Artists and Social Media

Our first class on social media for artists happened last night.  We were originally scheduled to run from 6 to 7:30, though there was a small mix up with the newspaper that resulted in a published start time of 5.  Thankfully most interested folks contacted us beforehand, and could be given correct times, but I admit to curiosity about how many people might have gotten turned off by the idea of a two and a half hour class.

Setup was pretty simple… I set out the iPads and lesson handouts on a table, and handed them to folks as they came in… as well as offering them my business card, with assurances that they could contact me for one on one assistance if they needed it, after the class was over.

We started the class by talking about exposure, and why this matters to an artist; since most of the audience were professional, rather than amateur artists, the topic didn’t need too much elaboration.  I immediately broke out a few YouTube videos, to showcase what the real success stories of modern exposure might look like.  My initial plan had called for using the Piano Guys, a set of relatively famous performing artists, but I hadn’t set things up correctly with the AppleTV and the room’s sound system (I realized afterwards I’d just forgotten to turn the sound system’s power on), which made those videos less than impressive, and I switched instead to showing a couple of making of videos… one of a sculpture, and the other of a hobo nickel.

Hobo nickels, by the way, are a cool sculptural art form, where you carve away parts of a small denomination coin, to modify an existing design, or create an entirely new one.  Nobody in the audience had heard of it, so after the aside about what it was and it’s origins, it really drove home the point about exposure I was trying to make:  At a 120,000 views on that making of video, there’s no doubt the artist has achieved a level of exposure everyone in the audience found enviable, despite specializing in a niche art form that most people haven’t ever heard of.  The first sculpture video, of course, at more than a million views, is success on a scale most people couldn’t quantify.

From there, we launched right into talking about Facebook, and the other social media sites I’d planned to talk about (Instagram, Pinterest, DeviantArt, Behance, and YouTube itself).  Facebook ate up about 20 minutes just on its own, showing the various tools that could be used to engage with the audience… and then showing the marketplace that it has, where things could be bought and sold (including the artist’s work).  No one in attendance had known that was there, or an option, and everyone had a lot of questions… not all of which I’d prepared notes for (such as how was payment submitted and received).

Instagram was originally going to get only a brief mention, because we have an entire class dedicated to learning it coming up… but the audience had a lot of questions about hashtags and how they should be used, so we ended up spending more time there than I had originally wanted.  This was when I realized I’d not really thought about twitter and how it should also be part of their social media strategy… I’ve adjusted the lesson plan for any future running of the classes to specifically mention it should be included.

Once we started talking about Behance and DeviantArt, a lot of people had questions about licenses and copyrights, and how those worked with the sites.  I was able to answer most of these, but it was pretty clear that intellectual property rights was a topic folks might want to discuss at length… maybe, at some point in the future, we can bring in experts on the topic.

All in all, it was a successful class… all the audience members said they felt they had learnt something useful, which they could apply to their own social media plans.

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Our First Free Create Friday

Our first Free Create Friday has already happened and our second one is set for this week. Before the second one, I wanted to blog about the first before the two events get muddled in my mind!

Our first Free Create Friday was from 10 am to 12 pm, a time when we don’t typically run programs (except for Children’s storytimes.) We usually have a fair amount of patrons in the building, though, so I was curious to see if we could serve a different group than the one that usually attends evening programs (like the Pop Up Art Museum, which had similar activities but was in the evening.)

There was a slow start, which wasn’t helped by the fact that the room we had booked got “taken over.” There was a big production happening in the Auditorium the following week as part of our 125th anniversary celebrations, and the volunteers did not check the Auditorium’s event schedule before making plans for rehearsals with some of the actors (an issue that plagued a couple of other programs as well, despite trying to work with the volunteers to schedule appropriate times.) This meant that we ended up having to share the space and staff. Realizing this at the beginning of the event, I did not make an announcement over the intercom or put up signs outside the room as I originally planned; the rehearsal would have really cramped the Free Create Friday’s style.

The set-up was fairly limited as well: we had one table, set in the middle of the room (so not to impact the stage area.) I put out six iPads for patron use, plus one in the middle of the table that was softly playing a Spotify playlist of string quartet music (to help the creativity flow.) We had to keep the volume fairly low so not to disturb the rehearsals and had to keep the table far from the performing area.

My own involvement became limited, as I got pulled into taking notes about what was needed for the performance. As a Program Coordinator, I am a staff contact for these events, but I tried to communicate that I was also running a program and would need to attend to that if I had attendees.

Eventually, despite the room sharing and lack of promotion that day, a mother and her homeschooled son dropped in, as did a staff member. They all had a great time and were eager to attend a future program. I can’t help but wonder if there may have been more people who could have wandered in if the room was clearly being used only for the program and if I had made an announcement over the intercom.

The verbal comments from attendees made it clear that that making this a weekly program could be very beneficial, but room bookings and staff scheduling this month made it difficult. Going forward with enough advance warning to book rooms, it would be easy to turn this into a weekly program provided we could spare a staff member. If future daytime programs seem to serve more homeschooled families than other age groups, it may be worth turning this into a program in the Children’s Room and holding the same event at later times for all age groups.

Free Create Fridays

Want to create some art? Want to try making art on a shiny new iPad? Yes, you do. The iPads we received as part of our Studio Rhode grant make creating art (be it a drawing, a photo, a song, a movie, a poem, or other mediums) easier and less intimidating than ever. We designed an easy, non-intimidating program to go with them: Free Create Fridays.

Come to the program, grab an available iPad, and try out some great creative apps. There’s no lesson plan, no registration, no structure: you are free to play around and create on the iPads in the Auditorium during the program hours. A staff member will be on hand to offer help, but the idea is to try it out and figure it out as you go (it’s not a formal lesson.)

Need some inspiration? We’ll have creative prompts available. Have too many ideas? Leave a prompt for another artist.

Want to display your art for the group? We can display it on the big screen using Apple TV.

This program should be a lot of fun and we are hoping to put theses amazing tools in the hands of as many artists as possible, so we are trying out some different times on Fridays to accommodate different schedules. We hope you can join us in the Auditorium on one of the following Fridays:

Friday, October 27th 10 am-12 pm

Friday, November 10th 2:30-5:30 pm

Makerspace Plan

One of our Maker Space programs with the iPads will be a series of interactive classes for local artists, where they can learn how to establish a strong social media profile, and also make use of the video editing and broadcast abilities of the devices to further promote themselves, such as by live streaming the creation of their art pieces, or preparing time lapse videos that will enable them to condense days long projects into digestible chunks of video that can be shared with the world.  These programs will be accessible to all artists. 

The technology we have available will also help in allowing community members to make full use of the Maker Space, and really embrace the idea that everyone is an artist.