Close up

I see a lot of portfolios online and I get a lot of portfolios forwarded to me as well.

But here’s the thing. Anyone can just post up their work online and hope for the best. Some of them have work that isn’t even theirs. Hundreds, if not thousands of artists and illustrators have works that are literally on a virtual shelf just waiting to be perused. So what makes me (or anyone for that matter) want to take a closer look at yours? What will separate you from the rest? How can we separate the copycats from the true artists?

It’s simple – start a blog.

I don’t mean telling people how you go about making your artwork (not if you don’t want to!) I’m talking about sharing with people why you made it. It’s not surprising that when I am at your portfolio page, I search for links to your blog next. Why?

Because I want to hear your voice.

I see artwork and portfolios all the time. Sure – it’s pretty and all that. But I’m not looking for pretty. I’m looking for meaning. A story. Something that I can connect to. Isn’t it ironic though that sometimes artists choose to draw so that they can avoid talking (or writing for that matter?)

I want to read your opinions. I want to hear about the process of discovery and the thought processes that went into an artwork. I want to see how your brain and hands connect and work. I treasure being able understand what it is that you want us to see. I want to be able to see that you aren’t afraid to dig deep to create.

Because let’s face it – I’m not a mind reader. On a very basic level I seek to connect and to identify – and while having work that will make me understand at once what I’m looking at is great, a lot of the time interpretation of the piece, together with an artist statement (or in the case of illustration – reading the article that went with the illustration) will shine a light on the subject matter better than any standalone image.

A picture is worth a thousand words, yes. But a short paragraph will open up a bridge to those thousand words.

So start a blog with Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr or whatever blogging platform you’re drawn to.

Draw. Write.

Rinse and repeat.

Creativity is a muscle that needs to be flexed everyday. Much like drawing has become a habit, so will writing be when you put in small doses of effort over a long period.

Just be genuine, sincere and keep an open mind.
Who knows who will be reading?

{Papercut by Monique van Uden}

37 comments

  1. Tigz says:

    I’ve been blogging for several years now and its really helped me to work out my creative patterns and improve the language I use when describing my work. Its also a brilliant way of sharing more detail than you might have room for in your portfolio (or so I’ve found!)

  2. I think it’s great you have written this. Blogging is something I wish I’d started sooner. I’ve had a blog for about two years now and I agree that it not only helps to promote your work it also functions as a scrapbook; somewhere to try out ideas, get feeback and record things too.

  3. cikaja says:

    Yes, I strongly agree.

  4. Flora says:

    Thanks Amy, that’s really helpful – especially as I was just starting to lose faith (and energy) in blogging, and was wondering whether I could get by just using Twitter and Pinterest. But you’re right, the artists whose work I like the most, are often the ones whose blogs I like the most.

  5. Agreed! I’ve only been blogging a short while and have learned so much in that time. Above all, it really helped me to get my creativity back. It made me a much happier person :) But for the writing, um yeah, working on that ;) Reading this is going to give me an extra push to focus on that too, so thanks!

  6. Great, thoughtful piece, Amy. I absolutely agree! It’s such a treat to “meet” other artists via their blogs. We not only get to know one another, but can see each other’s work evolve with a real understanding of the reasons behind the work.

  7. You are right! It is a great way for someone like me who is pretty much obsessive compulsive when it comes to getting stuff out of my head onto paper. However there are so many blogging artists who are only interested in self promotion and will not engage with other artists in any meaningful way. Sometimes it feels very lonely out here…or maybe that is just a comment on my output…oops!

  8. megan says:

    I just redid my website to include a blog in January. At first I found it really hard to write. You’re right, I think a lot of artists do prefer pictures to words. I worried a lot about what I wanted to say, and generally over-thought the whole thing. I’ve found that the more blogging I do, the easier it gets and the more natural I sound. Plus, I do lots of posts of work in progress/ completed projects, and I’ve found that blogging holds me accountable to keeping up with a steady flow of work.

  9. Roni says:

    I always have an argument with people about blogs. There is a myth about how blogs are the graffiti of the net, but it’s what you make of it. I believe that if done right, and with honesty there are only good things can come from it. This is a great post, one that more people should read and spread the word about. I appreciate your blogging and I hope that it will inspire more people to open their hearts and minds about the creative world around them.

