Why I Stopped Posting My Art on Social Media
Updated: Sep 3
This post talks about taking a break from social media to focus on making art and self-care.
Taking a Break
It is not really a full stop but rather a pause and partly neglect in posting my art to the public. I also stopped blogging. Even in my private life, I have minimized any social activities. Basically I have reduced all social engagements, online or in person. In the past few months I have been fully preoccupied with book projects—a good problem to have, right? But I am also struggling with clinical depression. For someone who has been forced to premature menopause together with the inconsistent treatment for estrogen deficiency, severe mental illness is one of the serious diseases one might contract from mistreated menopausal symptoms. You will be surprised by how inefficient treatments are for such cases in this age of medical advancements. Calling out medical misogyny!
Anyway, in order to give 100% of my energy to the most important tasks in my life, I needed to eliminate some activities that do not serve me at that time such as regular posting on my social media accounts. Why? For starters, my social media account is not where my projects are coming from. I have to thank my wonderful Astound agents for that. Instagram and Facebook, for all intents and purposes, are ways to connect to people—my virtual community of artists and art enthusiasts. I can confirm that it was a good decision on my part to have neither Twitter nor TikTok accounts. In the beginning, it was crucial to show up everyday with new art or just by engaging to get the attention of prospect clients. It was also for fun. Nowadays you cannot be so naive to believe that one day you will be discovered on Instagram through a viral post although for some lucky artists, that was the case. Note: lucky. To get anyone’s attention is becoming extremely impossible. Besides, there are other venues to showcase your art like your website, as I have mentioned previously on my post about building your online presence.
In order to give 100% of my energy to the most important tasks in my life, I needed to eliminate some activities that do not serve me at that time such as regular posting on my social media accounts.
Moreover, these social media sites have become so congested and commercialized despite their user growth over the years, that it has lost its novelty and value for many newcomer or even professional artists. It has become even more difficult to grow a following. You need a new strategy to get your work out there. Constantly creating only for social media in the formats that they endorse is demanding too much from an artist, who should be focusing on the real work—making art that sells. In my case, my job is to make children’s books. In addition to that, since working with clients, I am legally bound to confidentiality with the work that I create until I get a green light from the publisher to promote the book. So no sharing of current work. Unless I am able to sneak in a few personal work, vague work in progress reels or even old artwork, I have no content to post. And that is okay.
Because I was such in a mental rut, I wanted to disappear. Instead I flew back home to the Philippines to be with my family after three years of lockdowns and relocations. I saw my aging but ever so jovial parents, celebrated with the rest of the family, finally met our newest member, my nephew who turned 1 year old, and spent time with my closest friends. But before I was able to rekindle lost connections, I had to endure a week of isolation due to Covid-19. Two days since my arrival I tested positive and showed all sorts of mild symptoms including the loss of smell. Perhaps it was my body telling me that I was in dire need of healing. For once in a long time I was a sick child again under my parents' care. It was a strange but sweet feeling.
Not to be outdone by my infirmity though, I had to carry on with my book project, which was due in two months. I have been suffering from brain fog and reduced concentration. This time however, I was completely focused and determined to do as much work as I could while I recuperate without the distractions of social engagements.
I pushed through my work even after the veil of sickness was lifted. It was not a vacation in paradise at all. There was no white sand beaching and not even nature walks. My attitude was "been there, done that". The real reason for going home was to bring my parents to Germany with me for their Eurotrip, a long time dream of mine. I was going to be their tour guide for several weeks, which I have planned to the dot to accommodate my work schedule. Even when we were on the road in Paris or Hamburg, every dull moment was maximized to move my book illustrations forward. Each day counted on my calendar and there was no space for Instagramming nor blogging. And that was okay.
Social Media Goals
What is the purpose of social media platforms? For me, Instagram is just one of the venues where I showcase my art. Anyone who is serious enough to work with me can review my website and Astound portfolio and contact me or my agents directly. I have never taken any collaboration inquiry on Instagram or Facebook seriously because most of the time those were simply fraudulent.
Lately, I have been deliberating how I use these social media platforms for my work. While many artists leverage the huge potential of such platforms to gain a following or at best clients, I use them mainly now as entertainment as well as an education and a way to connect to fellow artists especially kidlit illustrators. It can be awfully lonely in this artistic journey. That is why it is comforting to know that you can find creative kinship anywhere in the world. However, what I needed most at the moment is real connection with people who know me best.
Socmed is definitely a wonderful self-promotion tool particularly when I have new books coming out. Though I am not obligated to market my work, I make announcements anyway to help the book and because I am proud of what I have created. After all, it is made of my own blood, sweat and tears.
The last thing I want to be is not to be myself. For someone who has been advocating for "being you with a vengeance", it feels less authentic to promote an image of a successful artist or at the very least a confident one, when I have been lost for quite some time now within this debilitating disease. I cannot share to the world what I am not—a machine-like artist churning art 24/7 who has figured out everything about the industry.
While many artists leverage the huge potential of such platforms to gain a following or at best clients, I use them mainly now as entertainment as well as an education and a way to connect to fellow artists especially kidlit illustrators.
What I have realized from participating less in social media were these:
Nobody cares. I have no delusion that people are thinking about me or when I will drop my next art. So it is okay to disappear every now and then.
There are only a handful of people in your community who really appreciate or even advocate your art and those are the ones whom you should focus on engaging.
It is more conducive to concentrate on just one platform to avoid burnout or boredom.
It is a good idea to reevaluate your social media goals and what is its real role in your creative business.
Inactivity in your social media is not a big deal unless it is your main business platform. In any case you feel you are losing engagement, watch this if you need to revive your "dying" Instagram account. Note: Your Instagram will not die after a few weeks of inactivity.
Once I began posting or writing again, it was refreshing and liberating. Guess what? The people with whom I have been actively engaging since the beginning are still there. Because I took a break, somehow I have decluttered parts of my messy brain and have minimized the unnecessary pressure I have imposed on myself. There is more time and energy for life and work.
In spite of the challenges, I met my deadline. Now my art is in the hands of my clients and while waiting for their feedback I am jumping into my next book projects with fresh ideas and renewed strength to create.
Artists, when you are making art you don't have a partner or children. You don't have anything. You have you and the work and nothing in between. - Jerry Saltz, art critic