You’ve created a piece of art that makes you proud: a photograph, a song, a piece of clothing. You want people to see it. You want people to want it.
The Internet serves an inextricably vital purpose in the lives of the working, self-promoting artist, whose modern career and level of exposure now depend on an Internet-savvy approach.
“Sometimes I have to remind myself that there was a day when the Internet had yet to exist and that the world and small businesses managed to survive,” said Allie Kemp, a portrait photographer in Southern California. “In a nutshell, a world without Internet would make promoting my work and my business more difficult and especially more expensive.”
Cost, convenience, and efficiency are the prevailing reasons why the Internet is the perfect and now necessary avenue for self-promotion. At minimal to zero cost, any person with something to promote can create a profile on a social networking site or a website of their own. With abundant and speedy wi-fi available at nearly every turn, the Internet is procurable practically.
Kemp uses her personal website, Alliekempphotography.com, to promote her business. She also has separate personal and professional Facebook pages, which are used to link fans to the site and keeps them informed through messaging.
Melissa Loschy, a designer and artist in Southern California, unleashes a more intensified, broad approach. She operates what she calls her “web-empire” on the websites Etsy, Flickr, Blogger, Twitter, and Facebook. With ease, she posts a new handmade item—clothing, jewelry, handbag or otherwise—on Etsy, a website which hosts independent shops for the buying and selling of handmade goods.
Loschy’s Etsy shop is connected to her Facebook page. When she posts a new item, a link to the item’s listing will appear on her Facebook wall within seconds. Then she’ll post the link on Twitter, which automatically updates her Facebook status. Posting any extra photos of the item on Flickr also feeds back into Facebook. And then there’s the blog.
“I use the Internet to get in people’s faces,” said Loschy. “When I list a new item for sale in my online Etsy shop, I promote the heck out of it.”
The hope and purpose behind this e-assault is that, with the ease it takes to share a link, fans and customers might pass it along with a simple copy/paste and click. Building a business through “word of mouth” is no longer. It’s now “word of copy/paste and click.” Or something more clever.
And Loschy is comfortable with this type of promotion. In fact, she’d be uncomfortable with it any other way.
“Would I even try and promote my work without the Internet? It’s hard for me to think this way because the Internet has played such a huge role in my life, and it’s a major factor in my generation,” she said.
For Sap’N, an upstart electronic pop music duo from Seattle, WA, this same dependency on and obvious gravitation towards the Internet exists.
Instead of having to break into song and dance whenever someone inquires about Sap’N’s musical aesthetic, bandmates Regina Aletto and Mitch Kristjanson can provide a link to their MySpace music page, which houses recent performance videos, new recordings, bios, photographs, and upcoming show information.
“I just don’t think you can function without some sort of page (on a website) these days as an artist. I find that I’m upset when I’m looking up a band or artist, and they don’t have a site showcasing their stuff,” said Aletto.
And those pages are Sap’N’s primary means of music distribution and performance promotion. New to the music scene—their first performance was just this past April—Sap’N’s online presence equates to vitality.
“There is no way I would have been able to get as many people to our shows had I not been able to blast an invite via Facebook and MySpace to all my friends,” Regina said.
But even that’s not enough. Aletto and Kristjanson use their personal Facebook pages to send out invitations to upcoming shows and have just signed up for a Twitter account.
According to Aletto, social networking is the key to communication, not only for a band just getting a start, like Sap’N, but for any band serious about growth.
“With all the music out there, it’s easy to forget about groups. But by staying on top of the social networking scene, you can easily update and communicate with your fans,” she said. “It’s a great way to constantly remind people of your existence.”
As these artists know, producing art in the physical world and then promoting it in the digital one is a grand opportunity in the 21st century. The Internet gives artists an avenue on which to display their work; work which, during a different time period, may have been nearly impossible, or at least a lot more difficult, to share with a broad audience.
“As impersonal as the Internet may be, it is the absolute best way to keep in contact,” Kemp said. “The Internet is the portal through which 80% of my business is done. I find it difficult to conduct my daily tasks without it.”