How The Internet Helped Me Create My First Art Collaboration.

Yup you read the title right. I, Jacqueline, have created my first ever collaboration with another artist. ALL ONLINE! Crazy, right? Normally you would expect artists to meet in person. Maybe become friends and later decide to do collaborative work. But nope. Not in this case. One YouTube video initiated this whole journey. Here is the story:

As an artist, I’m always looking for new ways to promote my artwork. To advertise my creations I normally rely on Instagram. As I mentioned in my first blog post, Instagram is my main form of advertisement and I use it as an exhibition space. Last October I launched my first online shop (RedBubble) where anyone from around the globe could purchase prints, stickers, and accessories of my creations (e.g., sculptures, paintings, digital designs, doodles, etc.). So, how does all of this lead to the internet helping me create my first art collaboration?

To begin, let me give you a little backstory. The painting involved in my collaboration is my oil painting entitled Koi Pond #2. Now I know what you’re thinking, where is number one? We will get to that. I started painting koi ponds because I loved the color pallet. So naturally, I followed the first instructional video I could find on the internet and created my first koi pond painting. Of course, as an artist I’m never happy with my work and want to improve. So, I painted the koi pond again. But this time, I mixed my own colors and did not follow the instructional video. By doing this I was able to create one of my favorite original paintings. This koi pond has now become the image which people associate with my art and myself. 

Being interested in marketing within the art world, I wanted to use my Koi Pond to experiment with the advertising of my creations. In February 2020, I printed six Koi Pond stickers. I gave one to each of my closest friends. I allowed them to place the sticker wherever they liked. Most of them chose their laptop or phone cases. Because we were all at school five days a week, our laptops and phones were practically visible at all times. This visibility allowed for great advertising within a market of potential customers. Throughout the school week I had random peers approach me and ask about my stickers and where they could purchase some. Additionally, some friends posted the Koi Pond sticker on their Instagram stories. This broadened my market from just the school, to my friends’ Instagram followers also. To make sure the demand for these stickers was legit (and I would not be wasting time and money), I waited until I had at least 10 requests from fellow students before I offered the Koi Pond stickers for sale on my Instagram story. 

To my surprise and delight, the direct messages (DMs) came flowing in! Many people from school, outside of school, and friends of friends back in America were ordering my stickers! Now it was time! I began to print stickers on my little HP sprocket. (A portable phone printer.) After about 50 stickers sold, I realized I need to make a more cost efficient way of producing these stickers. This led me to RedBubble. Redbubble was an easy way to transition the traffic from my Instagram account to another website where I could upload images of my artwork,  not have to worry about the costs of production or shipping, and provide a higher quality product. The RedBubble site was flourishing and I was ready for my next adventure. 

Screen recording of my instagram highlight featuring the RedBubble shop contents.

Here is my RedBubble Shop!

After this long introduction, we are brought to today. The day I launched my first collaboration with an Italian street artist @Little_meh_! @Little_meh_, also known by her real name Daria, is a street artist based in Italy. After living in Florence for five years, I became acquainted with the street artists surrounding me and most recently became a fan of her work. She creates little characters called “mehs” that she places throughout various European cities. As a fan, I wanted to figure out how I could collaborate my style of artwork with hers. I knew social media would be the best option as it’s quick, easy, and efficient, allowing people around the world to reach one another. This summer I reached out through Instagram and we began talking with one another about possible ideas. I knew I wanted to include the Koi Pond as it has become the image people recognize me with, but I did not yet know how to incorporate one of her “mehs.” We messaged back and forth with multiple drafts until we finally came up with the current model: a swimming meh in my Koi Pond! We simultaneously pre-launched the collaboration on our Instagram accounts on August 31st. Both our accounts were immediately filled with support from friends and followers and requesting to preorder the stickers! Come today, Thursday October 7th, sticker production is complete and we are ready to sell. Of course, we used our Instagram accounts as the main form of marketing and advertising. We posted stories, posts on our feed, and messaged those who preordered the stickers months ago! Through the use of the internet, I was able to create my most popular work, start selling my art, and make my dream of a collaboration come true! 

Screenshot from @little_meh_’s instagram feed.

This whole art-based internet journey, starting with a YouTube painting tutorial, led to my first collaboration of my painting with a street artist I admire! This story is a small, but forward-looking, example of the power of the current-day internet and, most importantly (at least in this case) Instagram. I’m looking forward to seeing what other future collaborations this journey brings! Oh, and of course, check out the collaboration on my instagram: @Jacquelinachka and Daria’s: @little_meh_ !