Nov 10, 2011

TREND | Tumblr | The Blog and the Artist

 In an attempt to drive me away from a career in art, my mother once told me, “All of the most famous artists only get discovered long after they are dead.” In order to prove her wrong, I directed her to the Internet, where contemporary artists have been sharing their bodies of work with the masses for years. Art blogs are no new phenomenon, but recent innovations in the way people blog have helped to bring these artists’ work to the masses at an even faster pace. With blogging sites like Tumblr, users can choose to track the progress or “follow” certain blogs, and the content of every blog is collected on a main “dashboard” which users can browse en masse. Many artists find that hosting a blog on Tumblr allows better and faster access to their fans and peers and adds a more personal touch to the way they share their work and opinions, rather than a standard blog which might be more difficult for some to find or access. But is it possible for an artist to get “too personal” on their blogs? It’s likely that this is a moot point since artists have been stating their beliefs and opinions of a wide variety of topics since before the Internet, and an art blog is possibly the most ironic place for this point to be explored, but I find it a point worth exploring nonetheless.

 Sydney-based Artist Bei Badgirl regularly updates her Tumblr with her own art, along with regular progress shots, and the dates of her upcoming exhibitions. But her blog is also crowded with images of Disney characters, female celebrities with big hair, Barbie dolls, and Japanese anime and manga. Besides images, Bei regularly responds to emails from her readers and fans, which are about everything from the materials and media used in her work to eating disorders and the way women interact with each other in society. These glimpses into her interests inspirations, as well as personal commentary directly from the artist, are a fabulous testament to the origins of her style, but can also serve to polarize those who disagree with her strong opinions or have radically different interests.

 Somewhere in the middle is Isabel Arenas, who only includes brief commentary within blog posts that contain her art. The subject of her Tumblr is very straightforward; to promote her work, which she specifically states in her first page. Personal discussions are brief, and written with carefully-chosen neutral statements.  Some viewers could find this a nice "middle ground," an artist who reaches out to her admirers without making possibly polarizing commentary.

At the far end of the spectrum is Ashley Mackenzie, who blogs her own art with no commentary, and makes only one or two dedicated posts, all about art-related things such as art school or materials.  And while this might interest some readers who are only interested in viewing Mackenzie’s work, those wishing to conduct a more personal inspection of the artist behind the art would be out of luck. The deficiency of personality could drive away those who wish to hear first-hand from the artist her personal opinions on subjects unrelated to art, to give a better insight as to how they might tie in to their work.

The way in which artists share their work is just as important as the work itself. The Internet has become just as important in the art world as the gallery, if not more so. And every new innovation will present a new challenge to aspiring artists, who wish to “get discovered” in the present, rather than “long after they are dead.”

- Rachel Clark


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