The greatest artistic crisis since the Dark Ages

Dear Members of The Everyday Matters community:

I wanted to share some thoughts about the health of our online community, the Everyday Matters group at Yahoo!, now entering its fifth year as a robust and inspiring home for people who like to draw. Actually, these days it’s a little less than robust, and I thought it was high time I bring that fact up — to wit, the enormous drop off in group participation this month and the dwindling over the past year or so. We have more members than ever (over 4,000) but our group activity is the lowest it has been since 2005 and I am wondering why.

Here are some of my theories:

A) Too much lurking;

B) Too little drawing;

C) Maybe (and this would be music to my ears), everyone is so busy making stuff that they have no time to write about it;

D) My own lack of online activity as I took a hiatus from blogging. If you have been following my example and just sitting back on your laurels and paring your fingernails, it’s time to get off your duff and start drawing and sharing once again;

E) The EDM Challenges. Karen Winters says she needs some help coming up with new topics for the weekly challenges and I think we should all start giving her suggestions. Alternatively, we could bring in a corporate sponsor and have them underwrite the challenges. In that spirit, I suggest you draw a) your favorite financial institution or financial instrument. b) your favorite tooth-whitening agent and c) your favorite medication (please be advised that drawing this medication may cause side effects such as hand cramping,  neck cricks, self-congratulation and an inflated sense of well-being. If these conditions persist, please contact your local art supply store);

edm-vs-dowF) The economic downturn. I have charted the course of the Dow and of EDM posts over the past year and there does seem to be some correlation but it’s nothing an economist would win the Nobel for noticing. There was a lot of great art created during the Great Depression so if you are waiting for a resurrection of the WPA before you get out your sketchbook, I suggest you quite stalling. If you are feeling too financially strapped to make art, I suggest you visit your nearest bank, steal a pen (now you see why they chain them down!), and start drawing on the back of your 401(K) statement.

G) (And this would be sad), the party’s over.

I welcome all observations and suggestions about this dire situation, the greatest artistic crisis since the Dark Ages. Please post here or on the EDM group.

And if you’re not a member yet, please join and give us all a good kick in the butt.

Your pal,
Danny Gregory

17 thoughts on “The greatest artistic crisis since the Dark Ages”

  1. Danny, your site and yahoo group have been a tremendous source of inspiration and motivation and I think you are probably wrong about people sitting on their laurels or not drawing anymore.

    In this day of web2.0 (whatever that means); with blogs, rss feeds (edm superblog), flickr, facebook etcetc, yahoo groups just seems so 'last decade'. The conversations I think are happening elsewhere – not on yahoo groups. Maybe I'm wrong, its just my observation that I haven't had any reason to engage with a yahoo group forum in a loooooooooooong time …


  2. Hi Danny, I'm a new member of this group, but still I don't participated with drawings. I read with attention your email and I think that Mitchi is correct… Today many tools that make more less the same things and this, in part, create this situation of low participation. In my opinion the group should use the tools with more activity, also if actually lowest. I think that flickr and the blog of blogs are the tools most suitable for this context, in others terms simplify the workflow.


  3. Danny, I joined the EDM Yahoo group a the beginning of this year & at about the same time, became much more active on Flickr. I hardly ever post to the EDM Yahoo group, and I only occasionally draw the EDM weekly challenge. Here's why:

    1) The Yahoo group overwhelms me. I don't have large blocks of time to click through to people's blogs… & some of those blogs take Forever and A Day to load, even with FIOS internet.

    2) I'm active on several Flickr groups… at least one of which offer a drawing challenges every 2 or 3 weeks, which doesn't overwhelm me and seems quite "doable."

    3) Because I'm not active on the Yahoo group, when I do choose to post something there, I get very little feedback. This is understandable, because I haven't built up the relationships there that I have with various Flickr groups.

    4) I've discovered Twitter and it's spoiled me rotten. I have a low attention span, so Twitter is a dream with its bite-sized info available at a glance. With the EDM Yahoo digests, I open my e-mail, get overwhelmed immediately, sigh and hit the delete key.

    That's my perspective, and I'd like to thank you for your books and groups — without which, I probably wouldn't have started drawing again at all.


  4. Danny, I got this note through the group and didn't realize (probably missed a link or something) it was posted here with a DIAGRAM! I love visual aids of course. You might be on to something, tracking the group's participation this way.

    I particularly like the idea of corporate sponsorship for drawing, just like Michelanglo and the POPE!

    I think one thing that is happening, which is a good thing, is that many of us who have been on the list for a long time and used to comment all the time, comment less because there are newer folks on the list who jump in and comment when someone has a question about products and such. I think this is good for a few reasons: 1. people don't have to read the same pontifications over and over (because frankly I think everyone in the universe is tired of hearing how much I love PB60); 2. new perspectives get shared, and as part of that people who were new have explored the recommendations and responses of other folks and come up with their own take which they share when someone even newer asks a "repeat" question.

    There were other "goods" when I started that list, but I was interrupted and now I can't recall them. I'm just sure there are more.

    In any event, I'm glad you've finished your manicure and are posting again!


  5. I guess my priorities have shifted. When the group first started, I was more interested in maintaining a daily sketching habit. After a couple of years, I've got that down and now I'm focusing more on other things like art business, marketing and nitty gritty art instruction. There are also a lot more (quality) blogs out there competing for my time and attention, not leaving as much time to scroll through the EDM digests. A lot of members are now out there selling their work, so you can take that as a compliment because I don't think a lot of them would have started if it weren't for encouragement that the group gave so many people.


