13 Things I’ve Learned About Being A Science Artist Online


After celebrating 9 years of blogging on The Flying Trilobite, I’m going to get all old guard and pompous and established and drop some wisdom about best practices for science artists online.

  1. Show off. Saying “I am too busy making art to spend time online” means you are too busy making art no one will see. Visual art is a performance art.
  2. Yes I said before coffee. Start making art before you even have coffee in the morning. Get up an hour early and do art before you go to your day job. You’ll spend the rest of the day with your creative muscles buzzing because you gave them a workout and that feels good.
  3. Make pie. Don’t do the hyper-competitive thing and only talk about yourself and your own work all the time. It’s tempting, I know: we’re all trying to make it, and live the dream of full time art-making all day. But doing that will cause you to miss out on the camaraderie of community with other science artists. Promote other people too. Remember: you are not giving away your piece of the pie by retweeting someone else’s art: you are making a bigger pie for the potential audience to feast on.
  4. Sell your very soul. Don’t try to separate art from artist. More than ever, artists are a part of their art. Your online presence will award you contracts not only on your talent, but also your personality.
  5. Get with the times. Used to be that things were centralized around The Blog and comment sections were lively places. That’s not the case anymore. People read the link on Twitter or Facebook when you share it, and then comment on that social media platform instead. It may be a little messier, but skipping the latest-greatest social media platform means missing out on those conversations about your work.
  6. Have an art avatar. Update your blog once a week, but put some art up every day on Twitter. Remind people that you are talented and not just amazingly Twitter-witty.
  7. Get on Twitter. So you have a blog and you have Twitter ( both non-negotiable in my opinion.) You may want to sign up for a lot of social media sites to try them out, but pick two more and focus on building an audience and business with them. Artstation? Instagram? Periscope? Vine?
  8. Spending money to make money is a lie. Go cheap when you start out. Use free blog software to build a portfolio. Skip joining professional illustrator groups and find community in Google Hangouts and industry hashtag discussions. Spending time to make connections is the truth.
  9. Proudly Google yourself. Learn how to use Google Search by Image and Tineye to monitor how your work is being used by other people. You need to be proactive in protecting your work.
  10. You’re scared, I know. Let people share as much of your art as you can. Sharing ≠ stealing.
  11. I’m telling you to work harder. Crowdfunding, selling on Etsy or print-to-order like Redbubble all offer the potential to take some of the burden off of working 2 jobs and making art in the wee hours. So treat it seriously. Have a plan and be professional.
  12. Oh that ol’ thing? Chances are you’re building new connections all the time. Dust off your older artwork and share it again for a fresh batch of eyes.
  13. Winning. Remember that as science artists, our feeds are filled with the very best of the internet: exciting scientific discoveries and delightful, disturbing, intriguing art. We are creating sciart utopia. We win.

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This post originally appeared on Symbiartic on Scientific American, by Glendon Mellow March 29, 2014. I’ve done a bit of updating to the list of platforms and added an extra tip.