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Art Blogging 101: Don't be intimidated by your art blog -- get started by writing about your art influences

by Brian Sherwin on 2/14/2012 1:25:15 AM

This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY and Art Fag City. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 17,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

Most artists will openly tell you about their art influences if you ask them. For example, if you ask an artist about his or her influences, you will likely be 'hit' with a list of artists from the past -- and perhaps a few art movements for good measure. The question is always a good jumping-point for a back-and-forth exchange. Words flow with ease verbally. That said, based on my experience very few artists write about their art influences on their art blog -- they fail to tap into that exchange text-wise. In fact, many appear to be intimidated by art writing in general. That trend is unfortunate for a number of reasons.


I, for one, think that artists should actively pursue writing about art. I suggest this knowing that many artists (based on my experience) are intimidated by writing. They tend to avoid writing about art -- and avoid having an art blog -- because they 'don't know what to write about' OR fear that it 'won't be interesting'. I've heard/read variants of those two excuses thousands of times over the years. When in doubt -- write about your art influences. Write about something you are comfortable talking about in person.


I can't stress this enough -- one of the easiest ways to get into the routine of writing/posting on your art blog is to write about something you are comfortable with. There is nothing wrong with taking a comfortable art writing approach -- especially if you happen to be intimidated by art blogging in general. The ease of sharing your art-related influences could be the key -- unlocking the 'inner art writer' inside of you. It can also be good practice for other forms of art writing... such as writing an artist statement (yes, I know that artists tend to be intimidated by those as well).


As mentioned earlier, the majority of artists I've met are extremely comfortable talking about their art-related influences. I'm willing to bet that most artists could make those ideas flow just as easily in text form. The knowledge and admiration they have concerning specific artists and art movements could become instant art blog content... art blog content that is not intimidating to write about. Point blank -- pick an art-related influence, ward off art blog intimidation by staying in your comfort-zone and write as you speak. You will thank me 10 blog posts later.


Kicking the intimidation factor aside is the first step toward becoming an active art blogger. Writing about your art-related influences is a good start -- it WILL help you to get over the intimidation that is holding you back from writing actively about art. In addition to that, art blog visitors who share your interest in specific artists may strike up a conversation -- which may result in further introducing those individuals to your own artwork. Furthermore, blogging about your art-related influences may help you to establish rapport with the artists you have written about if they happen to be living (I've seen that happen).


Keep in mind that your artist website may benefit from blog posts about your art-related influences (assuming your art blog is located on your artist website). For example, your blog/website may receive traffic from specific searches due to art blog posts you have made about famous artists -- or even lesser known artists who happen to have high online visibility -- who have influenced you. Point blank -- those blog posts may help to increase your website ranking based on those specific searches if people discover your content when searching... especially if you utilize social networking websites to introduce others to your art blog articles in general. That is a good reason to get over the intimidation that many artists feel when considering art blogging. There is so much to gain... you just have to start posting in a way that is less intimidating.


In closing, writing about your art-related influences can be a great way to condition yourself for art blogging regularly. It will help you to post more frequently -- and help to establish the presence of your art blog / artist website. If the words flow when you talk about those art influences... they will most likely flow when writing about them. Write as if you are telling someone about the influence -- write as if somone has asked, "Why does *insert artist name* influence you as an artist?". In addition to that -- writing about art-related influences can be an easy way to find your 'art writing voice'. I do hope that this art blogging suggestion helps you to get over your fear of writing / blogging about art.


Take care, Stay true,


Brian Sherwin

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Related Posts:

Art Blogging 101: Focus on art

Art Blogging 101: Don't worry about blog comments

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Teresa Tromp
All of your 'Art Blogging 101' posts are considered homework for me, Brian.

I am practicing my blogging using all of your suggestions. Hopefully, after some time, it will be easier, and if the blogs are interesting enough, people will respond.

Personally, I don't like to write blogs because I'm afraid I will mess up the grammar or the punctuation or the spelling, and feel that people will notice that, instead of the blog message, because I notice that instead of the blog message.
I need to get over it, honestly!

So, my next homework assignment is to write about an artist whom (or who?) has influenced my artwork.

Tj Aitken
2 camps on explaining influence-
At one gallery event a friend and artist commented that I talk too much about my work and that I should let it speak for itself, let the mysteries get discovered on a personal level. Then on a sculpture walk in Carbondale, Colorado when I explained the origins of a piece and the parallels I was working with while creating it an individual came to me and stated: "Most artists explanations leave me flat but your talk makes this work all the more intriguing, thank you."
Go figure! I personally side with verbiage if you do a lot of thinking while you work.

