Artists were limited in exhibiting their works via real-life venues such as actual exhibitions and publications before the Internet, which has changed the artistic landscape. Through personal websites, artists can show their works to literally millions of people around the globe in the form of pixels and the creation of photo album “galleries.”
▲ The profile picture of Choi’s page. Provided by Choi Seung Hyun
Yet another evolution of exhibition tools took place, quite recently on Facebook, which is now not only allowing easy networking between friends and acquaintances, but is also helping professional and amateur artists promote their works. If you have spent a fair amount of time on Facebook recently, you probably have already noticed some of these Facebook artists. Often, their works include humorous intentions, having comical contents that viewers can easily empathize with. One such artist, Choi Seung Hyun (23, Seoul), is the creator of viral videos very popular on Facebook among those in their early twenties.
Choi is probably better known as the owner of the Facebook page, Choi Seung Hyun’s Pastime. Her short, humorous video clips include mostly herself acting out funny moments in everyday life, sometimes with handmade puppets making appearances too. “At first, starting a few years ago, I made video clips with my friends just for fun,” said Choi. Then, a year ago, she came across Vine, an application that allows users to create and share six-second long videos. Choi decided to make her own videos, which she posted on Instagram as well as Vine.
“All of a sudden, I had more than 300 followers on Instagram. Lots of people, more than I expected, liked my videos and that made me start this page on Facebook,” said Choi. Choi currently has more than 160,000 likes on her Facebook page. “It is like when a zombie bites a person, that person becomes a zombie too. When you like a post on Facebook, your friends can see it also, and it can be shared with many, many people. I like that about Facebook,” Choi said.
While Choi’s Facebook page is an excellent example of an amateur artist making the best of Facebook, there are also professional artists who use it to show their works to be shown to many people. Jessoo’s Sketch Pad is one such example.
Jessoo officially debuted as a comic artist through “Mo’better Blues,” which was published in
2009. He later published the webtoon “Pipe City” on Daum and is currently working on a new book that will soon be published. Jessoo also spends the rest of his time preparing for a new, longer series of comics. The number of likes on his Facebook page is now nearing 120,000.
“I decided to dispose of my website, that had been neglected for 10 years, and set up a page on Facebook after a conversation with fellow artists about SNS,” said Jessoo (32, Bucheon). After he finishes a drawing, Jesso takes a photo of it with his smartphone and immediately posts the picture on his Facebook page. He can then view real-time reactions to his drawings. When a drawing stirs up a lot of empathy, the speed of the “share” and the number of viewers increase exponentially.
When asked about the goals he has for Jessoo’s Sketch Pad, Jessoo answered that he had twothings in mind. “First, I want to use the page asa tool to draw more and make drawing easy andenjoyable. I also want to let people know about mylife as a comic artist.”
▲ Jessoo’s sketch of himself. Provided by Jessoo
Facebook is also a place where groups of young artists can gather to form online communities. Facebook Young Artist (FYA) is the biggest arts community group on Facebook and is where artists are allowed to upload—with approval from the administrator—their work on the FYA page. Many different forms of a r t—pa i n t i n g , music, photography, fashion, and film— can be perused at FYA.
The g r o up wa s s t a r t e d b y K i m Kyou n gh w a ( 2 2 , Gyeonggi), an art director who felt the need for a place to get feedback on artwork. “There are many artists who wish to communicate with many people. I am one of those extrovert artists and that is how I came to form this arts community group with others who are like me,” said Kim.
▲ The most liked sketch on Jessoo’s page. Provided by Jessoo
By promoting their work, artists can sometimes appeal to art industry insiders and receive proposals for exhibitions or collaborations. “Facebook serves as an excellent tool for publicity. One of the group members attracted more than 40,000 likes on his personal page through frequent uploads on FYA,” said Kim.
FYA’s offline activity is also thriving. The group had an exhibition, Ee-Um, Beyond the Boundaries, on April 25 to 29 with 11 FYA participating artists. The exhibition’s theme is the connection between Western painting and graphic design. “The exhibition also connects the artists and their audiences, with a leap from online to offline,” explained Kim. She added, “The goal of FYA is to continue offline art projects in the future. I want to share, with many people, the art projects which contain my wish that people would have easier access to enjoyable art.”
For the past few years, Facebook has been flourishing in many areas such as marketing and entertainment. In addition, Facebook is allowing many amateur artists to express their ideas, as in Choi’s case. The reactions from Facebook users also work as encouragement to professional artists, like with Jessoo. Now, it has come to a point where Facebook’s easy accessibility has started to enable artist communities like FYA to form. We look forward to what kind of space Facebook can develop in the future for artists and those who aspire to be.