Saturday, December 22, 2012

Reviewing Art on the Internet in 2012

A review of art on the internet for independent art bloggers in 2012 
plus predictions about art on the internet for 2013

Every year at this time of year I look back and try and work out what happened to art in the last 12 months and specifically what happened to art on the internet and art bloggers.  This includes looking at how technology has changed and what impact this has re the Internet and how artists relate to it.

This is the first of a two part "who's made a mark this year?" annual review of art from the perspective of an independent art blogger.

This is a very long post and if you're too busy right now in the run-up to Christmas, why not save it for a little later and see if you agree with my ruminations on
  • what stayed the same in 2012
  • what changed in 2012 - and how I did on my predictions for 2012!  What did I miss and what did I get right?
  • PLUS I make predictions about art on the internet for the coming year.  I confess I'm known for being better at predicting 5 years down the line but I'm not too bad at the next 12 months
I'm going to cover some of the topics which are relevant to an end of year review and going forward in the second part - the "Art Business" review which I'm doing tomorrow (inbetween doing the big Christmas food shop!)

Please don't hesitate to add in your own perspective 
  • on what's changed and what you think will change.
  • if you've written an end of year review please do LET ME KNOW and I'll reference it on this blog in the first "who's made a mark this week?" of 2013.
So find some time, settle yourself in a comfy seat with a cup (or glass!) of your favourite drink and have a read and see whether what I think chimes with your perspective.

DON'T FORGET: the deadline for NOMINATION for the BEST ARTWORK on an art blog in 2012 is shortly after midnight on 24th December.
  • Links to the nomination threads can be found at the top of the right hand column. 
  • The results of nominations - including links to the art blogs of those who nominated - will be published later on 24th December


WHAT STAYED THE SAME IN 2012

BLOGGING ART

Here are the truisms about blogging art which continue to apply and are worth reiterating
  • The art blog is like having an and accessible permanent private view - Art Collectors enjoy getting to know the artist as a person and what their art is about.  The blog provides an opportunity for showing a body of work together in a way which enhances the whole.
  • Blogging art = improved art - it's the process which makes a difference and it really doesn't matter one jot if nobody ever reads it!  Somehow the process of posting your art online and writing about it makes you sort out what you like/dislike about it and what to say about it.  It helps you to 
    • think about how to develop your artwork and 
    • also makes you more articulate when talking to clients
  • The quality of the content is what attracts people to a blog and increases the number of people who visit your blog. Whether it's the quality of the art or the quality of the information, it's ALWAYS the quality of the content which makes the big difference. There are blogs which I read regularly or look at paintings regularly because they're good stuff!
  • Over time quality content in archives generates visitors - so long as you've used words to describe blog posts or images that people use in Google searches
  • Regular blogging attracts traffic - the easiest way to lose readers is to give up blogging without notice and for no obvious reason. Once a week is fine if that's all you can do.
  • If you like the art, chances are you’ll like the artists in the blogroll - so long as it's not an endless unsorted list and/or the links are not stagnant. It also tells you a lot about the artist!
  • Networking and commenting on other art blogs remain the key to getting noticed.
  • Making it easy for people to follow you - such as indicating how you can subscribe makes all the difference to getting regular followers
  • Many new blogs - of any type - are still abandoned within 3 months
  • Bloggers still struggle with blogging fatigue so work out a routine which works for you - To avoid becoming a blogging casualty I recommend (1) find a frequency which works for you and (2) take regular breaks. That's my recipe - and I celebrated the 7th birthday of this blog recently.

WHAT CHANGED IN 2012 and how did I do on my predictions?


