High Brow Art and TikTok:

How they compare and where do the rest of us fit in?

But first! Have you noticed my bird series? This Tanager and others are available on my website.

Also check out other paintings there. I have a big old sale going on.

I just read an article, The Four Social Classes of the Art World by Evan Beard, posted in the Art Market Journal in 2018. It assured me that the participation of artists in the realms of Haut-Monde (What’s hot in the world), Taste-Makers, Functionaries, and Intellectuals barely includes actual artists. Artists are peripheral ornamental figures that make the art that the others will endow with monetary value … or not. These artists suck up as much as they are sucked up to. It’s a perpetual see-saw of back scratching and star making. They’re courted like royalty, but a breakup can happen at any time.

Exhausting. And nothing we’re not familiar with, am I right?

It’s a lot like what us plain old Mondefroid (cold people) do over on social media. We pound our reels into TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and whereever. We show up every damn day knowing they could kick us out at any moment. (And in case you haven’t heard, it happened to me. Yeah, I’m holding a grudge!) We post our offerings Every. Damn. Day. We post our obligatory reels or whatever they want us to post this month. We work on a persona that appeals to people we don’t know but who we hope might be our niche. We try to chum up with, if not influencers, at least people who have thousands of followers AND a friendly personality.

What’s the big difference? The difference is, they’ve got shit happening outside of social media, too. They know people. People seek them out because people know them. They figure out ways to rub elbows with people who can make them rich and successful.

Oh, sure, the big art-world artists have Instagram accounts, too, but they probably spend very little time personally making sure they have the obligatory seventeen posts a day; they have people for that, and people for building their followings, and people for creating events out of their feeds. They even have a crew of people to paint their damn paintings for them, Children. They come up with ideas, they paint the parts they want to paint, then they go to a meeting with some rich dude about funding for a big exhibit. But they don’t even have to do that by themselves. They have a development team for that, too.

But, yeah. They got shit happening outside of social media. They don’t keep all their heat in social media. Every artist you admire on Social, if they have a few thousand followers, they are doing things that people can actually come and see. They show in galleries, at high end shops, they do urban art projects, they get their art into exhibits, and into important buildings… buildings where rich people hang out. They talk to people. In person. On the phone, by text, too, but in person. They know them.

You and I, we can’t start out by walking up to some penthouse office and telling some richie richerton that they need to bankroll us. We can’t start at the penthouse. We gotta start in the lobby. In the gift shop. We gotta bring the gift shop owner a collection of our best work and get them to sell it first. And that’s okay because that’s how we learn to talk the talk and walk the walk. It’s better to be awkward with the shop clerk than with the rich guy that has been known to fund art projects. There’s plenty of time to be awkward with him later.

We need to practice our chops. Learn how to talk to shop owners. Learn how to approach gallerists. Learn how to talk about our work as if we love it so much we want to marry it and have its babies. We want them to start thinking THEY want to marry it and have its babies. Then we seriously gotta hope that some magic happens. There’s always an element of chance. Always. But we have to set the stage so that the magnifying glass and the sun are lined up just right so that they set our art on fire in the right person’s eyes.

So the next steps for us, my Niblings, is to start taking some baby steps.

My new year’s project will be to visit galleries and places that might sell art. First I’ll probably just look. Get the lay of the land. Spy on them. Take notes. Take names.

Baby steps. Baby steps are the best steps.

Onward and Upward,

Aunt Kellie

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