Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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09/27/2004: "Is it better to blog/journal anonymously?"

I'm starting to wonder if I should quit writing this blog (that's attached to my art galleries etc.) and start one somewhere like Live Journal where I can remain anonymous? It wasn't much of an issue when I first started because no one ever read this and if anyone did stumble on it, at least they didn't know me personally. Lately I find myself wanting to write about things relating to the business side of my art (relationships with customers, gallery owners, etc.) and I find myself holding back out of fear they could read it and get pissed off or feel offended and it could hurt me professionally.

The same with writing about things in my personal life now that I've found out my dad (hi papa), sisters, grandparents, as well as aunts and uncles...have read or are continuing to read this. And I can't write about fights with local friends, hurt feelings or misunderstandings, crushes, etc. because a lot of people I know (including work colleagues) have read or occasionally read, this blog. I promised myself I'd never start to sensor myself but unless I quit writing about everything except for philosophical manifestos about art, that's exactly what will happen.

I included my website address on my art show invitations and business card which I've distributed to tons of people, and realize that any of them could very easily check out this site (and blog) that makes me uncomfortable.

On the other hand, I think it would be hard to have an effective art journal and stay anonymous because how would you get feedback on work etc. I'm not sure what to do. How do other non-anonymous blogger/artists deal with this?

Replies: 15 Comments

on Monday, September 27th, Jim L said

Speaking as someone who blogs and suspects that blog entries contributed to getting laid off by a boss with diametrically opposed political views - anonymonity is a godsend.

Artists who blog somewhat anonymously sometimes set up a one way gate on their "anonymous" blog - if someone reads their blog, then they can follow links to the work. However, the official artist's page has no mention of the blog or any other identifying characteristics (like unusual nicknames etc.) that could link the web page to the blog by google. It's like a Chinese wall kinda thing.

P.S. I like your work!

on Monday, September 27th, Nietzscheswife said

George Bernard Shaw said it was dangerous to be sincere unless one were also stupid.

Unfortunately that seems to be pretty accurate.

Anonymity is the best possible identity to have if you feel like speaking your mind without hurting sensibilities.

This is only my opinion but I think you can have both.

A personal blog...your own intimate space. But also an artistic blog.

It does seem as a contradiction. I know. I have never seen art as impersonal or faceless but the only face you would be hiding is your emotional one.

But maybe I'm crazy. :P

on Monday, September 27th, Elise said

Well, that's two votes for keeping it on the down-low.

I'm not sure I could maintain two seperate blogs, my personal life is so intertwined with my art...but maybe having an anonymous art journal with one way linking to this website is the way to go.

on Monday, September 27th, Markus Barca said

I have to agree with the first two commenters: If you want to express yourself without reaping the consequences of your thoughts, then the best way to do so is anonymously.

on Monday, September 27th, Elise said

By the way Jim, how did your boss find out about your blog? That really sucks.

on Tuesday, September 28th, Howard said

I've been keeping a personal journal since I was 15. It's a great place to rant about all my lives little problems. There have been many times when I tired to write about my artwork in that journal, but any serious thought just seems to get lost in all the rant.
Having a public art journal helps me keep my focus on what I'm trying to write about. I'm very aware of who might be reading(or hope is reading). I want it to be somewhat professoinal.
After keeping a normal journal for so long I've come to realize that most of the little daily problems I have are of no real interest to any but myself, with a couple of years to reflect some are just embrassing.
At the same time I think my online journal can be a bit dry.
I think it takes a bit of practise and self editting to get the right mix of personal and professoinal.
Personal issues can be a very important reason why someone is making the art that they are.
I find it helps to turn specifics into abstracts.
If you are having problems with a gallery write about problems artist have with galleries in general.
Just like the artwork you make not everyone is going to like what you write. It's something all artist have to deal with in their work. You'll just have to extend it to your writing as well.

