Online platform made in the shade for artists
Part 3 in a series about artists going online
Other parts in this series:
Should I show my art on Facebook?
Instagram tends to be a happy place, devoted to image scrolling and tending towards the inspirational. You can follow friends, artists you like, cos-players, dress makers, car collectors, gardeners—there are loads of random topics to make you smile.
Instagram is built primarily for smartphones. You can see your account on a desktop system, but you can only post to Instagram via your smartphone, unless you pay for a service that posts for you, or use a complicated workaround.
It's all about the stories
What makes Instagram so popular? It’s all about the stories. They are fascinating. The sweet story of a girl and her dog. The strange and wonderful world of a fantasy artist. The foul mouthed botanist. The musings of a man with pet pigs. And best of all, art lessons from skilled artists.
(Personal note: I follow many, many artists. I take classes from artists I find on Instagram. I learn from their videos. I purchase artwork and books. I advertise for the Arts Council on Instagram. And I post my own artwork.)
Since Instagram is a visual medium, good photos of your art are crucial. And you’re already doing that, right? If not, read our blog post on how to photograph your art.
The fun thing about Instagram is that you get to be creative with your photos; you’re not entering a competition. There aren’t strict rules. Photograph your art in different locations. On your desk. In the garden. On your head. Be creative Study what other artists do and try out their ideas. Take the time to honor your art and make it look good.
Think of Instagram as an open studio tour in cyberspace.
Like Facebook, Instagram offers a personal account option and a business account option. A business account option allows you to advertise, gives you analytics about your traffic, and a host of other benefits. If you elect to have a private account as a way to share your artwork with the world, be sure and make it public so you can be found. (How to make your personal Instagram account private)
Ceramicist Steven Hall, who owns Brownell Ceramics in Mountain Ranch has a business account for strictly business purposes, and a private account for his own use. “I use the personal account for posts that don't contribute to the branding and marketing of my business, like camping, birthdays, family, and friends etc. I use the business account for my professional page because IG provides analytics and advertising that aren't available to personal accounts.”
According to Hall, Instagram analytics can help you market your work with information like what time of day your viewers are most active so that your posts are more likely to be seen and engaged with.
He also warned against posting too often so you don't wear out your followers. It's a good idea to take time and consider your Instagram strategy to make the most of your online efforts.
A beginners guide to Instagram
Should I convert to an Instagram business account?
How to promote art on Instagram
Part 2 in a series about artists going online
Other parts in this series:
How to Instagram
Face to face with Facebook
Facebook is the biggest dog in the social media yard. It’s probably the most popular platform right now. While you may have personal reasons for not joining FB, it is currently one of the easiest ways to reach new collectors. A smart social media plan can reach hundreds, if not thousands of pairs of eyeballs. Remember that FB has right around 1 billion users. That’s quite a potential audience.
Facebook personal page vs Facebook business page
When you start on Facebook (FB), you start with a personal page. That’s where you post notices of birthdays, weddings, graduations, vacations, or possibly inflammatory political opinions. You can make posts on your personal page private or public. You friend people on your personal page; they can accept and friend you back.
A Facebook business page is a different animal. You (technically) are allowed only one personal account, but you can have multiple business pages. (Remember, if you don’t follow FB’s rules, you might be banned from the site. Yes, they can do that.)
A business page is where you post information about your business. You might post information related to your art, or related to the business of art. You engage with your followers. You can create a gallery of your artwork. You can sell products from your business page. You can buy advertising for your business page. Your business page(s) is/are for your businesses.
This is possibly the most important thing about a business page:
People can follow your business page.
Yes, people can follow your public posts on your personal page (Here’s how to allow followers to your personal page)
But changing the visibility of posts is cumbersome and unless you use your personal page for only business posts, you risk mixing personal and public at inopportune times.
It’s more professional (and risks less embarrassment) to have a business page for your business. It allows for organic reach as people share and like your posts on your business page. And it allows for boosted posts and paid advertising if you decide to embark on that adventure. (You can't advertise or boost a post from a personal page.)
