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Artists & Twitter. Just what IS the point?

by Helen Aldous

As an artist you are always being told you need to get on Twitter. Every blog, every news item, every art newsletter you read tells you to do it. So you jump in and join. You start tweeting, a bit about your work, a bit about your blog. You do it religiously for a couple of weeks, get some followers, start to enjoy it AND THEN… you have THE TWITTER CONFIDENCE CRISIS.

It suddenly it hits you. What on earth is the point of all this tweeting, Rting, @ing and DMing? Has the world gone mad? Isn’t Twitter is just some kind of superannuated monster timesinking water cooler discussion about crap? Just what on earth is the point exactly?

Many artists never get over this hump and their tweets fade off into the ether never to return. They mark it down as some huge waste of time with no clear value.

So… I started thinking about Twitter and its uses and how it helps me as an artist. I thought it might be useful to see how I use it and the value I get from it. The value isn’t always direct and obvious, but there is a lot of it hidden away in there.

I use Twitter to:

Think Global

Being an artist who lives on top of a moor in deepest wildest Yorkshire it would be very easy to lose touch with what is going on in the rest of the art world and become isolated . Thankfully via the power of Twitter I can spend a 15 minute lunch break perusing the offerings of New York galleries or art events in Copenhagen. Twitter is a brilliant way to keep up with art news across the globe. What’s not to love?

Act Local

I find that some of the biggest success I have with Twitter {especially sales wise} is when I use it at a local level. It’s easy to search and find people on Twitter who live in your local town, county or state. Relationships that you start on Twitter often translate into real life and may become people who will visit your gallery events or open studios. I have found that this can often lead indirectly to sales of your work. I have met some lovely people this way who I would never have met under normal circumstances.

Publicise events

Following on from the point above, Twitter allows me to search for people interested in art in any area where I am exhibiting. I can then tell them about my upcoming event, preview the work and get them interested and involved in what is going on. It’s a great way to increase the audience of people who might like your work. On the opening day of an event I can send reminders that the show is open via Twitter. All more immediate and likely to be seen than e-mail.

Discover galleries who may like my work.

By following a gallery I can get a feel for their personality and the kind of work they might be interested in. I can keep track of galleries and events in my local area or further afield who might be a good match for my work.

Network with other artists.

Twitter is a great way to get in touch and see what other artists are working on. A great source of inspiration and camaraderie. Seeing others work also inspires you to keep your own work fresh.

Build my mailing list

Whenever I post a blog entry on Twitter it usually results in a few signups to my mailing list. In turn this offers me the opportunity to tell people who may be interested about any future work they might like.

Drive traffic to my latest blog posts

Whenever I write a new post on my site I link to it from Twitter. This drives quite a lot of traffic and helps to get people more involved in what I do.

Get people interested and involved in my work as it progresses.

Posting ideas and images of preparatory sketches involves people in the work from the start and builds interest. By the time a piece is ready for an exhibition there may already be people interested in coming to see. It’s also great to get feedback as the piece progresses.

And last but not least

Indirect sales

Twitter is not a good medium for direct sales. Don’t expect people to come along and just buy your work straight off there and then. However, Twitter should be seen as some kind of slow burning network system where something will come of it down the line. Someone may discover your work on Twitter, come to a gallery show, join your mailing list and then buy something 6 months down the line. I find this is how I get the most sales through Twitter

So, Twitter does definitely have a point and a great deal of value but it can be a little hidden at first. Still waters run deep and all that. Make sure you get over the Twitter hump and plumb the depths of its possibilities.

How do you find Twitter helps you as an artist? I would love to hear your experiences and how you use it. Please share your experiences in the comments

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Sage Dawson February 3, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Wonderful!

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Helen Aldous February 4, 2011 at 11:42 am

Thanks Sage. Love your blog BTW

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CheyAnne November 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I’ve just lately, really started enjoying Twitter. I’m concentrating on finding other artists, mainly that paint. There is a hugh wide world on Twitter and tho I’m not into real estate or computer programing I am interested in art and that is where I am focusing my attention on Twitter. I try to retweet other artist’s posts and whenever I relist I tweet about it. I love to tweet someone elses work just for the fun of it too. thanks for your article
peace n abundance,
CheyAnne
http://newmexicomtngirl.com

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Helen Aldous October 5, 2010 at 7:20 am

Absolutely! I do LOVE Twitter but I notice a lot of people give up before they get over the hump and really start to understand it.

I also love that you can learn so much on there as you say and its a nice way to connect with people when you work predominantly on your own as I {and may artists}do .Probably stops me talking to the cat too much. Also the fact that it is Farmville free is definitely major bonus. Lol

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Julia October 4, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Well. We touched base for the first time on twitter today :) That has to be one of its best points. I don’t use it for meaningless sound bites. I notice that a lot of artists do that. I try to use it to say something that really matters (about art), keep friends up to date and meet like minded people. I suppose, for me, its still a yearning for learning experience. At least its not full of stupid game applications wasting your creative time! :)

Rgds

Julia

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