Ideas and artwork should be shared. The ability to do so allows the public to receive new ideas, impulses, and inspiration – without which, would lead to a public discourse devoid of new thought patterns, a thirst for more knowledge, and a proclivity towards not accepting things at face value. This is not only integral to humanity’s consciousness in terms of consuming new ideas, but also integral to the creators and thinkers out there who need their work to be shared in order for their ideas and creativity to enter the general discourse.
When we sensor or prevent ideas and imagery from being shared, we not only take the audience away from the artist, but we also take the artist away from the audience.
This is why I am so passionate about fighting against article 13. But it’s not just article 13 that we need to be critical of. We also need to be critical of social platforms and companies who are more focused on profit over creation. Because it is not just about censoring in a broad sense – it’s also about creating an equal playing field where ALL artists and thinkers no matter how big or small, conservative or liberal, young or old, rich or poor, intersectional or not, have equal opportunity, access AND reach to the SAME audience. Because limiting some but not all is also a form of censorship which I cannot support.
Social media began as an incredible way for anyone to have a voice. It levelled the playing field and gave equal opportunity to anyone with creativity and something to say. If you had something of value to put out into the world, you were likely to find your community. But social media was the wild west, and social media was new. Which meant that talent was part of the equation, but so was timing. Certain people who hit the market at the right time exploded. And while some of these people were and still are very talented, the current social media market is over saturated with content, creators and consumers. Talent, innovation, and creativity isn’t enough to guarantee an audience. And when that audience is the metric on which we are judging success and those numbers can now be bought, talent has very little, if next to nothing to do with growth.
That is not to say that success stories don’t happen. And that is not to say that every person with 50K or more are fraudsters or lack talent. I am just here to say that numbers don’t have to be earned. And this is extremely dangerous for those in the creative industry. Why? Because the livelihood of a artist comes from clients recognising their value and paying them for their work (which should be a culmination of experience, talent and creativity) LIKE ANY OTHER CAREER. But when creatives are being judged first and foremost by one benchmark – their social media following count- artists are being passed up for work and devalued in favour of those with a higher twitter or instagram following.
Which is why I would argue that social media is actually detrimental to the artist. Social media is creating an environment where talent is secondary to popularity. The actual quality of work is also decreasing as artists must not only devote a large chunk of their time to maintaining (let alone growing) their social following while simultaneously scrambling to produce daily content over honing in on their craft and focusing on longer-term projects.
If platforms like Instagram are doing little to help honest discovery of content, creators need to reclaim a space for themselves in social media.
Platforms like Instagram or You Tube can be incredible. They can be places where artists and creators find a voice and find an audience. But when algorithms create an environment that makes it virtually impossible for new or emerging creatives to reach an audience, how can we even talk about growth? If a painting is painted but no one is there to see it, then no one is even there to decide if they are a fan of the work or not. And this, compounded with the fact that even the most successful creators on social media platforms are making next to nothing monetarily speaking compared these social platforms themselves must and should make us all think twice. Social platforms are raking in the big bucks due to the collective amount of content their users are putting out there. Creators are basically throwing free content up online to be consumed for free, generating more income for the platforms themselves.
I’m not an idiot – I know that for the time being, Instagram is not going anywhere. I also don’t disagree with the size of one’s community being a consideration for clients. But it should not be the first priority or requirement. The talent should be. So I along with all artists still have to play the game to a certain degree. But I also know that nothing we are doing (so long as we remain honest or don’t stumble upon some insanely new and innovate growth hack) is going to get our work seen by new eyes. And without new eyes, we creatives cannot grow our communities; communities that are integral for us not only in terms of linking up with other creatives and having meaningful conversations with new people, but integral to the creative industry and our livelihood.
So if platforms like Instagram are doing little to help honest discovery of content, creators need to reclaim a space for themselves in social media, but not on apps only interested in the bottom line but on their own platforms. Which is why I hope (although without having done the research I really can’t say) there will be a re-birth of blogs, independent publishing, or some other method for those in the creative industry and the reason I have chosen to start blogging again.3
Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's
Hi Rae!! I’ve been around through the different phases of LFB, the blog, the magazine, and the social platforms, but have been out of touch with the blogosphere the last few months due to school. I feel like so much has changed and the blogosphere has kept moving, and I’m slowly working through my Bloglovin’ feed, because I know that my eyes will start to glaze over if I try to cram so much content in at once. I’m so happy to hear that you’re getting back into blogging, and I’m also happy to be back to it myself as well 🙂
There are so many frustrations with blogging (commonly on the oversaturation of it) and social platforms (commonly on algorithms), I’ve seen several bloggers write about it on their blogs, and I have those frustrations as well. But there was this one moment that really helped me let go: I went to a Google Analytics workshop that my local blogging network hosted and went through some of my data. I looked at my acquisition overview to see where my audience were coming from (most to least: direct, referral, organic search, or social). The least amount of traffic was coming from socials, and of socials, the least was coming from Instagram. It wasn’t all that surprising because I don’t have any social media strategy, and I post sparsely on Instagram. But it made me realise that socials really haven’t been affecting my platform very much, but all this time I thought it was so important to grow Instagram because my blog is so visual and Instagram is as well. From then, I was really able to let go. The truth is, I’m not that into Instagram, algorithm or otherwise. And now I didn’t feel like I needed to use it anymore. Another thing that helped me let go was that, as I said earlier, I was really busy with school and took a step back from the blogosphere, which also let me step back from social media, since admittedly, my social media usage is mostly for the blogosphere, as I prefer to text friends.
