Who says artists and illustrators have to be chosen by a gallery in order to get discovered? With the advent of Web 2.0, social networking websites like MySpace, Facebook and deviantART allow creators of all kinds to showcase their work. You can hook up online with other visual artists at social networking sites that can allow you to post your work, receive critiques, and even develop a customer base at online markets like Etsy.
Social networking sites provide a great outlet where you can show your work, without fear of failure, while you're still in art or design school. You can pick up advice from other working designers, trade how-to tips from your courses, and build a career network that can last a lifetime. Common Craft offers a handy tutorial on social media:
Social Networking Sites Some popular art and design networking sites include Amateur Illustrator, Maccaca, Art Break, My Art Info, and Artists Network. These sites typically allow you to upload a portfolio in a wide range of formats. Artists often sell directly to consumers or other artists from these sites. But if you really want to maximize the networking experience and make art sales, you should have your own website.
Build Your Own Art Site Your site itself is a creative expression. And when you design your own website, you have complete creative control over your portfolio. You can link to your site through your social networking sites to build a wider digital footprint across the web and in search results. And traffic is what sales is all about.
Here's a practical scenario for building community and art sales:
Select your best work from your art school classes and post it on your website.
Take a representative sampling from your portfolio, showing a range of work, and post it on art networking sites. Be sure to include your website URL in your signature.
Link your site to websites created by art school classmates to further expand your network and search results.
Post on art or design blogs, sharing how-to expertise or asking questions about selling. Make sure you include your web address on every post, but be sure you have something useful to say. Otherwise you may be banned for "comment spam."
Keep email addresses from everyone who communicates with you. When you post a new portfolio at a social networking site or at your own website, send out emails to let them know about it. You may choose to include an image of your art in the message.(Be sure to include a note that they can ask to be removed from the list at any time.)
Remember, the word "work" lies at the center of "networking." Consistent marketing can produce results.
About the Author Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.