Creative Control: The Mobile Curator

So over the past few years we’ve been doing an experiment of sorts. I’d say about 90 to 95% of our content is created on a mobile device. Ok, so I guess to give some context I should explain. When we started ¡Fresh Aesthetic!™, the idea was to create a platform we could update and maintain from anywhere. We thought the best way to do this was to use the one thing we always have and always use. These little smart computers we make calls on might be enough to pull it off.

We say this a lot, but the world is at our fingertips. No matter where you are or who you are, you can reach the world. That’s why mobile curation is more important than ever. It’s a game of control. Who controls the content and who controls what the public sees. As a creative/curator we are in a constant this struggle for influence. The changing of the guard is happening as I type this. The closest analogy I can think of is the legal cannabis industry. It’s still evolving and because it’s so new there are all these players competing for their place in the market. The parallels are seen in YouTubing as well as podcasting. Investors always express the importance of “getting in on the ground floor.” Well this is as close to the ground floor as we’re going to get.

Just like any other industry, the corporate machine is also vying for it’s place as well. Podcasts have been heavily invested in by Spotify, and we all know who owns YouTube. To touch back on the legal cannabis industry it’s very much more of the same. So… Is it about competing with them? Unless your pockets are hella deep I’d have to advise against it (lol). What we can do however is use it all, both the corporate machines, and the computing machines we carry everyday. Use them to make our voices valid and relevant.  The content creators now have value, and it’s the content you curate that articulates that value. We have power in today’s market. Don’t let the money machine take it away.

 

Clout & The Viral Phenomena

It’s finally happened. They’ve finally mastered profiting from fleeting moments made of memories and experiences. Or is it just me that noticed? It seems that the old adage is true. “With great power comes great responsibility,” and what most choose to do with that power is monetize the fleeting for clicks and views. All this technology in our hands and most are so deep in the forest that they forget that we dictate the landscape.

The ease and accessibility sometimes makes us take what we have in our grasp for granted. Sometimes we forget that just because it’s easy doesn’t mean its not powerful. So what the fuck does clout and going viral have to do with technology and power? Ok so hear me out first. Influence at our fingertips is what gives us the power, or atleast some of it. Clout is the illusion of power, however it is influence. No matter how temporary it is, clout is influence. Now the key is to leverage that influence (clout) into something that you the creative can benefit from. Not just in the short term but long term as well. After all it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Negative or positive, clout is influence. How do you want to be viewed? How will you leverage that clout to your advantage? How will that clout effect the public’s perception of you? Important questions that every creative should ask them selves when playing that game. People have short memories but the internet never forgets. Often our past comes back haunt us. Tweets and posts from the past resurface, and effect how you are perceived. That perception effects your rep. What seemed like a good idea for clout in the past can come back in a negative light in the future. Clout is necessary but how we use it, and how we understand it is important.

In a world that’s become so short sighted, its important to think long term. Even in regards to clout.

The Generational Gap…

With every generation comes that urge to be the first to do it in a new way, that no one has seen or experienced before. That shameless optimism and drive to stand out has led the way for countless innovations in culture and business. That knack for the youth to question and wonder, to not just accept things the way they are. It’s consistently forced the old guard to pay attention and change the model that was the previous standard for how “things” were done. Sometimes a nuisance, youthful optimism is often times the catalyst for necessary change. It’s not that things aren’t going to naturally evolve. It’s just that things might not progress as quickly if not for that push from the younger generation.

These days are no doubt very different than days past. Still it seems like as fast as things progress and technology advances these days the old guard still has hard time adapting to the change. So the obvious next question to me seems to be, why has the older generation not caught on and attempted to stay relevant. Why is it that as much as the attitude of staying young is so prevalent, older people still have a hard time keeping up? We are all creatures of habit. We get so caught up in our routine and what we’re used to that we lose touch with what’s happening around us. Maybe it’s more of a not caring as much about it. Seems crazy not to care as all of it effects us, but it’s not a far fetched theory.

