Internship Adventures, Part 13 - The Artist as Communicator

When image is king of the marketing and communications world, the artist has a keen advantage. While communications and marketing majors are reading up on how to sell their products or promote their client's services with strong compositions and gorgeous lighting, the artist already knows how to use the Golden Mean and set up three-point lighting.

Being an artist/graphic designer AND a marketing communications student has been a huge advantage at my Pueblo Riverwalk internship, and today (in the last of the Internship Adventure posts) I'll share the top tips I've learned that will help you create more engaging photos for Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more. If you're a communications major, here's what you need to learn. If you're an artist, here's what you know that you can use in new ways for marketing communications (be it for a job or to promote your own artwork).

Take Your Audience by the Hand and Say "Look at This!"
Nothing is more dreaded in visual communications than the 'grip-and-grin', those age-old photos of someone shaking hands with a peer, smiling for a camera, perhaps holding an award as well.  These sorts of photos are sometimes unavoidable as they are a way of acknowledging stakeholders of their accomplishments (especially vital when they're giving money), but the person who can find more interesting photos will be king or queen of the marketing world.
The artist has a huge advantage here, as artists are one of the best at finding things ordinary people miss and then saying, "Hey, check this out." Here are a couple secretes to get you started:

Look for Details
Close-ups are a great way to say, "Check this out."  As our lives get busier, it's harder to notice interesting little objects, fascinating combinations of pattern, or surprising discoveries of unusual color combinations.  Look for these sort of things when posting to Instagram or other social media as a way to entice your audience by saying "Look what you are missing, come see this."

Look for Special, Natural Moments
One way to avoid the grip-and-grin is to search for spontaneous interactions. Say you are marketing an art museum.  A photo of a child and instructor using a color wheel together, engaged with each other, and not with the camera, is far more interesting than that child and instructor standing stiff, holding the color wheel like it's a certificate.  Get the picture?  So next time wander around, explore until people forget you are there and look for quite moments of discovery or moments of pure, undisturbed interaction between your subjects.

Let Your Audience Explore Through You

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Give Them the VIP Treatment From Their Device
You have access to everything, so take advantage of it.  Show your audience what your event looks like from the front row, or from behind the stage looking back out at the performers and the crowd.  Get up close and personal with other aspects of the event (like I did with close-ups of the mouthwatering BBQ during the Boats, Bands and BBQ event at the Pueblo Riverwalk). In other words, let your photos scream, "This is why you have to be here."

Show the Work in Progress and Behind the Scenes
Build up excitement for an event or a product release by showing the work behind the scenes or the process of it's creation.  And it's a hashtag (#WIP, #WIPWednesday) so it's a win-win. 

Respect What You Learned In Your Principles of Art Class
You can do some pretty cool things with Instagram's filters, but your Instagram marketing will be so much more powerful if you know other ways to create engaging images. The secretes are in your general education art appreciation course or your art principles course. Maybe you were one of those students who loved the class, or one of the students who were bored by color theory, but, which ever you were, now the lessons learned in that introductory course will help you create compelling photos. Here's a little refresher of the principles that work so well for Instagram marketing.

Leading lines, interesting shapes and patterns are your friends.
The easiest way to improve your compositions is to move the horizon line above or below the middle of the picture. Also, refresh your memory of the rule-of-thirds and place your subjects accordingly. With so many people posting to Instagram and many of them just snapping quickly, well composed photos will really stand out.

Look for complimentary colors.
Did you know complimentary colors look brighter next to each other? Or that warm colors make people hungry? If you didn't, you are missing out on perhaps the most powerful visual marketing tool you could have.

You don't have to be an expert with studio lighting to create gorgeous photos, but you do need to know what kind of light looks good for the best results.  To get you started, avoid taking photos in bright, noon-day light and try to make the best of side lighting and halos for interesting effects.

Make sure your subjects stand out from the background.
Less is More
Don't try to cram everything into one photo. If you do, you might be surprised how the 'likes' go down.  Photos with less things going on are more compelling and easier to 'read.'  If it's really that important, it's better to spread all the details across a few Instagrams.  It makes your account look more active, too, so you really can't lose.


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