Get Opportunities For Art On Here

With limited methods for the accurate tracking of individuals with arts as their primary income source, estimated figures of total US working artists (from literary to performing, cultural and visual) are around 1.4 million.

It’s often very difficult for working artists to conveniently finance the creation, exhibition, and marketing of their arts thanks to their relatively low earnings. This makes them almost always in need of financial support for art materials, fabrication costs, travel, studio space, exhibition, marketing, and other expenses.

Although most foundations generally provide grants to nonprofit organizations only, artists are the exception to this rule as fellowships and grants are a very popular source of their funding amongst others cited below;

Fellowships and Grants

Often provided by private foundations and a few art agencies (publicly funded), the funds can take care of fees and other expenditures giving the artist freedom to worry only about creativity. Grants are generally competitive and provide assistance of different terms such as the awarded amount, procedures for application, stipulations etc. Some are much more restricted than others with eligibility and openness varying from nomination and application, to need or being awarded as a for a particular competition.

Artist Residencies

This funding opportunity for artists usually requires displacement from normal obligations and environment to benefit from studio space, housing, living stipends, and travel often provided in Residencies.

Fiscal Sponsorship

Contracting with a non-profit for fiscal sponsorship when having projects related to their mission can provide a valuable funding opportunity for artists. This fiscal sponsorship relationship implies the artist makes use of the tax exempt status of the sponsor to solicit for charitable contributions which are tax-deductible.

Free or Discounted Services

Certain organizations and agencies are dedicated to making health care, tax and legal services particularly available to cash-strapped artists facing hard times. Some of these services are provided at discounts with others being totally free.

Even with the existence of numerous funding opportunities for artists such as cash grants, internships, employment and residencies, understanding eligibility issues and qualification requirements is very important and should be given enough attention. Poor proposals account for many artists being overlooked for funding. So, amongst the important activities like research for valuable information, hiring the services of a qualified grant writer will definitely have great enhancement effects on the chances of an artist to be selected for funding because his/her proposals are prepared with professional experience.

Although eligibility is by nomination only, the MacArthur Fellowship and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant are amongst the most valuable and prestigious awards to support artists. With a wide range of different requirements for eligibility, examples of leading artist grant opportunities available for open application include;

The Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences

For: Awesome projects

Time: Awarded monthly. Applications are rolling

Value: $1,000

This Foundation is a group of small philanthropists awarding monthly micro-grants of $1,000 to individuals who have awesome ideas. The grant for every chapter is donated by 10 trustees, $100 each for scientific, artistic and/or social projects. Previous “awesome” beneficiaries include a phone book farm in Ottawa, a pipe organ (portable), and a Boston giant hammock. There are no eligibility restrictions for this awesome grant.

Brooklyn Arts Council Grants

For: Enthusiasts in G train

Time: Late summer, annually

Value: Average between $1,700 and $2,100

This grant is open to artists based in Brooklyn. It rewards projects with public component funding. It covers dance and theater productions, gallery exhibitions, musical concerts, films, workshops, installation of public arts, screenings and curatorial projects. With about 30 – 40 % of applicants usually benefiting from at least some funding, chances of getting assistance upon application are very high. Eligibility requires artists with proof of residence in Brooklyn.

The Pollock-Krasner Foundation

For: Painters, drawers, printmakers, and sculptors

Time: No deadlines

Value: Depending on the circumstances particular to the artist ($5,000 – $20,000)

This foundation, started by Jackson Pollock’s widow, Lee Krasner, who is also an Abstract Expressionist painter awards grants at all times within the year to artists. Applicants are required to be of financial need while possessing and demonstrating peculiar artistic talent with their recent works in galleries, museums and/or exhibition spaces. Examples of Individuals of note who have received this grant include Zoe Leonard, Jane Benson, Valerie Hegarty, Thornton Willis, Alyson Shotz.

New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship

For: New York based writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians

Time: annually

Value: $7,000

With ever changing categories and mediums every year, this grant is the Holy Grail for New York based artists. Artists from a wide range of disciplines receive cash awards through the NYFA fellowship without restrictions on how they will be used. Five categories are open for applications each year. Examples of notable grantees include; Zhou Long, Jennifer Egan, Doug Aitken, Barbara Kruger, Todd Haynes, Junot Diaz; Spike Lee, Marilyn Minter, Christian Marclay.

There exist many other accessible national and international grants, fellowships and other funding opportunities for artists which are general or speak to particular groups like disciplines, location, race, sex, religious belief, ethnicity, political background etc. Finding the ideal one only requires proper research and application or follow up.

