If you are reading this blog, you probably already know what problems social media cause to artists and why it is important to solve them. But if not, make sure to read – Instagram and social media in general are not good for artists.
While designing Artunio, we took a deeper look at why the environment is not suited for art and artists and how it could be fixed.
1.INSTAGRAM IS NOT MEANT FOR ARTISTIC CONTENT
The environment on social media is just ridiculous. It offers us competitive environment, flexing behaviour of influencers, the way we compare ourselves to others or the never ending feed that shows us a mixture of content that will keep us wasting time on the platform.
The process of searching on these platforms is very similar to switching channels on your TV. You waste time by looking for entertainment on different content styles creating this loop called “scrolling”.
It is not a coincidence. Instagram is designed to be exactly this way so you would not even remember what you have seen a few minutes ago.
Uploading deep and valuable artistic content on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok is similar to going to a local pub or a disco and trying to persuade people to listen to Mozart or looking at Edward Hopper paintings. Such content just does not belong to pubs and discos.
‘Ok,’ you might say, ‘but what can we do? Where can we post our work or content where the environment is more suitable?’
YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Let‘s take a look at this from a totally different perspective. Ever heard of LinkedIn for example?
I know a lot of entrepreneurs who do not share almost nothing on their Instagram account (if they have Instagram accounts in the first place) but they are very active on LinkedIn. They use LinkedIn because of the relevant content and they go there to meet and network.
They share work related stuff on LinkedIn and the personal stuff on Instagram. You might find a CEO of a big company who has 100 followers on Instagram with twenty photos of his family, dog and vacations. On the other hand, if you check his LinkedIn, you will find his whole career in his bio with posts focused only on his professional life.
They do not mix their personal life with business. Why should you?
HOW DO ARTISTS PROMOTE THEMSELVES
The problem is simple. Artists do not have such a digital place to go to so they are stuck with the options that are available. Some artists use their accounts as their portfolio and that is a very bad decision in the end because they are left with very little space to show their work.
Others create their own websites, sometimes really expensive, just to realize that without active promotion of the website, almost nobody visits it. That is because you do not have SEO and other marketing activities set on properly, so when someone googles your topic, your webpage does not show as the first page of the search results.
I know many artists that do not even have Instagram accounts because they feel like they have to be someone else to be successful on the platform or they mix their personal and work life in one account leaving audience or potential clients visiting the account, confused.
2.USERS PERCEIVE YOUR ART WITH THE SURROUNDING CONTEXT
If you create art and post it on Instagram, realize how it looks on the grid. There are so many other photos and videos trying to capture the attention of the users with topics ranging from fashion, food, travel, fitness, business to even more bizarre “content” like ASMR, hard soap cutting, weird cosplay, or even worse.
The users perceive your art with the surrounding context! Every time I think about it, it makes me laugh.
USERS SEE VARIOUS CONTENT IN ONE PLACE
Just imagine being in a theatre or a gallery and someone twerking next to you, on the left is an influencer with a new-born baby, on the right news about the political situation in your country and to make it more confusing let’s top it off with Salt Bae sprinkling salt on steaks, for example, starting the salivation process in your mouth making you remember to order lunch.
Oh, and of course, let’s not forget that in a while someone comes to you from behind, pats you on your shoulder and asks you if you would be interested in a loan or insurance, because you visited a bank before going to the theatre. Does it sound familiar?
This is the real picture of the surroundings and what the users on Instagram and other platforms find and interact with.
3. INSTAGRAM IS A PROCRASTINATION TOOL
To explain this statement, we have to go a bit deeper to the human mind, I know you have other things to do, but please, be patient and stay with me.
Everything people have ever created in the history of humankind is a direct response to human wants and needs, even when it does not look like that at the first glance.
When you take a look at every single want or need that humans have today, from: “I need to go to the toilet, eat and breathe“ to “I need this cinnamon gluten free latte in my pink eco-friendly cup.” they have the same core of needs that humans had in caves in the early prehistoric age.
Here is a short list of the most crucial needs:
- safety and survival;
- understanding and growth;
- connection (love) and acceptance;
- contribution and creation;
- esteem, Identity, significance;
- self-fulfilment and self-transcendence.
Your daily needs, like eating pizza, having a conversation, sleeping in your bed are basically those core needs but in different variations. We all have them, and we use everything around us to fulfil them.
If you are working on something right now (sorry, should be working :D) you are most likely fulfilling the need of safety and survival because you need numbers on your bank account to pay your expenses.
THE QUESTION THEREFORE IS. WHAT NEEDS DO SOCIAL MEDIA FULFILL?
You would probably say you use Instagram to get inspired, share photos, connect with your friends and family. And it is partially true.
If you use Instagram for building an audience and by that you generate income, you are also in the safety and survival mode.
But the reality is that people that only consume content on social media, most of the time open the app for two reasons. They are stressed from work, school or other life situation, look for a quick relief and procrastination or they are bored and look for a quick source of entertainment.
Here is one great video summarizing this topic by a graphic designer and illustrator Toniko Pantoja: