5Artz, A New Website for the Millenium

We have become a world culture that perceives it has no leisure time.

Out of Print” is a documentary produced by Morton Denn and directed by Vivienne Roumani. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend watching it. The film highlights my fears and those of many writers in the world. I think I can feel pretty safe in saying that there are probably a large number of writers and others (musicians, photographers, artists, voice over professionals) who are afraid that the ability of anyone to make a living creatively has been jeopardized by the expectations of anything in writing being free of charge on the world wide web.

It is my opinion that there are very creative artists who want to earn a living creatively.

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The look of the new 5Artz website


5Artz will be an online website featuring a store and mobile app that promotes what used to be known as the “short piece” or short story. For writers, short stories were compact creations of prose that elicited an emotion of one kind or another. Creating compact prose has become an art form, generally recognized in the form of an award.

Regretfully, many new writers do not even know these awards exist.

Perhaps the truest form of an award for a writer would be the willingness of a perfect stranger to purchase what they have created, demonstrating that their work has merit, or value. The recognition that a new writer could receive would be that the words they are creating are so valuable, that someone is willing to pay for their work.

The mission of 5Artz is to promote new creative talent via a mobile app.

Part of my therapy in getting my life back to where it should be, getting my stories out for all to enjoy, will be in sharing this blog on and about 5Artz, the site I am attempting to create for all creative souls in the world.

As a creative artist, I know how many other people have been sidetracked by the rigors of life.

There are people who have hobbies that will never see the light of day. They want to make a living doing what they love doing the most. I am talking about writing their heart out, baring their soul in visual expressions, painting pictures with light, expressing their highs and lows in life with song, or dramatically expressing themselves as other people, other characters in worlds we have not comprehended yet. The dream of 5Artz is to allow not “A”-listers, but “B”-listers, “C”-listers even you would consider “F”-listers to take a chance on themselves and learn how to become creative professionals and sell their work via phone app to a growing group of buyers, namely commuters.

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A graphic illustration of many new creative artists today.

There nothing like the site I am creating.

At the time of this writing, there are probably thousands of existing websites for hopeful artists to perfect their respective crafts, which  are fantastic places to visit. I highly recommend visiting all of them. 5Artz will be a site that compliments, not competes with existing websites for creative talent on the web. What I am creating is a site that capitalizes on the business that I learned as a novice writer so many years ago, and as a person who participated in online games. I believe there are features we can introduce from online gaming sites which could be incorporated into a creative site. A site dedicated to the democratization and freedom of creative expression, rather than something that fills a more conservative void; censored by the site owner.

The vision I would like to introduce is a community-run website that supports creativity of individual members, policed by its members and is self-sufficient.

In order to be self-sufficient, it cannot be a free site. It must have some way of supporting itself in order to add more tools, provide mentors and bolster its mobile app to survive. It will cost $3.99 per member each month to satisfy this need. Like the gaming world, as the demands of members become more intense to accommodate rising professional needs, we will create higher tiered memberships, which will feature better, more expensive tools.

 

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A visual concept of the 5Artz mission – courtesy of http://www.Istockphoto.com.

The site will grow with its members.

Members will vote on any new additions to the site. If members feel that something is not needed, it will not be added. Therefore, the website will be community-run, all monies collected in member fees used to pay for staffing, upgrades, tools and maintenance. In short, the more members the site attracts, the more tools will be added to the site.

5Artz will feature short pieces of work.

Each member will agree (in writing) to sell their finished short pieces for no more than $1.00 (USD). Why no more than the price I just quoted? Because I feel that in this day and age, the general populace find that purchasing something new and creative for $1.00 or less is more than equitable. The price is adequate, and can introduce the world to new talent, regardless of age, race, creed or gender.

So, if I’m only selling for $1.00 (USD) or less, how would I make money?

5Artz members will have a choice of selling their work through a free mobile app (that can be created with security options). The really cool idea about selling via a free mobile app is that members could be the very people marketing the free app. You can answer this hypothetical question. So, if we have 100,000 members, even 10,000 members pushing this app on their respective Facebook  pages or other social media websites, could we conceivably get people to download and use the app?

Yes, we could.

Word-of-mouth travels rather quickly, so imagine the app being downloaded by 1,000,000 (that’s 1 million folks) people. If you are a member and able to capture just 1% (one percent) of those users every month, how much are you earning as a creative individual? Let’s do the math: 1,000,000 x 1% equals 10,000 (if you can’t figure this out, I have provided you with a link). So, can you survive on the possibility of earning $10,000.00 (USD) per month as a creative artist? The beauty of this equation is that if you are an enterprising individual, you would create salable material every month that links to the previous short piece you created (this works for musicians, photographers, artists and voice over professionals), also working in something that leaves your new fan to salivate over your next piece the coming month. Create 12 pieces over a year, and a writer has the makings of a book, an artist or photographer; the makings for a portfolio, the musician the songs to create an album and the voice over artist, enough material for either a play or movie.

