Brooke Shaden has stuffed her body into an oven, stripped in fields and played dead more than once. The online artist has grown into a metaphorical mother for her massive online following and her admirers, in part, propelled her career. In a style of online mentoring, she uses forums to help drive theirs in return.
Shaden is a fine-art photographer who creates personal work. “I like to think of myself less as a photographer and more as a creator of worlds,” reads her Twitter description. The 24-year-old’s work represents “worlds she wishes we could live in, where secrets float out in the open, where the impossible becomes possible,” according to her website.
The Los Angeles-based photographer was artistically born online in December, 2008. “I started sharing my first pictures and started to get feedback and make friends online,” said Shaden in an interview with TNGG. “Because of encouragement from the online community I felt like I could take that step forward into becoming a professional photographer.”
Shaden is a self-portraitist who sprinkles her work across Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Formspring and YouTube. “I have a Facebook because that is, I think, the easiest way to get updates to people and just have everyone amassed in one spot,” she said. “And I like to show my work on Flickr because there are so many photographers on there, so it’s good to get feedback.” Her followers saturate Flickr with thousands of views, comments and favorites every upload.
Question-and-answer site Formspring is Shaden’s tip-giving forum, where fans can communicate with their favorite artist and she can write back. “Formspring was really interesting because I could answer questions on there that I get through email a lot and I can answer publicly,” she said.
RAISING ASPIRING ARTISTS
Though Shaden was a self-starter, she acknowledges the online community’s help and returns the support she constantly receives. She held her first contest through purephoto.com last March, which propelled the now-monthly contests that have developed on her Facebook forum. “I feel, more than anything, that I have a responsibility to promote art and artists and to keep an open mind,” she said.
In another move to help other artists out, Shaden also hosts workshops across America. She explains topics like underwater photography and levitation, but isn’t a strict teacher. “The workshop experience is a lot less about learning specific techniques and more about a bonding experience throughout the day.”
ARTISTIC FREEDOM FIGHTER
Shaden isn’t challenged by her photostream’s moderate rating on Flickr: “I want to promote artistic freedom,” she said. “I want them to understand that art is personal and that you can create anything that you want to create – you can create anything that you can imagine.”
As a mother-figure, her give-back mentality excites Shaden’s followers and eases their frustrations. For them, it’s enough that Shaden shares her work and wisdom. “I love the idea that I could possibly inspire something in someone, whether it be creative, artistic or personal,” she said. And like her name suggests, Brooke wants to keep creative waters flowing. “I want to have something to show them to say, ‘We’re all creating, making this together.’ So I want to post something new at least every other day – whether it’s a blog post or a picture – just to keep the creativity going.”
As she grows in talent and fame, Brooke Shaden continues to illuminate the lives of the aspiring artists, pedaling forward her cycle of give-and-take.