College Art Students Should Be Taught How to Market Through Social Media
Today’s society revolves around social media. Virtual communities and networks serve many different purposes to the world. It is a source of entertainment, a way to communicate, for people to get together, and to share anything. For these reasons, social media is an artist’s best tool. This Implement is empowering to artists because they can share their work, discover other artists and work, communicate with anyone whether it be for feedback, or to find moral support. Through social media artists can be discovered by the world, but do all artists know the true benefits of this tool that is dangling right in front of them every single day?
I am an Art Student at Virginia Commonwealth University and I had no idea how to use social media in any career related way until recently. Being a junior, the time came for me to begin applying for jobs and I did not have a basic online portfolio or any clue how to make one. This made it difficult for me to show my work to possible future employers. I did not know how to make a fundamental virtual portfolio until I took the time to teach myself. It was nerve wracking considering I had no idea what I was doing and I was about to share my personal work with a complete stranger. All I wanted was a mentor to help me through the process my first time. I wanted in every way to make a good impression. I realized that I am going to the number one public art university in the nation yet; I do not know how to show my work. I know in this day and age I should not be as clueless as I am about social media. The University has failed to prepare me for this step in my life. After completing two full years at a major art school, I should have some knowledge about how to market myself. Art schools should teach their students more about social media.
Knowing how to properly use social media will help students discover that they can connect with anyone across the world, find inspiration, and receive boundless feedback. Art students who know how to use social media properly will know what types of social media will benefit them the most in the future. Behance, a social media portfolio website, claims they have had over 58 million views within the past 30 days (Behance, 2014). These are prospects that every clueless artist is missing out on. This website would be great for a concept artist to use as an online portfolio where they can constantly update their work. Knowing how to do all of this properly will teach students what they need to know in order to be ready for their next step in life, whether it be freelancing or working for a branding agency. This will provide students with the knowledge they need to be prepared for the real world. College art schools should provide students with enough knowledge and resources to effectively use social media for independent marketing. Art students need to be equipped with the skills and confidence to take their next steps towards independence.
Behance, as well as, DeviantART are online communities where artists can share their work and potentially sell their art as well. DeviantART claims they are the world’s largest online community of artists and art-lovers. On DeviantART, artists can exhibit their work to over 32 million international members of the website. The web domain is set up for artists to be able to communicate and collaborate in order to learn from each other (DeviantART, 2014). Behance is more for marketing and exposing artists. Their slogan says, “We built a platform to remove the barriers between talent and opportunity”(Behance, 2014). Art students have the ability, but they are not aware of the opportunities out there when they do not market themselves. Hopefully art schools will soon change their ways and emphasize to their students the importance of using social media as a marketing tool.
Students should know how to use social media properly for academic purposes from a young age to help benefit their education, create a profile that can help them with finding a future career, and most of all, understand what should not be put on online. These facts need to be brought to young adults’ attention so they can see past the surface uses of virtual communication
Social media can be a beneficial device for users to educate themselves. Juan Castro, an assistant art professor at Concordia University, explains that students should know that social media is not just for building social relationships. Social media can be driven by the interest of the user (Castro, 2012). This means students can follow their favorite artists on twitter, create their own online portfolio blog, or even subscribe to a YouTube tutorial channel that explains how to use Adobe programs.
Online activities that students engage in at home and activities that students engage in at school are often mixed up. Carol Bauer, a member of the Virginia Education Association’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee, explains that it is important to teach students to be responsible “digital citizens” (Bauer, 2012). Bauer suggests teachers use social media in the classroom openly and as honestly as possible to teach students how to use social media appropriately.
Implementations of this platform will prepare students for future higher education and careers. Bauer says teaching students about new technology and how to properly use social media prepares students growing up in the world of rapidly changing technology (Bauer, 2012). The students will be able to apply the skills they have learned to social media to communicate with classmates, professors, and the rest of the world. Karen Richardson, an educational technology specialist, says in her article, Why Teach Social Media, “unless someone’s future job is to be a hermit, they would have to use and understand social media at some point” (Richardson, 2014, para. 5). This highly applies to artists because they often encourage feedback on their work and social media makes it very easy for them to receive the desired reviews.