 

How To Hosting An Event

Many people go to all of the events that are held here at the University of West Florida but they don’t understand the hard work that goes into planning and hosting an event on campus. This requires a great deal of work and you have make sure that your vision is understood, so that your plan can be executed perfectly by your team and the organization that is assisting you. There are many steps that you must follow in order for your event to be successful and this rubric will help you insure this.

Create a team: Make a team of individuals with the same mindset and goal as you, and who are willing to be creative and innovative.

Set a Date: You and your team that you have constructed must come up with a date that is convenient for majority of those involved and the students. This is very important because the students have exams to study for and there are many students that are involved in other organizations and sororities, so you have to insure the date is one that will fit majority of the student’s schedule.

Appointment: First impressions are everything for many people and the idea that you have for an event on a University Campus may be great but you must get the approval of management. In order to reserve a spot on the campus of the University of West Florida you have to present your idea to the building managers of the University commons. The managers will decide whether they will approve your event or not, so you have to prove that your event follows the standards of the University and won’t cause any disturbance.

Location: The location is something that very few people may think about but in many cases this could be the single most important thing because if the location of the event is attractable for those that were invited as well as those that weren’t that’s a bonus. When trying to choose a location, you must consider the amount of people that will be able to view the event and attend.

Promotion: Marketing the event is very imperative you and the team that you have created must decide how you will promote the event. With the emergence of social media makes promotion much easier but the traditional method of passing out flyers is very useful because it gives individuals something physical that may cause them to attend the event because it’s convenient for them at that time. Nobody wants to host an event that doesn’t have anyone show up, so out of all the steps this may take the most work but it will pay off for you in the end.

Music: The music is something that isn’t a necessity but it is another way to attract students and will keep the spirits of the participants up. You must ensure that the music is generic and is suitable for all audiences.

Activities: You and your team have to think of activities that will keep the participants occupied and interested while the event is going on. There are many contest that can occupy the participants but choosing an activity that everyone is familiar with would be the best option which should make the participants enjoy themselves while at the event.

Food: Make sure you have food that most are familiar with. The university is filled with diversity which you must always remember.

Time: Choose a time that is convenient for most students.

Survey: You can issue some surveys in order to see what you can improve upon for your next event.

 

Things About Modeling Jobs

Everybody believe all females models are like Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum or Naomi Campbell, but fact is there are several types of famous models, who you probably ignore, who are making an excellent income. Most of them are working what’s called ‘behind the scenes’ as fit, showroom and commercial models. They’re working in a wide range of companies, I can name some of them here: pharmaceutical, fitness, suppliers, manufacturers, airlines and many others.

You can certainly fit into these categories, it doesn’t matter if you cannot be in the supermodel category, I’m going to list you all types of modeling so you can identify yourself in one or several of them:

Fashion Editorial.

Fashion models or also known as editorial models are the kind of models you see in magazines like: Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Elle, etc. They work for top fashion designers like: Prada, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Marc Jacobs among others. These kind of professionals are 5′ 9″ to 6′ 0″ tall and also very slim. Their measurements are bust 33″, waist 23″, hips 33″.

Most of the times, modeling agencies look for what they called ‘the complete package’ when deciding if they can be editorial models, nonetheless don’t be down in case you don’t meet the exact stats they ask for.

Runway or Catwalk.

These models use to be 5′ 9″, anyways 5′ 10” – 5′ 11” is considered much better. They have to have the exact measurements, because they have to fit the clothes the designers are going to show to their respective clients. Most of the times the measurements of these models are no more than 34” – 23” – 34”.

The designers hire models to fit the clothes they made for their respective collections, so they don’t make their clothes to fit the model, they only exception of this rule is when the model is someone like Naomi Campbell.

Commercial.

These kind of professionals can be any age, any height or any size. They practically can do everything, as long as it’s not related to what is known as high fashion. Some examples: food products, tech devices, travel industry, etc.

Plus Size.

This is a market that has become a real important part of the fashion and commercial model industry. Fashion agencies have special division for these kind of modeling. There actually exist very famous plus size supermodels.

These kind of professionals are most of the time determined by the size instead of exact measurements, like size 12. Size 12 is not considered a plus size model in the real world but in modeling it is.

Petite.

These kind of professionals are most of the times 5′ 7” and under. Most of the times These kind of professionals don’t do runway work, they are booked for lingerie and swimsuit and also parts modeling. Because These kind of professionals have smaller glove and show sizes, they are hired as hand and also foot models.

Lingerie and Swimsuit.

These kind of professionals are more curvier and also more voluptuous than the editorial models. Swimsuit Models have a wide range of work possibilities, they’re always hired to do Swimsuit modeling. The can model undergarments, summer wear, sleep wear, lingerie, etc. They also can be other types of models like fit models.

Glamour.

