Social Media For the Artist: A Personal Campaign of Learning or Sharing Tools

Art Journal, Artistic Growth, process, Thoughts

In this age no business can ignore the uses of the internet and social media. I don’t believe artists should either. They would be leaving too much free knowledge on the table. I began using social media for promoting my art work about four years ago, around the same time I decided to get serious about creating and thrusting my work into the world. I’ve had my frustrations and trials with different social media venues and how to make them work for me. There was this grand time when everything was chronological and everyone was happy. Then they started with the bedeviled algorithms. I came into the game after those.

Instagram:

Instagram is the big one for artists. (Your welcome, your friend Captain Obvious). How do you grow your audience without playing the games or joining a pod? (A pod for those of us not in the know is a group of people who get together and pledge to like and comment on each others posts. You can find them somehow on Reddit.) The games I refer to are liking a bunch of accounts hoping some will like you back and then deleting them a few days later. Or the ones who create ghost accounts. Some people have a lot of time. And now you know why your numbers randomly drop. You were followed by ghost accounts and/or accounts that were playing a numbers game. And who knows what other reasons.

What am I doing? I’m not getting thousands of followers. But I am getting genuine engagements and slowly growing my audience. Does this matter?

  • Art Sales: People reach out when they see something they love. The more people I’m reaching the more potential for this to happen.
  • Driving Traffic Back to my website: I’m Building towards this. I want to make it easy for people to find it and go there.
  • Instagram Stories: Many artists use these to effectively show behind the scenes of their work. Artists Brook Shaden and April South-Olson use their stories effectively this way. Lately I’ve been showing vignettes from my travels and things that interest me.

What am I doing?

  • Frequency of posting
    • This does seem to impact engagement…
    • I post every day
    • Friday and Saturday have less engagement, I still post
    • There are apps to assist with scheduling posting, I enjoy putting it out in real time.
  • Using hashtags.
    • Liking other peoples posts that use the same hashtags I’m using. Commenting. Engaging with them. This often results in solid follows and I follow back.
    • Check out other hashtags. People follow hashtags. Explore your options.
    • Create your own hashtag. I used my name. No one has my name. Now all of my posts are searchable under my name. I learned about this from following marketers on LinkedIn. (More about that later).
  • Likes
    • When a new account likes my post I check out their account in return. This organic engagement also results in new follows and follow backs.
    • I continue to make sure I’m supporting my followers by liking and commenting on their posts. Especially artists. These engagements are so important to us and help us reach our audience thanks to the algorithms. Think of the algorithm as a fog, and the engagement as a way of clearing up that fog for our work to be seen.
  • Location
    • I started putting my location in as well because people search by location.
  • Tagging Instagram Photos
    • If you tag them, they’ll show up under another account. Another way to be visible.
    • I just tagged my most recent post with Kitt Peak National Observatory
  • The Facebook Link
    • I have my Instagram linked to my Facebook Page, two for one posting
    • I don’t worry about having different content. They are generally a different audience.
  • Who am I following?
    • Big Galleries
    • Small Galleries
    • Call for art #
    • Gallery #
    • art gallery #
    • Michigan artist #
    • Art Critics
    • Artists
    • Accounts I engage with
    • Friends

Facebook

Love it or hate it our friends and family are there. I set up a separate page for my art at the start. I don’t know if that was for the best or not. I have 400 followers and less than 100 see an average post. This is why engagement matters and means so much. When 6 out of 100 people like that post no one new sees it and FB offers me the chance to pay for people to see it. Do you want to turn to give aways and gimmicks? For now I’m letting it ride.

How do I use Facebook:

  • I engage with everyone who comments. I like their comment and try to comment back.
  • I shamelessly like my own post. I do this on Instagram too. Something I’ve learned from LinkedIn.
  • If I put the location in correctly in Instagram it’ll tag the correct FB page when it posts. More than once I’ve had a reposts from places we’ve been enjoying my photos. Which lead to growing my audience.
  • I also try to support my artist friends on FB. We are all just trying to make our work visible.

LinkedIn:

Undervalued Asset that I am diving into.

