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Happy Birthday to Us, Whoo

Pyragraph birthday cake - Pyragraph
Birthday cake for Pyragraph’s 3rd birthday. Photo by Peri Pakroo.

We’re gearing up, stretching our leg muscles and practicing our ’80s dance moves to celebrate our 4th birthday tomorrow, February 4 (it’d be great if you could join us!). It’s giving me a solid excuse to pull my head out of politics for at least a moment and think about where we’ve been, where we’re going, and why the hell any of it matters in the face of an authoritarian regime dawning in America. Wait—sorry! No politics no politics. Okay. I can do this.

Four years ago our site went live, on February 4, 2013, after a few months of planning based on an idea that had struck me as I was struggling to maintain my own blog in the face of a mystery illness my then 6-year-old daughter was battling. My blog was about self-employment, and many of the people I work with are creatives, and it occurred to me back then that not only could I ask my artist/musician friends to guest blog for me while I was dealing with hospitals and doctors across the country, but hey, why not start a publication featuring first-person posts from working artists? I called some friends and we made it happen.

I can’t stop thinking about, processing, and writing about what’s happening.

I loved the idea then, and I love what it has become. Putting out a daily publication featuring the voices of artists who inspire me has been a lifeline through some very tough times, and a pure joy now that the medical clouds have cleared. If only I could say the same about the gathering clouds of fascism and hateful ignoran—oh dang, sorry. Focus, focus.

I was talking with my friend Andrew yesterday about what I’d write in this 4th birthday post, and he asked me what are some of the main things Pyragraph has achieved over our four years, and as we kicked around some ideas I realized I kept coming back to talking about how AMAZING our archive has become. For example: These days I’m Pyragraph’s copyeditor so I’m the last eyes on every post, every day, and I often end up adding links within articles. In our early days we wanted to keep as many of our links in-house as possible, to other Pyragraph posts, but it was usually a stretch to find a good relevant post on a specific topic. These days, I CAN ALMOST ALWAYS FIND A PYRAGRAPH POST TO LINK TO. I realized this just the other week and it filled me with joy.

I’m not exactly sure when the transformation happened, but sometime over the last year I feel we morphed from a pretty cool fledgling arts blog into a truly rich, searchable, browsable resource. We’re out of the cocoon, our wings are drying, and we’re excited to stretch them.

Here are a few of the things I’m stoked to highlight:

  • For about a year now we have a browsable Topics list including things like Self-Promotion, Music Videos, Confidence, Sex and Copyright. We add new topics as we go to keep the list timely and current. Recent Topics include Anti-Fascism, Politics and Resistance. Even though I’m committed to making this post about Pyragraph and not about politics, I’ll mention that we are definitely shifting our editorial focus to include more political content. This includes stories about how current events are shaping creative processes, as well as the intersection of art and activism (which we’re collecting under the Artivism topic). 
  • Another cool way to access our content is to browse our Features including Dear Little Bobby, Music Video Showcase, Dear Rich and Self-Employed Happy Hour
  • We have continued to build our premium content and services including downloadable resources and coaching services, which you can buy a la carte or as a package with a PyraPASS membership. We built a PyraStore to offer all of these to y’all. Getting these pulled together took a lot of sustained work (special thanks to Sage and Clarke!) and we’re really proud of what we have to offer to support creative careers.
  • To keep ourselves accountable, and to offer the community a safe, anonymous place to vent, I created a Complaints form. Got to get something off your chest? Use the form! It doesn’t have to be Pyragraph-related. :)
  • Oh, and let’s not forget, we’ve been publishing awesome, entertaining and helpful posts from working artists EVERY DAY for four years. Through thick and thin. Thanks again to Sage and Clarke, plus our awesome Contributing Editors at Large Eva Avenue, Adam Rubinstein, Josh Stuyvesant and Jeremy Kinter for helping us build this sweet little operation.

I’ll be honest, the simple act of listing what we’ve accomplished makes me feel pretty great and makes me excited to contemplate what we’ll achieve in the coming year and years beyond that. Because, to continue being honest, I feel a palpable feeling of overwhelm in contemplating the next few years as a citizen of the US and the world. If you’re friends with me on Facebook (feel free to friend me over there), you know that no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop thinking about, processing, and writing about what’s happening in our country and the world, and doing what I can to be a more actively engaged political citizen.

It has been a tiring few months since November 9, 2016, full of very worrisome news, and we creatives are feeling the weight (non-creative folks too). Many of my artist friends and collaborators have found their whole creative worlds shifted; previously non-political artists are now making works reflecting resistance, revealing injustice, and honoring facts and truth. For many of us it’s not even a choice; we feel compelled to speak out as a duty of being human. This is definitely true for me.

Publishing and writing are my media, and I’m going to use them with all I’ve got to reflect a vision of the world I want to live in. For me, this means continuing to share stories and perspectives of creative thinkers, and offering support for those who want to pursue a creative path. It also means pacing my creative energies and stopping to rest (or to dance) when it all seems too much.

The world needs artists more than ever. Here’s to another four years of taking care of ourselves, and each other, and doing what we do. 

Peri votes - Pyragraph
Photo by Peri Pakroo.

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