Historically when an artist finished a new work of art, the piece generally remained hidden in the studio until it was included in an exhibition. That could be immediately – or in months to years later.
Engagement with an audience is so important to makers that many have been known to spend situate themselves near their pieces at successful open submission exhibitions, so as to have the opportunity to talk with the public. (Or stay quiet and listen to what viewers have to say!) It’s true that interaction and feedback can be nerve-wracking, and I’ve heard one artist describe the experience of walking into an exhibition as being akin to entering the room naked.
Thanks to social media, artists can now engage with an audience on a daily basis, and this includes getting a feel for responses prior to pieces leaving the studio. As soon as a painting is finished, an artist can post an image on their favourite social media platform et voila fans and new visitors alike can comment and share.
One important trend is the posting of images whilst works are in progress, aka #WOP. This is very clever as, not only does the maker gather input (which they can use or dismiss), but they also create an audience that has a sense of inclusion and investment. Although the exposure of an unfinished work isn’t every artist’s cup of tea, for those who are willing to share it’s an excellent way to create dialogue about individual pieces, and even your overall practice.
By engaging with your audience, you create an interested follower base that keeps an eye out for new pieces and is regularly reminded that you are actively in the studio producing new works of art. When it comes time to exhibit pieces, you will find that your social media audience are some of the most supportive contacts you have. One artist I know sold a number of paintings at an open studio event, half of the buyers being Facebook fans who were seeing the artist’s work in the flesh for the first time.
Think about what works for you in using social media to gauge reactions to new work, develop a dedicated following AND sell more.