Ibland funderar jag ärligt på vad jag håller på med, i princip varje dag gör jag mina bilder och de senaste 6 åren (+). Jag har gjort stort och jag har gjort smått, i alla möjliga stilar och former. Jag har förbättrat mitt ritande och provat nya stilar och nya tekniker. Det har det varit på det viset sedan dess. Innan hade jag haft ett längre uppehåll då jag mest tecknade någon gång ibland när andan föll på.
Lyckan var stor och det blev en rejäl egoboost. Jag hade många följare och mina bilder spreds och delades. Det blev printar, tavlor, originalillustrationer, dekaler, kalendrar och mycket mer. Det här höll i sig i några år. Men sociala medier är sociala medier, först har vi algoritmerna på varje nätverk som ställer till det och där man riskerar att synas mindre eller försvinna helt om man inte passar algoritmernas ”krav”. Sedan funkar det så att användare mest trycker på gilla-knappen, skriver en glad kommentar och kanske delar ditt inlägg. Men från det att sedan gå till ett köp av en bild har visat sig vara svårt. För likes och delningar ger inte mycket på kontot och i längden ger osålda saker att självförtroendet kickar in lika hårt som en egoboost gör på ett positivt sätt.
Här är texten som Rob Turpin skrev i sin 16 tweets långa tråd.
A few of years ago, 99% of my commercial illustration work came through Instagram. I had 7k followers. I got book illustration work, t-shirts, concept design, plus the usual private commissions. Now, with over 53k followers there, I get almost nothing. Engagement, for me, is half what it was a couple of years ago. Likes and comments are way down, follower growth has slowed to a crawl. Being new to illustration (I’ve been drawing about six years, and only started to think I could make money from it three years ago) I naively thought that I could just rest on social media to get work.
If I’d got book deals via Instagram before, surely it would just carry on and I’d get more work. That hasn’t happened.Maybe that’s just the fault of the work. Perhaps I haven’t improved enough to appeal to more commercial clients, art directors and commissioning editors. But a large part of it, for me, is obviously that I can’t rely on social media to expose my work to an audience that will pay for it. Not in commercial terms anyway, and not in a way that will make me a living.
So I need to rethink. I need to get more serious about my work. I need a real website. I need to improve my art, my skills, my techniques. I need to appear professional if I want to be paid professionally.
All of this is obvious. If I hadn’t been suckered in to believing that social media could fulfil all those needs then Would have done it long ago. In my defence, it wasn’t until I got offers of work through Instagram that I thought I could earn money from my art.I’m not blaming social media for my failings by the way. I should have seen the exposure it gave me as a stepping stone, or a jumping off point, for beginning a career. I was lazy and thought I didn’t have to work at it, and the work would just come to me.So in a way, six years down the line from starting to draw again after a twenty year gap, and three years down the line from people paying me commercially to draw stuff, I feel like I need to start again. I need to look at the things I need as a professional illustrator. I need to look at how people view me online. I need to take a long look at the quality of my work. This comes at a time where my income is as low as it’s been for a decade. I’ve relied on freelance design and artworking over the last few years to supplement my illustration income. That completely dried up this year and left me with half the earnings of the year before.Somehow I need to balance reworking my illustration offering, and taking the time to work out what I want to do in that field, with searching for work in design or elsewhere to help pay the bills.
I know I’m not alone in that regard. I think I’ve been lucky in being able to work 50/50 on design and illustration over the last couple of years. The timing is a bitch though. Having to reset on one career – the one I really want, while searching for paying work is tough.
There’s no end revelation to this thread. I just wanted to put out there my thoughts. I know a lot of you share the same problems. I think even a lot of full time illustrators go through these issues from time to time. It certainly doesn’t help with the imposter syndrome. So I’ll crack on. I’m not going to stop drawing even if I have to get a full time job. Maybe it will have to take a backseat for a while, I don’t know. I spent twenty years inexplicably NOT drawing, I’m not going to let that happen again.