Category: social media

Paradoxes, Purposes and Ponderances: Self Taught Social Media Artist

Paradoxes, Purposes and Ponderances

I have met many artists who describe themselves as “self-taught” artists. It is a moniker that has developed some marketing appeal, thanks to the popularity of so-called “Visionary” or “Outsider Art”.

Many artists use the term “self-taught” in a way to assert their claim to importance or even superiority over artists who have received training or academic education in the arts.

Me? I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree and Master of Arts Degree in the visual arts, yet in many ways, I feel as though I have taught myself most of what I do as an artist. That story is for another post, though.

This post is about social media. And when it comes to social media, practically all artists are self taught.  There is no “Social Media Arts” degree.

I use social media extensively as a way to connect with people interested in my artwork. In so doing, I have developed a wide reach in marketing my work to people interested in buying it.

I started using social media sometime in 2008. I am not exactly sure when.

It started with developing a MySpace page and connecting with other artists in the Canton Arts District. Soon, I started a blog on Blogger, and I tiptoed into Facebook. Then I read this article about artists using Twitter.

A lot has changed in my life since then.

I no longer use MySpace. I now have this blog, which has my website wrapped around it. I now wade in the deep waters of Facebook with great regularity. And I am a Twitter-aholic.

And I am selling A LOT of artwork.

I am far from being a huge success, mind you. My artwork still does not sell for prices that make me wealthy. But my popularity is growing, and I am well on my way to becoming a self supporting artist at a time when everyone says, “No one is buying art right now because the economy is so bad.”

I often have artists asking me, “How did you do it?” and “What is your secret?”

My secret is that there is no secret. Social media is free and wide open for the taking. It just takes some willingness to research the web, openness towards engaging with others in a curious and friendly manner, and a fearlessness about overcoming the things that you do not yet know.

It is intriguing to me how most artists are willing to do these very things in the pursuit of creating their art, but not in the pursuit of marketing it to a global audience.

When I try to share what I have learned about using social media with other artists, they often shy away, or say, “I am no good at that.” It is as if they fear the success that they dream of, and they sabotage any success that they could have.  Inches away from the door that opens them to the world, their intrepid souls run and hide under a blanket.

Twenty three years ago, I chose to avoid being a full time professional artist and I went back to school for a degree in counseling. I did that because, at that time, artists were limited in opportunities for selling their artwork. Back then, you had to find galleries to sell your work, and even if you found one, you had to wait for them to sell it, after which you received a small portion of the sale. The whole business seemed geared towards someone else making money on the value of the artwork, not the artist.

With the advent of social media, however, it is the other way around. The artist holds all the cards to his or her success.

No one taught you how to paint? You taught yourself? Fantastic!

Are you going to teach yourself how to share it with the world? Or will your innate talent be silenced by fear?

Social media has as many opportunities for creativity as the canvas does, folks. It is an adventure waiting for you to conquer. Will you take the challenge?

Or will you lament that someone else succeeded where you did not?

Personally, I find life, and art, far too interesting to waste on laments.

Life is an Adventure!


The Shorty Awards in New York City: What a Blast!

BZTAT and Frugal Dougal with staff at the Shorty Awards
BZTAT and Frugal Dougal with staff (Lynn Haigh) at the Shorty Awards

Everyone expected me to be at the Shorty Awards. I did have a pretty public appeal for help to get there, after all. And everyone expected @FrugalDougal‘s staff to be there too (nominated in the non-profit category). But it was a complete surprise for all of us when the phenomenal fund raising pooch showed up himself at the Shorty Awards!

I discovered that the CDO of the #PawPawty is no shrinking violet at human parties as well. What a good time we all had in New York!

Neither  Dougal nor I came home with a Shorty Award, but we certainly had a good time celebrating as finalists. Dougal and I had a great time with his staff, Lynn Haigh, and Nancy Heltman (tweeter for @VAStateParks, who was nominated for a Shorty award in the Government category).

At the Shorty Awards

We met up with some other “tweeps” as well during our adventure to the Shorty Awards.

