The Fine Art of Connection

How Artist Destry Sparks Made 5,000 Facebook Friends and Fast-Tracked His Career

Mixed media artist Destry Sparks originally got a Facebook account when his wife set it up as a joke. Now not only has he embraced the idea of social media, but has taken it to the next level to promote his art, his shows, other artists, galleries and discussion.

What merits attention to this Facebook user is that not only has he made connections, but how he interacts with online friends to schedule gallery shows up and down the east coast and draws crowds to openings.  He promotes other artists whose work he admires, and makes introductions to movers and shakers who can enhance other artist’s careers as well.

 

Destry’s approach is that his networking relationships with others should be a win/win proposition. He learns from other artists, introduces people, finds out about opportunities, and passes them on to those who can benefit. As a result of his connections, and deliberately choosing to interact with artists and curators who have influence, his show schedule is extremely busy – sometimes leaving only a few weeks to create between gallery openings.

 

 

As his career evolves, Destry has found that being diligent about Facebook and other social networking sites is an integral part of his job; he couldn’t imagine not being connected. Noting that the old gallery system in which an artist was more passive is declining, he is pleased that today artists have more control over their publicity, sales and schedules. He sums it up: “Most of the good things that have happened, I can trace to contacts I have made online.”

 

 

At his recent solo exhibition in New York, Destry met dozens of online contacts whom he had corresponded with for years.  While the venue drew its usual local art going crowd, some of the attendees drove from neighboring states to see Sparks’ work for the first time time in person after having enjoyed it online.  He is able to use Facebook as a tool not only promote his work, but to build relationships and collaborate on new projects with different players in the art world.  From the reception, plans are already underway to participate next year in international art fairs and leading festivals across the country.

What’s next?  This fall Destry has solo exhibitions at UNC-Charlotte and at St. Thomas University in Miami, FL. He will be putting together a collaborative show called “Looking for Answers” to be shown at Flynndog during the summer of 2012 in Burlington, Vermont.  Besides the national shows, Destry’s work is normally available at his in-state North Carolina galleries at www.twogalleries.net and Inkstone Gallery .

 

 

Destry Sparks’ website prominently invites Facebook friends, offers exhibition opportunities to artists who submit their work, and makes it very easy to interact with him. The uncluttered and straightforward design includes an “about” statement and image of his work on the home page, but his Facebook page is where his most recent creations are first presented.

At the Facebook limit of 5,000 friends, Destry cannot invite more people to connect, and sometimes has to drop inactive friends to add new ones. His suggestions for interacting successfully on Facebook and building your own art career:

  • Invite friends who are artists or curators you admire and want to know better
  • Send event invitations to your list for your upcoming events
  • Promote other artists, and pass along opportunities for them
  • Introduce people on your list who may benefit from the relationship
  • Use your connections as a chance to partner with others for shows and events
  • Make the most of in-person networking with Facebook friends who attend your shows
  • Make sure your communications are personal, not just advertisements
  • Be persistent and stay involved. It takes time and effort to succeed.

 

Comments

  1. Destry is a glowing example of how to make and leverage online relationships. I’m happy to say he’s one of my Facebook friends. He made some valuable introductions for me and I’m forever grateful. Nevermind the fact that he’s an outstanding artist… : )

  2. I love this site! Kinda went viral amongst my friends on FB. I’ve posted your link on my blog AND the art association’s blog that I run.

    • Thanks, Paula for the comment and the links – which is the heart of networking. What I love about Destry’s FB activity is the amount of empowerment this gives to individual artists to reach their audience directly.

  3. Congratulations to Destry on his online networking success. Guess his wife’s “joke” worked out for the best. It’s so nice to read these positive stories that really catapult artist’s careers. I just discovered Artsy Shark on Twitter and really enjoy it. I am a silversmith and have just started my Facebook page, networking online is a hard thing to do – I guess just start local and go from there. Thanks for the great insight and stories!

    • Renee, I agree that it is challenging to network online – but as with anything, if you are determined and you make it a priority, you will get good at it. I suggest you become a friend of Destry’s (invite him!) and find out how he is using Facebook so expertly.
      Thanks for visiting, stop back often! Or better yet subscribe and don’t miss a post!

  4. Great story! I didn’t realize there was a limit on friends, though. It must be for a personal account, not a page. I wonder if he could switch to a page and keep on growing?!

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