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The Impact of Social Media on the Arts

If you view art exclusively in museums, galleries, or books, you may not be aware of the impact of social media on the arts. And you probably live under a rock.

Because even if you despise social media, it’s difficult to escape it completely. And just like everyone else, you’ve likely found it does have advantages.

For artists and those who appreciate art, this has certainly been the case. Thanks to social media, art is always just a click away. But is this always a good thing?

Impact of Social Media on the Arts Community

It’s really more accurate to say that social media has created a tremendous number of online art communities. And it’s helped to close the divide that previously kept artists apart.

“I’ve discovered so many new artists who inspire me every day just from their social media posts,” says illustrator and Marvel comic artist Jen Bartel. “Working on comics often means working long hours in isolation, and finding those connections online is such an amazing lifeline for many of us.”

Social media has also been great for Sydney-based Wonder Woman artist Nicola Scott. Her industry is thousands of miles from her home and social media helps her feel less isolated. “I get far fewer opportunities to meet or catch up with peers, mentors, and fans,” Scott says, “but through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook we can share in each others’ triumphs and slumps, promote and share our work.”

Yet along with fostering a sense of community, social media is also a means for artists to get their work in front of potential clients. And that’s something that has made it much easier for artists from many walks of life to succeed.

Easier Exposure

Once upon a time – as in just a mere thirty years ago – it was far more difficult to make it as an artist. Arts academy high schools struggled to survive and young people with artistic aspirations were encouraged to always have a plan B.

However, the internet and social media, in particular, have made art something that’s no longer available exclusively to the rich. And artists have exposure like they’ve never had before.

“I benefitted from social media in building a fanbase for my work and connecting with fellow creators,” says Art Camp founder Noah Bradley. “I think I’d have had a harder time becoming as well known as I am now without it.”

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Even street artists are embracing the interconnected practice of social media in their work. They use it to document their process and share their work while drawing inspiration from it. Vancouver-based street artist iHeart actually creates graffiti stencils that highlight the phenomenon of social media and its impact on digital natives.

Social media is an inexpensive way for upcoming artists to self-represent in hopes of being recognized. But there are drawbacks too.

But Maybe Too Much Exposure?

While it’s tough to solely blame the internet and social media for the continued shuttering of brick and mortar galleries, it’s probably much to blame.

With so many folks looking at art on their devices, they feel no need to visit such places. Yet, it’s pretty impossible to have the full artistic experience on social media. For example, viewing Michelangelo’s David from beneath the statue in Florence is an entirely different experience than looking at it on Twitter. Believing that social media can replace that live experience is an illusion.

Furthermore, because so much is posted online, the distinction between what is art and what isn’t is disappearing. With so much “self-expression” on social media, the line between art and pure narcissism becomes easily blurred.

Then there’s the impact of social media on the artist.

The Psychological Impact of Social Media on the Arts

It would be easy to say that social media makes people mean. It’s really more that while it fosters community, it also goes the distance in cultivating emotional detachment. As such, it’s far too easy for people to leave hateful comments.

Artists are no strangers to critiques. Growing a thick skin and taking constructive criticism is part and parcel of being an artist. But there are limits. And sharing art on social media can expose artists to unspeakable criticism that is anything BUT constructive.

What can too easily happen is artists begin to feel the need to cater to their audience and gather “likes” rather than truly express their artistic vision – creating work for others rather than oneself. Seeking external validation is a drain on creativity.

So Does Social Media Benefit the Arts?

There’s obviously more than one way to look at the impact of social media on the arts. Yes, on the one hand, money-driven approaches rooted in validation can lessen the integrity of the arts.

At the same time, it can serve to inspire, forge new connections, and give artists exposure they normally wouldn’t have. And these all offer tremendous hope for aspiring artists.

If your highly creative child is considering a career in the arts, give him or her a head start with an education from an arts academy middle school/high school. Contact us today to schedule a tour of our school.

And change their lives for the better.


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