The Power of Paper, Web & Social

Each medium, paper, web, and social, has unique powers to help advance your art career.

artist: unknown

The Power of Paper

Gallery artists used to send slides to curators at art galleries. Commercial artists used to show printed pieces in elaborate portfolios to potential clients. Those days are over. Everything is digital now.

Vinyl records and film photography are also over. Most people today stream music on their phones and take pictures with their phones, which works great for most people. Yet some aficionados choose to listen to vinyl records and take pictures with film cameras. These “old” media can be powerful for the chosen few.

Paper is similar. We don’t show printed portfolios or send physical slides anymore. Yet you can take advantage of paper’s scarcity to make a real impact when you reach out to curators, clients, and companies.

Business cards are good, but why not make a “business postcard?” A paper object that both has your contact info and shows your work. Print it on textured, heavy-weight paper. Or go even further. Make a pop-up card. Or some other clever origami creation. Let your artistry and creativity come through in your overdesigned business card. Paper era or digital era, people love physical, tangible, tactile objects.

Your generation was “born digital.” Still, we are corporeal beings who love to touch things. We enjoy tactile experience. We respond to innovative design. Be special. Stand out. Make a physical piece they want to keep around in addition to that digital blast they forget.


The Power of The World Wide Web

Paper is over. Social media overwhelms us with ads and many other distractions. Your Portfolio Website is the one place where every pixel is all about you and your work.

More people will see your social media posts than will ever make it over to your portfolio website. But Social is a poor way to experience your work. Websites have pages. Social media feeds have streams. The transition from pages to streams is huge. When someone chooses to land on your page, they have a chance to deeply appreciate your work. Social media exists to lock in user attention. Not attention to your work but to their platform. Your portfolio website has no IG/TikTok flashing mind control, only the chance to experience your work.

The people most interested in working with you will visit your full portfolio. Make sure they have the best chance to appreciate your artistry when they arrive.


The Power of Social Media

The average American spends one-third of their waking life on their phone! And checks it about 144 times a day!

Social media is far from perfect. Lots of hating and screaming. Lots of mindless scrolling. It’s destructive to democracy and free will. Time scrolling could have been time creating. Plus, it’s a narrow space in which to create art. Portraits look great on IG. Landscapes and cinematic vistas look like crap.

No matter how long a list of social media negatives you can create, none of it changes one simple fact: social media builds art careers.

I met a hairstylist who leveraged her strong social media presence to transfer from a salon in Monrovia to one in Pasadena. What’s the difference? At a Pasadena salon, you make double what you make at the Monrovia salon.

Stylist Guy Tang leveraged his social followings into his own line of hair products. He had to fire half his high-paying clients because he now spends so much time traveling and leading workshops.

I met an illustrator who was tired of the politics at his LA-based film studio and applied at another studio. Their first question was, “How many followers do you have on social media?” He replied that he wasn’t applying to be a publicist but that he was an illustrator. They replied, “Right, how many followers do you have on social media?”

Social media can be a real boost in marketing your art career. Which platforms should you be on? Instagram for most of us. TikTok and YouTube if they work for you. And don’t forget Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

image: Joshua Litven,


Paper, Web, and Social are powerful tools to help build your art career. They all contribute to your networking. Networking, meeting new people in your profession, and getting to know them over time is essential to career building.

Many of us are introverts, and all of us are busy. Nonetheless, nudging ourselves to get out into the world and meet people is essential. Most of the career opportunities I’ve had have come from knowing people. Not from sending resumes to HR VP’s and cold computer scanners.

If you

  • Create overlays for streamers, go to TwitchCon
  • Are an art educator or writer, go to College Art Association
  • Animate, go to Siggraph
  • Interior Decorate or Set Decorate, go to the Pacific Design Center, Fall Market
  • Are a Graphic Designer, go to Adobe Max or the AIGA-LA Design Conference
  • Illustrate, go to Lightbox Expo, or the SILA Illustration West exhibition
  • Work in Themed Entertainment, go to the IAAPA conference
  • Show your work in galleries, take advantage of the myriad galleries & museums in our area
  • and so on!
image: Emily Han,

Don’t Stress

Building a career is a big project!

  • The work itself
  • Networking
  • Cool paper projects
  • Web portfolios
  • Endless social posts

Do it all if you can. It will pay off!

But don’t stress. There are only so many hours in a day. Don’t torture yourself. Do as much as you can, but be realistic.

It’s better to set modest goals and follow through than to set overly ambitious goals and then give up after a while. Be good to yourself. But also push yourself a little.

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