“Wow, what a waste of time,” came a snarky voice from the back of the room.
People like that made me not want to share my work with others.
I especially hated showing my animations to kids at school and seeing that they weren’t even slightly interested. To further complicate things, I was living in a quiet subdivision in Wyoming – not exactly an artist hotspot.
Fortunately, on a summer day in 2009 my brother encouraged me to create a blog on some website called Tumblr. No one I knew was on it, but it was easier to use than WordPress and it had a strong art community.
The first year, I was astounded that I had racked up a few thousand followers, but I mainly got a kick from seeing fellow artists liking and reblogging (sharing) my work.
In college, it seemed that everyone in the photo department was hopping on the Tumblr micro-blogging bandwagon. For once, I was actually ahead of the game. Partly due to being an early adopter of Tumblr, I was inducted into the Spotlight for Illustrators, a directory for popular Tumblr users. Thanks to the exposure, my following increased by 1,000 people per week for over a year.
At that point, I noticed my following shifting from the creative bloggers to the weird, the potheads and those obsessed with porn GIFs. I stopped clicking through to see where my work was being reblogged from there on.
Despite having over 50,000 followers, I knew I had lost my audience and my love for Tumblr. It was around this time that having a Tumblr account became common, and most people were following over 100 blogs.
In January 2012, I made a mad attempt to create a new sculpture, document the process with a time lapse, photograph the sculpture, then publicizing both the sculpture and time lapse on Tumblr – daily. The entire process consumed between six and eight hours a day.
My plan was successful in bringing in more people from the art community, but possibly 10 times more successful at attracting folks from the shady part of Tumblr.
I would have continued this slavish routine had I not slipped on a patch of black ice which left me suffering with back pain for a few days. The injury gave me a breather to realize that my blog was consuming every last minute of my free time.
I slowed down drastically, but surprisingly, my numbers rose to over 100,000 followers after a couple more years. Honestly, I didn’t feel any more satisfied. Likes. Reblogs. It didn’t really matter, and I felt like having my work in blog format made my work dated a day after I posted it.
Since then I’ve reconsidered how I get my name out there. I created a portfolio website featuring everything from my plasticine sculptures to illustration and documentary photography.
I have continued blogging on my website about personal experiences and behind the scenes of my clay work. Still, I try to share an illustration on Tumblr from time to time, but it’s usually an afterthought.
Though traffic on my personal website is significantly less than that on Tumblr, I am able to direct my content directly to the people I want through Twitter and Facebook.
While I have mixed feelings about Tumblr as a veteran user, I am thankful that it has allowed me to be a little more vulnerable with my art. To anyone interested in starting a blog, be aware that the web is full of “interesting” people.