Using social media to promote your art

Conceptual artist Brainard Carey helps fellow artists use social media to their advantage.

Over the last two decades, New York conceptual artist Brainard Carey has carved out a career for himself on the international scene, with featured performances at the Whitney and Venice Biennials, among other notable venues.

But he has also pursued a parallel career as a kind of motivational speaker for contemporary artists. His message: In order to have a career, you have to develop your strategic voice, not just your artistic voice.

“Artists who have a sense of aesthetics and quality constantly see other work which is poorly made — or just bad — being exhibited. That’s very frustrating. But it also tells us something: There is another mechanism, beyond quality, for why that work is presented,” explains Carey. “So all I’m saying is, ‘let’s look at what those mechanisms are.’”

His latest book, “New Markets For Artists,” is a sequel to last year’s “Making It in the Art World.” This time, Carey wants to help artists rethink their use of social media and online markets.

“One of the ways people gain access is understanding how to reach people in an effective way. It’s all incredibly personal. How we approach people and handle ourselves is 90 percent of what’s going on in our careers,” he explains. “We have to practice our etiquette and think about how we’re approaching people. The best analogy is online dating: It’s not very effective to say, ‘Here’s my picture. If you think I’m handsome, click my e-mail.’ Yet that’s basically what artists often do with their work. That’s not attractive. People want to see something about who you are and how you think.”


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