I feel like writing some ye olde blog post, just me mulling over internet existence and social media.
I’ve always relied a lot on social media as a way to show my work and to have it seen, especially when I was located in Finland and it was more difficult to find peers. In the early days of internet, just internet existing was a way for me to connect with new friends, because I was lonely, I had horribly bad self-esteem, and I didn’t get along with others in real life. I’ve practically grown up in the internet, but it never seemed that much of a problem until sometime after turning 25 (I’m 31 now). I always thought that internet is great for connecting, exploring, discovering and sharing my art. It sometimes still genuinely is.
Over the years, internet has been taking more visible toll on my mental health.
When I look back at myself, Livejournal, Deviantart even Tumblr, I see a different person in a different internet landscape. Lot of the issues were there for sure, there’s always been drama and bullying, but internet had more distance between places. It felt more like pockets and corners and it lacked the tools of immediate sharing and spreading, for a while. Now everything is connected, for the good and the bad of it.
Instead of feeling like I’m finally me, expressing myself when online, I’ve found myself describing online-ness more as a shadow existence. Maybe part of it is naturally just growing up, hating myself less, knowing myself better and having a life outside the internet. But maybe a part of it is also the corners and pockets that vanished and the difficulty of privacy that killed experimenting and sincerity, unless they somehow fit the online persona, the assumption of who you are. I feel much more reluctant to share anything and I’m not capable of making online friends like I used to. Instead, social media is a lot of just seeing random glimpses into other artists’s lives, whom I don’t know very well, sometimes maybe wish I did, but I often delete my comments. I don’t want to be intrusive, I don’t want to be that commenter who someone secretly wishes wouldn’t interact. It’s not like the internet even needs any more input from me. I don’t mean to discourage anyone from doing so, I personally am just exhausted and troubled.
On one side I’m kind of coming in terms of not being that person anymore who shares their life on internet and feels like themselves in there. I used to have a comic blog, I used to talk about events in my life, people and places. I used to share pretty much all I created, no matter how crappy it was. I don’t think I can go back to that. But on the other side, it has felt like I’m repressing myself and my online presence has been more focused in just being the art and the work, and partly because of that it’s a struggle to remind myself I have other value as a person beyond my drawing output. As if that wasn’t enough of a source for anxiety, no matter how much I tell myself otherwise, I feel like someone else on social media is always succeeding more, living the dreams and perfection that I don’t even truly want myself, yet my head is filled with meaningless comparisons and feelings of never being good enough.
I might not be wise or witty enough to be a talking artist, but I will continue posting my drawings and maybe even insufferable blog ramblings like this, here. In real life, I’m trying to learn again how to enjoy making things without it being a measure of my worth.
Take care everyone, stay home.
Hi good Anon!
Well, this is a very late reply but I really hope you’ll happen to see this.
There’s no expiry date on becoming an artist. So short answer: you’re not too old! There’s this persistent myth of making it in your twenties which is exactly what it is, a myth. It can sometimes seem like people are living their dream careers at 25, but it’s just a distorted view that comes from social media and media that frequently highlights the stories of the young and the successful. There are plenty of artists who’ve made their breakthrough much later in life.
However, getting jobs is tough for everyone and it’s hard to say how much time it’ll take to break into the industry/start getting paid for your art. There are ways to learn the core skills from online, taking classes, being disciplined in your studies, but nothing guarantees a job. In good and bad, same goes to schools and starting young, it doesn’t guarantee anything.
My advice is, if you want to pursue art career, be certain you can afford it. Financially and life situation-wise. You can study and practise while doing some other job or finishing a degree, and while it can be tough, it’s safer. Then, once you have confidence and some skill, you can start with looking for freelance.
Starting making art for living doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing jump into the deep end, it’s something you can work out gradually.
Don’t worry, it’s definitely not too late.
Hey there! I really love your artwork and I think your painting techniques look so cool. I was wondering if you had any advice for someone who has little formal training on how to present your art to the world? I know that's a really vague question, and a lot of people would probably answer 'portfolio', but is there more to that? What about networking etc. Thanks so much!
Thank you, I’m happy to hear that. I do have some tips - it might be a tad long post, but hopefully there’s some grain of advice to be found.
I think using big social media platforms like Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram are very good for putting your work out there. Some find their audience in Facebook. However it may be, you do need at least one professional looking platform that shows only your best stuff and communicates with clarity what you do.
Lot of artists who struggle to find audience have a problem of a cluttered internet presence. They might be on many platforms, but the chances of when someone comes to check their Tumblr or Twitter, all they see is personal posts and unnecessary clutter of info, when they just want to see the art. It’s important that your main platform only shows the work you really love and are proud of, whereas some other platform might be for all of your work, sketches and personal posts. It’s important to be consistent, and also think about what is the name/handle that people are going to find you with. Nowadays, many artists use primarily their real name and/or maybe a consistent handle name. I’s a good idea to have some consistency, like a fixed avatar and a name/handle, it helps people to remember and recognize your work.
And it’s totally fine to have a blog or personal twitter, as long as there’s distinction. Make sure there’s always a link available directly to your work (whichever platform it is on) and to your email in the fixed post/header of your platform. For example, if you have a personal twitter, point out a link to your portfolio in the header and clarify that this platform is your personal non-art account.
As for networking, going to conventions and events is a way to get into big artist spaces. The key to “networking” really is to seek out genuine interactions and not to chase people based on their popularity or their job. Any artist, and professionals in the industry generally enjoy talking about their work, and you can start conversations based on something like “hey I saw you posted this artwork, I’d like to know more about it” or “I noticed you enjoyed X, I really liked it too”. As long as the topics range on something related to their work on some project or fun things they publicly talk about (stuff ike corgis, anime and movies they saw etc), it’s cool. Being intrusive about personal life not so much. It’s also better to start talking about things that are positively in common, bonding over hating something is rarely a good idea.
Keep business cards with you, and give them out when people ask where they could see your work. Business cards don’t need to be fancy or expensive, just functional!
When it comes to networking, the most rookie mistake is being obviously desperate. I’ve had people come to me and straight up ask for a job or who should they contact to get a job, and it’s rude. I’ve also heard people suddenly drop conversations with an artist, when they get a chance to talk to someone “cooler”. I find at conventions people are eager to help and chat, but it doesn’t mean an opportunity to take advantage of others.
I know it can be hard to be confident as an artist, and conventions can be really overwhelming, but it’s best to bite my tongue if I start feeling like saying something negative about myself or my work. At those times it’s better to take a break and get a coffee, than to start talking to someone new while feeling like crap.
I don’t know where you’re from and what kind of access do you have to places, but other ways of networking exist. There are often local sketch groups and artist meets in many towns and cities, that are also great for getting to know like-minded people. Art schools are great ways to network as well, but I come from a country where education was free, so I can’t fully endorse the American half-million dollar debt for a school experience. In social media, giving thoughtful comments and being nice is also networking. As long as it feels genuine to you, and not like machine-writing. If you don’t like something, it’s best to say nothing.
Finding a common interest is always a nice basis for getting into discussions. Ask questions and show that you’re interested. Networking can happen anywhere really, an internet forum or a hobby group.
It has been a challenge for myself, things like these don’t always come automatically. I used to have a lot of anxiety and my bad self-confidence prevented me from getting into some conversations or spaces, because I assumed some people are somehow above me, hence look down on me, or they hate me, or something like that, unreasonably. Once I’ve felt more comfortable with myself and my work, it’s easier to be comfortable meeting new people.