How New Media Shapes Trends

After reading extensive informative & articles on Barney Davey's blog, I asked him to participate in our Social Media in March Theme, to write about how artists can utilize new media.

How New Media Shapes Trends

The first thing to examine is what is New Media, or Social Media. The obvious answer is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Friendfeed and all the rest. If you stopped there, you would be correct. However, I believe New Media is more than those online communities. It extends to blogs, both personal and commercial/professional, streaming video of the Olympics on MSNBC or TV programs on, news and views on the Huffington Post and much more.

What it means is we are witnessing a dramatic overhaul of how information is created and delivered. Through the Internet, we are connecting with other likeminded folks without regard to time zones, geography or other physical constraints from the past. What used to be a big fat pipe of media controlled by a few powerful companies is now fractured with 500 channels and that is just cable.

Social media transcends and transforms how humans connect

Social media as a byproduct of the Internet evolution is a phenomenon most should not ignore because it offers so much potential. My blog has allowed me to make friends and acquaintances around the world. We are using these connections to help each other spread our message and to strengthen and increase our presence in our overlapping communities.

Moshe Mikanovsky’s comments on a previous post on this blog were both poignant and succinct. I agree with all he had to say. Although we have not talked, nor even written personal notes or emails, I consider him more than someone I know, a friend. Why? Because we have shared complimentary tweets and retweets and it is easy to recognize a kindred soul in as little as 140 characters. He has gained my admiration and respect. The same is true for Kate Harper. We are kindred souls virtually and happily connected.

Forging friendships and alliances is both global and local

What is happening now is due to Social Media we are exposed to new people and new ideas in ways not available to previous generations. The result is we become attached to people both globally and locally. Hazel Dooney is a perfect example of some of the wonderful, involved interesting artists from other parts of the globe I have met and communicated with through Social Media.

Interaction is not just global, it works just as well locally. Recently, I went to a huge tent art show here in Scottsdale where more than one hundred artists take residence from January through March. There I got to meet in person with Fiona Purdy. She is artist who lives maybe 15 miles from me whom I have met via my blog.

I went to shake her hand and she insisted a hug was more appropriate it. This is because through my blog she has come to know me quite well. And, she expressed to me in humbling terms how valuable the information I publish has been to her and many other artists. To that end, she showed me a folder in which she keeps useful documents. There she has a blog post from me with selling tips from my day gig which she reads daily to help remind her to not sell with what is in her wallet and to make big offers. It helps her get her mind right for making presentations to prospective collectors. Meeting Kate, Moshe and Fiona are mere microcosmic examples of how social media is forging new relationships both online and offline.

Social Media Is Not One Size Fits All

You get to choose your style and to what degree you wish to offer personal details. It is not necessary to be especially personally informative to make the most of Social Media outlets. It is true, you can make great deep friendships by opening yourself and letting it all hang out. Heather Armstrong, a mommy blogger at has built such a strong following by discussing the mundane in such an entertaining, engaging and sometimes irreverent fashion that she how has been picked up for a television show.

I am not suggesting readers here should set their sites on blogging to reality TV. It is an extreme example of how you, on your own scale, can create and market your art through celebrity using Social Media. Divulging personal information is not for everyone, including me. I work full-time elsewhere and don’t have time to go down that path. Moreover, it is not something I am personally interested in doing – that is, you won’t find posts about my dogs, or what I had for lunch, or how I am bummed by too much rain.

Personal items and anecdotes can be great conversation starters, but I do not have time to keep up the conversation. Instead, I like to post things, including some short thoughts or observations of my own on the business art, and mostly links to useful information artists and small business owners can use to help them. This works for me, and from the feedback, I think for my friends and followers. My same posts simultaneously go in the stream into Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Links to my blog posts get posted as tweets and in the other sources as well.

Should you use unique content for different applications?

There is a trend coming that says each platform should have its own unique content and that spreading the same news in different media is a form of spamming. And, since the search engines are now crawling these sites for real time response, it could be SEO unfriendly as well. Drat the luck, just when I had mastered getting it to go everywhere at once.

