These days, it’s all about visibility. Those who haven’t been seen in the past are, finally, emerging into the spotlight. Not only that, but there are now more ways to be seen. Social media, particularly visual-based platforms like Instagram, allow more of our lives to be public—what art we see, the places we travel, our good (and bad) habits.
My business is all about communication: how we talk about what we see. Visibility, for me, is not just about the person, place, or thing depicted in the image, but also who is speaking and how they say it. I am here to help you get your ideas out there, in front of others’ eyes, in a way that communicates your ideas in the most effective way possible.
So how can you get your ideas seen by your ideal audience?
Use a hook in short writing. For short texts, like social media posts, blogs, or artist’s statements, you need to grab your reader’s attention—fast. You need to hook them, and reel them in with your writing and your ideas.
The hook should appear in the first sentence or two. It should be short, flashy, and attention grabbing, using your unique voice or sense of humor. You need to get your readers to pay attention to what you have to say!
Whereas for social media captions the word count of the hook is pretty specific—it’s the first line of text that appears under an Instagram post before users must click “… more” to read the full caption—for slightly longer prose, it might be as long as a paragraph. Brevity is key on socials, but you can lead your reader into a longer post or statement using an engaging description of an artwork, experience, or more context about a time period or place.
Present a clear argument in academic writing. For those of us who write longer pieces for publication, like journal articles and books, the task is somewhat more complex. Not only do you need to draw your reader in, but you’ve also got to “wow” them with your ideas so that they take the plunge and dive into the next thirty, or even three hundred, pages.
No matter what kind of academic piece you’re attacking, you must present a direct argument, particularly if you want to publish in US-based publications. Observations or discoveries are not enough.
For journal articles, the argument—also called a thesis—needs to appear in the first two pages, after you’ve “hooked” your reader with the opening paragraph and established enough context to set the stage. You might also tell your readers how you are approaching this topic in a novel way compared to your predecessors or colleagues.
Personally, I’m a fan of the time-tested construction “In this book/article, I argue that … .” When you submit your piece for review, the editors will know exactly what your point is, as will your reader once it’s published.
How does this help you get your ideas seen? By presenting a clear argument, you’re staking your claim in the field—taking up space and presenting your critical lens on a topic. You are showing your unique vision and your argument will get you noticed.
Be consistent. In order to become “known,” you’ve got to have a consistent message, style, topic, or critical lens. What do you want people to remember about you?
Are you the artist who looks at representations of Middle Eastern women in the media? Or the curator who works with Indigenous communities to bring more visibility to contemporary artists? Perhaps you’re the art historian who museums call upon to write about female abstract expressionists in New York in the 1950s.
Whoever you are—or want to be—you need to be consistent and repetitive in your branding. This means that wherever you engage in your professional life—in the classroom, publications, networking events, social media, or studio visits—your message should be present.
Own your niche and get noticed.
So whether you’re an artist hoping to get more shows or an art historian who wants to publish more, remember these three key areas to engage your audiences and keep them wanting more.
About the author
Cara Jordan is chief editor and president at Flatpage. She has spent her career editing academic and artists' writings, primarily as a developmental editor and copyeditor. She received her PhD in art history from the Graduate Center, CUNY.