InLiquid’s Art for the Cash Poor 15 celebrates Philadelphia as the City of Makers. This week, we’ll be featuring AFTCP15 participants who ‘show it’ – from printmakers to comic book artists to witty wordsmiths, these artists are masters of the classic ‘show, don’t tell’ rule.

New this year, we’ve invited some of the top Philadelphia Influencers to curate a group of promising artists and designers. We’ve asked a few influencers to share their advice on how to show it: whether it’s getting your work written up in a local publication, or starting a written outlet of your own.

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Conrad Benner, Founder of Streets Dept

What catches your eye about a new piece you’ve discovered – what makes it news worthy?

Generally speaking, I’m attracted to pieces that use bold lines and colors. With street art/graffiti, it’s often the case that the bigger the better, though certainly not always. I like pieces that use a space thoughtfully, Joe Boruchow’s mailbox pastes are a great example of this! But, to answer this question honestly, I’m not 100% sure why certain things catch my eye, and I think that’s ok. In fact, I think it’s better than ok. For me, it’s an excitement when something takes hold of my attention. An instinct, perhaps. Either way, I’m happy to not over analyze it!

Are there artists you find yourself featuring again and again, and if so, what makes you keep coming back to them?

Of course! There are a great number of Philly artists who are always working and putting out great stuff. So naturally, I highlight them whenever they do something new. Doing Streets Dept for going on four years now too, it’s especially interesting to see some artists I’ve been highlighting for years mix up their styles, experiment with new things, and continue growing and evolving.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own blog?

Only start something you know you can sustain. When I started Streets Dept, I was already photographing street art and graffiti around the city, and had for a while. It was a part of my routine. I always had a camera on me. And I always walked around the city on different routes to better my chances of finding new stuff. For a long time I just posted these photos to my Facebook page. So, the blog was just an extension of something I was already deeply interested in, and already (basically) doing the work for. When I did start the blog, I did it because I wanted to share the great work I was finding with other people who might be interested. I took my time to develop relationships with artists and the readers of my blog alike. And I grew and evolved the blog as I got new inspiration. I just fucking did it, as Indy Hall famously says.

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Sonia Petruse, Director of Social Media and PR for PaperClips215

You cover a lot of events through your work with Paperclips. Sometimes I think you’ve discovered the secret to cloning! Do you have any helpful time-management tips for someone passionate about publication – in other words, how to be everywhere at once?

Hah, if only I had a clone! Or perhaps another hand for tweeting. As far as social media goes, management platforms like Hootsuite, Buffer & Tweet Deck will help you schedule evergreen content, but I find that when it comes to creative events and content, timing is everything. I’m constantly monitoring my multiple Twitter accounts (I’m up to 7), Facebook and Instagram. I find different event information and art news on each platform. I then share it with our Director of Operations, Kelley Stone, who creates our creative calendar. It’s really important to stay up to date on our favorite galleries & artists so we can relay upcoming happenings ASAP! I also advise people to utilize Twitter lists if your feed gets too daunting. That way, you can organize and prioritize what tweets you’re viewing at one time.

Social media is another important aspect of your events coverage. How do you recommend someone new to the playing field gain traction with their followers?

The beauty of social media is that it’s completely transparent. I’m always grateful for this. I can see a person’s or organization’s true colors through their interactions (or lack thereof) with their followers. We hear a lot to be your true self on social media, and I cannot agree enough. These are platforms ready to harness the communication of shared passions, whether in art, social change or civic engagement. I encourage people to be active on a platform like Twitter that makes it easy to join most likely millions of conversations locally & internationally. Don’t be afraid to reach out to that gallery by tweeting a photo of your work. Reach out to an art organization or museum, join their conversations about current exhibitions or events. Engagement happens when you invite others to safely speak their minds. By giving them an open platform, you are giving others the chance to be recognized as well, and that is something they will never forget.

For someone looking to start a new publication, how should they go about finding the right team? What are the most crucial steps they should be taking right at the beginning?

When I started Paperclips, I didn’t really think of it being labelled as a publication. I thought of it as doing live reporting using social media of local arts events, whether it be theater, visual arts, sculpture, performance, a performer on the street. It’s something that’s very off-the-cuff, something that’s time sensitive. But you’re going to be archiving these things, so time sensitive in the sense that you don’t know how many people are going to be seeing these spontaneous performances. So if someone does something that’s it, but it’s going to live on in social media forever. At the same time, I do want people to come to these, if it’s a recurring event or an exhibition that lasts a month or at a museum for six months, to come out and experience it in person. That’s the most important thing about art. To experience it in person and on a one on one basis. But I also like archiving things. I have a friend in Austria, she loves Philadelphia, she thinks it’s better than New York. She can’t believe how many cool things happen here, so she like to watch our Instagram and see what’s going on.

Building the right team is always tricky. You just need to look for people with passion. You hear that a lot. You hear that with job recruiters, you hear that at Fortune 500 companies. Something you need to look for is passion and dedication and the ability to pivot. Because if people get discouraged too easily – we all go through our rough times – but to take that and be able to pivot, or with the assistance of other people – that’s what I love about our Paperclips team. We all help each other. We all learn from each other. So the ability to learn and to work together. Never be afraid to rearrange your team. If someone has to leave your team because he just doesn’t fit in, never be afraid to take the leap and find someone new.

Another thing I wanted to mention was the importance of local – keeping things local and being a good representative of the community. I think a lot of the larger media outlets aren’t representing the smaller parts of the community, or smaller groups of people, individuals, organizations, they’re not representing them as well as the smaller blogs. Chris Wink of Technically Philly wrote an incredible blog post about how journalists and any other smaller publication really have a responsibility to Philadelphia, or any city or small town you’re in, to represent that well, and to represent everything that’s local correctly, because the big guys aren’t going to do it for us. We have to have our voices heard. That’s all we want to do with Paperclips. We want to make sure some of the smaller theater troupes, smaller galleries, up-and-coming artists, writers, poets, they get their voices heard. I think that’s the most important thing.

Join us for Art for the Cash Poor 15, June 14 – 15, noon – 6 pm at Crane Arts. Or buy tickets to the preview party benefiting AIDS Fund, June 13, 5:30 – 9 pm.

Chris Cox

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