This was something I wrote about a year ago when I first started investigating blogs. Kind of long, but I thought it might make a decent first official post. Let me know what you think.
I have only even been aware of the existence of blogs for maybe a year. I didn’t even realize there could be such a thing as a blog about pottery until about two weeks ago. I had been contemplating a presence on the web as a venue for my pots and a forum for my ideas, but I didn’t really have a clue as to where to look, what to look for. So I suppose I am a novice at this. My first thought was to sign up for a free website. A fellow artist I had known in grad school had a site designed for her and it was so far out of my budget that I knew this option would only be possible in some distant unrecognizable future. So ‘free’ was in, a necessary constraint to what I would be doing.
Still floundering, I asked around with some of my computer savvy friends and it was suggested that I look into a blog. How happy was I that a google search of ‘pottery blog’ led me straight to Emily Murphy’s blog of the same name! Not only was it fleshed out in a way that I would want my presence on the web to be, but her posts are so interesting and generous with their helpfulness that I will forever stand in grateful awe of her.
Ok. Now you have the set up. The question whether to blog free came up last night in a conversation with a colleague who coincidentally was busy studying photoshop online to get a handle on how she presents the images of her pots. I can never remember the wording of conversations but as we discussed various things the gist of her comments was that she would never do a free website or blog. The word she used with horror was “template”, free stuff merely being a template where you jam on some of your images and words. She preferred a designed site where things were clean, simple, and elegant.
Well who doesn’t want that? Needless to say I was embarrassed about my plans and ashamed I even contemplated this ‘template’ thing. My hasty defense was that I was too poor to do much more than the free stuff at this point but that I could at least learn for free and move on to better things when I could afford them. The last nail in my coffin came when she said that she never wanted to do something with a website or with her art that didn’t make the right statement about her, that didn’t reflect what she wanted to express. Using a template would come off as shabby and unprofessional. Damn! I had some thinking to do.
Luckily I could only get three hours of sleep before the turmoil woke me back up and demanded that I find a resolution. So the question was whether or not to feel guilty about free blogging. My first thought was that, after having picked through various blogrolls, my survey indicated that, yes, there is a difference between ones that are designed and ones that are free. There are also some frivolously ‘unprofessional’ templates out there. But on the whole templates didn’t bother me. It turns out that there are some really talented designers crafting templates and free blogs are shaping up quite nicely.
So the next question was whether giving over control of the presentation to a template meant being unprofessional. What I then realized was that my colleague’s comments said much more about what her own prejudices were than what might be right for me. I admire her as a person and as an artist. I love her pots with a passion. They are clean, simple, and elegant (remember that phrase?). They are all about design, control, and precision (sound familiar?). So she really was just expressing a personal motif, not necessarily a judgment I had to abide by. After all, I throw loose pots and fire in a wood kiln. How different is that?
What I like about the free blogs is that what I sacrifice in control over the presentation I can more than make up for by having quality content (and the presentation needn’t suffer if you can abide scruffy organic things). So instead of balking me, my resolve is to now push ahead, whether I am ready for prime time or not. I hope I don’t embarrass myself too often.