To me there’s something noble about older people attempting to keep up with the times. Not trying to stay forever Young, but rather just staying aware and involved in current events. Aging gracefully. Not physically in all cases but in cultural literacy. Attempting to understand it all rather than just dismissing it. That understanding can help the older generation as well as the younger generation alike. Wisdom and youthful optimism can be the ingredients needed to create the society that we have been working towards for generations. That logical patient approach mixed with the impatient emotional approach. The balance of it all. For the betterment of future generations. Isn’t that the point. Art, expression, creativity… It’s all a part of that quest for self exploration and betterment.

The old guard should helping not hindering growth and progress. That is not the trend unfortunately. That should change and it starts with the elders.

Let’s all try to age and grow gracefully.

The Social Media Poblem


In life there are blessings and there are curses. Other times we encounter something that is a bit of both. The things that have the potential to open doors to the world around us are often the same things that hold the pitfalls that can keep us from it. It’s really a matter of how we use it. To quote Voltaire and Uncle Ben from the Spiderman comics, “With great power comes great responsibility.” After all it is ultimately in our hands how we use what is accessible to us.
Ok… Take cell phones for instance. Most people have multiple uses for them beyond calling and text. Some watch their favorite shows, others read articles, but many people (myself included) do it all on their phones. For some, actually for most, phones have replaced computers. I don’t know if I would say replaced, but social media has definitely changed the way we interact. EVERYONE is more accessible than ever. Because of this ease of interaction and accessibility it is often used in the most basic capacity.
Most people use literally billions of dollars in technology to research the bare minimum. The ease of use and knack to just do the bare minimum hoping for the best result is becoming all too common. This ease of use should be looked at as a challenge rather than a convenience. Just because it’s easy does not mean its effective. Liked/followers on Instagram does not equate to reaching your target audience.
We spend hours upon hours here trying to do just that. Trying to figure out how to tap into our audience and capitalize on what we have to offer. I’m sure this is no different than many other companies and outlets. The question isn’t why aren’t they seeing us, but instead how can we reach them. The question shouldn’t be why is my social media not lit, but rather how do we bring the lit folks to the table. In short, what works for some will not work for others. Sometimes you have to go deeper and do more with what is available. I mean after all the platform is there. The money has been spent on maximizing its potential. Now to maximize yours….

The Beauty Standard

ugly-swan.jpg

Alot of time and effort is put into appearances, both literal and figurative ones. The social significance based on how things appear to be is immense, but is it realistic? Does the norm do more harm than good? The very thing we are trying to stay away from it seems we all fall victim to. Tribalism is so much a part of who we are. Its like we still can’t escape it. Even in our attempts at individuality.

In a world where now more than ever originality is praised, we still get the homogenized version of ourselves. All to fit into what are the norms of today. What is acceptable? What has that mass appeal (not the magazine)? We are sometimes held hostage by the restrictions of normality. It’s like that game we used to be able to buy at the dollar store. It’s basically a flat square with individual movable tiles inside it. Each one of those tiles are numbered. When you buy it all those tiles are mixed up. You win the game by putting the tiles in numerical order.

It seems our individuality is the numbered tile in this game. Free to be placed where ever we see fit within the confines of the square. However to win the game we must have placed all those things that make us special in the right sequence. The right combination is what makes us acceptable in mainstream society. That’s half the battle.

The standard of what it takes to be successful is a whole other animal. In this fractal version of numerical tiles placing them in the right order takes so much more. The right combination of money, network, and mass appeal don’t guarantee it but it does help. All to become successful to the fickle masses. The price of success is a steep one and nothing is guaranteed. All we can do to push through and endure. Strive to be the best versions of ourselves we can no matter the outcome of the game.

A Most Stylish Rebellion (Black Music In America)

I believe the quote is “history is written by the victor.” Through the years people have chosen to interpret this quote in different ways. Ultimately, there is one truth that rings out to me in this statement: the plight of the oppressed is often understated when writing history. There is a lot of truth in that but let’s not mince our words here. That is not the whole truth. The oppressed have had and always will have a place in written history. The influence of the lower class is subtle but not lacking in potency.