Short work is already gaining popularity.

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The marriage of pen and keyboard.

Flash fiction has become a popular form of prose writing. It is quick, terse and conforms to the average needs of today’s mobile culture. Many times however, it is free. 5Artz is being created as a hopeful link between those who wish to develop a career creatively. The website will focus on a short story for a writer, one visual panel for an artist, one photograph for a photographer, one song for a musician or one short 5-minute audio piece for a voice over professional. The beauty of 5Artz is that the writer can have the freedom to express themselves in whatever method they choose.

A community that works together: 5Artz.

The 5Artz community (members) will have the opportunity to work with them, and those of us running the site will have the opportunity to ensure that the written work is placed in the correct genre (I will ensure that adult-rated material is placed in the proper adult-rated slots). I have worked for (and will continue to work for) Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Inc. and learned a valuable life lesson from my mentors.

NEVER CENSOR contributed work.

I will make it clear right now, that 5Artz will NEVER censor any contributed work. That work includes political, religious or work that may seem offensive to certain groups. It will however, be placed in specific categories, so that you the buyer, know what the work is about, so that you can make a sound buying decision before you make the purchase. Our work will be categorized in alphabetical order, with the community members and 5Artz staff creating new categories as they are needed. Work will then be reorganized as needs arise.

Any changes made to the 5Artz website will be known to the community.

All modifications to the site will be voted on by the community as much as possible. There may be certain changes that are necessary, but the objective of the 5Artz staff will be to ensure that the site is not only beautifully aesthetic, but simple and functional.

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A community staffed with legal professionals

Perhaps the greatest challenge for the website will be legal problems or fears regarding breaches of security or intellectual property disputes. All members will agree to mediation regarding intellectual property rights and problems that could arise from disputed claims of trademark or copyright infringement. 5Artz will employ a legal staff and mediators to work with members in resolving these issues through a support link.

5Artz will be the first creative website to house voice chat capability.

Imagine being able to collaborate with other people (creative artists) in projects where your finished product pays you both equally. The cool thing is that you were able to work out your collaboration verbally. The site would have a collaboration link set up, with online tools for you to create, develop, modify and finally submit salable, polished work for the mobile app for sale.

I have laid out my basic skeleton for the site.

We already have members on our original website: The Forum for Creative Innovation, and have already decided to eventually move the site and members over to the 5Artz site. We have not decided whether or not we will maintain the site yet, but it is something we will eventually kick around with our 5Artz community. In the meantime, we hope that you enjoy our short videos that we will be presenting for our initial crowdfunding campaign to raise awareness and hopefully recruit new members for the site.

 

Having your own classroom

Today is my birthday.

My supervisor and I stopped for a moment to talk about strategies for the upcoming year. Our fiscal year actually started on July the 1st. We have conducted two classes so far, graduating our second class today. I took a look around and snapped a couple of photos because the room feels so quiet right now.

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It looks so idyllic to me, when compared to my former classroom:

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There are times when I miss my old classroom.

It was always filled with people. My day started at 8:00 A.M. and ended at 5:00 P.M. sharp, but it went by so fast that it seemed like an hour. In the 2 years that we were in our old location, I don’t remember a dull moment and I don’t remember a long day. Which brings me back to my opening statement.

My supervisor asked me when I was going to take vacation.

He surprised me with the question. So much that, I didn’t know how to answer him. My answer was that I would have to ask my wife. We talked some more, his advice being that I should really give some thought to taking time off, since he felt that the job tends to burn a lot of people out. I replied that I don’t feel burned out. Quite the opposite. I feel renewed. I told him that ever since I was hired, I’ve been addicted to the work. I look forward to the challenge of teaching more people something new. I enjoy helping people. I told him that I am afraid of taking vacation.

I have been formally teaching since 2003.

As a teacher, I even attempted working for the public school system and found that I just did not fit in. I am a maverick of sorts, with a need to share what I learn in simple, easy-to-understand words that do not confuse, befuddle or drive away my students. I teach adults. I cannot count the number of times that an entire class has asked me why I wasn’t their teacher in high school. I am told by my students, that there is a disparaging difference between my teaching methods and those of the teachers they had in school. In short, I am entertaining and passionate about what I teach and their teachers were robotic at best, uncaring at worst.

I believe that teaching is timely.

When I plan a curriculum for my adult students, it has to be not only engaging, but must include exercises that they can use. I teach all levels of computer technology, including Windows, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Web Applications. I’m well known in Las Vegas for my laid-back teaching style and patience when explaining how to use any applications.

I am afraid of going on vacation because I would miss teaching.