I am not there yet in creating new content for various media. If it comes to that, I will probably choose one and abandon the others as a form of social media triage. As much as I enjoy the differing interaction, I do not have time to think through, prepare and write unique content for different platforms. I am certain most other busy people will feel the same way. If this trend holds up, I believe a negative effect in the form of user fallout on all but the strongest platforms.

Having said all this about Social Media, I do not believe it is for everyone. I would tell anyone who is just not interested to concentrate on keeping their communication strong in traditional media and marketing. I wrote a guest blog for Absolute Arts last year titled Success and the Unconnected Artist. It explored and conjectured on the same concept. That is, you can make it and have a successful art career without having a Facebook fan page or Twitter account.

Social Media Is Not the Be All or End All

Rather than think of Social Media as something you must do, I think it far more important for artists of all sorts to be thinking of how they can create as many direct distribution channels as possible. There has never been a better time to be as much in charge of getting your art to market as now. Having your own collector base that you communicate with directly is a key to long-term success.

The tools to create, print, deliver and market your work are abundant and affordable. And, with the twin effects of the disrupting power of the Internet and the fading economy bearing on individuals and businesses in an unprecedented way, it is just plain smart to take matters in your own hands.

There is no security with anyone else. Galleries and retailers can still make great partners, but they have their own issues to deal with and you cannot count on them to be there and carry your water as in the past. I do not advocate abandoning them, rather just the opposite. That is, find the best ones, service the daylights out of them, surprise them with what you bring to the table and make them love you. It is the only way they will abide by you competing with them in the distribution of your work.

If You Are in Distribution Channel Conflict, Be Professional & Fair

I advise to provide your galleries, retailers and dealers with your best work and make it not available from the distribution channels you directly control. I met with an artist recently who has his own galleries in three locations and is represented in many others he does not own. He sells mostly originals from his locations, but has giclées to offer as well. He keeps his prices consistent and will not dicker to the detriment of his galleries. They respect him for it.

This artist embellishes his giclées to the point they are nearly original paintings. The ones his galleries get are much better than those he sells in his own galleries. He has found a way to make a marked distinction for his galleries. They can market to their collectors with the message if you want the best from this artist, get it from me.

Without question, your situation is going to be different. Nevertheless, you can use this concept to come up with your own ideas on how to proactively market your work yourself and charm and beguile your dealers, retailers and galleries with ways to help them make money. If you regularly put money in my pocket, keep your drama out of the deal, and offer me something special for my customers, I am going to like and respect you even if you compete and sell your own work through channels you control.

Social Media Is a Nothing More Than a Tool

In the final analysis, Social Media is merely a tool. If you think of it in any other way, you will spend more time on it than necessary. Use it to build your own fans and use your clout with your fans to sell to them and to promote your other distribution channels in the process. If you tweet more than about yourself to include gallery openings, retailers’ sales promotions, or how something you make is only available through them, you are effectively harnessing Social Media on a higher plane.

Just as with blogs, you need to find a voice, which is a standard way of delivering your message, in your Social Media accounts. Your voice, like your art should have some familiarity to it. Doing this will help people come to be comfortable with you more quickly.

Social Media Can Enhance Traditional Media & Publicity

Do not abandon traditional media in the process of transitioning to Social Media. You can still move the dial with direct mail, with trade and consumer advertising and email marketing. Add in a healthy dose of well-timed and well-aimed publicity and layer it all with thoughtful Social Media activity and you will find your marketing in high gear on overdrive.

Using Social Media with alternative marketing locations is a great combination. Look into how you can drive traffic to a coffee shop or salon displaying your work with Or create a specially priced piece, offer a discounted commission or maybe to personalize a giclée by adding a personal element for the buyer into the piece and jump on the trend to find a slew of local buyers.