One of the bloggers I follow, Amber x Space on Third wrote at the beginning of the year that her one blogging goal for 2018 was to focus on growing platforms that belong to her. It’s a quick read that I think you’d find interesting, especially on this topic. You can check it out here!
All that said, I think social platforms do work for some people, just not me. When I saw Aimee Song x Song of Style‘s vlog with Eva Chen (a href=”https://youtu.be/NCK9vXKykrc”>view here) and heard them talk about Instagram, I saw how those two simply and genuinely love Instagram, love the community, and love using Instagram to interact with that community, not to say that it’s not work because it’s definitely a huge part of their careers. And from the brief time I’ve been following Sara x Me & Orla, I saw that she has a similar relationship with Instagram. I’m pretty sure she mentioned in one of her blog posts somewhere that she too had noticed people’s discontent with Instagram, and she encouraged people to stop focusing on what they didn’t like and rather start focusing on what they did like or focus on making changes themselves instead of ragging on and contributing to the endless complaints about Instagram. And so, I’m not letting Instagram or its algorithms have any hold on me. Admittedly, it’s easy for me to say since I’m only a hobby blogger.
I think I sort of got off topic toward the end there but anywho… happy to see you back! ;D -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s
Hey girl thank you so much for your comment – a lot to take in! Glad to see you back in the blogosphere as well. I am still working really hard on YEOJA Mag (hope you will catch up with our current posts and keep following along with me and the girls there!) but the magazine is a passion of another kind – it’s about growing a community and a universal voice as a professional publication. So for me on a personal level, this kind of interaction in the comments as me Rae not YEOJA Mag with ladies like yourself who I built up relationships with via blogging on LFB back in the days was really missing. Add to that the fact that even when the gram is doing well it’s not as personal or conversational, I was just really missing a blog. I think the thing with blogging is numbers don’t seem as important because the meaningful discussions in the comments are what make me love blogging and as instagram lacks this, it’s hard to no focus on the numbers as they seem to be the only benchmark that matters these days.
I think you bring up a good point – depending on your demographic and what you are trying to achieve, Instagram may not be the place for everyone. And like you said Amber x Space was saying, that is what I was saying with this post too – creating your own community and sharing your own content on your own platform is so important and I feel like social platforms like Instagram has made us forget that. That being said, I think Instagram is still really useful for a lot of people and it is the main platform (as of now) that companies are wanting to collaborate on. For girls like Sara x Me x Orla and Aimee Song x Song of Style who built up their communities before the algorithm crisis, it is still a great tool, but I just see too many incredible creators remain under the radar cos no one even know their work exists and it’s just not the right tool to be using if more effort is going in but not enough positive results are being seen which is unfortunate. As a visual artist, I wish Instagram was like it used to be and I am just patiently waiting for something to hopefully come along that will function better.
The biggest thing is that companies have either forgotten their main focus is their user, or that they no longer care about their use and are more focused on profit.
You’re back!! So happy 😀
When it comes to social media I’m on the fence about it. It’s where you can gain exposure and inspiration for work but you’re right about how an artists talent shouldn’t depend on how many followers they have. Some employers even ask for your follower count which is ridiculous. What does that have to do with my talent? At times it does seem over saturated for a newbie like me because I often think of how my work will stand out against the rest. It’s bittersweet. If someone comes up with a platform just for artists (not like devianArt) I’d be happy.
I think instagram used to be a great tool for artists, but now unless you are already relatively big AND are creating images that fit within the few aesthetics instagram users seems to enjoy, it’s not a great platform. That being said, the kind of image quality that is being produced now v when instagram first came out is so much better and there are simply more people using and creating on the app and there is just simply more competition, but I still think the platform is far from fair despite the aspects that they have no control over. And normal employers for jobs that have nothing to do on social media? That is simply absurd and not to mention, how the hell is that legal?!
And yes I hope something just for artists does come along soon.
I’m so happy to see you back and blogging again!! 🙂
Social media really is a double edged sword, huh? On the one hand, I love maintaining relationships and discovering new people through Instagram and the like. In fact, if it weren’t for Instagram I probably wouldn’t be able to keep up with a lot of online and IRL friends. I’ve been blogging way before I even had social accounts, and even though I have my own little blog community you can’t deny that social media just has a way bigger audience than the blogosphere.
