I have been following the progress of Rachelle Esaid’s Digital Artefact from week 1 to now in week 12. This project interested me because it was quite different from the other projects in that there was a lot more physical work made. It also sparked my interest because I like art and wanted to see this project unfold. Her DA is about Building a Portfolio, showcasing her art, and other creative works. Rachelle is a Creative Arts student who took this subject for a little bit of change while still working on her art with the aim of monetizing it in some way. While discussing with her I found out that she wanted to get into a range of creative fields outside of just painting and drawing. She has a very clear artistic style and seems to know the general direction she wants to go in, this direction involves making merchandise with her art printed or embroidered onto them namely t-shirts, sweat shirts and tote bags. Her platform is mainly on an Instagram account that was started prior to class, and is moving to a WordPress blog.
Talking face to face with Rachelle has led to an interesting discovery into what awoke the ideas behind these works, she said “I was inspired by a lucid dream involving a spiral faced creature, when I woke up I then starting drawing a bunch of spirals”. She is greatly influenced by Instagram user’s reederone and erikjonesart and uses a range of materials when creating her original abstract artworks, a mixture of Faber Castell pencils, Acrylic paints, pens and fine liners which are then put on paper.
She is often experimenting to enhance her already unique style creating a large variety of works, most of the works involve a coiled effect that she calls spirals over faces of these fictional characters. These Spirally guys are then posted on her Instagram where they get a decent amount of likes, but not an amount she’s currently happy with.
Instagram seems to be the best way to showcase her works and get engagement immediately, she notes in her Beta presentation that she had a small amount of followers (around 40-50) that stagnated for a while, until she commented on a Reddit thread in the subreddit r/artistlounge, after that her followers boosted by another 30-40.
As mentioned earlier she has an interest in testing out other creative fields, before doing this Rachelle undergoes a lot of research. Reading the manuals for all machinery prior to using it. I had the privilege of watching her learn and see the progress she made. I fully understand from my own sewing experience that learning a new machine is difficult. In an hour you spend about 20 minutes getting your stuff ready to go, setting up the machine and fabrics, 30 minutes fixing the machines little mistakes and screw-ups, then 10 minutes actually getting your thing done. Through watching you could see it getting to her but in the end she was triumphant, while the end product was not perfect, it was a good first attempt at making merchandise. For her first embroidery project she went with words instead of a design, as the test ‘customer’ I had the option of choosing what went on it. It says “UGLY GIRL” in all caps, light green. For this shirt we used a men’s t-shirt from target, but in the future Rachelle mentions that she would like to go for higher quality shirts possibly bought in bulk she said Champion branded shirts would be something she’s interested in.
Utility and Trajectory
This DA was started to create a portfolio and to open her opportunities as an artist but the trajectory of the project has developed into something more, bringing it back to that point mentioned earlier. The creation of original merchandise. In the last couple of weeks she became aware of Maker Space at UOW. Which has free services that definitely assist in this area. In Maker Space there is an Embroidery Machine, This was one skill she learnt throughout this Digital Artefact.
Before she went in this direction I remember in conversation that she was struggling with how to start some things and possibly put too many expectations and tasks in her head at the start. The ambition was good but trying to achieve perfection right away wasn’t realistic, it did get her down for a while and you could notice a bit during presentations, but it’s much better now as she is being more realistic and taking this building a portfolio and business a lot slower. She has also tried making videos to show her art making process through this she has learnt how to edit with Adobe Premiere. The editing process she liked but she didn’t seem to enjoy what she made, perhaps perfectionism was a big part of why she didn’t post a lot. After a couple weeks Rachelle decided to start a WordPress to better show her works and has an Etsy in progress. As of right now there isn’t anything on the WordPress so that will probably need to be sorted out.
Quoting Rachelle from her Beta presentation she said she ‘Still wants to monetize but is now focusing on building an audience and interest.’ I think because this is a project she is interested in continuing for her own futures sake it’ll be good to continue posting and commenting on Reddit threads. As well as working on getting the WordPress up and running with images of her works with a small amount of information about the work with formal language used. A theme that shows the individual works pictures that you can click and go into the blog post will work really well for this and make a clean aesthetic that is easy to navigate. The original Digital Artefacts outcome is to make a portfolio, the Instagram acts well for this purpose but the WordPress or perhaps another service allowing you to create a website will be good as she could go more into detail and create something very professional looking.
For networking and building a bigger, loyal following it’ll be good to get more involved in local artist meetups, there are apps you can use for this, and places you can gather and just work on projects with others. I think she is making good progress in learning how to use new technology and should continue experimenting with that while also posting on art specific subreddits to keep gaining engagement, will be good for the future of this project. I think an Etsy will be needed as soon as she gets products available. Which will rely on her perfecting the new embroidery skills, finding the good materials and just getting started.