Social Media for Artists – a talk by Ann-Marie Stillion

Northwest Art Alliance meeting at Dorothy Skea's studio, photo by Ann-Marie Stillion

Clothing designer Dorothy Skea (left) talks with other Northwest Art Alliance members Janet Gadallah of JLG Pottery ( and Steph Mader (, a fused glass artist.

Last Wednesday I gave a talk to the Northwest Art Alliance on Social Media for Artists, based on some of my own experiences. Since artists span the gamut of needs from having to carefully think about crediting our work and others to the very real issues of curating along with an explosion of social media options, we have to “think different” as Steve Jobs said and the timing of the talk couldn’t be more perfect as I have just been hired to help NWAA with their social media! Thanks to Pam Rembold, the Executive Director for the invitation! My notes are below. — ams

Communicate. Connect. Collaborate.

Build your followers into an audience you can share with, people and organizations – people who might naturally want to support you like colleagues, affinity groups, your field for organizations you are a member of or want to become part of. In other words, if you are ceramist, you want to find ceramists first, maybe photographers later. It’s a good way to “learn” about an organization.

Curate you own sites, blog posts, social media postings carefully. I suggest having more than one web site if you are an artist who also does web dev or a writer who also paints if these are professional. Step back and ask yourself, “does this make sense” to a first time visitor.

Always use any profiles as branding tools and think about what you want to say about yourself. Construct your avatar, your words, add your web site and blog every chance you get. Think about the links you share.

Find other artists even in different fields and examine their web presence and branding approach as you build yours. Think about this as you construct your own sites.

Very important! Read your own writing and edit carefully for accuracy as well as tone. I suggest going back to revisit your posts, web pages. It is not like print and mostly it can be revised if you find a problem or want to change it. It is even a good idea to write your words out on a note pad and copy and paste into your postings or web writing. Don’t be afraid of the delete button if it is wrong, either in tone or information.

Each time you sit at the computer or notepad or mobile device, bring yourself into the moment and write and communicate consciously.

Use your own name and email address if you post elsewhere online along with your web address. Stand up for what you believe and it will also help drive traffic to your site.

Be sure to credit all your work in the text and embed metadata in your files. Credit others as well. End the scourge of anonymity online!

Don’t be the Queen. Be the Princess. See the movie for my reference to Snow White and The Huntsman, if you care to. What I mean is be natural, civil, share, love and be delighted online. The magic and tools of the internet are relationship and connection.

Tweet, post, share reviews of your work. Keep it simple. Look for the good story lines from comments from your clients and buyers. Of course, share all blog posts or media notices.

Bring web access to your show booth for your web site. A laptop or tablet, even a smart phone to show those work you might not have with you. You can also use Dropbox to load up images from all your inventory to share if you don’t have a lot of images on your web site. Consider Pinterest and Etsy as collateral sites for selling.

Think about optimizing for mobile. You don’t have to build an entirely separate mobile site, if you don’t have the budget for that, but do make sure that your web presence works on major mobile platforms. Paying attention to file size of images, plugins, how text and links are handled so they work are key, NOT just redirecting or rebuilding the site.

Drive traffic between your blog, web site and social media site on a regular basis.

Make sure your blog links to all your social media sites and visa versa.

Miscellaneous notes:

Twitter – the main thing is to build a realistic community of followers who help each other. Learn the ropes and have fun.

Facebook – start a business page. If you have personal FB site, the start your business page and invite your friends to follow that.

Post your prices on Pinterest, if you have them, and sell your work. Don’t just post images, post real information with links back to your site.

Flickr – be sure that all rights are reserved, everything is carefully captioned and includes credit.

Join Linkedin groups where you might find buyers and post good content that will draw them to you.

And finally, what social media for artists blog post would be complete without Bob Ross. Check out his “The Joy of Social Media” poster.

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