A Soci-Art Revolution? The impact of Social Media on Artists today by AHA alum Emma Greenlees

We spend what seems like 90% of our lives on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We’re busy watching films on YouTube and Vimeo. Art and the visual image is in the throes of an enormous cultural transition.

Accordingly, artists need to adapt their techniques, particularly those who are trying to establish a reputation for themselves.

As a young artist, it’s imperative to get seen and to get recognised. But it’s not an easy world to break into. You need to have a platform and an audience. You need to ensure that your work is seen and that your work is appreciated. One way to do so is to make use of this wild proliferation of Social Media.

Some Social Media sites are more art-friendly than others. Alice Wilson, a young portrait artist based between Dublin and Suffolk, and contemporary Jack Banister, have both started to use Social media as a way to get their work seen. And it’s definitely worked.

Alice started off with a blog on Blogspot, and then moved her work over to Tumblr. The platform enables her work to be seen by the site’s 96 million blog users.

Not only does Alice share her ink, oil and mixed media portraits online, but she’s also in the process of founding an online arts magazine, Pivot.

Another way that both Alice and Jack have benefited from the arena of the online is through Facebook. Because it’s a site that almost all of us use, it’s essentially a free advertising tool, when used effectively.

And how helpful exactly is this to their business and reputation? Very, in short. Alice’s commissions have been boosted enormously, and she has been able to transcend language barriers, because of the visual impact of sites such as Tumblr. She has fans from countries as far-flung as Nepal, Venezuela and Jordan. She’s seen her work featured in online magazines. She’s started her career as an artist online, and thousands of others are doing the same.




Jack has found that most of his work comes through Facebook. Commissions often come through networks, and with nearly 16% of the world at his fingertips – and for no cost whatever – it would be foolish to pass up on this opportunity. For Jack, it’s an invaluable platform, and one that isn’t used enough by established artists.

But what are the downsides of sharing art like this? For Alice it’s mainly the distraction, but also the lack of integrity. A photograph of an image is not anywhere like the original. It’s not just the traditional concepts of aura-diminution and plurality of Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction here. In the online arena it turns into a “cyber-art-war”, as Alice puts it.

 

The long-term repercussions of social media on the art market are, of course, impossible to foresee. But, with the Beibers and Psys of the music industry, we are surely about to see the rise of cyber-art stars.

(Jack Banister Art)

(Alice Wilson)

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