Art on the Internet is funny.
I guess the way art works is funny in general, but the Internet exacerbates this feeling.
I've read articles, such as this one, and heard people talk about how the Internet has helped art, or destroyed it. The linked article argues that it destroyed the idea of "artisans". Others argue that it eliminated the "gatekeepers" who kept everyone else from seeing art.
My own ideas fall somewhere in the middle of these two camps. I agree that the Internet has dissolved the power of gatekeepers to choose who becomes famous, and who gets left to wallow in obscurity. I don't think that the gatekeepers are gone, though. Instead, their power has simply been meted out to the people who browse pages such as Reddit and other user-driven sites. Because of this, while I don't think that "artisans" are a thing of the past, but it does necessitate that artists be more capable of using the media available to them if they are to succeed in their chosen field. It is because of this need to multi-specialize that keeps many artists from the recognition they deserve.
And, yes, I do mean multi-specialize. It seems oxymoronic, but look at the artists who have come up in the past decade. Most of them are adept at not only their art form, but also at getting the word of their art form out on the web. They have to specialize in art, but they also have to specialize in communicating effectively in this new environment.
This means knowing how often to post, knowing what to post, knowing where to post, knowing the words to use, knowing the hashtags to use, and a dozen other things. Corporations have whole departments dedicated to this stuff. They have dozens of people who each specialize in their own little facet of the structure so they can get the marketing of their products down to a science.
Artists don't have departments once they leave school. Artists don't have teams discussing their six-month plans. Artists don't get help.
What used to be the job of the gatekeepers is now the job of the artist. Now the artist has to spend their 10,000+ hours learning their craft, and then spend another 10,000 learning how to tell the world that they know a craft. The artist must now split their time between craft and community.
Is it any wonder that so many truly talented artists still work full time at other jobs to pay their bills?
"Find the thing you're most passionate about, then do it on nights and weekends for the rest of your life." - The Onion
Sometimes comedy is more painful than comedic. It doesn't matter how passionate you are about your art, or how motivated you are to engage with the world through it, we still have to pass through the gatekeepers. Today, though, instead of one of a couple dozen gate keepers, you must pass through millions of tiny doors.
Truly this is the me generation, where the power of deciding what is popular is in everyone's hands. Everyone gets to decide what is good and what is bad, what gets to be seen and what goes unseen. We all have to opportunity to see it, to judge it, and in some small way, our voices matter.
I'm still figuring out how to appeal to the masses. I still don't know how to use social media. I still haven't put in my 10,000 hours into photography either. I still don't know what images people are going to like. My favorite images are never the ones that get the most attention. The images I've worked the hardest on have gotten the least attention, while a snapshot I took to enter into a critique got the most. I don't even like the image that much.
Art on the internet is funny.