The entrepreneurial street singer found that no one paid attention to his musical entertainment on the streets, no matter how good his music was.
So he stripped down to his briefs and started playing in the buff to get everyone’s attention. He is now a permanent part of the NYC Times Square urban landscape.
I am feeling like the Naked Cowboy before he stripped down.
I have 347 fans on my old Facebook fan page. I no longer call my studio “Art Adventures Studios”, but Facebook won’t let you change the name of a fan page, so I had to create a new one to have a new name. Getting those 347 people to move to the new page, however, has seemed like an impossible feat. At this writing, I only have 57 fans on the new page.
What do I need to do to get people over to the new page? You REALLY don’t want me to start painting in the buff, do you? I can assure you, my physique is not as interesting as the Naked Cowboy’s.
So please, come on over to the new page! I am planning all kinds of new schtuff for the page, with interesting articles, updates about what is in the works on my easel, and maybe some contests and things.
I am still on that journey, and I am finding myself landing in some interesting places. I am finding people who are providing me with concrete and moral supports, and lots of encouragement. I am finding some fabulous blogs that are designed to help artists like me with business concerns (Artists Who Thrive, Better, Smarter, Richer, The Abundant Artist). And I am finding that leaders in my hometown of Canton, OH are deeply committed to seeing that I and other local artists succeed.
They are so committed, in fact, that they have developed a unique business/artist partnership to ensure the sustainability of the burgeoning arts community in Downtown Canton. This partnership, called “Artist Boot Camp”, is sponsored by Arts in Stark, the County Arts Council. Coordinated by artist and arts administrator Craig Joseph, the Artist Boot Camp is a series of workshops designed to bring artists and business leaders together to help artists become more effective in business.
Artist Boot Camp is a pilot program, bringing experts in various business topics together with artists to share their expertise. These experts donate their time as a way to support the arts in the community. So far we have had leaders speak with us about grant writing, taxes & legal issues, and marketing strategies, and they have all been incredibly helpful. A number of other topics are lined up for future sessions, such as social media marketing and the one we ALL need, basic accounting and financial planning.
Each artist is paired with a business mentor who will continue to work with us after the classes are completed. My mentor, Jessica Bennett (pictured to the right), is the Marketing Director for the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Executive Director for Indigo Ink Press.
Jessica was one of our presenters this week, providing us information about public relations, writing press releases, and email marketing. I am looking forward to working with Jessica. I know that I can learn a lot from her!
I feel very blessed to be chosen to be a part of this pilot program, which is sure to grow into an ongoing effort to help many artists in the Canton/Stark County area. I thank Arts in Stark for making the commitment that they have to the artists in Canton, and to all the business leaders for their interest and contribution.
My hope is that other cities will follow Canton’s lead and recognize the value of such partnerships to grow communities through the arts.
Because, well, it’s just good business to support the arts.
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.