You could call it a small revolution: Instagram has made it much easier for illustrators to share their work with the world, sometimes with great success.
Currently platforms such as Pinterest, Society6 and Etsy are very useful for creative professionals. Before these platforms existed, illustrators had to make do with Facebook and Twitter, neither of which are really suitable for gaining exposure. Instagram came about in 2010, through which some illustrators quickly acquired pop-star status.
Dutch illustrator Bodil Jane (her artist name) recalls the impact Instagram had on her. “When I exceeded 50,000 followers,” she says, “I realized that I had an entire arena full of fans. That felt strange, even a little intimidating.”
Her colleague Fran Meneses in the UK has her own way of handling it. “I try not to focus too much on my number of followers,” she says. “I think of it more as if there are twenty people sitting in my living room staring at me. Instagram is my biggest platform, and so it’s important to me, but I still don’t want to obsess on it.
I want to keep communicating with my followers in a sincere and friendly way. I want to show things that aren’t completely finished. For me, it mostly feels as if a tight-knit community of netizens knows me and my cats, but once in a while it does feel like I’m a famous person, even just for a second.”
“I also find it a bit frightening sometimes to think that I could fill a stadium with my followers,” says Dutch illustrator Marloes de Vries. “Fortunately, that amount grew very slowly over the seven years I’ve been on Instagram. In the beginning, I practically knew all of my followers by name; now I can’t do that anymore, but there are still followers that I’ve been in contact with from day one and that’s really cool. There’s one person—an illustrator from Belgium—with who I also have contact offline as we send each other things every now and then.”
“Of course, there are more than 78,000 people who keep an eye on what I do, but on Instagram it’s different than with vloggers or bloggers. They share a lot of themselves because they have the camera with them the whole day. It’s also their goal to become famous as a person. It is absolutely not that way with me; I just want my work to be seen and I think it’s nice if it makes people smile.”
- The complete story ‘Instagram made me famous’ can be found in Issue 23.
Text Chris Muyres Illustration Bodil Jane