I am trying to replace my love of teaching with my passion for writing. I plan to revisit writing my books and short stories that I shelved in lieu of manuals and lesson plans. What is also keeping me busy is getting my project online, so that it can grow as a much-needed business on the web.

So, it looks like I will spend my birthday agonizing over minutae.

No I will not spend my birthday agonizing over small details. My family is getting together with me, while friends and family are already wishing me a happy birthday.

What I will be agonizing over, during all the festivities is that I have aged another year. Time is growing ever shorter, and my bucket list of projects just keeps getting longer.

I guess that I’m just like a lot of people in the world.

My appreciation over all though, is that I am alive, I am in good health and I have the company of a wonderful woman that I am madly in love with, after being together for over 20 years. Oh, and the fact that I am able to share my thoughts with so many people is really cool.

Have a wonderful day. I know that I will.

Free Registry for Forum for Creative Innovation Now Open for Business

Okay, we have taken the plunge.

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We opened up on Enjin.com, and have made a Free Registry for creative artists. Our list includes Writers, Artists, Photographers, Musicians and Performing Artists.

What is our goal?

There are thousands of websites available for individual disciplines. Thousands of websites for writers. Thousands of websites for artists. The same for photographers, musicians and performing artists. So, how is this website any different than the other websites for creative artists?

How many of you are making a living with your craft?

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Honestly, how many of you can say that you are so good, that you do not need a website like mine to allow you the ability to collaborate with another person who ascribes to another discipline? A musician getting together with a poet, the musician taking music, the poet creating lyrics to go with the music. Maybe it is vice versa. How about a Writer getting together with an Artist to collaborate on a graphic novel? Or maybe a musician getting together with a photographer to help them with their album cover, maybe throw in a writer to help them with their biography, which could be included with their CD? Or a writer really could use a professional voice to narrate their story, expand their reach into books on CD.

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There are a lot of ways to collaborate.

The rub is that often, when you collaborate, the other person wants cash up front. Cash that you don’t have. So the collaboration never happens, and you never really get that hit you are working so hard for. What if we had a free website, and a pay website?

What if a website existed that was designed…specifically created for mixed creative arts.

The reason why we have a free registry, is because we are developing a web engine that will allow future members to create (side-by-side) projects that (when finished) will be sold (by those who created it) in their own store, the proceeds automatically split between those creators for every sale. If you are serious about your craft, think about what you could do, if you could expand your ability to make a living by fusing your work in another discipline?

No, there are no guarantees, but answer the question yourself.

Could you, the artist, writer, musician, photographer or performing artist stand to get more exposure, if your work was featured with other work? A musician could gain more exposure, if their music was part of a collaborative work, where it is used as background for a story. A writer could gain more exposure if their writing is narrated by a professional voice, featuring original artwork by an artist that they had found in the fCI forum’s SpeakEazy.

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How many websites feature the ability for you, the individual creative person to literally talk with another creative person?  And, the “registry” you are a member of is free.

Of course, once we have the web engine up and running on the site, we DO plan to charge for it. We plan to charge $3.99 per month for members to use the engine, personal storefront space, access to training and mentoring by people who can help them sell their work, or can put them together with people in the forum that they may not know. But the Free Registry will always remain free. So will the SpeakEazy.

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Right now, the Free Registry is like a huge, empty mall.

It is waiting for creative individuals to set up shop in the mall. To begin filling the mall with posts of their ideas, filling the SpeakEazy with customers (other creative souls) to talk about possibilities. Possibilities involving collaboration, ideas for projects that others could be interested in.

There is no way we will be able to make this happen without you.

Once we start to fill up, we won’t be able to really get started until we can develop the web engine. Begin to talk about how we can bring more members into our fold. I foresee 500,000 members (paying members) within 5 years. I have many, many friends who feel that we can do that in less time. The only way we could ever do that is with your help. YOU have to bring other creative individuals in. YOU will be the ones running the site.

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Why?

We have created the mall. Enjin has helped us with the SpeakEazy. Anyone can make this, but how many can create the engine necessary to make this successful? How many people know the real secret that will allow every member to make a living (some a very decent living) with their art? We will. We, as a community will make that happen.

As soon as the web engine is developed, we plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the pay site.

The funds will always go for you, the member. Any staff who come onboard will be paid from your contributions. Any upgrades that are made, will be courtesy of the members. Meanwhile, the idea is for as many members as humanly possible to make a living with their work. How will we do that? Well, I’m a teacher. One thing I teach all of my students is that you can’t eat a steak in one bite. You have to eat that steak in small bites. THAT is what we will show you. No tricks, no gimmicks, just a lot of hard work.

Imagine having the opportunity to work together with other creative individuals and get paid for your efforts.

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One of the first items of business that we plan to install is a way for members not only to receive monetary compensation for their collaborative efforts, but to rate other members. We plan to do that in the Free Registry as well.

The more paying members we have, the more the community will benefit.

