Thursday, 11 February 2016

Digital: Promoting your student artwork!

Art education and the use of social media has caused a bit of a stir lately but, for my department it really has made a difference in our students (and potential new students!) engagement and possibilities within Fine Art. This academic year has been the most challenging and rewarding of my teaching career so far and through the more difficult times I have been fortunate enough to gain continuous CPD through the Facebook group of NSEAD. It really is a fantastic resource and teachers from up and down the country are sharing inspiring ideas, resources and examples of excellence every single day. This site made me think about the new digital age and how it is now more relevant than ever to be seen and heard online. Social media really has made a massive difference in the promotion of my course and more importantly, made a significant impact on my students knowledge within the arts!

So, wondering where you start?

Branding:
First things first - create a brand for yourselves! It is important for your students and others to recognise who you are and establish a connection. I created our own identity by making a logo and selecting a colour and font that would work best for us. We use our logo for everything - from signs around the department, open day events, taster sessions, briefs for students, social media sites, icons on emails, competitions such as the Saatchi, publicity for Reps, etc. It really does make a massive impact in drawing attention as to who we are as a department and highlighting attention to our students work.


Lastly, make your own tag so people can start locating your work and identifying you on multiple sites. Ours is fsfcfineart - we even have our own hashtag: #fsfcfineart!

Flickr:
Some of you may remember Claire's wonderful series of posts on 'digital tools'. The blog gives you a real snapshot of what ticks our boxes in the world of digital media and how you can use it yourself to make your students learning experience more exciting. For us, Flickr was where everything began and we find it fab for sharing past/present work with our students and they can access it both at home and in college.



Additionally, you can create your own albums to categorise styles of artworks or split between year groups, final pieces and preparatory work. It also saves on time in taster sessions and instead of creating a PPT of student examples you can play your Flickr page on a continuous slide show to inspire learners. We even use it for Open day events and end of year exhibitions to create a real buzz within the department!

Pinterest:
This is old news nowadays but if you haven't got it - do! Pinterest really is the most incredible resource for the visual arts and students respond to it really well. On our Pinterest board we have created over 60 boards of artists and techniques that make us tingle with excitement and our students use the site successfully to share ideas and to inspire one another. Pinterest has allowed us to network with fellow teachers, students, businesses and galleries around the world and as a department we have over 1000 followers. 




We have also made our own YBA (Young British Artist) board to showcase students work that we are a teeny bit envious of. It has been up and running for less than 6 months and already has nearly 700 followers. The images pinned are from our portfolio of student work on our Flickr page and additionally gives our students the possibility of building employability links and being contacted by potential artists and galleries interested in their work. It also lets our followers see who and what we are and helps build networking opportunities and relationships with brands such as Fujitsu.




Instagram:


Instagram was initially recommended by one of my students and after a few discussions in class I found that several of my students were already using the social media site for their own publication of artwork and gaining huge successes from it. About three weeks ago, I decided to try a new digital venture for the department and since launching our own page we already have over 100 followers. Our students have responded positively to the site and many have followed us - checking daily to see new ideas from fellow students in both AS and A2. Through hashtags we have been able to create an online following and draw attention to what we want people to look at. For example: #fsfcfineart, #studentartwork #expressivepainting, etc. Our page has also enabled us to find new artists and follow galleries for inspiring artwork for our students. Our students can then click on what we 'like' and within the past week some students have already approached me through our online signposting for artist research!


It makes me incredibly proud to see my students receive the attention they deserve and even prouder to see them independently critique and compliment one another's artwork. In turn, this positive praise gives my students more confidence within the classroom and successfully introduces them to new initiatives and links within the art world.

Now, I won't lie.. the above does take time and we try to post on each social media site at least once a week to keep our audience happy. All of the above sites have an App and once set up it is pretty quick to post something from your phone and access it without a computer. We even have our own QR codes within the classroom for students to access in lessons and we publicise these also on our course leaflets and next to paintings around the college (linking back to our Flickr account).


We'd love to digitally interact with other educational institutions so if you use a digital tool for the promotion of your student artwork then let us know by either following us or leaving a comment on the end of this blog post!
- Kirsty 

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