Art Discussion

Social Media, help or hindrance: What role should social media play in the life of an artist/illustrator? What are the most effective ways to build a following without letting it derail your style of work?

By Ed


  • Hugo Seijas artist
    Hugo Seijas (@hugo) Plus Member
    04/29/2019 @ 2:53pm

    I think social media can help, but it should be treated as every other marketing medium. It should NOT be your base of operations -- every artist should have a website that it's their own, drawing traffic to it from all social media channels.

  • Tim Nordin artist
    Tim Nordin (@rumplepuff) Plus Member
    04/30/2019 @ 11:33am

    Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? T.S. Eliot, Choruses from “The Rock” I moved into art from the hard sciences. My art schooling occurred at the cusp of the computer revolution entering the art realm – I remember the guys in the fabrication department doing an animated Fanta ad with poured resin. And I have watched with some sadness as art has moved from the deep river to the flooded bank, a mile wide but an inch deep. Solomon said, “The eye never has enough of seeing,” and that is a truth that has become an addiction. While craftsmanship has been honed to an incredible degree, the pursuit of this information has lost hold of the wisdom from which art is birthed. There is nothing inherently wrong with Social Media, but it’s Sauron-like eye will consume you if you lack the power to resist. Don’t lose your Life in living.

  • Margaret Kawsek artist
    Margaret Kawsek (@meggykawsek)
    04/30/2019 @ 2:40pm

    I think if helps if it connects you with the art community, keeps you informed, and demonstrates what you can do. Marketing is a plus, but we all know that you can very easily buy followers, and that there are lots of fake accounts out with that try to bring you in to the "likes" race by tempting you with more followers. I see this on IG all the time with people who follow you with the intent to unfollow you once they get a follow back. Or accounts that aggregate the most popular content in an attempt to gain more followers to that account. It's a really strange phenomenon. It's also unnerving to see young artists start using likes and followers as a currency that determines their value as an artist. So it can be both-- it depends on your mindset. Right now it's disturbing to me, personally, to see artists more interested in how many likes and followers they can gather more than they are at learning and getting better. Social media is a useful tool, but it shouldn't be the end all be all of anything.

  • Iordan Daniela artist
    Iordan Daniela (@Stargate1302)
    04/30/2019 @ 5:05pm

    I agree. I feel in the same way. @meggykawsek

  • Taylor Collins artist
    Taylor Collins (@iyamyaylor)
    05/01/2019 @ 1:07pm

    Really when it comes to social media the weight//impact it can have on an artist isn't just 'bad' or 'good.' It's a bit more dynamic than that. On one side, social media can be extremely positive. I personally follow multiple artists on my Instagram that I would not know about otherwise. It enables artists to connect, inspire and relate to one another. Following these artists has given me the ability to ask for technical advice and gain inspiration for my current works. It also is the top marketing force for all companies right now. Think of how many companies you would not know about or possibly not care about if they didn't have a social media platform. Social media platforms serve as a 'personal' connection between producers and consumers. It increases brand loyalty. When it comes to accounts that buy likes and followers they don't fit into this category. Because being successful on social media isn't about the number of followers you have-- its about engagement. High engagement is what will get you more views. People who purchase followers don't receive real engagement and therefor don't fit into the algorithm. Also because of social media, my followers are able to keep up with my entire artistic process. I'm able to invite them in. On the other hand, it can become toxic. This is when you allow social media to control your art. Creating things that you only think your followers will like. Basically creating art for the views and exposure. Your art should control your media; what you post, who you follow ect. but your media should not control your art. The purpose as to why you create can be lost that way.

  • Lorelei Ross artist
    Lorelei Ross (@ArtWithFire)
    05/02/2019 @ 7:42am

    I agree with all of you, but I’m going to offer my perspective: Social media is helpful to some extent, but when it becomes that you make art only for the purpose of whatever network(s) you’re on (instead of for your own enjoyment) it’s probably time to cut down on the time spent on the app.

  • Gary Bernard artist
    Gary Bernard (@GDibo)
    05/03/2019 @ 5:53pm

    @ArtWithFire totally agree with this!

  • Dietrich Adonis artist
    Dietrich Adonis (@ArtNinja2000)
    05/08/2019 @ 2:20pm

    Social Media whether FB, IG, Twitter, Tumblr can be useful vehicles to promote and expose your work. Some apps should be used exclusively for your ART. The drawback is making sure to the right hits, likes and contacts via these apps.

  • erik cheung artist
    erik cheung (@Kire)
    05/25/2019 @ 7:30pm

    My concern with social media is that we tend to forget about the joy of seeing the real work in person. The attraction of that could not be transferred through a flat screen.

