Coping with social media as an artist (and as a human being)


Three miniature watercolors on Khadi rag paper. A colourful moth, a toadstool and a barn owl

It's hot here at the moment so I'm having to work at the dining room table. Since I have less room I got some dinky A7 pieces of Kahdi rag paper to try and am experimenting with ATC sized watercolours. I'm happy with the results, especially since I find watercolours challenging. 

I'm also trying to figure out a social media strategy where I can share things without potentially losing my sanity or getting burned out. Social media really wasn't designed for artists who often take a long time to produce work. Sometimes experiments don't work out and it can be a while to get a new idea, or product range, to come to fruition.

People are interested in the behind the scenes stuff, but it can interfere with the creative process if by sharing it you get unwanted and unsolicited advice. That can skew your decisions in a way that's not always helpful. It's also problematic as there's an amount of self consciousness involved, not to mention filming and interrupting your work flow can create issues. 

Social media platforms have an endless appetite for content which is seen for a few seconds then scrolled by, despite having taken hours to produce. To keep up with the demands of changing algorithms is pretty difficult. I'm sure the constant feeling of being like a hamster on a wheel causes unnecessary stress, mental health issues, and burnout for a lot of creatives.

Each platform has different challenges. With Instagram trying to achieve the aesthetic is difficult for many of us leading real lives in a real house. It's doable with photos but much harder with reels. I have to film mine indoors due to the strip lights in my studio. So I'm in an uncomfortable chair at a table which isn't the right height, just so it looks better. Short form video format is a nightmare for me because I enjoy just drawing and losing myself in it.

Twitter, whilst more forgiving on aesthetics, doesn't always have a good atmosphere. The algorithm seems to increase polarised views and there can be a number of angry, unpleasant people on there. Anger is unfortunately addictive, and emotive posts get shown to more people since they provoke engagement, so the effect ripples out and touches more, and more.

I'm taking a break at the moment because I don't have the energy to deal with it. I've had drunk messages, rude people, the perennial "will you work for free/exposure". And latterly someone accusing me of blocking him because he'd made his account private so couldn't comment on my posts since I didn't follow him back. I didn't want to follow him for good reasons!

For anyone running a business, or even just on a personal level, having to field this kind of stuff is draining to say the least. That's not to mention the time and care taken over writing and photographing posts. It's an extension of our creativity so we put the same care into it. I always think someone sharing with you online is a privilege. It's like being invited to a garden party, you don't try and force your way in then criticise, or even trash the place. 

I don't know what the answer is. I do know I need to find a strategy that's going to work for me and my life. My writing is far better when I'm on social media less, I have more clarity of thought. My art and creativity is also more enjoyable, and I produce better work.

 I'm starting a new endurance training plan next month, so I know I need to figure something out before then. It takes a chunk of my time, and on heavy training weeks I get very fatigued with smallholding and everything else to deal with. I do hope in the future social media platforms are forced to change how they operate, so users can spend less time on there. We know it affects mental wellbeing, and I'm always mindful of the saying "neurons that fire together, wire together". It's not dissimilar to eating a good diet, feed your brain good stuff too.

Popular Posts