Making Art in the Internet Age (5)

After hearing rumors around school that some of my students thought I'd 'tricked them' in my Making Art in the Internet Age class, and getting direct in-class blowback regarding my blogs here on Huffington Post, I thought it was time to turn this fifth installment over to my students. Here are their thoughts:

"Upon reading Scott's third edition of the "Making Art in the Internet Age" on the Huffington Post, I was angry quite frankly. I found myself astonished that someone I respected would misrepresent me and my peers in a public setting. However I knew any rash response to this would immediately get me labeled as another "fragile," "wuss[y]," "coddled" millennial, as that was already happening in the comments section of Scott's Facebook post. Anything I had to say would be excused as the ramblings of yet another overly offended young person upset by "the haters," which is a whole other exhausting point in itself that I'll get to. So weeks passed and the class went on and every time we had a discussion I couldn't help but be aware of the fact that anything being said was potentially a story. I tried my best to take things at face value but instead I just became hyperconscious of my potential as a quote taken out of context. What finally made me change my mind about posting was rereading Scott's first article and realizing that maybe the odds have been stacked against me and my classmates from the very beginning. If Scott wants a critique than I'd be happily obliged to give him one." 

The link to Nina's full blog is here on her Tumblr page.

"First off, Scott is a great teacher and he is one of the most skilled artists I have ever met. I took this class because I admire him as an artist, but it turns out that social media may not be for me. It surprised me that Scott was teaching this class because I didn't realize he was so interested in social media. For many people in the younger generation, it seems that their social status depends almost entirely on their presence on social media. For myself, social media reminds me of my days at high school, and I desire to get as far away from it as possible.

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Charlie Antolin drawing of the class in session.

During the semester we have analyzed what kinds of imagery works online. It seems that images are becoming more simple and that group figure compositions, which Scott is known for, do not do as well online. Being able to witness Scott up close making a painting from life much better communicates his talent than a photo online. I think it is best to not be persuaded by what is popular on social media. People should do what they think is important without regard for social media trends, because it is hard to be sincerely passionate otherwise. I would rather paint like the old masters and be unpopular. Being unpopular is actually very liberating because I feel free to paint whatever I want and make mistakes. I understand that social media is necessary for the business side of the art world, and I do feel that this class has given me insight on how social media works. I am getting my education at LCAD because I am interested in traditional techniques which seem to have steadily lost popularity in the last 100 years. I am studying this type of painting not to get likes on Instagram, but because I find it genuinely interesting."

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"You can't win the game if you never play. The Internet is like the lottery, and although some of us may never hit the "jackpot", have a post go viral and end up on the Ellen Show, that isn't to say there isn't anything to gain from creating an online presence. Scott Hess' Making Art in the Internet Age course proves just that. When I first entered the course I had 60-some followers and most of them were people I knew directly. A lot of my posts had at most 30 likes and my biggest fan was my best friend's mom. Life was good then, I have no complaints or regrets. However, what I was missing was the opportunity to share my art with people who would otherwise never get to see it. As I became more active on social media, I gained followers, feedback and confidence. I began to figure out what about my work people enjoyed and what works in general were more popular than others. Sometimes things that I really personally enjoyed flopped on the Internet and other times things that I didn't want to post (but did so anyways to meet the quota for the class) did surprisingly well. As we are slowly approaching the end of this course I have 650-some followers, I was a part of my first group show and was contacted through social media about a commission. These things probably would've happened eventually, or so I'd like to think, but the point is that they wouldn't have happened as quickly as they did without the help of social media and this class. To bring this back full circle, the Internet is a place of endless opportunity, but you must put yourself out there in order to receive them. This class has brought me not only success but also a method of practice that I will continue to enforce even after the course is over. Now if only I could have some success in the real lottery..."

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Diagnosed with deafness at age two, I only knew of a world without sound. It seemed impossible to get past superficial relationships because people around me did not know how to communicate beyond "Hello" and "Goodbye." I was convinced my life would forever be lived in solitude. Painting bridged a realm that created opportunities for deeper relationships. Art eliminated the struggle for words and voice, and more importantly helped me to be seen and heard. Painting has defined who I am and opened new doors to new people to show them my personality, my thoughts, my emotions, myself.

This class, Making Art in The Internet Age, has equipped me with strategies and tools to optimally utilize our prevalent Internet Age. The internet has established my artistic presence and propagated world attention by allowing me to showcase my work consistently. Social media such as Instagram has extended my outreach to as many people as possible. It lends a tremendous opportunity to be found by potential galleries for consideration and representation. As a consequence, it stamps out barriers of being deaf as I am solely evaluated by my abilities and capabilities through the display of my best work. For an emerging deaf artist like me, internet marketing will continue to be a critical role in my success.

The uniqueness of the deaf disability is not limited to the inability to hear. It spawns a multitude of high-risk, at-risk, low-education standards. There are not that many of us who are college-bound, let alone successful in higher education. To learn of a deaf peer thriving on the world stage transcends disabilities. So, in and through my art I have defined myself and have dropped my pebble in the water of humanity, rippling, spreading and flowing into mine and others bright future.