Yesterday, Carol Barber of Gainesville, Florida wrote, “I’ve been hearing that the way to sell your art and to be known as an artist these days is to be a blogger. I’ve read that artists need to connect with the public because they want to know the artist. Collectors are buying the artist, not just the art. I know the most important thing for me is to strive for high quality in my art. Marketing seems a tricky business. Then there is you. The art world knows you as a friend and you come across as likable, joyous and living the idyllic artist life. Is exposure the answer?”
Thanks, Carol. I’ve always sort of agreed with George Bernard Shaw: “When you know the artist you think less of the art.” It seemed better to me to be in my studio, paying attention to my process, striving for demon quality. To be straight up, my motivation for writing the Twice-Weekly letter was to get off a whole bunch of arts-related boards and to try to make my modest contribution in a more direct way. The Internet makes it possible. I want to help creative people to think about things. I also like the idea of the artistic global village, and the brotherhood and sisterhood of artists.
Robert Henri said, “Through art, mysterious bonds of understanding and of knowledge are established. They are the bonds of a great brotherhood. Those who are of the brotherhood know each other, and time and space cannot separate them.” When you get a bit older, like me, it’s nice to be known by what you think. I walked into a room the other day and everyone there was a subscriber. Some of them were collectors. And they knew, golly they knew, what I was thinking about. There really is something to be said for not having to answer the question, “Are you still painting?”
At the present time there are 70,000 new blogs going up every day. Several thousand readers of this letter run some sort of blog. Some bloggers report hundreds of visitors, others thousands. While exposure won’t make an inadequate artist successful, blogs are a part of the widespread and ongoing democratization of our world. Unless something comes along to wreck it, the future is online. There’s a future in posting your art for the world to see. There’s a future in telling your story. There’s a future in sharing. Sharing might just be our salvation. “Friends share all things.” (Pythagoras)
PS: “The only way forward is in the direction of a common passion, for nothing in the universe can ultimately resist the cumulative ardor of the collective soul.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)
Esoterica: Blogging is time-consuming and addictive. Happy bloggers do it because they love the buzz. With this letter, for example, there’s an amazing shot of connectivity and community. Every day you have more friends than the day before. Artists can’t do better than to send material to our Twice-Weekly Clickbacks, endure our editing, and be read. Right now every new Clickback is read by thousands within the first few hours — and after that by an ongoing lesser number. Letters you wrote to us four years ago are still being read. You and your ideas have shelf life. If you don’t believe me, try googling someone — or some idea. Input to the Painter’s Keys site is generally at or near the top in search engine rankings.
by Kati Saarinen, Fenelon Falls, ON, Canada
Our blogs serve as a type of special conversation with friends, a little report of what is going on, what we feel and what we observe in our daily lives. The art may not be of the highly refined kind; it is the art of being present, observing, taking note. When I read my favorite bloggers, I am privileged to share everyday events, feelings and emotions, the ordinary stuff that helps me recognize: your life is different, but yet like mine, a human experience. Your creative viewpoint stimulates me to look at my ordinary, everyday life in a new and fresh way. As Danny Gregory so aptly phrased it, “Everyday Matters.” I blog at Realmud Garden.
Multiple personality blogs
by Flora van Stek, Delft, The Netherlands
I started blogging because I wanted to publish new drawings and poems, inspirations and sites that relate to my work as an artist and as an extra to my website about my photo work. After some time I got the idea to publish my Night Drawings, so I created a second blog. And the third blog came into being because I wanted to publish inspirations and thoughts that don’t directly relate to my work as an artist, but are more personal. So now I have three weblogs for different sides of my personality. Flora van Stek, Night Drawings, Flodorovski Flintstone
Don’t be used by the technology
by Sue Clancy, Norman, OK, USA
The trick is to plan your day, month, year and how you will use your time to your best advantage. We artists must focus on an economy of means and constantly reevaluate our efforts. Every effort we make should help us make more art, not less. If we have made no art, and we’re not in the market we seek, then it doesn’t matter if we have a worldwide audience — whether blog, website or slides. Technologies, materials, methods and techniques, no matter what they are, no matter how hot or new they are, must truly help us help ourselves become better artists. We must use them and not allow ourselves to be used by them.