Brian Sherwin
Teresa -- I'll admit that I make mistakes. I have never claimed to be a perfect writer. That said, I write articles that people find interesting -- and can prove that. If people relate to what you have written they will look past the mistakes.

It is a two-sided coin though. Some people will disregard your opinion if they find grammatical errors. Some will go out of their way to find mistakes in order to downplay what you are communicating - especially if they don't agree with what you are saying.

I don't allow it to hold me back. :)

Brian Sherwin
TJ -- Good point. Some individuals don't want to know your inner workings as an artist. They can avoid your art blog if they choose. ;p

That said, when I think of some of the 'greats' -- ALL of them wrote about their artwork and the work of others. Historically there is a strong connection between creating and writing about art. We should embrace that connection. Maintaining an art blog about your art -- and thoughts on art -- is a good start.

If that is not enough to convince an artist that writing about his or her artwork is important... well -- look at how many books about art are on the market today. biographies about famous artists, biographies about lesser known artists, artist essay collections, artists offering art marketing advice -- the list goes on. Your thoughts may be just as valuable. Your art blog may be the foundation for a future book about you...

Denise Rose
I just did this today! So cool! I always write about my influences and you are right in that it is always an 'easy' blog post for me. Great advice as usual Brian!

jack white
T J, Take it from me. Potential clients want you to talk about their favorite subject...THEM. You seem too self centered when all you do is talk about your art. You will sell more work asking the client about them and listening to their answer.

Telling them the nuts and bolts of how you made the art is the fastest way to kill a sale. Better yet tell them why. What passion drove you to make the work.

Brian, not every artist should blog. I think some artist do more harm with bad blogs than if they did none. You are a gifted writer and blogs are a piece of cake, but for many they have zero skills. I have read some very poorly written blogs, which would turn me off from buying their work.


Carol McIntyre
Brian, what a good idea and so obvious! I have never thought about writing about Georgia O'Keeffe, Judy Chicago, Jacob Lawrence or Andrew Wyeth and how they have influences me over the years. In many ways it has been their passion and commitment to their work that has impacted me.

TJ, like anything I guess, there is a balance when talking to individuals about your work (groups situations are different). I tread carefully and will ask a person more about what they see, how they feel, etc. about the painting because I want to get them to talk. I do that before I answer any questions about my story.

Cathy de Lorimier
I tend to write about the whys of my art in my newsletter, so what I wish to know is, why should I also blog? I could easily insert the way that a particular artist has inspired me (say, in this particular painting of mine), in my newsletter content.

Donald Fox
Having studied writing for just about as long as I've studied painting, I've learned that mastery of fundamentals is essential to both. For a writer, grammar is as important to good writing as color principles are to a painter for making good paintings. How many painters have reference books in their studios? Writers also utilize basic reference tools: a good dictionary, a thesaurus, and a grammar book at the least. All of these are easily accessible via the internet. Anyone can readily find when to use who (subjective) or whom (objective), advice (noun) and advise (verb),the difference between there, their, and they're, and how to correctly use verb tenses.

I agree with Brian that writing about art can clarify thinking about art. Whether one chooses to write a blog or write in a journal is a personal decision. All those past artists who wrote (most of whom were extremely literate) - didn't have access to blogging; they wrote letters or in journals. Blogging puts it all out there instantaneously. Journaling keeps it private. If the primary purpose of the blog is to create website traffic, that will influence what is written. In that case, writing about one's own art makes perfect sense.

Donna Robillard
I have not started blogging yet because I don't know what I would write about. I do like the suggestion of writing about those who influence you. That would be a great way to get started. I guess other ideas come after that?

Dan Goldstein
discussing artistic influences is a natural entry point for some art blogging, I agree, and thank you for bringing this up. Another rich area for emerging artist writers is artistic process. How do we motivate our work, nurture a productive environment, overcome creative and technical barriers? Process is perhaps as elemental to the artist's makeup as his/her artistic influences. In addition, we may be encouraged to write in the hope have that our experience will resonate with others and help them along the way.

As alway so many good idea.

Marian Fortunati
I enjoy blogging. I can talk (blog) about influences, but interestingly enough the more I learn about other artists, the more influences I seem to develop.
Perhaps I should branch out and do a bit more research, so I'd be more knowledgeable ... and more interesting to others, but I don't want to make blogging a chore... for others or me.
However.. it is a good suggestion, so I thank you.

