I’ve been learning how to use Instagram to promote my art. It’s a marvelous tool! What makes it different from, say, Facebook, is that Instagram is searchable. With Facebook, you post something and maybe your friends (people you already know) will see it. If one of them likes or shares it, maybe some of their friends (people you probably don’t know) will see it.
Instagram works on hash-tag keywords and is designed to be used by people looking for specific kinds of things. So people go on to Instagram and search for #abstractart, and see dozens of posts that have utilized that tag. Bottom line: while Facebook helps you stay in touch with people you know, Instagram puts you in touch with people you don’t; strangers.
That’s great! If your goal is to expand your sphere of influence, to introduce your art to people who otherwise would never see it, Instagram is a wonderful tool.
The other important distinction about Instagram is that it is driven by mobile devices. There is a regular website that can be accessed via your computer, but the full array of features is much more available from your phone. So, you take a photo of your work with your phone, give it a title, add 5 to 10 relevant hash-tag keywords, and post.
(It is important for those of us who remember what we were doing when Kennedy was shot to also remember that younger people today use their phones like we use our computers. If you want to reach these people it’s all about mobile.)
So, here’s why I’m grumpy.
One of the things I’ve done with Instagram is tag my work for inclusion with a handful of Instagram pages that share art. Thousands of people all over the world send their work to these pages via a tag and the work appears there. It could be a great way to expand your reach.
When you join these pages, you see the art that is posted there in your own feed . . . and that’s why I’m grumpy. What I’m seeing is pretty awful. I’ve never seen so many skulls in my life! And drawings of people who could be the bad guy in a horror film. And stuff that mimics Japanese Manga (which is pretty awful in its own right). And drawings of characters from video games.
It’s not art!
It’s not original, it’s not provocative, it’s not interesting. It expands nothing. But it’s what a lot of mostly un-schooled young people are doing today. I see a lot of that at the First Friday events at the Las Vegas Arts District, too. Oh, there’s a lot of good stuff, too, but tons of really schlocky non-art. Frankly, I don’t think anybody needs to see another drawing of a vaguely alien-looking person with extra large eyes. Or pointy ears. And we really don’t need to see another canvas with 18 colors smeared across it . . . badly. Stop imitating Jackson Pollock just because it looks easy!
I think what it boils down to is that I’ve picked the wrong groups for art sharing. I will re-evaluate.
But I gotta tell ya: it hurts my art heart a little when I see a faithful drawing of Super Mario on Instagram . . . with 2,000 likes.