5 Benefits of Having an Online Presence as a Visual Artist

“Why have an online presence as an artist? Isn’t it a lot of hard work for little gain?”

For me, the internet was one of the main ways that I got interested in art, and so I would say that as a visual artist, I have never been without an “online presence”. Because of that I am extremely shocked when I come across people who are talented artists and have no online presence whatsoever!

If there is one thing I have learned as an artist in terms of “getting out there” it is the truth in a little saying that my Dad used to say: “The more dirt you throw at a wall, the more likely some will stick”. My thoughts on this have always been that, even though I may not be the most “talented” artist in the world, if I were to show my portfolio to every person on this earth, there would be enough interest in my work for me to make a very decent living selling my work to those people.

Because recently I have been in contact with so many visual artists who don’t seem to have any of their work online, many of whom seem quite daunted at the prospect of making that happen, I will be starting a series of articles which will run over the next few weeks. These articles will cover different ways that you can have an online presence as a Visual Artist, from very simple, easy to use, image sharing services, to the more advanced stuff like setting up your own website.

So why bother? What will the benefits be? Below I have listed 5 ways in which I believe taking these steps could benefit you as an artist.

  1. Having people view your work

    Ok, so, this might seem a very obvious thing, but having an online presence, if done correctly, can get literally thousands of people looking at your work. Using an example of one of the services that I will be covering in the next few weeks, at one point my MySpace account had over 14,000 friends, with a large proportion of that number regularly checking out and giving me feedback on my work. I’m sure that’s more people than you could fit in most, if not all of the worlds biggest gallerys!

  2. Meeting like-minded people

    One great thing about the internet is that it is so easy to find people who share similar interests to you, even down to very specific niches. This is great as an artist, as sometimes it can be very lonely. Certainly for me, I started off very interested in street art, and none of my friends locally were interested in that at all. Through image sharing sites and simply being able to refer people who I’ve met in forums etc to my website, I have been able to make a lot of friends online who I can talk to about the kind of art I am interested in, who can give me their feedback on my work, and moving on to my next point, it can be a great opportunity to….

  3. Get Inspired!

    I have found that the more I contribute to image sharing sites, the more I tend to look at other people’s work on those sites. This is great for inspiration & ideas and also great because it works both ways! Being involved with things like image sharing sites and blogging really brings about a sense of community, and as well as being able to receive feedback on your work, you can view other peoples work and get involved in the conversation!

  4. Selling your work

    I would say that 90% of the physical artwork and design/illustration services that I have sold have been online. You visual artists who haven’t got an online presence are loosing out on loads of business! There are many different ways that you can sell your artwork or creative services online, and I will be running through some of those techniques in my articles over the next few weeks.

  5. Getting seen by people within the industry

    Would you believe me if I told you that all of the galleries that I have done solo exhibitions at, and companies that I have done design work for have found me through my sites, profiles and blogs on the internet? You should, because its true. I would say that the vast majority of people within the creative industry use the internet as their number one source for finding fresh talent and new artists to work with. But if you have no presence online, how will they find you?

Seeing more Christian artists have an online presence is something that I am extremely passionate about, both for the benefits that you will find as an artist, but also for the importance of having a bigger Christian presence within the industry, being salt and light in the world.

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– James

Cutting Edge Creativity

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

It is said that Charles Wesley, a big hymn-writer from back in the day, used to take pub songs that people used to sing, and would make his own worshipful lyrics to the tunes of these songs. Genius.

I’m no historian, I dropped history when I chose my high school subjects at the age of 14, so i’m no expert, but, I had to have a little look back, because, from discussions with various people recently I feel like there has been a change. I mean, don’t get me wrong, times do change, cultures have been changing and evolving for thousands of years, but why do I feel as if Christian creativity just hasn’t got the same place in general society as it used to?

I hope that i’m not wrong in saying that the likes of Caravaggio, Da Vinci and Michelangelo were mainstream artists who were pushing the boundaries of art in their time, with their most famous works being centred around the Christian faith. These guys were out there, and the people were, and still are, LOVING IT!

As a side, something that really got me thinking this weekend was the fact that my sister, a nominal Christian, on Saturday night went to a huge event in Croydon called Witchfest, a witch convention. Now, she only went in the evening for the music event, and putting all the other issues aside, what I am trying to pull out of that situation is this: If NON witches are being attracted to events such a witchfest purely for the music, then why is this not happening in the Christian community? Now, please don’t think that I am naive because I know that plenty of non-Christians go along to events such as Soul Survivor each year and end up commiting their lives to God, but i’m talking about the mainstream here.

Please bare with me here, because, I am not writing this article to tell you all the answers, I REALLY have not got them! But what I am aiming to do is to ask some questions which, as Christian creatives, both individually and as a community, we really do need to think about.

I know that there are a lot of Christians who are using their skills and really getting out there, whether in the Music, Art, Entertainment, or Sport industries, but why does it seem that to find this stuff we need to search so hard, shouldn’t the Gospel message be there, easily accessible, slapping us in the face! I feel like in the times we are in, there is always a struggle for the church to keep up with the latest things, and more often than not just creating a cheesier version than the mainstream version, and far too late anyway!

This is not me “having a go” at the church, or you! This is an encouragement, this is me saying that we are the sons and daughters of a creative God, who, I believe wants us to be SETTING the trends, paving the creative way, rather than constantly playing catch-up. Tom and Cindy Bauer, founders of Surfing the Nations whom I spent 3 months with at the beginning of the year love this quote: “The gospel message never changes, but the ways to present it do.” I love that quote, and it is so true!

In the last few years, I have been a lonely artist, I’ve not felt as if I have been able to connect with anyone who is on the same wavelength as me, both artistically and spiritually, and that is a tough place to be, it has meant that a lot of the time I have compromised, especially in my art, because I haven’t really had accountability in my art. But, this is what Artists for Christ is about (no, not me making some arty friends), it’s about God raising up a new generation of creatives who are not willing to compromise, who are willing to get right into the thick of the mainstream, but to stand strong in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to radiate Jesus, to be radical, to truly be Salt and Light.

– James