ART ON THE INTERNET - 2012 PREDICTIONS: - the artist's perspective

Below you'll find my 2012 predictions in bold - plus a comment on the extent to which it was accurate or not.  My own self-assessment says that I was far too optimistic last year about how fast artists and related organisations will change their behaviour than is borne out by reality!
  • 2012 PREDICTION: Agendas for change will be influenced by the double dip recession.  ACCURATE I've now met and heard of more than a few artists who have lost all of their B&M galleries to the recession.  Even die-hard anti-computer artists are now beginning to think about how they might get their art on the Internet.  Those of you who have a head start should be in a better position to take advantage of the Internet
  • 2012 PREDICTION: PARTIAL Gallery blogs will take off.   It's very slow but it has started.  However with a few notable exceptions (see Beside the Wave Gallery) almost all are not very good and appear to have no online strategy. The tendency appears to be to think "job done" once it's set up rather than "this is just the beginning".  The same goes for Facebook Pages - they have set them up but they've not been very successful at getting any attention - which is very easy to see given the enumeration of the number of followers.  Invariably this suggests a business which lacks business 'nous' re. marketing and a lack of awareness of what's required to create an online presence which is effective.  Teenagers in bedrooms are doing a better job.....  Is it any wonder B&M galleries are going under?  From the artist's perspective, if looking for sales outlets off the internet you need to check out how internet savvy they are.
  • 2012 PREDICTION:  ACCURATE Artists will promote their art on the internet to new countries.  I've begun to see more artists taking and promoting their art overseas than ever before. One example was Art of the Real (Art of the Real) - a group of four watercolour artists who toured the world with exhibitions of their paintings in 2012 and ensured that they had extensive marketing of the various exhibitions via their blog, Facebook and the Internet generally.  I'm also seeing more artists beginning to make and consolidate connections with China which is the next big market for e-commerce.  We're at a beginning of a trend here - I'd expect it to continue to develop slowly over time
  • 2012 PREDICTION: UNSURE  It will become more routine for artists to focus on how their art on the internet communicates through different types of technology (eg the phone, the tablet, the desktop computer and the TV screen - all of which have different screen sizes, operating systems and resolutions.)  For a site to work on many different screens it needs to have a responsive mobile oriented template.  I've seen very little evidence that artists are talking never mind acting on the need to ensure they've got the right set-up
    • It's not that the need to think about this isn't yet present so much as this way of thinking is far from routine. In effect it's the next stage on from testing how your website looks through different browsers.
    • It also means artists need to think much more about what messages now need to be contained within a post rather than in a side column - because not all mobile displays show the side column!  I stopped in the middle of this blog post to add in a "Contact Me" to the pages at the top of this blog - which are accessible in the mobile format!
  • 2012 PREDICTION: Artists will promote exclusive access to dedicated blogs or parts of their sites as a way of encouraging engagement with clients and students.   PARTIALLY ACCURATE  
    • I'm seeing this on more and more on sites relating to active tutors who are minded to use technology to help them teach.  
    • I'm not seeing much evidence of this in relation to art collectors.  Professional galleries now often have a space which is secure where they can show collectors exceptionally good images of a work.
  • 2012 PREDICTION:  Artists will become more open and active in promoting online recognised schemes for stage payments for art. UNSURE  I've not seen any particular progression or noted arrangements on artists websites and blogs
    • 2012 PREDICTION: More artists will self-publish and sell tutorials (based on or linked to content first piloted online through blog posts) and will use a blog to build and maintain and audience for their publications.  UNSURE When I review the art book pages on Amazon I see an awful lot of rubbish ostensibly produced by artists for artists.  So I think this trend is developing - however I think the jury is still out on whether what's been produced is any good! I will reiterate a comment from last year. Artists write a lot of good content - but don't always think enough about their target market and how to edit it or package it or market it. There's a LOT of scope to do much better.
    • 2012 PREDICTION: Blogging and use of social media by major Art Societies will become more normal.  ACCURATE - but still limited A small number of Art Societies got more involved in social media in 2011.  In 2012, some of the more important ones began to grasp the importance of stimulating and maintaining a profile on Facebook as well as a website and blog.  However for the most part, a determination to resist involvement with computers at all costs permeates far too many art societies.  As a result many are spending large sums of money on printing and mailing newsletters when they could be saving the money by sending much nicer looking newsletters with better images (and links to videos) by email - and making members who want them their newsletters on paper to pay the cost price.

