<![CDATA[greater victoria artist Directory - Blog]]>Sun, 06 Dec 2015 06:06:12 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Facebook Marketing for Artists]]>Tue, 10 Nov 2015 04:35:02 GMThttp://www.greatervictoriaartistdirectory.com/blog/facebook-marketing-for-artists
I must be out of my mind, attempting a topic like this, when social media marketing has been covered extensively in some very excellent blogs by professionals whom I follow every week.

But, that said, what I want to do here is edit out all the technical bits, and focus on the practical basics and the do-able.

Anthony Matthews

​​The BIG question. Do I need to have a Facebook Page?

One of the most daunting decisions we will make from the onset is whether or not a Facebook fan page is necessary. 

​The answer depends on a lot of things, such as how much time you are willing to spend on your Facebook marketing and whether or not you have the confidence to manage a page, beyond your normal profile. 

​My answer to that question is YES. Why you ask?
    1. ​Well, first of all, being an artist is a profession. As such, your message and image as a professional may be different than the fun social aspect of your personal profile. Having a fan page means that you can keep your personal and professional life separate. While it is true being an artist is often tied to our personalities, do you really want your clients to see EVERY post about your kitty? Keep reading, More on personal sharing later.
    2. Second, having a fan page allows you to analyze the traffic to your page. It lets you see just how many people have seen your posts through its Insightspages. It also gives you a method of targeting potential customers through all the excellent functions that having a fan page offers. For example, Boostinga post. This is advanced stuff, especially when it comes to razor targeting of your demographic using paid sponsored posts. NB: this will not be covered here. Stay tuned.

Why use Facebook for my marketing?

People are inherently social. Facebook works because it is a social network in the truest sense. Many artists don't get much social interaction, since they are often sequestered in the studio for long periods of time. But, managing a Facebook Page can be done conveniently, when your time permits.

I can sum Facebook marketing up in three words, one word repeated actually.

Engagement, engagement, engagement.

What this means is that in order for your posts to be seen by as many people as possible, its Organic Reach, then you have to act in the fashion that the Facebook algorithms are designed for. Simply, ENGAGEMENT!

At the bottom of every post in your timeline, you will see three options, and we are all familiar with them. But, lets look at them and their meaning.
  • LIKE - this is the most common action we engage in and it simply means that we are acknowledging this post and responding to it in a way that lets the poster know we agree with, or value their posting it. 
  • COMMENT - this is the option that lets us weigh in on the post, either positively or negatively. 
  • SHARE - this allows us to share the post on our own timelines, or on the timeline of a friend or a page you manage such as your artist fan page.

​Why does Liking, Commenting and Sharing matter?

This is where the power of organic reach comes into play in a serious way.

Most people don't realize you can in essence help train your Facebook newsfeed to show you the content that you WANT to see. That is a simplified statement since there are dozens of factors at play.

But by using those buttons, you can give hints to the algorithms on what to post to your newsfeed.

This, at its simplest, is one of the 3 pillars of Facebook's original ranking system called EdgeRank.

Every time you Like, Comment or Share a post in your newsfeed, you are essentially training it to filter posts based on your interests. You are telling it that this post, or person or subject is important to you, and to please let you see more. 

Kinda like training a dog - or cat, maybe? 

So, what happens when someone else likes, comments or shares on a post in your fan page newsfeed? Well, it tells you and the Facebook algorithm that these people, your fans, are interested in your posts, and want to see more like them.

​In this way, you can fine tune your message to your audience.

​These actions can have an amazing impact on the results. Knowing this can allow you to implement a strategy in your posts that will maximize your reach for your efforts.

​All that said, posting high quality content is the most important thing you can do to enhance engagement and reach. People are not likely to be inspired to engage with your posts if they are not appealing to them. 

How do I get active engagement on my posts?

Ah, now this is the rub! But, there are a number of techniques you can use to increase your engagement.

I am going to reference a professional by the name of Pat Flynn. He runs an amazing blog, covering such diverse topics as Search Engine Optimization, Content Management, Digital Marketing, and Social Media. 

His blog is very technical at times, well beyond the needs and capabilities of most of my intended audience. Here, I am going to summarize his thoughts, incorporating other professional advice, as well as my own observations. In case you are interested, here is a link to his blog.

My easy summary of the best advice on using a Facebook Fan Page for your Arts Practice.

