#ArtvsArtist. Have you heard of this tag? If you haven’t its one of those “tag your it” type of games that are common on Instagram. This one asks you to show yourself with some of your favorite photos. It’s a chance for your followers to see the person behind the images.
For those of you who have been on IG for more than a few years, you know this is not the first time this tag (or something similar) has flowed through the toy photography community. In fact the energy and excitement that this tag elicits, at least for me, took me back to the early days of IG. In fact it was through a similar tag that I first meet Bricksailboat and Dinoczars. These are the first two people I met from in person that I had previously only known on Instagram. It was this meeting that eventually led to our annual toy photography meet-ups. So as you can see, I have a fondness for this type of tag. They can led to amazing places!
Fast forward five years and there’s a whole new group of toy photographers creating their #ArtvsArtist images. I’ve seen both new faces and familiar favorites. I’ve even discovered quite a few new accounts to follow.
Two comments I saw several times while enjoying the hashtag took me aback and I want to address them here. The first is the common refrain of “I’m not an artist”. The second is “I don’t see the point in doing this”.
I’m not an Artist
Lets tackle this first statement: I’m not an artist. I can understand why many people would shy away from this word. Such a simply word is weighed down by a whole lot of unnecessary baggage. Let me try to put it in perspective for you.
What is an artist? According to Wikipedia:
An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only.
Of course a definition like this brings up another tricky question: what is art? I’m not going to try to define art for you. People more qualified than I have been attempting to define art as long as I’ve been alive. Personally I like how the great conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp defined the word:
Art is all a matter of personality.
So if you’re a creating photos, which are a visual art, AND you define art at as matter of personality, then I think we can safely say that toy photography is art.
I don’t see the point
To me this is the most frustrating comment of all. What’s the point? It seems pretty self-evident to me that art isn’t made in a vacuum. Art is about engaging with the viewer. Creating successful art is also about creating a connection with the viewer. I want to see the person creating the work I look at everyday. From the enthusiastic reaction to this tag, I don’t think I’m alone.
One of the reasons I like to show my work at outdoor arts festivals and brick conventions is a chance to meet people. I enjoy stepping out from behind my work and connecting with people in a very direct way. There is little opportunity to do that on a social media platform. So a tag like #ArtvsArtist gives me a chance to see the people behind some of my favorite accounts. This simple ‘reveal’ brings us one step closer to a real connection. And dare I say a friendship?
What I learned
Looking though my feed and the tag in general I learned that a LOT of people identify as artists. Creative people as diverse as tattoo artists to cake decorators all self identify as artists. So if they can, so can you.
I’m gratified that see more women stepping into this hobby than I’ve seen in the past. When FourBricksTall finally showed us her lovely face, one commenter remarked “I thought you were a man”. This is a good reason not to make assumptions about the people you’re following. Or maybe that we need to do this more often.
Another discover I made was that James (Harri.Hawk) recently welcomed a new addition to his family. Congratulations James! I feel privileged that members of our community feel comfortable sharing a little bit of their personal lives. It is these moments that bring humanity to the impersonal nature of social media. As Instagram continues to mess with the platform to make money its nice to be reminded of what Instagram used to feel like, if only for a few minutes.
It was often just fun to see the faces behind some of your favorite accounts like Spidygoeshygge. You just never know who you’re going to meet when they pull back the curtain. I think that has been the aspect of this hashtag blitz: the reveal.
I really have enjoyed this tag an I appreciate everyone who took the time to play along. Many of your posts I will never see because of Instagram’s algorithm. Searching the tag is nearly useless for finding toy photographers since there are artists of all genres using it already. I even looked to see if you can search with multiple hash tags, but no luck.
For a moment it felt like the old Instagram. There was an energy and excitement to see who would reveal themselves next. SO why this energy has dissipated, it was certainly fun while it lasted.
While the energy didn’t last long I hope my fellow toy photographers learned to proudly identify themselves as artists. And while this hashtag madness may seem like another silly tag to join in on, it’s moments like this that can break through the anonymity of social media and bring us a step closer to real connection. And thats a good thing!
If you have not participated I encourage you to do so. If you think I missed your #ArtvsArtist post, please feel free to tag me. I enjoy seeing the happy artist surrounded by the work they’re most proud of.
You can keep the good vibes going by joining our G+ Community. Think of like the bar or clubhouse down the street where everyone knows your name.