Starter Kit for Emerging Artists

It is very easy to get drowned out in the vast sea of visual material and names circulating the internet, particularly as an unknown starter. People seem to have seen everything and are seeing it all the time – it’s become very hard to leave a lasting impression. This is why it is all the more crucial to cultivate a well-rounded and professional image of yourself as an artist and your artistic work. Even without big names attached to your CV (yet), the quality of your self-presentation, online and off, can still get you singled out among your peers.

Visuals are everything

Your pictures will speak volumes about your artistic identity and your level of professionalism. Take the time to reflect on how you would like to be portrayed in your artist’s profile image (if at all). Think about; clothing choice, background setting (your studio, outdoors, plain backdrop), lighting, facial expression and gesture, as a few examples. Equally importantly are the photographs that illustrate your work. Make sure that you have a pool of high-resolution, good-quality images. These should capture all the angles of your work from afar and up-close in various formats. It is very likely that you will be using these images for a long time and for various purposes (personal website, online publications, exhibition catalogs), so investing in the help of a professional photographer, if possible, is highly suggested.

     Marlon Chricop Studio. Photo credits : Tarumina Sen Chandra 

Look what others are doing

Start by conducting a little study of how other artists who are producing similar work as you, or whose style you admire, are presenting themselves and their work, online and offline. Reflect on this information in relation to yourself and your work – which aspects seem to fit with how you would like to present yourself and your work? Which aspects are not quite a match? How could you tweak them to work for you? This will also help you develop your own style and the kind of imagery that you will need to populate your website and social media channels with.

Online Presence is a must

Once you have a clear idea of what your online identity should be and with your image pool sorted out, you are ready to start building a solid online presence.  A personal website gives you greater flexibility and more control on how you want to present yourself than, say, the pre-set Instagram grid. Choose a template with features that are well-suited to your artistic outcome. Your website should enable you to present your work in an optimal format. Make sure to choose a domain name that is not too difficult to memorise or tricky to type. Plenty of artists choose to use their name and surname as their domain name. Sometimes, there is simply no need to reinvent the wheel.

Being present on mainstream and niche social platforms offers opportunities for visibility and connection with other artists and professionals whose eye you want to catch. Maintain an active and varied feed including images of past and in-progress work, insights into your working process, posts about ongoing and upcoming collaborations, your working space, special features, sources of inspiration etc. Use tags and hashtags to reach out to peers, increase your chances of getting picked up or reshared by other users. You never know who’s searching and watching!

Seda Ergut William, Emerging Artist Facebook Page

Connect & Collaborate

It is very rare and difficult, as someone just starting out, to make it completely on your own. There is a lot you can do to help yourself and hone the desired image for yourself and your art, but it is imperative to look for outlets and partnerships that can elevate your profile and bring it to the attention of the right eyes and ears. Did you get offered the opportunity to collaborate with more established individuals in the field? Do not pass it up. It is a perfect chance to have your name seen alongside that of renowned professionals and an invaluable learning opportunity.

Although a well-rounded online presence is essential, there is a lot that can be done physically to advance your practice, particularly in your immediate location. Attend as many events as you can, be present and active on your local artistic scene. Get to know other people, listen to what they have to say and become part of the conversations that are being had. You never know who you might bump into and the long-lasting impressions you can achieve through connections made in person are not to be underestimated. 


                                  Ryan Falzon’s Exhibition at Iniala5 galleries, Valletta

Ask for Feedback

.If you have a trusted and more experienced advisor, get their opinion about how you come across from an outsider’s perspective. Is there something you missed? Are you coming across in the way that you intended? Use this person as your sounding board.

Last but not least, persevere. It is only the very few who get immediately lucky and achieve overnight virality or success, but that does not make your efforts any less valid or necessary. The hard work you put in will pay off sooner or later. Keep going and keep improving! It’ll come, in time.


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