No matter what sort of art you create – whether you are a graphic designer, painter, illustrator, digital artist, videographer, or any other type of artist – being featured on the web’s top art and design blogs can result in a huge surge of active followers, interested fans, and of course – paying customers. For artists, just like anyone else, a good amount of our time is spent trying to wring a living out of our craft and free publicity never hurt anyone in that respect. In fact, I know for certain that there have been some artists who were featured on sites I’ve written for that successfully launched (or in some cases relaunched) businesses that where all of a sudden profitable because they received so much attention they were able to convert some of those new eyeballs into customers.
If you read a lot of art blogs you’ve probably seen this scenario unfold: One art blog introduces a new artist and all of a sudden over the next week, month, or even year various posts about that artist’s work begin popping up everywhere. And because that first post set off a chain reaction in which every major art blog featured that artist, they are also featured on every middling to small art blog as well. This does not just happen every once in a while – it happens ALL. THE. TIME. In fact, it has to happen. It’s the nature of being a huge source for art/design trends. If another huge source posts something new and exciting all the others have to post about it too or risk being seen as irrelevant and out of the loop.
Maybe this results in boring some readers who check a lot of blogs, but if you are that artist being featured it’s an enormous break. One day you’re toiling away in obscurity and a blog post later millions of people are looking at your work! But how do you get yourself featured? Well, the bad news is that nothing is certain. The first and hardest thing you must do is create work worth sharing. That means you actually have to have produced something special. If not, then this post won’t help you one bit because a blogger at any one of those big blogs will look at your work and move on to something else in about 10 seconds flat. If not faster. But if you have honed your craft, produced a body of quality work, and have a mind to get your work “out there” then the following five tips will help.
1. Get Your Work Online
This is so obvious you’re probably wondering why I even put it on the list, let alone as my number one. Two reasons: (1) It’s nearly impossible to get featured without a gallery of your work online; and (2) I am constantly running into talented artists that I would love to feature but can’t because they don’t have their work up anywhere. So for some reason that is beyond me, this needs to be said. Post your work online.
I’m a big believer that every artist should have a blog, but if I’m honest I have to admit that it’s not absolutely necessary. For some of you the idea of burdening yourself with a blog you have to update on a regular basis sounds about as fun as smashing your head against a wall. I get that, and it’s no big deal. But one of the big benefits to having a blog is that it functions as an online hub. One place where people can go to get updates and find out where else to follow you online such as facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc. It’s also a good place to host a shop, publish announcements for your next gallery show, product release, or anything else along those lines. But I’m getting off point. The point is, you need a place where someone like me can easily snag your work and create a post about it and you.
Any of the following platforms will work:
Obviously, there are more options out there but these will do for our purposes today. Pick the platform that best fits you and your medium and start publishing your work! It is the first and most important step.
2. Do Personal Projects
Personal projects are great for a number of reasons. They keep you sharp, show your passion for your craft, and allow you room to experiment in ways that you may not be able to on a client project. Here are a few examples of people who started personal projects and wound up creating a name for themselves in the art/design world.
Abduzeedo.com – Fabio Sasso created Abduzeedo in 2006 as a personal blog where he could post the things he was learning as a graphic designer in the form of free tutorials and resources. His blog is now one of the largest art/design blogs in the world. Additionally, in large part due to the attention his blog drew to his work (which is amazing) he is now the senior designer at Google. I’m sure you will agree, that is no small feat.
LostType.com – Riley Cran and Tyler Gaplin began Lost Type as a way to distribute a single typeface they had created. Over time the site has turned into one of the most unique and useful type foundries online. Especially for cash-strapped designers in need of great fonts and typefaces. They are a fantastic example of two guys turning a passion project into a business – and a lot of attention from the design community.
BeautifulSwearWords.com – Theo Olsen – who’s not even 21 until 2014! – began a fun little project on tumblr in which he creates hand drawn versions of swear words. Simple, fun, funny, and man has it got a lot of attention. He’s been featured all over the place for this project, not to mention making the jump to television thanks to a quick feature on Adult Swim.
There are a TON of other great examples like these but you get the idea.
3. Participate In Others’ Projects
Participating in ongoing projects initiated by others can be nearly as beneficial as starting one yourself. It’s basically the same as being featured on a popular blog in and of itself. Here are a few cool projects on my radar that I’ve seen get picked up and distributed in the art/design blogosphere.
- Six Word Story Every Day
- Alphabattle by Lettercult.com
- Beautiful Swear Words (Submissions)
- Lomography competitions & giveaways
- The Sketchbook Project
- And many more.
Most popular blogs are always having competitions and giveaways so take advantage of that. Especially considering that if it’s a blog you would like your work featured on in the future, turning in a noteworthy entry to a competition they took the trouble to organize will put you on their good side and force them to look at your work. Participate as much as you can and if your work is good, people (especially bloggers looking for their next post) will notice.
4. Email Bloggers
Here is the easiest way to get your work noticed by a blogger. Send them an email like the one below.
Subject Line: [Interesting New Project Name]
Body: Hey Nathan,
I just wanted to drop you a link to my new art project.
Hope you enjoy!
BOOM. Done. That is all you need. In fact, if you bury your link under an avalanche of words (even if it’s a really awesome explanation of your project) the email will probably go unread and the link un-clicked. The same idea can be executed in blog comments, facebook, twitter, or any other medium for contact.
5. Avoid A Flash Portfolio At All Costs
Piggy-backing off of number four, if I receive an email from someone who would like me to check out their online portfolio and I click on their link only to find that their portfolio is made in flash I will almost always close the window and move on to the next email.
Here’s why: Images in flash do not allow for right-click save nor are you able to drag and drop them into a folder. It’s a given that for just about every blog post an artist’s images will have to be resized, but add to that process a lengthy screen capture session and your portfolio is likely to get passed up. And if you have some sort of animation that cannot be paused the screen capture process just got five times longer because the screen captures have to be in time with the animation. Most bloggers, myself included, will not take the time to take that many screen captures when there are tons of other great resources available where that is not necessary.
That’s not to say it never happens. I’ve definitely gone to the trouble of doing this before for someone who’s work I thought was too good to pass up. I’ve also passed on a bunch of people I thought were worthy of being featured because I had a lot of deadlines that day and couldn’t spare the extra time. So why take the chance that when someone discovers your work and wants to put it in front of millions of people they decide not to because of a dumb flash animation?
As I mentioned above, nothing is certain. These are not “five steps to automatically getting your work on top art/design blogs” but in my experience these tips range from absolutely necessary to at least a solid step in the right direction. If you have any tips/tricks of your own that you would like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Or if you think I’m full of it, I’ll be happy to discuss your objections as well 🙂