Art Letter #2
Did the controversial topic make you click? Warning: This is going to be a long ranty one. For the last two years, I’ve been too afraid to talk about this. Because there’s no going back from this. I can’t pretend to care about Instagram after saying what I’m going to. But this is the only place where I think I can express my true views.
Instagram has stopped me from growing as an artist.
Now I know what you’d say - Why did you let it!? Why are you blaming Instagram for your problems? YOU cared about vanity metrics. So you’re to blame!
I know. But do artists have a choice? As someone who wanted to turn art into their full time gig that made money (a dream that I no longer aspire for due to several reasons), I had to play the game. But also, I loved playing the game.
Back when Instagram was a photo sharing platform, and nothing else, I loved it. It was great to get organic engagement, build a community and sell. I got so many people who were interested in learning from me, interesting in buying my art, interested in just talking to me. The community I felt at 1000 followers was way bigger than now at 10k followers. And that is because Instagram now penalises me for not posting quick entertaining videos of my painting process every day.
But guess what, my art is NOT quick! My process is not entertaining to watch. It’s deep, thoughtful and time consuming. Condensing the 5 hours I spend on a painting into a 20 second video is actually kind of… demeaning it. It is so much more than the awkward angle of my arm with me trying not to block the camera view. Filming your process is exhausting!
But hey, I don’t own Instagram. I really can’t blame them for changing the way they work. Fair enough! But what I don’t like is that they’re promoting entertainment as “Art”. By promoting 10 second watercolor skies with black silhouette of pine trees, Instagram is promoting mediocrity. By promoting the same formulaic reels that have no It is packaging entertainment and selling it as painting. And I am 100% sure that reels don’t build communities. They don’t build lovers and collectors of your art.
Instead of Instagram being a means to an end, becoming an “Instagram artist” has become an end in itself.
What’s next for aspiring artists? They don’t want to (or need to) become better at art. They want to make something pretty to post, to reach 40k followers, and then churn out the next set of entertainers.
For the past two years, I’ve been hesitant to experiment with my art. Even though I know experimentation is the key to growth. This is because I have limited time to paint, and if I spend that time making something that can’t be posted, what will I post! I also had a brand to keep up. If I don’t post seascapes, my followers will be confused! Even though painting seascapes drains the daylights out of me now. And so I stopped painting completely. This is how Instagram killed my art.
After a lot of thinking, I’ve realised, I need to move to a place that is slower, more detailed, more thoughtful and more mindful. I need to get away from the quick and dirty and really savour my art. And that’s exactly what I will to do 🙂
So if you want to be on that ride with me, make sure you subscribe to these Art Letters, and we can do this together.