Interview with Betty Dai: Artist

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[by]Dmitri Tcherbadji[/by]Betty is a traveller, designer, artist, photographer, teacher and a curator/advisor for the ArtSocket art collection. Today I had a chance to ask her a few questions about her life and her trade. I’ve also managed to figure out her techniques for creating ink paintings using traditional Chinese tools and materials.

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Should I buy art online?

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[by]Dmitri Tcherbadji[/by]Does it make sense to shop for art on the Internet? The problem with buying stuff online is that there is always a good chance that things will not look as they were pictured. And that’s a serious problem, much so with art.

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What makes art prints “eco-friendly”?

[by]Dmitri Tcherbadji[/by]Everyone claims to be “green” and “eco-friendly” nowadays. But we all know it isn’t true. It is a hot topic and as a result it’s been used in marketing campaigns as a tool to extract money from our wallets under the cover of being “good for the earth”. But even in cases when we truly believe that what we do has a low impact on our ecosystem we could be wrong. Consider this talk by Leyla Acaroglu where she demonstrates that a trashed plastic bag could incur less damage than degradable paper bag.

I can’t speak for every product and activity out there (although I’m working on a list) but I do know prints. During the past ~5 years I’ve dealt with dozens of print shops and read tons of articles about what does and does not work, what looks best, what feels best etc. A big part of my research was finding a way to sell sustainable products.

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Lessons learned as an artist trying to become an entrepreneur

imageBefore there was ArtSocket there was DaTube.ca. And before that there were maps.mediagenerator.ca. This is a picture of me and my friend Jacob goofing around in front of the promo poster while tricking our classmates into signing up with free chocolate bars.

[by]Dmitri Tcherbadji[/by]Art and design are not the same thing. Just because you are good at art doesn’t mean that you are going to be good at design as well. I had to learn it the hard way.

I was always into making stuff. When I was a little kid I lived with my grandfather who was and still is a huge influence on me. A lot of our playtime consisted of constructing toys out of paper and other materials. This habit of constantly doing something with my hands manifested in my early fascination with technology. 

A lot of things changed at the university. I was still very proficient at and excited with technology. But art has entered my life in a big way. All that I ever wanted to do was play music. This was also the worst time in history to become a musician. The traditional “record deal” got shattered as countless labels went under and never bounced back. And everyone with a laptop suddenly became a DJ. Being a recent immigrant with constant financial tensions did not help either.

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Tips for sustainable creative living

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[by]Dmitri Tcherbadji[/by]Last year I started including “Eco Tips” into every monthly email newsletter to my friends and customers. This is the list of these little discoveries so far. The goal is to push this to 100 actionable suggestions to make us better "earth citizens". I highly doubt that I can do that without your help though, so please do drop a comment or contact me with your tips.

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