Monday, March 16, 2009

"Following" art on Twitter

to scan my Twitter "art-based" stream feels like a form of madness. I click on abbreviated urls, spend time finding people to follow and then have them follow me. There is no structure, per se. It is sheer randomness. Yet I do it.

Much of the 140-character art "lineage" is self-promotional, such as museums or artists linking to their current exhibitions or cool things, which is fine with me. I wouldn't know what a Cleveland gallery is doing from my local New York City media. But alot of the abbreviated, hypertexted verbiage is also just a way for folk to share links to images, galleries, artists, artblogs, antiques, pretty pictures, ugly pictures, flickr streams, videos, neat visual stuff or photographic tips. Or at least that's who I choose to follow. I am not interested in consuming "I ate a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast."

So what criteria do I use to look at a link? Clever or humorous writing gets my attention. Soon you realize you are in sync with some people's aesthetic taste more than others and you will routinely hit their links. Also, I like retweets, or RT, because they have been filtered by an "editor," so I think they might be worthwhile. (I know, I am so old-media) I like to RT, too.

How do I choose to follow someone? I look at the followers of my followers and followings and go through 'em to find new sources and victims. I also search Twitter for terms, such as art, artists, museum, etc. I checked out the Twittering art leaders on WeFollow, too, and hooked to a few of them. (Last I looked at WeFollow, RobinLe, me, was #112, but it doesn't seem to update so frequently. I should have been more careful about having my Twitter and blog identity, artfultext, the same, but when I started out I didn't know what I was doing. And now, I am an such an expert, hah.) I am also sure there are better ways to find twittermates, but I am not a new adapter and haven't felt comfortable giving passwords to my Twitter accounts or control of my computer to Twitter-efficiency software. I am not yet a mobile Twitterer, fearing I could too easily get addicted. And yup, as the Twitter tiptweets say, the short profile and link to a website or blog, showing off one's art or writing, suckers me in.

But why am I doing this? I figured Twitter would be a natural fit to "learn" about art because it is relatively new and it enables visual, text and video expression. (And my Facebook "friends" aren't that into art. I am what you could call a somewhat trained-in-the-arts, art enthusiast.) So I decided to experiment. Initially I was skeptical. How can you say anything in so few words? But some people are really good copywriters and there is a staggering amount of good art to link to in the universe. (As there is Twitformation on so many other topics, some of which I also follow.)

What have I learned to date? People put significant sweat equity in their art, websites, blogs and tweets, for some hope, I guess, of a return on the investment. All my life as a professional writer (on other topics) I have been paid for my words. But I must say, I take great inspiration from the artists and the art tweeters. Artists create without knowing necessarily beforehand if anyone is going to buy or appreciate what they make. They apparently don't care about competition, repetition or today's recession. They keep doing it, crafting a "market," one tweet at a time. The bigger picture, if there even is one, still evades me. Though, I am sure someone is going to figure out how to make money off of me. Feel free to follow me on Twitter.


  1. Loving your site, just subscribed by email.

  2. I agree totally with allyou have said/written!Cheers,

  3. Hi Robin,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and direct post. I am one of those artists on Twitter sharing my paintings, blog and website.

    I also try to share other interesting art related info and a bit about myself and my life, too.

    I'm not actually sure what it all means or what the big picture is either, but I really enjoy being on twitter. I've gained a lot through sharing tweets with other artists and I've been uplifted by the enthusiastic RT's & comments about my work.

    Will that lead to sales, gallrey opportunities, etc? I have no idea lol but as you have seen artists tend to create regardless. Part of the enjoyment for me is just being able to share what I do with more people.

    It's a brave new world of social media out there and I'm enjoying the ride!