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Instagram Reels

I am not a content creator, I am an artist. Except that creating art and selling art are not the same and never have been. I’m not about to rehash the ways art was sold centuries ago or even decades ago because that’s easy enough to find on the net. (Try this article by Artsy.) What I am going to note is the way social media has changed the way art is sold and the way it’s perceived, and even created. Plus, I’m inconvenienced. That’s a tragedy.

Instagram started as a largely visual social media concept, inviting people to drop photos for the viewing pleasure of friends and family. It didn’t take long for industry to find it and exploit its power to grab people by the eye stalks and reach all the way down into their wallets. I’m not even mad about it, because that’s what we do, we buy and sell.

See this guy? Capitalism. FTW (???)

Enter artists looking for an audience. Not just to sell, either, because Instagram made an amazing gallery of sorts. Still media visual artists could invite the world to see what they were doing, whether they wanted to turn views into sales or just form an appreciation society. Fast forward, Tiktok became popular. Instagram had already been purchased by Facebook - or was that before Tiktok blew up? Doesn’t matter, because the result is Meta wants a nice, wet bite out of that pie. Now we have reels. Great. Don’t get me wrong, I like reels. I’m as susceptible as anyone to being sucked into a mini story. A fellow wood burn artist, HappyCamperKC on Instagram, makes amazing reels on Instagram. She’s very real (see what I did there) and funny to boot. What I don’t like is the way the algorithm has changed to favor the reel. If you’re a creator on Instagram and you’re not making reels, you're hardly being seen, even by followers you’ve already gained. Instagram has turned artists into content creators and some of us don’t like it one little bit. Why? Because we make pictures. Still pictures. And 3D things that don't move. Like this right here. See it just sitting there, not moving?

That’s what we signed up for <she whined>, not learning how to use iMovie, Splice and Dice and Vimeo Video Mojo Dojo whatever the f***.

Some artists are now tailoring at least some of their art to fit the format. That’s hardly new, but it is worth noting that it’s more common. Static art and moving pictures are vibing. That part’s not a bad thing, actually. It makes me think of that fun eighties movie, One Crazy Summer, which incorporated cartooning and live action. So, did Instagram and Tiktok really change anything, or are they just another step in a process begun long ago? The technology is widely available and cheap. You can make movies with the help of apps that cost under twenty dollars a month. But I digress, paragraphs ago.

I’m not bitter. I’m too small-time to be bitter. It’s not like I have this vast field of screaming fans who suddenly found themselves deprived of my charismatic presence. I’m annoyed because now I have to learn to use the new tools. I have to put up with the way a free service tries to multiply its earning capacity. I have to do things I didn’t expect. Yes, I’m going to make the occasional reel. I’m recalcitrant enough to insist most of my Instagram communications will remain traditional, but I’m also going to learn the new thing. It’ll keep my brain flexible and, after all, something got you here. Maybe it was a reel.

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