Thursday, September 09, 2010

Website Versus Social Networking Versus..

I recently received a message from an old friend who has been asked to help set up a facebook site to promote an artists work.
He asked me if it was beneficial to have both a website and a facebook presence.. and would I recommend one over the other?
Although my answer was to be specifically for him, I thought it may be of interest to the artists following my blog.
That’s right, the three of you.
First of all, I don’t pretend to be an expert in this area but will answer the question based on my own experience and what I have observed from other visual artists, the various pod casts I listen to and the many contemporary artist interviews I read both online and in print .
I have a reasonably good web presence.
If I type “Australian visual artist” and the word “jazz” into Google for instance, I am the second rated link on the list.
Typing my name in Google returns the first eight pages of links to my artwork on various sites in one form or another.
Ok, now that I have put my trumpet down, I’ll elaborate.
Just because you have a website or presence somewhere on the net it doesn’t mean everyone can or will find you.
It’s like putting up a poster in New York City.
There are several ways to help boost your Google rating or search engine visibility on a source tag level, but having your work featured on a multiple of (respectable) portfolio or networking sites can also increase visits and ultimately exposure of your art to a greater audience.
You have to ask yourself what it is you want to be there for of course. Do you want to advertise and sell your work? do you want to network with other artists and/or art directors or galleries? Do you want to converse and learn from your peers?  Do you want to send little glittering animated gifs to people? Ok, scrub that last bit.
Stick to the topic Leith. Back to that question.. a website and/or a Facebook site and which is best?
The answer? Well for me it’s both.. but there’s something a little more important than each of these that an artist should consider developing and that is an “Artist Blog”.
To explain, my website along with many other artists here serves a purpose. It showcases a portfolio of work.
It’s probably of more use to galleries or art directors who may be interested in seeing what work I do, but realistically these people along with art enthusiasts and the general public all love art blogs. I love art blogs.
A blog offers a more personal insight into the artist and if done well and updated regularly, can present more of a personal touch to an online presence and this is far more interesting than just a bunch of colourful images and a laborious navigation route to get to them.
Many artists add tutorials to their blogs, sneak previews of works in progress (always a favourite) and interesting news about process or upcoming shows. With the help of a youtube account artists can post video onto their blog.
It might be footage from an exhibition, a moving image look at your studio, step by step footage of artwork.. you name it.
Some artists include the blog within their own website or on specific blog sites, two of which are the popular “Wordpress” and “Blogger”.
So a blog is a useful addition to the artists promotional arsenal and having subscribers can often ensure future visits if the content is topical and interesting for the viewer.
Facebook (in my opinion) offers a respected and user friendly environment for anyone wanting to help promote their work and at the same time network with people with similar interests or arts practice.
Lets face it, its networking reputation at both a social and professional practice level is almost unsurpassed.
I keep my personal facebook page separate from my arts practice page.
I have forged not only some long friendships with peers on this site but also secured gallery representation and gained valuable insight into how other artists conduct and present themselves online.
Like any social networking site, forum and indeed in real life, one has to listen as well as communicate with intelligence. A sense of humour can open some doors too. Art can be a serious business but it doesn’t mean all artists are serious people. Just no “why did the chicken cross the road?” jokes ok..
Ok, this is a fairly long winded answer to the original question but by now you  should know that yes, tick those boxes.. website, artist blog and Facebook.
But why stop there? If you have the time, the inclination and the strength of coffee why not add a few more to your list?
LinkedIn, Deviant Art, Talent House, Behance, Naymz, Twitter, Artabase, CreativeStem, Blue Canvas, RedBubble, Art Break, Tumblr, Flickr, SelfPortrait.. the list goes on and all offer good opportunities to promote your work with little or no outlay.
Just make sure you have a good think about how you want to present not only yourself but also your work before signing up with any of these sites.
How you present yourself is important.
What you present is important.
How you conduct yourself is important.
What you say is important.

Good luck! Lecture over.

Thankyou to Bozzy who raised this question with me initially.