Many different types of social media available online take different approaches towards sharing information. The Art Career Project (2012), a group developed to help artists, did a study to see which platforms were the most popular among artists trying to promote themselves. In the article, Art Careers Marketed Via Major Social Media Platform, the top social media platforms were: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, YouTube, and Google+ (Art Career Project, 2012). The Art Career Project gave examples of how to use each platform properly. They also encouraged artists to use multiple social media platforms to market themselves after noting that there is no one social media platform that artists should solely rely on (Art Career Project, 2012). This could be a very beneficial lesson for art students to learn before they are out in the real world and have to figure this out for themselves.
There are many cases where students use social media improperly and have to face consequences they were not previously aware about. Some believe the use of social media should be kept away from the classroom because of these improper uses, but this is why Karen Richardson stresses that it is so important to teach students about social media (Richardson, 2014). She explains how students often mix up emoticons and slang in formal writing. Emoticons and slang both have a place in fast-pace communication like texting and twitter, but students need to be taught to separate that style of writing from formal writing. Richardson also talks about how it is important to know the proper way of displaying yourself (Richardson, 2014). She uses the New York Times article, When Teachers Go Wild on the Web, to show that teachers are not aware of possible consequences of posting inappropriate pictures or comments online. Art can involve what may be considered to some people, inappropriate material. Students should be advised about what types of art are appropriate to share and where it is fitting. Rather than ridding the classroom of social media to shelter students from this kind of activity, Karen says, “If schools choose to instead ban and ignore, they miss the opportunity to truly prepare their students to live empowered lives in this world” (Richardson, 2014). Students who represent themselves improperly online may be seen as unprofessional. Students may miss future career opportunities and lose clients if they are seen as disrespectful or unprofessional. Learning how to properly conduct themselves in public places like social media is a beginning step to marketing themselves.
Art students in college should be exposed to any and all influences they want so they can develop awareness and maturity toward each topic of interest they have. The National Foundation for Education Research (2011) did a study to help raise awareness for educational institutions to help students build resilience to extreme ideologies by exposing students to uncensored information. In the study, the students get use to the exposure to uncensored information and learn to question claims made anyone on the Internet before believing them (Bonnell & Copestake & Kerr, 2011). Students should not be sheltered from influences because the exposure will help them learn about new ideas and how to react to them. The experience can make a great impact on a person and the exposure can help them develop creative ideas. Social media can help college art students find inspiration from outside sources and also help them develop their own style. There are so many influential and inspirational people on social media. Students can get in touch with these people through online forums, learn how to recognize and respond to trends, and learn how these influential people target their audiences.
New styles or trends can be developed as a result of an impact from outside influences like social media. Sophie Lee, a student interviewed In Juan Castro’s article, explains how she has found other approaches of work in social media that she admires and incorporates them into her own style. The digital exchange resulted in a completely new style (Castro, 2012). Castro claims, “Rather than discouraging participants from copying others' work, the constraint served as an acknowledgment that in art we can learn from looking at each other's work, by playing and elaborating with each other's ideas… this is an important social media practice in learning” (Castro, 2012, para.30). The student’s discovery through social media impacted her greatly and she now creates work that she is more proud of because of the new style she developed. New trends also evolve from incidences like this. ChanMin Kim, a professor at The University of Georgia says student achievement relies on what they are exposed to and are heavily influenced by what their teachers choose to expose them to (Kim, 2013). When students are given the freedom to explore social media however they are developing a stronger sense of individuality.
Different types of influences affect the student. Per-Olof Erixon, a Swedish professor of the Department of Creative Studies explains the different types of influences. There is the above influence or formal influence, which is regular curriculum taught to students globally. The below influence is considered to be more informal which consists of students’ cultures outside of school (Erixon, 2010). The younger generation brings informal influences into schools and these new perspectives transition into a part of the more formal influences. In other words, influences like social media are found to create good learning experiences. If informal influences are becoming a more common way of learning today and creating good experiences, they should be implemented into formal influences and become a part of regular school curricular.
