I would say that I’m definitely behind the curve when it comes to picking up new technology. I’ve been a regular follower of Suzanne Mosely and I’ve enjoyed watching her live drawing sessions on Instagram. She’s been the main source of inspiration and encouragement when I picked up live streaming myself.
If you’re not familiar with what a “live stream” is, you are streaming live video and audio from your camera and your audience has the ability to chat and ask questions through text. Instagram allows you to live stream directly from your phone, so you don’t need any fancy equipment to do one yourself. Several platforms such as YouTube and Twitch have been offering live streaming services for years.
As of today, I’ve done 10 hour-long livestreams (averaging of 1-2 a week) and I can say that I really like this new way to engage with my followers! My main motivation was a very selfish one. I wanted to get comfortable talking in front of people. As you probably know, being an artist is often lonely work and when you’re working solo for days at a time, you can lose the art of holding an engaging conversation.
I started livestreaming in August because I had several art fairs that I would be participating in September. I wanted to get comfortable with talking to potentially hundreds of people in one weekend, so I wanted to ease myself into it by holding smaller conversations on Instagram with just a handful of people.
The first few livestreams were rough. Getting the camera close enough to my drawing but not too close so it blocked my own view was the first challenge. Next was figuring out what to talk about! I wanted to do an entire hour of streaming at a time, but I didn’t know if I would say anything interesting that people wanted to hear.
Turns out, I just had to verbalize my thoughts as I was drawing and that easily filled over 30 minutes of every hour. I didn’t realize that I unconsciously performed dozens (or hundreds) of actions and decisions as I was creating art. There was a switch that was flipped in my brain after the 3rd live stream, so when I was about to do an action – I explained what I was doing and my reasoning for it. After that, time just flew by!
So you might be wondering, what else do you do in the remaining 30 minutes?
I answer questions from my audience, and play music. The first week of live streams were awkward when there were spans of silence as I was working. I picked up a tip from watching other live stream artists and play music in the background when I work. The background music volume is typically low when I talk, and I raise the volume if I’m doing an action that may take several minutes that does not require any additional explanation. I choose royalty free instrumental playlists from Spotify so that I don’t have vocals from the music interfering with my conversation. I keep the volume control of my speaker within arms reach so I can quickly transition from a period of talking and when I take a break.
I also pin a comment when the live stream starts that lists the art materials that I work with and an open invitation for questions. The pinned comment appears at the bottom of the screen and is the first thing new viewers will see if they tune-in mid-way through the live stream.
If you’re interested in watching me work live, I post my live stream schedule every week to my Instagram Stories. It is also a pinned highlight that is updated weekly. Instagram live streams appear for 24 hours after the stream ends. If you want to save your live stream (and turn it into a YouTube video for later use) definitely remember to save the stream after it ends.
Follow me on Instagram if you’d like to tune in to the next live stream!