Galleries have shut, events have been cancelled. Here are immediate steps you can take to keep your art career alive in the virtual world despite the Movement Control Order.
By Kay Lynn Chua
As Malaysia moves to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases via social distancing, it is a stressful time for many as financial earnings take a hit. Thankfully, living in this digital age as an artist makes it easier to stay connected and still move forward with creative and professional pursuits.
1. Can’t meet? Take it online
Artists, galleries, and museums are working to lift the spirits of their art fans under lockdown by proving that you don’t need to be physically present to enjoy art. Travel to top art institutions in Seoul or Florence or watch a Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra concert without leaving you home!
Artists have taken a page from these examples and are using free video conferencing platforms like Zoom to connect with fans and other creatives in this time of social distancing. Penang-born artist Okui Lala’s work was screened at the recent Singapore Biennale. She initially planned a live screening in Penang which had to be cancelled. Undaunted, she moved things online, screening via Vimeo and adding a live sharing session with Goh Sze Ying, the curator of the Singapore Biennale on top of that.
2. Optimise postings through analytics
People are going to be glued to their phones during social distancing. Relevant and creative content is sure to get more eyeballs as everyone relies heavily on screens to check on what’s happening outside of their four walls.
Use a social media tool like Buffer to schedule your posts and analyse which of them perform better. Buffer allows you to understand what kind of posts your followers want to see more of and steers you in the right marketing direction. It can connect to your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Oh and before you post that image, make sure that it looks professional. Use a free photo editing software like Snapseed so that your photos do your artwork justice!
3. Do business through live chats
With the majority of us craving for any form of social contact, using online platforms like Facebook Live and Instagram Live to connect with your followers can allow both parties to focus on your art and less about the virus. Who knows, you might catch the attention of strangers and gain a bigger following!
During live chats, offer to make bespoke artwork for your followers. This opens up the opportunity to sell your works in larger quantities at a higher demand whilst letting your buyer customise it to their liking.
Once you’ve made a sale, use the delivery feature on the Grab App or other delivery companies like Lalamove. The price of delivery starts as low as RM7 depending on distance and type of objects.
4. Research your next project (for free)
Boost your mental capacity and creativity by reading. JSTOR is a digital library that allows members to tap into hundreds of thousands of articles and thousands of books. Reading and researching is a great way for artists to tap into the conceptual side of artmaking.
Malaysian art historian Simon Soon’s latest exhibition The Tyger and the Navigator is an example of how online research is placed at the forefront of artmaking. He reassembles historical material and information to give them a new context and story. Using information found from online research to ‘explore hidden connections amongst historical materials’, Soon’s approach is a nod to 20th-century modernist collage, post-internet mash-up and cloud computing.
5. Muscle up with a free Ivy League online course
Big Ivy League names like Cornell University and Harvard are offering 450 online courses that you can take now for free. Whether you are working from home or craving for new activities, embracing online learning during the MCO allows you to plan study time around the rest of your schedule.
Take a course on Gamification, Algorithms or Arts & Culture Strategy. Select from 13 different categories and sign up here.
Covid-19 has caused a major change in the way the art scene does business. Although this might be temporary, learning how to operate your creative career online is highly necessary as the world becomes increasingly reliant on virtual connections.
Kay Lynn Chua holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the California Institute of the Arts. Herself an artist, her other passions lie in writing about art and teaching young children.