Dear Artist #1: Instagram’s Not Your Boss

Dear Artist,

You are more than a number of Instagram followers.

Your art is more than a number of likes, comments, or shares.

No number determines your worthiness as an artist or a human. An algorithm doesn’t get to decide if your art is good or not. It doesn’t get to decide how you feel about your art.

Looking to Instagram for validation, for proof that you’re a good artist and will succeed, is an exercise in futility. You’ll chase that validation forever.

You’ll start out thinking ‘if I could just get 100 likes, I would know this art is good.’ Then once you get those 100 likes, you discover that you REALLY need 1000 likes to prove that your art is good. Once you hit 1000 likes on a piece of art, you discover that you REALLY need 100K followers on Instagram to feel validated as an artist.

You will chase it forever and you will never feel satisfied.

You will feel disappointed when you make something that doesn’t get “enough” likes and comments. You’ll convince yourself that the art isn’t good enough and that’s the explanation.

The truth is that Instagram likes and follows don’t necessarily equate to a successful career. 

They don’t pay the bills. There are folks with 500K Instagram followers who are struggling to succeed in their art business. There are folks with 2K Instagram followers who are earning multi six-figures in their creative business every year.

Follows and likes are nice, but they don’t guarantee success. They don’t prove that your art is good or bad or whatever in between.

So let it go, friend.

Make art that you’re excited about making! Make the art that you want to show up for every day. Make art that you love!

Whatever you make, don’t share it on Instagram right now. Don’t share it on Instagram tomorrow or the next day or even this week.

Wait.

Sit with it. Let your feelings about this piece of art settle. When you know for sure how you feel about it, then share it with the world. When you feel confident that a number of likes won’t change how you feel about this art, share it.

Sit with your feelings first. Then share it.

And if you struggle with seeing that ‘like’ number? Turn it off! Tap the three dots right above your post and tap on Hide Like Count. Let it go and don’t worry about it again.

In my experience as a picture book illustrator, my best opportunities have stemmed from art that I felt especially connected with, not art that got the most likes on Instagram.

Commit to making art that you love, and opportunities will come to you, no matter how what your Instagram numbers are.

You are so much more than a number on Instagram, friend!



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