    TECHIE 2012 PREDICTIONS: art and technology, software & social media

    Below you'll find my 2012 predictions in bold - plus a comment on the extent to which it was accurate or not.  The reason for highlighting the techie side of things is that it can have a significant impact on how best to deliver art via social media on the Internet.
    • 2012 PREDICTION: There's still scope for considerable growth in the number of people using smart mobile technology. ACCURATE 2009-2011 saw the growth in early adopters of smartphones and tablets however 2012 saw explosive growth in in the purchase of devices for mobile internet activities  in both the domestic and business market.  Apple dominates the tablet market - the iPad has a 76.4% market share.  Apple also has more than 50% of the smartphone market in the USA whereas in Europe Android phone are more prevalent (around two third).  The important point for artists is to understand that tablets and larger smartphones are being used a lot for BROWSING the Internet.  To buy a painting art collectors may use a desktop but it's increasingly likely that they first saw your art online on something smaller.  Hence having your sales outlets set up for mobile browsing is becoming more and more important. 
    smartphones and tablets combined make up 70% of all devices sold in 2012PC Adviser - Smartphones and tablets growth exploding
      • 2012 PREDICTION Apple and Android will continue to fight it out for control of the all-important app market - both mobile and desk-top.  ACCURATE in part. Competition may in theory be fierce, however the reality is that Apple continues to swamp Android on apps. Apple App Store’s monthly revenues are 300 percent greater than Google Play’s.  So if you're thinking of creating an app for anything art related Apple is the place where you need to be - it's better organised for the consumer and has a better overall reputation for quality.  See also iOS v Android: app revenues, downloads and country breakdowns for commentary on how statistics vary by country
      • 2012 PREDICTION More and more artists will purchase kit from Apple in 2012 ACCURATE (I think ie not validated) I can't find any data on how many artists have Apple kit but anecdotally numbers are growing - particularly in relation to tablets and mini-tablets.
      • 2012 PREDICTION Artists will get to grips with Opera as an important browser for mobile apps.  UNSURE  I'm not persuaded that artists have yet got to grips with options for how their sites can be presented online and hence which is the best browser to use is maybe a development too far at the present time.  It's a topic which just doesn't get any coverage and not much discussion online either. (I'm happy to be proved wrong!)
      • 2012 PREDICTIONMicrosoft could go the way of IBM  UNSURE  - Microsoft is not the dominant force that it used to be - particularly since Bill Gates stepped down and innovation appeared from other sources.  However most people still use Windows desktops and Internet Explorer is still used by most people - however the trendline is down, down, down........

      What I missed - in no particular order - is as follows.  I subsequently wrote at length about some of them

      ART ON THE INTERNET in 2013: a few predictions

      Here are my predictions about issues and change which will be relevant for artists on the Internet in 2013

      ART ON THE INTERNET - 2012 PREDICTIONS: - the artist's perspective

      I feel much less certain this year about how art on the Internet is likely to proceed.

      My gut reaction is that it feels to me as if things are maturing and if anything the pace of change is beginning to slow.

      Beginnings have been made - but I'm finding that trends in changed behaviour are taking an awfully  long time to become established.  At times it feels as if the magnitude of changes in the IT context (hardware, software and how everything works) have raced off ahead of artists - many of whom don't feel very techie - and some clearly don't want to be either!

      I'm guessing the reason for the slowness of change this is that it is not a managed process - rather it is an organic one which develops at the pace the individual can cope with.  Everything is done independently.  People copy or adopt what seems to work and often don't bother with anything which looks too much trouble.  Nobody is providing support or monitoring progress so people muddle along at whatever level of understanding they have been able to develop.

      The other reason why change happens more slowly is that so much has happened that people continue to feel swamped by it all and want to stick to something simple that they understand and keeps them grounded.  In the past people have also resented the fact that more and more time gets devoted to social media and less and less to painting.  Different options have different attractions and having tried them all out people tend to decide which one or two they will stick to.

      So having set out what I see as the background for change in 2013 here are my predictions
      • 2013 PREDICTION: Facebook will continue to be an important way of connecting with potential buyers - and will continue to change how it operates.  However the rules about how it operates for the commercial benefit of its users may well change.  Expect more strict application of the no commercial activities on personal accounts
      • 2013 PREDICTION: Artists who gave up blogging for Facebook may start to come back.  My own view is that:
        • those who want social interchange from like-minded artists will use Facebook groups - which are very effective and entirely unmoderated by commercial interests (unlike some forums!  It's easy to drop in and out as time allows)
        • those who want develop notions that go beyond "Facebook chat" (ie longer than a tweet and shorter than a blog post) may well return to blogging given its scope to market and present work in a much more coherent way
      • 2013 PREDICTION: The importance of the image for communication on mobile devices and  on Facebook will become more emphasised.  Thousand words etc........
      • 2013 PREDICTIONArtists will get much better at producing digital photographs or scans of their work for use in digital entries to art competitions, exhibition catalogues and virtual online exhibitions in galleries.
      • 2013 PREDICTIONArt tutors will produce ebooks of guidance tailored to specific topics - for use with face to face and online workshops and available via ecommerce outlets.  Class notes in a digital format in effect - for reading prior to attendance and reinforcement afterwards.  Art tutors who produce particularly good art instruction ebooks will see demand for their workshops increase
      • 2013 PREDICTIONArt Societies will routinely feature artist members in blog posts with every member getting at least an annual feature.  These can be timed and linked to the artist's own exhibitions separate from the society's exhibitions.
      TECHIE 2013 PREDICTIONS: art and technology, software & social media

