A Blanket of Sky by Dawn Rodger

Have you ever wondered why so much art is being posted online? Who are all those seemingly successful artists who embrace the online market effortlessly? It is as if they have some virtual fairy godmother waving their wand at Facebook and Instagram, doing their every whim and desire! How do they get so many people on social media to follow their art careers?

To some artists, embracing social media can feel like trying to fight a ten-legged monster. This dilemma did hit me at one point and contemplating whether to bare it all on social media can be tough. Maybe it’s the unsettling and raw feeling of baring one’s soul to the unknown world. Then later on, I wondered if it has to be such a struggle.

The relationship between Art and social media has always been a tricky one. In recent times, posting on social media has also become an art in itself. There are too many platforms, sites and apps to choose from. And on top of it all, throw in a handful of tips and tricks, a spoonful of unwanted advice and a dash of algorithm. No wonder it has become one huge mystery of a curry to some folks! I might even add that one’s head might just gently start to implode at the sheer magnitude of what’s being offered online.

Many artists I know have a reclusive and an almost loner side within (even certain younger ones), so why should we feel the pressure to put our art online? After all, there are already too much competition on the internet. So how do I rise above it all? Do my paintings now have to smile and take selfies too?

Why Social Media?

Services such as Facebook and Instagram have now come to be regarded as essential spaces for emerging and experienced artists alike to share their work, to find new audiences. Social media also changes the way we interact with one another, the public and the institution that govern our careers, making us even more connected to the people and interests we love most.

For example, you can now go directly and have a conversation with your audience. It is a new form of communication power. Someone can inquire about a piece, and in an instant, its sold. (Yes, yes, I hear. But I’m talking about the perfect scenario!)  And, with one faithful “follow,” there can now be new opportunities in future for this audience (or their social network) to consider your artwork! With different apps on the phone nowadays, it can be relatively easy to push photos and videos to fans once you get the hang of it.

Crunch the Numbers

According to Brandwatch, as of May 2016 Instagram had 400 million active users. Of that number 90 percent are under the age of 35, and 60 percent are logging in daily. This makes Instagram the second most engaged network after Facebook.

Pair this with a stream of artists who are posting their artwork and interacting with their audiences daily. It is almost breathtaking to think of the generation of youth who are engaged with the art world in ways that are otherwise never seen before.

A kind of magic.  A kind of freedom

Social media may feel like a bind, a chore at times. There’s all that photo-taking, posting photos and thinking of witty things to say for the caption of the art pieces. Fast forward to a day later, and you worry about how many likes you get! And as if to make matters worse, you will likely find that you are very, very tempted to share cat photos.

So what do I mean by certain freedom for the artists? We no longer have to limit ourselves solely to galleries and the art world elite to validate our successes. Yay! Instead, the masses following your social media account takes over the evaluation of your work and might even increase the likelihood of being recommended for new exhibitions! A large online presence also increases the chances of your name being buzzed about, undercutting the need for galleries to spread the word, and ultimately taking a big chunk of commission off you. Artists now have the freedom to choose a social media platform such as Instagram or Facebook as your gallery and collect the full amount on your art sales!

But… but I like galleries! There is human contact. Also snobs. And mostly there is the champagne.

Ahah! Many of us prefer to showcase our work physically (show being the word) and let our audiences have a chance to come admire our art pieces face to face. We might even pretend not to cringe when they touch it.

In this scenario, artists can extend the use of social media to blast out the event information, and distribute videos and photos of the exhibit. It is now possible for the artist or someone attending the exhibit, to live-tweet or video the events, thereby enhancing the entire experience for other art consumers. In my opinion, posting of such art related events makes the act of online social networking feel more natural. Some people who connect with your work might also want to connect with you as a person, and it certainly feels as if some of them are going on your journey with you. Such successful social events can in turn be a boost for your online resume.

Sounds too good. What if others steal my art?

You know that every rose has its thorn. There are many things an artist need to be aware of when posting your art online. Here are some of them:

Copyright : Less control on your intellectual property

Many artists have concerns about the privacy of their images, and for good reason. A screenshot of your work could be passed around so many times that your name (and credit for the work) gets lost in the shuffle.

There are many rules for the protection of intellectual property, but they differ from country to country. There is a general “fixed” guideline with regards to copyright from The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic works, mandating several aspects of the modern copyright law.

There are certain little things an artist might also do while posting his or her work online, that might deter someone or at least make them think twice before stealing the artwork, such as stating your copyright over it, or more commonly, watermarks.

Here is a handy site to check how you can prevent such thefts:

http://www.diyartcareer.com/blog/artiststips-to-help-prevent-your-art-from-being-stolen-online

Censorship issues

Contrary to popular belief, there is no special algorithm scanning the online art world for naked butts. Instead, we have a bunch of overtly sensitive social media users who cringe at the slightest shadow of a nipple. These politically correct puritans in turn “Flag” or report said artwork as offensive, lest our nude artwork infect the pure of heart and guide young kids toward the paths of hell.

(I have recently heard the legend of an artist who had constant trouble over her half nude artwork. Facebook kept deleting the photo of her artwork no matter how many times she tried. Fed up and quite ingeniously, she used pictures of cockroaches to cover up the nipples of her artwork and posted it to Facebook. She hasn’t had a problem since.)

Keeping up

It can be tough and tedious keeping up with social media at times. We also need our time for Art! Don’t fret, here are some tips to keep up easily:

  • Find a community

(Be it an art page or group. Like the Arts, Artists, Artworks group!)

Top Social Networks

Important! The platform you choose has to be comfortable to use for you or you will find it a struggle. I find Facebook the easiest! 🙂

Art/Design Communities, Portfolios, & Inspiration

 

  • A picture sells a thousand words

Upload photos of your artwork, and not just links. It’s a proven method  to get more engagement.

  • Tag your art

Hashtags are like a friend who introduces you to everyone at the party. Because images aren’t made up of codes, it’s imperative that you include some form of description. Hashtags serve this purpose.
#NotAnotherBloodySunsetHaha

  • Consistency

Great artists become that escape or inspiration for your audiences. Post regularly, but not overwhelmingly so. Many followers are quick to opt out if their page is full of your art posts – They need to see stuff from their other friends too! Pick one platform you can easily manage, and challenge yourself to a simplified schedule until you build a comfortable consistency. Some like to post every day, some, once a week. It’s really up to your individual attitude. Just remember to keep updating what you’re doing and to update your website!

  • Be social!

Improving how social you are is important because it directly affects your business. As an artist, you are the sole creator, marketer, and promoter of your work. Know how to present yourself and your art and maybe take on new projects where you collaborate with other people. Strengthen your online connections, and you’ll create a whole new world full of opportunities.

Conclusion

The art world is moving forward with the rapid evolution of new technologies, shifting an established art culture toward the future. The importance of agents and galleries might slowly be diminishing, but with that comes a new generation of shiny virtual galleries.

On one hand, some artists, curators and others alike hate art on social media. The main reason being the destruction of and devaluing the importance of art and image due to mass consumption and saturation.

On the other hand, comes a tidal wave of new generation art consumers and artists alike, who seem to embrace this amazing marketing tool, benefiting from all it’s glory. And like it or not, you and I have to acknowledge this monumental shift of art culture leading us to the future.  Yes, it is exciting yet frightening. What if we fail at it? What if we succeed..?

I hope this article will bring some insight to you on the uses of social media in the artistic sense. And with that, I hope that whatever media you choose to use (or not to use), and whatever your style and personality is, that you will find success and fulfillment in your art career.

Ashling Aileron

“An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”

– Charles Bukowski

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