Hey artists, what’s wrong with this picture?

The scene is set in Carmel, Indiana. A crisp fall day and the sun is perfect with lots of kids, bikes, dogs, and open seats at outdoor cafes. But chatting with one creative mind after another, it quickly becomes apparent what is wrong with this this juried street art show where artists plunk down a few hundred dollars to sell their wares.

Artists (and musicians for that matter) don’t like being in the social media space. That’s a broad statement and I didn’t canvass each artist at this show. But they are likely the worst social media marketers on the planet. Of those I did chat with about being online, here’s what they had to say:

  • A website is too much trouble to update.
  • I’m not a fan of social media.
  • My designs were stolen when I posted them online.
  • I don’t like technology.
  • I’d rather talk to a potential buyer in person.

Now, if you’re thinking these were all older artists – let me stop you. They were not all 50-years plus, which surprised me even more. The apparent notion that technology and art don’t mix ran pretty strong across age brackets. When I did visit a few websites later, it was apparent that content isn’t updated (even with something as simple as an upcoming show list) and I could only find one person on Etsy.

What a massive shame and lost opportunity. I understand that artists would rather be creating. But to live they must sell. And we all know that art is good for the economy.

Here’s a take on arts marketing from Chad M. Bauman, director of the Technology in Arts Management program at American University and teacher for CalArts and Drexel University. Bauman’s focus is more on arts councils and collectives and he provides some good examples of campaigns.

So here’s our message to artists – from those struggling to stay afloat at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to the anti-social media sentiment of single artists at the Carmel International Arts Festival – please be aware that arts are best supported and funded by people who can find you and experience you.

So dear artists, whose imaginations and interpretations we treasure, please go to places where we can find you – and open up your world just a little wider (including with social media) for the rest of us to enjoy.

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