  10. Rebekka says:

    As an illustrator who blogs and is addicted to the blogs of fellow illustrators….I can not agree more! I love peeking into the lives and thoughts of other artists. Sometimes it helps me remember why I do what I do :)

  11. Dewi Isn says:

    Hey thanks for posting this. It reminds me why do I have a blog. Yes, I want feed back! Whether it could be positive or negative, it still a feedback and that’s why we grew better. Well, I’ll share your post to my FB. Everybody (artist/illustrator) should read this! ;)

  12. candace says:

    This is like the little fire I needed lit under me! My poor journal goes neglected sometimes.. it’s hard with a FT job and mom duties once home, but I know the feeling of going to artist journals and there not being a recent post. Frustrating! I always click artist’s “about” links and hope to read more. I love seeing behind the scenes photos too. I need to remember to maintain my “bridge” (as it was called) in order to feed my followers and earn some more of them! Thank you!

  13. Thanks for this post—especially the part about writing a little narrative to go along with the image—something I tend not to do much. But, then again, a picture IS worth a thousand words! ;)

  14. excellent post..

    like you say:
    “Because I want to hear your voice.

    I see artwork and portfolios all the time. Sure – it’s pretty and all that. But I’m not looking for pretty. I’m looking for meaning. A story. Something that I can connect to. Isn’t it ironic though that sometimes artists choose to draw so that they can avoid talking (or writing for that matter?)”

    This is so true. In my opinion, we are all looking for meaning, because we want to feel more connected, we are living in an era when we feel betrayed by the impersonal, such as big corporations, and we want a sense of the “personal”. More so now than ever before.

  15. John says:

    Couldn’t agree more Amy. My blog has enabled me to get very valuable feedback and opinion.

  16. jodi says:

    I blog and I completely love reading other artist-blogs, so I really agree with you on this. Yet, I find that even though I enjoy the writing aspect of blogging, whenever I write about a new piece of art, I always try to restrain myself. I don’t want to tell other people how to see a thing. And even more than that, I don’t think that art necessarily translates into writing. Each art form has its own rules and nuances and ways of expression. Because of this, I’d been thinking lately about writing posts with less words, to sort of emphasize the art more… but your post is helping me stick to my first instincts and continue writing!
    Anyway, what a great post. Both the post and the comments above are very thought provoking!

  17. Thanks for this post. Like so many others I too sometimes wonder why blog. I do enjoy it (Sometimes)

    It seems that not many people have found me yet.
    I try to get out there and read other blogs and comment.

    I’ve linked everything up to my face book etc.

    I’ll keep plugging away at it! Thanks.

  18. Cindy D. says:

    It’s true! The other great thing is that you can comment on a blog, but not on a portfolio. Sometimes I just want to say wow, I love that! And I would guess most people would appreciate that, although I’m sure there are some tired, extremely successful folk who have heard it enough (or who don’t want to try to keep up with thousands of comments!)

    I am not having the thousands of comments problem quite yet, only started in May. I can’t believe how much time has passed already, and how many people have wandered in there and are kind enough to comment (I think 20ish is the most for one of my posts, but that’s huge to me now when I think back to when I started and didn’t know if anyone would visit.)

    On the other hand, a blog is another thing that takes time and takes you from your art, but I do find inspiration in a lot of art blogs I find, and I hope to give some occasionally as well. :D

  19. Thanks to all of you who left comments on my blog, it is so encouraging to receive positive feedback. And it has been a pleasure looking at what my peers are creating. Aren’t we lucky to have found art as a means of expression?

  20. Masha says:

    In my personal experience blogging sometimes feels very isolated, alienated and unrewarding. I have no idea who is visiting my blog and why they keep coming back.
    I think that in the current post, I mostly enjoy the discussion it awakened and the chance to hear your voices. Reading people’s opinions and constructive criticism (in addition to a short “Love it”,“Great work”) is something that I miss. I’d like to know who are the people behind the links and the endless images in Pikaland.
    Is the cliché about tea drinking cat lovers illustrators is true? Do boys blog too? I guess I’ll never know.

