The Circle of Life – Mandala Wisdom For Artists

I have recently discovered the beauty and mystery of Mandalas and become just a little bit obsessed with them {as is my way}.

A mandala is a concentric pattern which has spiritual and ritual significance in Buddhism and Hinduism. These beautiful images are meditative and restful to contemplate and are used as a way to enter deeper levels of the unconscious. They can appear in a dazzlingly wide array of forms and you may find them painted on silk, created out of sand by Buddhist monks with infinite patience and even tattooed on skin in delicate dotwork.

Tibetan monks making a temporary “Sand-Mandala”

The circle of the seasons

Maṇḍala (मण्डल) is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle.” and mandalas symbolize the circle of life.

As winter draws in and the nights become darker I find this a particularly relevant and comforting thing to contemplate. Everything is cyclical in life. Winter will come with it’s cold and darkness but we know that somewhere along the line, Spring will come around with it’s new shoots of growth and warmth and light. In fact, when I dashed through the garden yesterday in a rush to get indoors out of the freezing rain, I noticed the green tips of bulbs starting to poke through the soil already with their promise of warmer lighter days ahead. There are always signs that a change is coming if you look hard enough.

Thomas Hooper - Decalomania

Thomas Hooper – Decalomania Mandala Study 2

The circle of being

This is heartening to realise if you are going through a period of difficulty, albeit financial, personal or in your work. When things are difficult in life I like to remind myself of the ancient Eastern proverb “This too shall pass” meaning that all life is cyclical and all material conditions, positive or negative are transitory. It may be bad now but as with the seasons, change is coming if you look for it.

The circle of creativity

As with all things, creativity has it’s cycles too. In her book  The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron talks about working with the cycles of creative energy that ebb and flow through your life.

You may go through a period when your creative energy is low and blocked. When nothing much gets created and you aren’t happy with the things you do do. However, if you keep the faith that creativity is cyclical you can ride these rough patches with confidence, safe in the knowledge that your creative life force will gain strength again and you will enter another period of energy.

You just need to keep the faith that it WILL come around again and not panic when you are in a low period.

Or to put it in a much less spiritual and much more bluff way – in the down to earth words of Winston Churchill.

“If you are going through hell – keep going.”

Are you aware of the cycles in your life and creativity? How do you ride out the storms and troughs? Share with us in the comments.
Images - Buddhist Monks by HenryArt Mandala Image by Kosigrim

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Reader’s Showcase | Casper Johansson | Rubber Stamp Artwork

Untitled

 

I am a full time artist from Sweden working in Burma since 2007. My works are all made in ink using rubber stamps. A technique that I have been working with for 2 years.

A vandal had written ´Destroy Power, Not People´ on the electric transmission building. In 1988 or -89, when my perception of power was limited to a source of energy I went home from school and started to scribble down my first piece on paper, attaching a yellow circle with the symbol of radioactive radiation. The style of the letters had already been introduced from the stickers inside Danish bubblegum packages. Two decades later, the power remains but my interpretation has changed, so has the style, today I use it as confrontation which intends to open up dialogue, a dyslexic language targeting the alleged veracity using unpressured paint as the core in my artistic expression.

Nutritionfact Kryptonite 2012

 

Contradictions, pronounced colouring and sharp outlines, using the urban landscape as a point of departure I want my art to stir up questions with the audience. The range of colours, shapes and style are rooted in graffiti which blends with everyday testimonies of feelings, beliefs and experiences. The result is a visual debate, a sphere between private and public, assumed truth and the untold, processed and enCAPsulated in the magnetism of art.

Because I am worth it

 

As art is a necessity and a common good, whether legal or illegal, my work is not strictly limited to canvas bounded by defined frames for an advantaged audience. Consequently your investment is my playground and I’m coming live in 5, 4, 3, 2…….

See more of Cap’s intriguing work on his site – http://capism.se or follow him on Twitter @duelling_banjos

 

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Did You Know Facebook Is Hiding Your Posts? Important – What You Need To Know About Promoted Posts

Facebook has become an important part of social media promotion for artists over the past few years. Many artists have come to rely on Facebook for the majority of their promotion, using it as their main web presence. However, big changes at Facebook recently will impact on the usefulness of Facebook for your art business now and into the future.

