Have You Heard Of Pinterest?

Pinterest is the newest social media service hit and one that has the potential to be very useful to visual artists. It’s currently available by invitation only, but you can request one at their homepage, or this article on Mashable offers a few other suggestions.

They’ve gone from 1.2 million users in August to over 4 million at this point. And that’s without being open to the public.

It’s a virtual “pin board” to which images are posted. You can create “boards” on any topic you wish, such as “Susan Fox’s Paintings” or “Outrageous Desserts” or whatever. Other members can comment on your pins and (and this is part of what makes it intriguing as an art marketing option) “re-pin” your image to one of their own boards, from which their followers can re-pin it and…..

It’s totally visual. It’s easy and non-technical to use, at least I think so. You can post prices, so it has potential as a selling site for art. (How to do so is included in a bonus feature that is part of the Mashable article linked to above). It could almost be a substitute for a website if all an artist wanted was a place to display lots of their work.

The interface is clean and attractive and shows off art nicely. Pins can also be re-posted on Twitter and Facebook. There’s a line of icons under your profile information that includes links to your website, Twitter, Facebook and an RSS feed.

It’s easy to pin to with a “Pin It” bookmarklet that sits in your browser Toolbar. It’s easy to upload images from one’s computer. It’s easy for people to “re-pin” or share what you’ve posted. My Mongolian bactrian camel painting was re-pinned within minutes after I posted it, so there’s potential for lots of eyeballs and for an image to go viral.

Here’s my “pin” page: http://pinterest.com/foxstudio/pins/ and here are my “boards”: http://pinterest.com/foxstudio/. I’m trying a variety of boards, hoping that if I have interesting images in a number of categories, it will draw people in to check out my art, too, and also become a follower. It was really easy to add new boards, rearrange their order and move images between them.

On the main site, there is already an “Art” category, also “Photography” and “Film, Music and Books” categories. You assign your boards to one of these pre-existing categories, but can easily change which one at any time.

If you want to find out more about how to use Pinterest and to see if it would be useful to you as an artist, Mashable has a handy beginner’s guide.

This is still a really new option and early artist adopters are going to have to feel their way to see how it can best be used. If you’re already on Pinterest, let me know what you think of it!

Six Months on Facebook and…..

I know a lot of artists are wondering if getting on a social networking site like Facebook is worth it. They know they “ought” to, but see it as just another time suck when they can’t get everything done that needs doing anyway.

I decided to test drive it as part of my low (as in “no”) budget marketing plan. Here’s what’s happened since January:

After starting with a few people I knew in high school and art school, the number of friends I have has exploded to 173, mostly artists, some nationally known. But there are also local friends, some of whom are also gardeners, and people involved in animal welfare/rescue issues. So there I already have two groups that are potential buyers, except I don’t really think of them that way anymore.  Another friend is the editor of a major national art magazine, one writes every month for another art magazine and one is a gallery owner.

People are always posting about their work, interesting links, the shows they’re doing, the trips they’re taking, the new studio they’ve just moved into or an award they’ve won. Their friends hit the “Like” button or leave supportive comments. So if you feel isolated as an artist, Facebook is a great way to get connected and become part of a worldwide community of other artists. We cheer each other on, send virtual chocolate, flowers and sunshine to congratulate or commiserate and just generally enjoy each other’s “company”.

I “Share” my new blog posts and my Ebay auctions each week and I can see the spike in traffic on my blog and the click-throughs to my website after I’ve done so. When I post an image of a new painting, I get lots of strokes and compliments, which I really appreciate and which make the day a little brighter.

I’ve had one sale so far from a Facebook listing. The buyer was a fellow artist, who I originally connected with because we both have and love rough collies. She saw my eBay auction listing, bid and won.

I have friends in 18 countries, besides the USA. Most of them are fellow artists and it’s fun to see what’s going on elsewhere. Yesterday a new friend liked a painting of mine so much that she shared it on her Wall. She is from Argentina and now 59 of her friends, none of whom I know, will see my work. I was very please and flattered.

The countries I currently have friends in are: Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, South Africa, Kenya, Italy, France, Spain, England and Scotland (UK), Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, India and Mongolia. Plus two friends who don’t list where they live.

Honestly, what other way is there to make those kinds of connections for free? And I get so much more than just an marketing opportunity out of it. That, it turns out, was really only a starting point.

I have set limits on how I participate. I don’t get involved in any of the on-going games. I only use a few of the apps, either to send a “gift” to someone or when participating benefits a good cause like the Surfrider Foundation, bed nets for malaria prevention or saving the Rainforest. I do give in on some of the fun, silly quizzes, finding out that my aura is red, that I would be in Ravenclaw and that if I was a Star Trek character it would be Capt. Picard.

I get the feeds from sources as diverse as the White House (yes, THAT White House) and The Onion.

I have joined a variety of art-related groups, which I haven’t participated in as much as I would like. There also seem to be “fan” pages for just about every artist who ever lived that anyone has heard of. I’m a fan of, among others, Mucha, Sorolla and Waterhouse. These pages do post show and other information about the artists, along with images of their work.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m a fan of Facebook. I believe that we are rapidly approaching the point where having a presence on a social networking site will be every bit as necessary as having a phone and a website. Oh, and I’m now on Twitter at http://twitter.com/s_fox too. Still working on what the best use of that will be for me, but I invite you come follow along!

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I’m just about a month away from Mongolia and this (I hope)….

Argali rams at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, Sept. 2008
Argali rams at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve, Sept. 2008