These kind of professionals are most of the times even more curvy than editorial fashion models. They also work in the swimsuit and lingerie modeling too. The type of modeling refers to the type of posing the models do in their photos. Glamour modeling is considered sexually suggestive and also alluring compared to fashion modeling. Girls who pose for playboy magazines, for example, are glamour models.

Fitness.

These kind of professionals are fit, athletic and toned. A lot of these models start as trainers or athletes and included fitness modeling in their CV. They work for: supplement manufacturers, athletic wear companies and fitness companies. They’re, most of the times, commercial models too.

Fit.

It’s important not to confuse These kind of professionals with fitness models. Fit models work behind the scenes. They work with garment manufacturers and fashion houses. These companies use these models to make sure that fit and sizing are actually maintained in what is called as ‘the clothing manufacturing process’.

Garment manufacturers companies need a wide range of sizes and also shapes from these models, so that they can fit their garments correctly before they reach the final consumer.

If you’re a woman who can maintain your measurements, these type of modeling is perfect for you.

Body Parts.

These kind of professionals work modeling specific body parts: feet, hands, eyes, and legs.

Hand: can work for nail, jewelry and also beauty related products. Client use to hire these models in film or print.

Foot: get hired by shoe companies primarily, but also by beauty and nail products. Also anywhere else the perfect feet is required.

Most of the times, petite models get hired by part models, because of their smaller body parts.

Promotional.

These kind of professionals promote service and products at trade shows, live events and conventions. These girls must have an outgoing personality and also friendly. They have to deeply understand the client’s product, so that the can explain it to clients and answer question to potential customers.

 

Things About African Society

Africa is known for many things; its natural resources, human resources, beautiful weather and many others. One of these many Africa is known for is its wax prints.

As you may already know we are people who love color and design and our wax prints are not left out.

Wax prints come in many vibrant colors and are worn on an everyday basis and on special occasions. It’s exciting to walk down the fabric bazar with beautiful colors hanging in the stalls. You can get stuck in the market for hours trying to decide which one to pick. Wax prints can be dressed up or dressed down depending on what the individual prefers.

Women normally wear it in 2 pieces; a blouse called a “kaba” and a long skirt called a “slit”. In the past women would have an extra piece of cloth about 1.5 to 2 yards worth of material called the “akatasuo” or “a covering” to wrap around their waist or draped over their shoulder. Traditional attire is slowly fading out as modern women prefer to wear tighter and smaller blouses that do not require the akatasuo. It’s also partly due to changing times and young people wanting to wear clothes more in Western Style.

Men wear their wax print as a wrap using 8 to 12 yards of fabric depending on how big and tall they are. This is seen a lot among older men for special occasions. The younger men wear shirts made with wax prints.

COLOR SIGNIFICANCE

Prints with white backgrounds and black/navy blue patterns are normally worn on special occasions or celebrations such as marriage ceremonies and naming ceremonies. These are also worn to the funerals of people who lived a long and full life or on the last day of the funeral where most of the time the family goes to a thanksgiving service or when a party is held to round off the funeral celebration.

Women who have just delivered are supposed to wear white in the Akan culture for at least 6 months depending on which family they belong to. Black, red, and brown are worn for mourning and sorrow. Red doubles as a color to show anger and sorrow, worn usually at the funeral of someone who dies young or whose death is considered unnatural or tragic. These prints are predominantly black, black and brown, brown and black or red and black and black and red.

 

Characteristics That Celebrities Have

Celebrities come and go. They can either stay for a couple of years, but some fail to carve a niche in the entertainment industry and remain a starlet. Some are successful and become iconic in the music scene, television and movies.

You might be wondering why some of them have disappeared in the industry. If you observe their stellar status, the luckiest are those who share common characteristics that made them rich and famous.

Take a peek at the 8 common characteristics famous celebrities have in common. Find out if you have any of these traits that can be helpful in your chosen profession.

1. Strong determination and confidence. Celebrities are confident and determined to pursue their goal no matter what happens. They are the kind of people who do not care about what others say when they pose nude in a men’s magazine or wear a bizarre outfit. Getting out of poverty and to become famous are two things that prodded them to try their luck in Hollywood hoping that they could find the right people to help them in their budding career.

2. Their work ethic is infectious. Actors and singers are deprived of sleep as they have to stay awake until the following day to finish their commitment. They work hard not only because they know that they are highly compensated for their efforts, but because they want to leave a legacy when they are no longer active in the industry. Highest paid actors only spend 2 to 3 hours of sleep until their project is finished. But the prices they get from being workaholics can buy them a new house, a car, a set of jewelry and a swanky bag.

3. They work for the sake of art. Multi-awarded actors are choosy in their roles despite the high talent fee that they could receive for a particular project. Top caliber actors who have become financially stable would pick meaty roles that could earn them an Oscar award. They don’t mind if they have to go bald or topless for as long as the role will increase their level of creativity and transform them into a respected actor. Some celebrities accept roles that are challenging even if they don’t share the same billing stature with the main actors.