I follow a ton of FB business pages. I like to know what my favorite businesses are doing. What is the local bookstore selling? (She’s on FB) What is the local catering company making for home-delivery Friday (She’s on FB). What’s the local theater producing this weekend? (They’re on FB.)
What are my favorite artists making? (They’re on FB.)
When I follow a business page, FB (mostly) feeds their posts into my newsfeed, especially if I’ve engaged with them on their pages in the past (this is why engagement with posts is so important). Engagement can be simply saying, nice work! on one of their posts. Or it can be a question for them to answer. Always answer comments on your posts. (You can block people if you get a nasty commenter. Your page is your space.)
The upshot: Facebook is still the leading way to advertise your artwork. To effectively advertise and sell your art, you need to create a business page.
How to make a business page on Facebook
The difference between a personal page and a business page www.outboundengine.com/blog/facebook-business-and-personal-pages-the-differences-dos-and-donts
Facebook marketing strategies
Displaying your art on the internet
Part 1 in a series about artists going online
Other parts in this series:
Should I show my art on Facebook?
How to Instagram
One of the things we’ve learned during the current crisis is the importance of taking your business to the internet. In March, as the shut-down began, businesses that made a nimble pivot to online were able to mitigate the damage caused by the shut-down. Even as we tentatively open businesses, customers who are leery of shopping as they did before COVID-19 spend more time (and more money) online.
The business of art is a business just like any other. Artists need an audience of collectors and a great way to reach those collectors is online—in fact, until we are able to safely open the country, online might be the only way you can reach collectors. And online takes your art show, which was probably local, and gives you the opportunity to make it national, if not international.
If you don’t have an online presence, now is the time to create one.
I know artists who treat this part of their business as pure drudgery, not part of the creative process. I admit, it’s hard to get over that hump.
Overcome your resistance! Marketing your work online is a creative adventure. You are telling your story. You're creating a persona and a digital space for your art, and that space—that persona—will be a work of art that showcases the work you make irl (in real life).
Overcome your resistance!
Here are some ideas and resources to guide you through the journey to online success. This is not meant to be an exhaustive look at social media marketing. A person can spend a lifetime studying that topic. This is just a taste, to get you started.
Should I social? A beginner’s guide to social media
Social media is social. It's good for networking, making friends (yes, I’ve made friends on social media), keeping up with trends, learning new things and having fun. Oh yes, and advertising your artwork. Social media is a popular way for many businesses to be online for little or no monetary investment.
You don’t have to become a social media junkie to use it effectively to advertise your work. But you do have to come to terms with it, maybe even enjoy it a little. Remember, advertising on social media is all about engagement. It’s about being social. Respond when you get comments. Follow others. Be friendly, kind, patient. All the things you are in real life.
What platform should I use?
Set limits. Pick one or two platforms and start playing.
Choosing a social media platform can be bewildering. What works for me may not work for you. You’ll learn to work social media in your own way. The important thing is to start.
The big dogs (right now) are Facebook and Instagram, simply because of the sheer numbers of users (1 billion for Facebook). But they aren’t the only game around; Twitter or Linked In might be right for you, or Pinterest or TikTok. You’ll have to figure out which one you like the best (or hate the least), and which one provides the most return on your time. Set Limits. Pick one or two platforms and start playing.
Keep in mind that the social media ecosystem changes fast, so you’ll want to stay aware so you can respond to all the twists and turns of life online. But there's no need to become obsessed if you don't want to; even a basic presence on social media can help your art business.
Cory Huff at Abundant Artist describes how to choose between FB, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Artist and businesswoman Lori McPhee has a series of blog posts on social media.
Don't throw shade on your artwork with sub-par pictures.
To display and sell artwork online, clear and accurate photography is crucial. Collectors aren't able to see the art in real life, so they depend on the images they see online. Please take the time to make sure your photos accurately represent your work. Even if you don't have a fancy camera, the phone on your camera can take good pictures. Most phone cameras these days are pretty amazing.
Here are a few tips for taking your own images.