on Tuesday, September 28th, Anna L. Conti said

I agree with Howard - you have to find a balance between anonymity and personal exposure. You can write about people and institutions who may read the blog (and really, you have to assume *anyone* might read it) if you do it carefully. You avoid mentioning names, sometimes you fade or blur the identifying characteristics, or you attribute the issue to someone else (an unnamed "friend" who is having a problem with a gallery.) I remember you writing about a co-worker problem one day, and I thought you handled it very well - no names were mentioned, and the specifics were were vague enough to give yourself some wiggle room, if it came back on you. I guess what I'm saying is that a certain amount of self-censorship is not that difficult, and for me at least, it's preferable to maintaining two journals. Of course if someone has pissed you off to the point where you're ready to burn bridges, then let 'er rip!

on Tuesday, September 28th,">Jackie said

E: My view contains elements of both Howard's & Anna's comments. If the purpose of your blog is to rant & rave about everyone and everything that irks you, then that's your choice. If you truly want an artist's journal, seeking comments from readers on a particular challenge or question you are facing at the moment, then of course your opinions about things influencing you will be there as an undercurrent. I'm much more interested in reading the journal of a fellow artist, commenting on things I can comment on, than reading the rants of a person I've never met nor will ever meet.
A few years ago, the only way to rant publicly, other than writing letters to the newspaper, was to contribute to electronic bulletin boards, and then take chances about who was going to read it or care. I have a friend who had a blog, and decided to make it 'semi-private', so only those who had permission could read it, because she felt people didn't care about the issues she was complaining about, or show support for her.

Answer this: What is the purpose of your blog? Then you can decide what you really want to do with this site.

on Tuesday, September 28th, RR said

I know the feeling. It's really a tough one to decide. Keeping two blogs would be hard work but I do have to censor my writing too because I don't want people to know where I work or people who know me to know everything. At the moment I'm having a fairly hard time and would like to write about it to work through my feelings but they are too personal and I wouldn't want people who do know me to read it. On the other hand anytime I have written personal stuff there is a lot of support out there. I for one would miss your personal writing because it is part of you and although I don't know you blogs have a way of making people think they do know you . Ultimately you have to decide how much you reveal. I haven't come up with the answer yet either and find it hard to sound helpful :doze: but good luck in your decision.

on Tuesday, September 28th, Elise said

Thanks everyone for weighing in...I think I've decided to keep this artist journal where it is and just primarily post about art related events, (and vauge up anything that could get me into professional trouble.)

If I feel so compelled, I may start an anonymous blog later on, where I can rant about politics and the many annoyances and injustices of the world from under the beautiful cloak of anonymity.

I will still probably mention personal stuff that comes up but again, in a way that won't get me into trouble.

Anna Conti's site is currently (Sept. 28th 2004) linking to an Art Blog Survey that I haven't checked out yet but I will. It will be interesting to see the results.

on Wednesday, September 29th, Jim L said

Since I was asked a question by Howard: "How did my boss find out about my blog?" My blog was linked from an ex-co-worker's blog and I was anything but anonymous on the blog at the time. I do talk about politics a lot on the blog, which I do not at work. There were lots of things going on at work and to say that I got laid-off because of my boss reading the blog would be wrong. However, it certainly would have helped to put his consideration of me in a less favorable light. I suspected the blog because it was so soon after some ranting I did on the blog and because the lay-off was only me, unlike our other layoffs, and I was definitely doing a lot to hold the business together - I was not doing a redundant job. But, whether he did or not, it scared me enough not to have my blog linked to my name now - so even google can't connect them!

Here is a very interesting blog of someone who DID lose their job because of blogging:

on Wednesday, September 29th, Jim L said

Ooops, the link got cut off:

on Wednesday, September 29th, Elise said

Hey Jim,
That was me that asked about your suspicions about getting fired because of your blog. That woman at Dooces is hilarious (her bio)...

Here's some blogger advice on how not to get fired:

on Thursday, September 30th, badly dubbed boy said

And from that advice: "If you end up getting yourself fired for blogging, deep down you must have really wanted out of that job." -- from a company that needs you to keep blogging. Vested interest? Naa...

It's interesting how everybody wants people to keep blogging - but whether that's because they like reading it or it's the digital equivalent of throwing bloggers into the gladatorial pit and seeing how they survive against the tigers and chariots of colleagues and friends, who knows?

on Saturday, October 2nd, Elise said

LOL, that's a funny analogy. I personally just think it's because people enjoy reading them. I feel like I know several of my blogging friends and if they were to stop, it would be like losing a friend.