  • Post regularly - but, don't over post! Set up a routine for yourself, and stick to it. It doesn't have to be every day, but don't post 10 times one day - or in one hour - and then nothing for a week. Don't forget, your fans are your friends, and I bet very few of your friends want 10 phone calls in an hour! Quality is better than Quantity!
  • Link back to your website or blog. One of the most important reasons for posting in social media is to drive traffic (visits) to your website and/or blog. It is impossible to communicate your entire message in a Facebook post, but your website can explain that information much better.
  • Use interesting images in your posts. We all do it, scrolling through our news feeds and doing a full stop on that cute kitty picture or video. You may not be selling kittens, but think about what images your customers want to see, such as your art.
  • Elicit an opinion. People like to share their opinions. Use this technique as an opportunity to hear what your fans think. Just do it in a sincere way.
  • Ask for help. I LOVE this one. People, your fans especially, want to help. Ask them for it. But again, be honest. Tell them why and what you want. Don't ask for money or sales directly, but do ask for their likes, comments and shares. You may be surprised. There is significant evidence that including those words increases engagement and reach.
  • Don't make every post about wanting something. This is where you share your cute kitty post, or show pictures of your studio or garden. Your fans are always being bombarded by sales pitches, let them know that you consider them friends! Evidence suggests that people are more likely to purchase from people they know and like.
  • Ask your fans to share something about themselves. We don't do this enough. Relationships are a two way street. We give so much information about ourselves, now ask them to tell you something about themselves.
  • Piggy back on other popular posts on other pages. This at first seems rude at best, or downright vulgar at worst. BUT, used sparingly and wisely you will reach people who may not have been aware of you. Best practice is to share your links or page on the post whose fans you want to reach. They may be interested in what you are offering, but do it intelligently. If they feel your comment or share is worthy, and of use to them, then they will become your fans too. 
  • Respond and acknowledge EVERY Like, Comment and Share. This is probably the simplest and most rewarding technique out there. Through this, you will discover who your true fans and influencers are (more on influencers below). You will build deep and meaningful relationships with people who value you and what you offer as an artist and as a person. It upholds the basic tenant of engagement in social media. And, it just feels good. 
  • A comment on Twitter Hashtags. I will cover Twitter in another post, but since the Hashtag is now integrated with Facebook, I feel it deserves a mention. Best practice is to not overstuff your posts with them. One or two or even three are ok when they make sense to the post. BUT any more than that and your post will take on the feel of spam, and no-one likes being spammed. There is evidence that these types of posts will get you page unlikes and reduce your engagement and organic reach.

Who and what are Influencers and how can they help my reach?

The goal is to increase your reach in terms of the number of people who see your posts. Influencers are an increasingly important component of any Social Media marketing plan. For our purposes, I want to simplify the concept and define influencers as...

"...networks, peers and professionals in your industry - whether they are people or Facebook pages - that contribute to the overall reach of your posts in the hopes of achieving more awareness, engagement and ultimately, sales".

We all have those loyal friends on Facebook, who like and share your posts on a regular basis. They widen the reach that your posts get when they engage with them. They expose them to groups of people who may not have seen them otherwise.

Likewise, networks and websites like the Artist Directory take on a role of Influencer. They contribute to the relevance and authority of both your Facebook posts and your website.

In conclusion...

If I could offer any advice to artists regarding any of the strategies, tips and points outlined above?

Create a Facebook Page, and take control of your own Arts Practice Social Media Marketing!

Take an active role in engaging your fans by creating a dialogue with them. Participate in posts about you and your work by Liking, Commenting and Sharing. It only takes a moment.

Watch this Blog space for more on social media advice and for other topics related to your arts practice.

Please feel free to share this Blog among anyone you feel would benefit from it. Don't forget to like it on Facebook! 

    Join our Email List for more engaging posts!

<![CDATA[The Uncanny Poetry of Interior Spaces. "Flower," by Stefanie Denz.               Written by Nuria Belastegui.]]>Sun, 11 Oct 2015 21:12:26 GMThttp://www.greatervictoriaartistdirectory.com/blog/the-uncanny-poetry-of-interior-spaces-flower-by-stefanie-denz-written-by-nuria-belastegui
'Flower', oil on panel
"I look for a subconscious quality in places and
people. Figures moving and scenes unfolding in
magic realism tones. [...] 

