Being an artist in 2022 involves presenting many different sides of yourself to the public eye simultaneously. While some may think that promoting your art and building a brand around you is a difficult and tedious task, the relationship between artists and social media has never been so closely linked.
Artists have social media accounts, ranging from Instagram or Twitter to Pinterest, as platforms to market themselves. Addiction to social media has led most artists to prioritize their image above all else, making it possible to co-opt and absorb different artistic styles with relative ease.
While interactions give artists engagement and allow their fans to feel connected to them, artists are more likely to suffer from burnout and often complain that no matter how much work they do , it never seems enough to them.
Instagram photographers encompass a large subculture of tastemakers, and some of the best combine their work and personal style to create photos that subvert the traditional magazine shoot.
Zamar Velez is a California photographer whose bright, contrasting colors make him a magnet for magazines, and he’s gone from shooting his friends in San Francisco to shooting Issa Rae for the paper magazine.
Velez’s work is colorful and, more importantly, he amplifies his portfolio in a digital space. Credibility and networking come from social media in 2022 more than anything else. He also works closely with the Black Image Center, a community organization that seeks to promote and empower black photographers in economical and imaginative ways.
Photographer Sam Dameshek captures a different audience than Velez – his work focuses on humanizing larger-than-life characters with his photography. The white borders and bright contrast showcase humanity instead of celebrity, and his subjects are often seen socializing and dancing. At just 20 years old, he’s captured candids by Shawn Mendes, and he primarily focuses on depictions of upper-class white luxury.
While Dameshek and Velez focus on different audiences, they both use Instagram to build credibility and enhance their artistic vision.
Instagram Artist Deon Hinton is also a model for Calvin Klein, but works primarily with 35mm photography. His work focuses on portraits of himself, and his legends are poems that highlight his thoughts on personal growth and his relationships with friends and family.
His work looks transparent and vulnerable, and with over 250,000 subscribers, he attracts a huge number of followers. He often talks about burnout as an artist and emphasizes openness with his audience.
One of the problems with Instagram art, however, is the algorithms. With every post, the algorithm has obsessive control over who sees what on Instagram. Shadowbans — when a user’s social media content is blocked in a way they’re not aware is happening — seem to happen on many different accounts.
Shadowbanning reduces your reach because no one outside of your current followers will discover your account or engage with your work.
This aligns with Instagram’s implementation of automatic content removals to combat misinformation on the internet, but artists can be shadowbanned when their work is deemed inappropriate enough to meet a certain threshold. Artists can only resolve this issue by contacting Instagram’s customer support team, which is notoriously difficult.
Artistry moved away from artist control and autonomy, and prioritized audience engagement and support. Social media platforms force artists to create constantly, otherwise they are basically unable to sustain themselves.
Audience support may also depend on the application: an artist who has a large following on Instagram may only have a few thousand followers on Twitter. This gap causes them to focus on one platform over another, leaving them at the mercy of their social media of choice.
The meaning of art will continue to change as the internet becomes more integrated into our lives, and we have yet to see the long-term effects of non-fungible tokens on the economy and influence of the art.
With the number of posts you see from other accounts every day, it’s easy to feel like you, as an artist, are competing for time and attention as well as against other artists. Prioritizing numbers and content leads to much of what we consider rushed content, and burnout will continue to occur unless artists can find solace in rest and relaxation.