4. They are creative and unique. Famous Hollywood personalities defy the standard and social norms. They never stop creating and reinventing themselves to enable them to catch the public’s attention. Miley Cyrus, Madonna, J Lo, Michael Jackson and to name a few, had their own strings of gimmickry and controversy to promote their albums or movies. Even local artist in some key cities in the world do the same thing even if it could ruin their reputation and make them infamous. Defying the norm and ignoring their bashers is the best action that celebrities must do to succeed in their showbiz career. Gossips are part of showbiz and welcoming them with an open heart can make them stronger and better celebrities.

5. They think, believe and dream big. True artists think that there is no small role for them. Budding actors must heed what their veteran counterparts say that in order for them to be recognized and earn big, they should accept any role that can hone their acting prowess. Since the competition in the world of showbiz has become stiff, they must grab every opportunity that comes their way. Not unless they are products of reality shows or beauty contests, penetrating the entertainment industry is a bit hard. Changing their mindset from small to big things will inspire them to strive hard and make it big in showbiz.

6. They have a high emotional quotient. Although beauty and talent are important things to consider when discovering a new talent, movie directors and producers would prefer actors with a good work attitude. Celebrities who are acting like divas will most likely to lose their chance of getting the right break because their attitude can cause a lot of problems during location shooting. High EQ celebrities come to work before call time and they do not cause glitches or delay at work. They can mingle with anyone in the set from the director to the janitor. They can laugh at their own mistakes and can exchange jokes with their fellow workers, even if they have been sleepless for several nights. Most of all, they welcome strangers and mobbing fans for autograph and photo ops.

7. They enjoy every bit of their work. Become passionate about your work as an artist in the real sense of the word will give you more inspiration to hone your craft. Celebrities who are enjoying their career are the one who will become successful as they do not get discouraged when failure comes in one point of their lives.

8. Money and fame are only secondary. These two things that can lead to frustration if celebrities are unable to achieve them. Some famous celebrities who are getting less projects and their fans are ignoring them have become depressed and suicidal. This is because they think that money and fame are the most important things in life. But the truth is, any career that is taken with passion can be a great source of your finances if you know how to save your money.

Celebrities who have lost their careers because of their bad attitude have realized that becoming famous and wealthy does not happen overnight. They have to learn the traits that could propel their popularity and eventually land them a lot of projects.

Aspiring actors/actresses who are given the break should realize that the competition is so high in the industry. A single flaw is observed from you could put you down and it would be too late to realize that a newcomer will soon replace your position in showbiz. Getting rich quick is a mere fantasy as you need to start from scratch, and when you are already at the top of your success, remain humble and grounded.

 

Things You Should Know Before Visit Museum

The Washington Post article by Christopher Ingraham (June 13th, 2014) says it all “There are more museums in the U.S. than there are Starbucks and McDonald’s – combined.” Quite accurately we think of museums as important cultural and educational institutions; however, they are also quiet superstars of the entertainment industry. According to The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), with over 800 million live visits annually, their attendance exceeds that of all theme parks and major sporting events combined. But America’s museums are much more than popular and numerous; they are cultural and educational gems that play a vital role. They are community elders that tell the stories of our American neighborhoods. Mamie Bittner with The Institute of Museum and Library Studies (IMLS) stated in the Washington Post article:

“Many of these institutions, particularly in small towns and rural areas, are historical societies and history museums. We are in love with our history – at a very grassroots level we care for the histories of our towns, villages and counties,”

The story of how I came to visit and admire so many small museums begins nearly eight years ago when I faced a scary scenario. Diagnosed with prostate cancer my doctor’s instructions were clear and blunt. “We caught this thing very early; lose some weight but by year’s end take care of this.” Taking care of this meant either an operation or radiation. He was confident that either procedure would be sufficient; nevertheless, I was scared as hell. When you hear that diagnosis, “you have cancer”, a thousand things race through your mind all at once, yet somehow the whole world stops at the same time. What are the treatment options… I have to research each treatment… I have to research the surgeons… what if I don’t make it… what happens to my wife… what happens to my family… I want this thing out of me… how do you research this stuff… I want this done before the end of the year… why me… why not me. My mind was racing, racing, racing. Who do I tell? When do I tell them? Should I tell them? My mind was just racing, racing, racing.

It was June 2010. I was 54 years old, a professor, husband and father. Earlier that year my wife had been hospitalized for 34 days. Should I tell my wife? Would this aggravate her condition? She was already worried about being unemployed. Do I tell her? Our three sons were all in high school and doing reasonably well; the oldest would start college in the fall. Out of worry would my oldest boy forgo his athletic scholarship to stay home with his ailing parents? Even if he did go to college, if he knew I was battling cancer how would this affect him academically? Who should I tell? Do I tell my boys? Do I tell everyone? Do I tell no one?

