Today, Kirsty Hall asked me a great question. In a nutshell: How do you translate online success into real-world success? You may be sorta famous online, but what does that mean when you walk into a gallery and want them to notice your art?
Read below for Kirsty's post on what I have to say.
Kirsty asks: How do you translate online success into real-world success?
KH: Firstly, I’d like to congratulate you on the book, Alyson, I think it’s amazing and an incredibly valuable resource for artists. I’ve already started working my way through the exercises, I’m currently rewriting my old artists’ statement using your guidelines and although it’s not finished yet, I already feel that the new statement is going to be much more accessible and powerful.
AS: Kirsty, I’m so glad to hear that! I’m glad that you found value in the book right away–that you could pick it up and use it immediately.
KH: I did have one small problem with the book though – it was really tough to come up with a question for the blog tour because every time I thought of one, I’d turn the page and find you’d answered it already! It was as though you were anticipating my needs before I even knew I had them.
AS: I’m psychic that way.
KH: I know you’re a big fan of blogging for artists, as am I. However, I’ve noticed that much of the art world doesn’t seem to have caught up with us on this; I feel that I’m far better known online than offline. So my question is, how can an artist translate blogging success into offline art world success?
AS: Oh, wow! You are spot on with this question, Kirsty.
First, let’s define “the art world.” I’m going to assume that you mean the traditional art world that is defined by high-end galleries and museums. Is that correct? (I tend to believe that there are many different art worlds that are somewhat oblivious to one another.)
Second, remember that blogging is only one tool in your marketing arsenal. It has to be part of an overall self-promotion plan in which everything works together to help you succeed. Again, I return to your original question, which is a search for “offline art world success.” And I have to reiterate what I wrote in the book: You must define success for yourself (pages 9-12). Knowing what “offline art success” means to you will help you clarify your path.
The best advice I can give you (an artist in the “online art world”) is to keep it up. The more people who know you, the better off you are. It doesn’t matter if the people are in a virtual or real space. It only matters that you are known and that you keep your name in front of people.
At the same time, most art needs to be appreciated in a real space. And most people need to see the art in a real space in order to fully value its complexities. That means getting your art out there and on exhibit as much as possible. Keep showing, keep showing, keep showing. Use your online contacts to set up shows in new venues or to trade venues with artists in other locations. Differentiate yourself from other artists (and other artist-bloggers) as much as possible.
Kirsty, I loved the energy behind The Diary Project. I think this was a stellar example of how to bring the virtual world into a real space. Artists who create online projects such as these should also come up with some sort of marketing plans to go with them. These might include mailings (snail mail as well as email), updates to patrons and potential galleries, being a guest blogger on other sites, creating articles about the experience, issuing press releases, and so forth.
Getting your art appreciated in the real world might also mean developing strategic alliances with others (pages 190-193). In The Diary Project, I can see possible strategic alliances with a stationery (envelope) supplier, stamp collectors, or even with the post office. I can’t tell you that this will meet your definition of success, but I can tell you that these people exist in a real space and are involved in the real as well as the virtual world.
Bottom line: an online presence can’t be seen as separate from your overall goals. Take a serious look at how the blogging fits in with your definition of success and what you need to do to supplement and to build on your Internet fame.
KH: Thanks for your detailed answer, Alyson, that’s really helpful to me and I hope it’ll be helpful to my readers as well. Guess it’s time to do the first step in your book and define just what I mean by success.
Thanks for visiting Up All Night Again, Alyson and best of luck with the book.
Image (c) Kirsty Hall, from The Pin Series