My work has nostalgia, sometimes
interrupted/augmented with use of found
materials and overlaid shapes. My key interest is
in relationships; individuals with their
environment, conscience and or social contexts,
whose tensions shape the narrative. [...] 

I am intrigued with how inner proccesses come to light through relationships. I often include found materials in my surfaces to bring my surroundings to the image. Its otherness works unpredictably and gives meaning to the contradictory nature of experiences.” 

Stefanie Denz. Artist's Statement
A long-established Salt Spring painter and visual artist, Stefanie Denz was born and raised in Duncan, British Columbia. After completing the University of Victoria Fine Arts Program, Denz won a Commonwealth scholarship for an MFA at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She has worked in many collaborative arts projects and her work has been exhibited in New Zealand, the US, Germany and Canada. Here is a link to her website.

"Strange" is the adjective I've most often heard in connection to Stefanie Denz's paintings, usually followed by other words like "beautiful," "alluring," "seductive," and "surreal." This post is an attempt to explore the complex sense of strangeness and allure that seems to envelop the work of Stefanie Denz through an analysis of one of her most emblematic paintings, "Flower." What follows is intended as a series of reflections suggested by the painting, not an authoritative interpretation of the work. In a way, I am reading the painting as I would a poem or piece of prose, starting with a specifically rich word or feeling and following its movement across the text.  Maybe not the most orthodox way to analyze a work of art, but one that is, I think, close to Denz's own method. Let's see where it takes us.

The Uncanny: the feeling of unease that arises when something familiar suddenly becomes strange and unfamiliar
A blurring of the boundaries between real and dream worlds. An opening, a tear in the fabric of
​everyday reality that  reveals other, hidden "realities"
 beyond appearances.
__When I look at Stefanie Denz's painting "Flower," the word uncanny immediately comes to mind. What do I find unsettling about this painting? Where does its familiar unfamiliarity lie? It is obvious that I am not looking at a realistic portrayal of a social gathering, even though both setting and people are depicted in a realistic, if somewhat stylized manner. I am looking at something more, something other. In a recent talk at Salt Spring Island's local library, Denz described the painting as a drama between a mother (the woman in the yellow dress) and her son in a (kind of) domestic setting.  Denz is interested in relationships and how these can be rendered on the flat surface of a painting, so her analysis of the scene focused on its realistic and narrative elements. The other figures in the quartet, the sleeping father and the girl crawling towards the door, are secondary characters in this family drama. Perhaps the mother is jealous of the girl (her son's love interest?) and this is why she is leaving the room. Maybe the whole scene is a dream created by the father—the shadowy figure lying on his side at the front of the room. (S. Denz,  "Women in my Paintings: Narratives of Discovery within Cover Spaces," Salt Spring Island Library, August 5, 2015). Denz provided several clues to help guide the viewer into its complexities, but, in the last instance, I felt that the scene was still open to interpretation. I could sense there was something more, an opening, an unfolding on the canvas— an insistent presence that defied explanation. What was it?  What is it? 

That giant flower in the middle of the painting. Why didn't I see it before, opening its petals and enveloping the actors in the drama within its own unfolding space? It seems that I was always already looking at a painting of a flower (the title held the clue all along) ; I just made the conscious decision to focus on the meaning of the story. But I was missing something important. This change in perspective was enough to shift my attention away from the painting's narrative possibilities to its visual aspects. I moved from the seen to the unseen. As Paul Klee once  remarked, the purpose of art is not to  "reproduce the visible" but to "make visible" (The Diaries of Paul Klee, Google Books). I suddenly became aware of other worlds, other realities shimmering beyond the visible world depicted in Denz's domestic scene and materializing, as a flower, into one of those "moments of being" that Virginia Woolf believed reside behind "the cottonwool of daily life," her phrase for the banal trivialities of daily existence (Moments of Being, 72). Or perhaps the flower is a manifestation of something else entirely, something more sinister. Whatever it "is," the flower's refusal to be pinned down, to fit neatly into the scene's dramatic composition, remains its most fascinating if unsettling feature.

