I have a confession to make: I was dragged into social media over 5 years ago when our children were teenagers; now I am a bit of a social media junkie.
I love that it allows you to quickly check in with people you know, the way you get a overview of what’s going on in the world (with the option to delve deeper) and above all, the real connections that are available.
My first goal of social media was staying in touch with my then-teenager through Facebook when he stopped checking his hotmail email. It was a classic case of beat ’em or join ’em. I joined. That got me looking at a fan page for my art business, and I had no sooner I set up a Facebook fan page, than my young and hip niece set me up on Twitter. It was the wedge in the door that blew everything wide open…to this art blog, a YouTube Channel, an online e-commerce Etsy store and Instagram profile.
Although a lot of people are on more social media sites than I am (I’ve yet to join Pinterest, and I’ve only dipped my toe into Google+ and LinkedIn) I am what you’d call an active social media engager. (I hear there is help for this, LOL.)
But here is the cool thing: it’s brought me so many gifts beyond my business that I can’t imagine my life without it. Cases in point:
Facebook: the gift that gives back
I give away a gift every time my Facebook fan page hits a “hundreds” milestone. At 100 likes, the gift put me in touch with a lovely local art lover, Joan Gregory, who has become a friend, cohort, and an inspiring connection. Joan oozes creativity.
Her beautiful collage cards are so inspiring, she’s taught journal-making courses, and we often have a get together over coffee or tea which inevitably leads to hours of laughing and deep conversations. (Soon I will be posting a blog of Joan’s cards.)
My 200th “like” on Facebook was Coco Berkman, owner of Stage Fort Press in Gloucester, Massachusetts. In sending Coco a gift of printmaking cards, she immediately (and secretly) sent me back a gift of one of her charming prints. I have just received another of her prints for Christmas this year from my husband. I love her playful artwork!
Tweets around the world
While looking to write a book review about “The Ghost Brush” by Katherine Govier about Japanese printmaker Hokusai and his daughter, I came across writer Janie Chang’s review of the same book. She had done an incredible review, so I thought: rather than rewrite one, maybe I could repost hers? A quick check in with her (she said yes!) and this innocent connection began a friendship that’s developed into following each other’s careers, to her purchasing my art, to me purchasing her first novel, to finally meeting in person at a coffee shop and gallery in Vancouver, BC.
Another Twitter connection is Helga van Leipsig who makes gorgeous handcrafted jewellery in The Netherlands. She has a fantastic blog on her website about her creative process, and she is also an accomplished photographer. Helga began a unique journey in July 2013 of creating space for an artist retreat at home.
Interestingly enough, this idea was inspired by a rejection Helga faced when applying for an artist scholarship in Maine (USA). Instead of crawling into a hole, she let it be the fire that had her create her own artist retreat, right in her backyard! It’s an inspiring read, full of introspection and videos and photos.
I gleefully followed her process, posting on her blog, and as a bonus she drew one winner from her followers and commentors, and it was me! I received an amazing piece of jewellery crafted by Helga. It’s one of my most treasured pieces.
One morning, I woke up to an interesting direct message in Twitter from Ilana Graf, an artist living in Israel who had recently rediscovered printmaking. She had found my blog, and was looking for advice on printmaking supplies. We had a number of exchanges, and we both marveled at the fact that we could bridge the gap across the world through technology.
I could go on, but you get the idea. I’ve connected with locals here that I hadn’t known before, and many printmakers and artists around the world. I love seeing artwork, getting inspired, finding resources and ideas. I know Twitter (and other social media sites) are a head-scratcher for some, but my world has grown exponentially from them.
Etsy: shopping for art and so much more
Setting up my Etsy store has been an adventure in shipping (one I have fully embraced now!), but there are also lots of opportunities to connect with other artists. It’s kind of a dangerous place to be because buying art is one of my all-time favorite passions (next to creating it, and reading books about it).
Here I met a fun printmaker who lives less than an hour away from me: Heather Smith of Cosmikgoo. Her wonderful Etsy store lead me to her blog and eventually to a friendship on Twitter. This past November, she came to one of my art shows and we finally met in person! Over our social interactions, we’ve shared lots of questions, and techniques, and bought each other’s art.
There are also built-in communities on Etsy. I belong to the Printsy and Linocut Printmakers groups where you can post questions about selling on Etsy, talk about supplies or even creative challenges. It’s a whole lot more than an online store.
Blog: from “is anyone out there?” to “hello friends!”
This blog has brought me an equal number of great connections. Every week I look forward to posts from Terri’s Time to be Inspired blog about travelling, eating and creating; Judy Lovell of Janthina Images showcases her stunning photography taken in and around the Florida Everglades; and Deb Hunter (who has several blogs, but I love her Island Home blog) in my WordPress reader. These are just some of the luscious blogs that transport me to the Florida swamps, travel spots around the globe, and inside the lives of other creative people — all without leaving my chair.
So, if you’re hesitating about making the leap into a social platform because you don’t have time, or don’t understand it, I was there too. My best advice? Dive in! People are kind and are more than willing to help you find your footing. And I guarantee: you’ll think about community and networking in a whole different way.