Sunday, October 27, 2013

Not a Social Butterfly

Every once in a while I grow weary of all this tech stuff. Like everyone else, I need it, it will never go away, but at times - enough is enough. I'm sure it's my age. Call me ancient, but I grew up in a time when we had to physically move across a room to change TV channels, run through the house to answer the phone and drive to the drug store to drop off film. Not that I ever want to go back to those days.

As artists, we're told how fortunate we are to gain control of our careers via the web and it's multitude of opportunities for self-marketing. No longer reliant on brick and mortar galleries, this has created a new kind of pressure. It's now up to us to determine what and how to promote ourselves and our art. And how often.

It often feels like a popularity contest. Social networking, websites, SEO, blogs, subscribers...the list is endless. Who has the most friends, likes, comments, shares or whatever. There is no shortage of marketing gurus roaming the internet to help and advise...for a fee. Where was this gang when I was fresh out of art school? Right, no internet back then but where was the emphasis on constructively managing an art career? The pervasive belief was that the creation of art superseded all else. Read that line again, my dears.

So here's my grumpy take:

I gave up on Twitter. How can a meaningful dialog be established in 140 characters that scrolls off the screen in less than a minute? The more you follow the faster it scrolls. Great if you're a celebrity yet some artists figured it out and reap great benefits. How, I can't fathom. Facebook feeds last longer, sometimes a day or two. I like FB and I have made some great connections and genuine friendships (not just adds). But here's the thing: on my personal page I have 1,464 "friends" that I've cultivated to find people with similar interests to mine. And some have found me. I try to post often but sometimes I'm just busy and immersed with my work and have nothing interesting to say. Do you want to hear what I had for breakfast or pray for my relative with a medical crisis? Now, Michael hardly ever posts anything, preferring to be entertained by others and he has 1,781 "friends". Huh! My business page which I was advised was a MUST by one of those art marketers has a paltry 337 likes. In my personal account, there are 218 pages awaiting a "like" from me - not to mention those I've "liked" that I did so just to be polite but really don't care about. My blog used to be cool. I've been posting since 2006 and used to at least a couple of times a week. At some point I wondered if anyone read it and why was I wasting my time? The positive about blogs is that bloggers own that bit of real estate and are not subject to another's rules and arbitrary advertisement. But again, in order to maintain readership the posts should be regular and engaging. Or edgy and controversial. Or regularly give away free stuff. There were many blogs in the recent past that I loved and eagerly awaited updates...however they have unfortunately fizzled out too. Or wandered over to Facebook.

Forget about the other new and hip sights such as Pinterest that we're told are the latest mandatory marketing sights. I'm too busy painting.

My website hosting service is very adequate and easy to manage and created specifically for artists. But their daily newsletters sent to subscribers contain contests, favs, featured artists, lists of latest exhibitions of accomplished artists, hot artists to watch, etc., etc. etc. making me feel miles out of the loop. Another popularity contest.

So my dear friends, like me if you agree and feel free to retweet (not retreat).
I'm poking you,