Do as you like and like what you do
“You need to get onto Facebook and Instagram, and start writing a blog”
“But I loathe Facebook, have never heard of Instagram and why on earth would I write anything that can be publically read?”
Conversation between me and my web-designer in March 2016
“Hey! Great to see you’re back on Facebook – where the f*** have you been?!”
“Hi, I know, can you believe it: me back on Facebook! All good with you? Cool to reconnect”
“Hello Victoria, we have recently seen your work on Instagram and since gone through the portfolio on your website with much interest. We would like to invite you to be part of our upcoming abstract art collective exhibition in our London gallery. Please contact us if you are interested…”
Excerpts of messages from Facebook and Instagram since
The use of social media has greatly evolved since the days of when I had my first Facebook account and my “friends” were posting up photos of their Sunday brunches and hangover cures. Much as I still find it extraordinary that our culture has swung into such a seemingly extroverted way of being, I now do also understand the point of social media in terms of “getting yourself out there” and “being connected”. Maybe it is an age thing and the fact that I do not live in the same country as most of my family and a good number of my old friends, but I do love being able to follow and in some ways still be “in” their lives through what they share through posts, now that I am back online. It has become a lot easier to keep in touch than if we were still only on email, phone and text. It has also become expected and the norm.
In terms of the use of social media for promoting your work as an artist, I am also “sold”. It is exciting, opportunities are literally a click away, and it is much less lonely being an artist in this day and age than it was in the 90s. You can get instant feedback on your work through posting photos of it online. You do not have to send hard-copy images of your work to people who may or may not be interested in working with you and gone do the days seem to be where an unknown artist needs to sit in their studio waiting to be spotted: there seem to be a great number of “art head-hunters” out there looking for artists and their work. Everything has become more pro-active. The artists’ work also: you need to be able to take good photos of your work and be at least a bit technically savvy in order to diffuse what you do. Because we are becoming more and more connected, the number of people you can touch, and all from the comfort of your studio, is incredibly larger.
The studio itself has had to adapt to this. A smartphone, good camera, lighting equipment and a computer with online access are now as intrinsic to any modern studio space as the materials used to produce the works of art. Being able to “sell” and “curate” your own work has also become a requirement. Being able to articulate in writing what your creative process, your views and motivations behind your work are have also become a necessity when promoting yourself online. A major part of an artists’ work today is of getting their work known NOW. Gone are the days when you need to be dead to gain any real recognition and funds for your work. It is IN to be known NOW and the fastest and most effective way to do it seems to be to get properly connected and online.
Writing has always been a part of my creative process. I will sometimes write pages and pages of notes to I’m not sure who or what really about before a concrete idea or direction of work emerges that I will then go about producing. The idea that I would write a blog, words that aim to be read and understood by others, publically “exhibited” online, was something I really dug my heels in about when I first discussed it with my web designer (no less than the idea of becoming “visible” on social media I might add). Today I love writing these monthly entries and the thought process that it demands me to shape into articulate text for each post. That in itself has been an invaluable addition to my artistic practice, giving my months a repeated structure, a deadline to work towards and meet. And if the whole process helps the “search engines” and “spiders” to find me within the colossal web being spun by contributing artists worldwide then so much the better.
“About time” my neighbour of 10 years younger than me messages me with a winking-and-heart-kissing-yellow-faced-emoji-thing when she saw my professional Facebook page go live. “Welcome to the future” she smiled when I later saw her… and, to top it off, gave me a real wink and hug full of loving support. When what you project is sincere and authentic, I have no issue with using “superficial social media” and the shortcuts of “emojis” to put things across to others. Without getting yourself onto social media, there is a good chance that you remain unrecognised for all of your living career and can then only hope that whoever finds your work after you have gone does not just chuck it out because no one has ever heard of you.