Shorty Awards Tweet-up
Shorty Awards Tweet-up
Shorty Awards Tweet-up
Shorty Awards Tweet-up
Shorty Awards Tweet-up
Shorty Awards Tweet-up

I also got to see my niece, who is studying costume and theater set design at NYU, and who I am convinced is going to be famous some day.

BZTAT and Travis Boatright
BZTAT and Travis Boatright

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to New York, and I took lots of photos to use for reference in making some digital art. Watch for my NYC series of works to come in the future.

I want to express my deepest thanks to all who helped me get to New York so that I could experience the Shorty Awards in person. It truly was a very special opportunity to be able to represent the wonderful pet community on Twitter at the Shorty Awards.

Although the Shorty Awards tended to favor recognizable Twitterers over creative users of the medium, and an unusual number of ties was somewhat disconcerting, I think the whole process was a fun and exciting adventure.

Thank you to all my followers who made the Shorty dream come alive for me.

Life is an Adventure!


BZTAT Artwork: Paint-a-Thon Fundraiser

Artwork by BZTAT

Thanks to my loyal fans on Twitter, I am a  finalist in the Shorty Awards!

“Hollywood has the Oscars. Broadway has the Tonys. Now Twitter has the…Shorty Awards.” ~The New York Times

The Shorty Awards Ceremony where the winners will be announced will be held in New York City on March 3, 2010. In order to raise money for the trip, I will be holding a special fund raising event.

On Thursday, February 18, 2010, I will engage in an exclusive “Paint-A-Thon”, painting animal themed artworks non-stop from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm at Second April Galerie in Canton, OH.

All works created in that 12 hours will be auctioned off in a silent auction to raise money for my trip to attend the Shorty Awards Ceremony, which will be held in New York City on March 3, 2010.  Interested individuals can bid on the artwork either on location at Second April Galerie or online via Twitter.

Bidding on BZTAT artworks will begin at 7:00 pm EDT and conclude around 9:00 pm EDT on Thursday, February 18. I will have assistants tweeting photos of the works on Twitter as I create them and also after they are completed. Follow #bztatptg on Twitter to get the latest updates.

If you would like to submit a bid on Twitter, please send a tweet with your bid amount and #bztatptg written in the tweet. Your profile must be visible in Tweetgrid for us to receive the bid. All bids must be in $5.00 increments. A 10-minute warning will be tweeted to announce the conclusion of the auction 10 minutes before bidding stops.

It is recommended that interested Twitterers follow the action on Tweetgrid to get real time updates. (We are not responsible for any technical difficulties that may occur as a result of Twitter or associated application interruptions.)

Bids will also be taken on site at Second April Galerie. Winning bidders will purchase the work by contributing to the Chip-In widget located on the left sidebar on this blog. Any shipping costs will be the responsibility of the winning bidder ($15.00 in Continental USA, varies for other locations).

Even if you do not wish to bid on the artwork, I hope that you will still participate and help re-tweet the action! Non-deductible contributions to the Shorty Awards Trip can also be made through the Chip-In widget located on the left sidebar of this blog. Any size contribution is welcome!

The Shorty Awards honor the best people and organizations on Twitter. These unique awards are for the Twitter community, by the Twitter community. Online voting is public and democratic, culminating in an awards ceremony that recognizes the winners in 26 official categories as well as those in brand new crowd-sourced ones.

I am a finalist in the ART category. This is quite an honor, considering the millions of people using Twitter around the globe and the many artists who use the micro-blogging site to promote their artwork. I am very thankful to those who nominated me and voted me into the finals!

I look forward to seeing you either on Twitter or at Second April Galerie on This coming Thursday!

Date: Thursday, February 18, 2010

Time: Paint-A-Thon by Artist BZTAT:  9:00 AM—9:00 PM; Silent  Auction: 7:00 PM—9:00 PM

Where: Second April Galerie, Canton, OH; Twitterverse

Contact: 330.451.0924 or secondapril at for information about Second April Galerie.