I will not create art for Instagram: A Manifesto

In 2023, I am going to reclaim my identity as an artist.

And the first order of business is that I will not create art for Instagram.

My dearest friends may reassure me that I never stopped being an artist. But it’s been a while since I felt like one. And I believe that Instagram is a major fucking reason for that.

The concept of creating art content for social media in order to make money has resulted in a death - of spirit,  soul, will to live life and happiness. This might sound dramatic but it is true.

Here’s the thing though. I love Instagram too. I need Instagram, unfortunately. Even though it takes so much and gives so little in return, I still need it to reach my modest audience. I do enjoy the filters and sharing reels. I like that I can keep track of whether my current romantic interest is looking at my stories or not. I do enjoy the art I see there. It inspires me even though it overwhelms me.

But Instagram is anti-art and anti-artist. When you create something and use Instagram to showcase it before showcasing it anywhere else, you are giving power to Instagram to police it in any manner they deem fit. They can take it down for arbitrary reasons and your account will be at a risk. It’s highly demoralising. You feel helpless and at the mercy of a large corporation that doesn’t give a shit about you. This is simply, in my opinion, not the way to create.

Every silly or clever thing I make will first be published in its entirety, outside of Instagram or any major social media platform. This includes web pages under domain names owned by me, and platforms such as stck.me, ko-fi, medium, behance, and are.na.

I will use Instagram as a promotional tool first and a place to publish work second. I will use Instagram to drive traffic to my websites and shop spaces. And I will be okay with whatever little engagement I receive. Even if 0 people take a look at what I have done, at least I will be happy that I finished something without worrying about algorithms, hashtags, and numbers. I will be happy that I created something in the dimensions that I envisioned them to be and not those of Instagram.

I am interested in making things that people can experience through touch, not merely look at and swipe. I want to make wearable, usable, flip-throughable art. I mean zines, books, colouring pages, journals, planners, clothes, accessories, jewelry, and collectibles. I envision a lot of it to be one-of-a-kind and exclusive.

I hope you will join me on this journey.

an image of a red hibiscus flower, taken outside a restaurant in Koyilandy, Kerala.

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