The presence on social networks impacts artists more than ever | Do


The days of the enigmatic artist are over.

If said artist wants a chance to sell his work, yes.

Whether the human race likes it or not, we live in a world heavily influenced by dopamine-draining social media interaction. Where readers once scoured magazines and admired sleek advertisements, they now sift through pop-ups and browse profiles and pages dedicated to selling merchandise.

The pandemic has further propelled this change. Musicians caught on quickly and moved to online platforms, but for the visual arts there was a lag. In Cheyenne and the surrounding area, it’s much less common to see a local artist regularly posting about their work, offering behind-the-scenes content about their creative process, or telling followers about their upcoming shows.

It’s not unprecedented, but it’s certainly not common. When artists find a rhythm, there is a noticeable impact on their presence in the community.

Bria Hammock, who works as a creative director for Madden Media, a local marketing firm, has exhibited her art across the state. After graduating from college in marketing, she essentially took a 10-year break from painting.

It would be hard to tell based on the quality of his work, but Hammock just started painting about four years ago. Due to her social media presence, Hammock is herself ahead of the marketing curve, which has led to a far-reaching regional presence.

“Marketing and social media is a fast-paced world, it’s a challenge as an artist,” Hammock said. “I think I’m definitely a bit ahead because I do that for my day job as well, and I kind of have some of those ideas.

“It’s funny, because you have to stay sharp as an artist, but also stay sharp on how to communicate that art to others.”

In concept, accessing social media and maintaining a following seems like a fairly easy task to tackle. For those who don’t know where to start, this is a vast and confusing network to navigate.

This is not a problem exclusive to artists; it is difficult, no matter the profession. Building a page that people want to come back to, especially as an artist, is basically building a brand and marketing a business.

Even with a background in branding, it’s hard to accept becoming a business, which is what most artists do when trying to sell their work. Kevin Phillips, whose rise on TikTok was previously covered in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, spoke at length about the process of opening up and appealing to followers on a personal level.

Hammock went through the same process on Instagram and Facebook.

“It was and continues to be uncomfortable for me to come forward on social media,” she said. “I haven’t really found a way to be more comfortable with it, but the feedback I get from a lot of people who follow me and interact with my content really illustrates that they like to see the behind-the-scenes process. .”

A marketing plan

Perhaps the biggest obstacle is the difficulty of understanding how to manipulate social media and attract thousands of people browsing thousands of accounts and posts.

Hammock attributes part of his success to his understanding of developing a marketing plan. She knows the steps to make sure someone looks at at least one product she sells.

Most artists, however, are still at square one.

That may be slowly starting to change, in part because of Cheyenne resident Melissa Neylon. In February, she launched Arts Etcetera, with the aim of helping local artists market their work and reach new customers online.

Formerly the manager of the Wyoming State Museum’s gift shop, Neylon filled displays with works by local artists, organized and taught how to present displays that would sell. Sometimes she worked with local artists, galleries and friends to help them organize their exhibitions.

When his mother-in-law fell ill last year, Neylon quit his job to care for her. The situation limited her to the home, so frequent in-person consultations were no longer viable.

Necessity is the mother of invention, so she turned to the internet to create a Facebook page. It was there that she worked with artists to share their side of the story, providing extra personality – and exposure – for them in the process.

“I didn’t really know until about a year and a half ago that this world really existed,” Neylon said. “It’s growing hugely on social media. I got involved and started helping a lot of these artisans behind the scenes, making friends and meeting them in person and things like that.

“They convinced me to do this ‘You’ve Got Mel’ show.”

“You’ve Got Mel” streams live on Facebook every Tuesday. In each episode, she sits down with an artist from somewhere in the country to discuss the background of her work. The goal is not just entertainment value, but to help them market their product and generate business.

In the short time she curated the page and interviewed artists, there’s already a grassroots community that comes back for every show. Recently, Tara Pappas, an artist from Laramie, took Neylon’s advice to launch a livestream where Pappas walked viewers through different techniques she uses in her artwork.

Story behind the artwork

There’s no focus on her business, and if Neylon doesn’t know how to help someone, she’ll admit it. More often than not, she rebuilds social media platforms, builds websites, helps artists apply for shows, and teaches them how to interact with a growing social media fan base.

Sometimes she coaches artists on an often overlooked aspect of their work – the background of the work. Time and again, audiences have shown a more positive reaction to a piece when it emphasizes the story behind it, whether it’s a personal narrative or insight into the creative process.

For example, if a glassware or tapestry was made from recycled materials, artists should explain their motivation for creating the work or any unique facts relevant to the creation of the work.

“You need the story, and social media gives people the story for that,” Neylon said. “When you’re trying to buy on a website – let’s face it, that’s where people buy things now, online – artists have to take advantage of that too.

“You can start a website, and if you don’t know how to direct traffic to it or share your story, the website will stay there.”

Over the winter, local craftsman Dave Rowswell was at a standstill. The scorching cold has discouraged window shopping in downtown Cheyenne. As a result, sales plummeted at Rawhide Jewelry.

Since working with Neylon, online sales for Rawhide Jewelry have increased dramatically. Improvement did not come without persevering through trial and error.

Since he started selling his handcrafted jewelry, his main mode of business has been in-person sales, although online trading has been a focus for some time. For the past few months, he and his wife, Georgia Rowswell, have traveled to rodeos around the country, thinking the jewelry line would sell better to a broad Western audience.

It’s not always the case. On one occasion, Dave Rowswell said it was hardly worth traveling to Texas for an outlet. Online business and social media have never been Rawhide’s forte, but next winter it will be critical.

Having an online presence expands one’s customer base. It’s simple – there will inevitably be more interest in his works when he starts marketing to people outside of Cheyenne.

“When I post something on Facebook — I probably have about 500 followers — Facebook can send it to 100 of them,” Rowswell said. “They could send it to 20 of them. I don’t know what their algorithm is; you never know where it will end.

“As an artist, I don’t think I have time to figure that out, but she does. Melissa educates herself on how to introduce people like me.

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