The sirens call of Instagram; jam wax in your ears and tie me to the mast

My cynical soul berates & flagellates my cheesy sweettooth for instagram, God I love Instagram, it’s so good, the little hearts and followers smack is soo good.  The squirty little dopamine dispensers in my brain go off like bottle rockets all day long, the phone buzzes, the phone buzzes.

In 2008 I met facebook and caught up with highschool sweethearts, which also made the dopamine dispensers squirt.

In 1998 the internet became a thing while I sat in my room in San Francisco staring into a gigantic monitor, dopamine squirting.

In 1455 the first Bible came off the Gutenberg press in English, squirt squirt.  

So I’ve been watching Youtube ‘Gain 50,000 followers in 48 hours!” -type videos while drawing all day, and I have failed to gain 50,000 followers in 48 hours.  I got about 1500 followers in two weeks, mostly by using 3rd party apps to follow/unfollow, which I’ve since learned is cheating, and then I got to learn all about being ghost banned.  Turns out it’s not a big deal.

Those videos all scream VIDEO MAKE VIDEO FOR GOD’S SAKE MAKE VIDEOS and here I am writing a longhand blog like it’s 1998.  Thank you, 22 people who are reading this, I love each and every one of you exclusively. I am not charismatic enough to make videos and I can’t afford to pay a young hot person, and I’m pretty sure creating video is a rabbit hole that will spiral into me buying better cameras & microphones and putting a cajillion hours into learning Adobe Premiere Pro and video editing and I don’t want to do it.

It’s always fascinating to me how many side skills you pick up to support art.  I think if I had just drawn pictures and sold the originals I would have gotten exactly as far as I have by building a screenprinting shop, online presence, networking group, joining NHAA, framing and all other whatnot and whathaveyou.

Feeling a little guilty about the follow/unfollow thing I got an Instagram follower cleaner app and stopped following like 1300 people, so I and did an organic, honest job of clicking likes, commenting, DMing, and generally being good, which is what you are supposed to do.

So THAT didn’t work and I went back to the follow/unfollow thing going because I am apparently a big ‘ol cheater.

The worst thing about that is I really love a bunch of artists on Instagram, and there are a lot of artists on Instagram!  I’d like my feed to be super clean… but follow/unfollow leaves me with a hundred soccer mom LOOK AT THIS SOUP kind of posts.  See how I suffer? What a martyr I am.

God I love the artists:  For every one practical boring fellow like me there are thirty excellent drawists who could care less about selling anything:  Monsters, robots, fantasy characters, doodles, all kinds of impractical, creative things with no regard for clientele. They get those awesome little Instagram hearts by the hundreds, mine too!  But I can’t do that, I’ve got to produce things that proletariat New Hampshire will buy or I’m going to end up working down at the hardware store with the other supercreative people. I feel terrible for artists who are forced into hourly work, and I’m often a half-second away from that, but I draw the dogs, draw the birds, do the t-shirt design and stay self-employed by the grace of god and the skin of my teeth.

My steady work is commision drawings, like $90 - $200, and if I wake up in the morning and lean into it all day I can get one finished. I have ten of those lined up now so need to stop advertising commissioned drawings and start pushing prints.

In theory, when you get a good stream of projects coming in you can raise your prices to push business away; I’ve done that with screenprinting prepress a couple times and it’s always an adventure.  You always think clients are going to bail and run away but they don’t and you are left thousand-mile-staring: ‘Could I have been charging that the whole time?” Finally, when I really wanted to get away from freelance screenprinting prepress I cranked my prices up to ludicrous levels.  The upshot was that I lost almost all my regular clients but the occasional project comes in, and that project is always super super hard. Like a screenprinter would get an insanely difficult project, look over the freelancers and deliberately choose the highest priced because he must be best, right?  So now I’m a Mr. Wolf, and every project is very hard. Interestingly that’s sort of okay with me, the challenge makes it not boring, and the money is good.

When there are a lot of drawings in the queue the intelligent thing is to raise prices… but what will absolutely happen is that I’ll get a much higher-paying commision and it will suddenly become much, much more interesting than any of the ten works that I currently need to get through, sure as God made little green apples.  And then I get to be a complete traitor to my current clients. So I’m doing the less intelligent but possibly more honorable thing and just not taking any more commissions for a while.

What I *really* need to do is start selling prints.  I’ve got piles and piles of prints in my basement in various stages of framing.  How the heck do you sell prints? Ugh, I’m off to figure that out. But step one has to be get a cajillion followers on Instagram.