These are my musings on the pros and cons of using Instagram for self promotion from an artist's perspective. This might be useful to anyone else who has never used the platform and is considering creating an account.
Despite the obvious thrill of watching likes and comments roll in on a post that makes you proud, Instagram is a simple and effective way of building friendships and connections among likeminded people in a niche artistic community.
About 2 years ago when I first started posting my work on Instagram, I quickly learned that the hashtag "#darkart" was an accurate descriptor for my style, and quickly connected me with other artists who were creating similar work visually and/or thematically.
On Instagram, you get what you give. Leaving comments, liking posts, and sharing feedback on others' work often leads to those people returning the favor. This creates more buzz around your own page and increases the likelihood of attracting new followers. It's a satisfying and organic sort of growth for your page and exposure for your work.
Similar to Facebook, Instagram also gives you the option to set up paid advertisements that promote your work to users outside your existing group of followers. I've only used this feature once, but was able to attract a large amount of new followers in a period of about 12 hours from the ad going live.
Finally, while I was at first put off by them for being too similar to Snapchat, I really enjoy Instagram's stories as a way of staying engaged with followers. There is a large degree of customization possible, and they are a good way of making announcements pertinent to your account or for a glimpse into your daily life.
While Instagram is full of features and tools to help you reach people and gain exposure for your work, it can be psychologically taxing if you let it get under your skin.
It can be easy to find yourself making art for the sake of posting it to Instagram, impulsively refreshing your feed to see how many likes or comments you've received only minutes (or seconds!) after the post uploads. And, as time passes, should the numbers fall short of your expectations, the disappointment can be palpable.
It can also be very discouraging to see that a new style or artistic direction you enjoy experimenting with seems to fall flat on its face among your followers. In some regards, it makes sense: the people who followed you originally may have come on board because they liked a particular style of art, and just plain aren't interested in your experimental stuff.
So what, then, is the answer? Do you pigeonhole yourself into one style to appease the masses, or say, "the hell with it" and post whatever kind of art suits you at the risk of losing followers? It's a fine line, and I still haven't found the most comfortable solution.
As you can probably tell from my own artwork, I employ a more traditional pen and ink style and a bold and colorful digital style (though sometimes they do cross paths). I tend to think that the my stylistic DNA runs through both, but it can make the overview of my Instagram page look like it's a variety show of featured artists.
So, is Instagram worth using as an artist? I would say yes, but go in knowing that the process of growing your account will be full of ups and downs. You might have days where gaining traction feels impossible and you'll want to give up, but push past these emotions and remember that persistence is key when it comes to self promotion.
Stay true to your self, and above all, try to remember that Instagram is a social media app. The more active and engaged you are with your followers and those you follow, the more you will get out of the experience as a whole.
Thanks for reading, and I'll see you in the next post.