Brian Sherwin
Jack -- I'd suggest it depends on the potential buyer. I know when I buy original artwork at an exhibit openings I enjoy hearing about the thoughts behind the work. A mix of both directions can be great... obviously you don't want to come off as a 'me, me, me' types when talking face-to-face.

Hearing about process may bore some art viewers. Thus, for face-to-face... 'fill' the potential buyer out.

As for your art blog -- there is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with having some posts about process and others about the motivation behind specific images.

You said, "Brian, not every artist should blog. I think some artist do more harm with bad blogs than if they did none. You are a gifted writer and blogs are a piece of cake, but for many they have zero skills. I have read some very poorly written blogs, which would turn me off from buying their work."

It is my hope that this series will give artists a few ideas on what to write about -- and how to go about it. The way I see it... if you can talk openly about your art you are probably more than capable of writing about it.

Either way -- it never hurts to improve writing skills.

Brian Sherwin
Cathy -- You said, "I tend to write about the whys of my art in my newsletter, so what I wish to know is, why should I also blog? I could easily insert the way that a particular artist has inspired me (say, in this particular painting of mine), in my newsletter content."

If that works for you -- go with it. That said, you could easily have the best of both worlds by tailoring some of your newsletter content for blog posts. It would be a simple process of copy and past... and a little bit of editing. The blog posts can be helpful in the sense that Google and other search engines will pick up on what you are posting -- which may help to bring more traffic to your artist website if you hit on a hot blog topic.

You can also think of it this way -- your blog posts could be a good source of promotional material for your newsletter. For example, you could include a link to your newsletter signup page at the top of each blog post along with other info about you. In addition to that, keep in mind that some people don't like to join newsletters -- but will follow an art blog.

Brian Sherwin
Donald -- I'll add that improving upon writing can benefit art marketing efforts. Art marketing and writing -- at least online art marketing -- walk hand-in-hand. In some cases it can cut down on the expense of marketing. For example, I often receive email messages from artists requesting help with promotional material -- some offer to pay. By improving upon writing... those artists would not feel as if they have to contact writers.

Brian Sherwin
Donna -- You said, "I have not started blogging yet because I don't know what I would write about. I do like the suggestion of writing about those who influence you. That would be a great way to get started. I guess other ideas come after that?"

I will be offering other ideas as this series grows. Here is a link to the most recent post in the series --

Everyone -- another thing to remember about maintaining an art blog is that your published articles can be a constant source of online exposure. The information is there -- use it.

I make a habit of re-posting links (on Facebook, Twitter, and so on) to blog entries that I know people enjoy. Some of those articles may be over a year old -- but they still attract comments.

For example, a film adaptation of Janet Evanovich's 'One for the Money' is currently rising in popularity. Thus, I make a point to re-post links to my 2010 interview with Janet. A few blogs have recently pointed to that interview -- which brings more attention to my writing overall.

Esther J. Williams
Brian, I have been blogging for years and you`re right about an artist who mentions other artists in their blogs. Not just mentioning or name dropping, but writing a story about how they inspire you and changed your direction in art and life.
If I pick up a great artist`s book, I will read it and blog about it. If an living or dead artist inspired me, I will mention them in a blog pertaining to how they influenced my process in a painting style of a particular subject. For example: Monet inspired me to paint waterlilies in a French Impressionist style with a abstract quality.
I can say I am guilty of putting more album stories on Facebook than on my website blog though. I need to stop that, instead, form the blog and then paste it on Facebook with my pictures. Too much Facebook time kills the ability to truly put the efforts into something that counts.
People need to know what they are talking about with master artists, do the research, make notes of the book or website, movie, magazine, museum curator, etc that the information was taken from. People want a credible article to read with some back-up of authority, are writing an emotion based story on a creative process of your own and not the master artist.

Sharon Weaver
I just returned from a trip to Carmel and saw so many wonderful artists in the galleries. It is so inspiring to see the amazing talent that is right in our own back yard. I plan to blog about it. Looking at my blog posts that get the most hits, it isn't surprising that they are often about famous artists. It is a great subject that will attract lots of people to your blog. I look forward to your other suggestions for posts.

Brian Sherwin
Esther -- Excellent point about blog entries focused on art books you've read. That is one of the suggestions I plan to write about in further detail. :)

Sharon -- More to come...

