As a writer-illustrator-artist trying to be “serious” about my art, I have been slowly drawn into the age of marketing through technology. Perhaps “dragged in” is a better descriptor of the process as there has been some kicking and screaming involved. But here I am, blogging. I’ve still got a lot to learn and the process, thus far, has been challenging. But if you are reading this, I have had a modicum of success. I admit to having just scratched the surface. We all need to start somewhere. In the meantime, I’m here!
So, does an artist really need a social media platform? Well, if you simply want to create in the privacy of your own home, and only share with close friends and family members, the answer is probably, “No.” If you want to be taken as a “serious” artist, the answer is, “Yes.” But what the heck (no pun intended) is a serious artist anyway?
A serious artist might be one who paints serious subjects, like a series of paintings of the homeless. Or, a serious artist might be one who is a professional, i.e., one who makes art their livelihood. Some artists think only abstract art is serious. Artists who take themselves too seriously aren’t much fun to be around.
I “Googled” the term “serious artist” and found all sorts of invitations extended to them. You can apply to certain art schools if you are serious. Galleries and producers and editors all want to talk to serious artists. Art, after all, is not just for visual artists. But, for myself and this discussion, I will consider serious artists to be those who work diligently to hone their craft, desire to share their work with the general public, and intend to make money doing it. I am serious.
So, this leads me back to my original question. Does a serious artist need a presence on social media? Well, of course—it’s the 21st Century! You don’t have the luxury of invisibility. Whatever your medium, no one in a position to advance your art will think you are serious about it unless you, at least, have a website. Most will expect more. So don’t underestimate the power of sites like Facebook and Twitter. The latter is a new addition to my social media platform and one I resisted. I was dubious about Twitter. I don’t care what you had for dinner or what TV show you are watching. If you think that information is important, please don’t follow me. But I am beginning to see that there are masters of “tweeting” out there. They’re able to promote themselves effectively in 140 characters or less and provide value while they’re doing it. I’m watching them and learning. As for Facebook, I used to tell everyone who would listen, “I don’t have time to spend on Facebook.” Then it put me back in touch with old friends I’d been missing. Thanks, Facebook! That’s the social side of Facebook. Here’s the business side–when I became the co-proprietor of a phantom gallery, my partners and I were thrilled when hundreds of people showed up at our grand opening. Half way through the three-hour reception, we had to wash 200 used wine glasses or stop pouring wine. More than 300 people came to the opening. Some turn out! And how did all those people find out about us? Well, there was some word of mouth and a few flyers, but the vast majority of people came because we invited them on Facebook and they invited their friends. Mark Zuckerberg truly did create a new system of exchanging information. Did he deserve Time Magazine’s 2010 Man of the Year award? I think he did.
New social sites are popping up all the time. There’s Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn and many, many more. Should you do them all? Not if you want to have a life. What you should do is find out which social media sites meet your needs. See which ones reach your market and take it from there. The possibilities are endless.
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