Why it is hard to find inspiration on Instagram as an artist.

Updated: Jan 11

When we look at todays society we are surrounded by creativity every day. Every time we pick up our phone we are met with visualizations of our mental state, funny little every day comics, beautifully visualized quotes, body positive feminist power images or inspiring photography. We are confronted with so much art and images like never before. All this art, all for free for you to look at and feel moved by.

On one hand this is an amazing development that lead to a lot of artist being promoted and celebrated for their work. There is quite a few who are able to live of of the work they create on instagram and other social platforms and I celebrate each and every one of them because it is an amazing development that lead to art being spread to the masses instead of sitting in a drawer at home. Finally there was a stage for art to be shown and to be celebrated and it lead to artists having another platform that lead to a direct line to the buyer or client without a gallery or an agent that sat in between.

On the other hand there is this platform that puts you into the point of focus for your followers and fans. You automatically turn into a content creator. You want to please your fans, who doesn’t? You want to create the stuff that your people like, in the amount that the algorithm likes. So you get shares, and followers and maybe even sales.

Before Social Media was here we created art that was directed into a special project. It was a book or a political statement, a zine, a magazine, or anything else we could come up with. We created this projects as much for free as we do the posts on instagram but usually they lead to one big ending. One final product that you would be able to place in your portfolio or maybe even sell., or maybe not. Because these Projects where not made for people they were made for us first. They were there to work on your style, make a statement and show your work. Maybe in a gallery, maybe in a concert, maybe in a portfolio. And sometimes they were sold.

Nowadays this process got easier, and shorter. Instead of spending days, weeks months on a project we spend an afternoon on a piece for instagram. Instead of having a final product that will end at some point, the stream of free content goes on forever and ever or as long as you decide to stop. But don’t forget if you stop, the Algorithm will „kill“ you and you will not be visible to your fans no more.

Where, before the social media’s, fans came when we were exhibiting every now and then we now have to constantly entertain to stay visible. And that is not on the fans. It is simply because the algorithm will put us to the bottom of the list if we don’t. So we feel like we are racing constantly.

Do you create art that matters only for your feed?

This sudden influx of art also lead to another phenomenon. Because we create more then we have ever created before our art starts looking all the same. Of course it does! Where we might have taken a week for an illustration to really think about it, where we had inspirations coming from museums, books, people, the street, patterns and our own thoughts. Now it comes from this one source wich is a constant flow of images that all look and feel the same. The curated feeds that only allow niche topics and one specific style. Don‘t even think about having different media’s, or topics, or maybe even styles. On Insta only those survive who niche down. I learned it and I taught it.

And don‘t forget it is hard to discover other accounts with other styles. Why? Because the algorithm feeds you exactly what you would like to see and what you are interested in. So even if you would like to use insta as a source of inspiration you would need to see variety in art and people. But you don‘t because the algorithm feeds you with exactly what it thinks you want to see. So the only way is to go and look for them consciously ironically often outside of social median blogs and magazines.

So all in all you always see the same, are influenced by the same, and everything else is left out. In some regards (like seeing empowering body positive kickass women everyday) that’s amazing but in regards of getting and finding inspiration it is counter productive.

Do you look for inspiration in other people’s art?

When you believe the dictionary then:

Inspiration is a feeling of enthusiasm you get from someone or something, that gives you new and creative ideas. ... If you describe someone or something good as an inspiration, you mean that they make you or other people want to do or achieve something.

But very often we feel nothing more from other artists and creatives then jealousy. I very often tapped into the situation that I felt discouraged by somebody else’s feed. It was so perfect. They seemed so successful. What am I to want to make it in this tiny little world. Even when I was conscious about the people I followed and careful of who i wanted to see I stumbled over seemingly successful people over and over again. Leading their perfect lives with their perfect work.

Again this is not new. Humans have a tendency to always feel jealous of people who are seemingly better or further. But we never before were confronted with this feeling daily! Only on the occasional moment when we walked into a gallery, picked up a magazine, or ran into that friend from school who already runs a 7 digit company.

It feels like Social Media, specifically, Instagram is creating a world that can be on one hand amazing to promote work and build a community, but on the other hand counterproductive to creative development. Making it harder and harder to feel inspired and actually created meaningful art, instead of only feeding the algorithm.

If you are interested in more behind the scenes content by Andrea Forgacs visit her Patreon page where she talks about her creative business in a weekly podcast available nowhere else on the internet.