As you well know, I spend lots of time looking at artist websites and social media pages. I do this not only as an “art person,” but also as a lay person.
It pains me to say that most artists – professional artists at that – aren’t really using social media to their best advantage.
I look at many of these pages and I see photos of flying cats, dancing elves, breakfast plates full of pancakes, half-nude selfies in front of bathroom mirrors … everything except what people should be seeing ….
What should people be seeing when they look at the social media pages of serious, professional artists?
They should see … links to your website … photos of your work … and information about your upcoming projects and shows. Can we SEE that please? I mean, you're showing us everything else ... including your bare asses (in childish, non-artistic ways) in some cases.
If you are a serious artist, you need to have a professional, BUSINESS social media page that focuses on you and your work ALONE. You should have this on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and definitely LinkedIn which is FOR professional people of all career fields. Instagram, Tumblr, Ello and other sites are also options.
I know, I know. Believe me. It can be time-consuming, but once you establish a routine, it gets easier and I dare say, fun.
Save the photos of your vacation in Hawaii, the laughing baby at the airport and your child’s high school graduation for your separate and personal profile pages. So many artists have things on their pages that are nothing but distractions for anyone who might possibly want to BUY your work. Do you actually want to SELL your work? If you consider art just a hobby, then post whatever you wish, but if you consider yourself a serious and professional artist, then it may be time to reassess what and how you post.
There are lots of kids on social media, but there should not be ANY adults behaving like kids on social media. Youthful spirit? Yes. Childish posts? No.
I’m only saying this because I’m constantly hearing from artists who complain about the state of the art market and that their work isn’t selling and yet, judging by your online profiles, NO ONE can actually tell that you’re actually serious about being taken seriously as an artist. These days, first impressions online matter more than first impressions in person. One leads to the other.
If you want to see some kick-ass, artist social media pages done correctly, check out sculptor Carole Feuerman’s twitter feed … @carolefeuerman. She is killing it! Nearly everything on her twitter feed is about her WORK and what she’s doing … as a professional artist. Carole is a “pro to the max.”
Berlin-based Artist Wolfgang Stiller has a fantastic Facebook Business page that is ONLY about his work and how he’s using his work to help causes that he supports. He also has a personal Facebook page, but even THAT page is mainly about his work.
Also, you should check out how Artist Eric Armusik is rocking Google Plus with his "Art Sales." He's proving that a gifted artist can ALSO be a great marketer ... on social media.
Now … here’s something else that I see WAY too much. I see artists posting article links from the New York Times or the Washington Post, etc., or links for Museum of Modern Art shows or photos of Pablo Picasso’s paintings, etc.
These things are all well and good, but are the New York Times, Washington Post or MOMA paying you to do public relations WORK on their behalf? I think not. Also, at this point, Pablo Picasso doesn’t need your help.
Use your time wisely. You cannot get more time in this life. Promote your own work and let MOMA’s PR department promote their projects online themselves. Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso were tireless self promoters. So are Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. YOU should be as well. Whatever you think about them or their work is NOT the point.
There’s nothing wrong with promoting yourself and your OWN work relentlessly online. When you promote your OWN work, you’re really promoting contemporary art as a whole. This is important work.
If not you, then who? ArtBookGuy? Yes, but I cannot do it alone. Your gallery? Yes, but they can’t do it alone either. Your spouse? They’re busy with their own careers. Your kids? They have soccer practice after school.
The cold hard truth is that self promotion comes with the gig of being a professional artist. You are a small business person and there’s no escaping this. I don’t care how much time you spend hibernating in your studios. When you open that door, there it will be. It’s not going anywhere. You can rationalize this away all you wish. You can also use your creativity as an excuse NOT to engage in promotion or marketing, but the truth will remain.
It is imperative that you break through the wall of fear, self doubt and concern about what others will say about you when you promote your work. Not everyone is going to love what you do. In fact, I believe that stinging criticism is actually a sign that you're on the right track. When people hate you for your good intentions, that's when you KNOW you're doing something right.
Let the haters tend to their hate while you tend to your business. At the end of the day, you'll have something of value to show for your hard work, while they'll be alone and nursing a grudge in their empty rooms. HONOR your work and your creativity by PROMOTING it. Let people KNOW about it. You are WORTH it and your work is worthy.
Now … Artist Robert Egert actually inspired this essay. He asked me what I thought the best approach to promoting his ArtBookGuy interview on social media might be. Here’s what I told him and now I’ll share this with you…
For the most part, all you have to do is write a couple of sentences about the interview, copy the interview link and post the whole thing on your social media pages.
You can also copy, paste and post the entire interview on a whole separate page on your site. All I ask is that you also include an ArtBookGuy link at the beginning and end of the interview as I have done for you on my site. If you take this approach, you can promote the page from your own site on social media and YOUR site will get the main traffic. I will get back link traffic which is fine.
You could also tweet out individual questions that I've asked you in the interview and include the interview link. This approach gives you 10 tweets/posts from the interview. By the way, Artist Barbara Rachko has used this approach with great results.
They sky is the limit. It amazes me how artists aren't using their creativity when it applies to promoting themselves on social media.
Artists, just so you know, I promote absolutely ALL of the artist interviews and my essays on all five of my social media platforms that include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Ello. I do it repeatedly and unceasingly.
Over the course of one year, you could/should have promoted your interview yourself AT LEAST 10 times. I will do it FAR MORE than that.
Self promotion is a huge amount of work … apart from your day job, but the results can be rewarding. Many artists have told me they’ve had great feedback from their ArtBookGuy interviews alone. A few of them like Ekaterina Ermilkina and Jody McGrath have even told me they were picked up by cool galleries after our chats. Artist Joseph Piccillo told me the other day that he’s getting great feedback from our chat. Joseph knows how to promote himself. He used to be an art dealer, so he knows the game.
At the end of the day, self promotion is really up to you. Let's drop the selfies and do some self promotion that REALLY counts. You cannot really outsource it. Social media continues to be your main venue for reaching out to the world, but you must present yourself professionally and show the world that you’re serious.
Do yourself a favor and get on board while social media remains free of charge. This model is beginning to change.
Robert, see what you started? I know I got a little preachy, but I really hope this helps.
P.S. - Right after posting this, I told Eric Armusik that I mentioned him in this essay. Here's how he responded: "Thank you very much! Sold THREE this week. Great opportunity for client and the artist. Never underestimate what you have to offer!"
Now THAT'S what I'm talking about.