Author: Imogen Aldridge

The Power of Social Media: How Instagram is Changing the Art World

It’s a brave new world - in the age of the internet, it’s impossible to ignore the multitude of benefits that this growing form of connectivity provides. The power social media holds cannot be denied, and the art world refuses to be left out.

Successfully forging its own space within these interactive communities, the art market, artists, and buyers alike are reaping the benefits of these platforms. So, now apps like Twitter and Instagram have proven themselves to be powerful platforms for discussion and sharing ideas, how are art galleries using this to their advantage? The introduction of Instagram in particular has created a more globally inclusive art scene. Exhibitions can be streamed online for all to see and emerging artists can be discovered from across the globe at the click of a button. The app itself is now a curatorial platform with artists using it as a springboard to launch their career, and collectors hunting down undiscovered talent amongst its millions of users.

Kristian Jones, 1984/2019

The statistics don't lie: over 80% of art buyers purchase fine art online, with this movement towards social media affecting more seasoned and new art buyers. According to a survery carried out by Artsy, in 2015 87% of art buyers checked Instagram at least twice a day, but does this signify the downfall of the commercial art scene as we know it? It’s evident that social media platforms have a strong grip on the perception of exhibitions in particular; public opinion is guided by the mass consciousness of Instagram.

Putting the intimidating facts and figures aside, there is no denying there are a huge number of benefits Instagram and other online platforms are providing for artists, particularly emerging ones. Artists can communicate directly with their audience at all times of the day, boosting the relationship between art and buyer, and removing the ‘middle man’ of gallery consultant or artist representative. Artists no longer need the backing of a gallery to achieve financial success, and they are in full control of their own creative process. One thing’s for sure – social media’s meteoric rise has opened up avenues of success that would otherwise be blocked off for lesser established artists. The boundaries between high and low art have merged, and the elitist behaviour that accompanies this has diminished as a result; now, anyone can become a collector or kickstart a professional art career. This plethora of opportunity is being embraced by galleries in their quest to draw in a larger audience.

Zoe Moss, My Little Phony Instagram

The art world may be adapting to the meteoric rise of social media, but is it compromising its morals in the process? After an image is uploaded to Instagram, it is automatically assessed for inappropriate content by an artificial intelligence system, and then followed up by a team of real people. Inappropriate content falls into three categories: violent acts, sexually aggressive, or shocking content. If your post falls into one of these categories, Instagram reserves the right to demote your post so less Instagram users can see it, blur out your image and label it as “sensitive content” or remove the post completely.

Breaking any of these guidelines puts your account at risk of being banned from the platform. These restrictions not only limit artistic freedom but cause legitimate issues for artists trying to make an income on the app. This causes many artists to self-censor their posts or, in many cases, find other avenues for profit, posting on Instagram less as a result. On a platform based on the dissemination of images, stifling visual creativity seems a counterproductive move for Instagram. Their oppressive guidelines beg the question: is the app disciplining the same content creators that make their platforms a success? As a consequence, does this mean Instagram can never be a leading figure in the commercial art scene? With artists so reliant on social media for success and Instagram reliant on the mass sharing of images, this seems a lose-lose situation for both parties.

Ellie FP, Speak Out

Without a doubt, art institutions and independent artists alike have reorganised their priorities and capitalised on the opportunities social media platforms have offered. Regardless of the overwhelming positives and negatives, we can’t shy away from the sense of community that these platforms provide. People flock to online spaces such as Instagram and Twitter to connect to others and share experiences.

Small changes such as galleries broadcasting their exhibitions and artists sharing their creative process are opening up the art world to a wider audience, and building the foundations for a more collaborative art community. After the isolation of the last two years, there is no better time than now to nurture this online space and embrace these new connections.

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