It's where the most RELEVANT attention is.
The book Hitmakers: The science of popularity in an age of distraction goes over the idea of why both exposure AND attention are important. There are some fantastic examples of that formula,from why only 5 out of the hundreds of impressionist artists of that era are really famous, to how certain songs get insanely popular. Or how about how Donald Trump leveraged these principles to get 2 BILLION dollars worth of media coverage for free during the election while his opponents were forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying to keep up. Truly an eye opening read, and lots of useful info that is directly applicable to artists.
When you post new art, people actually see it...
One of the best things about ArtStation is the ability for people that like your work to simply click follow. And from that point on, whenever you post a new piece of art, everyone who is following you gets a notification that's easily clickable and can instantly bring their eyeballs back to your new work. Over time, more and more people will follow you if your work is good, and this creates an exponential level of exposure for you. Below are 2 realistic examples that should paint a clearer picture for you.
Example A - Using ArtStation for your portfolio
Let's say you are a super talented vehicle artist and are looking for your first job. You have been consistently posting high quality, finished vehicle models for the last 6 months and have steadily built up an audience of 400 followers in ArtStation. Maybe "Bob the art lead" at Infinity Ward is one of those followers, and has seen your work before and liked it, and took 2 seconds to hit the follow button next to your name. 2 months later, you post your latest military style vehicle to your gallery.
Maybe Infinity Ward is currently ramping up for the next Call of Duty and they are about to post a job opening for a vehicle artist. Suddenly Bob the art lead sees a cool thumbnail of your vehicle in his notifications tab. He clicks, remembers being impressed with your work in the past, sees you just happen to live nearby (or maybe not) and sends you a private message asking if you would be interested in hopping on the phone or coming down to the studio for an interview. All before the job positing even goes live to the public. Remember what I said about attacking from the side in my last article?
Example B - The random portfolio website...
A social media network for introverts...
I know there are a huge variety of personality types that make up the game industry, however, I do think there is a fairly large chunk that would identify as introverts. Depending on your level of comfort, social anxiety etc, traditional social media can be frustrating and emotionally draining for some.
Here's the thing I like about ArtStation: while I would classify it as a social media platform, your art is doing the talking. You are not required to make videos or images of yourself. This isn't Instagram or Facebook. People see your art first and foremost. You can effectively hide behind it. While I would recommend 1000% using your real name on your profile, you could still succeed if you were to create an online nickname and build your brand around that. People will still see your work and have the ability to private message you with job opportunities. It puts your art first, and that goes a long way to democratizing skill and talent.
Instant context to how your work stacks up against the competition
A huge benefit of posting your work in a community environment is you can instantly see where you stand against the competition. You can see your thumbnail in a grid of 100's of other pieces of art and get instant visual feedback on the quality difference. I always see people saying it's hard to stand out on ArtStation. This can be true, it's hard to feed the algorithm if you have a fresh account with no fanbase/followers to boost your engagement and get you trending. But why should you get instant results without putting in any time or extra effort? That's like starting a backyard football team and expecting to win the superbowl after your first game. But by putting in the hours, a ton of hard work and the right strategy you might have a shot.
Personally, I think most of the time that's simply a fear based excuse. Some people would rather have their own little world to present their work (the random website) where they feel they can somehow hide the fact they are not hitting the AAA quality bar from recruiters without the risk of being overshadowed by other amazing artists. That strategy is never going to work and is a horrible mindset. It's the equivalent of strapping horse blinders on, telling yourself you are the best artist ever and everyone who disagrees is just a hater who can't see your genius.
As painful as it can be in the short term, looking at your work next to that of more advanced artists can really help you quickly identify what is causing the gap. If you can, take the blow to the ego and try to re-frame it mentally. Go from "oh wow I suck compared to jimmy badass" to "hmmm, there is a bit of a character anatomy or lighting in my scene compared to this amazing piece, maybe I should focus on improving those skills", I guarantee you will grow as an artist much faster. Short term pain, long term gains.
ArtStation is mobile friendly and FAST.
It allows you to build an audience and join in the conversation easily
It also means when you reach out to another artist in their direct message, they can click on your profile picture and instantly have context to who you are and what you are all about. No hopping over to LinkedIn to get info or trying to find your random portfolio link should you accidentally forget to attach it. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if ArtStation arbitrages LinkedIn out of the game for digital art job recruitment in the near future. It gives instant visual context with zero extra effort and makes networking easy. Just prepare yourself for the inbox spam when commission hungry 3rd party "recruiters" realize this.
ArtStation Has officially become a noun.
The 2 Biggest arguments (excuses) I see from people against using ArtStation
- What happens if ArtStation disappears or becomes paid only?
- If I post my work there ArtStation owns it, or people will steal it!