This Thanksgiving holiday I want to thank all of the friends and readers who have supported me this year during the launch of Gwarlingo. What a year it’s been.
Since the official launch of the site in June, the number of Gwarlingo subscribers and visitors has grown dramatically. I’ve had the excitement of watching a few articles go viral. (The most popular articles so far have been on Japanese manhole cover designs, rare color photographs taken by Farm Security Administration photographers, Slinkachu’s street photographs, the moving letter from Sol LeWitt to artist Eva Hesse, my feature on artist residencies, and Bridget Lowe’s Sunday Poem).
Artists and poets who never knew each other have connected for the first time as a result of Gwarlingo, and last week I had the privilege of meeting Jean Marie Casbarian–an artist and Gwarlingo reader who won tickets to see Joseph Keckler’s show at La MaMa in New York. None of this could have happened without the support of readers like yourself.
Because of you, Gwarlingo is gradually turning into the online community I envisioned when I first launched the site six months ago.
I created Gwarlingo because I was fed-up with seeing the same movies, music, shows, and books covered in the mainstream press again and again. (A press release can only endure so many facelifts before it loses its allure). There are a lot of fabulous alternatives out there, but the trouble is knowing where to look.
My idea was to create a place where art lovers and artists of all disciplines could discover compelling work. I wanted to go deeper than the average blog–to have real conversations with real artists about ideas and process. To break down the barriers of genre, geography, and age, but to also have a little fun along the way. In spite of the impression given by many arts and literary publications, you don’t have to be overly earnest or annoyingly hipster to have an impact.
The letters and emails I’ve received from readers lead me to believe that I’m on the right track. Here’s a small sample…
“Excellent! I keep seeing…[Slinkachu's] images pop up places but I didn’t really have an overall view of his work and who he is. Which is exactly the problem with the common way of sharing on the internet, and why I enjoy your blog so much.”
In spite of this encouraging feedback, I know Gwarlingo is still in its youth. I have so many new ideas for expanding the site–for increasing coverage of the arts, while also giving artists a much-needed platform for sharing their work with a smart, interested community of peers. There is a lot of work to be done in the days and months ahead–work that requires both time and money.
When I was in New York last week, a number of people asked me how they could help support Gwarlingo. These conversations made me realize that I haven’t been very explicit about answering this question in the past. So if you would like to support this new venture, here are a few specific ways you can help:
1. “Like” Gwarlingo on Facebook. I post arts-related articles and events on the Gwarlingo Facebook page on a regular basis–many are links to topics I haven’t covered on the site. It’s an easy way to stay in the loop.
2. Follow Gwarlingo on Twitter. Ditto for Twitter. I share links on Twitter that appear nowhere else.
3. Subscribe to Gwarlingo by email. With a free email subscription, each new Gwarlingo article is delivered to your email inbox. This way you don’t have to remember to check the site for new content. I use this option for many of my favorite blogs. My morning is always better when I find Ta-Nehisi Coates waiting in my inbox!
4. If you are going to buy from Amazon or iTunes, make your purchases through Gwarlingo. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this one. I’m a big supporter of local businesses, bookstores in particular, so if you have a great independent bookstore, by all means, support it. But if you don’t, and you plan to buy anything through Amazon or iTunes, you can support Gwarlingo by using this site as your Amazon or iTunes portal. Gwarlingo earns a small percentage of each purchase you make.
I have some of my favorite books, films, and music listed on the site and in the Gwarlingo Store (there are some great gift ideas there), but you don’t have to purchase these specific items for Gwarlingo to benefit. If you click on a link for Brian Selznick’s book Wonderstruck, for instance, but then decide you have a pressing need for tube socks, Gwarlingo earns a small percentage of profits from your sock purchase! So if you’re going to buy from “the big guys,” you can do it through Gwarlingo and help “a little guy” in the process. How cool is that?
5. Donate to Gwarlingo. You can make a donation (large or small) by credit card via Pay Pal. Gwarlingo is not a nonprofit, so unfortunately, your donation isn’t tax deductible. But I do acknowledge every donation personally and use the money for essentials like web hosting, travel, and coffee. The more money I can raise, the less I have to rely on advertising, which is always a good thing.
6. Spread the word about Gwarlingo. It’s simple, free, and makes a big difference. There are a lot of ways to do this–”like” a post on Facebook, retweet an article, email a piece to a friend, or give a general plug on Facebook or Google.
Those are six simple ways you can help. I want to thank all of the writers, artists, poets, composers, filmmakers, art lovers, and performers who have visited the site regularly, shared their work, passed on links to friends, added money to the tip jar, written comments, followed Gwarlingo on Facebook and Twitter, become subscribers, and sent letters and emails of support. It’s been a wild adventure. I can’t wait to see what’s next.