Instagram is an amazing tool for artists. However, there are some pit falls to Instagram that can hinder artistic growth if you’re not careful. Deidre Wicks warns of the dangers of caring too much about your Instagram numbers. If you haven’t yet read her interview, you can find it here!
I adore Instagram. It’s one of the first things I check in the morning and one of the last things I scroll through before bed. I get a thrill when I look at everything, whether it’s a stunning piece of art, a haunting photograph or a video of a cat sitting on its human’s face. I thrive on visual inspiration. It’s almost too good to be true to have access to all these amazing images with the flick of my finger. But there’s a dark side to Instagram that I didn’t consider until recently.
It’s not only that I constantly compare my work to every other artist with an account or my seemingly stalled follower count. I’ve accepted that I will never be an IG Superstar with 250K+ adoring fans. As much as I obsess about how many followers I (don’t) have, deep down I know that I should be happy with the QUALITY of the followers I do have. I even acknowledge how much of a time-suck IG is and limit the number of minutes I spend on the app. So what am I so concerned about?
For over a year now I’ve been really pushing myself artistically. I’ve tried new techniques, new styles, and new mediums. Where once I only worked in watercolour I now routinely use coloured pencil, ballpoint pen, crayons and pastels. My current style of animal art took me years of trial and error to achieve. I kept at it and saw improvement with each new attempt. I allowed my style to develop organically. Failures, and there were plenty of those, were frustrating but I learned from them and kept moving forward. Recently though, I’ve picked up a disturbing habit in my Instagram use.
When I post an illustration in a fresh medium or a brand-new style I’m always so excited. However, when I don’t instantly receive adoration and a flood of hearts I get frustrated. Instead of pushing the idea or technique as far as I can and forcing myself to overcome technical challenges, I often trash the illustration. I usually end up erasing the IG post as well. I call that the Next Day IG Hangover. It’s dangerous because I’m not appreciating my artistic growth. In a pre-Instagram world I let my instinct guide me forward but now I’m relying on silly little hearts.
So why don’t I just close down my account? Instagram is still an important tool and the good it provides for artists outweighs the bad. I’ve become online buddies with some truly amazing artists and feel personally connected to the people who comment on my posts. Being an artist also means being a business person and IG is a great marketing tool for artists! I now have a new goal: to learn to care less about likes and get reacquainted with my own artistic instinct. Wish me luck!