Art is the expression of feelings, external and internal. Art is the portrayal of life as one knows it. Art can be the sweet escape from one’s real surroundings to one’s ideal surroundings. That being said, how much are we willing to sacrifice in the name of Art, in the event that art of any kind becomes a dying form of expression? A dying language?
The Average Fine Artist, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, could make $44,380 per year at $21,34 per hour without work experience in the U.S.A. If we had to look at Zimbabwe for example, where the National Art Gallery takes about 50% of your earnings through your art sales -after provision of Art materials, Exhibitions marketing etc- at a maximum of four art pieces exhibited by artists charging $500 per work, that will bring their total earnings to $250 assuming they sell a piece at an exhibition, but if we take into consideration the prices for food, rent and the miscellaneous in Zimbabwe, proves low for the Artist who wants to make a comfortable living.
In the spirit of objectivity we must look at print media as an option for the Artists exposure. Usually the articles on Visual Art of any kind in any newspaper in Zimbabwe is found in the entertainment section but even then, they can go a full week without mentioning anything on visual arts and unfortunately when they do, that’s where it stops. The newspapers Twitter pages will likely have entertainment news on musicians and their Facebook pages too. Some newspapers don’t mention visual art at all! So where does that leave the art lover who craves art news every day, the Artist in desperate need for more exposure, how does the artist remain relevant in a world such as this? Assuming that we have established the poor approaches in which Print Media takes in reference to visual art, the alternative would be new media. New Media has been defined as ‘’content available on-demand through the internet, accessible on any device, usually containing interactive user feedback or creative participation” by Wikipedia. Although to the average Gwendolyn walking to her favourite café, it’s another chance to take a selfie for the world to see but, to the Artist on their way to international recognition, it’s a way to acquire information and gain knowledge about; an up and coming comic book convention, the latest in design software or updated stock at their nearby arts and crafts shop.
New Media, if utilized with care and understanding could make sure that Art will remain relevant forever. It is however mandatory that you educate yourself on how to handle all of them on all fronts, not saying that you shouldn’t allow yourself some leniency for a mistake here and there, but the quality of your skills in navigating yourself should improve. One of the many options that an Artist could explore include Blogging, according to codex.wordpress.org, a Blog is “an abbreviated version of “Weblog,” which is a term used to describe websites that maintain an on-going chronicle of information.” There are a number of websites that the Artist may use as a forum, such are; WordPress.com, Blogger.com, Weebly.com, Tumblr.com etc. Social networking sites such as, Facebook, Twitter and Insta-gram apply. All of these websites, these social media options, are readily available to cater to your different aesthetic. As an Artist you have a responsibility to yourself to take advantage of them all. However, as readily accessible as these social websites are, is the Artist prepared to BE an Artist to those who are dazzled by their work? There is no point in subjecting your audience to information that does not apply to the purpose of the website; irrelevant topics will take attention from your work.
Key words or Tags factor in as well, they are the bits of information that explain what the page is about in order for search engines to not only understand your website, but to be able to refer it to any browser with an inquiry relating to you, therefore it is highly recommended that the Artist sticks to offering and displaying information that relates to their subject matter and indeed staying up to date with their entrances. It is quite hard to come across a Zimbabwean open group that discusses the nuances of art and its history on Facebook and Twitter alike yet new media not only offers opportunities for the Artist to gain an audience and clients but to also commune with other artists and in this way, their minds and perspectives are broadened. How then, can Zimbabweans hope to truly achieve enough recognition for their work and passion? New Media is the doorway, the very access to a brave new world but it doesn’t look like artists have quite opened up to it yet.