Connection = Caring
So I was perusing the Internet yesterday thinking up a new side-hustle, when I found someone else had already taken my idea!
This happens to me all the time, but this time was different.
The blog I came across was featuring an artist — the artist with my idea — and all they talked about was their childhood and how it’s affected their current work.
They neglected to give any contact info, despite saying they’re open (and desperate) for commissions numerous times.
This artist even neglected to list their subject matter, themes, or any mediums they used.
To top it off, the few pictures included were poorly lit snapshots of some comic sketches and sloppily edited photos of a few paintings. You could tell they were all taken in their poorly-lit NYC apartment.
They didn’t have a Website, Twitter, Instagram… nothing. All they had was a Tumblr page they posted to every week or so making it basically impossible for clients to reach them. There wasn’t even an email address listed, what a PR disaster!
I can’t imagine being a showcased artist in an article — the opportunity to meet hundreds, if not thousands of new clients at almost no cost — and not providing any contact information!
It’s artists like this that get stuck in that “starving artist” mentality, thinking you need to beg everyone to look at your work. They advertise themselves as a walking mess because they don’t take themselves seriously enough to be credited as anything else.
Employers can smell this desperation, and will most often write you off as inexperienced, or try to talk down your rates.
Making art has never been about the money, money is merely what we use to obtain the things we need to survive (if you’re in the art world looking for money, let the rest of us know where you find any).
Making enough to survive as an artist is challenging, but not having a website is like shooting yourself in the foot with an arrow before your Olympic 100 m dash. You’re fucking yourself over.
An artist website is incredibly important for gaining new clients. Someone who has never heard of you or what you do should be able to see all that on your site, preferably clicking through your about page, portfolio, and social media links. I’ve had almost all of my button-pressing inquiries via email, from my contact form on my site.
Most employers won’t spend the time clicking through your site; make sure to keep that in mind when setting up your home page.
Maybe you have a drop-down menu to access your archives? Perhaps you want everything on a single minimalist landing page?
Just as when making art, there’s more to consider than just “what looks good”.
What (or who) is your website for and what do you want out of it? It can be intimidating, but a little thing called Design Thinking can make answering these questions a bit easier.
This also opens up a dialogue to talk about your design process and how you make art! The more questions you ask, the more connections you can make between your work and your experiences.
Adding more real-world connections to your work makes for more opportunities to engage with your audience.
Our struggles define us as artists, but let’s face it nobody cares you were bullied in elementary school (who wasn’t) and are still bitter about it 20 years later. No one wants to read about your parents divorce or your father’s drinking problem.
I especially don’t care where you went to school, if at all. And you guessed it, neither does anyone else!
So what makes people care about art?
You need a kick-ass story.
Your story needs to be compelling, original, and have substance. You’re not writing an essay about your life or a bland biography for your grade 12 History class.
You don’t start at the beginning.
You start when you first became unique. When you finally started making different art — art that stands out, has a style — is when you’re worth people’s attention, or even worth mentioning. Before that, you are just like everyone else who says they’re an artist on the internet.
Your art is beautiful, but words will always take your work to the next level.
Craft a dialogue for your work of art.
People love stories. Words have effect, emotionally impactful effects that can generate inquiries, discussions, and (most importantly) sales. You’re literally adding a new dimension to your piece by giving it the soul it deserves through written language.
Another effective way to communicate what you and your art is all about is through branding.
The idea of branding, or becoming a brand, is seen as a bad thing by many artists I talk to… but guess what? It is the most important thing. Period. You, as an artist, are a brand. You represent your art business and your art represents you in return.
Shying away from branding yourself is holding you back. Embracing it will make you flourish!
A simple social media strategy could be the breakthrough marketing plan you need. With a bit of creative discipline and vision, your social media feeds could look calm and compelling. This creates a great energy, putting your work in the spot-light.
Developing interpersonal relationships on social media is also another great way to receive free exposure from authentically engaged audiences. Hyperlinking to other people’s work is a great way to make connections with people whose work you admire. Make sure your links are all clickable, meaning none of them are broken links!
Here’s 5 things you can do right now to improve your artist branding and online presence:
- Have a website. Make sure your website acts as a tool for your viewers. Make everything clearly identified and easy to find. Be sure to include EVERYTHING! Bonus: Get your own domain to look like a total pro.
- Have a custom colour pallet to use for everything. Subtleties like custom colour themes across all your platforms can create a cohesive feel for all your online work.
- Display the same logo/profile photo everywhere! You want people to recognize you and your work and the best way to do that is with a killer logo or clear headshot. Whichever you choose is based on your audience and niche.
- Bump up your social media profiles right now! Use every word to mention the coolest things about what you do. Take the chance to make an impression. Convert a stranger into a follower simply by writing yourself a killer bio!
- Most importantly, keep it consistent; post content every day! Keep your content consistent in quality. As in, use similar lighting, fonts, editing presets, and filters on your photos. Bonus: If you can make your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and website all visually similar and still compelling… I forgive you for all your previous discretions because this is some next-level shit!
Until next time,