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The Survival of the Artist in the Automated Age

by Julia Taylor on 10/13/2017 9:04:34 AM

This post is by guest author Julia Taylor This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 50,500 subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.




Tulips With a Blue Sky

Astonishing fact--more vinyl records were sold than downloaded music in 2016. According to Forbes magazine, "Fueled by that unique sound quality and a nostalgia wave, sales of vinyl records were up 32% to $416 million, their highest level since 1988, according to the RIAA. Revenues from vinyl sales last year were higher than those of on-demand ad supported streaming services, such as YouTube, Vevo and Spotify's free service, which only accounted for $385 million, according to the RIAA. (To be clear, though, paid subscription services and Internet radio services, like Pandora, greatly exceeded LP and EP sales.)" In this age of disintermediation (a really important word for what is happening around us), why would anyone return to all the issues of vinyl with quirky needles and expensive vinyl often with scratches and skips? I bought a turntable at year end and a number of records from 30 years ago to listen to while I paint. It's perfect for watercolor. Most sides last 20 minutes, which reminds me to quit for a bit and let the painting dry and become itself. I find myself actually listening, which I don't really do with streaming music. I just notice streaming music when it is not there.

The word hand crafted and artisan is applied in broad strokes to beer from both national and small local breweries, clothing, shoes, make-up, crafts, arts and bicycles. I'm sure somewhere there are hand-crafted Q Tips. It is definitional and deliberate marketing to appeal to the uniqueness, care and skill we all want in this automated world. Yet we demand low cost, availability and reliability. The survivors figure out how to do both. What does this mean for the artist today? We spend our time learning, painting and marketing. And we compete with art everywhere including hotel room wall art that is mass produced and hand-crafted too. How many of us notice the art in the hotel or restaurant or is it like streaming music for me? Does this cause us not to value or even see art in front of us unless we are in a place where art is supposed be noticed- galleries, art fairs and museums?

Artists spend a lot of time figuring out social media from Etsy, Facebook, IG (Instagram) and even YouTube as a sales platform. Are these venues becoming the new places that art lives? I think they are. There are no walls and admission fees. You can quickly learn about the artist and interact-become FB friends and grow a friendship. Everything is transparent on social media. From taxi cabs to pharmacies, technology is disrupting economic systems. The need for service and solutions that transcend the commonplace will keep a place for people in this world of service. Art that transcends the commonplace, even occasionally art on a hotel wall, will find its way to those who value and notice the art. And technology will allow more people to find and hopefully collect our art. Deliberate practice and thinking are all part of becoming ever better in our art and takes our art beyond the commonplace, whether it hangs in a gallery or on a Facebook wall.

So while we market, we need to keep on learning and painting most of all to become the artist we know inside.  



You can view Julia's original post here.




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Topics: advice for artists | art and culture | Art Business | art marketing | Facebook | FineArtViews | Guest Posts | Instagram | social media 

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Wow Julia...another hidden talent. Hope it spreads to my girls. Love you.

Well, I've left etsy precisely because they are not artist (or artisan) friendly any more. I do not support their business model, so changed from its original inception.

On the other hand, I am selling via my Facebook shop, my website, even my Artwork Archive inventory portfolio (as well as POD sites).

Internet is "where it's at," at least as one of the possible income resources.

I actually don't listen to music when I'm working because as a retired Ballerina, I find music makes me want to get up and dance.

Julia Taylor
Thank you, Cassiey- you have immensely talented daughters!

Julia Taylor
Dear Patricia
Thank you for sharing your experience on the Etsy platform. Love that you were a ballerina!
Thanks for your comment.

Debra Kay
Hmm . . . I don't quite understand, though, the takeaway message from this post. Am I to give in and embrace the "commonplace" that's everywhere I turn -- including on the internet -- and thereby become part of it? On the other hand, you do reference "deliberate practice and thinking". But it stops there. What is "definitional and deliberate marketing?" Is it wise? Should I seek to do it? And what about the "survivors" who "figure out how to do both"? Do I want to be one of them? Or are they just manipulators? Fakers? I'm afraid I have missed your overall message here.

