Most professional artists are already on way too many apps & websites. Why doesn’t it work for them? Can’t an artist simply
- create their own expensive, labor-intensive website
- throw out tags until something sticks on Instagram
- try to demonstrate their artistic bona fides through a portfolio-absent resume on LinkedIn
- and then politely sit and wait to be stumbled upon by the right curator or gallery owner?
Playing by the traditional rules means that artists put endless time and energy into self-promotion, only to wind up in the backseat of their own careers.
In the current landscape, it’s easy for artists to put their work out there, but hard for them to build meaningful connections with collectors or professionals.
1. Managing a personal website is
its own full time job
Building a personal website is a great way for an artist to have complete control over how their work is represented. However, each of these websites are their own islands on the internet, which is a big problem for emerging artists.
Unless they’re an SEO wizard, it only works for people who are already well known: artists have to be sought out directly, and can’t be stumbled upon through collections or connections. That’s a major limitation, especially considering the time, energy and money artists put into designing and running a personal website.
2. Sales-driven websites don’t share your story
Where do you go to find art online?
Being able to directly sell your work on Saatchi or promote it to hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram has given artists new power over their own careers. But sales-driven websites often only give users a very small number of discovery options:
- You can find art by price, reducing it to a single number
- You can find art by a few pre-determined, general themes, colors and styles
- You can find art hand-picked by curators
Personally selected curator collections sound like the perfect solution, until you realize it puts artists back in the same place they started: waiting to be discovered by the right industry figures, without the tools to actively build those all-important relationships.
3. Instagram connects artists and fans—but leaves the industry out
The other popular choice is to speak to fans directly, and that usually means one thing: Instagram.
Instagram immediately connects you to one of the most mainstream, art-driven social networks around, which is undeniably pretty great. But it isn’t a medium for forming or displaying meaningful connections—instead, it pushes artists to perform in specific ways to maintain their presence. Otherwise, you’re in danger of being lost in the sea of #art: 491.7 million posts and counting.
This pressure often means that artists have to produce more, just to stay present on people’s feeds, even if that isn’t ideal for their artistic process. It even encourages artists to change the very nature of their art into something that “pops” on an endless stream of images. When someone enjoys and follows an Instagram artist, it can be nearly impossible to fully understand their journey or vision through their Instagram, given the snapshots and soundbite descriptions that define the platform. (And we can all agree it’s annoying that you can’t link in descriptions.)
4. LinkedIn hides the work history that matters for artists: their art
LinkedIn showed the world that when everyone brings their professional networks together in a single place, even a small network can be powerful with the right connections, dedication and research. Making everyone’s professional journeys transparent and accessible empowered the entire professional community to learn and seek inspiration from one another.
Unfortunately Linkedin’s information system fails artists for the same reason a traditional resume would. No one is looking for their years of employment at one place or another, and if you’re waiting for Jerry Saltz to Endorse your painting ability, you’re liable to be waiting a long time.
What’s missing from LinkedIn are two essential ingredients—the art itself and the art world. The artist’s portfolio, a curated collection of their most important and representative work, and the art industry audience are absent.
The Network Artists Need
Being an artist is hard, and that’s never going to change, because making great art is hard. What can change is making it as streamlined as possible to be an artist online—building a network that unites the artist’s journey and the vision behind each of their artworks, giving every element the space it needs to be heard.
When artists produce a work of art, it doesn’t belong next to the latest brand post from a car company. Every piece is a part of the artist, and it deserves a platform built specifically to honor that magical experience.
Artists need a platform that supports them simultaneously in building their career and in making sure every work they produce is celebrated in the way it deserves.