Artists in the world of Instagram
What would today’s world look like without Instagram? Less than a decade ago, Instagram started as a place to share snapshots from your phone and allowed you to use a few basic filters to spice up an image (cue the birth of the well-known “Valencia” filter). Eight years later, Instagram has become its own empire: conceiving the world of influencers, opening a whole new market for advertising, and creating a space for communities to grow and learn from each other.
What has Instagram offered the modern creative? Let’s explore the value Instagram gives to four different artists and how they are using Instagram in their everyday lives.
Before we examine the use of Instagram by artists on an individual level, there are a few common themes of the creative Instagram community that are important to keep in mind.
1) Instagram is an outlet for sharing and discovery – with the opportunity, and likelihood, to forge connections along the way.
Picture an amateur painter looking for inspiration. While scrolling through the #watercolor page on Instagram she stumbles upon the account of a watercolor painter from a neighboring town. She admires the artist’s style and attention to detail so she DMs the artist a sample of her work asking if he might be willing to offer her guidance. He writes her back giving advice and critiques and just like that, a relationship is formed.
This could happen with two musicians, two designers, two photographers…you name it. Creatives of all types use the platform to find inspiration, share their work, and make connections.
2) Instagram is a modern-day portfolio.
With (almost) all things digital, most artists have moved towards showcasing their work through websites, slide decks, and social media. Since its emphasis is on photo-sharing, a wide range of artists commonly use Instagram to display pieces from their portfolio on their accounts and some have accounts devoted entirely to their portfolio.
Now, let’s take a look at a few artists in the world of Instagram.
Chris Wolston (@chriswolston)
Furniture designer Chris Wolston finds his work in the spotlight quite often. In addition to using Instagram to share personal content, inspiration, and examples of his work, he shares earned media with his followers. From features in British Vogue and Sotheby’s to spreads in Architectural Digest, Wolston’s earned media are no small feats. Instagram gives him an added outlet to promote the recognition he’s received.
Guy Amir (@guygroove)
For Hip-hop choreographer and dancer Guy Amir (also known as “Guy Groove”), Instagram is a playground: a place for his choreography to shine. His account highlights videos of routines he’s created showcasing his choreography style and many of the dancers he’s worked with. The videos are filmed with simple studios as the backdrops with dancers dressed casually, emphasizing his choreography. Amir’s moves are not only popular on his personal page, but also widespread among the dance community of Instagram. The hashtags #groovygang, #GuyGroove, and #guygroovechoreography each have a few thousand posts of dancers performing Amir’s choreography. Continually using these hashtags and encouraging his dancers to do the same will boost Amir’s presence in the Instagram world. And the greater his reach, the greater his chances are that new dancers will discover his work.
View this post on Instagram
Killed it last night with these amazing dancers!! Teaching this one more time tomorrow 12pm @theplaygroundla Choreo: @guygroove Dancers: @rumernoel @thechrisgayle @officiallaurenelly @officialisabellagarcia @denzelalexandrr @alxanderthegrape Song: #BID @torylanez Shot by @bellabephotography at @11theeleven #guygroove #guygroovechoreography #danceclass #dance #dancechallenge
Luke Choice (@velvetspectrum)
Designer Luke Choice’s feed is a vivid collection of typography, animation, and illustration marked by pops of bold colors. He’s built up a strong following at around 88,200 which has allowed him to use Instagram as more than just a place to showcase his work. Choice is considered an Instagram “influencer” and attracts major companies to participate with him in “paid partnerships” through the platform to reach potential consumer bases.
He was commissioned by SweeTarts Candy to create a visual campaign for the brand’s new gummy candy. Choice featured a post highlighting his work for the product, a paid promotion by SweeTarts as noted by the “paid partnership” and #ad tags. For Choice, Instagram has not only been an arena for promoting work, but also a source for driving business and generating income.
Getting paid per post is becoming increasingly popular on Instagram as the user base continues to grow. Individuals are purchasing directly from their smartphones more – 62% of smartphone users have made an online purchase using their device in the last year – and companies are earning a profit simply from user clicks.
Anthony Parmelee (@anthonyparmeleephotography)
New York and Miami-based fashion photographer Anthony Parmelee actively uses his Instagram for creative and professional endeavors. Originally, his Instagram served as a space to share personal content, but as he noticed others in his industry using the platform more and more as a tool for business and marketing, he began to do the same.
Anthony is in the process of curating content that gives his followers (about 85-90% of whom are fashion industry related) a behind the scenes journey they wouldn’t get to experience from just seeing his work in a magazine or on an advertisement.
“I want to bring people into the world of actually seeing the process of what I do as a professional. On my Instagram now, you’ll see behind the scenes [of a] Covergirl shoot [I am working on], and then in a month or two I’ll post the final product and you’ll [also] see [that] final product in the flagship store in Times Square.”
This behind the scenes footage is for the CoverGirl “virtual greeter” – an AI component of the first CoverGirl store which will be located in Times Square and open in the fall.
Anthony has shifted from spending hours of paging through Vogues from around the world, Marie Claire, and Elle to find inspiration (and hundreds of dollars to buy the magazines) to sparking his creativity through social media. He now uses Instagram and Pinterest to study inspiration and creativity, taking screen clips of media he likes and saving it to his inspiration folder to refer back to when he’s looking for his next big idea for a shoot. And Instagram has given him the opportunity to find new people to work with and places to shoot.
“A lot of times if I see really good retouching I’ll take note of the accounts that are tagged to reference who worked on the shoot. Or if I see a really great model, I’ll see who’s tagged and then I’ll follow that person, or at least have their handle so I know who they are and can reference that if I want to use them. I do this for locations as well. When I follow a Miami photographer or a New York photographer I can see places they’ve shot. I might see a really great beach or house or resort and then I’ll reference that location tag [if] I want to shoot there.
From the people that I follow, I [can] use their tags to lead me to who they’re working with. I can find out who the team is, what model the agency is with, [and] where the shoot is, all through Instagram. It becomes an invaluable tool of information to find out who industry people are working with and who I might want to align myself with.”
Anthony gets inquiries through Instagram on a daily basis. Most professional inquiries he receives through his website and email, Instagram inquires tend to be models who want their picture taken, but he notes that these DMs are still good information to have as they open the lines of communication.
His goal at the moment is to increase his number of followers by posting a few times per week and using hashtags pertinent to his work like #editorial and #fashionphotographer. By increasing his following, he hopes to get more people to regularly see his work and ultimately drive them to his website, LinkedIn, and other social outlets.
“I think social media really [gives] people, artists and influencers, [the opportunity to look through] other people’s eyes that [they] normally would not have. It’s opened all kinds of doors for everyone to say, ‘This is what I do: I make clothes, I’m a photographer, I’m a videographer, I’m a comedian, I’m whatever I am…’ It really [provides] a whole other channel for people to communicate and get their message out there.”
If you’re looking for new inspiration to fill your feed, follow our account @studiopaxchi. We would love to connect in the realm of Instagram.
Writer / Content Development & Marketing Intern
Miriam is an undergraduate at Northwestern University pursuing a degree in Communication Studies with a focus in Integrated Marketing Communications and Design Innovation. She is passionate about learning about people and finding new ways to problem-solve.
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