Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wildlife Art Journal

Though the sidebar at right of this page goes on forever some of you may have actually scrolled down it and noticed the link to Wildlife Art Journal.

It was about a year ago that I decided to join and pay a subscription for this online magazine. As the magazine itself says, why pay when everything online is free? Well publishers such as them are making a bet that people will pay for quality content.

It is the same bet that all publishers have had to consider over the last 10 years or so. Will customers pay for content in the face of all that's now free on the web? For awhile many thought that online advertising would pay for the free content. Except that then came the recession and advertising declined, in almost no instances paying for the cost of providing content.

I won't go on about this, though 25 years in the newspaper industry did get me to spend a fair amount of time thinking about it. With Wildlife Art Journal I decided that I wanted to place my bet on people being willing to pay for quality content. Personally I believe that there is no other business model that will work. Quality content takes time and money to produce. Somebody has to pay for it. Or we'll just have low quality free content. Worse we might forget what quality content even was.

All well and good you might say but why write about this now? Well the main reason is to note that the pastel at top is in the Gallery of the Commons in the new issue. It's the second time I've had something shown there. So I just wanted to mention that. If you click on the link above you can close the pop-up box asking if you want to subscribe. Many of the articles are free, including Gallery of the Commons. There you'll find a collection of 57 photos of 'wildlife art', some good, some not.

I realize that there are probably few readers of this blog who are interested in wildlife art. So you may want to stop reading right here if you have no interest.

The thing is I myself didn't even know if I was interested in wildlife art when I subscribed. My educational background is 'Fine Art.' I have Bachelors of Fine Art and a Masters of Fine Art. Once I decided to start working with natural subjects, birds in particular, I realized that I was abandoning, and would soon be abandoned by, Fine Art. The two just don't overlap, neither in the 20th nor the 21st century.

When I started using birds as subjects four years ago I didn't even like wildlife art. Almost everything I saw seemed cliched, kitchsy, formulaic, anything but vital even though it had 'life' in its very name. But over the last four years I found that there were some wildlife artists who I really liked and respected. And what convinced me to subscribe to Wildlife Art Journal was that it seemed to be raising the same questions about wildlife art that I had.

And that's really why I'm writing this long, somewhat rambling post. The newest issue seems particularly vibrant, raising all the right questions about art, nature, wildlife, the environment and their connection. And it's far more than that. A recent blog entry there had an essay on Laurie David's 'The Family Dinner', about the importance of a family getting together around dinner. I don't find that a far cry from a concern for nature and for a love of art that cares about nature.

I really found the new issue to be somewhat like a Christmas present, and an unexpected one at that. If you have any interest in nature, art, wildlife or conservation I'd encourage you to pay a visit.

And that annoying popup box that follows you around the site is offering a special subscription fee of only $8 for the next year. It's well worth it, and about twice what I paid!

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