The internet can be a fantastic and empowering tool for artists. It can help artists build communities and networks with patrons through all sorts of social media use. The internet can be an inexpensive, accessible, and an effective marketing tool. It can put the business of managing art careers back in the hands of the artists themselves with no need for middle management taking a percentage. Artists often are focussed on the creation of work and not necessarily on the business of managing their careers, selling, promotion, and financing projects. Many feel uneducated in the world of business and also have some negative attitudes towards it. Many devalue their creations and this makes them vulnerable to corporations, managers or even the public exploiting them. However finances and running the business of an art career are important realities. The internet provides excellent resources on how to understand and navigate the world of finances specific to artists, for example the book, The Profitable Artist. The internet also provides the medium for them to do it.
Boyd Neil, a digital strategist recently spoke at the Canadian Senior Artists Resource Network Conference at the Toronto Western Hospital on the topic of Social media for Artists. He spoke about how to increase one’s impact by building and reaching community. He gave a lot of advise on how to make the best use of social media for artists. He encouraged intercommunication and relationship building by thanking for receiving ‘likes’ and liking others frequently. His advice to an artist for a successful Facebook page is to:
- Be professional
- Be personable
- Share regularly
- Share a lot of images
- Share videos
- Interact with audience
- Take good selfies
- Post a proper bio
- Post your awards
- Link to your website
For an effective profile he suggested making sure that your photo expresses your art and that you have an impactful background that you change frequently to announce performances, art exhibits and happenings. Someone should look at your page and instantly know something about you and your art. For a Twitter profile he suggests that artists show themselves doing something active which makes the viewer engage. Your art should also be expressed in your photo or background. Images communicate powerfully. Twitter kicks things up a notch. Neil recommends building connection between your twitter and Facebook accounts. He warns that you have to stay active on all social media and especially with Twitter by retweeting frequently. His advise for Artist’s being successful on Twitter is:
- Interact with audience
- Be a fan of others
- Post links to your materials, images
- Add value to discussions
- Make your Twitter home page awesome
- Announce appearances
- Keep in touch with industry
- Use the perfect profile pic
- Demonstrate your personality
- Don’t be bitter
A basic and important message is that artists can use the internet to promote themselves, building interest and business, but that the artists have to reach out. Much of Neil’s advice on profile page construction and social media presence, demonstrates the key concept of media that, Each medium has a unique aesthetic form. By presenting artists and their artwork in pleasing and artistic ways the form and content become aligned.
Neil promotes the use of Pinterest and Instagram especially for visual artists. I have personally posted my photography on Instagram without intending to promote myself but have been encouraged by seeing that I have gained followers and by their comments on my work. This helps my confidence as an artist. I also follow others and learn about their work. Pinterest is a very effective way to spread work. Although the average person isn’t sharing artwork on it, they are pinning and liking which shares the work and sends it out to a broader audience.
Funding for artists is limited. Government grants are competitive and funding is not what it should be to support the arts. The internet provides an opportunity for some independence and financial support of projects through crowdfunding on sites like Kickstarter. It is a great way to connect with fans, and fund art. In 2013 The Academy Award for best documentary short, Innocente, was originated on Kickstarter. Art Market Canada is an online funding resource for artists and patrons to connect.
Media messages have commercial implications, this speaks to the ownership and control of information on the media. This means that artists can be exploited by others but more importantly, that media can make us all broadcasters. This can allow artists to exploit the media to their advantage. It can free them from being bound to corporations and managers and gives power and control back to the artists. An important issue arises about ownership of created works, intellectual property, and copyright, that has great impact on artists finances and the protection of their work. Artists need to educate themselves and be conscious of how to maintain control of their work. There are specific intellectual property lawyers that can educate, advocate, and yes, be employed by artists.
Using social media and the internet cuts out the need for middle management, cuts promotional costs and positions artists and their work in the public eye.