The influence on pop culture and mainstream society is undeniable. Another undeniable truth is that this influence stems from rebellion. A rebellion rooted in challenging the norms of western society- from beauty standards to what was deemed as acceptable attire. Musically, the blues was
probably single-handedly the most influential music next to hip hop. Stylistically, however, every era has had their effect on the mainstream. From zoot suits to the afro, people of color have
showed a refusal to be limited by what society expected of them.

Every subculture has their way of rebelling and going against the grain. To people of color however, often the rebellion is unintentional but rebellion nontheless. I heard it said once, that to a minority in America, your very existence is a form of rebellion. When Elvis performed jailhouse rock as well as countless other blues songs and did dances that were taboo at the time, blacks in America were already familiar. Throughout history people of color have unknowingly been privy to what would become the future of style and music.

As “history repeats and ciphers become complete“, nothing changes and people of color will always influence the mainstream. We sit with a silent pride and understanding in spite of what society says. Cool is not defined by what the norm is but by what the norm is not.

The Appropriation of Style

There are few things more self identifying and important to culture than style. The importance in symbolism and use of color is often lost on us in the western world. The generations worth of history and passion that went into creating what we see currently is often lost on our disposable sensibilities. Something uniquely American allows us the luxury to only have respect and admiration for other cultures when it’s convenient for us. Its that unique convenience that enables us to unknowingly disrespect other cultures.

We spoke a bit on this during our ¡Culture Fresh!™ Podcast episode. It’s to me difficult to say that people are appropriating culture. To appropriate culture you have to understand the culture and all it encompasses. In reality people do not make the attempt to understand the culture, which is why we state that it is more an appropriation of said cultures’ style more so than it is the culture as a whole.

This is not to downplay the significance of that disrespect, intentional or otherwise. Its merely a change in the wording to give another view of a common theme in western culture. This is not meant to draw a racial divide either. Merely to allow some clarity in terminology. No one is safe from style appropriation in the west. Let’s not mince our words here. We ALL do it. From sagging pants to esoteric imagery used in fashion. We often manipulate symbols and traditions that once represented something powerful into a marketable fashion statement. By downplaying the cultural significance style has and will have we do our collective histories a disservice.

The idea should be to pay homage and educate, rather than assimilate that style into mainstream society. What’s the saying? “He who does not know history is doomed to repeat it.” Let’s not lose sight of the importance of style and flavor. Not just to look fresh, but to educate.

The Underground Influence

Recently on our podcast we were discussing the impact skateboarding has had on mainstream culture. While discussing this topic it really became apparent that this is a reoccurring theme in the west. Things that were once considered subculture, or fringe culture become more widely accepted. Like it’s uncool until it’s not anymore. At first there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it, but like all things human it’s not all that simple. I think it stems from the need for youth culture to rebel, but wanting to belong. That youthful dichotomy is what draws youth to nostalgic forms of rebellion, and therefore big business begins capitalizing on the interest of the youth. Then the marketable becomes the norm. Well that’s one theory.

The other theory is from a marketing/design standpoint. Basically the theory is that these ideas are rehashed because of cost, and ease to recreate. I mean its usually easier to imitate than to try to create something new. Isn’t it? Well again it’s not that simple. The idea in mainstream culture is to ride that edge of what’s safe vs what is dangerous. Often the familiar doesn’t seem as risky as a untested idea. Either way this opportunity to create legacy is often understated in the underground. I don’t think it’s realized what the impact an underground movement can have. We are too busy carving our own paths and living our lives to worry about impacts.

Therein lies the beauty of subcultures. The innate need to stand out but yet belong. The beauty in the struggle to find ones voice often unknowingly creates some of the most powerful cultural movements. Those movements have the relatability and staying power to be a part of the mainstream for generations. The beauty of struggling through life’s adversities is the impact we have on society while persevering. The power of the individual inspite of the odds. They cannot deny the underground influence.

