How Artists Should Be Using Social Media
I've read so many articles about this topic that eventually I didn't think anyone knew what the hell they were talking about. I also feel that many artists are tired of hearing of ways to "sell" their art. We get it. We need to sell. But do we have to become salesmen to do so?
After years of researching, learning, and applying concepts I think I found a fair answer that logically applies to the way most artists want to work and live their lives while not becoming a slave to their own work. Artists already struggle with their own sense of creativity and how to get to a place where they are happy with their work. That's a whole other topic to cover on its own. Yet I think there is a process to being on social media that many of us have not really considered as a true form for "selling" in a genuine way. And isn't that what we want? Don't we want to sell our art in a way that seems fair and not tactical and insincere? Yet we are made to believe that there is only one way to truly sell our art online and it has to meet the proven methods everyone else uses. My gut told me that can't be true. That can't be how we approach our art online. Can't we be just as intentional with our online presence as we are with our art? Sure we can. Here is my idea. Hear me out.
I've often thought about the forms of media artists before our time had at their disposal and how they used it. From what I found nearly all used it to record their thoughts, processes, and document their art. Imagine if DaVinci never recorded any of his thoughts and processes? Or if Van Gogh never wrote those letters to his brother. Or if his brother never cataloged the art for that matter with the help of his wife. The true purpose for any media to be used by artists is to record our processes and works for future generations. So that others can learn and become inspired. And with the advent of social media we can now do that in more creative and interactive ways than ever before! Instead of trying to sell what you've made (which feels awkward every time we post it) we should document from beginning to end every project we start; from the inception of the idea, our inspiration, our drafts, tools, and final work. Imagine being able to return to every project and show it to galleries, museums, friends, family and whoever else comes across our art. Don't you want to be known more for how you created than for what you sold? Do you want your kids to look through your social and see nothing but ads and sales pitches or do you want them to get to know you?
Think of it from this perspective. When we buy something we always seem more convinced to buy when something has a story behind it. That's what branding tells us, "be yourself", "represent an idea", "build value then sell it". The problem is that branding isn't so easy to describe or apply to artists. We are complex and our story evolves as we create. Our story should be our art. Yet we are confused by how to tell it when marketers claim to know what we need in order to sell. Okay, yes we need a website and online presence but we also need to be honest about our work. That's something only an artist will know personally. When we use social media to document our work we turn it into an archival process rather than a marketing tool. It means that others will see that also. It establishes a connection that doesn't have the trappings of "selling" or "funnel system". I see all the tools available on these apps and instead of seeing it as way to sell out I see it now as a way to better document my process from beginning to end. And if someone joins me on that journey and likes the end result then maybe they will click the link to buy.
If you enjoyed this blog article head over to my podcast sections to hear my podcast episode after the same title. I dive deeper into this idea, and even ramble for minutes on end!!