Believe it or not, I've have three blogs in my long lifetime of 27 years. Yes, one was a Xanga but somehow I feel like that counts. (If you're unsure of what a Xanga is then there still is a chance you might find me cool. Fingers crossed.)
I have a million things I want to talk about but for my first post I feel it's SO important to check in on something that's been affecting so many of my artist friends, and myself, in recent years. The issue is this: Social media is a blessing and a curse. It puts everyone and everything at your fingertips - shopping, celebrities, and SELLING! You can literally make your Instagram into a store and make a profit from it. It's incredible all of the humans that are connected through these little glass boxes we hold in our hands. So as artists, we want to take advantage of all of the consumers on the following end of this platform.
The issue then becomes do we as artists who are finally gaining traction on social media create the meaningful artwork we were bred to create in our college studios? Or do we make "quick art" to make money faster, impacting more consumers? In truth, we shouldn't be focusing on selling through these platforms to begin with. We should be using them to grow a family and a following, showcasing our latest projects and inspiration and directing them to our websites, blog, commission sites (like easelforart.com !) and hyping up our upcoming events and pop-up shops. This all clicked for me pretty recently and I've transformed my work back to what I know and love - layers, layers, layers.
I'm guilty. I was so focused on leaving my full-time job to paint professionally that I lost sight of who I really am as an artist. I just wanted to sell (and in turn, became a sell-out) and be free from the retail world. This isn't to say that what I was making wasn't "real art" and that other artists out there making these same things aren't actual, bonafide artists. Please, let's be clear on that. It's one thing to be drawing beautiful flowers and layering on top of them for years and finally taking off... and a very different thing to pick it up because you know you can create it quickly and you know it will sell even more quickly. So with all of this being said, hindsight is so 20/20. And losing my integrity as a messy, mixed media artist was never worth this trade of a few extra bucks.
They say that the only thing we can take with us when our days are done is our reputation and education. I am unwilling to compromise all of the mentoring my professors gave me and work I've put in to make the things I make for an extra buck. This is all my personal choice, of course. I sometimes wish I could be a quick turnaround kind of artist, making pretty things on paper and selling out the day I launch them on my site. And who knows, maybe one day I'll be able to tack that feather in my cap. But for now, I'm going to focus on making thought-provoking art that is huge, heavy, and weighs on the mind just as much as it does the nails it is hanging from.
Unless of course you wanted a a lighter, work-on-paper version. We can arrange that!
Thank you all for making it this far and hopefully shaking off my Xanga past. How do you feel about the changes social media is making in the art world? And how to you adapt to them?
- Allison James