Like you mentioned though, I can definitely see why social media can be a source of frustration, particularly for creatives. I guess it all depends what your goals online are. I actually do a lot of social media for work, and it can definitely be draining. The amount of thinking that goes into planning content and trying to figure out algorithms is kind of ridiculous – I’m cool with it cos that’s my job, but like you said, creatives should be honing their craft instead of trying to constantly gain exposure! Anyway, I’m all for the re-birth of blogs – I feel like the restrictions of social media (specifically Instagram) make people feel like they have to conform to a cookie-cutter look or aesthetic to gain exposure. Plus, there’s so much more potential for people to create meaningful, unique content on their own websites. I guess that’s partly why I’ve stuck with blogging for so long!
Love these images and I couldn’t agree more with your well written article! This year I want to focus on my website since I own it. Instagram is an incredible outlet but we do not own it and all the changes do not help either.
Thanks Vanessa – I think focusing on what we own is a good idea.
Blogging always has been and always will be my favourite part of the internet. As someone with a day job who has only ever been in it for fun, it’s still been really interesting to see the industry evolve and change over time. I’m not much of a fan of Instagram, and I guess it’s just reached saturation point because there’s a limit to how much content someone can consume so when people are absolutely flooded with choice because there are now SO many content creators, it’s going to be really hard for those people to make themselves stand out or to reach new people, particularly when the actual platform doesn’t have any interest in helping out those with smaller audiences because making money is their main objective.
I understand because it’s not a source of income for me I have the luxury of not really caring too much about Instagram, but when you’re trying to build a career I’m sure it’s incredibly frustrating. I think there’s something to be said for the fact that blogs were always a niche thing, but when you compare them to social media platforms like Instagram which is completely normal and something that basically everyone has even if they’re never read a blog in their life, of course the potential audience is going to be much larger on Instagram. But by the very nature of the two platforms, Instagram is never going to have the same depth as blogging because there isn’t room for long form content and you can’t customise the platform or turn it into anything you like, the way you can with a blog. Because for me it’s just about community and expressing myself, blogging has always been the best fit for me, but I totally get that Instagram seems to be where the money is at (at least from brands) in the last few years and for people who are building their careers online it’s harder to step back from that. But I’m glad to see you returning to blogging because I always really enjoyed your content and am excited to see what you’ll be posting! 🙂
Hey Jessica it is so lovely to hear from you – one of the nicest things about starting up a blog again is to hear from familiar voices of people I loved communicating with back in my blogging days – which so perfectly illustrates exactly what you mean – not only is longform content just deeper in the content itself, it allows for deeper connections because the interactions in our niche community go beyond just a “wow girl you are fire emoji emoji emoji” comment. Granted, I am guilty of leaving those comments all the damned time on instagram, and those kind of light-hearted comments have their place (it’s Intsagram), but that lack of further depth is what has me returning to blogging after a few years of leaving it behind.
I think you hit the nail on the head – I didn’t mention the over saturation but it is another huge factor as is the general higher level of quality of content on Instagram as a whole vs. when the platform first came out. It’s very hard to stand out when there are too many creators for viewers to keep track of and when all the work is high quality. But all the work starts to look the same too as if you don’t fit into Instagram’s handful of acceptable aesthetics (think of all those wanderlust photos of feet in hiking boots, mountains, and log cabins) the account won’t do well, and that’s even if the account is even seen due to oversaturation and algorithms.
I have been using the app as a form of work as some of my income comes through working with brand as an “influencer” (Although I absolutely loathe that word) and even if it’s not direct work with brands with me, it helps me secure work where I am behind the camera as a photographer. But that being said, I am slowly tiring of the whole industry and scene as well. I have met a lot of lovely and sweet people through it, but Instagram is like a recipe for narcissism and assholery whether you are an “Influencer” or Tattoo Artist, that 50K or 100K can really turn people into absolute dicks and that’s not even getting into the topic of if those numbers were honestly gained or bought.
All in all the industry is slowly not really for me anymore I don’t think, even though in essence I love creating content, sharing my outfits and photography – I’m just wondering how to keep pursuing this as a career if Instagram ain’t doing it for me anymore…
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
Instagram can be really fun to connect with people on a more daily, easy, quick basis, but really it feels like a stupid popularity game. I always get a bit peeved when a photo of ME gets triple the likes than some of my art work. Even though I have many people following for my art, I think it’s really indicative of what social media is actually “for”, or how it is “used”, or whatever, that pictures of my face/body/self will always get more likes than pictures of what I’ve spent houuuuuuuuuurs working on.
I’ve been wanting to blog more about my creations and inspiration as a starting point. Also been thinking a lot about how to bring my art into my local community WITHOUT any social media. I don’t know exactly how that’d look yet but. It’s interesting to think about. I mean there’s always the work I do with persons with dementia, which is absolutely my passion outside of art making, but in terms of actually promoting my art work it doesn’t really help with that.