As the great Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.” If there’s anything I’ve learned over the course of this class, it’s just that. Last blog I reported that although the number of followers gained had apparently plateaued, the number of likes on average per post had seemed to increase. Shortly afterwards, I hit a dry spell with likes, despite being fairly happy with the content I was posting. Previous to that blog, I had reported that I had gained a steady amount of followers. It would seem that every time I try to pin point any kind of successful pattern on the internet, the world wide web is at the ready to prove me wrong. I think that this is an important lesson in and of itself- success on the internet is elusive, and if you try to chase what is successful, the further away it gets from you.
Recently LCAD organized an artist lecture with visiting artists Benjamin Bjorklund and Blake Neubert. Both of these artists have over 100k followers on Instagram and are still relatively early on in their artistic careers. Blake Neubert first got his big “break” on Instagram after a video of one of his scrape-away paintings went viral. Since then, Neubert has gained substantial success on the internet as well as in the art world. When asked how blowing up on the internet has affected him, he said something that I found very interesting. Neubert said that the more followers and success you gain on Instagram, the less the account becomes yours. He talked about how he became known for his scrape-away paintings and how he feels locked into that vice. He further explained that he would try to branch out from what he was typically known for, but would then get anxious when it didn’t do as well. Eventually he would go back to what he knew would be popular, his trademark scrape-away paintings. It was interesting to hear someone who had gotten internet fame talk about the downfalls to that success, especially since the goal of this class is to figure out how to be successful on the internet. It seems as though after a certain point the artist has a moral dilemma between doing what they know will be popular and staying true to themselves. It may have been one in the same for Neubert at first, but now with the pressure of 105,000 people behind him, I could see how it could be hard to try something new, at the risk of 105,000 pitchforks.
Neubert had gained internet fame and success through his work when he least expected it. Although he is in a comfortable place with his following, there is the fear of settling into a creative comfort zone. I think the take away here is that success is difficult to achieve and can occur at any moment, however, the idea of success and/or the pressure to maintain it can stifle our creative vision as artists.
And here's a take away for Scott Hess, I’d like to end with something Scott does not know about the internet. Preliminary sketches have always been a necessary evil for me in the past, but one of my old instructors introduced me to an app that helped make the process less painful. The app is called AccuView, and it can be purchased from the App Store for $1.99. AccuView is essentially a viewfinder that allows you to take or upload a photo and drop various kinds of grids on top of it to find composition, proportions, etc. AccuView allows you to scale to the proportions of your canvas so you don’t have to bother with the math that comes with scaling up thumbnails. It also allows you to make the photo black and white and provides a value checker to find and match value. I can’t tell you how much I’ve used this app, and it has saved me so much time in my longer studio projects. Plus it’s only 2$, that’s a McDouble and a small fry- so get on it!