Instagram for Artists: How GAP Mentee Anna Whitehouse has grown her audience using Instagram

It was my younger sister that piped up one day and said ‘I really think you should be using Instagram for your artwork’. First thought- oh gawd not another one!

I finally took the plunge in 2016 and the platform is now my primary means of communication with my audience.

I have steadily built up an interested following by posting images of finished work, work in progress, day to day studio processes, inspirational material, exhibiting my work at shows…etc, basically a diary of who I am as an artist and how I spent my days.

Because of this relaxed and friendly atmosphere, I find Instagram a great platform to reach out and connect with people, leading to collaborations, teaching, commissions, sales, exhibitions, learning and just some really interesting conversations!

Case study: 100 Bottles 100 Days

On 1st January 2018, I began a project to make 1 bottle a day for 100 days.

Anna Whitehouse's Day 1 Ceramic

The aim was to free up my making and explore ideas quickly, taking risks as there was always going to be another one tomorrow.

I posted the process on Instagram from day 1; sharing the project with my audience, creating an accessible record of the project, but also making me accountable as, once it was in the public arena, I couldn’t skip a day!

As the project progressed, I gained more followers. I would use hashtags each day to describe something about the piece I made e.g. #ceramicbottle #carvedclay # microscopic #100daychallenge #ernsthaeckel #coral #cells.

If anyone on Instagram searched for one of those words or phrases, they could come across my work and, if they liked what they saw, could follow my profile and follow the project.

At the end of the 100 days I had grown my audience on Instagram by approximately 3000 new followers. People were asking to see the work exhibited, requesting to buy, asking for tuition and wanting interviews. Instagram had allowed me to share my project every day and connect with people from around the world, starting conversations, friendships and working relationships.

Opportunities that came from recording my project on Instagram:

- International media coverage, including Colossal, The Plus Paper and My Modern Met

- First international sales

- First solo show

- Podcast interview on The Potters Cast

- Video interview for Inside Story

- Speaker and demonstrator for The Ceramics Congress

- Produced my first book and poster

- Workshops

- Ceramic tutors have set my project as a module on their courses.

- The project was used this summer by a visual arts administrator in Houston, Texas, leading 250 art teachers who were struggling to create distance learning content for their students.

- The bottles have inspired artworks, animations, videos, cake designs(!) and other 100 day projects, which the artists have shared with me.

Rendering Inspired by Anna's work by David Milk

I continue to use Instagram as a means of connection and communication of my art practice.

Current work centres around research on insect decline, with Instagram allowing me to connect with and then build working relationships with entomologists and artists who focus on issues of climate breakdown, developing my understanding and ideas as well as leading to collaborations and exhibition opportunities.

Ceramics and image by Anna Whitehouse

About Anna Whitehouse

Based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, Anna utilises scientific imagery and research to inform her sculptural work.

As well as producing studio pieces she also works to commission and on large scale public projects, in collaboration with institutions and venues.

Find Anna

Website

Instagram

Photo Credits

Top Image by David Lindsay.

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