The Secret To Powerful Videos That Showcase Your Art

Guest blogger: R. Daniel Foster

Are you visually literate?

Your immediate reaction to that question may be: Of course I’m visually literate, I’m an artist!

Granted, you’ve gained mastery in your medium. But becoming literate in how you visually market your work can be like learning a new language (but far less difficult).

Screens are everywhere today – on ATM machines, at the checkout counter, over the gas pump and of course right in your pocket.

Media has been wholly democratized. On the video front, cheap tools and free methods of distribution means anyone can own and operate their own TV broadcast channel.

That’s real power.

Video, in fact, is the most powerful storytelling medium available to spread news of your work.

The problem is, most user-created video is lousy.

I concede that more than a few YouTube videos with mega-million hits are poorly lit and look like someone indiscriminately waved their camera around.

But when it comes to presenting your art to the world –  that’s a different beast – mostly because of these two factors: meaning and message.

Take a moment to view this one-minute, thirty-second video I created titled, I am Baghdad.


I believe the video is effective because the meaning of the art piece is baked into the message. What do I mean by that?

The message (the ways and means of communication) wholly conveys the intent, the significance – and really the essence of the work.  It stays true to the work and its meaning.

When message matches meaning, you’ve got a great, marketable marriage.

Now let me be truthful. All video is a lie. Whenever one picks up a camera or hits an edit command, reality is fundamentally altered.

And yet there is a way to create video that is true to the subject, and moreover, honors and lightly frames the subject – all without interfering with the work.

The message must match the meaning.

Such video can easily be created. And you don’t need to employ the jazzy techniques I sometimes use.

The great news: Inexpensive or free video creation tools are at your disposal; free platforms such as Vimeo and YouTube await. No-cost instruction can be found everywhere on the web.

Some grow a bit nervous (okay, they freak out) when contemplating making their own videos: the camera, the lens, the lighting, the audio, the editing, the uploading, the downloading.  And all those cords. I still hate the cords.

Of course there is a learning curve, but it’s not nearly as steep as you might think. The true reward of course, is your work artfully presented to a worldwide audience – one you may have thought was unreachable.

Oh, and that other reward.  The exact same comment you’ll get from everyone who sees your videos:R. Daniel Foster

You made that? Really?

R. Daniel Foster is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and documentary expert who creates video marketing materials for a variety of business clients. He is my guest on a special audio program and transcript Promote Your Art Through Video.

Send to Kindle

12 comments to The Secret To Powerful Videos That Showcase Your Art

  • I have been dying to make a video and I am not really afraid but unsure what to say. I did a 5 minute video for a commission client to wrap up the sale, explaining why I used certain colors and elements. It worked brilliantly. I just don’t think I have a more general message for a video that I can articulate. Thoughts?

  • Pat

    Many artists do not realize that they should be and MUST be creating videos and exploring new social mediums in order to find or maintain success. Most buyers want to feel a connection with both an artist and their piece before making a purchase.

    -Pat
    Photos on canvas.

  • Kerry – knowing what to say (as you write) or how to brand and “voice” videos is really key. And rather than a more general message, there are numerous specific and detailed messages and ways to convey those – that are really effective – and that can create a lot of buzz. Not many are doing this – so you’re way ahead of the game!

  • Oh wow, thanks for this post, it opens up a whole new world.

    I’ve been doing the standard “paint in journal then speed it up” youtube videos for a while which is fun. But I never really considered making a video of a finished painting. Just… the painting, in real time, just BEING.

  • Great seminar. Thanks Daniel!

  • Hi Daniel, I am a total newbie to the video process. I did watch all of the videos that you mentioned in the pdf. I noticed all of the errors you mentioned in the seminar. I liked the Clean Square video too. Although it was a little long, like you said. It seemed like all of the others had at least one major flaw, that you talked about.

    I would like to know, if there are any videos by artists that you would highly recommend, as a sort of “gold standard” of what a great artist video is? Something to aspire to? Something that you produced or someone else produced, that you think is great, and doesn’t have any of the detractions you have mentioned, such as too long, distracting noises, bad lighting etc. Thank you!

    • Cathleen: For others who might read this, I’ll note that you’re referring to the PDF from the seminar.

      And I’ll chime in here and say that Daniel’s video here is a gold standard. Don’t you think it’s powerful?

  • oh yes, just noticed (duh) the one above! about the middle eastern art, it is very arty and entertaining.

    Here is one that I thought was good too. It is obviously not created by just one artist, but maybe it will give someone some ideas…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?client=mv-google&hl=en&gl=US&v=0hRNEAz8y-g&nomobile=1
    It’s promoting the Easton Plein Air event (just in case the link doesn’t work you can search for it on You Tube). There are actually several about this event and they are all short. That is an interesting idea, that Daniel brought up too, a series of videos, so that you can keep them all short.

  • Hi – sorry hadn’t checked the email notification button, so missed these posts. (duh) Rachelle – quite welcome! Glad you enjoyed. Alyson – thanks for mentioning my art-profile videos. Cathleen – loved that link you posted – clever & engaging. Funny – in the seminar I mentioned that the completion rate for a 30 second video is 90%, which drops to 50% for a two minute video. Although engaging – the video you linked to (Plein Air Event) is 1.30 minutes. And even then – I started to click ahead in the video, and thought, “Okay, yes, I get the concept of this, okay, I’ve seen enough now.”) My total overall viewing time: about 15 seconds. Granted, I’m a video professional – but it’s also a good lesson in brevity & impact! And that doesn’t have to spell all pow, wow bang. What actually didn’t work in that video you posted was when the screen kept going to black. If I had to revise it, I would create a faster edit at the start, and also trim the total time to about one minute. It’s a fast and furious video world! And again – not to say you can’t create incredible depth and even silence in a video that can be stunning – one that you can’t tear your eyes from. Hope that helps & happy creating. – RDF

  • This event was so helpful in so many ways. Daniel had insights that will help me with my business…hope it’s offered again for those that missed it the first time.