When 25-year-old artist Viddhi Kantesaria began featuring her artwork on her instagram page @limitlessart_viddhi, little did she know that she will gain 95,500 followers in a span of two years. What started as a hobby has now grown into a professional account and her primary source of income. “Over the last two years, I have spent a lot of time to build my audience. Initially, I used to post every day, be active on stories but now the growth is organic,” says the artist adding that most clients approach her via her social media account.
With evolving digital space, the business of art is also in a state of flux and maintaining an Instagram account seems to be on the to-do list of many traditional and new age artists. From paintings to tutorials on art, Instagram has combined exhibitions and live demos into that small screen.
Gaining an audience is the first hurdle, but once that challenge is tackled, the platform is a great tool for artists looking to market themselves as well as their art.
Traditional watercolor artist Amit Kapoor feels that the digital platform has become an important tool for the community. “If we want to communicate with other artists or if they want to know our future plans, then we can post on these platforms. I don’t pay much attention to what’s going on, I just post my artwork,” says the artist who has 13.9K followers on instagram. Amit, who is the country head of International Watercolor Society, is also involved with a lot of workshops and events and feels Instagram provides a good marketing space. He says, “I use Instagram for marketing and promoting my workshops and exhibitions.” The artist started using Instagram actively since last year and has dedicated followers for his artworks.
While there are multiple social media handles, most artists prefer Instagram for its clean and clear display. Contemporary artist Rohini Devasher who has been in the industry since 2004, joined Instagram three years ago as an alternative to Facebook. “Facebook was becoming very noisy and not particularly informative and I just thought it would be interesting to open an Instagram account. I opened the account long time ago but have been using it since October 2016. I enjoy it because it’s like a visual diary; it’s sort of a sketchbook in a sense. I also find it nice to be able to connect with people, it’s in a way a more intimate experience compared to Facebook,” says the artist who has close to 1500 followers on Instagram.
Not just artist, even exhibition centers now have an official Instagram page that connects with artists and audience alike. The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum’s official page often tags the artist and also interact with the audience, using polls and other features provided on Instagram stories. Puja Vaish, curator at the museum feels Instagram helps them to interact with the audience in a different way, she says, “It has helped us tell the behind-the-scenes stories or show interesting, in-depth images from the Museum's permanent collection and exhibitions in a more effective, visual way that appeals to a younger audience, both local and outside Mumbai.” It has also led to growth in their audience base, which would otherwise be stagnant with those visiting the museum. “Instagram has helped increase audience engagement and has given the opportunity to virtually engage with those who are unable to visit the place,” says assistant curator Ruta Waghmare.
Despite the huge number of followers Amit and Rohini confess not receiving any business from the social media site yet, but on the other hand, Viddhi’s business is flourishing. Says the young artist about the kind of work she gets, “Currently, I have one wedding invite commission; I also get queries for book illustrations. I get a lot more commission for exclusive works and usually get it from foreign countries such as the US and Singapore. My clients find me on Instagram.” Apart from commissioned artwork, Viddhi sells illustrated stationery on her website and also conducts Skillshare classes.
Amit, who has been in the industry for the last 22 years has seen a massive change in the industry with the arrival of Instagram. “In 1996-2000, there was no Facebook and Instagram and the connectivity between Indian and international artists was zero. Now anybody can watch, learn and interact through these platforms. The time has totally changed and Instagram has completely changed and brought the world together.”...