      Cloud Study, Sunset (c.1821) by John Constable
      Oil on paper on millboard; Height: 152 mm (5.98 in)/ Width: 241 mm (9.49 in)
      Collection: Yale Centre for British Art
      This is where I take a punt on what will be the major changes in 2013 which we need to remain alert to and/or start planning for now.  Some of this is my gut feel for where things are going, others are based on articles I've been reading - some of which are referenced below.

      As artists, we've maybe been more used to learning how to paint clouds than learning how to access them for the purposes of both software and data storage.  However the change in use of devices from desktop to mobile means that cloud computing is set to become the norm.
      • 2013 PREDICTION Mobile browsing of the Internet on tablets and smartphones will become increasingly dominant.  More mobile devices than desktops will mean more and more people do their Internet browsing on a tablet or Smartphone.  It's anticipated that, in the USA, accessing the Internet via a mobile device rather than via a desktop PC will become the norm in 2015 - which means there's only a short space of time to get sites licked into shape for mobile browsing. Making sure that all your sites are mobile friendly will become essential.  (Note:  Have you ever checked out how your sites look at present on iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets as well as desktops.  Have you noticed how mobile templates often drop the column in blogs?)
      • 2013 PREDICTION Mini tablet ownership is expected to increase by 43% in 2013.  Not so much my prediction as a piece of data I read in one authoritative article.  Will you be getting one?
      • 2013 PREDICTION Business Apps for Artists will start to appear in the Marketplace.  I'm thinking less sketching and painting and more Business Management for Artists and Inventory Control for Artists - particularly for those who are selling art on a peripatetic basis e.g. at art fairs.  It's a logical progression - I'm just wondering when the developers are going to spot it.  
      • 2013 PREDICTION Ownership of content i.e. (1)who owns what content on different  Internet platforms and (2) how ownership transfers will become a major issue in 2012.  Partly because of the recent Instagram debacle ("now you've uploaded your photos we will do whatever we like with them!" - see Who owns the content you upload online?) but also because of the Bruce Willis problem (all digital content bought online is only licensed (ie rented) rather than purchased outright).  Probably more relevant to photographers rather than artists right now - but you might want to be very mindful of the terms and conditions of all the places where you upload and/or archive images online.
      • 2013 PREDICTION Copyright relating to content online will become more complicated before it gets simpler for artists.  All the thinking behind copyright changes seems to be being driven by libraries (books / written documents) or music.  Nobody seems to be thinking about the image or those who make their living from images.
      • 2013 PREDICTION Cloud computing will move towards becoming the norm for the delivery of access to both software and files.  Not least because people now make use of multiple devices and want to be able to access their files from all of them!  I have a confession to make here.  I've been cloud computing for years (courtesy of various Google accounts) and rather wondered what the fuss was all about when Apple announced the iCloud.
      • 2013 PREDICTION A simple Digital wallet could start to work well for artists.  Particularly those working art fairs and plein air events where art is sold. For this to happen, the providers need to persuade us that it's simpler to use than a piece of plastic card which still works even if the power or internet access goes down.  They've not done this yet - but the breakthrough might come next year.
      • 2013 PREDICTION Authentication becomes more important as more data moves online. and into the cloud.  You need to decide who you are going to trust - and reputation issues will consequently become increasingly important.  Will you trust Google, Facebook or Twitter to control your access to different media and software?
      • 2013 PREDICTION Archives of images (reference photos and artwork) will increasingly use the cloud rather than hard drives or CD Roms.  As image files get bigger and bigger it makes more and more sense to get them off the computer and into the cloud.  The only problem is some of the places where you can archive images in an ordered way (eg Private Flickr account used specifically for archiving limits the size of individual images!).
      • 2013 PREDICTION A massive upheaval in how people access the Internet means an upheaval in the marketplace - with companies in this sector coming and going and being bought up and spawning new start-ups.  It'll be manic!  It'll be crucially important that you've backed one of the winners or you'll be endlessly moving your files around in future!
      What happened in previous years

      If you like reading about what the past year looked like in previous years try checking out my previous end of year reviews of "who's made a mark this year?" posts as follows:

      Please note subscriptions only become live after you have verified the link in the email you will receive

      4 comments:

      CrimsonLeaves said...

