A little philosophical at the end of the year I guess, but how important is it as an artist to be seen or more to the point for his or her work to be seen by others?
In some forms of art, it’s the reason for doing it in the first place. I don’t really care if anyone knows it was me that made a documentary but I do hope people will find it and see it since the reason for it’s existence was to attract attention to a subject I thought was being neglected. If no one sees it, no matter how good it is artistically or how well it transmits the information it’s supposed to relay, it has failed. But if even one person sees it and it says something to them, it has succeeded... in my eyes, anyway. When it comes to my photography and drawing, it’s nice to think people see and like it but I will keep doing it even if I am the only one (and I often am) who looks at it even once after it’s done.
How important is it for me, the maker of the thing to be seen? I’d like to say not important at all, but in the real world, you have be noticed in order to do more of what you want to do effectively in many cases. Celebrity shouldn’t matter, but we all know it does. I much prefer that my work speak for itself.
If one is trying make a living at something, being noticed takes on a whole new dimension. My personal projects might not make a huge splash but they are like a calling card to people who might hire me for their projects. Getting hired in turn lets me continue with my own work. Ideally, my work would get enough notice that it generates money that lets me do my own thing without having to be hired by anyone else. In this scenario being seen is in service to my work not an end unto itself. If I were independently wealthy, I’d get a lot more of my personal projects done than I do because I get work from doing them.
Except for this blog, I don’t do social media. Frankly, I don’t like that sort of attention. If you are lucky it can get you noticed, especially recently where news shows look at likes, tweets and followers more than the substance of the story itself. The big problem is social media isn’t interested in promoting art, it promotes outrage and scandal and a lot of terrible ideas over good ones. Being seen on social media doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It doesn’t even mean those that clicked on your link looked at what they clicked on. I can be used as a way to show that your work is getting some sort of attention… sort of a bargaining chip in a job interview. Getting seen is harder than most realize. 300 hours of video is uploaded to You Tube every minute and the chance is close to zero that any of them will get seen by more than a few people. Social media is a lottery more than it is a real plan to get noticed.
While being seen is important, who looks is much more important than how many. Being seen by one person who can progress what you want to do to is much more important than a 1000 « likes » from people who have no real interest in your work. On a personal level, those looks and likes can be motivating, especially if you get positive feedback from others you admire or who do something similar to what you are doing.
For me, if my work is seen by me and I don’t hate it and want to keep going and doing more, I’m happy enough. If it gets seen by someone who can do something that lets me do more of what I want to do, even better. In the end being seen doesn’t change what I actually do in the end. That comes from inside me.