Monday, December 17, 2007

The value of giving awards and testimonials - and a prize!

40cm x 30cm, coloured pencil on Arches HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

End of year traditions include giving awards to those who have done something excellent during the year. Last year I decided to initiate the Making A Mark Awards and I will be repeating them again this year - posted to this blog on 29th and 30th December .
Ladies and gentlemen - I'd like to introduce you to "The 2006 Making A Mark Awards" for excellence in blogging art and about art in 2006 - according to me. Absolutely no consultation or voting has been involved!
Blogging Art in 2006 - The Making A Mark Awards
However, this year I'm going to to consult with you about one award and have a poll - for which I will need nominations - more details below.

The value of testimonials
testimonial noun 1 a letter or certificate giving details of one's character, conduct and qualifications. 2 a gift presented (often in public) as a sign of respect or as a tribute to personal qualities or services.
Chambers 21st Century Dictionary
Testimonials mean that we communicate, as a community, about what we value - and in doing so we can share that value when it is something that others can also experience.

It seems to me that blogging is an excellent medium for testimonials about the work and people and products associated with art. I certainly use my blog on occasion to focus on an artist or an art material I use or a workshop/course - and I write in a way which is intended to be a tribute. I make a mark in respect of the subject.

I want to make a mark - give a testimonial - because I know how much I value excellence and high quality and because of how much I have benefited in the past from being told about people or things which are excellent. It's my version of 'paying it forward'.

I also do it because I know how much it can mean to the other person, or the manufacturer or provider to know that they are "hitting the mark". Besides the compliments I get on this blog as comments I also regularly get e-mails from people saying how much they value the content of my blog. I'd like to thank all those people who have written this year - it means a lot to me.

Speaking personally I endeavour to be both generous and selective. With the weekly posts I try to be as inclusive as possible so that people or organisations who contribute something of value or creditworthiness are recognised. However I also feel the need to exercise judgement and to make sure I don't undulge in 'happy clappies' too much in this blog or use the word 'excellent' too often - otherwise it loses all meaning.

Testimonials can also have a positive impact over and above just making you feel good. I also know from my marketing background and experience that the power of personal/user feedback can be truly awesome. 'Word of mouth' can have a very long 'shelf life' and great reach and thus can also have more impact than any amount of advertising. 'Word of mouth' (or blog) is truly 'viral marketing'.

So, in my opinion:
  • if you experience something and it is of value - say so! Hence why I write my 'who's made a mark this week' posts as well as highlighting books, exhibitions, artists etc.
  • If something you experience is particularly excellent - highlight it - provide a testimonial!
For example, I wrote about The best ever workshop - pastel painting with Sally Strand in October last year when I got back from my trip to New England. As many of you know, people who participate in workshops and painting holidays very often share their experiences of tutors that have been excellent and experiences which have been awful. It's one of the most enlightening parts of any workshop or holiday! Last year, it seemed to me that blogging about an excellent experience was a natural extension of that - hence the post. That post continues to rank high in my stats relating to individual posts and Sally has now even put an extract from the text on her website - Read a workshop student's testimonial!

The value of awards - and the best drawing or painting of 2007 by a blogger

Awards may seem a bit cheesy - but I also think they can be great fun as well giving me a way of recognising who, in my opinion, has been excellent - 'who's made a mark this year'.

I'm trying to give awards to the best of the best - with the natural caveat that I didn't see or read everything that was on offer!

Which is why I need your help.

As part of the Making A Mark Awards (MAMA!) for 2007, I'd like to introduce a new award and give a prize to the best drawing or painting of 2007 produced by an art blogger in 2007 and posted on an art blog in 2007.

However I'm only too conscious that I only see a small part of what gets posted - however working on the basis of the collective wisdom of crowds (which is exceedingly powerful) - it seems to me that between us we can maybe work out some candidates of worth.

So we're going INTERACTIVE! The way it's going to work is like this:
  • you identify and nominate a candidate for the best drawing or painting you've seen on an art or illustrated blog in 2007
    • You can nominate a maximum of two artworks - one drawing and one painting.
    • The nominated artwork must have been produced by an art blogger in 2007 and posted on their art blog in 2007. Work by non bloggers or work posted on websites which are not blogs is not eligible.
    • You may not nominate your own work
    • You can't nominate anything I've done! (I'm not going to nominate either - but will choose who the finalists are)
  • Use the comments to nominate. In creating a nomination you are paying tribute to the person concerned, the award becomes inclusive and anybody can go and take a look at the nominations.
    • You must state the name of the artist/blogger, the name of their blog (and provide its URL)
    • state the date of the post and the name of the work which you are proposing. (Ideally use html to post the URL of the post in question.)
    • Please also say why you are nominating this work.
  • The Deadline for nominations is midnight GMT on Friday 21st December. That gives me two days to complete viewing of all images and to get a poll and permissions sorted.
  • I'm going to need the written permission of the person concerned to post their image on this blog - if permission isn't forthcoming then the image can't be included in the poll. So ideally any help which can be given in terms of nudging that person into saying they're happy to give permission in the comments section below would be much appreciated - saves me having to ask!
  • I will be the juror for the purposes of selecting 5 finalists
  • On 24th December I will then create and post 5 images and a poll on this blog. You then vote to choose the best drawing or painting of 2007 (produced by an art blogger and posted on an art blog). Which gives you something to think about while I take a short break over Christmas! ;)
  • The deadline for voting is midnight (GMT) on Saturday 29th December.
What happens when - my end of year review

This is an overview of when I will be posting all my end of year review blog posts:
  • 17th-21st December: Poll for the best artwork is open for nominations - in the comments section of this post
  • Friday 21st December (midnight): Deadline and close of nominations for the best drawing or painting produced by an art blogger and posted on an art blog.
  • Saturday 22nd December: Blogging Art- Review of the Year (Part 1)
  • Sunday 23rd December: Blogging Art - Review of the Year (Part 2)
  • Monday 24th December: Images and poll for the "Best Artwork by a Blogger in 2007" will be posted
  • Saturday 29th December: Making A Mark Awards (Part 1) and deadline for poll.
  • Sunday 30th December: Making A Mark Awards (Part 2 - includes the results of the poll)
  • Monday 31st December: My own personal review of the year.
[Blog post amended on 18th December to make it clearer that this is part of a suite of awards called the Making A Mark Awards]

NOTE and Links:

The End of the Year Review:
At the end of December 2006, I did an "end of year review" about blogging art which came in four parts (which now all have a label - 'who's made a mark this year')
You can see the timetable for this year's End of the Year Review in the above post.