video storytelling
Art Sales

Mastering The Art of Video Storytelling

Video storytelling is on the rise across social media platforms and the best thing anyone can do for their business is creating a video about what they do. In 2018, video is sure to be one of the most engaging tools to capture an audience and inspire them to take action— 92 percent of mobile video users will share that video with others, and 49 percent of people who use video to grow their audience and drive revenue do so faster than those who don’t. While video storytelling is certainly a resource for developing a following,  it remains a rather elusive concept for artists to launch.

In fact, using video storytelling as a means of developing a collector base can be accomplished by taking a formulaic approach. In order to develop your strategy, you need to consider what your audience might want out of your content. How did you become an artist? What is your art about? People probably ask you this all the time, but how do you respond? A video can help you answer these questions in a fun and engaging way.

The length of your video will vary according to the platform you’re sharing it on, but generally, you’ll want to plan a video that’s anywhere from 30 seconds (for Instagram) and two minutes (for YouTube). Fortunately, there are a variety of apps that can help you repurpose your videos across platforms, like Magisto and Splice.

Still stumped on what to include in your video storytelling effort? Here are the top five things to cover in a two-minute video about you and your art. Imagine it as a walking, talking CV.

video storyelling
Treating a video as a digital studio visit allows people to see where you work and get a better sense of who you are.

Video Storytelling Should Illuminate Your Work in a Simple Way

Keep it simple

What is your name, where are you from and what kind of art do you make? Obviously, this is easier said than done, but in the most basic sense, what do you do? Tell your story in a clear, concise manner and in narrative form—make sure you make it conversational. How long have you been an artist? Do you want to talk about how you arrived at your current body of work? Some artists feel comfortable starting with the point of what they are not as an artist. That might lead you to explain who you are and what you do. Either way, keep it simple: don’t make your story overly unwieldy and use too many complex terms. Instead, make this video about you and your work.

Make a digital studio visit

Within your video storytelling effort, you want to tell the story of your practice, welcome people into your studio, and give them a window into your practice and your life as an artist. Be warm and imagine your video as a studio visit: How would you treat a guest to your studio? How would you reveal your process to them?

You might also want to make this studio visit video timely—what do you have upcoming? Is it a solo show, a tour, a book launch? It is best to mention all of these things and go through your past achievements, too. If you have an artist catalog, then why not flip through it in the video? Walk your audience through a virtual studio visit, and engage them with a call to action, such as attending an upcoming show or purchasing an available work.  

studio visit
Explain your story chronologically: How did you get your start as an artist? What were some early challenges?

Reveal something new

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What is it about your artwork that is different from others working in similar areas? Is there some kind of different angle you can take? Can you use the lineage of art history to help put your artwork in context beyond the same old “Here’s where I went to art school and here’s my CV?” There has to be a clever and creative way that an artist can reveal something new about pop culture and history, as well as shed light on our current and even future times. That’s the whole point of art—to see life in a different way. What is your view? How do you view your life philosophy? Make sure you answer these questions within your video storytelling efforts.

Keep it timely

Making trailer videos for upcoming exhibitions is a great idea, but few artists can get it together in time to release it two weeks before it opens. However, imagine the interest you could garner with a trailer video showing the new work and explaining the concept behind the show and what it’s about: interviews with the artist and curators, a behind-the-scenes look into the show. It creates an opportunity for people to get excited about the show while allowing those who can’t make it get a glimpse of what your work is all about.  

video storytelling
Don’t be afraid to get personal. Talk about your inspirations and the highs and lows of your career.

Inspire Your Viewers to Learn More About You

Explain things chronologically

It’s always good to flesh out your work from a biographical perspective—when did you first start as an artist? What did you do in the beginning, then a few years later, and so forth? If you can cover your career from then up until now, that really helps people who want to see your career trajectory from a bird’s eye view. Creating a video that tells the viewer your life story as an artist can add value and depth to your work, showing that you’re not just an overnight sensation, but someone with experience.

Points of inspiration

People always want to know what inspires you to make art. If you have certain themes (movie stars, history, the environment), that is a good place to start selling the ideas in your artwork. You have to think beyond the artist statement. Artists are living beings with thoughts, feelings, and ideas, not academic jargon. Don’t hide behind big words to explain who you really are. What has been the biggest highlight of your career? Of your life? Don’t be afraid to get personal.

Answer your own questions

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Get a friend or the camera person to ask you questions while you stand in front of the camera. Here are some ideas of how you can come up with a story about your work: What types of things are pasted up on your studio walls, and why? Are you bringing together two different genres of artmaking? Is your approach a mashup of three different things? Explain. What does your art document? Can you be really specific? How much is this about your life? A specific history? A location? The news? If you produce video storytelling in an interview style format, your work will be given a more professional context.

End with wisdom

It might sound cheesy, but it’s true: People turn to art for wisdom, knowledge, and inspiration. End your video with a piece of wisdom that demonstrates your authority in the art space. What’s the most valuable piece of advice you have ever been given? What has making art taught you about yourself? And how does that apply to the artwork you’re doing now? Don’t be afraid to humble yourself, it’ll get you farther than you think.

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About the author

Nadja Sayej

Nadja Sayej is a Germany-based freelance writer.

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