Gaining exposure within the public eye has always been a challenge in the art world. In times before the internet it was important for artists to be involved in galleries in order to gain exposure, becasue they were about the only way to do so. But now with the internet and social media it is easier than ever to get peoples attention. And it seems that the big new push for "Cultural Tourism" has added a lot of clout to Arts and Culture and more and more communities are recognizing the importance of having a thriving art community.
When you think about many of the amazing tourist destinations around the world, is it the great public transportation, the comfortable hotel rooms or the amount of money you spent in each place that you go home telling your friends about? Probably not! Arts and Culture is one of the unique things that every place has to offer. I don't know about you, but when I travel I love to pay attention to things such as the fashion, the architecture, the music and the ART of anywhere I go. Aside from the topography and landscape of the area, all other things just seem like filler for me. And I am not the only one who feels that the Arts scene in any area is an easily discernable trait that makes every place special.
Why am I talking about this? Because getting involved in your local art scene is a HUGE step in becoming successful with your craft. If you want to gain exposure and recognition as an artist you need to go where the art is. Joining your local Arts Council is a great way to stay informed as to all of the happenings in the area to do with the Arts scene as well as be informed of any opportunities to show your art in Public shows, get grants for public art projects and just have your name in a recognized collective of artists. I have been a member of the Whistler Arts Council for 13 years now and it was initially through a number of Arts Council initiatives that I first began to gain recognition as an artist.
Now not every community has a thriving Arts Council or even an arts scene. Some people are living 30 Km out a valley in pristine wildrness and not really near anything at all. If this is the case then you are not out of luck. There are tonnes of online artist collectives, groups and forums. Taking the time to get involved in discussions, groups, galleries and shows online is a great way to start to get your name out there. Also joining groups like The Federation of Canadian Artists gets you in a collective of like minded people and can offer you many opportunities to be involved in shows that are all very well marketed and advertised by the group. At the start of your career it's extremely important to become engaged in all things to do with art.
If you want people to recognize you as an artist you need to be where the Art is! Taking the time to go local art events, gallery openings and community events gets you valuable Facetime with potential clients and people begin to associate you with Art. If you just hide out in your studio and never show up to events, even if your art is in it, then people easily dismiss you and focus on the artists they have a chance to engage with... even if your art is better. As an artist it is way more effective to sell yourself than it is to just sell your art. If you are a socially awkward person, or just a total asshole, you will have a hard time moving your art. Nobody wants to support a total dick in his/her art career. Being personable is of EXTREME importance!
By getting out there at as many art events as possible and supporting causes that you believe in you begin to gain recognition on the local level, which is the first step. You need to have more and more people talking about not only your art, but you as a person as well. The two go hand in hand so as I said before, you need to sell yourself just as much as you sell your art! The more friends and aquaintances that you have and the more they recognize you as an artist, the more often your name comes up when they are talking about art... and this means you have gained more exposure. If you can build up a great friend base that support you on your path then you have built a great foundation that will only continue to grow your network. If your friends by your art and hang it on their walls, then you can be garaunteed that at least 10 other people see that art and it grows from there. It can be a long slow process, but There are a few other ways to get your art in the public eye that I will talk about next time.
Some of this may seem like common sense to you, and if it does, then GOOD! You are already one step further along the way to become successful! If it isn't, then it's quite simple... don't be a dick or a bitch or an asshole, engage in the arts scene around you and begin to lay a solid foundation on a local level that will be your starting point for success. It's great to think big and go for broke right off the bat, but you can't just take a pile of nuts and bolts and throw them in the air and make a rocket ship. You need to start with a basic plan and go one step at a time. If your plan is good then you will start to get friends and supporters helping you out to build it and as they say "Many hands make light work".Using the internet to build these relationships is invaluable as an artist. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and your own website can gain you exposure faster than you could ever imagine. And having your art up in the public eye in places like coffee shops, local businesses and online galleries is a great starting point to begin to gain recognition. I will be talking in more detail about this in the days to come. In the meantime, get out there and make some more friends and join some arts groups that have a great fan base already... oh, and if you are the kind of person who is somehwat of a dick... stop it!