HOW TO MINIMIZE DISTORTION IN ARTWORK PHOTOGRAPHY
Your camera (or phone camera) should be on the same plane as the picture to avoid distortion, as close to parallel to the artwork as possible. If the bottom or the top of your artwork appears distorted, try moving your camera up or down until you reduce as much of the distortion as possible.
make sure everything is in focus
Photos of your artwork must be crisp and clear. When online, collectors can zoom in to see every nuance of a brushstroke or a sculpted line. Whether using a fancy camera or a phone camera, you can make sure your photos are in focus by following these suggestions:
To learn more about photographing your artwork, visit these website:
Anne Cook and Will Mosgrove Give back to Moke Hill
When Anne Cook and husband Will Mosgrove retired from illustration (Anne) and teaching photography (Will) and moved to Mokelumne Hill five years ago, they fulfilled a vision. “Our dream had been to move a place where we could bring our art background and make difference,” Anne said.
They started out by purchasing the H.M. Sturges building at the end Main Street in Moke Hill and turning it into an arts playground, which was another dream they’d had, to have an storefront that was open on a whim, and offered classes and space to make projects. “We had it for 3 years,” Anne said, before they sold it last year. “It wasn’t working out,” she said, admitting that when they made the choice to sell it, they felt as if a weight had lifted from their shoulders.
Even though the storefront is closed, Anne said, “We're still operating Acme Art Moke Hill. We're working out of our home. Most of what we do except my mosaics class is taught off premises. It's a lot simpler.”
Oodles of Doodles
Anne and Will are still making a difference. Most of what they do is volunteer. If they are paid, for example by the Calaveras Arts Council, to teach at a local school, “it goes right back in to art supplies that we give out to the community,” she said.
These supplies help them offer a free art class at the Moke Hill Library once a month that they call Oodles of Doodles. “Oodles of Doodles has been going about a year now,” Anne said. “It happens the third Friday of every month at our library here in Moke Hill. It goes for two hours and you can drop in for however long, or stay for the whole two hours.” She offers guidance if people want it, but she said that usually people know what to do. It’s open to all ages, and it’s free. Anne and Will offer a different project every month, ranging from painting rocks, to drawing, to making aluminum Christmas ornaments inspired by their trip to Mexico City. But you don’t have to do the project if you don’t want. “We have stations where people just sit and color,” she said.
Since the Covid-19 shut down, Oodles of Doodles hasn’t been able to meet in person, so Anne has been trying to figure out how the community can still enjoy art together. She created a froggy coloring sheet that’s available to download on their Facebook page; printed copies were available to pick up outside at the library.
Summer Art Camp
The complications of Covid have impacted another long term commitment that Anne and Will oversee: Summer Art Camp.
Five ears ago Anne and Will took over Summer Art Camp, a low-cost way for local kids ages 4 to 16 to learn about the arts. Sponsored by the Mokelumne Hill Community Historical Trust, Summer Art Camp had been nurtured by Ed Cline, and Anne and Will were receptive to his vision of the future.
Ed’s dream had been to make it a fine art camp with music, dance, theater, and art, so Anne and Will set out to expand. “A couple years ago we were able to find a drama teacher and a music teacher,” she said. The core of what Anne teaches at the camp is visual arts. “I concentrate mostly on modern art,” she said, “although we have done things like portraits made by painting with vegetables ala Archimboldo, a Renaissance artist.. I’ve taught about Renaissance art. I teach everything from drawing to painting to collage.”
This summer—Covid Summer—presents a challenge. Traditionally Summer Art Camp meets in the Moke Hill Town Hall, where they have room for around 70 kids. “But this year because of this new normal, we can’t meet in the town hall,” Anne said. She’s working on art kits made up of inventory they’ve been amassing over the years from donations and careful purchases. “If anyone wants an art kit this year, there will be no charge,” she said. “I'm putting together kits for 30 kids. Each kit will have watercolors, some drawing, and we like to focus our lessons on particular artists.” The kits will be distributed through Mokelumne Hill Elementary and Toyon Middle School.
