A year later, I came back to it after talking to other artists and doing a bit of research. I realized there was a whole world of art and fun (and animated gifs) I was missing!
When I have a text heavy post, I'll post an image and a paragraph quote from my longer blog entry and link it to this blog instead of directly sharing a giant wall of text in Tumblr.
The only exception I've seen to the 'don't share a giant wall of text' rule on Tumblr are Tumblr blogs intended for writers and researchers. There are several great writing and historical research Tumblrs out there, but I think it's assumed their target readers don't mind reading, while artists and art appreciators would rather look at pretty pictures. (Hey I'm just sayin'! Even I admit this fact to myself.)
You Are What you FollowOne of the biggest complaints against Tumblr I hear from people is how much of a waste of time it is. It's just full of pointless information and animated gifs! It is true that Tumblr has a certain expectation of a casual ease to it. It's meant to be a fun site and not necessarily professional. However, that doesn't mean people don't post culturally relevant and interesting things. Follow the right blogs and your feed will be what you make it!
But What About Image Theft?It is true there are a lot of instances on Tumblr where your work may get re-blogged (or re-posted) without the accompanying credit to your work. This is where I recommend most folks include a simple watermark of the title, artist, and website (or at least artist name and website) on their work which goes up on Tumblr. I also make sure to include my name, website, and credits in the caption of any image or post since it's easier to hit 're-blog', which copies all of that information except for your tags, than it is to purposefully go and delete my info from a description. Laziness, for the win!
Let's be honest about the phenomenon of image sharing on the net too, especially with places like Tumblr and Pinterest becoming so popular. If your art exists on the internet at all, it is going to get stolen. That doesn't mean your work being stolen is right, it just means that it's bound to happen to you. Tumblr is a varied community and the art sub-community there does its best to make sure people know to include a credit to the original artist.
That being said, you have to ask yourself one question. Is the exposure for your work that you might get via Tumblr (or Pinterest, or the internet at large) worth the chance that someone might steal it? For me, the answer is yes. I pay part of my bills with art and the risk of gaining more exposure, and possibly more sales, outweighs the risk of art theft. If the answer is no for you, I don't recommend sharing your work online. Ever. You're just in for a world of stress. You can be sure, however, that if theft does happen, I'll be among the army of informed artists ready to fight it with you! Artists tend to stick together like that and that's something we can all rely on when sharing our work online.
For instance, when tagging my artwork, Lady of December, I might include tags like 'Art Nouveau', 'Mucha', 'Birthstones', 'monthly flowers', 'Saint Lucia', and 'Christmas traditions'. You may also want to include the tag 'Artists on Tumblr', which sometimes will get you a re-blog from Tumblrs that were made specifically to give more artists exposures by re-blogging work with this tag. Tags are searchable within Tumblr's search engine and you can also program a feed to show you targeted tags, making it easy to find what you're looking for and give it a bump of exposure.
For instance, my Kushiel's Legacy related art on Tumblr is almost always re-blogged by fuckyeahkushielslegacy because I'm pretty sure their feed shows them every single Kushiel related piece of work on Tumblr, which they automatically or selectively re-blog. It's the best kind of organic discovery of your work because it is targeted to those with a specific interest.
But No Comments? (EDIT I forgot this section. Adding it now!)By default, Tumblr posts don't allow comments. However, there is a nifty plugin for all blogs called DISQUS. It lets people comment on your posts with the comments displaying at the bottom. The comments also show up as Notes on your post. You can see DISQUS in action on any of my Tumblr posts at the bottom of each post's page.
Time SavingYes, Tumblr actually can save you time! Tumblr will automatically post to Twitter and Facebook for you (you can toggle this on and off each time). On Twitter, it includes the first bit of text from your post plus a url to your Tumblr post, while Facebook generally only sends a thumbnail from your post, which isn't ideal, as I suspect these activity posts from Tumblr within Facebook don't get near as much favoritism from Facebook's newsfeed algorithms as an image posted directly into an album on a person's Facebook Page or personal account.
Guilt Free BloggingIt's easy to start up a blog for anything your little heart desires on Tumblr since you can have multiple blogs under one username. Just remember that whatever your first blog is named, that is what your main username will be! That's how I got stuck with TheProjectFairy, which nobody ever recognizes as me since it's so different from my usual handle and the name for my personal fun Tumblr. Note that you can choose not to show your username on a blog you start too, if you don't want to be associated with it for some reason.
Ideas for ArtistsSo what can you post on Tumblr? I generally post or re-blog about things that inspire me as an artist (ie. video games, movies, other artists) and of course, my own art. Tumblr has a really cool multiple photo setup where you can include a gallery of up to ten images with some of them appearing larger or smaller depending on how you arrange them. I often use this multiple gallery setup to feature my finished image as the largest thumbnail, while the smaller thumbnails are work in progress shots. You can see an example of what I'm talking about here.
It's safe to say Tumblr is not for everyone, but it serves a particular target market who love to look at things on their tablets, phones, and computers when they're bored and they are people primed to consume and share your work! These other folks aren't just artists either, but people who just like looking at cool stuff. One of the biggest failings of sharing in artist specific communities, I've found, is that you are marketing to other artists and not necessarily potential customers or a somewhat broader range of people.
Fan Art, Pop Art, and Geekery do especially well on Tumblr, if you're in that area and aren't sure where to share! The world is a highly mobile and interconnected place now with tablets, mobile phones, and computers. Tumblr taps into the heart of all of these formats, making it an easy way to discover new art and information and that is it's true power.
Tumblrs of InterestIf you're sold on the idea of Tumblr, here are some suggestions to start filling up your feed with inspiring stuff!
Shameless Self Promotion
Art by Angela Sasser - The place to find my art and inspirations on Tumblr.
Angelic Artisan - Crafts by Angela R. Sasser - Where I post my masks plus other cool masky type things I find as well as mask artisan features.
The Project Fairy - My personal fun Tumblr of random things I like.
Kushiel Concepts - My Kushiel's Legacy book illustration project.
Art and Artists
Figures for Drawing - A collection of figure photos with credits for drawing practice.
The Silmarillion Project - An amazing fan project depicting an illustration for each chapter of the Silmarillion with especial focus on developing its own visual identity apart from the movies.
FuckYeahVintageIllustration - Beautiful art from the golden age often featuring unknown illustrators.
TheArtofAnimation - I've found so many amazing artists I've never heard of through their features!
Anime-Backgrounds - Gorgeous backgrounds from anime movies that take your breath away.
FairyTaleMood - An exposé of all kinds of fairy tale art and photography.
Character Model - Inspiring models of characters from games, illustration, etc.
Disney Concepts and Stuff - Disney concept art and news collected from around the web.
Phe-nominal - Haute Couture at its best! Dresses and fashions that will make you drool.
FairyTaleFashion - Fashion of the fantastical fairy tale variety!
How to Fight Write - A blog ran by a martial artist and Eagle scout with advice on writing fight scenes.
Reference for Writers - Advice for writers on every topic you can think of, usually uncommon topics asked by readers.
Music for Writers - Random music to create to!
Art of Swords - Beautiful weaponry from around the world with thoroughly researched notes and sources.
WomenFighters - Women in practical armor!