The Business of Art with Social Media | ChiuStream Takeaways
I’ll sing praises of Bobby Chiu’s art channel every chance I get: he has years worth of practical advice for aspiring artists. His “ChiuStream” interviews especially have a lot of wisdom to unpack. If you’re an artist wondering how to use Social Media to your advantage, the most recent stream is a must-hear!
Here are my takeaways and how I plan to put these into practice.
Click here to listen on Bobby's channel!
*Note: All artwork featured below is owned by Jake Parker. Links below.
Q: “What rule [for social activity] would you say is most important for an artist [to uphold]?”
The conceit of this podcast is to help artists refine their business sense. Thus, Bobby Chiu sits down with Jake Parker, an artist with over a quarter million Instagram Followers and FaceBook Likes. You might have participated in his challenges such as Inktober and Art Drop Day!
So listen when he says, "the number one rule is consistency."
(In my work publishing for a MCN, that is absolutely a sacred commandment.)
It might sound counterintuitive: you're imposing rigid routine on your creative output. However, it's a win-win! You’ll work into the habit of posting more quality creations consistently. Further, you’re creating a habitual reaction (to your work) for the community you engage with. We train people how to communicate with us through our actions, so outputting consistent content builds good-natured rapport between artist and audience.
Q: “But what if it takes more than a few days to create quality work?”
Bobby Chiu wonders what the balance is between consistency versus quality?
This is an important question because art, especially animation, has extended production time compared to other forms of published content (ie vlogs, pranks, etc). Like it or not, velocity and output is crucial in today's noisy economy of attention.
Artists risk the devastating artist trap of “paralysis by analysis”, using “perfectionism" as an excuse to not share our work. The solution: take the time to tailor a schedule that you can stick with. Then, stick with it for a few months. The more you post the better, but even if you can only afford once a week you’ll see exponential growth in your following.
"The worst you can do is go radio silent."
Try not to cling to perfection and dabble away in secrecy on a big project.
“Have your eye on making a finished product that you can put out to the world. Have it be your benchmark until you can create your next thing. Then use social media to document the progress of that product.”
As a creative, we’ll be going through a process anyway. Why not use Social Media to our advantage? Ultimately it’s a tool to get our work in front of other people’s eyes. By sharing our process we can more frequently engage, having both ourselves and an audience learn from our experience of creating.
Q: “What would you say your habits were before being fully self sufficient - were they different?”
Before he discovered the internet, he drew things on the side to show co-workers. This got a response out of people from his art.
He created a piece of art, shared that piece, got comments from people, reacted to those comments, saw what other artists were creating, he’d comment on what they’re doing, and so on. The habits of interacting and engaging with people stayed the same, while the platforms (such as forums, blogging, and Instagram) evolved.
That said: be wary of becoming a slave to Social Media!
Jake expressed regret about how, early on, he would create art solely for the purpose of social media. Ultimately these creations didn't have much value besides being compiled in an art-book.
It's a little wasteful because it didn't do much to further his end goal.
Now he uses his platforms to document his process towards creating a greater product, such as his Graphic Novel "Skyhearts".
"Let's make something people can engage in. Let's make an actual book and share the process along the way."
Q: How can Social media be positioned for portfolios?
Answer this question: what is the portfolio for? Know your end goal.
“[At Blue Sky Studios] you’d be surprised at how many portfolios [we reviewed] that had no relation to what our projects were for.”
Your online persona is an extension of what you want to accomplish in your career. Jake explains that whenever he got a job, there were always two reasons (withholding luck):
He had the skills required for the craft
He knew the person that referred the job
By being more deliberate with your social media, you can hone both your skills and your network!
Thought Exercise #1 An Aspiring Disney Character Designer:
For example, if you want to be a character designer for Disney, make posts of your own designs in the Disney style.
(ie. "I heard they’ve announced Frozen 3, here are my designs for potential characters.")
Use social media to prove you can do the job you want!
Another tip: follow every artist who works at Disney. Leave really thoughtful and engaging comments on fellow artist’s profiles.
Odds are, they’d follow you back.
Then when hiring season comes, it only makes sense that they'd recognize your work.
Thought Exercise #2 How to strategize if you’re still uncertain what your specialty is:
Despite having no specific experience or job specialty, you can use social media to honestly share your journey.
“Hi, my name is _____. I’m a student at _____. Someday I want to work as a professional Artist. I’m not exactly what it is yet, so join me on this journey."
On Wednesdays, post Life Drawing. You might post watercolors on Friday. On Mondays you could feature experiment with Concept Art. As long as you are consistent; do something! Build a following by documenting your improvement. When you do find a more specific calling, you can always rework your schedule and you’ll already have an audience to scale from.
Do what you need to do to get your job, but use your social media to showcase “this is what I do, this is what I create.”
Q: Which are the Best Platforms?
"Go to where the people are."
Simple enough. In the digital space, we ought to always be aware of where people have their attention. That way, you can curate your creation in ways best served by the specific platform.
(Additionally, I’d say the best platform is the one you post on. After all, that’s where you personally spend your time anyway! Of course, that's assuming it serves your end goal.)
Warning: Don’t be the Tila Tequila of the Art scene (haha). Engage and go where the people are, while allowing yourself the R & D time to play with other platforms.
Did you find Bobby's & Jake's tips as helpful as I did? Let me know how it's helped your art down below!
If you're looking for more awesome tips to level up your artwork, please send Bobby Chiu some love and catch his streams live at his Youtube Channel:
If you want to follow more of Jake Parker's excellent work, here's where you can find him:
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