A choice for artists
by Brad Michael Moore, Perrin, TX, USA
Blogs can be useful to the artist. They’re like a self-initiated process of checks and balances. “Queries spoken and answered here.” By enticement, blog expressions may invoke prospective responses. Open examination may re-sound conclusions upon the shoulder of one’s consciousness. We begin our art, amend it, defend it, and then often expend with it. Blogging provides a separate moment from the ‘hard work’ as an analytical alternative of problem solving. “Speaking aloud” fine-tunes one’s clarity of voice. Isn’t the role of artists to strive in being a reflecting soul or sounding board of the world they live in? If one wishes to protect the sanctity of their intuitive stroke, without tempting questions to their motives — then they should just paint. What we bring into this world will be considered by those who appreciate one’s most honest path. We can wave as they pass or not…
Insight into artist’s life
by Collette Fergus, Waikato, New Zealand
Being a creative person was more my motivation rather than writing to draw traffic. I wanted to “get it all out” so to speak. My blog’s in its early days yet. I have no idea how it will go, but if nothing else, it will allow me to express myself in different ways to how I do onto canvas. Part of my passion in arts is to encourage other artists to communicate and here in New Zealand, especially where I live in agricultural country, we need more people to understand the arts and realize its potential. I am hoping my blog will allow people to read about the life and times of an average kiwi artist and hopefully encourage more people to work together in our goals of having our art recognized as well as supporting each other in what can often be a very isolating career.
Connection to the brotherhood
by Todd Bonita, Greenland, NH, USA
I love the idea of a brotherhood and sisterhood of artists that transcends time and space. Wow! It feels awesome to be part of that. Blogging is a direct B-line to connecting to this brotherhood. I use my blog to post my artwork every day and connect with old art school friends, professional peers, art buyers and my seven-year-old niece who says, “You draw wicked good Uncle Todd.”
Five reasons why you should blog and post your artwork:
1) Valuable feedback, good and bad.
2) Art buyers return periodically which can turn into sales.
3) Archives serve as a catalog of your work.
4) Transcend time and cyberspace and be part of the brotherhood.
5) Gives you another reason to “Draw wicked good.”
Please drop by my art blog and say hello, I would love to hear from my fellow brothers and sisters.
Blog leads to opportunities
by Antoinette Ledzian, Stonington, CT, USA
Because of a particular entry on my blog, I’ve been invited to write an article for a hospital newsletter on the Healing Power of Pets. Now that’s enough incentive to make it to second base! I hope, through my blog, I can leave the world a bit healthier through whatever artistic means come up to bat. Right now, I’m not concerned about “selling” through blogging but sharing, yes and if through sharing comes selling or making someone breathe easier, I’ve scored a Home Run for our artistic team!
Part of the ‘hood’
by Dyan Law, Chalfont, PA, USA
I thrive on being part of the “hood.” I’m an artist/art educator for adults, but of foremost interest is my need to share feelings my about Art and of those who wish to share with me. Art “belongs” to the artists! Art buyers, collectors and appreciators equally deserve to know how and why the artists they collect or represent feel about their work. Perhaps sharing our multitude of feelings with the “general public” we’ll not only be remembered for our finished works, but also appreciated for our passion to “get it honest.” It’s not all about marketing it is about our “Chi” contributions, feeling free to share, inside and outside, our brother and sisterhood of artists.
Universal consciousness and the Internet
by Len Sodenkamp, Boise, ID, USA
One of my favorite songwriters, Rodney Crowell, said, “We are all going to heaven on a hard disk drive.” The Universal Consciousness is like a computer. Its mind contains all the information. Everything is in that One Mind. Even before we can think of a concept, it already knows that concept. The Letter and its vehicle the Internet is just making that connection happen faster and with less resistance. Understanding our connectedness to the Source of all the information is imperative for the Creative Mind to do its work. We must be connected to like-minded people. The sharing of information is critical to our growth as creative spirits. We are evolving, the Internet is proof of that.
