Picture the classic scene; an artist, exhausted and enraged, crushes canvases in his shabby studio out of his darkest despair.

He is trying to create something unique but has constrained himself for fear of not being appreciated by an art curator and his work is thus sent to the dustbin.

Historically, the very opportunity to be considered for an exhibition or publication of sorts was a privilege. And for the lucky artists whose work was approved, it almost automatically meant recognition in their field.

To break through one would need social connections – a source as scarce as talent. Indeed, today, despite living in a digital world where self-publishing is becoming easier every day, social connections still play a pivotal role.

The question remains: how much does the internet really help emerging artists and authors to build their audiences today?

Disrupting the media

Many actually believe that within the last decade we have seen a dramatic disruption of the old system. Social media and user-generated sites make editorial roles in content creation, publication, and distribution secondary.

In fact, the lack of editors or curators is celebrated with mottos like “broadcast yourself”.

For some time this created an almost perfect situation for artists: no more gatekeepers and no need to jeopardize content to suit editors. Young artists and authors were able to promote themselves and reach their audiences no matter who they were or who they knew.

A good example would be Vicki DaSilva who gained her popularity through social media websites and had her art displayed on a gigantic Times Square billboard.

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Finding a rare gem in chaos

However, soon enough, open and freely available space became cluttered. Today, 79,000 posts and 100 hours of video are uploaded to Tumblr and YouTube every minute. As diamonds do not shine in the dust, it is tremendously hard to be noticed when there is so much mediocre content around.

To deal with this tyranny of the masses-style content shock, the internet started self-organising, and in the process created a new sort of curator, the so-called “influencer”: a person with a strong “social voice” such as an influential blogger or twitter maniac.

However, while helping us to discover worthy content, such influencers mostly operate within their own limited circles of connections, making it difficult for unknown authors to break through.

Talent vs popularity

As a result, once again social connections rule the media landscape today.

Our beloved traditional media channels are still based on a relatively small group of editors and journalists, while social media is dominated by influencers’ curation.

Today we rely on the influencer’s curation to cope with the information overload but we don’t need to accept this anymore as finally we have the tools we need to pave a new way.

The Answer

We can create an environment where connections are not determining what we see and who is successful— but rather preferences, quality and talent.

However, for this we need to have a curation mechanism without limits, a tool to reach beyond social connections—and one that will hopefully lessen the number of canvasses crushed for the wrong reason in the artist’s studio.


David Zokhrabyan is the Cofounder and CEO of Gitoon, a curative publishing platform that allows artists to get feedback on their work and gives the community a real voice by letting them select the works to be published.