Entry 13: Word of Mouth
I work at a gallery studio with an artist, John Stephen Hockensmith, who has amazing artwork of equine photography. Recently we hired a lovely Media Manager who helps us with adding his content to his website. After she populates the website with his glorious art, we may post a few of his things to his Facebook business page. And basically that's all that is done with his artwork. Aside from people walking into his studio and a few equine businessmen who he has dealt with in the past, there is no other means of discovering his beautiful art.
I face a similar problem in which I wonder how I should showcase my art. Firstly, my reasons for trying to showcase my art is to encourage discussion, criticism, and support. It’s not everyday that we get to sit in a circle and talk about art, but I’d like to know what avenues there are for me to pursue this. Essentially, I need a portfolio of some sort, and nowadays everything is becoming digital and a website is almost mandatory for an artist. While I could host my artwork on a social art hub, I have chosen to secure my own footprint on the internet by creating my own site via a Squarespace website builder. So far I have been able to control how my website functions with great success, but at this point I have a portfolio of artwork that floats aimlessly through the internet. How do people find my website? Do they just stumble upon it randomly? These are a few questions that lurk in the back of my mind, but fortunately I have found certain ways to get myself out there.
My art at this point has been demos or projects from my college career, but they show the potential of what I can accomplish. In the past I have been posting my art on Facebook, which gets a few comments and likes, but basically I’m only posting to those who have a Facebook account, which means I’m only swimming in known waters. Aside from people I already know in the closed network of Facebook, I need to expand on that. Before I start listing off my content providers, I must state that my personal website serves as the hub of all my art, and that all other websites should provide “teaser” content to redirect traffic back to my website. Often I will post one item of a series (e.g. one sculpture from a collection) so that if someone likes it then they can navigate back to my website to view the rest.
One site I used is Twitter, which acts as a great way to outsource your content to the world. But the huge mistake someone can make is being too vague or too specific when trying to use that website. Twitter is an interesting beast in that things can trend remarkably quick or be forever lost in the sea of chaos. This site uses hashtags (#) as keywords to filter content. An example would be using a photo of a LEGO creation and the keyword #LEGO. This means anyone who searches #LEGO can find anyone who used that term. But the problem with this example is that #LEGO is already popular, so your tweet can get lost instantly amongst all the other people who use that hashtag. The counter to that would be #TheBestLegoCreationInTheWholeStateOfKentucky, but odds are that no one will ever search for that specific term. In spite of all this, Twitter can be an amazing marketing platform to communicate with professionals and companies directly, that is if their social media handler uses Twitter effectively.
Another site I use is Pinterest, which is a remarkable hub for collecting the things you love. Pinterest works off of keywords (I think they have tried to ride the hashtag bandwagon but that didn’t seem to fit for their model). Whenever I search for something, like dinosaur armor, the results I receive are entirely pictures that match that description, so that way I can scroll to my heart’s content and “like” the things I like. But the results are based on the descriptions that were typed for that image. An example would be if I posted a sculpture of a chair I would then write a long sentence that had searchable keywords. If I were to post a photo and type “this is so cool,” no one would really search for it, and Pinterest isn’t intelligent enough to guess what keywords your photo should have.
I use Vimeo as a video hub because their website is more professional, and I believe my artistic videos should be hosted on their site instead of YouTube. But the biggest “downside” to Vimeo is that they don’t get as much traffic as YouTube. Now granted, I would bet that Vimeo still gets millions or even billions of views, YouTube is the second-largest search engine on the internet, only behind Google (which they own!). In spite of all this, Vimeo has a wonderful layout and is geared towards fellow artist creators.
I also use Google+ as a means of candid interactions. Sometimes I will post reviews of other artists I have met and dealt with, and sometimes I post behind-the-scene photos of my artwork. Google+ also has a blogging feature, which allows me to comment on other people’s websites if they require a sign-in to comment. I have also thought about using Google Hangouts for upcoming animation projects in which I will stream my desktop and let anyone who wants to see animation in the process first-hand. But in the meantime, I am still kicking myself over the fact that I need to discipline myself with a working schedule for animation.
Other than those main websites, I am still looking into other sites that would be appropriate for artists to showcase their work. I have a LinkedIn account that shows my job positions and talents, which people can “endorse” and give credibility to my expertise. I have thought about DeviantArt, but I don’t think my art fits that website (their site seems to work well for fan art instead). Anyways, thanks for reading! What websites would you recommend and what helpful tips could you offer? Please write in the comment section and leave feedback; they are greatly appreciated!