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social media – being an artist on the internet

I am not an expert at this, by no means. I’ve been an inconsistent blogger, a late bloomer with a genetic scowl and an introverted disposition. I am not an internet personality. I have not charmed the art consuming masses. That’s fine.

Remember when this was the most significant scam young artists had to fear?

But I’m wondering what is the next relevant online venue for visual artists? Most current platforms have choked out our audiences with algorithms. Every once in a while they let your work show up in feeds, giving you a taste of what you could have exposure wise if you’d just buy an ad/create a paid campaign. I don’t know many artists that bother. In fact, hilariously, many of the ads that show up in my feeds are advertisements proclaiming they have the secret to boosting your art career, and you can have all their tricks and magic, if you just buy their whatever. It’s funny. Artists trying to sell and being taunted by ads created by people who can already afford to do what the average artist can’t: pay for advertising.

Also, I’m not going to snapchat.

I’ve noticed an uptick of scammy spam from grifters trying to trick artists into paying them to be on their websites/book. They lure with promises of exposure and plastic everyone-is-a-winner trophies. And they’re soliciting through social media, pretending to have made that new relevant platform artists can use to be seen again. Which is kinda silly for even other reasons. Whatever that venue is, or should be, has to not just be for artists. It has to foster those who may be interested in their work, but without being just about selling.

Maybe I’m old-internet-fashioned, but I still depend on having a website, because, in the end, this is where my work is, and I can always be found, regardless of the latest social media fad.

I’m also still not convinced that paid ads are the answer for visual artists anyway. They seem more useful to sell fad products like scented lipsticks and cheap bathing suits. I feel like paid ads feel insincere, and as a fine artist, your perceived authenticity is valuable. I guess it depends on how far you’re willing to let your product be viewed as product. It is, indeed, product, but presented more as a piece of jewelry in a display case than dish soap on a shelf.

There are more working artists now than there has ever been before, all vying for the same relatively small audience, or trying to figure out who their audience is. Couple that with the massive talent out there as well… The audience for ultra absorbent paper towels and cheeseburgers is much bigger.

Free webinar, but not so free online course in how to grow your career as an artist. Shouldn’t schools be doing this instead?

Then there is SEO. I think the sites that get the best SEO results are the sites promising to tell you how to use SEO. You’re confusion gets you there to see their banner ads. In fact, I may just get more traffic to my blog because I’m talking about SEO for artists.

I know one thing for sure. If you don’t share your work, no one will see it. I don’t mean that in a ‘build it and they will come kinda way’. Google analytics proved that wrong to me. But still, if you don’t share your art it can’t be seen.

Friends who started their art careers before the internet was such a big player: what exactly did you agonize about when it came to finding an audience or patrons? I’d like to think there was simply less existential terror over it, since you didn’t have Facebook or Instagram to even consider, but knowing human beings, I’m sure there was some common horror.

I wish we were all more free of the fear of failure, financial ruin and desire for approval. But yet, those fears are probably part of the allure. Double edges and all that.

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repeating shapes – letting myself work intuitively

My Intro to Sculpture class at PAFA, taught by artist Steve Nocella, was much more fulfilling than I expected. Working in 3D tends to stress me out. I don’t think my mind works that way. Or rather, I haven’t trained it to. Or maybe that’s just something I was told earlier in life that I’ve let it take root.

This is the class I also built my kaleidoscope in.

Sculpture class macaroni experiment

This first project is, you’re right, essentially pasta art! It was a funny way to start the class. The assignment was to construct something with store bought packaged goods. So, maybe to be a smart ass, I bought pasta penne, flour, paper plates, tooth picks and cupcake liners. Behold my masterpiece! I basically made the round bases with paper mache. It was a mess. It even smelled and molded before completely drying. But it being a gross mess is what made it fun. I put it together with no plan. It’s like a sci-fi cloud city. Except made out of wheat products.

This then led me to make some meteors out of paper mache, styrofoam balls and toilet paper rolls. The goal is to make objects to use in future still life paintings so that I am not beholden to glass bottles and tea kettles next semester.

papermache meteors

The photos below are fired white clay that we built into shapes as a one day shot project.

clay experiments

Repeating shapes are a lot like little anxieties that never truly go away. Going through the same motions. There are patterns to recognize. Letting myself work more intuitively is challenging but also therapeutic. I believe it might be a bit like meditation(that golden place in your mind I don’t know how to reach, at least not through sitting in the quiet or listening to guidance podcasts).

It was like doodling mindlessly. Which is something I can’t seem to do anymore. It felt very strange playing with the clay and returning to that place. It’s like I forget how to do it with a pen/pencil/paintbrush, but something in my hands still remembers.

There wasn’t time to glaze them, so I decided to embellish them with acrylic paint I have left over from years ago.

I’m glad these projects unlocked that more childish way of creating. I am hoping it will help me sketch more creatively and naturally. I assume this is a problem others have, considering there is a whole slew of Skillshare classes about creating a sketchbook practice and so on.

To me, they initially seemed corny, but now I think they are addressing a kind of creative constipation we all suffer from sometimes.

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making wishes – the origins of our superstitions

superstitious kitsch print

I did another little print design to go along with my bad and good luck prints I debuted in this post.

This one, based on the superstitions behind wishing, took me longer to develop. There aren’t as many obvious symbols to illustrate a wish so I did have to take to google to find, or remind myself, of some. I can’t believe I didn’t remember wishing wells or fountains on my own! The wishing fountains I remember the most, were in the mall…which is kinda disappointing. I don’t recall there being any signage expressing where the accumulated pennies may go, but I could be wrong. I mostly remember the sparkle of copper against blue tile through the water. I remember wanting to reach into it and touch the pennies but never doing it because they weren’t mine. They belonged to the wishers. Little bribes to some unknown power.

As for the other symbols, I actually had never thought about the act of blowing out candles to ‘make a wish’. Maybe because I’m no longer a child? When was the last time I blew out candles? I have no idea. But I liked remembering this and realizing how it was another example of childhood rituals. I tried to find out how the tradition started. This article does a good job of summing the possibilities up. If you know of any other theories please leave me a comment!

I haven’t wished on many stars. So many of them are hidden by light pollution. Which is a funny idea. Something hidden by light rather than revealed. Light can blind or expose. Living in the city again, I do miss the dark mountain skies outside of Asheville, NC.

The ’11:11′ one reminds me of being a teenager. I remember late nights and being told to make a wish when a digital clock reached it. I imagine this superstition probably didn’t come around until we had digital clocks, since it seems to be about the symmetry of the numbers. — Wait! I’m wrong! Here’s a wikipedia page about it. We have numerology to thank for it.

If you remember any other ways to wish please explain them to me. I’d love to hear about them. Take a moment and think about it. You might realize you have a ritual you do automatically, out of habit or tradition. Or maybe you have one you made up rather than inherited.

Also, I have put this work for sale in both my Redbubble and Society6 shops.