  21. I couldn’t agree with you more!!! Whenever I bump into an artist’s portfolio I like online the first thing I look for is their blog…I just love finding out more about the artist who is behind the work and what they are up to… it give the work more meaning! :)

  22. Masha, i paid a visit to your blog and would have loved to leave a comment telling how much I liked your style. Your artwork was really original ! However there was no way to leave a comment, your work is amazing!

  23. Jenny says:

    This was a very eye opening post. I have to admit that your observation that artists often like to draw more than talk – or write – is so true for me. I will make a new commitment to telling the stories behind my work.

  24. sue-chan says:

    Many thanks for your pertinent message. Much appreciated. x

  25. Hena Tayeb says:

    I have on and off blogged and slacked.. I have finally found my groove again and have been very regular the past few months.. reading this inspires me to continue doing what I’m doing..

  26. ella says:

    Thanks for that, I must admit I’m someone who tends to tentatively share work but think no one would be interested in the messy spaghetti of my process! I am inspired to start to do so now though! Thanks again!

  27. Cecilia says:

    what a great post Amy and a great mentor. It is so true, I look daily for inspiration on other people’s blogs and yet have not managed to find my voice. Hopefully this is the kick in the butt I need, thanks :)

  28. Annabelle says:

    I’ve recently been encouraged to start blogging as part of my Illustration degree course, it’s something I’ve never thought about doing myself before despite spending hours reading the blogs of others, but it really is so much fun once you get started! and so addictive.

  29. stephanie says:

    this is such an interesting post, gave me lots to ponder on andhopefully spur the creative writter in me to blog more. thankyou. I can’t remember when i set up my blog which may be a bad sign along with the lack of posting on it at time but every so often i’ll create something i like(very rare i am my own worst critic) and when i’ve told the world about it or the 4 people who stumble across it. i feel happier that i’m making my creative mark and this years resolution is to draw and blog more about my creativity.

    x

    stephaniedanutamarvi…

  30. I am coming up on 4 years of blogging, mostly once a week. It keeps me on my toes just to do that, and I have few followers, but I treasure each one of them. I keep making my art whether anybody pays attention or not. Can’t help myself!

  31. Jane says:

    Hello

    Thanks so much for blogging on this topic with interesting ideas, and for all the fantastic commenters and your advice and experiences.

    I’ve quoted some of your comments in a blog post about artists blogging, and linked to this website and the post too.

    open.abc.net.au/post…

    Best,
    Jane

  32. Great illustrated blog thanks for the sharing your idea.

  33. Loved the way you wrote, dear.

    Please, take a look at this. It’s an app for ilustrators, created by a friend of mine, Ricardo Gimenez. I’m helping him, cause it’s a crowdfunding.

    Here, in English:

    http://catarse.me/pt/vectorlooza#about

    All the best for all bloggers <3

  34. I started my blog because I wanted to keep my portfolio clean and did not want to add it any “noise”. The blog also allows me to show more work, work that for several reasons I won’t put it in my portfolio, like sketches, random ideas ou work in progress.

    Anyway, I’m writing a lot less than I would like :/

    ijustellstories.wordpress.com

  35. [...] with cool things to look at all in one place. I recently stumbled upon a new blog, and came upon this post from 2011 that I found particularly interesting. It’s called “Why artists and [...]

  36. Cindy Tan says:

    Hi,

    I think it’d be great if you could tell us how you started your blog and even the literal aspects like designing and figuring out where to place stuff on your blog and also things like the premium blogs vs the free blogs.

    I’m studying graphic design and I do like to draw occasionally and I’ve been wanting to start a blog but not sure how to start. I’ve always wondered how many entries in a blog you have to post before people start actually start looking at your website.

    P.S. Just like how a blank sketchbook page scares me, a blank screen scares me just as much, if not more.

  37. vsjady says:

    hello. I am an aspiring illustrator. I love to draw and paint; will be attending art school (bachelors in fine arts) next year. Could u please tell me when should I start a blog of my own? I sketch a lot and feel confident abt my art, but not sure if i shd start a blog. Pls do suggest me.

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