Wednesday, April 9, 2008

ETSY lecture

photo above of Matt Stinchcomb
and I with a live Etsy broadcast of the event behind us.

So..... I was asked to participate in a lecture that is part of a series set up by the American Craft Council (gulp) called
Making Meaning & The Marketplace: Craft and the next generation of thought(great title btw).

Here is how it went: a 30 - 40 minute lecture by Rob Kalin(founder and CEO of
Etsy) followed by a Q&A session moderated by Sonya Clark(head of the VCU crafts department) with Cathy Emerson(from the Quirk gallery), Rob Kalin, Matt Stinchcomb(head of marketing at Etsy) and myself all fielding questions from the audience. I have to admit that the Q&A could have gone on forever. There was plenty to talk about. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to get to everything (plus the spotlight seemed to shine brightest on the keynote speaker...he had a lot to say). I was a little disappointed with the turn out. Usually the place is packed and you can't get a seat.

Someone told me I "looked grumpy" after the lecture. I've got news for you that is my: I am so nervous I am going to vomit in my mouth face.

To me, the most important part of the lecture was: discovering who was behind Etsy, their motives, new things they are introducing on their site that help localize crafters and how sites like Etsy affect galleries' relationships with their artists. I have to admit, I don't think anyone was expecting Rob Kalin to be sooooo... (I know he is going to hate me for this) what I think Bill Gates would be like if I met him in person, kind of smarmy and full of a "I know more than you attitude". He was VERY intelligent and well spoken but a bit aggressive. Not that his ideas were bad ideas. They were great ideas. They were just presented in a fast, don't look back, finger pointing kind of way. There were a lot of holes in his arguments but hell, I guess you have to be aggressive/progressive to get things done in life. I, however, probably came off as a repetitive drunk monkey with vomit breath. Oh well.

A lot of people that were
important to me were there: Robert Ebendorf, Susie Ganch, Andrew Glasgow, Monica Hampton, Gabriel Graig, Natalya Pinchuk, The Richmond Craft Mafia, Esty people, VCU Crafts students, VCU painting faculty, local makers, just to name a few. I guess in reality, all of the right people were there. Its hard to summarize the whole thing. It definitely stirred up some interesting ideas about local economy, the handmade, online communities and how local markets should fit into our daily lives. I am not going to go into it on my blog because someone already else did. 1708 gallery blog: via Justin Lincoln and his student Chris Morgan
I also commented on a sort of not so nice review of the lecture here

The best part is that I had a great time and it seemed that everyone came out of the lecture with something to talk about. It was good to see a surprising number of old friends from VCU who actually work at Etsy now. rock on.

Thank you to
ACC, VCU, Etsy and Quirk for inviting me to be a part of an ever-evolving discussion of Crafts, the internet and Art. I hope that the next two lectures sponsored by the ACC with pick up some of the topics we didn't get to. -out