I once heard somewhere that “we grow up and become our parents.” How true that is. Although it didn’t occur to me at the time, I’d seen this situation play out before in 1969; I was 12. One day my dad asked me to come with him to his doctor. This was strange; he had never asked me to go to a doctor with him before. We went to St. Nicholas Park, Mount Morris Park, Central Park, baseball games, museums and grocery stores. On Sundays we walked to newsstands to buy the New York Times and Daily News. Afterwards we’d come back home and eat big southern style Sunday breakfasts – smothered chicken, smothered pork chops, grits, gravy and biscuits, never rolls – always biscuits. We did a lot, but he had never asked me to go to a doctor with him. I should have known that something was up, but I didn’t.

The doctor’s appointment took place on an early evening. The office was located on the first floor of an apartment building and it was dark outside. I sat in the waiting area while my dad met privately with the doctor. That day his doctor told him he had six months to live. My dad a tall, quiet, dignified WWII vet said nothing. We went home and he acted as if nothing had happened. He kept it all to himself. Yet twenty one years later, and long after his doctor had died, my dad was still alive. He told no one this frightening secret for all of those years. Finally, in 1990 he spoke with me about what had happened on that day way back in 1969. When I asked him why he hadn’t said anything he had a classic answer, “Hell, I wasn’t gonna die to just to make the doctor look good.” To this day I still don’t know if he ever told anyone else.

In 2010, 41 years after my dad was told he had six months to live and said nothing to the family, I became my dad – absent the courage and dignity of the WWII vet. Initially I told no one. I did however listen to my doctor’s advice and began power-walking aggressively to lose the weight. I weighed 308 pounds. This was the beginning of a journey. Little did I know it would transform my health, my body and to a great degree my soul.

I elected for a robotic prostatectomy as treatment. Recognizing that I would be hospitalized for several days I was forced to say something to my wife. Every married man knows that disappearing for several days without telling your wife is a guaranteed death sentence; cancer is only potentially lethal. We sat down on the living room sofa on a Sunday around 7pm. It was the evening before I’d be admitted to the hospital. This scenario gave her very little time to dwell on the matter; I had to be at the hospital early the next day. As I had feared, she broke down and began to cry and as soon I uttered the word cancer. We agreed not to tell our sons; we both thought it might cause them to worry.

Fortunately the operation was a success. Neither chemotherapy nor radiation was required. Several months later I resumed my power-walking. Over time a routine evolved. I prefer walking outdoors in parks (no matter the temperature) to treadmills and tracks, mornings are better than evenings, warmups last 5 – 7 minutes, weekday walks last 45 – 50 minutes, weekend sessions last a minimum of 90 minutes and finally, almost all sessions end with 7- 8 minutes of stretching. I walk 4 times per week during cold months and 4 – 5 times per week during warm months, I also found a very reliable partner, music from the 70s, 80s and 90s. My partner also gets along fabulously with an ancient Sony Walkman. Who knows, perhaps this partner is my subconscious whispering to remind me of long lost youth.

While I do not claim to be a very religious person, being outdoors in parks (which are after all tiny forests) sweating, breathing and among the general splendor of God’s nature is often a spiritual event. The cancer has now been gone for nearly eight years. Over that time 70 pounds have melted away and my diabetes seems to have disappeared, or at the very least be well controlled. Along the way I began to enter races; I power-walk but compete against runners. Half marathons (13.1 miles) and 10Ks (6.2 miles) are my favorites. Being somewhat vain, before entering my first race I checked the times of the runners to make sure I would not finish last. At first I entered local races. Later a colleague, who is a runner, told me about the Philadelphia “Love Marathon” which I competed in. This lead me to research races in other locations. Now, I travel to participate I races. However, journeying to different cities only to participate in a single race seemed hardly to be an efficient use of time and travel. I needed another activity to compliment the racing. This is how I developed an interest in small museums.

I had some experience with researching museums. Years ago I had begun exploring museums as field trip venues for high school students. At the time I supervised a college program that provided various activities for at-risk high school students. The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) provided a great deal of information for our program. Later, as I began to look for museums in the cities and towns I would be racing in, AAM and several other museum related organizations such as The Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS) and Museums of the World (MOW) have become valuable resources. One fact that immediately became clear is that America is the undisputed museum capitol of the world. According to MOW there were an estimated 55,000 museums located in 202 countries in 2014. IMLS, (a U.S. agency) states there are 35,144 active museums in the United States alone. Assuming these data are accurate, over 63% of the world’s museums are located in America. The IMLS 2012-16 Strategic Plan points out “There are more than 4.5 billion objects held in public trust by museums, libraries, archives and other institutions in the U.S.”