Social media opens a new door to learning. Exploring the Internet can be very educational. Students naturally want to explore as far as they can (Bauer, 2012). There are so many examples of social media that are used for artists like DevientART, Behance, Flickr, Vimeo, and many more. These are not as popular as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ because they apply to very specific uses where the more popular types of social media can connect with a broader range of information and users. These types of social media are not only good for influencing artists. Artists can create fan pages, or exhibit their work through these platforms in hopes of influencing other artists or to market themselves as well.
Students should know how to use social media to its fullest potential because it offers them a location for work to be shared and promoted on websites like DeviantART and Behance. Karen Richardson claims, “Whatever your passion or area of study, social media can help you connect with others in the field” (Richardson, 2014, para.4). Artists can explore the meaning of reincarnation then find some tweets about it and apply it to a piece they are working on. The possible results are infinite.
Behance has done showcases to display the success their users have found because of using the online portfolio website. Olivia Solon, a writer and editor specializing in digital culture wrote an article about Behance called, Watch Scott Belsky’s Behance Network Showcase. The article talks about a few people discovered through Behance that have successful creative careers now because of the website. Jens-Henrik Heinen from Litchtfaktor creates art using lights and long exposure photography. She would mess around with this kind of photography, but her fun quickly became business (Solon, 2013). Now the company has done work for Audi, created their own app, and have had many shows across the world. Another person showcased was Levi Van Veluw. He is a dutch contemporary artist who does portraits where he covers the skin in different materials. His work is so detailed that viewers assume it is photoshopped (Solon, 2013). He has won the Epos Press Drawing Prize for Dutch artists and has been greatly recognized for his exquisite work. These artists both worked hard to develop the skills they now have. They received feedback and critiques that helped them get where they are today.
Students will be able to develop a learning community through social media to receive critique on their work and give feedback to peers. In art classes, students gather around to look at each other’s work. They politely explain what makes the piece work and what could be improved. They share their perspective on the success of the piece and offer comments for improvement. Students benefit from the physicality of the classroom, but can widen their audience if they expand to online critiques. Social media broadens the opportunity for art students to practice critiquing skills and to receive more feedback. People can comment on students work at any time of the day from anywhere. There is no space limitation, which makes social media a boundless location for students to share work.
The use of social media has taken communication to the next level. People can now communicate with each other across the world and see their faces at the same time while tweeting in one tab and scrolling through some DeviantART profiles. So much can go on at once. Castro claims social media has made it so that people can gather across time and space to share their ideas. Social media is good for critique because you can get feedback from people outside your physical classroom. This is an easy concept to grasp when you think about how you can look at someone’s DevienART portfolio from Sweden and have someone from Canada like a photo of your art work that you posted on Instagram. Carol Bauer’s class is the perfect example of how social media shows no boundaries. Every year she has her fourth grade class chat with fourth grade children from New Mexico through social media. She uses this as an educational lesson to show her students what people from other parts of the United States are like. She said each year her students are shocked to find how similar children in New Mexico are to them (Bauer, 2012). Social media has created a virtual space for people to communicate and it should be taken advantage of.
Teachers can give feedback to their students as fast as they can type. You do not have to wait for your letter to travel across the Atlantic to get to Europe on a boat over the course of a couple of months anymore. Now you just tag your professor in your tweet and click the tweet button. You can shoot your professor an email or even chat them on Facebook to ask them a quick question about example artists to use as reference for the upcoming project. According to Per-Olof Erixon, communication between student and teacher is very important and social media helps clear up this process (Erixon, 2010). Carol agrees with Erixon’s idea and says students and teachers can use social media to enhance instruction (Bauer, 2012). For art students, professors can help critique their students work through social media as well instead of just furthering instruction. Communication with professors through social media is also good practice to prepare artists to communicate with a future employer or customer.
The virtual space has created a place for students to connect with each other. Serena Gordon explains that social media is proven to encourage people to connect with each other and express their creativity (Gordon, 2011). Online discussions provide a space for more shy students to open up and share their opinion as well (Bauer, 2012).
An online discussion can provide a student with more information than they expect. I know this from a personal experience that I shared with Karen Richardson, an educational technology specialist. I was tweeting about why high school students should be taught social media and another professor tweeted my question to Karen. She took this as an opportunity to respond in detail: “social media is the way we communicate these days… social media is also where we go to connect with each other” (Richardson, 2014, para.4). Karen Richardson’s statement shows how social media has become such a sizeable part of our world today.
