Ivy just asked a question that I nearly answered over in the comments but then I figured if others are having the same confusion then they're not going to benefit from the answer if they don't see it. And this is something I wish I had known about years ago. So if it sheds any light, then this is worth it!
This post is going to address two questions:
1) What are the Crusades?
2) Why should you become a Crusader?
So here goes, TJ's version of mixed media cliff notes:
Michelle Ward is a very well known artist. Her bio is here. She comes from Minnesota so this gives her an extra dose of wonderful. As any reader here should know, people from MN are awesome. It's like a geographical phenomenon that cannot be explained by scientists.
Michelle has multiple blogs going on because they have different functions.
Her main blog is HCIT - How Cool Is That where she posts about what's going with her art.
In addition to this Michelle hosts an event every month called a "Crusade."
These Crusades are listed out on her GPP Street Team Blog.
Those who take part in these monthly challenges refer to themselves as "Crusaders" or members of the "Street Team." The crusades are free. Michelle has a very clear description of the Street Team here. You don't have to join any other new networks or make new passwords, it's all just sitting out there waiting to be discovered. By you.
When I first came to Germany and saw posts out on various artist's blogs, I thought that these "Crusaders" actually worked for Michelle. I thought that the "Street Team" was her design team. Seriously! Her website is so professional and many of these Crusaders are quite accomplished and published artists themselves. When I put these two factors together I assumed that they were official colleagues.
As much as I'd like to pretend that I work as a designer for Michelle Ward, this is not the case. The Street Team is just a bunch of creative people coming together over a monthly project. Again, go read Michelle's description of the Street Team above if you need clarity.
You will learn something from one of the industry's top artists. Even if Michelle never hosted another crusade there is already so much information out on her site it would keep you busy for months. You don't even have to start with the current crusade. All the challenges are there. Go find one that interests you and go for it. This woman has generously gave out her knowledge. Let's be grateful to learn something new.
You will connect with other artists. This part is more work than you think. When you go into the comments section of the current Crusade, you are supposed to visit the other sites and interact with the other artists. This step takes me a few hours every month. But the reward has been that I have discovered other wonderful people and blogs and others have discovered Studio Mailbox. That's a win-win.
You will have a sense of accomplishment and you will consistently produce stuff that you otherwise wouldn't have if you didn't join in the fun. This is exactly the remedy you need to stay out of ruts and to get your buns in gear.
My two favorite Crusades have been:
#39 - Pulling Prints (check out my print-pulled pretzels. And say that 10 times fast).