The modern ‘salon’
by Marie Martin, Fountain Valley, CA, USA
I become envious of the Impressionists when reading about how they met, discussed, argued, critiqued work and supported each other. I dearly wish to belong to such a group. The notion that blogging is perhaps the modern “salon” is what’s behind feeling that the “electronic buzz” is exhilarating. The despair comes from knowing that whether referring to nurturing “live” relationships or navigating the web… while developing skills and product… all takes time. Lots of it. The frustration of trying to learn how to juggle all this often sends me back to where I convince myself of the main priority… in front of the easel with paintbrush in hand. So… back I go… to the easel and that delicious smell of paint!
Blogging personalizes paintings
by Lauren Everett Finn, Oxfore, MI, USA
In 2003 I challenged myself to do a year of painting, one painting a week for 52 weeks.
When I posted the weekly painting, I included a journal about it. I got almost as much feedback about the journals as the paintings! A truly ah-ha moment for me. People wondered where I got my ideas, how I decided what to paint. They could feel my embarrassment when I struggled and had to post something that wasn’t my best. And they could celebrate with me when the painting was successful. Journals or blogging can personalize a painting… it expands on the painting. There are a lot of potential patrons that are intimidated by galleries and perhaps even artists themselves. The more we include them in our processes and lives, the more chance they’ll feel comfortable buying our art.
Digital revolution of the arts
by James Webb, West Chester, PA, USA
Indeed, the art world is a global community driven by the digital revolution. The revolutionary invention of paint being put in tubes ultimately triggered the Impressionist movement. Today, in some cases, the tube paint revolution has been usurped by the computer. Adding to this challenging mix is the shift in the buying public, the dominance of the giclee print, the glut of artists and the decline of galleries makes it more difficult for the artist to make a living. However, there is hope if one accepts the fact there is no turning back of the digital age. The artist or group of artists who grasp and put their arms around this technology have a chance of success. As for myself, the computer has been instrumental in my making some headway in a tight, luxury market. It’s not cheap and it demands, like learning how to paint, intense self-training. It is an investment!
Serving up a story for art
by MK Colling, Rochester, NY, USA
I’ve always thought I was selling art, not selling myself. It gave me the willies when all of a sudden all art discussion and criticism seemed to veer off the work and onto the person who made it. I think the people who set up the new direction are the same people who practice pop-psychology without licenses. Ergo, it seems to be necessary now, just as a matter of self-defense, to serve up a story for the art or risk having an incorrect, and most likely unflattering, one made up and circulated. Luckily my work illustrates opinions and memories, so it’s possible to give verbal explanations in my blog and in the blurbs about pieces.
I’m a hypocrite. Although scared to divulge much of mine, I adore reading the lurid details of other people’s existence, looking at what they made while the husband was laid off and the baby had head lice and the teenager turned surly.
Blogging to increase exposure
by Colleen Lambert, Lynnwood, WA, USA
I think the answer to ‘blogging’ just has to be a resounding “Yes”! It’s such a great way to answer the many questions collectors have and make that artist-to-collector connection. The very first painting I posted sold to a gentleman in New Zealand. I don’t think that would have happened before the days of the Internet-blogging technology of today. When I began my blog it was to let people know of my goal to create a piece of finished art daily and to observe my success at doing it. And of course, in the process, expose my art to as many people as possible so more sales are possible. So, not only do I ask people to visit my blog, but like yourself, ask them to also feel free to ‘forward it on to their friends and family who may enjoy fine art as much as they do’ and it seems to be an interesting marketing technique.
Your followers will love you
by Francesca Owens, Littleton, CO, USA
My latest spin is my Italian Heritage series called, Breathe of Italy. I leave for Italy in 6 weeks and will live in Cortona, the “Under the Tuscan Sun” movie town for almost 4 months. My mailing list, in excess of 700 Groupies di Francesca, will live vicariously through my newsletter of motor scooter rides through Rome with my new squeeze Paolo who I met on the Internet. He is six years my junior. The reality is I am still a starving artist but I have created quite a buzz. So yes, reinvent yourself, find yourself, show your vulnerabilities! Your followers will grow to love you and love living life through your eyes.
