How, When & Why to Make
Videos About Your Art
Artists often wonder whether they should create and publish videos of their art. Videos can be very effective ways to introduce and promote your art and to inform people about it, but they can also work against you if you don't do them right. So in the interest of doing them right, let's get up to speed on some do's, don'ts, tips and pointers for producing and posting appealing, engaging, informative, and compelling art and artist videos.
Perhaps the most important point to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to make a video is to make one only if you have a good reason for making it. Good reasons for making videos usually involve showing aspects of your art or art life that look best in video format as opposed to still images. As for the content, it should focus on what makes your art or your process unusual or special in some way, like for example, showing interesting details of your art that people might otherwise miss, showing unusual aspects of your process, focusing on specialized art-making skills that you've perfected over the years, doing walk-throughs of a location or locations where you make your art, talking about what inspires your work, taking us to places that inspire your work, and so on. The more unique or out-of-the-ordinary a video is, the greater the incentive for people to view it.
Newsworthy items also make for good videos including documenting openings, installations or other events that feature your art, receiving awards, giving talks or sitting on panels, etc. You don't need to show everything; editing together a string of highlights or notable moments will do just fine.
As for what not to make, videos that simply show still images of your art one after another with no point or purpose are unlikely to get you anywhere fast. Not only are they boring to watch, but they also waste viewers' time. Why make a 7-minute video of one still image after another when you can show all of those exact same stills as thumbnails on a webpage where anyone can see everything immediately?
More recommendations for shooting artist videos:
* Keep it concise and to the point. Always remember that people have short online attention spans. The instant they feel like they're wasting their time, they're gone. Unless you have something really meaningful and engaging to show, keep your videos in the range of 30 seconds to maybe two minutes at the most. You'll be surprised at how much information you can get across in short periods of time. All you have to do is time some of your favorite commercials and you'll see. A good rule of thumb is that if you can't hold your own attention for the length of your video, edit it down.
* Keep it focused. Videos that feature specific aspects of your art, process, or art career tend to hold viewers' attention longer than more general videos with no clear purpose or point.
* Have a beginning, middle, and end. You want viewers to come away from videos feeling like they spent their time in constructive ways, that they know more now than they knew when they started, or that they just plain enjoyed watching them (enjoyment counts too).
* Think about having a script or notes on what to say and when to say it. And practice it. This helps keep you from rambling, forgetting what you want to say, or wandering off topic.
* Stop-action videos showing artists making art are popular these days, but they only work if there's something magical happening like art mysteriously evolving out of nothing. For instance, focus on how you bring a particular detail of a composition to life, or ways you create that really highlight your skills. If it's just another stop-action video of another artist making another piece of art, with nothing noteworthy or remarkable about it, then maybe think twice.
* Forget soundtracks or background music unless they are directly related to the experience of your art. Background music that you happen to like, but that has nothing to do with your art not only distracts from focusing on the art, but may actually turn viewers off who don't like that kind of music. How many museums or galleries have you been to where they have music playing in the background? The answer is hardly any.
* Hold your camera steady. There's nothing worse than getting video seasickness. For example, showing a video of a single piece of art where you are constantly moving the camera around the composition to show different closeups, distances, and details can be confusing at best and dizzying at worst. This goes for showing your art on display in interiors as well, especially if you have to move from room to room. Just make sure you move slowly and deliberately, giving viewers enough time to take in each wall or view before you move on to the next.
* Pay attention to the lighting. Colors should be accurate and all important details should be evenly lit. Watch out for excessively dark or bright spots, shadows that interfere or distract, and other irregularities that draw unnecessary attention away from the content.
* If your studio is worth showing, give your fans and followers a quick tour. The same goes for locations that may play significant roles in how you make art or what you make. For example, if the view out your studio window or residence is unusual or inspiring in some way, show it. Or if you make art about specific locations, maybe show and tell us all about these as well.
* Videos of you talking about specific works of art, or specific aspects of art-making or your art career are always good. Using videos to help viewers understand and appreciate the artist behind the art increases appreciation of the art as well.
* Hiring professionals is something to think about if for some reason you're not satisfied with your own video work. Amateurish videos are never a good look.
* Good videos not only inform viewers about your art, but also about who you are and what you stand for as an artist. They help build and strengthen connections to your art, whether they are about the art itself, or about your perspectives, observations, activities, or thoughts on art and life.
(art by Chad Hasegawa)
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