My articles will attempt to capture some of the fascinating stories, color, history, myths and life that are the marrow of America’s small museums. I hope you will join me. Coming soon wax, warships and a poet named Wadsworth.

 

Understand The Mind Of Artist

Art Student, Chiamaka Okenwa, answers the question, ‘What runs through the mind of an artist before the birth of a true masterpiece?’ This is a question that plagues everyone, especially in today’s chaotic world where your identity is easily lost.

The answer to this question is what I have set out to find in my visit to ‘Identities’, an exhibition at Denk Spaces. At the entrance to the gallery was a display by the exhibiting artist Erasmus Onyishi. What had at first appeared to be a mere tangle of wires and clutter took form upon more careful observation as a colony of ants marching up the wall. This mixed media piece, Openly Closed, was perhaps what opened our minds to the existence of other forms of art apart from realism, a concept we had been more or less closed off to.

Stepping into the building, eyes began to fill with wonder. Each separate work was a colorful and vivacious expression of the same, special theme: Identity. The exhibiting artists had identified themselves through their work by their choices of color, line, texture and form, and each work appealed to all of us in different ways. One of Henry Eghosa’s expressive works, depicting a woman in the process of dressing in traditional attire seemed to whisper, our culture is our pride. Stephen Osuchukwu, in his dignified rendition of an elephant herd, drew focus to the matriarch elephant whose leadership position is almost synonymous with its identity. This female cow is the oldest and largest in the herd and is responsible for leading the elephant herd. Their survival rests on her broad shoulders. On deeper reflection we realize that, perhaps, we are a sort of matriarch when we are given leadership positions.

Obinna Makata, in his work Beauty Deeper than Cosmetics II, leads us to realize the need to maintain our own unique identities in a world where society dictates what to wear, how we should look and, ultimately, who we become. Another work of his, Of Race and Identity, tells us Africans that we do not truly conform to the label [Black], but our identities are rainbows of color, because there is a splash of something special in each and every one of us. His artful employment of Ankara emphasizes individuality. Just as each Ankara pattern derives its beauty from its unique pattern, so we derive our own from our difference in identities.

Promise O’nali, whose novel style would identify him in the farthest corners of the world, gives us another take on the term, identity. Because who are we, really? It is something to be deeply reflected upon. His works, in a cool and simple manner, induce the viewer to observe the intricacy of man’s journey through life, and the constant battle to maintain his true self.

At the end of this truly inspiring and eye-opening exhibition, I returned almost on a different plane of mind. I had taken away one general lesson. In the words of Mr. Nnoli, “Art is always involved in our lives… It opens the door to our individual creativity.”

And indeed, I have truly been inspired to open those doors, and reach for the magic in more creative ways.

 

All About Clowns

Once upon a time, clowns were benevolent figures of laughter and joy.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, American children followed the animated antics of the Bozo the Clown on television each week. The cartoons were introduced by local presenters made up as the carrot-topped Bozo. One was Willard Scott, later to become weatherman with the NBC Today show. Willard Scott was also the first-ever Ronald McDonald, making his debut appearance in a 1963 TV ad for the burger franchise.

Flash forward ten years, to Cook County, Illinois (interestingly enough, the location of one of the first McDonald’s restaurants). A character calling himself Pogo the Clown is a popular attraction at community events. Meanwhile, young men keep going missing…

Underneath the clown makeup and clothes is a psychopath named John Wayne Gacy. In between appearances as Pogo he strangles to death 34 victims. He doesn’t wear the clown outfit when he kills, but his alter-ego of Pogo forever shifts the image of the clown in popular consciousness. Almost overnight, clowns become scary, with Gacy paving the way for numerous portrayals of bad clowns in literature and film, most notably Stephen King’s It.

King’s novel came out in 1986 and was a huge seller. In 1990, his nightmare creation, Pennywise the Clown, was brought to the small screen in a miniseries. Also in 1990, a Florida woman, Marlene Warren opened her front door to a brown-eyed clown bearing flowers and balloons. The clown shot her in the face and drove off in a white Chrysler. The clown’s victim died two days later. The killer, a woman, eluded capture for over a quarter century, but now she’s serving time for murder.

The nineties and noughties saw chilling portrayals of The Joker, the green-haired prankster in the Batman franchise, by the likes of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. Plus we met Krusty, the degenerate clown in The Simpsons.

