Instagram and social media are not suitable for artists

We discussed this topic with Jason Yap on his podcast: The Background Dancer. If you prefer a vodcast, watch this version here – Artunio Talks Ep. 1, Jason Yap & Timotej Vráb. You are NOT the number of your followers. You are your passion! If you are an artist reading this, you probably have the same problem as a close friend of mine: “For years in a professional artistic environment as a freelancer, I was struggling with presenting and promoting myself and my art on social media. You know it – you feel it’s important to share and be out there, because this is the loudest voice WE got. But at the same time, you don’t feel comfortable to constantly fight and compromise yourself in the ocean of these cheap posts with incredible reach.” (Andrej Stepita – professional dancer, performer, organiser of an international dance festival.) Andrej basically sums it all up. But what does it mean when we look deeper into the problem? It creates a cycle of issues that you have probably encountered, too.We have been actively working to solve these problems with Artunio. We dug deeper and divided them into four categories. We tried to find ways to fix them. However, there is one thing these problems have in common. They are affecting the artist personal and financial well-being. Here are four main problems of social media artists and art in general need to face.

1. Compromising your art for exposure

Social media (mostly Instagram, Facebook and Tik-Tok) are oriented to fast content. In a way, it is very similar to fast food. It is cheap, fast to produce, easy to get, addicting, and provides satisfaction instantly – dopamine. Of course, not all content on these platforms is like this. They offer educational and inspiring content, too. However, you can see this content only when the people creating it follow the strict algorithm rules. Why is it like this? This is how Instagram works against artists: Instagram earns money by selling your attention to their advertisers. They do everything to keep you and others on the platform as long as possible. The success formula on Instagram says – create content every day, then bring as many people to your content. Then make them watch your content as long as possible. When you follow these rules, you get rewarded by exposure and Instagram shows your content to others. That is the reason you are urged and pushed by Instagram and other platforms to adjust what you create, when you create and how you create it to better fit the algorithm. When is my content shown to other users? It is hard to explain – if you do not know how it works, check the official Instagram statement on their blog. Or watch it summarized in a great video by Chris Hau –

While all content on social media is consumed extremely fast, art on the other hand, needs more time to be understood, absorbed and valued.

Artists, therefore, are left with three options:
    1.Adjust art and content to better suit the social media algorithm to gain exposure.
    2.Keep creating and sharing content that is not suited for Instagram and gain minimum exposure.
    3.Leave the platform and look for alternative ways. Read about an alternative option here: Do not compromise your art for exposure! Take back artistic freedom with Artunio!

2. The enviroment is ridiculous and not suited for art

Now let’s look at an example, it may be a bit raw and straightforward but let’s face it, it is often a reality.

There are two accounts:

a) Imagine that you have created a fresh, brand-new Instagram account as a painter. You take high quality photos of your artpiece, that you had worked on for weeks or months, and post it on Instagram.

b) Now, a young and attractive girl posts a photo of an artpiece that took her a few hours to make on a brand-new Instagram account. The main difference is that she is standing by the painting and does not only create a post, but a story and a reel with gripping captions.

Who do you think will get more attention and who will therefore be pushed by the Instagram algorithm to be seen even more?

You guessed right! The second account! It is important to acknowledge that it is not the artpiece that is receiving attention…it is the girl – she might even completely leave the artpiece out of the post and hug a cute puppy instead and eat pizza to get better results. The problem is not that your artpiece is not “good” enough. It is the Instagram algorithm that does not give credit to high quality content unless it is liked, commented, shared and so on.

Complicated fight against food, animals, humas bodies,…

Did you know that food, animals, human faces and bodies are the most liked, viewed and consumed content on Instagram? There is nothing we can do about it. That is simply the “culture” of Instagram and how our brain works. While creating art and creating content at the same time may be agreeable under certain circumstances, you have to take into account that this “Instagram culture” is fighting against you. Why?

To gain exposure, you have to fight all the other topics like food, fashion, travel, beauty, animals and even more, while there are teams and companies that work even harder to get this exposure. Instagram and social media will never change, we have to acknowledge that. What we can do is to create a new social network where art and artists are the main focus.

Check – Environment on social media is ridiculous and not suited for artists to find out more.

3. Creating content instead of art

After using Instagram as your main platform to communicate with your audience, you may realize after a while what drummer Thomas Pridgen realized and pinpointed in his post accurately:

There is nothing wrong with creating content, if that is what you want to do. If you are an artist and devote a little of your time to content creation, it is ok. But if you want to be an artist and the amount of time to create content becomes superior to the time working on your art, you are in serious danger.

What should you do about it?

Ok, you might say: ‘Well, I will create content without adjusting it to Instagram “culture” and spend just a little time a week on creating. That should do it, right?’ Well, it depends. It is not a problem if you just want to share photos of your work or your life and receive nothing back from it.

But it does not work that way if you want something in return. The demands are increasing. Nowadays you have to do much more for the same amount of views and exposure than five years ago.

In the past, you shared your images with the community and it was enough, but Instagram is a marketing tool now and everybody fights to be seen. Only those who play by the rules, win.

Just watch “I Don’t Think Instagram is Good For Artists” a video by a freelance Illustrator artist Holly Exley about this issue.

Find out more about this issue here: Do you want to be a content creator or an artist?

4. Instagram is downgrading your creativity

The surroundings do not influence only how your audience perceives you and your art. It directly influences your art and your creativity as well as the way you see yourself as an artist.

The formats, videos, number of likes, context – they all influence how you perceive yourself and your art. Photographer Chris Hau talks about his experience here:

Your first thought might be, that it changes the work of photographers but that it does not affect others. You might think so, but it influences everybody and you might not have realized it by now.

If you are into music and especially guitar, you might have heard about Mateus Asato. One of the biggest breakout guitar stars removed his Instagram account. His reasons were the “overwhelming” pressure of social media and loss of inspiration.

In short, Instagram can give you a lot of exposure but you have to fit their formats and rules.

A lot of artists, and maybe even you, wanted to shut down their Instagram account. You may have even shut down your account for a while but eventually came back. Why? You simply do not have an alternative…or do you?

There could be an alternative

The art world needs a new social network that is not driven only by profit of the company. Social media like Instagram, Facebook or Tik-Tok are designed for everybody and are therefore suited for nobody. The current options cause big problems to existing artists and could be a huge burden for future and emerging artists.

Compromising art for exposure, ridiculous environment, escalating demands to keep up with the algorithm is just the surface of the bigger and deeper problem.

While the problems may seem irreversible, there is a way how to deal with it. The solution lies in a brand-new social network called Artunio, where all focus is on artists and people in artistic field.

Help us create a social network for you by supporting the project!

Who is Artunio created for?

Artunio is created for artists, audiences and everyone working in the cultural and creative industry. The platform serves anyone ranging from performers, creators, managers to even patrons either as individuals or organizations.

Social media downgrade your creativity

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” (Albert Einstein)
Same as: “If you judge artists by their ability to beat the algorithm and by the numbers of their followers, they will live their whole life believing they are worthless.” (me)

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