"I'm interested in places beyond real time," Denz explained in the introduction to her talk at the library. Interior spaces, places that evoke "psychic time." Is the flower a visual evocation of our unconscious, that realm of buried memories, dreams and secret desires suggestively described by Julia Kristeva as "[a] strange land of borders and otherness" where the self is "ceaselessly constructed and deconstructed"? (Strangers to Ourselves, 191) It would seem so. Psychic time does not follow a linear or chronological pattern. Our mental life, including its unconscious processes, as Freud noted, "is timeless," not subjected to traditional limitations of time and space. This atemporality gives our dreams—the way the unconscious makes itself manifest—their characteristically static and frozen appearance. Not unlike the flower in Denz's painting, I notice. Its centre and one of its petals—or the petal-like shapes extending from it—appear solidified, or in the process of becoming so, as if they were carrying too much "psychic" weight. Though not all the petals share this quality; some are light and airy, while others have a consistency between solid and liquid. Like a pool of oil. Almost viscous. Like a membrane. The petals' malleability, their shifting plasticity suggests that Denz has a more dynamic vision of our psychic world. After all, as Freud and other psychoanalysts (even neurologists) have noted, the unconscious is not a monolithic structure but a dynamic field, a reservoir of energies and drives connected to both mental and bodily processes. Is the flower a physical manifestation of these complex dynamic processes, that is, is it their material representation? Oil on panel, paint on a material surface. These are real, tangible substances. Now I understand the relationship between nostalgia and Denz's use of reclaimed materials in many of her paintings, "my work has nostalgia, sometimes interrupted/augmented with use of found materials and overlaid shapes." A shape can bring us back to the material and visual realities of the canvas, suspending the dramatic action and letting it rest in one emotionally-charged moment. 

Nostalgia resides in the deepest parts of our psyche. Like the unconscious, or the uncanny, the nostalgic feeling manifests itself in the most unexpected of circumstances, as a sudden surge of emotion that feels almost like physical pain (the word nostalgia comes from the Greek algos [pain] and nostos [return]). Not unlike a poetic image, "an emergence ... a flare-up of being in the imagination" (Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, xviii), nostalgia emerges fully formed, a core of fluctuating emotions. I see now that the flower could also be a manifestation of nostalgia as "a flare-up" on the flat surface of the canvas. Denz has not superimposed extra materials on the painting (see "My Mother," below). Instead, she has set out to create the sense of space filling and growing (becoming three-dimensional) through the careful use of shape and colour. The effect is striking. Past memories, fears, tensions and desires are gathered together to form a flower, the traditional symbol of love in Western culture. Yes, now I see its timeless symbolism coming to the surface and the word that emerges is "connection":

"Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. 
Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, 
And human love will be seen at its height. 
Live in fragments no longer. 
Only connect..."
E. M. Forster, Howards End

 I look at "Flower" again and I sense E. M. Forster's impassioned appeal to connect, to gather, to bring together, but the human psyche is too complex and contradictory to be explained away by a call to universal love, nostalgia, or any other all-embracing concept. And Denz knows this, even as she tries to explain the painting to her audience at the library. She knows that there will always be something in this painting that resists interpretation, an "unruliness" that even the artist cannot tame. "Real art," as Susan Sontag remarks, "has the power to make us nervous." The act of interpretation, with its emphasis on intention and meaning, can be no more than an attempt to "tame" art's fundamental intractability, "Interpretation makes art comfortable, manageable" (Against Interpretation and Other Essays, 8 ). Stefanie Denz's paintings of social and domestic spaces are neither manageable nor comfortable. They refuse to give in to easy explanations— they remain "strange," undomesticated.

"To make strange" is one of the functions of art. Each artist explores this strangeness in a different, highly personal way. Denz's work focuses on the unseen psychic forces that permeate our domestic and social spaces, turning them into the scenes of complicated and mysterious dramas overlaid with strange and shifting shapes. The strangeness of her paintings, their "uncanniness," lies in their capacity to make visible the invisible while still remaining rooted in everyday reality. They are simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, tangible and intangible, real and dream-like. Unpredictable and changeable, like us. But they are still works of art, grounded in the here-and-now of our present human reality. That is something that no flight of imagination can change. 

Sometimes, art is not here to "mak[e] us more intelligible to ourselves" but to "help[...] us become more curious about how strange we really are” (Maggie Nelson, The Art of Cruelty). Stefanie Denz's art does just that: it eschews easy explanations to focus our attention on just "how strange" "real" human experience can be. And that is why her paintings of interior spaces will continue to seduce us with their alluring colours, shapes and precise compositions, while at the same time displaying their radical strangeness, their "uncanny poetry." 
This essay was re-printed with kind permission of the writer Nuria Belastegui, from her blog belasten.weebly.com

'My Mother' by Stefanie Denz