Feature, Uncategorized

Skinny man, fat dreams: A spotlight on Chicago creative Desmoney

Sometimes you meet people who are electric. Who are rare and doing things that are not only cool, but important. South side native Desmond Tutu Owusu (Des for short) is building and if you’re smart, you’re paying attention. Des has been lending his fresh perspectives to photography for two years now with a portfolio including Nike, Complex and recently, a children’s book called Too Fly Not To Fly.  

Des

“I was messing around with the iPhone and I was getting better, getting good and Trash (Trashhand) was telling me “Yo, you should make this a serious hobby”. I came by his crib and he let me borrow his (Canon) Mark III for 3-4 weeks and after he saw the shots he told me to really think about getting a camera. I bought my first camera July 2014, a Canon Rebel T5i”.

Des’ photography centers around human interaction and urban settings. He gravitates towards anything concerning life and works at becoming better at his craft constantly. In the two years I’ve seen Des grow as a photographer what he’s gained the most is a confidence in himself.

“I trust my ideas more” he says, “I’m not afraid to make mistakes right now. I’m comfortable with myself and my ideas”.

Through his lens you see an honest and somewhat softer side of Chicago. This can be seen in his work for Too Fly Not To Fly, an alphabet book created by him and writer/teacher Briana McLean. The book is meant to spark discussions for children and help them critically examine issues affecting their lives. Since the release in early June the book has done extremely well, selling out within a few days.

“The reaction we got from a lot of people was that the book was a breath of fresh air,” says Des “the kids felt like stars. We wanted to give them something to be a part of and feel proud of”.
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Des explores the city with his camera and a purpose; unifying a city that is constantly being torn apart.

“We got so much culture here but it’s so fucking segregated. The segregation within the city affects how Chicagoans treat each other. With my photography I want to show people that we’re the same”.

This idea of unification and love shows up not only in his photography, but in his clothing campaigns, including the “Chicago Girls Do It Better” tee that drops today online and in store. Des has worked with his friends Vic, Joe and Terrell in clothing design for quite some time now, each one with their own projects that are unified by the store Fat Tiger Workshop. Since an image of the shirt was posted on social media earlier this week the demand for it has an been insurmountable.

“Chicago women don’t get no love and I feel like we got some dope ass ladies here. This is something to encourage our women. I love them and want them to be the best”.

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The “Chicago Girls Do It Better” tee will be available online or at Fat Tiger Workshop (1043 W. Grand) today at 12pm central. Follow Des on Twitter @_desmoney for more info.

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Entertainment

SEO Basics for Creatives

tumblr_o67odqhJjp1ueosrro1_1280(Image via Tumblr)

You’re a creative. Musician, writer, visual artist or actor who’s trying to break out in your industry. You have passion, a stack of business cards, an awesome website and a manager (your cousin who’s never managed anyone before but he’s got a car so …), but there’s one more thing you should consider adding to your list of many talents: basic SEO knowledge.

SEO (search engine optimization) is the umbrella term for all the methods you can use to ensure the visibility of your website and its content on search engine results pages. So basically SEO helps you get noticed in web results. Let’s say you are a photographer for hire in the Chicago area. By utilizing SEO, when people do a web search for photographers in Chicago your goal is to have your website show up in some of the first search results. This will drive more business your way which is always a good thing (that whole “starving artist” thing is so overrated).

I’ve narrowed it down to three SEO basics I think are important in helping push any creative to having their most efficient web presence possible.

