Monday, January 9, 2012

BlueCanvas Interview

BlueCanvas is an artists' community that finds expression in several forms: a print-magazine on the newsstands, a free online portfolio where you can show your work, live art exhibitions, and an internet shop where you can sell prints and cards. All these different manifestations of the network reinforce each other.

The organization started in Los Angeles, but it has quickly spread worldwide. It spans genres, ranging from realist painters, concept artists, photographers, sculptors, to tattoo artists.

The quarterly magazine is unusual among art journals because instead of being run by editors, it's partly crowd-sourced: members nominate their fellow artists to be featured in print.

Bluecanvas: The Artist Network from Bluecanvas Media on Vimeo.

Creative Director Justin Yun was kind enough to answer a few questions for GurneyJourney readers:

GJ: Bluecanvas is an innovative gathering place for artists, which includes a print magazine, an internet shop, a free website gallery/forum, and a series of art events. Do I have all the parts right, or am I missing something?

JY: You are missing one part of our business which is Section Studios.  This is a design studio we started under the umbrella of Bluecanvas Inc.  As you can see from our website we specialize in many different aspects of design.

GJ: Which of those parts came first, and how did Bluecanvas get started?

JY: Bluecanvas started as an artist networking website.  Our CEO, Jimmy Yun, coming from a business background, came up with the idea, and Justin Yun, coming from a design background joined him to start Bluecanvas.  Soon after, Scott Hitomi joined us as a partner and we launched the website.  About a year after our launch we decided to publish the artists on our website and that's when the magazine was born.  We launched our shop a few years after that.  Cecil Kim joined us as we were launching our design studio (SECTION) and that's where we are now with our four owners.

GJ: How do the various parts of Bluecanvas reinforce each other?

JY: The beauty of our system is that each area of Bluecanvas is reliant on the other, and no one area of Bluecanvas can stand on its own. is and will always be the heart of the network, with all other branches stemming from it.  As long as the world finds relevant, the magazine and shop will always have outstanding content.  

GJ: How would you characterize the Bluecanvas art community? Obviously Bluecanvas attracts a wide variety of artists, but is there a "core demographic" or a typical BC artist?

JY: I think the uniqueness of our community is what's attractive to people.  Our voice is that inspiration is not genre specific, and artists from all over the world with various disciplines in art can commune and inspire each other in ways they wouldn't be able to elsewhere.  So we do attract a wide variety of artists and art lovers.  Also, you don't have to be an artist to be a part of our community. We set up the profile so you're able to collect people's art in a folder on your profile and save images you might want to purchase later.

GJ: If the mechanism for nominating someone to the print magazine is truly crowd-sourced, how to you keep the forum from becoming a political exercise or a popularity contest?

JY: That is a good question.  Seeing that we have hundreds of our members nominated per issue, and our publication only able to allow for about 20 features, ultimately, Bluecanvas has the final say to whom will make the final cut for publishing.  However, we do choose from the list of nominated artists.  We feel that it's a good thing for us to maintain some sort of say in the process [in order] to keep what you mentioned from happening.  Some of it, however, is really out of our control… and we are fine with that.  

GJ: What advice would you give to artists about presenting their work online?

JY: One advice that an instructor gave me about how I should present my work has stuck always with me.  He said, "You're only as good as your worst piece."  What he meant by that was more doesn't mean better. It's about quality not quantity and it works in your favor if you leave them wanting to see more.  So when you present your work, whether it be online or at a job interview, only show your best work.

GJ: What general trends do you see in the art world in the last three years?

JY: One of the trends I've been seeing is how low brow/street art is becoming more accepted in the mainstream art world, as well as by many galleries and museums who, in the past, may not have embraced this style. Also, as a result of technology growing as fast as it is video games are becoming more sophisticated as an art form and a lot more of interactive art is becoming popular.

GJ: What new areas would you like Bluecanvas to be involved in?

JY: We are always looking for new ways to get involved in the art community.  We are open to supporting organizations who are like-minded to us.  As far as further development of our product line, we feel that we have covered the main areas we want to, and now want to improve upon them.  As mentioned previously, if we are bringing more exposure to our artists and expanding Bluecanvas’ global reach… we are all for it.  

Thanks, Justin.
BlueCanvas website


Dom said...

Thanks for turning us onto this, Gurney.

Dierdra Michelle said...

I have been a member of BlueCanvas for months now. I benefit greatly from having a supportive network of artists who are actively looking and interacting with my work. I also love the sight to keep me honest about my painting, for I strive to post new works regularly and the community knows this!
I also have found an outlet for my writing here...which only furthers my journey to become the artist who I am daily setting free! My site is If you join the web page, please be sure to add me to your peers so we can journey into greater skill and honesty as artists together!

James...thanks for the perk on such a wonderful web community!

in gratitude, love and happiness...dierdra

Tom Hart said...

This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing this James, and thanks for the informative interview, too.

Isn't it amazing what the internet has done, is doing, for the arts community? The wealth of information on Gurney Journey alone is staggering. When I compare this to what was available just a few years ago...