Support while isolated
by Nina Meledandri, New York, NY, USA
While I have maintained a web site devoted to my painting process (not to sales) for some time now, over the past 3 years I have made a serious commitment to blogging photography. My painting has crept in there as well. I agree it is a highly addictive and time consuming venture, but it also can be intensely satisfying. Through my photoblogs I have built a strong community of friends spread throughout the world. These are people who also blog and whose visual expression I highly respect. I have had an extremely supportive response to both my photographs and my paintings, a support that becomes even more valuable when I am isolated in my studio, preparing for a show.
Be careful what you blog
by Beverley Folkard, Essex, UK
Some artists have a website promoting their work in a highly professional manner, and then spoil it all with a bloglink that shows intimate details of their work and life, which isn’t so pretty. It can be fun to discover the person behind the art, but I gasp at some entries such as detailing unfortunate encounters with galleries and other professionals. Bad mouthing management of organisations where you’ve been asked to teach/demonstrate. Even worse when its openly admitted errors — always late for appointments, forgetting the portfolio, ideas copied from others, etc. If you are wanting to give a professional image of yourself, then be careful what you say and what you reveal as the people you are hoping to impress could well be reading. The big wide world is much smaller than you think on the Internet!
Hand them a card
by Erika Schulz, Red Deer, AB, Canada
Having a presence on the Internet has been nothing but good since I started. Whether it’s on my own website, a variety of free online art galleries, Live Journal, or Blog, it all creates accessibility to my artwork. Very often when in conversation with a friend, a stranger, or long time acquaintance, I am asked about my art. It is just so much easier to hand them a card with my website address, instead of standing there for an hour explaining all the little details of my life and work. They can immediately access all of my newest works, and find out where my exhibitions are, or where I am selling my work. Easy as pie.
Disintermediation in the offing
by John Gargano, Lakewood, CO, USA
I wish we artists could simply collectively put to rest the notion that being a creative person somehow makes us inept at selling and marketing our work — this is just nonsense. One thing artists can do to get over this illusion is to purchase The Marketing Imagination, by Theodore M. Levitt. Professor Levitt was the editor of the Harvard Business Review for quite some time and his book will make it clear that one need not have any special type of disposition or the gift of gab, etc. to be good at sales and marketing — all you have to do is do it.
Each of us now has an opportunity to take advantage of the disintermediation being brought about by the Internet. Yes, that’s dis-intermediation — as in the Internet is dissolving the chain of intermediaries that have heretofore been required to work through to sell anything. Put simply, in the past, few of us had access to markets as we do now with the Internet. Manufacturers previously had to deal with distributors, wholesalers and retailers before they could reach a customer — no more. Now they can sell directly to a customer via the Internet — and so can we artists! And I have a dream that one day soon, we’ll all understand that we too can rent a convention center and have a high-end show without gallery intermediaries.
Portrait of the Painter Victor Humareda
You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 105 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2006.
That includes Claudia Roulier of Colorado, USA who wrote, “I have artist friends who say that of the two options… web site and blog, they think the blog is the more necessary of the two. Also most blogs can serve to sell work as well.”
And also Francine Costa of Gatineau, Quebec, Canada who wrote, “Blogging can be boring. I also don’t like the ‘me, me, me’ tone of some of them. I really love your formula and it works; it feels real.”
And also Terese Amig of Cape May, NJ, USA who wrote, “Lots of blogs are self-indulgent and boring. Robert Henri also said that exhibitions should have two rooms, one to look at the work and the other to discuss your summer vacations.”
And also Christian Stalley of Chester, NS, Canada who wrote, “Blogging may be a legitimate form of advertising, and the process of demystifying art is not a bad thing. As not only an artist but an art teacher, I find the effort of concealing the process of art very frustrating.”
And also Nancy Bea Miller of Philadelphia, PA, USA who wrote, “I enjoy feeling part of the Global Village, even if only in the oddly ethereal way of the Web. Although I know our connections can only be superficial, I feel strangely sustained by the other villagers.”