Working at home
For her own private art practice, Anne has been enjoying staying at home time very much, and has been productive, working on mosaics, jewelry, Oodles of Doodles projects, resin, drawing, and coloring. “I painted over 150 rocks for the Kindness Rocks Project,” she said, referencing the popular internet rock painting phenomenon. “I’ve been shipping boxes of rocks all over the country to friends and family. I shared 50 rocks in town over Easter.”
“The last couple of months I got to do whatever I wanted.”
Anne admitted that when she deactivated her social media accounts (Will runs their Facebook page), it helped to free her creative spirit. But she’s also just loving retirement. “I’ve have been so liberated by no longer making art for commerce. If I have pieces for sale, it usually goes to charity. I’m not a commercial artist anymore!”
“I’ve also been a little aimless,” she admitted. “It has been nice to do what ever I want to do.”
Isolation has given this ceramic artist time to think
For ceramic sculptor Marlene Bradford, the nation’s isolation order during the time of Covid-19 has been a time of introspection about her art. “It’s been great having the time,” she said. “I enjoy working by myself. Although I also enjoy having company.”
This enforced time-out came just as Marlene started to pull back from perpetual activity. For the last seven years, she’s been a popular teacher of clay sculpture at Quyle Kilns, where she has instructed many in the skill of how to roll, knead, bend and convince clay to take animal and human form. But recently she gave up teaching regular classes, preferring to teach small groups or individuals on request. “I’ll be 87 in June,” she said. “I don’t have the energy I had before, or the patience.”
When you take a class from Marlene, you tap into a life dedicated to art. She has always been an artist, and she returned to college in her 40s to complete a major in art. Clay is her first love. “I like the way it feels. I like being able to move it around and change it back and forth and create my ideas using the clay.”
Her ideas, brought to life in clay, bring smiles to viewers. She still has a big presence at Quyle Kilns, where ceramic faces and animals peer from the walls, smile mysteriously, and catch your gaze and make you smile. Making the viewer happy is what Marlene intends.
She doesn’t strive for strict accuracy in her animal sculptures. Instead, she tries to express her feelings about them. “I really want to bring joy through it, and have people enjoy looking at my pieces.”
“The reason I say that is because there are many pieces of art that are not about joy. They are expressions of sadness and illness. That isn’t what I want to think about and express. I enjoy trying to reproduce the shape and idea of different animals. And again, I want them to look peaceful. With them I want to express some kind of good thoughts.”
Her portraits of people reflect not just a physical likeness but also the emotional personality of the subject. She honed her accuracy with acts of generosity. “I started having people I know pose for me so I could practice. I said if you like it I’ll give it to you. That’s how I got my technique worked out.” Her commissioned portraits of two doctors—Dr. Milton Ben Smith and Dr. Dante Albasio—greet people at Mark Twain Medical Center.
Now sheltering at home, she spends time in her studio in Murphys working on a series of pieces intended for totems, large pieces of art that comprise animals, figures, and objects.
Isolation has given her a chance to delve more deeply into her work. “It’s a chance to concentrate on your own ideas and think about what you’re doing. Often we want to discuss things with other artists or teachers. This is a good time to really look inside of ourselves and try things and see if they’re going to work. And figure out how to do something, or what we want to do. What you want people to think about it.”
Keep working during this time. “If you start something, it will be on your mind. You’ll be thinking about it and then you’ll want to get back to it.”
She welcomes the chance to pull out her own ideas and not be influenced by another person. Isolation has made her more thoughtful, sometimes changing her creative plans overnight as she’s slept on an idea. Isolation has made her work more deeply personal.
And so the work goes on, although she admits that she hasn’t been working everyday. “There are other things to think about. The garden. Friends to talk to.” But she encourages others to work creatively during this time. “If you start something, it will be on your mind. You’ll be thinking about it and then you’ll want to get back to it.”
How an artist found elastic and love
Join the CCAC!
You can still join the CCAC in 2020! Your membership helps the arts grow in Calaveras County.
Calaveras County Arts Council
Our goal is to support, nourish, and awaken the arts in our community.