Living by Your Wits
The Fine Art of Social Media

I always knew that I wanted to study Art. But, like everyone else, I always wondered whether one could really carve out a future through it. Of course, those anxieties were fanned by others in high school, who either did not know what the subject was about, or simply dismissed it out of hand, concluding that “you can’t live on that”, snubbing the whole artistic field as “little drawings,” with phrases such as “that’s living by your wits,” “that’s not a real job,” and the constant: “What kind of job are you going to get with that?”

Today I am able to appreciate, and explain, that that aesthetics and the creativity behind the design of any element entail an artistic approach that is, actually, applicable to a whole range of different professional fields – including Social Media.

More and more people realize that the aesthetics of a social network –its timeline, website, posts– are an artistic ensemble. In one way or another they generate a visual and rhetorical balance in which various factors are taken into account so that it is one way, and not another, to have an effect on people.

You probably think that this work can be done by just anyone who has studied how to create a timeline, or generate followers, but what is certain is that a person who has studied and really taken advantage of what a Fine Arts degree has to offer develops the ability to analyse images. Where I studied we did so in a course called Nature and Space, taught by the mystic and passionate Daniel Lupión.

We are surrounded by visual content, in every poster, every design every image and platform around us. We process messages, which we are able to decipher thanks to the cultural and social context in which we exist and that we have absorbed over the course of our lives.

According to Umberto Eco, iconic signs have a conventional nature, developed over the entire history of art, through which artists have created rules for the translation of iconic signs to express the contents of reality.1

For example, the defining characteristic of a zebra is its stripes, so this would be a good code for its iconic representation, immediately helping us to recognise it.

 

Thanks to a method called Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), myths can be deconstructed through observation and conversation. And, by exploring different perspectives and themes, different meanings can be deciphered and, therefore, proposed.

 

 

“Reading, interpreting an image, involves observing it in detail to understand those elements that make it up and how they are organized in order to convey thoughts and decipher messages.”2

But, of course, what a Fine Arts person actually does in an environment such as Social Media or Marketing is to create content, so the formula is reversed. You no longer just analyse images. Rather, you have to create them, to furnish the project with meaning and coherence, asking questions, telling stories and linking ideas to each other.

This work consists of relating colours, shapes, text, and figures, which, depending on their arrangement, transmit a perception, a message, an emotion. The images speak for themselves. What a Fine Arts person contributes to the transformation of these elements is artistic sensitivity and the notions needed to generate visual codes.

It is very important to know the laws of Gestalt (left image)3 and the principles of design (right image)4

When studying Art we must complete a set of different projects, each one revolving around a concept. We have to be able to create concept maps, present ideas, and arguments, and link them to each other as part of projects. We adopt a role as researchers, writers, painters, designers, and sculptors, creating small universes fulfilling certain objectives. We also present them, and we can exploit our creativity to, in some way, manipulate the viewer’s reaction.

In this way it reminds me of Neuromarketing,5 the science that studies how to commercialise products by making people feel certain ways based on creative approaches, “theatrics” that spark interest and generate movement in the mind and body. People need to feel that it is worthwhile to observe the world, be moved, saddened, perplexed, laugh, contemplate something, ask questions and question statements.

Personally, I have always been interested in the Marketing world, and I have always thought it would be a good idea to relate it to that of Art, but, until now, I was not able to articulate the connection between the two spheres and how they are related to each together.

What I would like to transmit to you is that, as the artist that you already are, you can create your own model of life, bringing the things you are passionate into your work, which may seem daunting, but you should forge ahead nevertheless, not letting that artistic spark flicker out. Step by step.


Trying to fit into the strange territory I inhabit
Paula de Alvear Doñate

Bibliography

1La mirada lúcida. Desafíos en la producción y recepción de imágenes en la comunicación contemporánea Allochis,Leandro
2Reading images: a tool for critical thinking
5Neuromarketing
Marketing digital, tinta y alumnos de Bellas Artes. Zuleyka

Paula Alvear

By Paula Alvear

Instagram @paulaalvearte / Graphic Designer