Validation: The truth about my “IG Rage”

My website has become a necessary, time consuming & expensive burden that no one ever bothers to check out, but I am damned if I don’t and damned if I do. It seems like it was the ‘must have’ thing for any business and artist 10-15 years ago. Quite hard to build at the start and with the birth of DIY website building sites and tumblr, you ain’t so special now! Does anyone really check other peoples websites anymore? (note to self: most big name artist don’t have personal websites or social media) or do we just check how many Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, blah blah blah…. followers they have and make our judgements from there? The main point is, do we as artists really need a website anymore? where by the looks of it, most of us seem to be getting approached & making a living through various social media outlets! (Instagram for the time being anyways)

When your FaceBook Page becomes almost redundant as perhaps only 6-10% of your followers are able to see your posts & Twitter is only valuable when you can take 10 hours of your working day interacting with other users to see any impact, I was advised by my many  savvy social media friends, to turn to Instagram….even then I was a little bit too late to the party, which is the norm by my standards.

What I enjoyed initially about Instagram was the straight forward visual impact of the App. Loading the photo up, perhaps some jiggery pokery with the filters & the appropriate HASHTAGS of course, and hey presto. Oh, how naive I must have been. As highlighted in a recent article in Nylon Mag “How to Survive Instagram’s Shitty New Change” in reference to them changing the chronological order of pics & to monetize Instagram’s feed the way Facebook has done, there is a certain formula to adhere to when trying to gain followers! To quote “The popularity contest that is Instagram just got even more high school cafeteria cliquish”…. it then further goes on to the most truthful and funny bit in my opinion ”The other option is to play Instagram’s game and brand the crap out of yourself: Master the “I just stepped in gum” fashion blogger pose; find a color palette and stick with it; invest in photo editing apps; hire an Insta-assistant; sell your soul to the Devil.”

Is this new change only going to grow the nepotism that already exists within the ‘creative tribes’, magazines, galleries and museums? My guess is HELL YEAH

Don’t get me wrong, having these feelings about social media ‘games’ niggling around my head for some years has led me to make some fantastic responsive art- works. One of them in particular being my HASHTAG series that begun almost 3 years ago, and the newish adventures of Flocking Jesus, which I have only ‘exhibited’ on IG. I have also used my IG Rage to produce other photographic based work on my feed which incorporates various props/characters from my studio with relevant slogan banners (also, only on my IG). Not many of my followers actually “got” what I was doing judging by the number of  ’likes’ the photos got, but hopefully in light of this blog post, the penny might finally drop.

My most laborious piece of artwork is the one below, which is titled ‘Validation’. This concept is pretty obvious really and a way for me to ensure that I don’t loose sight of my creative goals (i.e.,not to pay too much attention to what other people are making or how popular they are on social media and to devalue the merits of my work with the number of ‘likes’ it gets). With Validation, I knew it was a numbers game and hard to find the ‘expedition’ posters, as I only sign my art prints & no one could tag me into the artworks unless they actually new my work. So, I began to track the life of some of my posters the only logical way I could think of, which was to use the HASHTAG #HackneyWick (ironic really) for a period of 3 weeks or so, as this is where most of the expeditions had taken place in the last year.

What I was most intrigued to discover was how each person photographed the posters & the similarities of the shots of the same poster and the captions & Hashtags used to describe the work. You can judge the outcome for your selves below. What I realised is that people actually “get” the work and the descriptive Hashtag “Truth” came up quite a few times. I do say what I see and that is all I have ever done with my work, so I am validated to this expectation. As for the numbers game….lets say the same poster that only got 5 ‘Likes’ from one post, also got 957 ‘Likes’ from another users post! Huh!

I’m not going to lie, I know the amount of IG followers I have is pretty dismal and my feed doesn’t have “the formulaic look” (one matching filter, one type framing, only black & white shots, semi naked selfies, pouty stylist/trend forecaster/blogger gum stepped look, coffee, cats, beards, pizza, enlarged shots that fill the whole frame, blah blah blah= Monotony) that gains followers but I enjoy posting my random 1 photo or vid a day without the overuse of appropriate Hashtags.

I’m not really bothered by how low my follower numbers are because the ones I do have, are very loyal, they engage with my posts most of the time and support my artwork, so I am very content with not being famous on the “Internet”. However, what I am concerned about as an artist is that I will be judged by this number, by galleries, agencies & commissioning bodies that may want to work with me on potential projects! I just don’t have the Pulling Power, but hey ho….I have exhibited internationally, my work is part of a collection in one the most prestigious museums in the world, I have exhibited in a good few museums now, fantastic residencies, a few wonderful galleries that sell my prints and my very own screen print studio with not one, but two hand benches, hurray! What else do I need…..erm…maybe some more validation from strangers perhaps?

Thanks for validating me, it’s been laborious:
@hookedblog @missyjoldn @anastasia_tribambuka @londongraffitti @_musicy_ @henriettaashwor @_smalleyesbigcity @nadinettv @zomsonsta @mahadevarun @djbobhoskins @mmmch_ @anna_stanley @smorray @lsdi @silviamaggi_uk @lucielhu @foeva88 @eyechild @emma_olivia_x @tori_berr @biz4k @miss_mmm @dalyell @misshannahstevo @_antigoni_ @gxxlia @sopicturethis @anna_stanley @lambert87 @kdrmurray @mickeydread777 @jamesprints @lillibee @alexdogmatik @arby1975

aida-validation-web

Oh look……..I got another ‘Like’