Esperson Gallery & The Art of the Game

 

A view of the gallery…

    The cultural influence Houston has on the rest of the country is often understated.  It’s kind of an unspoken, but accepted fact in the city.  We often just keep doing what we do and let the chips fall where they may.  Houston is not typically a city that is worried about how the rest of the country views us.  It’s kind of ironic because in art, music, film, and business we are for the most part also widely respected.  So it’s no surprise that when big events like this year’s Superbowl come to town we take that chance to shine.  It’s always nice when we get a little spotlight on our corner of the world to highlight what exactly makes this city so great.

     Superbowl weekend was loaded with activities.  From Drake‘s pop up strip club to more family friendly activities, the weekend was packed with people and events.  The great thing about big weekends like these is that the whole city shines.  For places like Esperson Gallery it’s a chance to not only highlight the gallery itself but the artist as well.  Houston has long been known as a hub for art & cultural.  Tammy Green Dowe & Esperson Gallery have worked tirelessly to help prove that point further.

     I have had the pleasure of attending a few events at The Esperson Gallery.  The Art of The Game was by far one of my favorites.  For 3 days Esperson opened its doors to those lucky enough to purchase tickets to the event.  Those 3 days were filled with, talent, diversity, and southern hospitality.  Live performances from the guys at LFTP StudiosPatrice Pike, as well as George Straits Fiddler Chris Whitten set the mood for a fun filled weekend.  Artists like Angela FabbriTaft McWhorter, and Patti Lennon-Potter lent their talents to help create Superbowl inspired works.

     Downtown was hectic to say the least but if you decided to brave the crowds it was well worth it.  The Esperson Gallery was that calm refuge.  A place to get away and truly experience Houston’s cultural diversity.  Drinks, music, and artistic ambiance set the tone to mix and mingle with some great people. Esperson Gallery definitely shined last weekend and with their help so did the whole city.

The talented Chris Whitten

Angela Fabbri and her live improvised Superbowl inspired work.

And the winner is..

LFTP’S Black Tie Mixer & The Art of The Handshake 

The Black Tie Mixer

The Black Tie Mixer

I can’t even imagine how hard it was to network before the introduction of technology and/or social media.  There are so many avenues to traverse to achieve ones goals in reaching people and building connections.  Though sometimes building those relationships even on those platforms can be difficult.   As an artist, business owner, or entrepreneur it can be hard to put yourself in the right place at the right time.  I’m sure every city has their mixers and events to try to allow like minds to connect.  The norm or should I say the assumption is that these events are reserved for the well to do jetsetters of the city.   Rarely from my experience do you have events directed towards the young business men & women of your favorite city.  The up and comers if you will.  I guess I should say that it’s not that there aren’t any events, but rather none that bridge the gap of the established versus the new blood.

LFTP Studios might just be that catalyst capable of bridging that gap.  Held at the Esperson Gallery the first of what I hope will be many more quarterly mixers was a hit.  Complete with keynote speakers from various aspects of business and fashion helped set the tone for what was a very productive event.  LFTP is in a very unique position.  They are a duo (dynamic if you will) that like many young people are focused and driven to achieve that which they set out to do.  It gives them a unique perspective.  As both organizers and participants they can step back and understand how to make this event beneficial for everyone, and it truly was just that.

I was scrolling through a news feed of mine.  A friend posted a meme, it said “build bridges not walls.”  Now it was presented as sort of political social commentary, but as I read it getting ready for The Black Tie Mixer it seemed to mean more.  We love in a world where though it’s a benefit, technology does also create walls.  We lose touch or the importance of shaking hands, and looking people in the eyes.  I spoke at length with Leo Phoenix  about how much those simple acts can mean.  LFTP & their Black Tie Mixer reaffirms that to a group of individuals who may or may not know that.  Still we welcome the pleasant reminder.  Surrounded by art that inspires & people that motivate, LFTP definitely succeeded in providing a place for young and motivated people to connect.  The Black Tie Mixer is something I hope to see as a sort of tradition.  Hope to see you at the nest one…