Week 5 thoughts, Elizabeth Challinor

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It’s week 5, and we’re either talking about social media (as a continuation of last week), or sticking to the timetable and talking about studios. (But then we did that last week, so I really don’t know where we’re at. This is why it’s important to stick to timetables.)

It feels like there’s so many avenues to think (or complain) about when it comes to using social media as an artist, and how the platform is used. I think it’s useful in the way you can literally have an easily accessible way of portfolioing your work and being able to engage & support with other artists and ~creatives~ (I’ve used this word a lot and I don’t actually like it), but then I think there’s so many speed bumps (find better word) you hit when using it, that I think affect people who aren’t even use it for promoting creative work even face. The continuous rise of social media and this sort of like birth of influencer and “social media celeb” culture were experiencing now has made it seem like social media is mainly just a tool for advertising and promoting your brand, rather than actual SOCIAL media used for actual social interaction, where you chat with your pals and post pictures of your shit dinners for everyone to judge. (Shameless self promotion, but check out @shitplatesoffood where I occasionally/very sporadically post unflattering pictures of cheese on toast and spag bol and sometimes nice meals in restaurants/takeaways)

I think social media, especially insta, has drilled it into all of us that we constantly need to be seen as being “professional”, constantly working and sharing, constantly being seen. Artwork is reduced into ~content~ and we’re expecting to be sharing new things at least every other day, and to constantly be seen like we’re doing something, to be visibly busy. This sorta feeds into what I was exploring the other week (maybe week 2?), like the pressures of labelling yourself of an artist and the expectations that come along with it, and social media really increases and intensifies this. Like you’ll fall off the radar and won’t be eligible to “make it” as an artist. But obviously Rome wasn’t built in a day (so cheesy, maybe take this out?) and work does take time to make, and it’s completely unrealistic to be able to churn out new work every day just to feed the algorithms. Especially recently how insta seems to have changed so much with the introduction of that new algorithm thing, which seems like it’s more catered for content creators and social media influencers, who are posting new ads and partnerships every single day. It’s been made so that you have to post continuously and interact excessively with EVERYTHING you scroll past (interaction isn’t a bad thing, but the fact that we have to practically beg for it just to have work seen by our peers is ridiculous), and the whole thing just seems like it’s a lot more work now. It’s a completely unrealistic method of sharing work as an artist, when we’re not even being shown half of the work by people we follow just because they aren’t finishing or posting work as often. But obviously we don’t just make work for it to go on insta, and not getting a lot of likes or engagement isn’t the end of the world, but having to put in a conscious effort to be able to see pictures from our friends & artists instead of whatever new lippy Kim Kardashian is selling is just TIRING. I can’t really remember where I was going with this paragraph (I got distracted by Baywatch), but although I do quite enjoy following Kim K on insta, I’m sick of seeing posts circulating from the same 10(ish) accounts every day instead of looking at my favourite artists and whatever my mates are having for tea. 

It’s just so weird how ingrained it is in all of us now to actually care about all this stuff. Like it’s become an integral part of life, in the same way you phone your mum to ask what you’re having for tea or record a programme on the telly. 

Another thing that really sort of gets to me is the way you’ve always got to be like on top of your game. You’ve got to have a brand/identity/personality that more than often seems to revolve around your career or interests. Like speciality pages. We all used to joke about people who make Facebook profiles for their dogs when essentially that’s what everything seems to have evolved into. If we’re artists, we have to put that title in our bios, only post about our art and interests, show no glimpse into our own personal lives for the fear that we’ll come across as being unprofessional. It’s kinda like the way white cube galleries were formed, when everything was white and empty to act as a void, to block all distractions of the outside away from the art, so that’s all that we could see and focus solely on. Your career ends up becoming your whole digital persona, but it’s kinda weird cos you wouldn’t really do that for most other jobs? Like I worked in a bar, but I wouldn’t stick that in my bio and post pictures of the really shit cocktails and coffees I make? Obviously if we’re using social media as a digital portfolio then it sort of makes sense to me (when that’s basically all social media is nowadays) but it feels like you can’t post a trashy night out pic without feeling guilty that it might make you lose your professional “serious artist” badge. 

I think this is why people tend to have separate accounts for their work. Business and pleasure, professional and personal kinda thing. I understand why people do this, it gives you a bit more of a direct focus with your audience, but like for me it just seems a bit like too separate maybe? Like a bit robotic? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, and there is a lot of benefits to having a separate account for your work, but I think for me it just seems like it’s taking a bit of personality outside of it. Like (cheesy again) there’s more to life than working, but it just seems weird to me that it feels like you can’t share details of your personal life just because we’ve decided to try and work in the creative industry? From times when I’ve spoken about this with other people, I always seem to get the whole “oh but not everyone who follows me is interested in the working make etc” response, and obviously you get a more tailored following from having a separate art account, but I think you lose the individuality and personality. Like it makes it feel more like there’s a real person behind the work, if that makes sense? I think it helps to form a connection, and you’re able to see what artists actually do with their lives outside of being an artist. If you make a lot of work too, I think then it makes sense to have separate accounts, but I’m thinking of this purely from my own perspective. I hardly make work, so it makes sense for me to have one sole account, where I can post pictures of work I make but then also pictures with my friends and scenic dog walks. But then I’m all for complete explicitness in the arts. Knowing what goes on behind the scenes. I spend all time exploring the behind the scenes of artists work, getting to know the ins and outs of their practises and techniques, and I (personally) think that’s important as an actual artist as well, being able to show what your like as a person and give an insight into the experiences that help to shape your ideas and work. But then (repeating myself) it makes you feel unprofessional if you’re sharing lil bits about your life, but there’s no reason for it to. 

(Can’t really remember where I was going with this, need to finish/rewrite it soon)

How do people manage to write fluently? I really don’t get it. 


It’s Wednesday now, and we’ve just finished recording our podcast, where we spoke about social media again. About like Instagram as an actual gallery space, the value of social media networks, and not over sharing things. It’ll probably be out soon so you can listen to it then. It really made me reevaluate some of the things I’ve thought (or been thinking of) regarding using social media as an artist/as a creative tool, but I still think the whole thing just stresses me out. I think it’s one of those topics where you’ll just go round and round in circles, just constantly chasing your tail and not really getting anywhere or coming to any conclusions. 

I was gonna edit through all this text today, but I’ve only had like 3hrs sleep and my head’s just proper mush, so I’ll probably do it in a couple of days.

Also I’ve been (regrettably very slowly) typing up an interview I did last week with one of the IB21 artists, and you know when you listen back to your own voice properly and have a full on existential crisis? I keep putting off doing it cos I literally can’t bear(bare?) listening to myself. 

This is how I feel right now: (but without all the privilege)