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Dear Lovely Readers,

Apologies for the lack of posts but I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. I have not been making any new work lately as I’ve had a really tough old time over the past couple of weeks. It’s been one of the most horrible and awful weeks I’ve ever experienced- but I keep on reminding myself to take each day as it is. I’m allowing myself to feel sad and to validate those feelings and not saying sorry either.

One day I may share with you all what we’ve been going through, but for now, I’m going to have a break from here and hopefully I’ll be back in the autumn with a positive mindset.

Enjoy the summer wherever you are and take care,

Jo.

Hello folks and hope you’re enjoying a long and slow weekend. My plan for this weekend is to cook some more Chinese dishes (The Woks of Life is such a good website for authentic Chinese food), listen to NTS, have a nice long soak and to look after my houseplants (so far so good, they’re all doing well.)

I am currently having a small discount over on Etsy. There’s currently 10% off on all orders and free p&p on orders over £20.00 too from now until the end of April.

Now that lockdown is easing shops, eateries and watering holes are now opening up- which is fab. Of course, supporting small businesses and shopping local is all the more important.

Lovely image by Angela Chick Illustration

Just a Card  is  a grassroots campaign to promote small businesses and to encourage people to support their local shops. I think it’s all the important folks shop wisely and to seek out local shops and businesses.

Stay safe and take care. ✌️✌️

It’s the Bank Holiday and I’m feeling well-rested and stress free. Last week I was completely stressed out at work and had to take a day off otherwise I would’ve popped like a balloon. I haven’t been like that not in a long time, but I now know the signs when my body is tell me to STOP and pause. I’ve realised that you’ve got to put yourself first before anyone else (yes, I truly believe in that); your mental and emotional wellbeing is so important especially during these crazy times. My plan for the next two weeks are as follows: lots of cooking, looking after the garden, buy more houseplants, annoy the cats, make more art and to update my Etsy shop. Also, if you’re interested in donating artwork to our fundraiser please email me or drop a comment below. 👇

With that, the topic of conversation today is: NFTs. I’ve wanted to write a post about it for quite some time now since Beeple (Mike Winklemann) made a gazillion dollars via Christies about a month ago- and it really blew up on the Internet.

Just for clarification, my knowledge on NFTs are so-so, but from what I’ve read I sort of understand it. In fact, my main interest is that how it has simply changed the nature of how we consume art in a digital format (also, it seems to have this super rare aura around it- I will get round to that part later on). Bare with me here readers as I’ve not written a long post for ages, so my thoughts maybe quite sporadic!

 

So back to Beeple. When I read about it I was literally like ‘WTF’. Who the heck pays $5mill for a JPEG? Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of his work, to me it’s just another form of capitalism rebranded in a shiny way to entice people to buy into it. A lot of people would argue that it gives artists the opportunity to join the digital arts market with minimum risks and to make money from their art. Which, yes, we need to eat and pay the mortgage. I have nothing against artists choosing the NFT route because crypto art is something new. 

 

There are several things that interest me about it though: what does original artwork mean, what makes a piece of art ‘art’ in the eyes of a capitalist society dominated by new technology and social media, who gets the final say? The artist or the audience? 

 

What makes an original piece of artwork?

The idea that when something is original it cannot be replicated and that originality comes from the artist who made it in the first place (sounds like a marathon, doesn’t it?). The original is meant to represent the absolute truth and the final say. That in itself defines what ‘real art is’ and already sets the standards/hierarchy within the fine art world.

High culture has always adored and assigned true value to a piece of artwork that has been signed and dated by the artist, verified and classified by others who reaffirm the assumption that this is one is the real deal and nothing else can come close to it. It’s funny though because the idea of authenticating an object seems ridiculous because true value attached to (I call it art-object now) an art-object is defined by the collective audience who have similar values, class background, educational background etc. This process in itself will ramp up the monetary value of the art-object once it is presented in whatever format (in this current age). 

 

When an art-object is copied though, the original loses its high value in the art world. Once copies are made the original no longer has any meaning and it becomes self-referential. And in this day and age when art-objects are constantly duplicated, distributed, consumed and the whole process is repeated until there is nothing left of the ‘original’. By that the copies become so distant from the original that there is no meaning or value to it. 

 

Because in short, it’s that though. The whole ‘minting’ process to authentIcate a jpeg just reinforces this idea that it makes it seem like it’s even more special- a one of a kind original artwork. The value of the work becomes even more precious, thus belonging and justifying the capitalist system the art world belongs to.

 

What is art in the eyes of a technologically and social media driven world?

High art in our modern day visual culture has always been defined through the hierarchy of the art world. An artist’s name is like a form of branding whereby value, artistic merit and how collectable their works are all defined and shaped by a collective consciousness of thoughts over time.

 

Digital art though, it seems like it has changed the game to a certain extent. Why would an oil painting, for instance, would be more worthy than a 500 x 500 pixel meme? A meme is an instant consumable/gratification shared around hundreds of times over- a form of modern day pastiche. Whereas an oil painting stands the test of time in a gallery, somewhere permanent and fixed, or a private collectors collection. 

 

When you think about the idea about the value of art, it’s also about the process of how it is made which I think the reason why Beeple was a bit of a head turner in the sense that it turned the art world topsy turvy because how could a digital jpeg be seen as more worthy in comparison to the past forms of art which high culture has always admired? 

