On ways of exposure

Exposure and artists

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’s some compelling reason why they do it. Maybe they have alternative ways to be noticed.

Whatever their reasons, I can’t understand why fledgling artists /recent art graduates do not have their own websites. Is this a rant? It sounds like one. That’s not my intention. I’ll explain some background to my story.

As you may know, in the last year I joined an arts course. I was encouraged to visit exhibitions and research new and old artists. I found several that I liked, and tried to find them online. Few had their own website or cards to give to visitors. A few were only mentioned on a magazine or website talking about the exhibition in questions.

It looked as if most wanted to hide from the online world. Many of them seemed to think that sharing an email address or a social media profile was enough to reveal themselves to the world. I found that some of those profiles had a confused identity where their personal lives and family and friends happily coexisted with their art work.

I know they are (usually) young. They may know each other and share mutual friends, similar interests. They use applications and media that are fashionable at the moment. They’ve grown with internet, Facebook is old news to them. They are not technophobes.

Drawbacks of free

I also know that when you use (usually free) someone else’s platform you don’t have any control of how they are going to proceed in future. Will you find that they’ll start inserting promotional posts in between your updates? Do you know if some of them will be about issues that clash with your causes?

Alternatively: What if the platform you chose goes out of business, taking with them your posts and virtual connections built over years? What if they go out of fashion, and you have to start from scratch on the new one to take its place?

Free websites and social media are not truly yours. They only look as if they are, but they belong to someone else. Someone else owns their T&C. They may change any time and start charging, start using adverts, or cancel your account because of some complaint. You are on uncertain territory.

With social media my concern is even higher. They are the equivalent of posting an advert on a window shop or a weekly magazine. Anybody may place a larger advert next to yours, obscuring any chance of people to see you. Or alternatively many other people (business or not) will post their own updates until it’s nearly impossible to distinguish any message among the many others. All posted on someone else’s shop. Chosen and arranged by the shop owner, not by you. Moreover, when you try to keep up with all the updates it soon becomes a vicious circle, with more and more updates, comments, conversations posted one after the other. It’s a trap to eat your time. Selling you the fear of being left out.

I’d rather spend that time doing things instead of talking about things.

Pluses of websites

On the other hand, if I feel the need to share my news or my opinion on something (such as social media) a website gives me ample scope to speak at length. It doesn’t interrupt my post with flashing adverts. It doesn’t invite controversy (I chose not to make any comments public). It lets me post when I want without cramming the space with someone else’s news. And it also  allows me  to edit my posts (or delete them for good) when I revisit them. It works in practical terms like a printed book (minus the printing expenses or an editor to oversee my writing). In some ways it is even better than a printed book, because it’s accessible instantly and without cost to the visitors.

On the whole I prefer the format of the website. It doesn’t ‘mingle’ like social media does, but that can be a benefit when you are still learning the ropes. You can start using them simply, learning about design and content as you go, when you have few visitors and nothing to lose. My website doesn’t push people to see my updates and it doesn’t have distractions from my content either. It doesn’t limit the length of my updates or the format of my images. If visitors stay or leave it is up to them, not up to a third party with something to sell.

For this reason, above all, is that I don’t understand why a fledgling artist would neglect to have their own website and rely exclusively on free platforms.

I’d love to hear of someone (art student or recent graduate, perhaps?) who thinks different. Please feel free to send me your comments, I’d love to know what I’m missing out on.

Thank you for reading this rant.

 

By the way, there are still some more holiday drawings coming up soon. I hope you like them.