But it wasn’t until 2016 that Caulrophobia – the fear of clowns – reached truly fever pitch. In the latter part of that year, the world was gripped by a wave of ‘scary clown’ sightings. In the lead-up to Halloween, social media sites received numerous postings about sinister-looking clowns who were reported lurking first in forests, then in a host of urban locations in the US, UK, Australia and a number of other countries. It got so bad that the president of the World Clown Association, Randy Christensen took to YouTube to condemn people dressing up as clowns to frighten people. “Whoever is doing this crazy stuff is not a clown,” stated Christensen, a Minnesota-based party clown. “This is someone who is using a good, clean, wholesome art form and distorting it.’ Christensen added that members of his association had suffered job cancellations and felt under threat following coverage of scary clown sightings.

It all got too much for McDonald’s. On October 11, 2016 the burger giant announced that its mascot would be keeping a lower profile as a result of the incidents. A spokesman said the hamburger clown was cutting back on appearances at community events as a result of the “current climate around clown sightings in communities.”

There was a kneejerk reaction from other corporate entities like Target, which took clown masks from its website and stores. Schools as far apart as Ohio, USA, and Otago, New Zealand, banned clown outfits and masks.

Cut forward to Halloween night, Monday October 31, 2016. Caulrophobia had taken such a terrifying hold in the United States that large numbers of both householders and the parents of trick or treaters had firearms at the ready that night.

Fearing vigilante retribution, most clowns kept a low profile that witches’ eve. Not so in Orange County, Florida, where two men needed medical treatment after being attacked by a group of 20 people in clown masks. But other than that, Halloween night 2016 seems to have been a bit of a fizzer in the scary clown department, given all the hype leading up to it.

Flashing forward now to May 2017. A bald, bespectacled man fronts a court in Nova Scotia, Canada. He is Dale Raincourt, aka Klutzy the Clown. He pleads guilty to the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl over a six week period. The judge jails him for two years and bans him from ever working as a children’s entertainer again. Another nail in the coffin for bona fide clowns trying to earn an honest living.

Then in the fall of 2017 came the big budget cinema production of It. Pennywise was back, scarier than ever! The film proceeded to do very brisk business indeed at the box office, with the biggest attendances ever for a September-October release.

So where does that leave the benevolent, child-friendly clown of yesteryear? Well, a lot of them have hung up their clown outfits and wigs for good. Others have strategically re-aligned themselves in the marketplace, promoting themselves as “balloon artists” and avoiding all use of the “c” word.

And poor old Ronald McDonald has been put out to pasture in most parts of the world. On a recent trip to Thailand, I did encounter his life sized effigy outside a McDonald’s in Bangkok. He had his palms pressed together in a “wei” greeting. Alternatively, he might have been praying, appealing for divine intervention as the clown joins the ranks of vampires, zombies and other denizens of our worst nightmares.

Author of this article, Anthony Maguire, has written a novel called True Madness, about a killer clown who terrorises a female TV reporter. Watch out for a blue-haired clown on the book stalls and websites!

 

How To Create Great Figure

Whether you consider it using flow charts, whiteboards or even just free association, Mind Mapping has been around for some time now. People have used it for taking notes, brainstorming, and problem-solving. A Mind Map is a tool used to visually organize information or ideas. As a writer, it can be used for solving writer’s block or creating a workable outline. Today I am going to show you how to create a character sketch.

Character sketches can be very basic or incredibly detailed. It can include eye and hair color or blood type and your heroes first kiss. Many writers go online and look for pre-made character sketches that include hundreds of questions that may not apply to your work. This is where the idea of a mind map comes in handy.

For those who are not familiar with the process, don’t worry creating a mind map is not complicated. It can be done on a piece of paper, a whiteboard or using software programs. It doesn’t have to be expensive. There are several FREE programs that will do an excellent job, including xmind.net, mindmaple.com, and freemind.sourceforge.net. Some of these programs have paid versions, but as a writer, the free versions will do everything you need.

To create a mind map on any subject there are 4 basic steps.

Step 1 – Start by writing a single concept in the middle of a blank page.

Step 2 – Add related ideas to this concept and use lines to connect them.

Step 3 – Branch off each of these ideas to expand and create new thoughts.

Step 4 – Use different colors, symbols, and images to make each branch unique.

To help visualize this process I will use one of my own characters as an example. Every character you create will be different, but if you use these points as a starting place, it will be much easier.

My starting point is always very specific. I use my character’s name and a photo of what I think he or she will look like. Why do I add a photo? Because as the saying goes, “a picture IS worth a thousand words.” Personally, I put the name and photo inside a red circle at the center of the page, like a bullseye.

I add new ideas to focus on around my character. Each idea is placed in its own circle and connected by a wavy line. Why a wavy line? Because straight lines are boring and analytical, I am trying to tap into the creative side of my brain. I will also use a different color for each circle and the line that connects it, for the same reason.