How am I using it:

  • LinkedIn is a digital business card: My information is complete and up to date.
  • I post my blogs and other content. I’m still feeling it out, so far I’m learning more from following people than getting engagement back.
  • Follow, connect, engage with professionals.
    • Who? For me I’m interested in people I can learn from:
      • Gallery Owners
      • Artists
      • Art Critics
      • Art Directors
      • Marketers
      • Digital Marketers
      • Brand Strategists
      • Artist Mentors
      • Art Managers
      • Gallery Curators
      • Job Recruiters
      • Kristy Bonner… incredible content for anyone
  • I just recently started feeling out LinkedIn as more of a resource. And there are professionals on there foaming at the mouth to connect with others. Sharing brilliant information. You just have to be willing to block a few shirtless men and bitcoin miners who want to send you private messages.
  • LinkedIn Learning: They also have courses. In whatever interests you. If you are lucky you can nab one for free as they come along. Or, you can do the free month trial. The ones I’ve watched were great.

Pinterest

Pinterest has fallen by the wayside for me. I did enjoy collecting images and ideas. Once they started advertising I stopped visiting. At one time I was inserting images of my art onto my boards to see if they generated any sales on Etsy or lead back to my website. They did make it onto some boards. No sales. Something I experimented with, but wasn’t for me.

Twitter

I do not use twitter for art. I attempted. It went nowhere. I made one artist contact through Twitter. They periodically take commissions amidst their political comments. This works for them. But they also have thousands of followers. I had 22. I have since connected with them on Instagram.

Tik Tok

Word on LinkedIn from the Digital Marketers is this is it right now. Get on board. I don’t know how for a 2-D visual artist…

Blog

The blog is a way to collect my thoughts together in an accountable way I wouldn’t otherwise do.

The blog can be shared on LinkedIn, on Facebook, in different Facebook groups, Instagram, and email.

A blog doesn’t have to be complex. It is whatever you want it to be. But it is your content to share to your social media to bring back to your website. Your original content.

Other

It’s important to continue to test the waters of new platforms. They may not work out. I’m going to tell us all right now sticking with Facebook and Instagram because that’s where everyone is now, is not going to serve us. Artists go to the roads less traveled. They go were the neighborhoods are less hip and make them hip. Why would it be any different for us online?

New Years Intentions (Resolutions) For the Artist:

Art Journal, Artistic Growth, process, Self Reflection

Organize

One of the best things I did was organize for living on the road. I was sort of organized in my studio… sort of. But now everything is in repurposed tackle boxes and tool boxes and everything. goes. back. where. I. found. it. It has absolutely has to, and I hope these habits continue. I lie, I’m sprawling a little bit into one drawer in the main part of the trailer, but still organized!

Purge

We artists are always collecting materials. Now is a good time to let go of the supplies we know we are not going to use. Some communities have art swaps. Help an artist out?

Plan a body of work

Why not sit down and plan it out. A new body of work. Or try something like the 100 Day Project to get you started.

Write

Reflecting on your thoughts and working through them intentionally will help any artist to really articulate all the thought going into their work. Journal when you’re working and then use that to help with your artist statement.

Read

As artists, we need to know about business, trends, art and find inspiration. I say make it a point to read across the spectrum. Read something to develop you professionally then read something just because it is interesting. I am also on GoodReads. I like keeping track of all the books in my head.

Find Galleries/Venues for potential shows

If you are like me there is this wall here. Let’s make this the year we put together a new thoughtful body of work and while we are doing that let’s look for those venues our work will fit. It is easy with Instagram and LinkedIn to find galleries and get a feel for what they are about.

Above and beyond venues I dare you to dream? I challenge you to look into fueling your creative soul. Are there residencies out there for you? Further education? Destinations with workshops. Are there new skills you want to learn?

Attend Art Events

Just do it you social butterfly you. Opportunities come to those who are present.

Social Media

Figure out how social media can benefit you. Choose your platform, or whittle down platforms and focus on putting quality content out there. It’s free advertising that can bring people back to your website or even generate sales.

Website

It isn’t as bad as you think it is. They make it easy now with tools like WordPress. It’ll be a learning curve, but I promise it’ll be fine. If you have a website this is your reminder to update it.

Get it Together Checklist

  • Bio
  • CV
  • Artist Statement
  • Business Cards
  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Current Body of Work: Documented for Web & Portfolio Use

Do you have any intentions set for yourself as an artist for the coming year or decade? Is there something you think I can add?

Thoughts from the Road: Self Reflection

Art Journal, Artistic Growth, process, Self Reflection, The Road, Thoughts

The question is does travel change you?

We were thrust into a situation where our options were all less than appetizing so we went all in on the idea of traveling. Go West to find some future, like so many people before us. In the beginning it felt like we were merely fleeing the brutal winters of home. Then it felt like an extended vacation. Now I’ve reached a tipping point.

I go West. I go West in search of something more than. At the crest of this tipping point I find my head and heart. The true being in my form sizzles at my skin longing for its release from the long prison. Somewhere in this life I put away my truer self. I put her away. I contained that wild artist child. I tried to be many different people. I put on different masks hoping to blend into environments I never quite understood.

