My OCA students are very adept at using online platforms to guide and influence their creative practice and so it is possible that I am writing to people who know more about this subject than I do…..however, this is not an instruction guide, it is a reflection on my experience of using Instagram to build and inspire my creative practice. I will reflect on how I have developed an online portfolio which reaches a far wider audience than my web site.
Instagram can be many things, from a social diary to a sharing of every day happenings. For me it is a professional outlet and networking tool – wait – that sounds very dull, okay, let’s re-phrase that as a ‘dynamic public gallery of ideas and inspiration’. Artists and designers think visually and so Instagram is a perfect tool for communicating with pictures. It’s a free app, it’s easy and it works well.
I have been using Instagram for little more than a year but have realised the following key benefits for my practice as an artist:
1. It is the easiest way to create an online folio linked to my web site.
2. It keeps contacts ‘warm’ by giving glimpses of new work I am making.
3. It provides me with a selected feed of pictures from people who inspire me (the people I choose to ‘follow’).
My approach is to keep my Instagram page professional – it exists for the purposes of my business rather than my social network. But….professional does not mean dry and serious – people prefer to collaborate with people rather than with organisations so be yourself! I am looking for collaborations and commissions and so I want my audience to understand who I am and how I work. Everyone is their own brand and to promote that brand is to tap into your individuality. I hope my Instagram page says as much about me as a person as it does about my work. It is an opportunity to expand on my web site by adding inspiration, events, creative moments, meetings, travel and my approach to making artwork.
For those reading this who have not used Instagram this is not a tutorial on how to do so (there are plenty on you tube!) but in short, I try to post one picture / day of something loosely connected to my artwork and I have a quick scan of what others have posted and ‘like’ various pictures to show appreciation and further spread awareness of my own page. Several of my followers could potentially commission work and so knowing that they are watching what I am doing is both encouraging and healthy. I can’t keep writing to all of my business contacts saying ‘do you remember me?’ but I can link to them on Instagram which is effectively doing the same thing through pictures.
So judge for yourself; go to instagram.com and search Neil_Musson – now compare this to my web site mackaydesignstudio.co.uk and you will see how I have used many of the same images and mixed them with content which adds a more personal feel and widens the audience. Your comments are welcome; I am not pretending to be an expert but I am encouraging the use of this app as an effective creative tool. Have a go!
Use #WeAreOCA to share your work on OCA’s instagram page.
Also published on Medium.