Social Media for Artists: Post. Love. Hate. Repeat.

"Bob's Trodding" by Mariah Fox - Pyragraph

Keep in mind when marketing yourself online: Take it easy, and always be yourself.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media, and I’ve learned to embrace the cyclical frustration along the way.

My mood swings back and forth when I interface online. I have come to accept these ups and downs as part of the daily game. When it brings me down, I just pick myself up, and post, post, post again.

For example, it goes something like this: “WOW, look HOW MANY hits that post generated! This exposure is great for my art business. I feel so appreciated, liked and interesting. Social media for artists is the best! I love this medium, how amazing this is!”

Then the following day, it might go more like, “WOW, that comment was odd, negative, nonsensical, insensitive, flat-out wrong, etc. And WHY has NO ONE liked or read my ingenious, fascinating, moving, heartfelt, etc. post today? I hate this medium, it’s fickle, shallow, meaningless and a huge waste of valuable time. Bah!” These feelings rush and roll in just as fast as a post catches fire.

I personally like to read those posts that deal with feeling weak, angry, silly or joyous.

It is clear that an online presence is necessary for all of us freelance artists, especially if business is generated online. In fact, if you don’t create your online identity in today’s world, it will, oddly enough, mold itself all on its own. Yikes! I’ve seen this happen to other artists, and it makes them seem like they’re in one of these three scenarios:

  1. They are out of the game.
  2. They don’t know what the game is.
  3. They don’t give a shit about the game. (Best and only option in my opinion. However, it’s mostly reserved for those who are earning enough money and exposure, and can somehow survive without much of an internet presence.)

With this in mind, there’s no going back. Nowadays, participation and becoming socially engaged online is required for artists. This will include frequent success, failure and the management of those unavoidable awkward feelings that come along with “putting yourself out there.”

Getting emotional or frustrated can be perilous in this scenario. Privately, it’s unproductive because it can make you more upset than you were to start with, and that’s not healthy for your artist spirit. Publicly, it could end up being damaging if you constantly spew out feelings on social networks.

There probably is such a thing as being “too much of a ray of sunshine.” That gets boring.

However, it is crystal clear that without emotion, nothing would penetrate the “humans at the other side.”

I personally like to read those posts that deal with feeling weak, angry, silly or joyous. They remind me that underneath it all, everyone feels. It’s human nature. Sometimes, posts inspire me to take action and follow the link being presented, because I agree or sympathize. Social media experts say that using your own voice and being “real” is what makes the most impact.

So perhaps the irony here is to work with feelings in an emotionless way?

Let me explain. Don’t exhaust yourself or your followers. No one really wants to feel annoyed, insulted, sad or looney. And there probably is such a thing as being “too much of a ray of sunshine.” That gets boring. But lack of passion will be tiresome, dry and impersonal.

Be real, be passionate, be fearless. You don’t have to join someone who is flaming up the feed with negativity or ignorance. Let them get their panties all twisted up, you don’t have to. Then again, sometimes even bad attention can work out in your favor. I’ve gotten more than a few views via someone that ridiculed me online.

It’s okay to be you when you’re online, the whole you. But seek balance. Respond to those who are supportive—after all, that’s what your online network is for. You can even ask for support outright when you need some, just don’t get whiney or let it trouble you if no one responds. Take it all with a grain of salt. Who cares if no one’s listening today? Tomorrow, they might be.

The internet is organic in a weird way. It’s changing so fast that even the experts are learning every day. I take solace in this whenever I feel frustrated. I’m no online expert, but I do know this: You can embrace it all, live and learn, and try, try again.

So, you have complete permission now, go ahead! Post. Love. Hate. Repeat. Guaranteed, the humans at the other side will relate.

Image: “Bob’s Trodding.” Mixed media, © Mariah Fox, 2006.


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About Mariah Fox

Mariah Fox, Assistant Professor of Media Arts at New Mexico Highlands University, is an Addy Award winning art director and illustrator. In 2001, she founded her company, Ital Art, which provides creative services for a variety of clients. Mariah’s mixed media work has been exhibited internationally and she has contributed art, editing, research and writing to 32 books and 14 publishers, including several major New York houses.

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