Nowadays, having a social media presence is almost a requirement in order to get noticed and get a job. It makes sense; if you don't put your art out there, how will people know what you can do? In order to earn a living doing art, it's essential to market yourself.
How I Got Started
During my second and third year of University, I didn’t focus on concept art at all. My course didn’t demand it; I’d spend most of my time modelling in Maya or working in Unreal; drawing wasn’t part of the process. Entering my senior year, I made the switch to modelling characters - and simultaneously made the realisation that I simply wasn’t happy with my ability as an artist.
If I couldn’t draw characters, how would I be expected to model them in 3D?
I made the decision to change that. Not only would I become a better artist, I would also show to people that I had the patience and motivation required to do so. I set myself the task to create a drawing every single day before midnight, with the intent to develop the skills I’d left behind; digital painting, character design, and composition.
I began posting these to my Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook accounts each day. I hadn’t really used any social media up to this point, but I thought “if i’m going to be making art everyday I may as well put it in front of anyone that will look at it”. They were not pretty at first; very rough and ambitious. But as I continued I began finding my own style, and started to integrate my 3D into it as well.
If you're very curious, you can see all my daily doodles here: http://salmika.tumblr.com/archive
There’s way too much to cover if I go into the details; so I’ll go into my daily doodle project a bit more in depth in another post. Basically, this was the beginning of me marketing myself! There are a few big takeaways that I learned over that period that I'll go into now:
THREE BIG THINGS
1. Posting Consistently
The internet’s attention span is very short. People see something for an instant as they scroll past on their social feed, and then it's gone. That’s how long you have to capture their attention.
Posting consistently is probably one of the easiest ways to start getting attention from people and say “I'M HERE! LOOK AT WHAT I DO!”. This doesn't exclusively mean posting art content; people want to get to know the person behind that, too, so don’t be afraid to show your personality.
Setting myself a goal of one drawing a day ultimately forced me into posting something every day - even if it wasn’t what I deemed “finished”, I found that people were just as interested in the work in progress as they were the final piece.
In my experience, daily doodles made me both post consistently and made me just generally spend more time on social media. It's easier to see the trends of things that are popular right now, and be engaged in what is happening with others in the art sphere. I got to see what other people were posting and how often, which helped influence what I could be doing on my own account.
2. Engaging with Others
As I started posting on Twitter and all the other channels, I started to follow a lot of other artists. I got very familiar with their names, art styles, where they worked and what they were doing. A lot of them already worked in the entertainment industry; a place where I ultimately saw myself, and so I looked up to many of them.
Contrary to popular belief, they aren't a part of some exclusive club you can't get into, in fact; it's the opposite. I started commenting on artists’ work I liked, and asking them questions. I was almost always met with kind responses and answers. That said, don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive a reply, though; it’s important to realise that they are just people too, busy with their own lives!
I’ve noticed that most of the opportunities I’ve been given so far have been from getting to know the people in the industry, and having conversations with them. For almost all of my freelance jobs that I got after University, it was from someone I had already spoken to online. Having good art certainly helps having people recommend you, but you'd be surprised how many people prefer having someone they feel they can work with easily over someone talented, but difficult to chat with.
3. Know your Audience
To help understand what kind of content to produce, you need to ask yourself the question; Who are you trying to get to look at your work? This can be a big question to ask, but it is important to figure out what kind of content you want to make and who you think it is for. In order for your posting consistently to really get going, you have to think about who your target market is.
After I asked myself that question, I realised that the people I wanted to see my work were people within the indie dev and video game scene, and that I wanted to be known by them as a stylised 3D character artist. This helped me curate my work to the types of jobs I wanted to be getting, while still occasionally keeping in the self indulgent doodles.
I understand that marketing yourself can feel like a burden, but the earlier you jump on the train the easier it is to keep up.
However you choose to market yourself, remember that your social media should reflect you as both an artist and as a person. Over a lot of time, hard work, luck, and persistence, I managed to get my first full time industry job at Ustwo Games just after graduating University. I didn’t know anyone at the company before hand, but several of them had seen my work on Twitter before. Of course, I can’t guarantee that doing these things will get you a job, but it’s about focusing on the things you can fix rather than the outside forces you can’t.
There’s no perfect way of doing things; but I really believe that if you post consistently, engage with other people, and are conscious of the work you’re putting out, you’ll have a much better chance at getting your work seen by others.
I wish you good luck in your social media endeavours! ヾ(￣ー￣(≧ω≦*)ゝ