Take Ownership of Opportunity

Be curious. When you see something new, you should be asking yourself how it could apply to what you are doing. Think about how you can use the resources mentioned in the previous paragraph. There may be gold in using them, but if you fail to challenge yourself with how to harness what they offer, you will have dust instead.

When you come up with the right angle for using the unique aspects of Social Media, you will be picking up found money left and right. Without the growth of Internet use and Social Media involvement, these suggestions would not be worthy of your time. Now you can leverage the power of tools like Foursquare and Groupon to give you presence and market share like never before and have fun in the process.

Seek to put thoughtful zest into your Social Media tools, and learn to use them to help make your own success. It is an exciting and very good time to be an independent self-representing artist.


Since 1988, Barney has been intimately involved in the art business. As a sales and marketing executive for Decor magazine and its sister Decor Expo tradeshows, Barney consults with leading art publishers regarding their art marketing and advertising strategies. He has a substantial knowledge of art print marketing and Internet marketing.

He does public speaking on art and Internet marketing. He is the author and publisher of the 280-page book, How to Profit from the Art Print Market. He also publishes the prolific Art Print Issues, a business blog for visual artists with nearly 300 posts on the site. In addition, Barney is a frequent guest blogger for Absolute Arts, one of the leading fine art sites for artists, collectors and patrons.


Email Address: Email Barney


Brad Greek said...

I totally agree with you Barney. I'm not as connected as you, but I do my share of postings on several sites. I love it and find it very useful and informative. I can't imagine life without it. Or being an artist without the internet. Amazing!! Thanks Barney

Joan A Hamilton said...

Even struggling new artists, like me, have the opportunity to share their art and the process they use to create it. Aside from maintaining your own blog and online gallery, there are a multitude of online art related forums that you can participate in. The key word is participate: by posting your work, commenting on others, offering content others may find interesting and useful, getting to know other people who are participating too by communicating with them.

I cannot imagine painting day after day and having no one to show it to and share it with. Being a lonely, solitary artist is a thing of the past. I too have met many people from all over the world that I now regard as friends.

I never dreamt when I started my first website a few years ago that it was only the beginning of a fascinating, fun, informative foray into the ‘online art world’ (a loose term that encompasses much). Learning how to blog, use Twitter, Facebook, and participate in various art forums has helped me grow as an artist and has given me the confidence to believe in myself and what I am doing. Because of the valuable and supportive feedback I receive, and give to others, I feel that I am beginning to have an online presence in my little niche of digital watercolour painting. I will not ever be the world’s best artist, but because of the internet and social media I feel that at least I’m in the race!

Kate Harper said...

Joan-that's inspiring! Kate

Maria Brophy said...

Great article, Kate and Barney.

Social media is very helpful in forming connections with like-minded people. I don't know where I'd be without it!

But, it's also a time-sucker that can keep you from doing the most important stuff - and that is CREATE ART! So, it's a double edged sword, one which must be controlled and tamed.

But it's necessary to make it work, because just as the commenter, Joan Hamilton said, internet and social media puts you in the race!

Fiona Purdy said...

The part of Barney's post that I like the best (besides the part where he mentions me lol) is "Take Ownership of Opportunity". Rather than summarily dismiss something new, being open to how you can use it is so important. Also the section on how artists and gallery owners can become a true partners is wonderful.
To me Social Media has been a Godsend. I have learned so much because of blogs, Facebook and Twitter, that have allowed me to further the marketing and sales of my artwork. I have been able to increase my exposure to my target market through Facebook, It would have been so much harder and would have taken me so much longer without it. And I would never had met Barney without it.

A big thank you to Kate and my friend Barney and to all of the other generous people who share their advise and expertise in their blogs for free to all of us out here in cyberspace.

I hope to one day pay it forward.

Mari-Lyn Harris said...

Hi Kate & Barney,
Yes I would agree with Barney that there isn't a one size that fits all in social media. However, I will say it's the best medium and the best tool to use to reach your niche and audience.
Mari-Lyn Harris

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...