Cindy Hughes
I, too, have wanted to start a blog. I do follow other blogs that are interesting and wonder if I have the skill to write something everyday to keep someone's attention. Some blogs are very intensive and you can tell that the blogger spends a lot of time preparing for the next day as there are pictures and comments and...yada yada yada...and still find the time to actually do the studo work to give the inspiration to write a blog.

This article really got my attention and made me realize that I don't have to force the words out if I actually live them! Thanks Brian!

Diane Overcash
Thanks Brian, and all posters for the constructive ideas. This is exactly what I wanted to hear today. I was thinking about this very thing over my morning coffee. What to blog about, what to include in my newsletter.
I like the idea of talking about how other artists have influenced my work. And talking about how I painted a particular piece.
Readers might really be interested in that.

Brian Sherwin
Cindy -- Thanks. Yes, just let your words flow... and the text will follow.

Diane -- My experience has been that if someone is interested in your work they will also be interested in the thoughts behind the work. That is not always the case... but you can't go wrong with blogging about it in my opinion.

For anyone who is worried about their spelling and grammar, I'd suggest that you type up your blog posts in a Word document first - or a similar program with a spell checker. You can't rely on them 100 percent - they can't tell the difference between 'their', there' and 'they're' for example but it helps. And remember that your blog post isn't set in stone - even once it's live in the internet you can edit it.

Brian, you say "My experience has been that if someone is interested in your work they will also be interested in the thoughts behind the work." I agree. Moreover, you can let them know more about you as a person. It's the old adage Jack White quotes in his books 'people buy from people they like'.

It's not really necessary to write about your own artwork. As an artist, the chances are that your other interests are art-focused. At least you'll be showing that you have attention to detail. For example, write about how the Godfather films always feature an orange when someone is about to die or about the subtle arrow in the FedEx logo. Write about your favorite font and why you like it. Or the posters of Saul Bass, Eames furniture, 1960s fashion, the cover design of the book you are reading, Marimekko fabrics ... anything visual that you like and appreciate. (And won't have to research).

By the way, it's not necessary to blog every day but it's consistency that counts. Once a week is fine. Write "this week I want to tell you about ..." to establish the fact.

I'm a little enthusiastic about blogging as you can tell :)

Dan Goldstein
I agree with the importance of consistency in the blogging, and the importance of establishing reasonable goals for ourselves with respect to how many articles we will write per week or per month. we should enjoy our writing,and that will make the discipline of regular entries less onerous. writing can be cathartic, good therapy in other words. it can be a mirror into our state of mind. the words and subjects and thoughts that are finding expression in the blogging may well suggest where we can most effectively focus our creative efforts.

That's a very good point, Dan. And the therapy aspect is something I hadn't thought of. I look back at some of my previous blog posts (I prefer to call them 'articles') and realize that actually, I was wrong - my opinion about that particular subject has changed. And of course, growth and development of ideas is a positive thing. So I write 'recently I wrote about XXX but now...'

It's not a bad thing to show the development of your ideas, no matter what the subject. It shows that you're ideas aren't stagnant and that you grow. Surely that's a good thing?

Ha! I mean 'your' not 'you're'. Should have used a spellcheck :)

There's nothing wrong with showing your weaknesses, she says, optimistically :)

Dan Goldstein
of course it's a good thing. i think your suggestion to really write about anything "visual"- related under the sun is brilliant and freeing and will have the intended effect - to reveal to your fans something special about you - to connect them more deeply to you. congrats again on your comments. Dan

Donald Fox
This is a good stream. There are many ideas most anyone could pick up on and write a short blog about. One of my New Year's resolutions along with painting or drawing every day is to blog every day. So far I'm on track. It's a discipline, and since I love writing, not an overly challenging one. Not everyone will go that far. If writing is a challenge, then write about the challenge. You might be surprised how easily that can be addressed. Or, make a list of all the things you like about art; then write a short blog about each one. Just as with painting, practice brings improvement.

Brian Sherwin
I'm glad to see ideas being kicked around. I should have another in this series up soon. :)

Tj Aitken
I love blogging when I'm "in the hunt" and things are going well enough to have a little time to write. There are a couple of negatives for the bipolar though. After a long series about jamming and improvising and creating a huge work for the ArtPrize competition, I continued in the backwash of decompression, lamenting that I made the top twenty five but missed the money. I had to avoid the church after that post because of all the empathetic people trying to console me for what they saw as a devastating loss! So when in a funk I don't have the spunk, and keep my thoughts in a trunk. Maybe I should prepare snippets from my books to issue during those times so that I can keep my consistency. I've bee silent since some setbacks because I tend to spill what ever is prevalent on that day. Any thoughts on this?
Tj Aitken

Thank you Dan!I think that 'connect' is the operative word. If people feel a connection, it's a great step in the right direction.

