Kinda Sorta Something Good Like That: Indyish
The Internet, for all its faults, and by this I mean frightening porn. and message-board sniping. and spam. and ridiculous political arguments. and the paradox of how people with ass-backwards ideas can use a computer let alone build a website. and, but I mean, the internet is sure a great place. And as crap filters become more advanced and harmony becomes clearly the only answer to our problems, the internet can only get greater, I think.
Indyish.com helps me believe this is going to happen, especially about things that have to do with money and art, which when mentioned in the same sentence often involve either mocking laughter or gross excess. But we live in a SYSTEM, and while not all of us want to necessarily embrace that system, we might not be fully against working it so that we too may slice off a piece of that delicious capitalist pie. But y'know, the organic, homemade one.
But wait, I'm going to say there are many pies, for all of us, and the Indyish Launch events are really good pies, pies within pies, if you will, which probably go well with ice cream on a hot August weekend.
Risa Dickens, who co-founded Indyish.com in December 2005 with web-developer Elran Oded, and the aide of several independent Montreal artists, says of this weekend, "You are bound to meet people, and bound to be deliciously surprised by what people come up with. We've tried to balance out pleasure with events that benefit the community - like a clothing swap, with unswapped goods going to the Mile End Mission, and a introductory workshop on open source software for graphics and desktop publishing. Free useful tools, free clothes, and art making equals the most fun ever!"
See, meeting people is easy. ish. And we all need people. "Artists all over the world are forced to compromise on their integrity to make a living. Whether working with pencil, piano, or paint; mastering on vinyl, velour, or video, being independent means production is only part of your process. But being independent doesn't have to entail being alone, unorganized, or elitist," reads the press release for this weekend's Indyish Launch and Arts Weekend.
Yes, it's all about integration, participation, sharing. Sometimes Indyish reminds me of this open-concept elementary school I went to in grades 2 and 3. We didn't have classes and were kind of free to roam from library to math area to arts stations to gym to whatever as long as we spent a certain amount of time at each area. But somehow it didn't result in chaos. And somehow we learned a lot. As with Indyish, I think it had a lot to do with the structure - open enough to evolve and create at one's own pace yet with parametres that allowed for good socialization and a sense of being part of something bigger. Like, y'know, the World.
Indyish, while a business in itself, works for the independent artist - there is no fee to be hosted as an artist on Indyish. And it's not only a boutique to sell art, music, clothing, books, etc., but hub of community, neighborhood sites, and real-world collaboration. "Indyish is about making links between sites, systems and artists, on and off line. That's why we're Indy-ISH; growing in the space where personal creativity meets organized collectivity," Indyish declares, because it has a voice, as all good websites do. I think it might even know how to dance. Cute.
But does cute pay the bills? "Indyish makes a little money here and a little money there," says Risa. "We make 2% from sales, we make some mad mathematical equation from the google click through ads (the equation depends on page views, so sometimes it's 11 cents and sometimes it's 55.) Some people make a sweet living off those cents, so don't knock it - with high traffic and canny layout it can really accumulate. Right now, we've made the most money by selling adspace ourselves."
The other answer is: "We work day jobs. Doesn't everybody? You work at something ok to pay for something you love. Hopefully someday the thing you love takes on a life of its own and carries you along with it."
Perhaps Indyish.com's official launch will spark that life of its own. I see no reason why not. And it would seem they've chosen the most appropriate way to celebrate: with art, music and community building at a two-day event held at The Mile End Cultural Centre (The Main Hall, 5390 St. Laurent). The weekend will feature music video making, a design challenge, clothing swapping, free open source tools for artists, and a Sunday night Show with Sara Johnston and Shoot the Moon.
Daytime events are open to both Indyish artists and guests of all ages and experience levels.
24 Hour Music Video Making Contest
A twist on the old film-in-a-day, participants receive a song from one of three Montreal bands; the first three bands on Indyish.com: Telefauna, Shoot the Moon or Sara Johnston. Video-makers then have 24hrs to acquaint themselves with the song, and make the visuals for it. The bands or their chosen judges watch them all when they come back in on Sunday at 2pm, and pick their favorites to screen that night at the party. Winners will get Club Soda guest passes, and future screenings and promotion.
24 Hour Consistent Variable Project
The CVP 24hr is a fibre arts design challenge that begins on Saturday at 12:30pm when participants are given identical mystery kits of materials. They must use a bit of everything in the kit, and can only add one new variable of their own. This is the third Consistent Variable Project (the first launched by the Bias collective, and the second by Terminus1525.ca) and the first ever attempted in 24 hours. Anyone can do it! Go!
There's professional help for the first hour, if you want it, plus a photoshoot and prizes! Buy your kit here. (2$ in advance or 4$ at the door.)
The Indyish Weekend also features a MadCap Community Clothing Swap, hosted (and, if necessary, refereed) by Punch Shoe and costume designer, and burlesque star and director: Melissa Cartwright. Bring bags and boxes of old and gorgeous things that you are happy to get rid of, swap them with other generous style mavens, and rest assured: unswapped items will find a good home with the Mile End Mission.
The Indyish Weekend also includes an introductory workshop on two Free and Open Source Software Tools For Artists. Open source programmer and workshop leader Jean Marc Dufour will be leading this free bilingual workshop, showing off some of the useful things you can do with Scribus, a desktop publishing program, and Inkscape, a vector graphic drawing program.
Throughout the weekend, the Mile End Cultural Centre will also be home to the insta Indyish boutique, with lots of great items from the site for sale. You can bring things to sell at this sale only if they are also available on Indyish.com.
The whole launch weekend culminates on the evening of August 6th with the Indyish Show, hosted by Darren Curtis from Kidnapper Films, and stand up comedian, Claire Brosseau. The night will feature performances by Shoot the Moon and Sara Johnston, who is fresh from recording a new Bran Van 3000 album. The winners from the Music Video Making Contest will be announced and screened, and the results from the Indyish Poster Competition and the 24hr Consistent Variable Project will be on display all around the venue. After the bands perform all will dance with euphoric exhaustion to sweet Dj's Resaf and T4.
Want to See the Show? Buy your ticket here.
For even more info, see Indyish.com