Sculpture Series

The concept of the Dead Wood series is finally taking shape with this piece. I've got several other pieces that are technically part of this emerging series but I was grouping them in my driftwood series. What makes the dead wood series difference is that all the wood was obtained in local New Orleans cemeteries. So the theme of Life & Death in Sacred Ground fits it well because the life of a tree is born and dies in the sacred ground of a burial place. 
In the case of Pandora's Bones, I chose the name because the piece of wood seemed more like a fragile piece of bone to me than wood. Its unique shape feels otherworldly. The piece is very small but very detailed. I may create a reliquary for it later but want to consider it further. 
There are already four other pieces in process for this series so more to come.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Art of Displaying Art Part 2 - Online Presentation

I wrote an article awhile back on the Art of Displaying Art. The premise of the article was that how your art is seen in public is as important as the art itself. Taking time to curate the piece first and display it artfully for your customers will make people return to buy more.

The same thing applies online. The appearance of your art to others who may see it on the internet is equally if not more important because you are reaching a far larger audience. 

I take a lot of time in the preparation of art to be seen online. The photo at the top of the article is an example. This digital art could have been displayed alone, which In fact is how most art is shown online.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Art of Displaying Art Part 1 - Live Displays (Updated 07-15-16)

Properly displaying your art for others to see is an art form all by itself. We often rush to show our work not considering the way its seen for the first time. That crucial first impression makes all the difference. 

If a client is coming into the studio to pick up work, I make sure all pieces are first cleaned and dusted, touched up and that certificates of authenticity are printed for each. Then as the final step I moved the art into a display area with proper lighting so that when a customer comes to pick them up, there is a first impression made.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Where Rules Can Backfire on Social Media - Artists Thriving across Social Networks (Updated 07-13-16)

We've seen it time and again where a social networking site will impose rules that while on the surface may look wise but end up causing them to lose members rather than gain them. I don't think we mind following rules that are well thought out and and are applied to make the communities better, but often a rule that has no wiggle room ends up causing damage to the network. 

Take for example  Instagrams shutting down of artist websites due to what they consider pornographic materials. One artist posted a shoot taken of a woman breastfeeding their infant. It was not meant in a pornographic way and the artist stated that it was a study in bonding and posted with the permission of the women involved. Yet instagram shut the artist down. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Hyper-Creative & The Hobbyist

I am convinced that we all need creativity in our lives. I come across a ton of people who say "I wish I could do what you do, but I'm not creative". But this is a false impression most people have about themselves. In reality what you perceive as an artist being creative, is in actuality "hyper-creativity". 

We all have our creative sides. But what most lack is the ability to express it. For the hyper-creative, we express it in a thousand different ways. The Hyper-creative tend to explore beyond just one area of creativity.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Visitor - Dead Wood Sculpture

The Visitor is the third sculpture made from dead wood rather than driftwood. The wood was collected in Holt Cemetery in New Orleans and came from a Live Oak that we call the Aware Tree due to the fact that he is guardian to the graves in the center of the cemetery. He takes his job seriously and does not like visitors. I was fortunate that he was willing to give up a part of himself for this sculpture.

This unique piece of wood had several faces in it. I settled on this aspect because it reminded me of a visitor from another dimension. It is set in natural clay and foaming glue on a tile base with metallic acrylics for the color and then polyurethane to coat the wood and seal it. 

He comes with a certificate of authenticity, signed, dated and finger printed by the artist and verifies that he is the third sculpture in this series. 

This fellow is only available through the studio. For information on making him a part of your art collection contact us at gcsartno@aol.com

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Vase - A Light Study for #Artists & #Photographers

We often take light for granted in art and photography. We do not think about the angles, the shades, the colors, etc. But understanding light angles can be crucial to a great composition. 

We recently did a light study in the studio. I took a simple broken red glass vase and set it on a pedestal and had my intern Jackson sit in front of it and photograph it over and over again. Each photo was taken with the light at a slightly different angle. The settings on the camera varied between using the flash, not using the flash and using a low light setting. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Image of the Day - The Oracle of the Scarab

Click to Enlarge

The Oracle of the Scarab is made from a very fragile piece of driftwood. The wood was cured and sealed to keep it from disintegrating using a special experimental technique developed by me. Its difficult to find wood that has a great pattern but is not too deeply decayed that it becomes unusable. But when I am lucky enough to find one it always becomes something precious. It is 6" wide by 18" tall. 

It is 80% complete. I will post further photos when its done.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Stress is the Ultimate Creativity Killer

I see a lot of articles on what makes us more creative and what steps we can take to make ourselves as creative as possible. I see a fewer on what stops us from being creative. What advice is available is usually in the form of diet advice for thinking more clearly or how to avoid work place distractions.

So what really causes us to lose our creativity. There are a lot of reasonable answers to the question. But at the top of the list has to be "stress". In fact it may be surprising at how many of the other reasons for losing ones creativity could be reverted back to stress as the root cause.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Seeing Past the Mundane - An Artists Most Important Skill

Its funny how something you've looked at a dozen times and remained blind to, can suddenly create ideas for art. I was working on a portfolio tonight from a photo shoot done at Holt Cemetery last February. I've used the 200+ photos in this set several times for different projects. The photo above was one of those. Doesn't look like much. Its a pile of wood near some graves. In fact I can't honestly tell you why I took the photo in the first place and it had never been used for anything specific.

But tonight I stopped and realized that I wasn't looking at a pile of wood. I was looking in fact at raw material for sculptures. I usually work with driftwood for a lot of my sculpture work, but a chance encounter a few months back with some dried juniper wood in another cemetery made me realize the value of extremely aged and dried wood.