Thursday, March 22, 2012
A recent blog post from Boston Handmade got me thinking about all the ways technology has changed how artists do things. Not how the actual work is made, but rather how we attempt to market what we made. The websites, the email newsletters, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Linked In, etc.
Ask any artist and they will tell you in a voice trembling with stress, there are many, many hats to wear in their career. You work for yourself, yes! You're living the dream, congrats! But being awesome at your artistic skill isn't enough, you need to hold every position that a 'normal' business has as part of that dream. You are the creator, business manager, marketing director, researcher, web designer, booth designer, maintenance, photographer, sales rep, and intern, and again, you need to be awesome at all of those. Have fun with that.
A chunk of most of those positions lands me in front of the computer more often than I care to. I routinely wish to myself that I was a potter about 30 years ago before I had to spend so much time adjusting pics on photoshop, trying to decipher html code, and other crap that kept me away from my throwing wheel. I suppose potters 30 years ago wished they had easier access to the public to market their work. The grass (glaze?) is always greener I suppose.
All of these various websites blossomed about right when my business began, so I'm familiar with the majority. I wonder how much all of this time really affects things. I can't be sure who's buying from my etsy page because of something they saw on my Facebook or blog, but I do know they are looking. Looking is great, it's the first step to a customer making a purchase. Similar to when I have a terrible show and I tell myself 'well at least people came and saw your work', sometimes you need to see the bigger picture of promotion and not focus on the immediacy of a sale. It took me a while before I learned that lesson.
This isn't to say I can't point to specific positives of social networking and marketing. A piece of mine was published in a magazine that was found on Pinterest, so that was a nice surprise that otherwise wouldn't have presented itself. There's also been the random opportunities for events and shops. Someone seeing my work and inviting me into something is a pretty regular occurrence, and sometimes they are aren't a good fit for me, but I can generally pass that info along to a friend who would be a good fit. Social networking at its finest.