Artists create online path to success

Anyone can get famous online.

No matter the approach, social media allows South Florida artists to expand beyond traditional limits of physical art, showcasing their work on digital platforms that open doors and pushing them to stardom.

The local art scene is a source of inspiration. It encourages artists to create work that speaks their minds and allows creativity to flow. Areas like Wynwood, where art is literally around every corner, have made Miami known for emerging creative industry.

That industry includes the famous Art Basel, which attracts international clientele and millions of others through social media. Even so, competition is tough and artists must find a way to stand out. Social media gives them the opportunity to market themselves in their own way.

“Spray painting is like trying to tame a dragon,” says visual artist Ivan Roque, 25. “You can’t control it, it takes years of experience.”

Roque is a South Florida native who has been creating art since he was a boy. At 18, he jumped into South Florida’s booming arts scene.

Roque has an online following of more than 3,000 on Instagram alone; sharing his posts online has made him famous enough to travel throughout the southern United States, New York City and even across the world to South Korea to display his talents with street art, a nontraditional art form he has been practicing for almost a decade.

Roque is one of many artists in the street art genre, but it is his creativity and devotion to the form that has gained him a large online following.

This mural, located in Wynwood, is a part of a collaboration that features many South Florida artists, including Ivan Roque. (Photo by Sabine Joseph)

“Artists have the freedom to represent themselves,” Roque said. “People can follow whatever they like.”

Online promotion can at times benefit more than just the artist. Joaquin Ortiz, 35, is the owner/partner of Tea & Poets, a new business in South Miami’s Sunset Place. Its focus is on poetry, a nice cup of tea and local artists.

The business standing alone would be a success; however, the symbiotic online relationship between the company and the local artists allows both to mutually prosper at a much faster rate, building a social media brand and a community of Tea & Poets artists.

Ortiz says that when booking performances, he wants to hire high-quality artists who know how to perform; once the artist is booked, Tea & Poets’ online page reaches a larger following because of the artist’s own personal promotion of his/her performance, luring customers into the shop to watch the show. In the end, both parties win.

Tea & Poets uses social media to help the local community; their brand gives artists the opportunity to display their talents reading poetry or performing a song to an established crowd while the artist’s social media pages promote the venue.

Roque uses social media to promote his art as well, expanding on his medium by posting his newest “illegal” street art piece, taking credit for nontraditional art in a traditional way.

Roque, Ortiz and thousands more artists use social media to promote their artistic communities and push the boundaries of their art forms.

“There are so many talented people and social media has given them all a platform,” says Christine Olivera, a 20-year-old freelance videographer. “You have to rebrand in order to stay relevant.”

Slightly more than half of Instagram’s users visit the application daily, and with the endless stream of posts available for viewing, it makes sense for emerging artists to create and sustain an image beyond a fad. Artists, using a tactic similar to the Tea & Poets approach, connect to other mediums to successfully and mutually rise to the top.

By posting her work online, Olivera can showcase her style anywhere in the world at any time. Being an online videographer is no easy task, but the support of her followers keeps her motivated. Through this support, Olivera is able to get constant feedback from her online community.

“Opportunities can come and your page can show them what you have,” Olivera said.

While the art scene in Miami is a vital aspect and key characteristic that defines South Florida, these artists are shaping the local scene with spirited and aggressive digital messaging.

Online, these artists are inviting Miami into their world, recognizing that the industry thrives on the unity between artists and their fans. In the end, the industry is a business as much as a lifestyle.

“Business is alive,” Ortiz said. “Anything alive changes and adapts.”

Watch this video to learn more about her story.