When you are online, you can see more of what you’ll never be able to do or have. What started out as “I want to share my world with the world”, has turned into more of a consumption cycle. There’s more “liking” and “scrolling” than “creating & posting”. There seems to be much confusion about how creating and sharing interface with eachother.
Wake up in the morning, turn on the smartphone, open the Instagram app, scroll scroll scroll. Rarely do I follow new accounts on Instagram. Every once a while, I’ll unfollow a handful when I’m not feeling inspired enough. How does one even decide who to follow on Instagram? ( That’s a topic for a different blog post that I’m writing. )
Most of the accounts I follow on Instagram are fellow-creatives. Mostly photographers, painters, jewellery curators, illustrators, food bloggers, fashion bloggers, podcasters, sculptors, actors, hospitality professionals, paper cutting artists, luxury fashion houses, ceramic artists, chefs, paint companies, models, beauty professionals and jewellery brands.
And everyone appears to be creating like there is not going to be a tomorrow. There are new photo or video updates at least once daily and sometimes multiple times each day from some accounts. How much new work are folks creating? It makes me feel like I’m doing absolutely nothing. I realize that some might be looking at my Instagram account and thinking that I’m crazy with all the new stuff I’m creating, seemingly on a regular basis, consistently.
I know THAT is not true. I am not working on a new photo project or a new piece of art on a daily basis. What I am, however, doing is collecting “content”. In the content rat race, you gotta have some content to publish online else it might seem that you are, effectively, dead.
On the one hand, I want to have leisure time to just sit and think and DO absolutely nothing. That’s is usually how my brain comes up with creative things that I can then create / execute. To wake up on a Monday afternoon – because who am I kidding, I wake up around 11 a.m. or 12 p.m. on most days, Mondays included – fix a hot or cold black coffee for myself, scroll through Instagram while seated at the edge of my bed, stare out the window at the passing clouds and swaying tree & the occasional neighbour drying laundry on their clothesline.
So what if I don’t have anything to post to Instagram today? Being active on Instagram on a daily basis has nothing to do with my success or failure as a human being, as a creative or even as a solo entrepreneur. Or does it? The platform definitely helps my work reach the eyes of people who would have otherwise never come across it.
But am I creating for eyeballs? Or for money? Or am I creating because of my inherent urge, nay forest-fire-under-ass urge, to create?
As an artist, I find Instagram to be stressful, overwhelming, competitive for the wrong reasons, jealousy-invoking and an overall bad influence on my mental health. In this sense, it’s a curse.
I also get to see the work being posted by fellow creatives, from across borders and if I can choose to use these updates as inspiration to create my own art, then Instagram is a gift.
There are times when I’ll do the “scroll scroll scroll” and I will literally get up from the edge of my bed and go throw some paint on a canvas – before I’ve even brushed my teeth. It’s fucking exhilarating. And in a way, Instagram made me do it.
There are also times, when I’ll do the “scroll scroll scroll” and then want to curl up in bed again and hide under my blanky. Because how is one person supposed to keep up with all the wonderful art and work that millions of others are churning out on a daily basis?
I’ve come to realize that the answer to this conundrum is also the answer to a lot of perceived life problems : the choice is mine. How I choose to respond to stimuli is upto me.
Decide on a goal : why am I on Instagram? Why do I follow who I follow? Why do I like their updates? What am I trying to achieve here? Partly, I am doing all these things to satisfy my urge to create.
Continually remind myself what my goal is : I must not forget that while I can use the Instagram updates of others to inspire myself to create, I must not make the mistake of liking those updates as a substitute for putting in the work.
Put in the work : actually buy a canvas, buy paints, buy brushes and paint mediums and put them together. Regardless of the result. And do it all over again. Learn to strip a painted canvas and begin again.
Post on Instagram : can’t forget this step. For at least 50% of the stuff I create. I need to leave some of it as a mystery so that I may have an excuse to invite at least the local viewers to come see my work in person.
Some folks have more privileges than I do. Some have less. Some are better with composition in their photography or art. Some live in cities that are better for artists in many ways. Some are able to manage a studio space that is not their living room floor. Some use cheap material to create art because they don’t possess the resources to invest in professional grade paint for example. We artists comprise of all kinds of people from all kinds of background and mindsets. The common thread is that no matter what, we create.
And we post updates on Instagram.
Sometimes it’s a gift. Sometimes it’s a curse. It is entirely up to us, individually, to decide what we choose to see it as. And bash on regardless.
And don’t forget to post a photo on Instagram!
If you’d like me to write about something specific, please let me know in the comments section below and I will make an attempt.