As a child I was wild. And creative. I ran unsupervised in a pink dress and sparkly jelly shoes. I trashed clothes because my whims decided My-Little-Ponies needed outfits. I drew cats with long tails and white tips. But I hid that child away. I grew up in a home where alcoholism and anger reigned hand-in-hand. I took that wonderful wild child and hid her away because I wanted to fade into the background. Instead I quietly continued to grow stronger in my creative abilities.

Long term travel by truck and travel trailer is slow. Well, we (my husband, two dogs, a cat and I) are slow. We stop for the dogs. We stop for the sights. We stop for lunch. We stop because we want to spend a few days somewhere. We decide to see half of Texas when we didn’t even want to go there in the first place. Instead of a vast dangerous wilderness filled with indigenous tribes; I’ve found reservations marked on maps, old roads, weathered abandoned houses, rusted cars, forgotten towns, endless fences, rampaging cities, tourist holes, scenic campgrounds with all the modern conveniences and whispers of the wild and savage past trampled by docile tourists.

I also find myself with this time. Finally, the time to think. Throughout the years I always wanted to take time off of work to just think, if I could just take those days I could figure it out. IT. Whatever it was. What I wanted? What I was thinking? There was this something I needed time for. Hours, days and apparently even weeks were not enough for me. I needed to be removed entirely from my life.

Wherever you go there you are.

Finally…

There I am

A complex damaged resilient creature with a drive to create….

What have I learned about myself in these weeks?

I feel a budding inside of the artist. She’s almost ready. Almost done cooking. The elements are all there stewing. I’ve seen works in small galleries, big galleries, and museums. I’m feeling more confident that there is something particular to me. My artist voice is about to mature. This time of travel and reflection is a gift I cannot ignore.

Subjects/Themes/Topics coming into sharp focus:

  • Melancholy over what the earth has lost to human inhabitation and the perpetual growth economy
  • Celebration of nature reclaiming man’s work
  • Appreciation of nature: wonder, joy, awe
  • Sadness over human sprawl across the landscape and a yearning for freedom from modern human artifacts
  • Enjoyment of the living creatures around me plant and animal
  • Capturing the essence of my subject in medium/media available (photography, acrylic, ink, color pencil etc.)

The answer:

Everything changes us. I came West to be changed.

Experimenting: Polaroid Photolab and Polaroid Transfers

Art Journal, Medium, process

This was quite the crash course in Polaroid emulsion transfers for me. And I am very much a novice at this juncture, but, I thought it would be fun to share some of the lessons I’ve learned so far.

(First off, we are playing with chemicals so protect your skin and eyes accordingly)

I used:

  • Polaroid Lab
  • iphone
  • soft paint brush
  • one casserole pan: other blogs suggest proper equipment. I like to use St. Vinnies.
  • scissors
  • warm water
  • Strathmore linen finish acrylic paper.

I prepared three polaroids using the Polaroid Lab.
  • Prepare fresh Polaroids.
    • I was finding that even day old prints were harder to work with.
  • There are a lot of editing opportunities to explore prior to printing with the lab. Color correction, adding artifacts, custom filters etc. I found that it was fun to explore the possibilities, but I had to pull myself back. I am an artist and as much fun as all that is, it is mostly unnecessary.
Cutting into the image a little allows the cover sheet to lift off easier.
  • I found that cutting out the image just about as soon as it was done developing allowed the cover sheet to lift off easier.
    • When I used day old Polaroids they were ripping or they were sticking to the cover sheet and the lifting process didn’t go as well
After dropping into warm water. (I am using a clear pan)
  • The emulsion will lift from the backing in warm water.
    • Working with the fresh Polaroid, the emulsion lifts fairly quickly
    • Don’t use boiling water. I made a booger.
    • By the time I got to the third polaroid the lift was near perfect. There does seem to be a correlation between timing and how easy the process goes.
Catching a “wee little ghost” as one of my artist friends described it.
  • Some tutorials say to use two water baths, one hot water and one cold.
    • I found for myself that one tray is enough.
    • I also found that less water is helpful. just enough to cover the paper
A soft brush to help get the emulsion into place
  • I’m using a heavy weight paper made to take acrylic paint. It has a lovely texture to it. And Im using the brush to help move the emulsion around.
  • When you get it where you want you’ll have to learn a technique for yourself to pin it to the paper while lifting it out of the water.
    • A little water reintroduced will lift any problem areas.
One of the final images.