For the artist, a first entry into showing work may be by posting art on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogposts (WordPress, Weebly), Flickr, 500 px). It may be your first entry into the public art world.
Social media is a non-threatening way to announce to your friends and family that you are working in art. Here you will find a receptive group of admirers.
My daughter wrote a comment on one of my WordPress blog posts, “Your work is other worldly. It takes me out of my rush of daily life, and brings me to a place of beauty and philosophy. I do not make this leap between my worlds lightly. If I had my druthers, I would make a cup of coffee and sit down with your article and drink it all in.”
I was grateful when a complete stranger wrote a meaningful comment about my photograph on Flickr. “Honestly, I think you’re better than a lot of the street photographers I see here because you engage with your subjects instead of hiding behind a long lens. Really great stuff.”
In November, my Irish cousin, Noel wrote a comment on my Facebook post, “Wow, that’s an amazing picture Maureen! There’s so much going on there, reminds me of those magnificent Bruegel paintings where we see all human life in a frame. Wish I could be dedicated to the art. Hope to take up the camera again after seeing this.”
Noel also recently wrote, “I am really attracted to this image. Apart from drawing the eye into the space it poses all sorts of questions for me, where is it leading, where are they going, what are they looking at, what are their intentions? Or perhaps we could look on it as existential art , isolated man exposed to the misery of the world, lonely and meaningless? Reminds me of Giacometti (see Man Walking, 1960) or the work of our own Charlie Brady who picks out simple moments of life. Keep up the great work.”
There are drawbacks to showing your work on social media. You will be disappointed when no one pays attention to you work and your writings.
I work hard to write my blogposts. I usually spend 2 to 3 hours on a post. Some posts take me many days to write if I do research on the topic and need to make photos. The photos I use can take days to make (taking photos, selecting the best photos, and developing the photo I publish to the Internet.)
It is not often that anyone stops to “like” my photos and writings.
Comments left next to my posts are even more rare. Often a comment will say: “Nice shot,” “Good capture,” “Congratulations on the nice photo.” Do not be surprised that you don’t get long comments. Expect it. People are busy, and although they may appreciate your work, they have just enough time and energy to write something short and easy to draft. I call this ‘drive by commenting.” I appreciate the fact that the author took a few minutes to examine my photos and write anything at all.
Of course, a well thought out comment left on a post is much more encouraging. I do receive those kinds of comments occasionally and it helps.
If you are not prepared before you set out on the journey of the blogger, you can’t help but begin to value your own art work by how many ‘likes’ and comments you receive.
Read Eric Kim‘s excellent posts on this topic. He has been working in social media for a very long time (i.e. a long time for social media). His best advice is to avoid putting ANY credence on any of this ‘like’ and comment stuff. Don’t stress about it. He even suggests that you turn off the “likes” and the “comments” section of your posts.
On the plus side, although it may be true that very few people are really looking at your art or your writing, that may not be so bad at first. Remember there are over 150 million blogposts every year! You are just one little blogger in an ocean of bloggers looking for followers. This knowledge has given me the freedom to experiment with my work. It has let me try out different kinds of writing and different kinds of photo styles. (Don’t be foolish, however. Do not post anything inappropriate. Do not post anything you wouldn’t want your great grandmother to see. Or your future employer. Or a future graduate school.)
So, considering all the negative aspects of blogging, why do I suggest you work in social media at all?
It will take time to get followers on social media. Just let it be.
- Allow yourself time to improve your writing and photography.
- Write on your blog consistently. Two or three times a week.
- Go out and make photos.
- Read photo books. Study the work of the Masters. (Eric Kim, 75 Inspirational Street Photographers)
- Critique your own photos. (Photography: The Definitive Visual History)
- Ask a best friend to follow your work on social media and write comments about your work. This may be asking a lot. Choose someone who LOVES you a lot, AND already likes your work. If no one else is paying attention to your hard work, your BFF is.
The point is: your are not hiding away your work. You are now brave enough to say “I AM AN ARTIST! See me soar!”