This is a revisiting and updating of an old post written way back in 2012, 5 Things Artists Can Blog About. I’ve changed it to things artists can talk about because you can use these topics in your emails, on social media, in interviews, and all sorts of places in addition to (or instead of) your blog. Totally freeing, right?
This might be the objection I get most often when giving artists assignments.
Like my client the other day who told me, “I haven’t been keeping up with Instagram because I just don’t have a lot to say unless I’m posting new art.”
It always shocks me because artists are literally inherently interesting to non-artists.
People who don’t create art think artists are like magicians – there’s mystery and excitement in your work… even a little wonder!
Next time you’ve got to come up with something to say, I don’t want you thinking you’re boring or you’ve already talked about everything before. I want you knowing exactly what to say.
Here are some of my favorite topic ideas:
1 CREATIVE JOURNEY
It’s important that you’re not always just sharing photos of your work, but also connecting meaningfully with your fans. A sure-fire way to connect meaningfully with your fans is to talk about what you’re going through in your art practice.
Is it easy and free right now? Are pieces practically shooting out of your hands by the hour? Or are you in more of a down turn where it’s difficult to pull the creativity out, to get through a stuck point in a piece, or even just to get yourself into the studio in the first place?
Share with your fans like you would talk to a friend.
Assume they’ll get it and they’ll be supportive of you on your creative journey. 9 times out of 10, they really will. And that’s not just a great feeling, to be understood, but it’s also going to lead to better relationships with your fans (which of course leads them to become customers).
Use pictures that aren’t of your art. Maybe it’s the flower you saw while walking your dog yesterday that you couldn’t get out of your head and now you know it’s your next painting.
Maybe it’s a hastily drawn sketch that you might not do anything with and you’re certainly a bit embarrassed to show people.
Maybe it’s just a picture of something you’re researching to prep for a new piece.
And don’t forget words.
While artists are often happiest communicating through images, most of the world doesn’t process deeply with imagery like they do with words.
Simple concepts work great with images.
But if you want your fans to really understand what goes into your art (and they need to before they feel excited enough to buy from you), then you need to express it lingually too.
One mistake I see a lot on social media, for example, is a picture with a caption that only has a bunch of hashtags. Or a picture with a caption that’s not even a full sentence. It just says “flower” or “my morning” or something super simple. While that might help people place the image, they need something more.
Try something more like “This flower is so gorgeous. I can’t get the line of it’s petal out of my head!” or “My morning was so cozy today when my 4-year-old and our dog jumped up in bed with me and the sun was streaming through the windows. The sweetest wakeup call in a longtime. I’m thinking of getting rid of my alarm clock…”
3 BEHIND THE SCENES
Let your readers into your world. Show them your studio space, a picture of you working on a new piece, and photos of your art tools.
Give them a look at your messy paint hands or that apron you’ve kept for years.
This is also the category of palette photos, sketches, and motivational quotes. Don’t worry if it looks like every other photo of a paint palette or color swatch study you’ve seen.
This is one of the most-beloved types of information from an artist.
Fans love to see what you’re doing behind-the-scenes before that final, beautiful piece gets in their hands.
This is probably the type of discussion you’re most used to having on the internet.
New pieces, new shows, new collaborations, new mediums…
Announce all the new things going on in your creative life. But make sure it’s no more than 30% of what you talk about.
Your fans will lose excitement if every time they hear from you is just another new piece. They actually want to get to know you as a person so that they want to stop and pay attention to those new pieces.
Unfortunately, in the real world the art might speak for itself, but people aren’t always listening.
You have to speak for the art a little first to get people’s attention before the art can communicate with their souls too.
Not every artist needs to teach, but it can be really fun. And sometimes your fans are even more enamored by you when they see how you got the marks onto the canvas.
Even if you’re not much for teaching (a valid decision), you can educate your fans about your medium.
Explain to them why you sometimes pick up the palette knife over the paintbrush. Talk to them about the solvents you use to thin your paint. Film a video where you show all the work that goes into setting up your space before you create.
This can also be a chance to incorporate a medium you want to play around in, but don’t intend on making a regular part of your art practice.
Instead of ignoring that cool weaving project you wanted to do, teach your fans how to do it themselves alongside you.
Any variation on the teaching category will help you create an expert persona that makes you stand out as a leader in your medium, so that your fans are more excited to buy from you and you can ask higher prices.
Seriously. When was the last time you let your Instagram followers see your face?
If it’s been more than 2 months, I bet your face is buried under loads of newer posts and that means many of your fans have no idea what you look like.
It doesn’t matter so much, except that it immediately turns you from a concept of an artist into an actual person who is an artist.
Studies show that seeing a face makes people act kinder toward you and gets them more excited about you. And it’s because people with faces are real. Without a face, you’re more like a corporation than a person, right?
A similar principle, sharing something about your children, your pets, even just that new dress you bought or that your kitchen faucet broke… that makes you so human and real.
And people want to buy from that much more than a faceless corporation with no real life happening.
What other topics do you reach for when you’re talking about your art career?
One last thought I want to leave you on:
Treat any time you talk about your art practice as a conversation with a real person.
Because each person reading or hearing or watching it feels like they’re sitting in front of you over coffee.