Artomatic is happening again for the first time since 2012. I’ve taken part in past Artomatics under the Visual Artist category where I displayed various drawings, paintings, and photographs.

This year things are going to be different for me regarding participating in Artomatic. Even though the latest event takes place in a location that’s the closest to my home (just a few blocks away from the New Carrollton Metro station), I’ve decided against having an exhibition this time around.

The main reason is because the price for visual artists is now $125. (I can remember when Artomatic used to cost $75 for visual artists years ago.) If my art had been doing really big regarding sales, I would’ve participated this year despite my current financial situation. But things had never been that great for me in terms of sales. The first Artomatic I took part in (2007) I sold only two pieces of art and that was towards the end of the run. My second Artomatic (2008) was slightly better in that I focused more on photography that year and I sold a few photographs (including one person who wanted six framed copies of one of my photographs because she wanted to give them out as presents). For subsequent Artomatics (2009 and 2012) I didn’t sell anything at all. I know that the bad economy had a lot to do with that but it’s really tough when the fees for the Visual Artist category has gone up while my sales has gone down. Basically I’m at the point where I really can’t justify shelling out that much money if I’m not going to get much in return. If my financial situation improves in the future where I have more disposable income then I may resume having exhibitions in future Artomatics despite the $125 fee but right now I can’t pull it off financially.

I know that people have told me that Artomatic is more about the exposure for the artist and his/her work and less about making sales. I get that to some extent. But the only time I’ve ever had any of my previous Artomatic exhibits mentioned anywhere was at Artomatic 2012, which was the year of my Occupy the Dollhouse photograph series that was a parody of the then-current Occupy Wall Street movement complete with dolls protesting on behalf of the 99%. D.C. Mic Check, the official news site of Occupy DC, ran a story featuring my exhibit as well as exhibits from other Artomatic participants that focused on issues related to social justice and the 99% vs. 1%. That was the sole media attention that my exhibit—or any of my other Artomatic exhibits—had ever received and even that story didn’t get posted online until a month after Artomatic 2012 ended. (D.C. Mic Check has since gone off-line but you can still read the article at the Internet Archive.)

But I’m still participating in this year’s Artomatic in a different way that, on the surface, seems totally batty but I’m doing it anyway. I’m participating as a filmmaker. That’s right, a filmmaker. I’m trying to get used to the idea myself because the bulk of my filmmaking has been limited to YouTube videos on my Twisted Unicorn and Sagittarius Dolly channels. (The former is my non-profit channels and I post videos there that I would have a hard time posting on the other for-profit channel because it either contains copyrighted material or I filmed people whom I would have to track down and sign releases or there are certain situations that would make posting on the for-profit channel problematic, such as footage of protest rallies.) I’ll admit that I was raised with the idea that a filmmaker is someone like Stephen Spielberg who has the backing of a major Hollywood studio so he could hire leading actors and actresses and can also spend the money on special effects. Even low budget filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino or Michael Moore generally tend to use expensive cameras and they try to hire as many people to work with them as their budgets allow.

So I initially scoffed at the idea of me being a filmmaker. But then I found some video footage that I shot (some of which go as far back as a year ago) that I have never before posted anywhere online and I could cobble together. It’s basically a documentary that’s sort of a love letter to my favorite childhood place that has been resurrected in a different form. I’m going to write a separate post about this later that’ll describe the movie in more detail but basically I managed to put together enough footage to make a 24-minute film. I shot the whole thing using either my Droid smartphone or, in the case of an on-screen introduction, my MacBook’s built-in camera.

The price for the Filmmaker category is more reasonable to me than the Visual Artist category. Basically it costs $15 if the combined total of films you submit (one can submit more than one film) is less than 30 minutes and $25 if it’s longer than 30 minutes. My one and only film that I’m submitting is under the 30 minute mark so I was able to pay only $15.

Right now I’m in the process of scheduling my movie so I’ll let you know when it will make its debut. (Man, I’m still trying to get used to the idea of myself as a filmmaker.)

In addition Artomatic usually require participants to work a volunteer shift since the event is run entirely by volunteers. Those in the Visual Artist category are required to work a three separate five-hour shifts. As for those in the Filmmaker category, I found that only one five-hour shift is required, which is sweet because I’m currently working a temporary side job that will end in early December and I’m looking for other side work so I really don’t want to have to turn down paid opportunities due to having to serve a required unpaid volunteer Artomatic shift. Because of my current situation, I managed to schedule my one required five-hour shift for Artomatic’s first day tomorrow from 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. I figured that I can get my required volunteer shift over with early in the multi-week Artomatic event (which ends in mid-December) so I can continue with searching for paid work with no scheduling conflicts.

Of course, there’s a chance that I may willingly volunteer for other shifts since I’ve generally liked working at past Artomatics but it really depends on my time.

On top of it, I’ve been accepted as one of Artomatic’s many bloggers so I’ll be writing content for that site as well, which I’m really excited about. I’ll write more on that later.

So Artomatic 2015 will formally open its doors to the public tomorrow, October 30, and will run through December 12. For more details, check out the official Artomatic site.

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