Giving Art Value Through Social Media

In his book, How Pleasure Works, Yale psychologist Paul Bloom says some very interesting things about art and the art world. He takes on experts, noting that they can be fooled, sometimes famously, as in the Vermeer/van Meegeren episode and then have to quickly change their opinions to conform to the facts.  He poses a list of why we like art from an evolutionary/social/psychological point of view, and, in a different chapter, states that there are three reasons we appreciate or value art: context, history, and perceived essence. He also maintains that all art is performance, that is, it is meant, is made, to be seen by an audience.

Interestingly, the reading of Bloom’s book coincides with some other thoughts that have been occupying me for the last little while, specifically, the conflicting advice that one finds for artists. One writer will advise the artist to find a niche, even if it’s not the artist’s favorite thing, in order to be salable. Another will advise the artist to follow his/her own inclination, noting that to do anything else is hypocritical and unsatisfying. Many advise networking regardless of whether the artist is trying to sell his/her work directly to consumers/collectors or whether he/she is trying to go the representation/gallery route. Almost everyone recommends networking via social media, which can take on a life of its own, completely unrelated to anything to do with art.

All of this networking is a way to provide those three factors that Bloom says give value to art work. In other words, if we are somehow able to give our work context, history, and perceived essence, then it will, in many people’s eyes become valuable. And if it becomes valuable, people will want to collect it and will be willing to pay for it, regardless of whether we have found a niche to streamline our market or not.  What better way to provide those three features than by exposing ourselves in a public network situation, particularly one or more of the internet’s social medial.  We can, without leaving our homes or studios, provide the requisite history and context for our art work on an on-going daily, or even hourly, basis.  Given context and history, it becomes quite easy to take the next step and communicate how our essence is tied up in the work that we produce.

All that remains is manipulating the social media to insure that our information falls into the right hands, that is, the hands of potential patrons or publicists—and there is certainly no shortage of advice on how to do that. Once it’s done, we have fulfilled the requirements of giving our art value, and the results should take care of themselves, assuming that we actually produce art. Then it simply becomes a matter of continuing to feed the flow of information, capitalizing on events in our lives and artistic development to enlarge our following and thus our potential customer/collector base.

Sounds cynical, doesn’t it? Perhaps it is; it is business, after all. I’m still a fledgling at this whole social media thing and learn every day, but I can’t but help believe that Bloom is onto something, and that social media may be a way to do it. There aren’t many of them, but there are a few artists who have managed to turn social media into a really useful tool for advancing their art, some of them very successfully, if we are to believe what we read. Many are still trying to find exactly the right formula.

It does not seem to be a “one-size-fits-all” phenomenon; just as in establishing an artistic path, each artist must find his/her own social media route. Not an easy task. It is a complex problem but integrally involved with producing art today. It is a topic that I have touched on before, and probably will again and again, because, regardless of the path we choose, this is part of the art business in the 21st century and we cannot ignore it.

Date: Sunday, 26. December 2010 23:59
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Audience, Social Media

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