I focus on six main points with each character. These include Family, Friends, Work, Skills, Physical and Secrets. At this point, it might be hard to come up with a photograph for each category, but you can use symbols like a question mark for the section that says Secrets.

This is where the fun begins. Under each main point listed, I include 5 additional sub-ideas. For example, under Family, I would list Mother, Father, Siblings, Other and History. Each of these would also have their own circle, and I would color that circle the same as the primary idea Family.

I can already hear someone saying this won’t work for me, my character’s parents are dead, or my character is an orphan. So? This is only to spark ideas. If the mother is dead, this will remind you of that and be a memory for your character to ponder about. If she’s not, you can describe what he liked or disliked about her the most.

The same idea applies to Siblings, if he has them he can tell stories of when his brother did this, or his sister did that. If he never had one, did he ever wonder what it would be like to have a brother or sister?

You might wonder why I included the word Other. Whether your character’s parents are living or not at some point someone else had a major impact on his life. That could be a babysitter, a scout leader or a teacher. All of us are created by those we have interacted with.

History would include things like who was the black sheep of the family, are all the women in this family short, have there always been anger issues? These are the things the character himself may not even realize affect his (or her) way of thinking.

I could write an entire article on how your character’s family affects the way they act or think or believe. That’s kind of the point of a mind map, you can go as deep as you want. By keeping it simple, (one word at a time) it allows your mind to keep filling in the blanks. Don’t believe me? Just say the word Mother out loud and see what images and thoughts pop into your head.

Most of the categories I listed are obvious, but I do want to take a moment to talk about Secrets. Every person on the planet has them and if you think you can create a character without them, you are sadly mistaken. It could be as simple as they never learned to swim, or as dramatic as they killed their own sister. This is also a good place to include habits. For example, if you wrote Taps, it could remind you when he gets nervous he always taps his fingers. If you wrote the word Ring, you would know she twists her ring when upset. You don’t have to write the whole reason why she twists her ring just write the word to keep your imagination going.

Key points to remember:

1st point – Keep is simple. One word at a time. You are not writing the story you are capturing ideas to include in the story.

2nd point – Use color. Bright, vibrant colors stimulate the mind. The more stimulated the mind, the easier it is to be creative.

3rd point – Use curved lines to connect thoughts. Why? Because if you just use straight lines, the brain gets bored quickly.

4th point – Add images whenever possible. Why? Because if a picture is worth a thousand words, then 10 pictures are worth ten thousand words. By using a word AND an image you engage both sides of the brain without limiting your potential.

Once you start using mind mapping to write, ideas will flow one after another. It’s actually very hard to have writer’s block if ideas come so fast you can’t keep up. It may not solve all your writing problems, but it will make things easier.

 

First Time Going To Night Club

For every one of us, there might be a first time to enter a nightclub. Most people may have heard many stories, as well as seen the hype, and now they are ready to witness it directly.

However, before they go past the ropes, these are some tips to consider:

Q: What advice can be given to first time club goes to get inside faster and to take full advantage of their first experience at a nightclub?

A: The best thing to do is pay for a VIP table. In doing so, their first time experience will linger longer in their memory than an alcohol sticker shock. They should remember, though, to come early, bring their ID and have fun with every wow factor offered by the local venues.

Q: What additional pointers can other give them in terms of etiquette when standing in line outside the club and inside as well?

A: They should always be polite to have good relations with the staff. They should not request for anything that is not legal. Otherwise, they will be removed from the club.

Q: Will the saying “money talks” work in a nightclub? Will a tip offered to the staff or security help them get in faster?

Honestly, it will not let them go too far. For faster entry, getting table service is a more effective strategy. Or else, they should plan ahead to get themselves on the guest list.

Q: To get on the list, will it be best to speak with a promoter/club host first or talk directly to the club? How will this work?

A: Speaking with the club promoter/host is the best thing to do to make sure they will be taken care of. It will be easier to establish relationships, since hospitality is what motivates people. A promoter will get these first timers on the list and even help in getting their table set up. They will have a VIP host all through the night and to assist them the whole weekend.

Q: What should club goers expect during celebrity-hosted nights? Will they expect fans to be there for the red carpet? Do celebrities mix with the crowd?

A: During celebrity hosted nights, an ideal spot on the dance floor will let them fully view the night’s events. The red carpet can be too fast that it might be over without realizing what the flashes are all about. Many people say that celebrities seldom mix with the crowd, but some have seen it happen. Perhaps it really depends on their mood.

Q: What are the regulations when it comes to taking pictures/videos inside nightclubs?

A: GoPro’s and large camera equipment are usually not allowed. Anyway, smart phones, nowadays, are capable of taking good quality pictures to share on social media, and are acceptable at all venues.

Once you become a nightclub expert, you can now hit the venues in the right way. The above mentioned tips will let you have the best time ever.