The worrying thing is that these changes have been introduced “under the radar” and so many artists will not be aware that anything is amiss. This is a quick overview post to explain what is going on and to offer some suggestions.

What is happening?

Over the past few months, the amount of people a Facebook post will reach has been being “turned down”. Messages are now seen by a smaller proportion of your Facebook page fans. According to various sources, messages now only reach around 15-20% of people who signed up to your Facebook page. But coincidentally, Facebook have a solution to help you reach those fans…

Head of advertising at Facebook, Gokul Rajaram, explains:

“Organically, you get anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent of your fans, that you reach organically. In order to reach the remaining 80 to 85 percent, sponsoring posts is important.” 

So, if you want to reach all the people who signed up to your page, as you did previously, you now need to pay Facebook to promote the post or the large majority of your fans will never see it.

Or as Richard Metzger writing on the Dangerous Minds blog puts it…

“In other words, through “Sponsored Stories,” brands, agencies and artists are now charged to reach their own fans—the whole reason for having a page—because those pages have suddenly stopped working.”

What are Sponsored Stories?

If you run a Facebook page you may have started to notice a little drop down “promote” menu appearing under some stories you post. Basically if you want to promote the post to be seen by everyone you are charged a fee depending on how many fans you have. This can vary between around $7 to $200 for a large fan base. This is PER POST so if you post a few times a day it will soon add up.

Why are Facebook doing this?

Facebook have hit hard times recently. After their much trumpeted launch on the stock market, shares plummeted in value as people began to realise that Facebook, for all it’s billions of users is hard to monetize. It’s advertising platform doesn’t work as well as Google ads because people primarily aren’t on Facebook to search for things to buy. Therefore Facebook now has to come up with a new way to make money and this is made all the more urgent by the fact that it now has a panicky set of shareholders at it’s back demanding it make them some money and fast! It has to work out new ways to make that money and it’s biggest commodity is YOU…

What does this mean for me and the future?

I think that the fact that Facebook has now changed it’s direction away from an advertising based monetizing model and turned its focus on ways to get money from it’s users is a significant development and sea change. We have all come to rely on Facebook as a FREE platform but it probably isn’t going to stay that way, at least for business users.  There may be other ways that Facebook will be able to charge for full access in the future. Its fair enough that Facebook should want to charge for their services but as artists we often dont have the money to pay what they demand.

What should I do?

I think this is a definite warning sign to reduce your dependency on Facebook.

If you read these posts below you will know that I advocate having your own website.

10 Crucial Reasons why every artist needs their own hub website

The Best Website to Sell Art Online – The Truth

That way YOU are in control and no one can suddenly start to charge you for reaching the fans you spent your own time collecting. If you own your own domain name and website you are in control.

The steps you need to take in the future

We all love using Facebook for keeping up with our friends and you can still use it but it pays to have a plan B “just in case” for your art business. I think that Facebook’s recent changes mean that it is time to ensure that you are not left being solely reliant on Facebook for promoting your work. That way you are not left in a situation where you are forced to pay and have more control over how you interact with the people who like your art.

These steps will help you regain some control.

Step 1

{nb – this workaround may not be the best solution – see comments below. If anyone knows of a good way around this please add to comments – thanks}

Alert your fans to the issue and help them to see more of your posts. Ask them to do the following.

  • Go to your page.
  • Hover your mouse over where it says “LIKED” and click on “ADD TO INTERESTS LISTS”
  • This will help your fans to be alerted to more of your posts without you having to pay to promote them.

 Step 2

Move away from Facebook as your main promotional platform. Still use it but just don’t be solely reliant on it.

Have you paid Facebook to promote your work via a sponsored post? Would you do so? What do you think of these changes? Share with us in the comments.

 

External sources

Facebook – I want my friends back – Dangerous Minds

Broken on Purpose: Why Getting It Wrong Pays More Than Getting It Right – New York Observer

Facebook: Pay to promote your posts for garage sales, parties – CNET

 

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