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!