Twitter and artists

June 25, 2008  in  Archived       Related posts:  

As Twitter gains popularity, there have been suggestions that artists should embrace it as a way of promoting themselves. But I’ve decided that it doesn’t make sense for me.

When I first heard of Twitter, I thought it might be an interesting way to give people a glimpse into the daily activities and thoughts of an artist… as if they were sitting in at my studio as I worked on a piece. But as I jotted down ideas about what I might talk about, I quickly realized how mundane those activities really are. The thousand little tasks that go into making a piece of art are at best dull, and at worst tedious. “Spent half an hour contemplating whether to shift the camera one inch to the left.” “Made the tenth print trying to get the perfect shade of brown. Didn’t work. Tried again.” “Sat there thinking.” “Second-guessing my ability to make art for the seventh time today.”

It’s a corollary to the maxim that you don’t want to know how hot dogs are made: you really don’t want to know how art is made, because it might just ruin it for you. Art can be transcendent, but the creation of art is pretty drab nose-to-the-grindstone kind of stuff. I can only imagine a collector showing a new artwork to a friend and saying “yes, you see area of blue in the corner? The artist twittered for a whole afternoon going back and forth about whether it was the right shade.” The whole mystique is blown. The image of inspiration is replaced by indecision and waffling.

But even if I could figure out what to say, I have another problem with Twitter. I have yet to find a tweet (is that what you call them?) that I find interesting. Most are dull, a few are cute, but all become tiresome very quickly. It’s just the hyperactive nature of the medium. It’s information overload. The only people I want to hear from so frequently are my friends. With them, it’s great to hear their little comments and asides throughout the day. But for most others, I just don’t care. I can’t imagine anyone whom I’d want to be that in touch with.

I much prefer blogs. Blogs give people a chance to collect their thoughts. Blogs have a pace that is more conducive to thought and conversation. And on a practical level, I can find something to blog about every couple weeks, that might actually be worth saying. But Twitter? Too much noise, too much distraction. So for now, I’m avoiding Twitter. Yes, I may be missing the next big thing in online marketing. And I may change my mind later, and eat these words. Whatever. Right now, I’ve got art to make. (Oh and if you cared, I’m about to go to stare out the window for a while looking for inspiration. I’ll let you know when I’m finished.)

If either you or an artist you know found good way to use Twitter, post a comment below. Oh, and thank you to Empty Easel for posting this article on his site.

Update 5/18/09: After saying all that, a few months ago, I decided to give Twitter the old college try. I have been using it almost daily since, and have revised my opinion of it somewhat. I’ll be posting an update soon.