We will be able to bring in more staff as funds increase. We will be able to sponsor monthly contests with high payouts. (Oh yes, the winners will be voted on BY the community and judges chosen who sell work in their discipline). Think of the tools that could be employed in a tight community. Of course, members will vote on all upgrades to the site (member websites, improved storefront, video conferencing that allows whiteboards, storyboards or even high-money contests).

There would be a lot that we could do, if we are able to accomplish our 5-year goal.

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But for now, the free registry is open.

If you are a creative individual, here is the link: Forum for Creative Innovation Portal. We’re still really small, but with your help, we can become a community to be reckoned with…a community of creative souls with a lot of power on the web.

(All images courtesy of istockphoto.com or everystockphoto.com)

Working with People

Working with people is an art.

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Jacquelyn Smith, a Forbes staff writer composed an outstanding article about leadership entitled, “The 20 People Skills You Need To Succeed At Work”, where she outlined the need for anyone leading people to possess “people skills”.

People come to us in all different shapes and sizes. They come to us when they are happy, they come to us when they are sad. People come to us angry, they come to us with indifference. People are some of the most incalculable creatures on the planet. Some of us may feel that people, like computers are predictable and measureable, but when the facts are laid out on the table, people are as unpredictable as the weather.

When engaged in conversations, there are senders and receivers.

One can joke, cajole, even harass another with spontaneity or humor, expecting a laugh as a response, but there can be times when the response may not be one that is expected by the sender. The response may be anger, frustration, laughter, sadness…any number of responses when confronted with a decision to react with an emotion, always triggered by any number of variables. Some people may be experiencing outside influences such as personal challenges, professional challenges, personality conflicts, even a lack of an empathic response to the sender’s attempt at humor.

Some senders insist on enticing a reaction from the receiver.

Sometimes, a sender may insist on  a reaction from the receiver. Reactions could include embarrassment, anger, hostility, rage, subjectivity, or submission. For example, a manager may harass or ridicule an employee by including them in some “harmless” office fun, by making them the brunt of jokes. Perhaps the manager will ask the employee a question that seems innocent, yet is laced with innuendo and cynicism about the employee. Generally, situations generated by managers that involve placing employees in awkward positions can arise from a lack of empathy for the employee, or a desire by the manager to “put the employee in their place”.

The workplace can be a place for professional behavior, or unprofessional behavior.

It is up to the manager to set the tone for the office. Managers must remember that they are not gods, nor are they omniscient or omnipotent. Managers may often be misled by the impression that they are in control of the office and those employees who work for them; but they are not in control. Managers need to remember that they are influencers who guide the emotional tone of those around. them. I have been managing classrooms for over 30 years (on and off), and have had the opportunity to learn a lot about behavior and influence from my students. As a classroom manager, I have found that I am indeed, an influencer of those people I face, but I do not hold sway over their every decision. I can influence the people I am managing by my reactions to any emotion that is expressed by them. As a manager, I might temporarily remove a student in order to get their attention, I may listen to what they have to say in class, or I may schedule a private conference with my student, so that I have the opportunity to offer feedback that is both constructive and helpful to the student. I have learned in all my years of managing my classes that customer service is critical in order to not only maintain a semblance of control in my classroom, but also influence the desire to listen to what I have to say from my students.

It is important for managers to remember that those who represent them are people with feelings, complete with responses.

Managers need to remember that if their employees confront them openly, or object strongly and openly to policy that has been implemented, that manager needs to learn how to give them time to express their feelings. As a manager, I have had plenty of students who were angry or upset about the way I might be presenting a subject or teaching my class. I always am happy to take them aside and listen to them. I work hard in my conversations to maintain eye contact with my student, no matter how angry or frustrated they may be. I will also ask them for examples that they may be thinking of that could improve whatever they may see as an issue to be resolved. I will thank them for their input and give myself a chance to think over what they have said, usually an hour or two while I deliberate. I will then call my student back into the conversation and deliver my decision, thanking them for their input. This routine has always been successful. It has given me the opportunity to see how I am performing as a classroom manager or teacher through someone else’s eyes. I may or may not change what that person has relayed to me, but that is the answer I will always deliver to the class as a whole. I go to great lengths to keep my answers without any defamation or anger, instead going to great lengths to thank the student that addressed whatever they felt the problem was, and how I intend to resolve their complaint. This method has been a time-tested method in using my influence as a manager to lead class after class, again and again for years.

The art in leading or managing people is maintaining a level of mutual respect.

The manager who is willing to show undying respect for their employees and expect the same treatment in return is the manager who successfully influences their team. “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/leader.html#iZCo62cqEzA0RK20.99Leadership is something you earn, something you’re chosen for. You can’t come in yelling, ‘I’m your leader!’ If it happens, it’s because the other guys respect you.” – Ben Roethlisberger