Which one is better for your artwork?
It has long since been a dream of mine to become a full time artist; dungarees laden with dried up paint, crusty paint palettes, canvases littered everywhere, because traits like that are what make artists, artists right? Not so much in our culture, nowadays artists very rarely paint — weird considering that’s what we’re meant to be doing. Instead we are filing our taxes, monitoring our websites and consistently posting to our many social media handles. We need to be seen and so we get out there — being as penniless as Van Gogh was in his lifetime isn’t really an option when you have kids and a mortgage, and so we must self market ourselves, the easiest and most practically free way of doing so is to use social media.
Why I hate Instagram
The kind of art I love to make is visual, I am a painter and usually work with mediums such as oil and gouache, so having visual art means I needed a visual platform and one of the most influential, visual based platforms out there is Instagram. I’ve had Instagram for probably around 6//7 yrs now; I had a personal account, I dabbled in with a makeup artistry account, and had a few other craft based accounts along the way — which all ended up in the Instagram graveyard for various reasons. One consistent reason that I noticed however, was: algorithm.
Each and every project I ever started got hit hard by the cold hard sting of the platforms numerous ways to make it harder and harder to be seen, even though I was learning and following all the rules endlessly; I posted every day, I replied to every comment, I taught myself the new features — yet still nothing.
So now that I’m older and wiser, what have I come to learn about this incessant app?
Well I hate it.
The perpetual over edited content, the way it makes you question everything about your entire life choices, and unless you have an abundance of photographs that you take on the daily to post, spending hours scrolling and ‘connecting’ can suck up a lot of your time actually trying to create. The algorithm is tiring to keep checking up on, like a bored child that just wants to agitate everybody, once you think you’ve pacified the infant, or algorithm, it’ll start kicking off in a week or so. Exposure issues, content theft, unhealthy habits and bad mental health don’t make wanting to be an artist in this world any easier, but are there any options out there for an artist with zero following and who’s quite literally penniless?
How I discovered Artfol
Ironically enough I was scrolling through Instagram, flicking through the stories, and found that an artist I admire profusely had joined a new platform: Artfol. I almost jumped out of my chair, a platform made for artists, how could this be? I downloaded the app as soon as I did some basic research on how it works and we were away.
Artfol is a very new app, think about how Tik Tok worked 1 year in, and it has a lot of glitching. After I downloaded it, trying to set up an account seemed completely unworkable, and even after I managed to get in, after around 10 attempts, seeing content, discovering art on the explore pages, just left me blank — literally. Content wasn’t uploading, so it was basically a blank app, so you can understand I was slightly frustrated after dedicating well over an hour to just signing up only to find getting in was not the only issue. After a few days It started to calm down, you could finally investigate as well as upload your own pieces of art, and from what I had read it was still a very new place to be.
Followings and likes were hidden, nobody reaching more than 1000, and many around 20–30, there were great features like the critique button, a challenge section, and you can even set up your own commission button which is fully customisable. Like Instagram it is a visual based platform but it also has a text option if you don’t have any art to post that day, so think of it as if Instagram and Twitter had a baby; Artfol would be their love child.
The community itself is made up of artists and non artists, but they all share one thing in common — they love art. A lot of artists came over from Deviantart, and so the platform is currently saturated with a lot of digital art, however, more traditional artists are now coming over too, making it a very diverse community. Most importantly it was an app created for artists by artists.
Pros and cons of Artfol
Artfol has the potential to be a very big space where many creatives who share the same passion can coincide — making it a very safe and opportunistic place. Each artist has the tools to customise their own online galleries; being able to add commissions if you’re a more fully fledged artist, or you can open up the space and welcome critique to develop with. It’s not about the numbers, or how much you edit, a lot of the people currently using Artfol range massively in skill and technique but each gets a fair opportunity to be viewed, its a level playing field.
But the best thing about Artfol is that they rank their timeline chronologically, not by how well each post is doing — so it will always be seen. Something that Instagram used to do, before it turned into a 10yr old menace, and now Artfol is taking full advantage of — the algorithm. There are millions of creative people out there and it is not easy to get noticed, reaching people is becoming more like The Hunger Games, and people are getting killed out there.
Obviously every platform has its faults, and Artfol is no exception; it’s still so small that growth is still a slow and painful marathon, Instagram is still king in the visual platform era and it is still peoples no.1 choice, and so Artfol has a lot less people actually using it, which means that being seen is just as hard as it was before. Also as I mentioned the app has glitches; it’s incredibly slow to load, and when you’re aiming for exposure and nobody can see you due to faults within the system itself, it’s like waiting at a red light for hours. These issues have been deterring people from actively going on it often enough to make any significant impact, even to the point where they pack it in and delete the whole thing.
So where’s the best place to post my art?
Well in conclusion, from my most current experience — you need both. Ah yes I know that maybe it wasn’t the answer you were quite hoping for, and I get it social media can be so agonisingly frustrating, but hear me out.
As I said Instagram is still king when it comes to being able to actually see the work that you do, it has well over a billion users, and in comparison to Artfol it trumps it big time. So for the meantime whilst Artfol is still growing it’s better to get your artwork out there on multiple platforms rather than just one, I mean that’s just good business sense right?
If like me you can’t stand using Instagram then this is how I look at it; I take all emotion, anger and frustration out of posting my work, I post regularly but not everyday so that I don’t get sucked in and lose all hope of aspiring to anything, but I keep up with it enough to stay ‘present’. Artfol is where I scroll, and connect to fellow artists, and it’s where I put in more of my time, and hopefully once Artfol is fully fledged I may be able to delete Instagram altogether.
As it stands its best to keep all of your options open, but expanding away from the Zuckerberg dynasty is undeniably refreshing.