Samantha Hoilett is a freelance content writer and strategist. She’s a specialist in value-packed writing for digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and lifestyle brands. Find her latest writing on Medium, say hi on LinkedIn, or visit her website at forwardthinkingcontent.com.
“Oh, that’s nice.” If you’re an amateur artist, you’ve probably heard this phrase before—and when you regularly share your art with friends and family, it can get exhausting to hear this canned response. No one is all that interested in your daily sketches, artistic process, or why you chose ink over watercolor. They also don’t understand why you’d practice drawing if you aren’t planning on using your skills professionally.
Although I drew often, I felt like I wasn’t receiving the support my hobby deserved. At times, I was worried I would stop drawing all together. Then I discovered Instagram’s art community—and decided to join it not as myself, but as an incognito artist. Here are the five ways my anonymous Instagram account improved my art:
I could experiment without explaining
When you share your art with friends and family, you’re getting the same perspective from the same people over and over. It can also be awkward when they ask you to explain a piece—Is that meant to be you? Why are there flowers coming out of her head? Does this mean something deeper?
Sharing my art online exposed it to people all over the world, with no explanation required. People take it at face value or provide interesting perspectives I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. For example, one commenter said one of my pieces reminded her of a Polish children’s story she read growing up.
My Instagram account has helped me see my art from fresh point-of-views and get excited to try new subjects. Sharing my art anonymously let me draw things that were deeply me, without feeling like I was exposing the inner workings of my mind to distant acquaintances.
I could start and stop projects
When you tell your friends and family about a creative project, it can feel like you owe them a regular update. The truth is, creative projects always take longer than people expect—and sometimes you realize the project you're working on isn't going in the right direction, or you get inspired halfway through your project to change directions and try something entirely new.
Explaining this to friends and family can make you feel like you failed or disappointed them, when in reality, it’s a healthy part of the creative process. For me, an anonymous art account felt like the perfect workaround. I could experiment with new things, start and stop new projects, and update my audience on my progress without feeling like I had had to provide a success story. It was incredibly freeing.
I could make as much art as I wanted
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” — Andy Warhol
As amateur artists, we know that creating a final product is a long process. It can feel obtrusive to regularly share messy, unfinished drafts to friends and family. Instead, we only share the final product and hope that the hard work that went into it is implied.
Like the Warhol quote suggests, it’s easy to wait around and see who loved it and who hated it. When you’re finally done, it’s tempting to squeeze out as much praise and recognition as you can before moving on to your next piece.
Sharing art anonymously on Instagram is a great reminder that it’s not your responsibility if people like your art. Your only responsibility is to never stop creating. You come to accept that not every piece is going to popular, and that not everything you share will be a masterpiece. This same process helps you come to appreciate that your creativity is an infinite resource, and you can always create something new.
I became a more confident artist
If nothing else, having a private Instagram account has helped me increase my confidence. With friends and family, no matter how much praise they give, there’s always a nagging feeling that their positive words and encouragement only come out of obligation.
Building a small following on Instagram has let me see that there are people out there who enjoy my art and find it worth sharing themselves—even if they know nothing about me. This gave me the extra confidence I needed to keep creating, experimenting, and practicing.
I found an artistic community
There are millions of people who are Instagram just for joining the art community. By joining this community anonymously, I was able to be honest and vulnerable about my art. I regularly commiserated with fellow artists about the struggles of different mediums, capturing certain emotions, dealing with plagiarism, and other challenges we faced. I got to show up as myself and connect with others who shared similar ambitions.
In addition, this community offers endless inspiration and support for your creative process. In my two years on the platform, I’ve never received a negative comment on my work. Monthly drawing challenges like Inktober keep you motivated and encouraged to keep drawing. Professional artists share their preferred materials, drawing process, and a range of other resources that can help you grow as a creative.
At some point, I believe I’ll be ready to share my account with friends and family. And thanks to Instagram, I feel like I’m a better artist for it.