1. Your name

Once you’ve decided what kind of creative career you want to pursue one of the first things to consider is your name. Let’s say you decide to use your real name. This can be difficult if you have a very common name like Ashley Smith (ahem). SEO is about optimizing search results but if your name is too common you will get lost in a sea of people with the same name as you. If you decide to use an alternative or “stage name” there are three things to keep in mind. First try to use more than one word. Names with more than one word help diminish some of the general terms, allowing artist distinction. Second avoid special characters. Remember when Prince changed his name to that weird symbol in the 90’s? It worked for him because he was already an insanely popular artist and internet searches weren’t prevalent (Ask Jeeves wasn’t even a thing yet). But now things are different. When choosing a name you should pick something that can be typed easily on mobile devices. Special characters are very difficult to type, which compromises some of your SEO value. Lastly, use misspelled words with caution. Keep in mind that Google auto-corrects misspellings, especially when the artist isn’t widely known or searched often. So putting your own spin on the names of already popular artist will probably backfire.

2. Timeliness and quality of website content

When people use search engines they are looking for the most relevant and current information possible. If the information on your site is old and inaccurate it only makes things more difficult. If your site has an email address that doesn’t work how are people supposed to book you? The same goes for the timeliness of your content. Let’s say you are a singer and a fan of yours wants to know more about your music. They do a Google search on you and the most current results are gig videos and music links from five years ago. Even though you’ve released more current work if you don’t update your web content people won’t know. Staying relevant is one of the most important things for creatives. Understanding SEO basics can help with that. Using the proper tags can also increase your chances of a searcher clicking on your result. Tags are used to tell search engines and visitors what your site is about in the most concise and accurate way possible. A lot of artist have websites or blogs but don’t utilize keywords or tags. Hashtags can help you stand out as well. Using one unified hashtag across all platforms will make it easier for fans to find your work.

3. Social

As a creative, you know the importance of building a buzz. The best way to do this is through social media marketing. Although this is non-technical SEO, it’s still one of the most important and cost efficient ways to get your project out into the world. When creating social accounts try to keep your usernames as concise as possible. If you’re JoshThePainter on Twitter and Snapchat but JoshRobins on Instagram people who want to find your work now have to remember two names and for a lot of people that’s too much effort. If you’re looking to build your brand in the digital world you need lots of content and mentions to boost SEO and search result relevancy. Once your name is out there search engine algorithms will adjust in your favor. Lastly but most importantly in social media marketing it’s important to interact with people. Using social media as a channel and genuinely interacting will show people you are human and relatable. Relatability is VERY important, no matter what your talent is.

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Feature

Feature: “Art is for the people” A look at Brave New Art World

One thing I’ve always liked about Chicago is its art scene. There’s no shortage of talent here and the support provided by the community is genuine. One organization doing its part to make people conscious about art is Brave New Art World.

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Brave New Art World was founded in May of this year as an arts unification movement. The group consists of 12 core members including photographer Lloyd Thomas Johnson, better known as Flow. Flow has been with Brave New Art World since June. He does events management where his responsibilities include choosing musical acts and vendors.
“The arts and the art world is far more important than people give it credit for” explains Flow, “it helps mind, body and soul and to not take advantage of it, or even worse, to not have access to it, is tragic”.
One of Brave New Art World’s purposes that really speaks to me is to engage and cultivate the public interests and access to art. This organization opens your eyes to galleries and exhibits you may have never known about. Art is inspirational and in a copy/paste world we live its refreshing to experience something different.
“Through Brave New Art World we have the ability to put art into the hands of people who may not be able to afford it or often times feel uncomfortable with where most of it is sold” says Flow, “We’ve done a lot to take the pretentiousness out of art shows and art in general”.
In addition to cultivating an interest in art Brave New Art World also provides a supportive community for all artist. Talking to Flow he stressed the importance of people supporting each other for the arts community to grow.
Brave New Art World does an art crawl each month in the River North area. The art crawl is free and features live music, food and beverage survey, critical talks and much more. I definitely recommend checking it out!

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“There is no limit to the value of art” says Flow, “no matter how abstract, confusing or weird it all has a place as long as it inspires even one person”.

Learn more about Brave New Art World by visiting their website
bravenewartworld.com

Also follow Flows twitter and sites
@FollowFlow
followflow.net
mymorningafter.net

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