OK, long time no update here and that is because of a couple reasons. Bear with me as I try to get it all organized
First thing is that dA journals were never really a format I enjoyed. The headline character limit is awful. I blog regularly on my site articles, about technology and about psychology. For personal journaling I don´t have the time or better said the value vs. time stands in no serious correlation. Status updates on dA: does anyone read them? So even these small chunks of information are useless when no one is looking at it.
These days I look at what I have accomplished so far and am very happy that I don´t have to start out with doing the art-thing-for-a-living right now
. The internet is hilariously full with content so that it seems, the only way to get recognized is to pay for visibility.
Nowadays I prefer to set up my booth in "real life" on a convention or fair and talk to people directly. So whenever the topic comes up about internet marketing, patreon or facebook reach and you don't hide under a rock, things have seriously changed in the past couple of years.
The Myth about Reach
I´m happy that things are like they are, the facebook or G+ bubbles where algorithms only show you what you like. This makes sure that many emerging artists get depressed before they even have the chance to show the world how great they are. It is no secret that facebook limit your reach so that you have to pay if you want more people to see what you are up to. Most businesses do well and know about that matter, but since many artists don´t see themselves as business, their reach is crippled and they blame everyone else and facebook but not themselves. If you think about it, marketers always try to find chances to infiltrate social channels. Capitalism demands it to be perpetuated and word of mouth is still the best channel for advertising.
The Social Bubbles
There is something I observed on facebook, also other platforms like G+, deviantArt and other communities make use of algorithms. At first sight that is not bad, it would just be better if it would be more transparent and if you could choose. Facebook for example only tends to show you what is interesting for you. A conversation only makes sense when at least 2 people engage. FB knows that and tries to find in realtime the best match possible at that current time, based on your interactions. Orwell would be very pleased. Actually these are all tiny bubbles in which we live and the outside world is even blocked with adblocker or through ignorance.
If you have subscribed to the right people, this might even be a good thing but the problem is that in order to promote your work you feel that you can´t really escape from these bubbles. And worse, the myth about reach is true for facebook profiles and personal profiles as well. Even when you have reached the 4000 friends limit, your reach is limited to around 10% So I would really consider twice putting much time, energy and money on these platforms. Blogging on your own website brings a lot more people on my page than social media could ever do.
The Myth about Prolific Artists
One other myth about social media in which a totally distorted picture of reality is burned into our heads: productivity.
Everyone around us seems to be so very productive and you feel you are not good enough. In reality there are only a few productive people out there and even then they have setbacks such as no spare time, no families or long hours to work, less paying jobs, etc. You never know how it looks on their end.
Then there are institutions that insists to be single persons such as Ilya Kuvshinov or Sakimichan. these people have built a business around their art, have hired people to do their online marketing and communication, shipping, convention attending and much more that would be impossible to do for one person alone. But on our end, it looks like they do it all alone.
The Myth about Witch-hunts
Today it is Nad4r
, Kyle Lambert in 2013, and countless other artists that are unfortunate enough to shape the masses against them. I´m in the process of writing an article about the photo -or hyper realism that causes so many confusion among artists and other people.
Until then, here´s my two cent about that matter:
People always love and see realism as the highest form of a visual artistic skill-set that one can imagine. The problem is that realism does heavily rely on references. If you don´t have a Down-Syndrome or be an autistic prodigy, chances are you need a model. Be it a real model that poses for you or a photograph that serves your need. The work has to be done by yourself. Big names like Dru Blair have done it traditionally and made millions with the technique and no one seems to bother. If you want to learn the technique you learn how to mix colors for 2 days straight. Btw. mixing colors and learn how to trace a picture close to 100% is all you learn in workshops of this kind. And workshops of this kind are the only possibility of making money with hyperrealism today. Ever tried to sell an original realism painting that was not oils? Good luck with that
Here is the thing; when it is done digitally, people either want to believe you have done this all from imagination or they just hate you because of the amount of skill, patience and time you are able to channel into one piece. The most hate tends to come from other artists feeling sorry for the photographers that don´t were mentioned. I get that, but I don´t feel sorry for them. Professional photographers can hire a lawyer, send a cease-and-desist letter and earn some extra cash this way. It is part of their business.