Making a list is a very good idea Donald.Blog software lets you save posts as drafts so often I get an idea, write just the title and save it as a draft. That becomes my 'list'.

Tj, the great thing about blogs is that you can write as many as you wantand set them to publish on the future dates you want. For example, on one site I look after, I have a blog post per day ready to automatically upload - usually for the next week. I know that I don't absolutely have to write anything for a week but if I do, then I can juggle the dates a bit and still have one automatically going live every day. It's sort of banking them up for the future. (Blog posts for a rainy day, as it were!)

So you could do the same and write some posts for when you're in a funk and don't have the spunk :)

Looking forward to your next article, Brian!


What is your blog link I would love to start following it.

Delilah, I just found Tj's Facebook page if that helps:

Thanks Jackie it sure did.

Good stuff keep it coming.

Tj Aitken
In this last year i paid a consultant to help me deal with social media. Money went away, I had to stop that leak and I now have a fan page, a timeline, my old web site that needs revamping,an older blogger account that I haven't posted to in a year and a lot of confusion over where i should actually participate. I never did get what I asked for which was "Consolidate all this to one place so I can manage it"
I did get connected with Brian out of this attempt and appreciate this forum, but Lord, how do I spend less time poking around all these different digital places? I have sculpture to make!

Tj, I have been helped enormously by Jack White in recent weeks and I love the way he is so generous with his knowledge, as are so many who post here. I feel that we should all be the same way.

I'm new to marketing art, but experienced in marketing and in social media. I'd urge anyone NOT to spend money with social media 'gurus'. An artist can use social media beneficially in about fifteen minutes a day once everything is set up correctly and it needn't cost you a penny.

These discussions are so useful to me and if I can 'give anything back' by answering social media questions, I'm at jackie(at)tropicalsundesign(dot)com

Tj Aitken
is the url to my old stuff. It has been dormant for some time. I'm desperately trying to regroup my communication efforts into something manageable and
to get off this cursed machine and back to the studio, or working on my new book "Art Basics" (a pocket guide on how to assess public art)


Hi Tj,

If you can start by committing yourself to one blog post a week, that would be great. (And it gives you a week to think about your next post)

Remember that blog posts can be very short, especially if you have photographs. It's useful to set up a Google alert for subjects that interest you. For example "Lake Michigan", "west coast sculpture" or "show car prototypes". These will give you ideas.

You see, a lot of people have things the wrong way round and send people FROM their sites or blogs TO Facebook. It should be the other way around. Facebook is there to send people TO your blog. The reason is that at your blog YOU are in control of what they read.

The problem with Facebook is that when people visit, they check up on what their cousin is doing, they play games, they look at their friends' new photographs etc., and you get lost. All the information you've put on Facebook is just a very small part of their visit to the site. (Facebook has a lot of advantages too, I'm not saying it doesn't but that's for another post).

You have some great stuff there but you might want to start from scratch. It could be that every time you look at (or think about) your blog you have a sense of guilt. Starting from scratch can be very liberating and generate its own enthusiasm. (You can link back to your old blog).

It's a bit like spring cleaning - a new start. In fact that could be your first blog! The fact that you've started a new blog is also something to tell your mail list, locals art groups and so on.

Another good reason for doing this is that blogging software is a lot more sophisticated these days. For instance, you can fix it so that the post doesn't show the date so then, if you really can't blog one week, it won't be obvious to anyone who goes there. For example, is one of my partner's sites and is ALL done on blogging software.

But even if you don't start afresh, start blogging again. If you think of a subject, jot it down. You'll soon have a list. You'll soon see that you'll find ideas all over the place. This morning I got a spam email saying 'art for $9.99!' and it immediately suggested a post - 'can 'art' be $9.99?'

So, one blog post a week. Post a link to it on Facebook. An hour? Less? Some people make 'appointments' with themselves to write a post every Tuesday morning or whatever time.

By the way, photographs of your artwork is important but if you don't have any, don't let that stop you. If you don't have a suitable image re-use an old one.

I've subscribed to your blog so I hope to see something one day soon :)

my blog also related with arts and paintings

art prints online
Use a snippet of poetry as the starting point for a painting, let the words and poet's imagery jumpstart your artistic imagination. Don't think you're going to need to be able to do literary analyses, it's only a few words from each poem.


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