Art Office Beta

Shewie! The past two weeks have been fun, a little bit wobbly, and very encouraging! Let me explain. The Beta Test Group is comprised of the following five artists: John Engelbrecht, Hope Spragg, Oglesby Finlay, Anna Reishus, and myself (Carla Baudrons). I personally knew one of these humans, and am having such a blast getting to know the rest. You can click on their page links through the drop-down menu “Current Members” to see more of the type of artwork they do.

This team’s session has been more involved than the Alpha group. We’re getting more into the nitty-gritty of how things work, and how they could work better in future iterations of Art Office.

One big thing we’ve discovered is that individual artists tend to have conflicting and fluctuating schedules. There have been many scheduling conflicts, and we’ve had to troubleshoot how to work around them as best we can. If Art Office were a real office, and a real M-F 9-5 job, this wouldn’t be as much of an issue, but the fact that we’re a bunch of rag-tag hustlers, either with day jobs, children, health issues, or all of the above– means that it can be a challenge to get us all together at the same time.

The workaround that we’ve implemented for the time-being is to move our Weekly Review Meetings to the weekend. Our Weekly Goals Meetings will remain on Mondays, but it seems like Saturdays are generally better days for capping the week off.

Another issue we encountered was that Zoom doesn’t allow two meetings at a time with the same host account, and PS1’s account was already booked for our Wednesday Open Studio Hours time slot. (In case you’re just learning about Art Office– our Open Studio Hours are a live stream of all of our artists at work in their individual studios.) So, what we’ll probably end up doing is switching the day, but for now, I was able to figure out a way to stream us live through a couple of different applications. I’ve mentioned it before, but I am not tech-savvy, so this was actually quite a challenge for me to figure out. But I did it! Woohoo!

One more problem we’ve run up against is something I anticipated from the start. See, the original idea was that literally, we all would be in the same room, feeding off each others’ physical presence to be more productive. However, since we are virtual, that means we don’t necessarily feel that positive peer pressure during our daily grind. It’s so easy to forget that we’re responsible to each other when we’re all self-quarantining to some degree.

Keeping track of our daily activities, following our Plans of Action, and clocking in and out are all helpful tools, but no substitute for human presence. Aside from our two meetings and Open Studio Hours every week, I haven’t figured out a solid solution to that dilemma. One idea that I had was to create an inspirational poster, with photos of our team members above the word, “Responsibility” or something, and a cheesy quote underneath. I dunno, we’ll see.

One of my goals this past week was to get the Art Office instagram page up and rolling. I did not accomplish this goal, and at our Weekly Review Meeting, I explained to my team why:

I quit social media a couple years ago-ish. For a few reasons; for one thing, I realized I was spending an ungodly amount of time on it. Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and “Vero” (remember that?), I was spending an embarrassing number of hours every day on my phone and computer. Why?

Addiction to virtual self-esteem, plain and simple. I– like all of us– want people to like me, and want other people to see that people like me. I also want to be successful, and I want other people to see me as successful. Therefore– like most of us– I sculpted a virtual version of myself to live on the internet and feed my self-esteem from the “safety” of social isolation. Of course, after a while, I realized all this and decided to quit cold-turkey until I could start again from a more healthy place.

Enter Present-Tense Carla.

Fear had me in a choke hold all week about Art Office’s instagram. I decided to open up to my coworkers and explain my situation. And guess. what. happened. Like the incredible team they are, they gathered around me in support and offered a suggestion that I hadn’t (and couldn’t have) seen:

Instagram takeovers! Yes! While I was absent from social media, this thing called “takeovers” started trending on all the different platforms, and it is such a good idea. Everyone probably already knows this, but I just recently learned, so here’s for the grandmas out there: A social media takeover is where a group delegates one member to be the sole poster for a period of time (usually a week, I think?). I imagine this is going to work so well with our team, because we all have such interesting and different perspectives. So YAY TEAM! This is yet another example of how Art Office is working.

Okie dokie, I think I’m going to put a period right here.

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