Steve Lever has been drawing since the age of 12. Currently working as an intensive care unit nurse in Melbourne, Australia, she draws RPG and D&D style pixel art to relax. He sometimes charged $10 or so for a commission. Then he took his work on twitter.
“Twitter was responsible for the majority of all commission requests I received,” he tells me. “I started drawing D&D characters for $15 and now I’ve reached the point where I can charge up to $300 a piece.” And while he doesn’t take commissions very often due to his full-time job and the labor intensity of his art, he credits his career advancement to Twitter rather than Instagram, Tumblr, or TikTok.
Open Twitter any day and you’ll find that visual art is interesting. May 8 @frivolousknightwhich has more than 11,000 subscribers, published pixel art portrait knight in armor with over 400 retweets and over 5,000 likes. Same day @elioliartan account owned by twins Elena and Olivia Ceballos, placed the panel from their space-themed webcomic moon and me, which generated over 900 retweets and over 12,000 likes. Original art aside, art history reports and reports that curate classical art streams are just as good: May 5 Gustav Klimt Both hosted Klimt’s classic early works Allegory of sculptureand it has nearly 600 retweets and over 4,000 likes.
Despite Twitter’s reputation as a poster haven, art lovers often prefer it to platforms that promote other forms of content (like Instagram, which has switched from photos and art to videos, Chasing TikTok Success), and artists use it as a portfolio and work in progress platform to showcase everything from art and pixel art to vector illustration and video game development. However, this does not replace traditional portfolios, which artists still tend to keep as a more “permanent” showcase on platforms such as Behans or on their own website domains.
engineer from Colorado Andrey Tarashchuk, who has created a series of art history bots that share the art of specific artists or organizations on Twitter, sees this as part of the transition to a visual way of communicating information. “I don’t think it’s just Twitter. Information is increasingly communicated through visual modalities,” he says. “This creates more opportunities for artists to have their work seen and hopefully bought: I think Twitter will still be more of a text-based medium, unlike Instagram, but more and more people expect fine art to communicate .” In this note, he praised Twitter’s image optimization efforts, including the meme-friendly grid and the ability to have alt text.
Overall, social media has played a critical role in connecting independent artists to a wider audience. “I think social media has played a critical role in making the work of independent artists accessible to the general public,” says Esther Go, illustrator from Singapore. “You don’t necessarily need an agent or a gallery to represent you in order to build a career if you’re targeting the right audience.”
Chelsea Faust, a pixel artist based in the US Midwest, has observed that Twitter works better as a community-building tool than Instagram, which at first glance may seem like a better medium for sharing art. Twitter “rewards interaction,” she says. “I use Instagram mostly as a gallery as unfortunately most of the interactions there are shallow due to the way the social platform works.”
One reason for Twitter’s success as a home for artists is structural: Twitter allows users to post up to four images, each of which can illustrate one detail of a piece or highlight different stages of a work in progress. Unlike Instagram, where cutscenes and short videos eventually become full-screen user interfaces, it seamlessly integrates animations into the timeline and feed, both as gifs and short films, making it particularly attractive to game developers and animators. This is the case when Isaiah Thothfull stack web developer who also works on an indie game No more fathers, an adventure game full of lush scenery and stunning scenery. “I tried Reddit and TikTok, but the Reddit audience was pretty tough,” he says. “And TikTok took a long time to set up and then wouldn’t let me upload…so I’ve given it up for now.” According to him, on Twitter, Toth found a community of developers who are willing to share feedback and help each other.
Twitter also helps artists see patterns and figure out what will generate the most interest or engagement in their work. “Twitterers love colors, they like famous pieces, and they like fast-paced pieces,” Tarashchuk says.
He also notices the patterns in which his work resonates with viewers. “People love animals: I demonstrated some mountain cattle once and it exploded,” he says. “Another great type of fast is grass, clouds, or some other medium. Shaders can be shared, but I think the core game mechanics that look smooth and fun would blow up too.”
Some write it off as escapism. “I think the more details you have, as well as the demonstration of your process, the more views,” he said. Gregory Fromanto, chief art director of Behavior Interactive by day and a surrealist illustrator specializing in bizarre animals and architecture in his spare time. “Whimsical pictures also attract more viewers,” he says. “People need to dream in these difficult times.”
However, this does not mean an automatic striving for perfection. “Photos of the work in progress also often get more likes than the finished product,” Lever says. “It’s a meme among artists.”
With Elon Musk’s proposal to take over Twitter, there is widespread concern about what the platform will look like and what content will be allowed. However, the artists interviewed expressed their intention to continue using Twitter, also because they feel they know how to use community building tools. “I would advise everyone to pay attention to what they hate about Twitter and try to make the platform more hospitable to them: use blacklists, dumb words,” says Faust. “If that’s not possible, then perhaps it’s best not to use Twitter at all, even if you feel like you need it.”
However, there are tangible rewards to be found on social media, especially Twitter, and they go beyond being able to charge more after increasing your follower count than you’re used to, as Lever can do. For some artists, it’s a way to make some money from their passion, or just connect with it and their fans. “I think social media is an integral part,” says Faust. “This is primarily because I am a very introverted person and it gives me the opportunity to distribute my work without having to attend networking events.” Fromanto, who wants to keep his illustrating career separate from his day job, has also found work through social media. “I have done several works for private collectors. I didn’t expect to do it, but when I have good connections and a request makes sense to me, I’m happy for it to happen,” he says.
After all, even those who don’t share their art and don’t curate art-themed accounts still benefit from art’s presence on Twitter, and that goes beyond potential patrons looking for talent for commissions. “People like it when art pops up in their feeds,” Tarashchuk said. “For many, this is like a small shelter in a hostile space. It doesn’t require people to defend their views or read bad news, it just asks people to take a moment and admire the beauty.”
Credit: www.wired.com /