  • judy g artist
    judy g (@ygutnicki)
    05/26/2019 @ 9:43pm

    on social media people can comment on your work and help you improve, and wont be biased because they don't know you

  • erik cheung artist
    erik cheung (@Kire)
    05/28/2019 @ 11:16am

    @ygutnicki the problem is...'good', 'impressive','fantastic','I like it' doesn't really help though hahaha

  • judy g artist
    judy g (@ygutnicki)
    05/28/2019 @ 8:12pm

    @metamorphosis but people can say "it needs more shading over here" or something like that

  • Julia Hill artist
    Julia Hill (@JuliahillIllustrator) Plus Member
    05/29/2019 @ 5:13pm

    I have been working in pen & ink for 30 years! I was and is my natural way of working. It became apparent in the 2000's that it wasn't 'trendy' any more but I hung in there. I do have other styles I work in and it gave me time to explore them more, but I never left it behind. Pen & ink is who I am. If people like it, fine, if they don't then that's fine too. It has taken me too many years to mention to get to where I am now with a black fine liner! I cannot change myself and don't ever intend to. Everyone I know knows me for my line work and I'm happy with that. When you find your niche, stick with it, it will become 'you' and I think a big part of success is your work being recognised as you. Not through 'likes' or 'shares' but through your own individual style. I work in a couple of different ways with my trusty pen and am always looking at new things and new techniques and thats refreshing for me. Some work, some don't! Trying to change what you do for 'likes' to me is bonkers! Individuality is the key if you are serious about what you do. It takes years to perfect it, and in some ways you never do, buts thats the adventure of being an illustrator! If you at some of the well known artists and illustrators, they are known for having a certain style of work...Van Gogh, Schultz, Picasso.....not a 'Jack of all trades and a master of non'! Social media has its good and bad points. It's a magnificent window to get yourself out so much further, but everyone else also has that access so the market is flooded with talented people. I use it to help me show people what I do. Start small and work up and out. I grew up without internet or even computers so I've seen both sides! I love social media!

  • RisenArt artist
    RisenArt (@RisenArt)
    06/13/2019 @ 3:15am

    For me, art is very relational. Artists are better together than alone and I have grown and improved much faster the more I communicate, play around, give and receive feedback, and watch artists I admire. A pleasant by-product is it offers opportunity for more marketing and exposure. It's a great time to be an artist thanks to the internet!

  • Anlly artist
    Anlly (@Anlly)
    07/20/2019 @ 2:37pm

    Social media is both a market place and a community, which are necessary to improve and make a living out of your art! Without it, we would be stuck with the old ways.

  • Marqueta Wells artist
    Marqueta Wells (@40Smartbeauty)
    09/03/2019 @ 10:49pm

    I think social media helps in a lot of ways. Everyone gets to see your drawings. This tells a lot about you and what you like. Also, you get plenty of feedback about whatever you upload. Some people choose to click on the like button only.

  • kelly sciara artist
    kelly sciara (@scike)
    09/14/2019 @ 6:52pm

    i think social media helps, however...i think it's extremely easy for people nowadays to just scroll through content and hit the "like" buttons over and over, without stopping to offer meaningful insight that will help an artist grow. i also think a lot of social media has become more of a popularity contest. too many younger artists tend to get caught up in how many followers they have (or don't.) as helpful as it is in connecting people together, i think it's important to remember that the amount of social statistics you have (likes, views, follows, re-posts, etc.) doesn't quantify your ability as an artist.

  • Kristin Middleton artist
    Kristin Middleton (@KristineMid)
    09/26/2019 @ 11:49am

    Social media can be a good method to solidify your persona as an artist in a tidy space and a way to grow your audience. There's also the community benefit. However while a lot of artists enjoy that aspect there's a negative impact that goes ignored. with it comes a ton of bad/unfiltered advice, petty drama/socialites, and tunnel vision. A vital tool but not a house.

  • RP artist
    RP (@cobwebs)
    10/08/2019 @ 11:20pm

    I think it very depends; in today's time social media is playing an important role for all of us and people seek lots of informations and etc from it like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. As an artist who's also new to social media and learning how to use it as an artist; I believe there has to be a plan for it, for instance creating artistic website, and share your artworks on YouTube and etc. These are part of you marketing yourself - also as an artist, we have to go out and meet people, see art galleries and etc for finding new connections. I think having a strong social media background helps us as an artist to be able to introduce ourselves to the outter world.

  • Laura artist
    Laura (@LauraIllustrates)
    11/25/2019 @ 12:56pm

    I think the social-media is the best for beginner artists beacause they get like this information what other people think they should change and what they like. And with the help of this they improve but for professional artists social-media shouldn't be an every-day routine. They won't have time for work beacause they will spend all of it on social-media. But that is just my opinion.

  • Leighanne artist
    Leighanne (@AbstractHuman8)
    01/14/2020 @ 3:59pm

    I’m in a tricky position right now. I feel I need an online art community to grow because I recently moved to a small town, but social media is hard to be involved in with art with it is a race for likes rather than likes or meaningful conversations.