Walter Paul Bebirian
hi Julia - you have touched on the fact that there is much unknown in the world today as to how exactly to get people to see our art and yet there is a great deal of hope that there are ways that many people will actually be able to see and even purchase prints of our work - and while I know that artists who are pure artists and wish to stay away from prints of their work - the same sequence of events actually happened with the focus on artists using photography at one point in time and then a lot of push back by other artists because they did not want the competition from photographs to their work - eventually photography (much to the dismay of many artists who wish to push back) has become an art form and accepted by collectors around the world as such - now digital art is experiencing on some levels a similar push back by fine artists and yet it does not have to be that way and so while there is of course no comparison at this point in time between an original oil or watercolor and a digital print of such a work - the quality and experience is actually coming closer and closer to each of these different elements of a process and eventually may be indistinguishable and therefore something more and more something that any artists will have to eventually look at not only to survive but to also help expand her or his audience and to meet the growing demand in the world for more and more art in the long run -

as an artist working strictly in the digital realm of creation I see this as a wonderful opportunity to reach thousands upon thousands of people every single day - to allow them to view my work and to be exposed to the ideas and concepts that I am working with almost instantaneously as I place my images on the Internet -

this is an exhilarating process and inspires more and more creation as time goes on and at the same time allows to explore ideas and thoughts that I might not otherwise be able to pursue while working in any other genre - so in the spirit of the title of you article here I suggest that embracing in some small way - that which is new and ever changing -


Thank you Julie for your article. Yes times are changing and artists have to think outside the box now days. I have yet to set up a website considering all the choices we now have is daunting. I believe it will be to our advantage in the future to become a little more digitally savvy in presenting our works to the public, which now has worldwide potential. Great little article. Yes, keep painting and does a body good!

Shirley, If you do decide to set up a website, FASO is pretty easy to set up, add work to, and revise. Their templates are nice and their service is excellent, and I'm getting lots of hits I can monitor. Only thing missing up to now is art sales from it, but that opens another whole set of variables. Maybe some of you will add comments about how you translate a good website into (original) art sales.

Julia Taylor
Dear Debra- Thank you for your comments and questions. I'm sorry if my point was obscured. My point is that it is important to make great art but we can move beyond the usual venues and mediums to share our work. Many artists struggle with social media and the fear of the digital reach and medium. David Hockney is an example of someone who is a survivor and figured out how to do both. The main thing is to do what brings you joy and brings great art into the world. I enjoy the feedback and the sales that come from social media that anchors in my website (FASO).

Julia Taylor
Dear Walter- Wow, I loved your response. Your response would make a great FASO blog topic. This dance between paper and digital is an interesting one and it is exhilarating that you have found your way so deeply into the digital realm.
Enjoy and create!

Julia Taylor
Dear Shirley
Thank you for your kind words. I use my website and FB a lot to market my work but also for feedback. It is great to have one landing place to show your work though it is a pain to maintain. I've learned to add an hour a week to my painting schedule to manage my website and FB account and am much better now about posting regularly. I find most people are very positive and it is great to get the positive words on a day that creativity lags.

Debra Kay
Thank you for your reply, Julia. And for the clarification. I'm low-tech myself, and newly retired and getting ready to dive into the scariness and frustrations I find inherent in the tools of social media. So I am not very excited about that necessary "evil." Yuck.

Oh well. At least I've got my FASO-powered website!

Thank you again,

Joe Alexander
I make my living mostly from sign painting, though I sell some pictures also. I call myself the "Last of the Old Time Sign Painters" on my business card, I started in the '70s when hand-painting was state-of-the-art in the sign biz and I learned from some very good sign painters in the shops I worked in in my early years in the biz. So when the Signmaker computers came in around '95 and everyone else in the business went to sticking on computer-generated vinyl letters instead of hand-painting, I decided to see if I could keep on hand-painting and stay in business, I felt if I couldn't be an artist at what I did there was no point to it and I'd find something else to do. For a while things got slow for me as everyone wanted the vinyl letters, but in the last few years I've been busier than ever, as it seems a lot of people are coming to like the idea of getting a nice lively-looking hand-painted sign instead of dead vinyl. There's that law of physics, to every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, as the big companies go to robot production, it seems a growing number of people like the idea of getting something hand-made with the human spirit in it. When you think about it, technology doesn't necessarily make for progress, technology just repeats what it's been designed to do but when a human being does something, there can be some fresh creative spirit in it, right from the divine fountainhead, which really does help evolve the creation a little further, so that's the real progress!

Julia Taylor
Dear Joe, thank you for your comment and excuse my delay in responding. FASO blocked comments from iPads and iPhones due to spamming issues. I didn't have access to a computer so it slowed my response to you. First, I love your website and the documentery "Sign Painters" with Faythe Levin. I hope that technology never replaces art from the human spirit. I think we will always be able to tell the difference like artificial grass. My point was that technology can help tell our story and show our art on new platforms to new people.
Paint on and show the way!


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