There are all kinds of problems with Social Media:
- Distorts our World View
- Surveillance Capitalism by Google and Facebook erodes our individual free will and makes a democratic society increasingly impossible
- Narrows our Creative space to fit a brittle platform
- Can be about role-playing as an artist rather than truly working as an artist
In spite of many serious problems, there’s no denying that Social Media builds careers.
Different social media seem strong in different areas. For example, Twitter is huge for:
- Blockchain & NFTs
Except for NFTs, I haven’t seen Twitter as being too significant for Artists. For most of you, IG will be much more powerful than TW. Still, I have spoken to a couple of Art 490 students who find Twitter working great for them. For sure, whatever works for you, wherever you find your community, run with it!
The platforms that I think are especially powerful for visual artists include:
Instagram can be a bit of a creative straightjacket. Still, Instagram builds Art Careers. From Visual Artists like those of us in Art 490, all the way over to fashion, hairstyling, and other diverse arts areas, the impact of Instagram is enormous.
IG in Fashion & Hair
I’ve seen a Hairstylist at a salon in Monrovia use Instagram to move to a salon in Pasadena. That may not sound like a big difference, but it turns out that rates in Pasadena are double what they are in Monrovia. That’s an incredible change in income, and change in life possibilities, thanks to good work, persistence, and a big dose of help from a social media platform.
I’ve seen another hairstylist move from high-end clients in West Hollywood to their own fashion label and working on a global stage. YouTube, Instagram, and huge followings on many other platforms were key in this career success.
IG in Illustration & Photography
I spoke to a Los Angeles Illustrator who was tired of the politics at the film studio they worked at. So they interviewed at another studio. The interviewer asked,
How many Instagram followers do you have?
The Illustrator replied that they weren’t looking for a Marketing job, they wanted to work as an Illustrator. The interviewer replied,
I know. How many Instagram followers do you have?
A few summers back I hosted a “Beauty” photographer from Germany at my studio for a month. Different agencies would send the photographer lists of models that were available. The first thing the photographer would do is look the model up on IG. If the model’s number of followers was low, the photographer lost interest in working with them. If the model’s number of followers was high, the photographer wanted to book them right away. The photographer did seem to care what the model looked like, but not as much as they cared about number of IG followers.
Professional IG & Personal IG
One issue to work out is that many of us like to post both personal life stuff on IG for friends, as well as professional work.
Peeps in previous generations wanted a bright line between Personal & Professional. Today we crave authenticity, and a bit of personal life can mix well with a Professional IG.
10% personal posts mixed in might help build a following. I think if it’s 50% or 90% personal stuff it will be hard to build a professional following.
- Use IG for Professional work and use another platform, like Snapchat, for interactions with friends
- Use IG Posts for Professional, and IG Stories for Personal
- Have 2 IG accounts: 1 for Personal and 1 for Professional – this is very easy to do. IG lets you flip between accounts when you post. The first few times you might post to the wrong account, but it only takes a few seconds to delete the post and repost it on the right account. You’ll get the hang of it quickly.
West Hollywood hairstylist Guy Tang had to “fire” most of their clients because success on YouTube and other social media made them too busy traveling the globe to hangout in WeHo doing hair all day.
As Visual Artists, many of us are introverts, and the idea of talking about our work to a camera is not our idea of fun. If you’re interested, YT can be very valuable. But I realize many of you won’t want to go there.
YT & Careers
- To earn a living on YT is a full-time job. It requires an enormous number of followers. Even then YT can change the algorithm at any time and wipe out your income. Nonetheless, YT can contribute to your income and career in other ways:
- It doesn’t take an enormous number of followers to attract Sponsors to your videos. If you establish a modest following you might get an Art Gallery, Art Store, Art Supply Maker, etc, to pay to sponsor your videos.
- Followers who love your work might sponsor you through Patreon, or fund specific projects through Kickstarter.
- Followers who love your work might buy your work on Etsy or eBay, or order it on t-shirts, mousepads, etc, from a “Print & Ship” service like Shopify.
- Followers who love your work can contact you directly to commission you for projects.
Surprisingly, many students think LI is outdated or irrelevant. I think this perception is incorrect. Physically, LI looks and works a bit like FB. But instead of sharing baby photos and arguing about politics, on LI peeps share creative projects, and discuss professional topics and job openings.
Since you’ve organized great Words & Images for your portfolio already, it’s not hard to slide them over from Dropbox, or wherever you keep them, to LI.
These days FB is a dinosaur that everybody seems to hate, but use anyway. Even though LinkedIn is the “Career & Job” platform, the gargantuan number of users on FB means that it winds up having a lot of jobs, opportunities, and referrals. Sharing professional work on FB, and/or making a FB Page for your work, is a great idea.
Mailing Lists, like Social Media Followers, are gold when it comes to connecting with Collectors & Clients. Priceless for fine & commercial art commissions and sales.
- If you show work in a gallery or other physical space, be sure you have a prominently displayed way for people to join your mailing list.
- Build followers on platforms like IG
- Use a Mail-List tool like Mailchimp on your website and elsewhere to build your own list
More on Mailing Lists:
Let’s do 2 things this week:
- Start or update your Social Media presence on a few platforms
- Follow and interact with your Art 490 Classmates on a few platforms
You should for sure at least have professional profiles on:
You can optionally also get started or updated on:
Share Your Links
- By Thursday, post your IG, LI, and anything else on our Art 490 Padlet Page.
Follow Your Classmates
- That leaves Fri-Sat-Sun for your to return to Padlet and follow your classmates.
- I’d encourage you to at least connect on IG & LI.
- Go beyond just connecting… Engage!!!
Social Media works best when you don’t just drive-by and drop off content, but actually engage there. If you can find a balance so you are engaging, but aren’t spending forever there, even better.
- On IG etc, try to leave some comments on friends’ and other professionals’ posts you find interesting.
- If anyone comments on your work, reply ASAP
- When you connect to your Art 490 classmates on IG & LI this week, don’t just click “follow”. Engage! Check out your classmates’ IGs and leave some comments. Start conversations.
- Be in your art career for the long haul. Start building networks and community now.