As an artist, do you ever ask these questions, or questions like these? We all do. I know my circle of trust (my group of art friends) have really been discussing this idea a LOT as of late. It really cuts to the heart of an artist. There are few things that cuts out heart more than spending hours on art and it falling flat when we share it. I will share some thoughts we discussed and stuff I want to share from my own understanding.
The first thing was something Chris Oatley shared with us that really spoke to my heart. Why are people coming to your site?
On my Deviant Art site I built up my watcher’s by doing comic book fan art. And most of my watcher’s are there FOR that. I made the mistake to think it is always JUST about art. While there are some watchers there who are there because they support me and my art, a big group was there FOR the fan art. So when I made the switch to paintings and more original stuff, my views on a posting dropped from a few hundred views, some even in the thousands, down to double digits. I was not giving them what they were coming to my Deviant Art page for. It was not that my art sucked, it was just not why they were there! So I need to understand it is a lot like starting a new account. I have to rebuild an audience that likes what I am doing now.
Next, where are you sharing? The honest truth is you never know where your audience is. Are you just on Deviant art? Maybe you are lucky and that is where your audience is. But maybe they are somewhere else? I have a Deviant Art, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Shadowness, Linkedin, and my blog. But there are other places I will sometimes share art on. Reddit, Imgur, New Grounds. Some get almost nothing, some get a lot more. But I share it because I don’t know where my new image will spark an audience. So make sure your are not just ‘preaching to the choir’!
Beyond that, a lot of times JUST sharing art on these sites won’t get any attention. You have to get as out there as you can. On places like Deviant Art, Shadowness, Facebook have groups. Find groups that have people who live the kind of stuff you are doing and share it! I have liked 10 groups on Facebook and sometimes as many as 30 on Deviant Art! Plus sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook, tag your art! Adding those hashtags will help people looking for art find you. Make sure to put yourself in the best position to be found.
And one of the biggest insights I heard was from both Chris Oatley and Bobby Chui, does your art connect?
Sure, your drawing may be technically and academically spot on, your anatomy is great, your perspective is rocking, and your tones are there! This should be a hit! But it’s not. Why?! Because most people (unless they are artists or teachers) don’t really know that all those are spot on. They want the image to speak to them. Look back at that image. Is it of a guy, standing in front of a really cool building with spot on texture? Great, It is on the part of a family photo. You look at it and think, ‘cool’, and forget about it. Why? It doesn’t connect! There is nothing beyond that ‘rightness’ of the work. Where is the passion? Where are the emotions? Where is the story? People react and remember art that speaks to them. Tell them a story that they can connect to. Evoke an emotion in them that touches their heart. Create a moment in the art that people need to share with everyone they know. Good art will often not be as liked as emotional art. So create some art that says something. That will begin to get people’s attention!
And I want to go out on something Kevin Kelly has talked about, if you can get 1,000 true fans, you can make a living. It is not about having a huge number of fans, it is about finding a few LOYAL fans who will support you no matter what. And if you gain 1,000 true fans of your product, you can make a living. I have a posting on this I love and reread a lot. I suggest you give it a read as well.http://www.copyblogger.com/20-steps-1000-fans/
And before I go out I want to share a new podcast from Chris Oatley and illustrator Will Terry. They really go deep into the question of are you good enough? I really urge you to give it a listen. There is invaluable info there. http://chrisoatley.com/will-terry/
And to end, I want to give a warning. In spite of all this, don’t worry too much about ‘internet’ fame. That is truly your 15 minutes of fame. It is radically fleeting. You will suddenly have a massive group of people loving you and just as suddenly they disappear. It is the ‘one-hit wonder’ thing. Most will leave, a few will stay, a few will become haters. I have had friends who have dealt with internet fame and nothing good came from it. A few downsides to it.
1: You have fans who will ONLY support what they wanted in the first place. When you move out of it, they scream at you and demand you keep doing what they want. You get into a rut in your art and have a hard time stepping out. And fear of losing your fans make you refuse to change.
2: People will make demands on you because you are famous and they think you owe them for ‘making you’. Demands ranging from teaching them the ‘secret’ of doing art all the way up to giving them free art. And when you can’t or won’t do it, they call you names and hate on you.
3: Internet fame does not often lead to an art career. Oh, it can, if you are smart how you build your fan base, if you also appeal to industry people and the general people, and you create some great stuff, it absolutely can! But when you are JUST after the fame, it won’t. You will just paint yourself into a corner because the industry people may not notice you and the general people will come and go. Do not aim FOR fame, if anything aim for your career and use fame (if you get it) as a stepping stone only.
So go and create awesome art and get it out there and make sure the art is moving you toward where you want to be! The eyes will come so long as you stick with it and work hard to grow with each image!
Dwayne is a comic book artist working for Avatar Press comics and freelance artist from North Carolina United States, specialize in concept art and illustration.
reach him at: http://artofdwayne.wordpress.com/