This week's subject is more personal, but it's been in my head for some time already. With the growing numbers of people using social media it's a perfect time to talk about it. I've noticed that most graphic designers use Instagram as the main platform to promote their work. I've been using this app myself for God knows how long. I can only guess it must have been around 2014 that I started posting on Instagram. I was sharing only personal photos at that time. What's changed since then? What do I think about Instagram? Do graphic designers need an Instagram account? In this post, I dive deep into the graphic designer's relationship with platform answering those questions among many others.
My Instagram switch from personal to business
My current oldest post dates back to early 2017. As I mentioned before when I started using the app I was posting personal photos from my trips, food and you know.. all the usual stuff you'd see on Instagram back then. It was around 2016/2017 that I got fired up with graphic design and discovered all these amazing designers through Instagram. I went with the flow and started sharing some of my finished designs, snaps taken while working on a project and sketches. It shifted in the direction that it was less about me, and more about my work. The platform was growing and people just had a good time using it, connecting with others, getting noticed and I guess not being overwhelmed too much with it.
Recently I had some deep thoughts about Instagram. Where is it going? Do I still enjoy it? And is it worth it? I doubt two individuals will always agree on everything and have the same approach to Instagram, and your experience might be different than mine and that's fine. Here I'm just sharing my thoughts, worries, and opinions. Perhaps you might find it useful and it might spark a moment of reflection, which is always a good thing.
What's bothering me about Instagram?
In my eyes, a lot changed. I find Instagram most of the time very disturbing and overwhelming. I'm not a big fan of an Instagram algorithm. Sometimes I feel like I'm missing other people's posts - which I'd love to see. I know it for a fact that people who have been following me didn't see my posts too. It's like playing hide and seek. Instagram Algorithm likes regular posting and if you don't do it you simply disappear from other's people radar. As a graphic designer who works a full-time job, it's difficult to post consistently new work on Instagram at at times it feels like that's what the app makes you to do - constantly share.
I've seen this trend with other graphic designers on Instagram that they would create content just for Instagram. While I'm all in for practicing the craft and setting yourself a different challenge to experiment with style and build a portfolio, I'm also against making something really quick just for the sake of posting on Instagram. Good design is an outcome of trials and errors - seeing what works and what doesn't. Design doesn't happen in a vacuum. Research, prototyping, outsourcing materials, etc. all that takes time, and is time well spent to prepare for the success of the project - but we don't see that on Instagram. Another trend on Instagram is "poster a day" - it's basically to design one poster a day and post it to Instagram. While it's good for beginners or people who just want to have fun, it comes with plenty of downsides. For starters, the challenges lack a brief. What is this piece of design supposed to be doing? What does it communicate? What problem is it solving? Who is it for? And quite important, even for beginners - will you put it in a portfolio? What can you say about this project? I've seen young designers having a portfolio full of posters and logos. Don't get me wrong - I used to be one of them. Apart from aesthetics, those types of projects are far from graphic design. It's good to practice and everyone has to start somewhere but equally, it's important to be aware of what's the benefit of working on those types of projects. Don't design just for the look.
We only show our best self on Instagram. No matter if you have a personal or business account you won't see people talking about what went wrong. Everyone has a perfect life, every graphic designer is busy and booked. This is far from the truth. I think the busiest design agencies rarely post on Instagram because they don't have to - they have clients and projects to work on. Designers suffer from mental health way more than people in any other industry. I've come across a few Designers / Artists on Instagram who show the real struggle and I honestly think we need more people that are transparent and honest.
Where are the benefits of using Instagram?
Right, right. As with everything, there are two sides to every story. Instagram is a great space to share your work. It's free and easy to use. Once you get how it works you can build an audience and great following which might be beneficial in many ways: new project leads, more sales, being invited to design conferences, etc. the list goes on.
It's through Instagram that I discovered some great accounts and more importantly people behind them. I've learned about some events and talks which I wouldn't know about otherwise. Though I complained a lot about the challenges I have one I'd take part in 2020. That is 36 days of type. I love typography and this could be a great project to play with and create something for fun, get involved with this project and community and enjoy the process. I'll try to create a consistent collection of letterforms where I can develop a new skill/experiment with new tools.
Not that long ago Instagram introduced the function to save a post. I love it. I don't have to take screenshots to save a post I like. I can just save it and go back to it any time I want. It's kind of like a Pinterest but within Instagram. Instagram - you've got a plus from me for that!