Hot off the press! An idea that I've toyed with for years is finally becoming real! The TAFA List is now live! What is it? Well, it's an illustrated database of people and businesses who share the love for textiles and fiber art. It's a membership based group that hopes to access larger markets by coming together under one umbrella. My hope is that fiber artists, fair trade groups, galleries, writers, collectors, museums, designers, creative entrepreneurs and anyone else who wants to be a part of it will want to join.
The list is in a blog format. In fact, I used the same template that I used for this one, but with different colors. Each post showcases a member with links to where they can be found online. Having a web presence is one of the criteria for becoming a member. TAFA, a cyber community, provides links to each other. Here is a sample of what a member post looks like:
Earth is the Sum of Its Parts with Strings Attached
21" x 21.5" July 2009
By Bonnie Samuel
My life experiential path has been diverse, yet of great value in building a foundation for my avocation as a fiber artisan. Through years in various careers, I remained involved in art, building skills with different mediums. Each experience has added to a collage of interrelated segments, that in recent years has brought my art expression into focus.
The quilt art format combines creative elements I find most interesting and expressive – fabric, stitch, thread and painting. I find quilt art allows the use of design and texture to employ the richness and emotions of color expressively. Shapes, representational or abstract, are utilized in purposeful images to evoke an emotion, memory or bring focus to the message expressed by the art piece.
Fiber art is a rich, fulfilling and creative medium for me. It is an expressive art form, diverse in methods, construct, visual applications and employs a variety of skills. Fiber art is challenging and enriching for me as an artist and I think, too, for the viewer.
My imagery is meant for the viewer to identify with, have a good laugh, raise a fist in affirmation or simply enjoy.
Location: Ames, Iowa, USA
Online Store: The gallery on my website.
Blog: Bonnie Samuel Designs
Memberships: Surface Designs Association, Studio Arts Quilters Association
Languages spoken: English and according to my British friends, "American" English.
Tags: fiber artist, indigenous textiles, art, mixed media, natural fibers, quilt art, dyeing, textiles, painting, artist
The members links are grouped into similar categories in the middle sidebar. So far we have categories for Websites, Etsy, 1000 Markets, and Facebook Fan Pages. These will grow as groupings become apparent. Themes and locations are also listed as are the member blogs.
There is a one time set-up fee of $25 to become a member, no renewals.
Referrals and Accountability:
As TAFA uses a blog format, the comments area for each member post can be used by the member for updates and for outside referrals. For example, let's say you know someone on the list. You can leave a comment saying how wonderful that person is, yada-yada, OR maybe you had a bad experience and want to warn others of that. The comments are moderated and the negative ones might not necessarily be posted, but they will be kept. If a member gets several negative comments, a conflict-resolution committee will be established to investigate the situation and the member just might get kicked off of TAFA. I doubt this will ever happen, but felt that there needed to be a venue for accountability. For example, let's say a gallery is asking for things on consignment, but they never pay their vendors. We would not want to encourage that kind of behavior.
Members will have the option to join the TAFA Facebook Group. The group was set up for members as a place to discuss ideas on how to market the group and to network with each other. Not all members like or want to be a part of facebook, so major decisions also include a mailing to all members. But, facebook is the largest social media network around and it has great tools that we will be able to use to our benefit. As TAFA is in a blog format, it has been registered with Networked Blogs and each new member will show up as a post. Anyone who becomes a follower on facebook to the blog will be able to share the posts as they go live, a huge potential for viral marketing.
The third sidebar contains an area for sponsor ads. Only members can be sponsors. The ads cost $10 a month or $100 for a year or they can be earned through membership referrals. Refer 10 members and you get a year for free. As the list grows, this will give increased visibility to members who want to be sponsors. The funds generated from the sponsor ads will be earmarked to marketing the whole group. We will hopefully be able to advertise in mainstream magazines and sites that are too expensive for most of us on our own. More info here.
Interested? Would you like to join TAFA? There is a process to the madness. This link will take you to the membership information. You will have to put together the info that you want on your member post and pay the membership fee. You get a welcome email and can then join the TAFA facebook group. As TAFA grows and blossoms into a full-fledged resource, it will generate more and more connections for all of the members.
Spread the Word
Word of mouth always does the best job in giving a new idea the ground level support it needs. If you like the concept, whether you join or not, tell your people about it. If you have a blog, you can use the logo with the link in your sidebar: http://tafalist.blogspot.com/
TAFA will be a great place to inspire blog post ideas, to find new connections and product sources and to share our love for textiles and fiber art.
Go take a look! Then come back and give us some feedback on what you think of this new endeavor. I am very interested in suggestions that might make TAFA the best it can be!