I think just about every active artist today will tell you that they are wearing at least one too many hats. After all, you’re not just an artist; you are a solo-entrepreneur, running a creative business. That’s pretty cool, generally speaking, because you get to be your own boss and earn a living doing this beautiful thing. But, there are so many additional aspects of running your own business, like bookkeeping, brand identity, website updates & maintenance, and the behemoth that is social media. I know I really struggle with finding some kind of balance between all these varied demanding tasks and having any kind of personal life. (In fact being self-employed & working from home is a magical blessing and a curse. Wherever you go, there’s your work.)
However, lately I have been reexamining how I think about social media. There’s been a lot of (understandable) angsty buzz about the shift from photo media to a marked preference for video content. I remember the day last year when Instagram quietly announced the platform shift away from photo sharing. There was a lot of panic. After all, it takes a lot of time, dedication & practice to refine your particular 2-d craft to a place you’re happy with. Then, add to that the effort it takes to find an audience… It’s a lot. And, I have been amongst the masses of artists who have, frankly, freaked the fuck out about needing to learn one more damn thing just to run my business so that at the end of the day I can make art. Plus, for some reason I can't really pinpoint, creating video content just pushes all my anxiety buttons. I think maybe it feels more revealing somehow? Exposing? Like I have less control? I'm not totally sure, but I guess that's the lynchpin with anxiety; logic doesn't often play a strong roll.
Lately, however, I’ve been realizing that video is just another tool in our toolbox for building community & creating art. Yes, it requires more time to learn, but so does any other medium you might pick up. If you just take a look at my collection of art supplies, it is clear I’ve been focusing on branching out & trying new things, and for me I think that learning how to make interesting Reels on Instagram, for instance, can be just as fun and creatively refreshing.
I know this feeling isn’t shared by everyone and I get that. For the moment, I’m excited by the possibilities that might be hidden for me in video media. And, on the days that I’m a little too tired or stretched thin to be excited by much, I’m still at least curious and I think curiosity is always a great place to start.
In the spirit of trying new things, I think the basic principles have to apply here too: don’t be too critical, follow your curiosity, lean into the parts you like and even when it’s a struggle, keep going (you know, trust the process). So, really anyone who has ever worked creatively will recognize all of this. Can you tell I’m really just giving myself one big pep talk?! Making video content is just like working in my sketchbook. Some pages aren’t going to be amazing but it’s all going to be in support of a practice that eventually gets somewhere good.
I’ve made a few reels in the past month, all as part of my January goals. And, I actually kind of like a couple of them!
Here’s a simple tutorial I found for editing Reels on iMovie, which gives you way more control than the instagram interface.
Looking forward, I’m hoping to post 1 reel each week. I might even take a skillshare class or 2 on creating video content for social media. Could be fun! Could be terrible. But maybe fun?
Seriously though, I do find using a more focused approach is the best way to get me to do something I’m anxious about or uncomfortable with. A structure of a class can be a great way to do that. There are also youtube videos & tutorials, as well as articles brainstorming different ideas and suggestions. All of these many resources can sometimes add up to a cacophony of noise, which only adds to the general anxiety of trying to get better at something new. So, my general approach when I’m feeling that this is to hone in on one resource and see it through from start to finish, ignoring all other research I’ve done or conflicting opinions.
What does this one resource have to offer? What can I take from this? How can I directly apply what they’re telling me in at least 1 concrete way? Only after I’ve actually done something based on that particular resource do I move on. If you tend to spiral out with so many ideas/options that you just end up doing nothing, this might be a good approach for you, too.
So, for instance this week I think I might take this tutorial as my primary resource.
I’ll focus on the advice Janet Chan is giving in her tutorial, as well as taking a look at her actual instagram feed. I’ll use all that information to help me come up with at least one reel, which I’ll shoot and edit from start to finish. Just like any art class you take or sketchbook work you might do, it’s not about mimicking but about seeing what you can learn from the practice. After seeking several more resources, and applying them yourself, you usually end up learning something about your own work and your own practice; it evolves.
Anyway, these studio vlogs will be kind of like a public journal for my creative business. I’ll be sharing thoughts and feelings about specifics, like creating instagram reels, as well as larger sweeping issues like how I’m crafting a more diversified income stream. I know that this process of writing out my thoughts and documenting my progress is helpful to me personally, and I’m hoping it might be helpful to someone else out there, too. Then again maybe this is just total hubris, but we can only start from what we know, right? ;)