      While I was on Facebook for awhile a few years back, I just never really enjoyed it once the novelty wore off. I saw things crop up on my wall that I was vehemently opposed to, saw stuff on my daughter's wall that was totally inappropriate - not to mention just recently finding out that some pedophile has been posting things on my 8 year old granddaughter's wall (who shouldn't be on Facebook at all, in my opinion, but she apparently talks to her dad and her grandparents via Facebook). I truly do not see the good in that particular vehicle.

      Blogging? I've been doing it for years, probably more as an outlet for putting my thoughts down on "paper" so to speak. I started on Blogspot, went to WordPress for awhile then came back to Blogspot. That all said, I don't market my art as I know it isn't good enough or worthy of sale. But I sure have enjoyed meeting other artists through blogging. I enjoy reading blogs each morning with my coffee.

      Love art magazines but they have seriously hefty price tags on them so I don't often buy them. My subscription to Watercolor Artist soon expires and I'm not sure I'll re-up.

      Michelle Basic Hendry said...

      I agree that using social media as a primary connection to collectors is not in any way a good idea. Social media should always be redirecting you to the content you control under your own domain. FB has been trying to thwart that by making links less seen by fans and followers than photos and the latest Instragram mess is just a reminder of why the best content should remain on an artist's site.

      As you say Katherine, mobile devices make the image a more appealing option over mounds of text. I wish I could hotlink my FB images! I am less and less inclined to store any on FB and links that used to post with images are beginning to post text only - especially when mobile.

      If anything, I think the bad behaviour of FB and Pinterest (so effectively covered here on MaM) will bring a revival of blogging as a kind of backlash. Those of us who have played with it will only tighten and improve our focus and our content, and new players will approach blogging more seriously as a part of how they connect.

      Social media has its place and will continue to grow - no doubt - but its not going to REplace the blog as many were claiming in 2012. Like the phone, they will only improve and broaden communication but in the end, it is always word of mouth. And with the increase in self-publishing in general and its broader acceptance, word of mouth from amongst a 'tribe' will be more valuable than any other form. If the medium is the message than we must use it smartly.

      I like the idea of having private viewing on a gallery site. I think this is an idea worth exploring using multimedia. Hmmmm...

      Love these year end posts Katherine! Thanks for your hard work. Merry Christmas!

      Michelle Basic Hendry said...

      I agree that using social media as a primary connection to collectors is not in any way a good idea. Social media should always be redirecting you to the content you control under your own domain. FB has been trying to thwart that by making links less seen by fans and followers than photos and the latest Instragram mess is just a reminder of why the best content should remain on an artist's site.

      As you say Katherine, mobile devices make the image a more appealing option over mounds of text. I wish I could hotlink my FB images! I am less and less inclined to store any on FB and links that used to post with images are beginning to post text only - especially when mobile.

      If anything, I think the bad behaviour of FB and Pinterest (so effectively covered here on MaM) will bring a revival of blogging as a kind of backlash. Those of us who have played with it will only tighten and improve our focus and our content, and new players will approach blogging more seriously as a part of how they connect.

      Social media has its place and will continue to grow - no doubt - but its not going to REplace the blog as many were claiming in 2012. Like the phone, they will only improve and broaden communication but in the end, it is always word of mouth. And with the increase in self-publishing in general and its broader acceptance, word of mouth from amongst a 'tribe' will be more valuable than any other form. If the medium is the message than we must use it smartly.

      I like the idea of having private viewing on a gallery site. I think this is an idea worth exploring using multimedia. Hmmmm...

      Love these year end posts Katherine! Thanks for your hard work. Merry Christmas! (Sorry if you got this twice - it glitched!)

      Gregory said...

      Very interesting predictions, I will look forward to seeing the results this time nex year.

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