  • Andrea artist
    Andrea (@Ladyandrea)
    02/04/2020 @ 3:44pm

    I grew very annoyed by some social media. DA for example is more like a popularity-game than it is about art when I had a profile. I went there to give and get some useful feedback, constructive feedback. I never got that there. Years later I joined other social media with a bit of my art, I only got "Wow" "So good, I couldn't do that" and reactions like that, while I tried to give people constructive feedback, so I migrated here. On most media I didn't get the reactions on my feedback that I would have hoped for. A lot of people are grateful, but there's also these people who just want to hear you love their art and nothing more. I also called people out for plagiarism and not being honest. What I got in the past? Well, a lot of followers and friends of those people attacked me for calling them out. Apparently you can cheat your way into popularity and then your friends will protect you. Yeah, I grew bitter about social media for art over the years. I do feel like this place has more potential right now, let's see what will happen. I get that popularity is really important if you want to sell your art, but I don't really feel the need to sell mine at the moment, I just want to share my beliefs through art and to keep on improving. I also made my own IG-artpage with a clear description, but like previously mentioned: there's a lot of art-pages on IG that just want to sell you followers. I don't want to sell my soul that way. I make art primarily for myself, to process my own feelings and after that is sharing my view.

  • DR Morford artist
    DR Morford (@DRMorford) Plus Member
    02/12/2020 @ 1:55am

    I like being addicted to doodling and it has been very fun sharing my stuff, but I'm very wary of this type of attention (not that I'm getting a lot of it) as it can easily be a type of fix. I find it healthier to get my fix from creating art as opposed to having these "what will people think of this" thoughts floating around in the back of my head, distracting and influencing me. If you get a chance, Google "Black Mirror" and the episode "Nosedive" for a disturbing example of the possible downside of Social Media.

  • Clovis artist
    Clovis (@Smith)
    02/28/2020 @ 4:05pm

    Well, personally I think that social medias can help or give you suggestions about your next artwork. You do not have to take the suggestion,but you can. Necessarily social media does not change your style of artwork but it possibly can.

  • Lindsay Baker artist
    Lindsay Baker (@VeryNaughtyBoy42)
    03/03/2020 @ 9:45pm

    Picasso said; "A painter paints what he sells. An artist, on the other hand, sells what he paints." I mention this because I think it's really relevant to the danger of social media. It's so easy to look at what other people are doing, and be unduly influenced by that if they're receiving a lot more likes or attention than we are. Before you know it - and possibly without even realising it - you're creating work that will (theoretically) be more popular, rather than being authentically the work you want to create. I've even fallen in this trap with Etsy (online marketplace) - looking at what "successful" artist shops are selling, and wondering if I should make my work more like that. Of course we all want attention and approval, but getting that for creating work that we created with that in mind is not as satisfying (or helpful) as getting it for work that's come from our heart, that is uniquely ours made for no reason other than to express something. So to answer the latter part of the question (how to build a following) ... actually it's the same answer. Make art that's yours, and don't measure its quality by likes and followers. Judge it by whether or not it was the best work you could do, right now, where you are with what you have. That's the only part of the process you can control. How people will respond to it - you can't predict or control that, so don't waste any energy trying. By all means put your work out there as far and wide as you can (again, you can control that), but don't get hung up on the reaction or engagement it produces. History is littered with artists who were not appreciated (sometimes, barely even noticed) in their lifetime, yet they kept on creating because that's what mattered to them. Or, as another quote so aptly puts it - "Seek to be worth knowing rather than well known."

  • Sreejith artist
    Sreejith (@jyothi)
    04/03/2020 @ 12:43pm

    @ygutnicki truth...agree with it

  • Valeria artist
    Valeria (@Iamhughmungus)
    04/10/2020 @ 8:38pm

    In my unpopular opinion,social media is not really the best for beginners but for pros for example on Reddit I have been on all the popular art subs but my art never gets feedback or critique,I don't care about upvotes but seriously?i have this low profile approach I have for myself,since it gives me more time to focus on my art than my followers other than that it gives me more time to improve even if you are by yourself,you don't need popularity to become a better artist.

  • Valeria artist
    Valeria (@Iamhughmungus)
    04/10/2020 @ 8:43pm

    @Ladyandrea That's how I feel too! social media is best for publicity or popularity than anything else,but thankfully I found this site,I genuinely feel like I belong here,it's the ideal website for me.

  • lotus artist
    lotus (@LotusEater)
    08/24/2020 @ 3:18am

    Browse but don't buy.

  • David Wilson artist
    David Wilson (@David50Wilson)
    11/29/2020 @ 6:22pm

    To me a following has become useless, meaningless and essentially moot. What good is a following on the internet? Really?! By being so alone during Covid confinements, I begin to appreciate what is real ... less unreal. " You don't know what you've got till it's gone..." I need company with vibrations and presence, not praises from 'friends' and associates I will never meet!

  • David Wilson artist
    David Wilson (@David50Wilson)
    11/29/2020 @ 6:23pm

    @Anlly I prefer the old ways.

  • Tina Marie artist
    Tina Marie (@BLESSED13)
    12/04/2020 @ 2:20pm

    @metamorphosis I grew up with teachers giving us stickers with those words of praise. I am trying to expand my words nowadays. Can you help me find more ways of praising art. It would be so helpful.

  • Tina Marie artist
    Tina Marie (@BLESSED13)
    12/06/2020 @ 12:21am

    @Ladyandrea I appreciate you honesty. It would be nice to have comfortability with others critique my art as I feel like a beginner. However, I could be sensitive in moments.

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