The following is a guest post from Amrita Chandra, one of the great people I met in 2008 at PodCamp Boston 3.
What Artists Can Teach Everyone About Social Media
People tend to look to leaders in the technology or business world to learn how to use Social Media. But from my experience, it is artists who are the best teachers of all. Some of the things we can all learn from them:
Find inspiration outside your domain. – Talk to an artist and they will often tell you they found inspiration in a book or political event or meaningful place. Artists take ideas from everywhere to foster collaboration and innovation in their own practice. If you are on Twitter, are you just following other people in your field or your region, or the so-called A-listers who everyone else is following?Try broadening your circle, to follow people like @ryantaylor who is using social media for his sustainable jewelry business and @brooklynmuseum who despite being one of the oldest museums in the U.S., have started a 1stFans program to bring art lovers together using social media. Apply what they are doing to your own area of interest.
Dye your hair pink.Okay, maybe not literally.What I really mean is donâ€™t be afraid to be different. Artists are typically on the fringes of society so we are used to feeling a little out of place.How that helps us in the social media front is that by talking about things that may be unpopular or controversial or just plain weird, we stand out from the crowd.And that makes us memorable. What I love about Hugh Macleodâ€™s cartoons is that he says things everyone is thinking but is afraid to say.Things like this and this.Donâ€™t be afraid to be express yourself.
Make your own rules. John Unger is an artist who is using social media to finance the building of his new studio, in bits and pieces.MaryAnne Davis is a ceramic artist who created an online gift registry so people could register for her work for weddings.I decided to give the finger to the art establishment that fosters elitism & exclusion by creating a space that is both welcoming and well curated.Rules only exist until new rules are created, so make your own!
Choose your critics wisely. In the social media universe, everyone can be a vocal critic.Some are much louder than others due to their network or communication style.Good artists value criticism, but know how to assess their work through critiques from people that fit their sensibilities or ambitions.In your own social media initiatives, it is important to ask what you can do better, but donâ€™t be quick to change your path based on your most vocal or visible critics.Find people whose opinions you respect, not because they are yes-men, but because they can give you valuable advice in an appropriate context and constructive manner.Many of the greatest artists in history were not appreciated in the prime of their lives.You may wade through many naysayers before you find your following.
Live an interesting life. What I love most about art is how it allows people to tell their own stories, whether it is through a painting or a photograph or a video installation.And the best stories come from people who live interesting lives. Look at your own life.Are you in a rut?Are you afraid to try new things?When was the last time you did something that took you outside your comfort zone?By being an interesting person, you will draw people to you through the stories you tell whether you are talking about software or changing the world.
Artists have taught me that social media, like life itself, is an art, not a science, and the most important thing of all is to just get out, experiment, & enjoy; the rest will follow. Do you agree or disagree or have a different take altogether? Iâ€™m interested to hear your thoughts.
Image: Earthly Delights, Nasco Pelev. Courtesy of tinku gallery
Amrita Chandra is the founder of tinku gallery, a contemporary art gallery in Toronto and also
a freelance marketing professional with early stage ventures.