Digital Empowerment at Art Smart London

Zealous CEO Guy Armitage gave a talk on digital empowerment at creative graduate festival Art Smart London last Monday, explaining to a room of creative students, graduates and artists how the digital world could help their careers. The festival, organised by and held at the University of Arts in London, aims to help creative students and graduates embark on their professional careers, making the topic of digital empowerment a highly relevant one.

Digital won't do the work for you, it only supports you

Armitage spoke about the ups and downs of going digital, warning that you can never expect instant results when using social media, and that you have to be willing to invest time and effort into building a name for yourself online.

‘Digital enables you to promote yourself and your work to an audience, connect with fellow artists and collaborate effectively and organise your time and space,’ he said, adding that your online presence translates to credibility in the real world.

‘Online is absolutely essential – if you google my name and nothing comes up in your search results, chances are you won’t think I’m credible and you won’t come to my talks.’

Establishing your name online, whether through blogging, showcasing your portfolio on Zealous or posting on social media, can bring a physical audience to your offline work and even increase the value of your work.

‘The more you talk about your work online, the more valuable it becomes,’ he explained. ‘The minute you get published in a big newspaper, you can raise your prices because people have the perception that your work is more valuable.’

'If the messages don't match, your credibility will suffer.'

Armitage also spoke about the importance of maintaining an authentic voice and unique identity online when promoting your work as an artist.

‘You have to tell your story online, ‘ he said. ‘Be authentic to gain credibility and encourage people to engage with you, so that when they meet you in real life, they find that your offline identity matches your online messages. If the messages don’t match, your credibility will suffer.’

‘Everyone has their own way of doing things,’ he added. ‘Everyone has their own artistic licence. So by actually being yourself online, you’re creating your own unique brand and you don’t have to make that much of an effort to maintain it.’

‘Think of Facebook as a snack that you sample in bite sizes.’

With a plethora of new social media apps out every day, Armitage added that artists should not exclusively focus on the popular options of Facebook and Twitter, especially if they were niche artists or working with a specific medium.

‘Think of Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram as high frequency networks that you should sample like a snack; you send out your messages in bite sizes to keep people engaged,’ he said. ‘But these networks will never deliver your whole story, it’s more of a way to tell people “I’m alive, I’m here, come see what I’m doing.”‘

High Frequency networks are complemented by platforms like WordPress and other blogs that require an investment of time and effort, but ultimately pay off.

‘These networks tag into Google and SEO, and they create a trail for your audience to find you online,’ he explained, adding that Twitter is not enough, you need to direct your audience towards a space where you showcase your portfolio and even sell your work. By feeding both types of platforms off each other, you’ll be able to drive larger audiences towards your work and increase your exposure.

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Art by Jake Moore