A Community for Artists

Sophie Ploeg Blog The Art Cafe Community Artists

Your Data Points Are For Sale....

When, in the last couple of decades, our artists’ communities moved online and then onto social media we lost something along the way. As time goes by we hear more and more about the power social media and marketing companies have over our data. Within our online groups and communities for artists, we are no longer just users of social media, we are the product of social media, and big marketing companies are paying big money to use our data.

The artists' communities on social media are large. When I moved off various art forums and onto social media in the late noughties  I was delighted to find so many artists willing to share and grow together, globally. It has made a real difference to my life as an artist an I am sure to many others too. Artists’ communities are set up all over social media. Some are huge, some are small and topic based, but they are all about sharing, supporting and learning together. The vast majority of visual artists subscribe to the philosophy that together we are stronger and together we grow. 

As with so many I too watched The Great Hack and was shocked to realise how far and deep our private data is tracked, kept and sold; irretrievably mostly.

There is very little we can do about this except stay aware and help fight for better legislation. But it also made me feel a little more reluctant to spend my online life on social media like Facebook. Believe me, like so many of us, I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I am a member of many private groups and I keep my Facebook art page up to date as best I can with news, new blog posts and interesting art links or just great pictures.

But every like, every tick, every group you join, gets logged. After joining a home baking group I see ads for home baking products. After joining a WordPress group I get bombarded with ads for website products. We all know how it works.

Enter The Art Cafe

So one of the reasons I started The Art Cafe is to escape all this and to offer others a place to escape it too. The Art Cafe is a little in between an old fashioned online forum and a Facebook group. Except this community does not live off advertising. So that means nothing is tracked and logged and you don't get to see ads featuring whatever you googled last. In fact there are no ads at all.

The Art Cafe is a community that uses a platform called Mighty Networks. It is a little like having an online shop, with something like Shopify: you pay for the platform and make it your own. So The Art Cafe is paid for by me and I can subsequently shape it in any way I like. Because Mighty Networks gets paid by hosts like me, they do not need to put advertising on the networks.

So if you fancy joining a community for artists, without the ads, without the endless privacy issues, why not join The Art Cafe? The only thing that gets tracked (for my eyes only) is how the community performs: member numbers, popular posts, most active users, etc.

In the Art Cafe we're going to build together the most enjoyable and effective online community for visual artists to move forward on their creative journey by sharing, learning and busting some myths.

The Cafe within Sophie’s Art School

I see it as the public (and free!) cafe within my Art School. It has tables for oil painters, watercolour fans, pastel artists and an outside terrace for general chat. It is open to the public as well as students. It welcomes all. Here you can share your work, ask for feedback (or not), comment on other people's work, ask questions, or just have a laugh. We run monthly challenges at the moment and there are plans for more topical events. What better way to spend your time than with fellow painting fans?

In the corridors around the Cafe there are various classrooms: that's where courses are taught, workshops are given and closed coaching groups get together. This is where you'll find my paid courses and groups. But you don't need to take a course to enjoy The Art Cafe!

Join Us!

So join us, if you like the idea of leaving the traditional social media (a little; I have not left Facebook!). Here is a place where we focus on just one thing: art. Your news feed does not make you hop from news items, to heavy-handed political opinions, to your friend's latest new shoes, or your mum's roast chicken recipe, only to be followed by an art work by an artist you admire. The Art Cafe is your daily art fix. It is interesting, fun and inspirational. And the more artists pop in, the more vibrant the place will be.

So bring your friends, grab a table and share some art! Drinks should be served soon 😉

In the Art Cafe we're going to build together the most enjoyable and effective online community for visual artists to move forward on their creative journey by sharing, learning and busting some myths.

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Various recent posts from The Art Cafe. Members are sharing their work for fun, or asking for feedback. Others ask art related questions, but sometimes we just chat about the weather.  All on an ad-free online community that is free to join. 

Listen to an interesting interview with Gina Bianchini, founder and CEO of Mighty Networks (which The Art Cafe is built on) in this podcast: Unemployable with Brian Clark.

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