Recently, I had the chance to chat with one of my favorite Artists – Aaron Wood. Aaron is most well known for his propaganda style posters. His initial inspiration started on Google+ when he noticed how many people were hating on one social network or another.
Since then, he’s created propaganda posters for much more than just social media and has built a large following.
Most recently, Aaron made a bold move by announcing he would stop posting to Google+. This surprised his followers, because while some think Google+ isn’t worth their time, Aaron has found the majority of his fan base through this social network.
I was curious to talk with Aaron about:
- His art style and who inspires him
- His perspective on using social media to market your work
- Why he stepped away from Google+
- And what it really takes to succeed as an Artist.
Is it really just about “engaging” and having lots of followers?
I’m a no-nonsense kinda gal, so I appreciated his straightforward perspective, and I hope you do as well…
What do you like most about creating art digitally?
It’s not messy. You can save it, and then go back to it. It doesn’t take up a lot of space. It’s easily reproduced.
Were there any artists you admired growing up who helped influence you to pursue a career in Art?
Most influential was my mom. She was an artist, but she had me, and didn’t go to art school so I carried the torch. Other than my mom, art in general inspires me as opposed to a specific artist.
Did you ever have people doubt you could succeed as an Artist?
Maybe people have thought it, but nobody has come out and say, “you won’t make it, your art is bad, or you need to give up” so I guess I’ve been lucky.
How important do you think it is for an Artist to develop a style? How would you describe yours? And how has your style changed over the years?
It’s really important because it’s their voice. It makes you easily recognized. I would describe my style as clean. I’m not a fan of “messy art” if that makes sense.
My style has changed over the years. I started with a lot of pen, ink, and pencil. The last 5 years, I transitioned into digital. My main style these days is modern, Art Deco, and retro style War War II propaganda.
Many Artists are afraid to market their work, but you seem to enjoy it and do it well. What advice would you give an Artist who was hesitant to market themselves?
You definitely have to be online. You need to connect. Find friends – personal or business friends – who will help you spread your art.
Don’t be afraid to ask your clients what they think your art is worth. Many artists undersell themselves. I’ll ask the client what their budget is and if that’s not in line with what is fair for me, then we’ll adjust.
2012 seemed to be a great year for you and your Art. What was your favorite accomplishment last year? And is there anything you wish you would have done differently?
My favorite accomplishment and what I wish I would have done differently are similar.
But, I wish I did not self-publish a book. Because it didn’t sell as well as I thought it would. I took the advice of other people, and went with a hard cover which made it expensive to produce, and it was probably priced too high in the end.
I wish I would’ve charged more for my posters. Because I was getting feedback from my followers to raise my prices. It’s not just because I wanted more money. So, I ended up raising my prices at the end of the year.
Why did you stop being active on Google+?
I was burnt out. With over 200,000 followers, I expected more interaction on my posts. It’s disheartening for people to not comment after working hard on a piece, or sharing something original and putting it out there. I don’t always share Art. Sometimes it’s just my humor or something else. But, it’s usually my content.
It kills me that an inspiring quote, meme, or any other unoriginal content gets more attention. Someone will dredge up something old and post it and get more interaction. I was on the suggested user list for a while, and not much changed. My sales even stayed the same.
It seems like your success wasn’t exactly a result of having a high number of followers. If it’s not about the numbers, what is it about? What should an Artist focus on?
I attribute my success to a few key shares of my work. Word of mouth is still the best advertisement. This might sound bad, but make friends with influential people.
Some artists are happy to create what they want and express themselves even if it doesn’t sell. I’m not like that. I want to sell my art. It makes me feel good knowing that thousands of people have my art on their walls.
Collaborate more. I like the idea of mentoring. Of listening to other people. Really learning how people got to where they are. Online is not the same as in person. Google+ started communities, but people aren’t using it to build relationships. People aren’t working together. They’re working to get their art seen first or seen the most.
There’s so many self-help gurus talking about “engage, engage, engage” to build your numbers. It’s all bullshit.
There’s no self-help bullshit involved. Just build concrete relationships with people, and get off your ass and f**king do something.
That about sums up my chat with Aaron. But, I can’t wrap this up without adding my own personal sentiments about Aaron, his work, and his influence on me:
When I first discovered Aaron, it was at a time when I noticed many “creatives” (including myself) were talking and blogging about art, creativity, and what it takes to succeed. Everyone was an expert, and seemed to have the answers.
But, I noticed Aaron is someone who doesn’t talk about creating. He creates. He does the work. He openly shares his work and ideas. He builds relationships. And he’s genuine. Following his work and getting to know him has inspired me to talk less and do more.
You can connect with Aaron on:
What about you?
What did you take away from my chat with Aaron Wood?