But the social internet fosters, yet celebrate this hate. People on facebook click a "like" instead of going on with their lives and over a certain amount of time they will see more of the things they actually dislike. The urge to vomit bottle's up and leads to point your finger towards one guilty person who needs to be the root of all evil in your life that has now to be punished. Witchhunts, do exactly that, they are the new opium for the people. If you are not successful in your life, there must be someone else guilty for that, there you go...
Want my advice?
Curate what you chew. Don´t click like if you don´t like something. Don´t like something from which you can imagine that it will hurt you tomorrow.
Learn to curate your life! Subscribe to the right people. Surround yourself with inspirational people, not with copycats.The Branding Myth
What I feel about emerging illustrators and what I get from my students most of the time is, that as long as you build a name for yourself, you will get noticed. Yeah, that was true for about 10 years but sorry, these times are over. Companies that are looking for artists don´t have the limited amount of 150 artists online to browse through portfolios, nowadays they see 150.000 great artists to pick from."So branding is a key then, like Ross Tran or Bob Ross ?"
Um, yeah exactly, if an art-show on television or Youtube is what you want, then yes. Not only the name similarity is hilarious, the generic imagery makes sure that even in 20 years these icons will be remembered for the way they famously painted trees or strands of hair
The Rip-off Myth
Everything is a remix put it down in a good documentation; you can´t create anything new. Carl Sagan once said:" If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you need to create the universe first."
As artists, we often think we have to invent something new. Some do, some repeat what worked and some rip-off others. The rip-offs are either drastically bad so that you really don´t have to worry. In the best case it is studies and people don´t do damage to you. Putting things online does not mean someone makes a fortune out of it. But it sure can be a reason for you to be upset. If companies rip-off a piece and sell it, this is another topic, but even then; If you can provide details about that matter, you can forward it to your lawyer, he will earn some cash and you as well. And I learned that online rip-offs are far more paying than physical rip-offs. So if you find out something like your art was stolen - do something about it and stop whining. You want to be in this business, that means you need to learn how to play with the rules.The "Get discovered" Myth
This brings me to a trap I felt need to be addressed; "When you are good enough, you will be discovered".
At least, I tried it, and with a combined visibility of around 4 million pageviews, G+, fb + dA, it did not happen that I got a call from Marvel or Wizards. Not that I tried to get there myself yet ( as I still think I´m not good enough yet), but as a mid-career artist, I figured that all I did so far was for study and if I really want to work for a specific company, I need to apply there, like anyone else. And if I want something I do that - until now, other things were more important.
"But great fanart can get you there too!"
Wrong. Sure, you can get under the radar when you do fanart, but it has to hit a certain mark of interest (Dave Rapoza for example) or infringement, be it in sold unsolicited copies or else, that a company recognizes that it would be good to hire you if they don´t want you to be a competition. So if you have not sold 10k prints yet or made a profit of at least $ 50k a year from patreon, just realize how tiny your effort is compared to the reach you should have in order to change something.An afterthought
However, evolution always makes sure that we adapt. Further generations will learn how to survive with the internet in ways we can not imagine yet. But since the internet, opposed to a real physical space, will never be full, it will eventually bring us a glimpse of how infinity feels. Not now but maybe in 20 years from now.General update dA
A little update here to make this thing a bit different from my blog articles:
Right now I´m at a point in freelancing that I don´t do much freelancing but more of my own projects. This bears several new challenges that I have to tackle. On one hand the convention business grows which is good and supportive on the other hand I need to utilize online channels differently, hence the article above.
Other than that things are going well, I´m in the process of publishing some books about composition that will be released first on Patreon
and later on Gumroad
. The first book is already released. I´m studying composition more than ever and do a kind of unasked overpaints/critiques regularly to learn from "Masterclass blunders". This also serves on my monthly school workshops as well.
Things are really busy, my list for mashup, fanarts to-do, personal projects and exhibitions is huge, that I even don´t have time for regular commission jobs, but I do them if someone inquires. In the next year I will build several new portfolios for a different market, will see where this leads towards. Great times ahead.
How's your life treating you?