  6. It stopped raining in the Pacific Northwest. I'm out drawing!

    Last month it was the International Fake Journal. This month it's Kathy Johnson's watercolor pencil class. I'm a faithful reader of the group's digest.

    Lastly. It's just sitting down to the scanner and doing all the techno stuff to get it all posted online. That's my least favorite part!


  7. Like Nevada, I quickly found the emailed digests overwhelming and once I decided not to receive those anymore (some time ago), I more or less forgot about the group.

    I'd also agree with Mithi and Jose when they suggest that perhaps a Yahoo group no longer the way to do this. Not only does it seem a big old-hat but it's not the friendliest or most convenient of environments. It might make sense to move it to a space where people are participating in other things already.

    Flickr is a great suggestion, given its popularity, its visual orientation and the ease with which groups (private or public) and discussion threads can be managed, not to mention the sophisticated functions for tagging and so on for images (useful for challenges).

    I wouldn't recommend a Facebook page or group, because you effectively lose your "history" – it's too much of an "in the moment", linear space. Also, unlike signing up for flickr, signing up for facebook is more of a participatory commitment.

    For twitterers there are ways of forming loose groups (twibes) of like-minded people, but as you can imagine, this medium is better for discussion and sharing ideas than sharing and commenting on images.

    Another environment to consider, especially if many EDM participants are maintaining drawing blogs, is to use the Ning platform to set up a group.


  8. Duh! by way of a postscript: there is, of course, already an Every Day Matters group on flickr. But you do have to head off to the Yahoo group to see the challenges.


  9. A few comments
    – the sun has come out and people have gone outside. Activity on my site is also very seasonal
    – how are you counting? Feedburner had a MAJOR HIATUS in May and dropped feeds and numbers all over the place ie stats for May are awful – but only because Feedburner couldn't count
    – people are moving off big sites and creating/joining smaller more focused communities
    – I never joined EDM because I've always it very confusing re accessing various websites. Every time I take another look I get the same feeling. Can't it have one URL with links to all the different aspects of EDM? (Or does it – and yet that doesn't seem to make sense to me?) I like sites where I can be in and out fast! Or I leave it up all day and it tells me what's changed – like Google News.
    – the only things that always stays the same is change – people come and go – that's life!


  10. Hi Danny,
    I'm a relatively new EDM sketcher, but I've been drawing and painting all of my life. I think it's great that you started a group on Facebook, and I'm also a regular contributor to the EDM group on flickr. I occasionally visit the yahoo group too, but I guess I'm looking for more content, and less having to click through to individual websites to see what folks are doing. I wonder if there's a way we can get more information about techniques, supplies, and inspiration into the Facebook group. The discussion area would be a good place for this, though Facebook doesn't hold information too long. Perhaps you could do a short article about how we can all use the Facebook group to its best advantage.

    Thanks for leading the charge!


  11. Hi Danny,
    I am a lazy unmotivated artist. It is sad. I find things to do that I hate doing rather than sitting down and drawing. I don't understand. My poor art desk is stacked with papers, books, a coffee cup and some clean laundry…nothing to do with art. Hey, here's a thought, I could always draw it. I rejoined the EDM group it is always inspiring. Heading to the bank today to steal me a pen.


  12. I'm with everyone on the Yahoo groups theory. I never join any Yahoo groups anymore because they always seem to die out. I was in a group that had been quite active and it pretty much died when the moderator decided to change the venue to Yahoo. People just did not want to switch over. Yahoo groups are too time consuming to navigate when there are better forums out there.

    Plus, in my personal situation, I became a new parent the end of last year. So my art activity has diminished and now I'm just forcing myself to do art with the kid and getting him involved with messy finger paints just so he's not fussy with me every time I try to sit down with my own art supplies. Between my son and my nephew, sidewalk chalk, finger paints, and crayons are my new mediums.


  13. Hi Danny – it was interesting to read through these comments and find that others share my experience of the EDM Yahoo group. I joined over a year ago but quickly became disillusioned with it as it was confusing and just not the visual experience that I was hoping for. I even had to search hard for the current challenge subject. Those email digests drove me mad too. Surely Yahoo groups have had their day? I'd love to see EDM evolve into a forum such as WetCanvas.
    Thanks for inspiring me!


  14. As an absolute beginner and new purchaser of EDM I find the Yahoo group interesting. I visit the website and do not get those email digests which I hate. When visiting the website I just go back a page or two in the messages and spend time enjoying the work of others. Sometimes if there is advice I am interested in I'll follow the thread back to the beginning. Have to admit I am not up to the level where I would enter any challanges (or at least let anyone see my entry!)
    Just a little info for how a newcomer is using the Yahoo group.


  15. Life has simply been a little crazy in the last year and let it distract me from drawing very much. I'm now getting ready to go on a massive sketch crawl with a friend (2 weeks!) so I need to get back in the habit and get those mental and physical drawing muscles warmed up!

    Re: yahoo…I've enjoyed being in the group through the years, though I've definitely not been active lately. I've learned much from some of the others involved. It would be nice if it were more of a visual site…I like the way flickr is set up…easy to use pics and discussions together.


  16. Hi

    I've registered to the Yahoo group recently after reading your books, I think I never came back for the main reason like everyone pointed out that this group system is a bit old fashion, not really easy to use and confusing – all the email digests are pretty annoying as well.

    I'm part of an online community using Ning, it's really easy to set up, let people connect to each other, have a full forum integrated, you can add videos pictures etc….

    I think you should give it a try – you can also approve who is joining it.

    If you need any help on that I'm happy to help


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.