The Facebook artists’ challenge is mostly good fun, not unlike the celebrated Red Suspenders Invitational that electrifies the annual Plein Air Grand Marais competition in Minnesota. To get the red suspenders you actually do compete, though, so don’t go to Grand Marais thinking you can just walk away with the crimson braces.

San Francisco artist and digital marketing professional Ed Terpening has some pragmatic questions about the Facebook meme that is sweeping through the representational art world. Is it helpful for artists to participate? 

The ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” has inspired a new meme on Facebook for artists. The idea is that you post three paintings a day for five days, and nominate another artist you admire to participate in each of those posts. By doing so, you have the opportunity to post art you may not have otherwise, and you get to spread the love by raising awareness for other artists to participate. But is it worth your time? Depends. 

Is your goal by participating to sell more art? Social media is already saturated with people shouting for attention. How does this challenge differentiate you among collectors, gallery owners, news media, and other key stakeholders in the success of your career?  

If your goal is to raise awareness for your art, this challenge will likely have minimal impact. Readers that are already friends, where connections and awareness already exists, are seeing these posts so you’re largely “preaching to the choir.”

Here’s the impact: The selfless act of nominating other artists to participate. By nominating others in your posts, you’re introducing artists to your network of friends, but unfortunately, only by name and not imagery. Will your friends bother clicking on the names of those you nominate, and if they do, what will they see when they get to the artist’s newsfeed? The artist’s latest posts could be reposts of news articles or snapshots of last night’s dinner. Here’s a tip: If nominated, very quickly fill your newsfeed on Facebook with art that shows your best work, and keep it that way for at least a few days. You’ll have a much greater chance of attracting new friend requests from those posts and therefore have real impact. Another tip: If you nominate someone, or participate in this challenge in any way, make sure you set the privacy of your posts to “public” to reach people outside your direct network.  

The bottom line: The true power of this challenge meme is the opportunity to introduce your network of friends to artists they may not now be aware of. The power of this challenge meme is selflessness — and that’s a good thing!  


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