HARD ART

Lots of people are making great art. And now AI is coming in to make things more tricky. Sure, Fiverr. All that.

The “great art” part is easy for consumers – they know it when they see it. They might not even care if you made it or a computer made it. They know what they like, and they buy it (or just save it to their desktop).

What I’m saying then is your art isn’t for those people. Your work isn’t for “I’ll take whatever is cheapest / easiest.”

Your work is for people who want to go deeper, who care, who think the person behind the art matters just as much as the art.

Those are your people, and if you’re lucky, they may someday become customers.

The text above was part of my reply to someone talking about the never-ending conundrum of “getting the word out” about what someone makes as an artist, or a painter, or a photographer. How we need social media, how everything is stacked against the independent creative person.

They had two posts on their Substack, so I mentioned this, too:

I read two of your posts – one about ADHD, and one about the atrocities of the war-ravaged world we live in. I already know you care, that you think about others, that you live with ADHD (something I know very little about)… but now I know a bit about you. You’ve already made it clear “this isn’t just about making pretty pictures.” You’ve put on full display, “This is me, this is what you get.” For what it’s worth, I’m going to subscribe – not (just) because of your art, but because of who you’ve shown yourself to be, which is how all this works.

I’ve channeled a lot of Seth Godin energy in this reply, but seriously… there’s a lot of great artwork out there. There’s no shortage of that. But there’s a shortage of people who care, who show up like you do. Keep doing that.

USE YOUR VOICE

Thinking about a section of Austin Kleon’s “Show Your Work,” which is “You Can’t Fing Your Voice is You Don’t Uset it.”

We find it by using it. We find out photographic style by taking more photos, we find out guitar style by playing guitar, we find out our artist style by… by being ourselves and being present in the world, sharing what we do.

The chapter talks about the movie writer Roger Ebert, and how he lost his voice so he then found his voice through writing online.

For any lone artist in a small town, whos prime disadvantage is that they live in a small town, well, here was a movie critic who lost his voice – such a loss! Such a “disadvantage.”

Write, post, talk, discuss. Do it online, do it often, seek out your weirdos, and make sure you have a website where all your weirdness resides (like this blog).

STOP RELYING ON INSTAGRAM

Build your project on someone else’s platform, and you’re at the mercy of the platform.

From their website:

“For each edition, all participants share their artworks via Instagram by uploading their typographic interpretations of each letter and number to their profiles, while using the project’s hashtags plus the daily hashtags to submit their work and enter the challenge.”

See, IG removed the “Recent” tag for hashtags, so now it’s just TOP POSTS.

This means that if you were to tag your entry to enter a giveaway or contest, you wouldn’t be able to see all the entries, just the TOP entries, according to however IG determines what “top” really is.

Because of this, the next round is canceled for now (via their IG):

Instagram’s never-ending updates have brought many significant challenges and changes since we started, leaving us with the feeling that the platform isn’t the same as it once was.

In particular, the recent updates to hashtags, one of the core parts of the project, have made them almost useless (with no way to browse all entries and no chronological order), making it almost impossible to manage a new edition as we used to.

This is just another reason why you should always be using social media to drive traffic to your own properties, where you own the content, the system, and the relationship with your readers.

And for fucks sake, it’s mullet marketing, all the way down.

Look how cool and vibrant their Instagram page looks! Party in the back!

If I had Instagram I’d want to check out every single one of those types! So much color, life, magic!

The website is all business. It reflects barely any of the magical energy of their Instagram page, which is such a bummer.

Friends – Instagram is still just a webpage.

You can make your website look cool, I promise.

And then as a brand (37 Days of Type has over 400,000 followers on IG) you simply tell your audience, “hey, we’re fucking moving. Don’t like it? Well, too bad.”

“Yeah but, Instagram makes it so easy to follow and keep up!”

Does it? What the fuck just happened here?

When you post do you reach more than 10% of your followers?

If 90% of your fans miss everything you post, maybe Instagram or Twitter are not great platforms for communicating with people who enjoy your work.

Drive people to your fucking website. Companies like Instagram and Twitter do not give a shit about your art, your music, nothing – if you ain’t dancing and singing and pointing at words, you’re dead to them.

DON’T GO BACK TO THE CRAP

I love this so much from “How Tiny Desk Concerts Became a pop culture phenomenon.”

Folk artist Laura Gibson felt deflated after her 2008 South by Southwest show in Austin, Texas. The Thirsty Nickel bar allowed noisy 6th Street revelers who didn’t purchase tickets to enter, and they had no interest in listening to the soft-spoken artist.

“Mid-set, I was like, ’Why did I drive all the way down to Texas … What am I doing with my life?” Gibson remembered. “I felt like ‘I really just want to go hide somewhere and cry.’”

Two folks from NPR were in attendance and offered Larua to come to their office and perform, and it became the first Tiny Desk Concert.

Laura had to go out and do something and it sucked. Yet she did, plowed through it, and it led to something else.

I think a lot of us had some great fun and success with social media back in the day, but then it sucked.

Laura (I hope) didn’t have to go back to play another shitty venue to keep her career going. She just moved forward, like I see a lot of other artists doing, leaving behind social media.

Yes, we made our connections, had some wins, but “going back to a shitty venue” isn’t how we’ll get to the next level.

(via Kottke)