I admit it. I love using Facebook! While I appreciate and enjoy connecting with friends and family using this modern method of communication, I mostly use Facebook as a feedback and promotional tool for my art. My most recent series of posts on a set of 16 little bird paintings is a nice little example of how Facebook can help us connect with our collectors, fans, and other artists. ** promote, promote, wink, wink, check out all the posts about my 16 birds on my fanpage HERE **
1) The Process
Art is a creative process. And while I can envision how to take an idea from start to finish, I often forget that this process can be an interesting mystery for others. While I've posted videos and slideshows on Youtube showing my process, I found that doing so on Facebook was more effective for allowing me to share what I do and receive immediate feedback on along the way. I also seem to create my best work when I know I'm being watched, which is why I will often paint at shows. Having others interact and react forces me to slow my process down and be more contemplative.
2) The Feedback
With facebook I can immediately tell which pieces make a greater impact on my fans than others. My fans also have inspired me to keep going and working on a piece. Looking at the number of hits/posts/likes also helps me to plan which images to print more of for a show and which images I should frame and display. I feel like I don't have to wait for the show itself to know what customers will like. (You do have to keep in mind the timing of your posts, as this will definitely affect how many people see/comment as well.)
OK. Here it can get tricky. I know I can sometimes over-promote and lose a fan here or there along the way. At the same time, though, I try to keep my audience regularly engaged in what I do, and give them several different options for following or purchasing my work. Since I have a variety of followers, too, interested in both my art itself and the business of art, I try to mostly use Facebook as a means to promote my work, but I also try to have educational posts as well. In fact, it was my Facebook fanpage that made me realize how many people are curious about the business side of what I do after posting a few income/expense charts showing %s. While all artists operate differently, our work life is a mystery to most people. People will often expect that I spend my days blissfully painting away in my studio every chance I get. Well, as nice as that sounds, I do my best to get into my studio a few hours every other day. The rest of the time I'm preparing prints and other merchandise, scanning, uploading, purchasing supplies, promoting, packaging, shipping, filling out forms, keeping my show calendar up to date, and balancing books. I'm sure I'm missing a few things here too... The more people know about our professional lives, though, the more engaged I feel they become.
5) and MORE
Personally, since I'm a rather private person and a wife and mother of 2 kids as well as being a full time artist, I try to make sure to separate family from work. Thankfully, Facebook makes this easy by allowing us a Friend page and a Fan page. For artists, I highly recommend making use of the Fan page to promote their work. Also, people will often want to be my friend on Facebook when I don't know them personally since they follow my work. I just direct them over to my fan page so that I can keep my friend page personal. It works great! That way my art followers aren't inundated with pictures of my kids :-)
So - if you are an artist, artisan, aspiring artist - check it out and see if a Facebook fan page is the right thing for you!