 

Who gets the final say: the artist, the audience or the creators of these NFT websites?

I would say that this part kind of splits off so do bear with me here.

 

The first division NFTS creates is that in order to sell your work you have to sign up with a website that’ll be able to sell your work via cryptocurrency. There’s a few out there so I suppose you would probably have to jump through the signing up process by giving them small details about yourself etc. There seems to be a certain style they’re going for at the moment (I don’t think my birds and flower images would do well, sad face). Because you have to be approved first which in itself means that already the definition of what is seen as ‘good art’ for these sites are determined by the people running it. I had a quick look on Foundation; they’re selling this brand new idea that what they’re doing is something visionary in this digital age, yeah I totally agree that our lives have dramatically shifted online but is it truly a game-changer?


The concept that anyone can be part of it and it’s not limited to your artistic talent, well, it kind of is if you have to be approved in the first place. I just see it like eBay but using cryptocurrency to make bids- or am I a complete simpleton here? Do let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below. 

 

So, who has the control or final say? There’s this idea that there are no boundaries within crypto art and that anyone can be part of it, Foundation call it ‘a cultural shift in paradigm’. The value of the artwork is determined by the audience NOT the artist, so if you made a GIF you might think it’s this much but of course the value is detached from the artist as it’s completely driven by the bidders (which is the whole point of NFTS). 

Foundation have written an article about why we should collect digital art, which you can read it here.  I would like to hear what others think about the future of art, where it’s heading, the role technology has to play etc.

Thanks for reading as always and enjoy the start to your week!

Side note: I’ve been updating this post over the past couple of days as I’ve found more and more articles related to violence against ESEA people.

Hi All, hope you’re having a restful Easter break however that may look. Myself and Ivy are raising funds for anti-Asian discrimination, especially during this current climate there has been an increase in violent attacks against Asians here in the UK and in the US. It’s really sickening to hear that people are getting beaten up in broad daylight and in public as well.

I have already posted this on my Facebook page, so I’m just going to copy and paste what I wrote on their as it pretty much sums up what we’re doing.

In light of the recent events against East and South East Asians here in the UK, and in the US, we are doing a fundraiser for a community that has been violently attacked throughout the pandemic.

We are raising funds for Besea.n and DCLC Doncaster Central Learning Centre, the donation will be split 50:50 between the two organisations. I’ve worked with Lai before and a while back I ran an Etsy training course for those accessing the service who want to gain some digital skills.

I came across Besea.n via Instagram not so long ago and everything that they do really resonates what was missing until now in terms of providing a platform and voice for ESEA people and marginalised groups. They are a small network of individuals whose aims are to raise awareness and to challenge the misrepresentations of ESEA people and marginalised groups within the media. You can find their mission statement here for more of what they do.

DCLC do an incredible job for the local community as they provide a link for users to access different types of services within the area. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, a lot of their workshops have had to stop. Hopefully, once things return to some sort of normality they will be up and running again. They serve a lot to the Asian and BAME community; my parents for instance were doing some volunteering work for Lai and my mum was taking part in a textile project- something I don’t think she would’ve done if it wasn’t for Lai and my auntie.

ESEA communities are also mis and underrepresented in the media. In the midst of the outbreak, the media were constantly using images of ESEA alongside with their articles- therefore perpetuating and reinforcing the idea that it is/was a ‘Chinese virus’. Even Trump used racist language throughout it. My mum has shared some stories with me about her friends experiencing racism during this time. It is honestly quite shocking to say the least.

Everyday racism exists and is coupled with sexism especially if you are a woman. I experienced this back in January, broad daylight in the early afternoon. A man asked me where I was originally from/did I have a BF and he said my husband was a ‘very lucky man’.

What can we do about it? We need to have an open dialogue about the continuing closed discussion about racism and stigma ESEA face. Do you think it’s okay if your mate asks if you want to ‘order from the Chinky?’ Do you say anything or leave it? To me being British-Born Chinese, it’s casual racism and the language people still use today makes my blood boil. Please, don’t even say ‘well, we used to say it back in the day’.

There is always light at the end of the dark tunnel. Let the positivity and love shine through, we need to stick together and stand up against racism.

For more information about Besea.n and Doncaster Central for Learning, please see below:

Besea.n on Twitter and Instagram @besea.n

Doncaster Central for Learning on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

I’m so happy to say that my Instagram shop is now and running after almost a year of setting it up. I started it about a year ago just as when the first lockdown started, and so I thought, I could give this ago and get it up and running in no time at all.

How.

Wrong.

I .

Was.

Honestly, I’ve spent so many hours trawling through the Net looking for solutions to the issues (and complaining and moaning at the same time) I actually just left it for a couple of weeks as it was really annoying me!

I’ll have to write up what I actually did in the end as it’s pretty laborious and time consuming. The thing is though, it took about 6-8 weeks for them to verify my shop once I had everything all set up- so it’s just a matter of waiting for Instagram to do their bit (in the midst of a pandemic, please just be patient and take your mind off it if you’re the process of getting your shop or account verified).

Anyway, enjoy the rest of the week and a long post about how to set up an Instagram shop is currently underway.

Regards,

 

Jo