An electronic portfolio is a digital way for an artist to document and share work. The development of an online portfolio can help students keep their work organized and easily accessible in a boundless space. This is also used to help students share their work. Carol Bauer believes innovative technology has made the web beneficial for people of all different ages and interests. Social media is an innovative technology that creates a space to share anything you want (Bauer, 2012). This opportunity screams for artists to share their work through social media. Creating an electronic portfolio leaves them with the opportunity to share work through social media, market themselves, or even apply for a job without having to bring a big huge clunky portfolio and risk damaging their original pieces.
A student, from Juan Castro’s article, named Gaelan Knoll developed a photographic portfolio for his first time and shared it online (Castro, 2012). Because he shared it through social media he received more critique on his work than he would have if he kept his work to just his classmates. Gaelan benefitted from this experience and said he learned a lot from other people’s feedback (Castro, 2012).
Gary Greenberg, a director for IT Teaching and Research Initiatives, goes into detail on how electronic portfolios are beneficial for artists. He says, “The portfolio becomes more than a collection of organized work – it is the critical vehicle for an artists education and creative development” (Greenberg, 2004). Greenberg believes artists benefit from building their own portfolios and can continuously reflect on them when their work is kept close for future reference. The reason Greenberg believes the use of an electronic portfolio is important because it creates an easily useable portfolio (Greenberg, 2004). Ellen Cohn, an associate Dean and associate professor at University of Pittsburgh, goes through the same process as Gary Greenberg explaining how electronic portfolios are so important today. She says, “electronic portfolios are the higher education’s new got to have it tool” (Cohn, 2004). She claims graduates use their developed portfolios to show what they have accomplished to be competitive applicants in the job market (Cohn, 2004). Electronic portfolios can thrive in a lifetime of personal web space that contains the users work fashioned in a way to accommodate how the user wants to develop from the work (Cohn, 2004).
Electronic portfolios can be the one place an artist goes that has all of the answers. They do not have to rummage through different drawers and cabinets to find their work, and they do not have to wrap it up in plastic on a rainy day to take it to a job interview. Ellen Cohn believes artists can provide people with access to view their portfolio and can possibly get job offers and recognition for what they have accomplished because it was easily accessible for others to view (Cohn, 2004). People do not have to be together anymore to share their work. With a properly organized and well-kept electronic portfolio, artists can view their own work from anywhere. They no longer have to worry about transporting their original work and they can share their work with anyone from anywhere around the world. Greenberg focuses on how the work can be viewed by anyone. He says this makes it possible to receive feedback from anyone you would like to discuss you work with (Greenberg, 2004).
There are a few pitfalls to the use of social media as a great artist tools. It is argued that online portfolios or electronic portfolios create an impersonal interaction. It is also argued that young adults and even adults sometimes encounter improper uses of social media.
Some may argue that an online portfolio is not personal enough. They may prefer for the artist to bring in the original work for a face-to-face meeting. Gary Greenberg does understands why this would be an issue in some eyes, but he believes the overall convenience of the electronic portfolio outweighs the impersonal interaction (Greenberg, 2004). Ellen Cohn also takes note of this disagreement. She understands how in some ways it can create an impersonal experience, but it can also help people feel more connected than if there was no online portfolio. It is a way for people to get to know each other and their personal style when one may not have the time or be able to travel to meet with the other (Cohn, 2004). The electronic portfolio also has an incomparable advantage from the marketing angle that a physical portfolio does not.
All of the reasons used to explain why social media should be taught in college art schools go hand in hand. Social media has created new platforms of communication to make education for art students more efficient across the world. Artists can use social media to find inspiration from outside influences to help develop a personal style, pick up on or create trends, and learn how to target audiences. Students can create electronic portfolios that are easy to share online through social media, which provides a platform to develop a learning community where artists can share work and exchange feedback. These electronic portfolios also create an extreme advantage for artists who are marketing themselves. If artists know how to use social media to its full potential then they can be more prepared for their future careers and can gain an advantage in the job market by efficiently sharing work across the globe.
Below is a veido about Kelsey, a young artist who enjoys using social media to interact with her art work and impact people who come across her work.
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