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Art and Social Media Part I

June 17, 2012

This is a two part series about art and social media. This first part offers practical advice while the second part challenges the idea of art and the role social media plays in creating/affecting art itself.

The term ‘social media’ is a broad one and can generally apply to any web-based application or website where a community of people generate their own content and share ideas. Social media has been hailed as revolutionary with wide ranging benefits such as: a way to increase profitability for business, the success of several political movements across the globe and for keeping in contact with friends and colleagues across the boundaries of time and distance.

As artists (of all disciplines and levels) and art appreciators, what can social media do for us?

Here are a few popular social media platforms, all of which are free to use, and their benefits for artists and art appreciators. This is a great basic primer for those unfamiliar with the various social media platforms and by no means is an exhaustive list. These descriptions focus on the benefit and potential of connecting people, finding avenues for inspiration or publicity or to gain insight into an artist’s process.

Twitter: connect on content following hash tags (typically topic based) to find information, short (140 characters or less) opinions and links to external resources. Follow individuals or organizations you have a personal relationship with first and then follow others that generate similar types of content (Twitter will recommend these to you or find your own).

Twitter for artists: this is a great way to find and share information about new exhibitions or shows, contest information and trending topics. You can even share images of your work to get instant feedback.

Twitter for art appreciators: review trends and check out the hottest new exhibitions. Follow your favorite artists for sneak peaks or first-view information. Many famous artists and musicians use Twitter to communicate directly to their audience.

LinkedIn: connect with people you have worked with in the past. Search on people or companies and find your current and previous connections then view your contacts’ contacts to network and then ask (through the LinkedIn System) to be introduced. Publicize your resume and accomplishments using built-in widgets to embed slides of your material or to post status updates asking for information. Find other professionals in the ‘groups’ area and start conversations in forums.

LinkedIn for artists: in addition to having your portfolio online, LinkedIn has become the de-facto worldwide tool for basic self-promotion – make sure you have at least a basic profile. Connect with professionals in your industries and look for job postings for potential opportunities.

LinkedIn for art appreciators: using the widgets in LinkedIn, your favorite artists can post when they are in your city or other specialized content for people they connect to.  Find more information about their career and the people they connect to – maybe you are in similar social circles! Check out the forums and discussion groups relevant to your interests and ask questions, often an expert will help solve your problem for free.

Facebook: connect with people you know, people you admire, businesses or other groups that you share interests with. Connect with images, text, video and games to people all over the world. Publicize your involvement with people and organizations to your networks to get them involved and interested.

Facebook for artists: a cost effective alternative for creating your own portfolio website. Create a business page and post multimedia information for your fans to find. Invite your ‘friends’ to events and share critical information (such as a change in venue for your next production) and post follow up information (like a clip of your band playing) to provide value and keep your customers and fans coming back.

Facebook for art appreciators: ‘like’ the pages of your favorite artists and have their ‘status updates’ post directly to your news feed so you stay up to date on new material or shows. Explore additional information they may post such as videos of them creating their material or performances and start a dialog with them using the comment feature. Some artists limit posting to their ‘wall’ or photo albums to control content.

Pinterest: is a virtual vision or pin board where you can save and organize pieces of visual information (with links to relevant text or other information if applicable) for yourself, to share with people you already know and/or connect with or find new people based on common interests.

Pinterest for artists: a great way to organize your next project or to get inspiration! Create boards and ‘pin’ information from anywhere online or ‘re-pin’ from other Pinterest members. Comment on pins to share ideas and review the pin boards of people whose style you like.

Pinterest for art appreciators: follow artists you admire and see where their inspiration comes from! Create your own ‘pin boards’ by ‘re-pinning’ items to understand your own style. Use these to show your home decorator, beautician or friends what you may have trouble putting into words.

These are but a few social media networks to explore—every day there are more social media websites or applications being created and every day there will be new ways to connect artists with the people that love art.

What are your favorite ways to connect virtually? With other artists, art appreciators or just your friends. Please share in the comments below.

By Colleen Jolly, CHAW Board Member and Previous Past President