Artocalypse Evolution Time

In the beginning, there was darkness and chaos. It was 2020, and the world was all but shut down due to the Covid 19 pandemic. People everywhere were isolated, and many suffered death or existential crisis. Business of every size was closed, church doors were locked, sports were on the bench, and entertainment was nowhere to be found. Community was lost, and so were we. 

Thankfully, we had one tool left in our toolbox. The internet became a refuge for anyone needing to connect and gather together. Which was basically everyone. Techy and non techy alike flocked to the digital world in unprecedented numbers. People from everywhere were helping each other, and we made new ways to create community.

We adapted together, and there was hope again. During this era, I made some amazing friends. One friend, Chris Shaw, who I met on LinkedIn, pitched the idea of running an online arts event. I had already managed and run several online arts communities in the past through G+ and knew the value these communities bring to both artists and audiences. So I jumped on board immediately. We had no real plan, but Chris is basically a tech wizard, so we were in good hands. He organized meetings once a week on Wednesday afternoon for everyone to share their ideas and for us to learn the tools we would need to create an artist expo. From everyone’s feedback and experience, we put together a full weekend event of live art. Using Hopin as our platform and Google slides as our canvas for artist expos, we created something truly unique and special.

We had live poetry readings and painting, collaboration on short films, music, original art, and meet the artist interviews. We even had live Opera.  The event was free to the public. Artists contributed a few bucks, and we managed to get a few sponsors. All together, the financial output was minimal and covered, and the labor and time was an act of charity. Chris manned the tech, Richard created the spreadsheets, Angela designed the logo, Jona organized the admin, Ellen ran the social media, I hand held the non techy artists, promoted, Iain and I created marketing assets, and us artists bled creativity of every form and kind and color and creed. Each exhibit was a masterpiece, and no two were the same. We collaborated on everything from choosing the name to the logo and the expo itself. Artocalypse is the name we chose, kind of self-explanatory… but pretty great, right?! 😃

Altogether, it was pretty damn beautiful.

The community was such a success that we put on another expo a few months later. The energy was palpable. People were creating and enjoying art they would otherwise not have the chance to explore. There was grace and joy and good times even at the darkest moment in history. We were all very grateful. Many of us went on to start small businesses and help others to do the same. It really exemplified the awesome nature of the human ability to adapt and come together.

Not soon after our 2nd event, the world was starting to open up again, and little by little, we began living outside under the stars again. But a lot had changed for most of us. Many jobs were not coming back, and career shifts needed to happen on a mass scale. We also learned great new ways to use the internet that would help make our lives and jobs even more resilient. We also made true friends across nations. All these things meant we would continue to need the internet, and we were each charged with how to do that in a way that worked best for us and our communities.

That brings us to the context of this post. Artocalypse kept going as an annual end of year artist feature expo organized and ran by me on Instagram and LinkedIn. The discord community itself fizzled out as a meeting place, but Chris and I continued to experiment with ideas over the course of 4 years. We knew we needed to keep the Artocalypse going, but how? We went through many iterations and learned some very fascinating and useful things about indie web and online community building options, trying to find the next right phase for this incredible community.

Enter Artocalypse 2.0 😁 a website that will host featured expos, artist magazine, weekly prompts for inspiration, and the main event —  an rss curated feed of independent artists and creators(plus some other goodies in the works for when we’re ready to grow). A big part of the reasoning behind our decision is rooted in lessons we learned from 2020 combined with wisdom to not make another social media platform.

What we knew was that artists still need community and exposure for their art, and we wanted to make something that could add value to their online journey and presence without adding too much extra work to their plate. Something that would turn the work they did into direct growth for their journey. The idea took shape to create a curated opt-in feed that pulls content directly from an artists site or blog. There’s several beautiful things baked into this bread, and all of them only add value. For one, anyone with a simple blog can enjoy the benefits of it. This means you continue to own and control your work, and we just display it and get you exposure for your online assets, by joining us and opting in. By just posting your work on your own site, it’ll be curated into our public facing feed for anyone to discover and enjoy for free.

We have all learned by now the benefits of owning your own online economy and the problems that arise when you don’t. Social media is a great tool, but it’s not a very healthy place to spend all your time and if used, requires strategy for competing against changing algorithms and big budgets. It is also not meant to be a place to build a stable resilient business for the long term. Today’s popular platform is tomorrow’s empty tomb, and it’s important to have a life to come back too. It’s equally necessary to mitigate the risk of platform dependency and collapse and build community outside the echo chambers and noisy all-consuming media platforms. We want Artocalypse to continue to be a force for good and keep its original structure of community, collaboration, and exploration in the forefront. We hope to be a part of the next phase of digital foundation building for our members and the greater internet at large.

It’s not exactly a time any of us want to remember, but as with all bad events in history, if we don’t keep the lesson, we’re likely to repeat it. There can be good in a dark place, but it takes good ideas, and people coming together to achieve that. We hope you’ll join us as we start our new journey together. 

I’m going to make myself a cup of vanilla caramel tea 🍵 😋 have a wonderful day, my awesome creative geniuses!

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