When I was younger, I viewed art as something exclusive. In my mind there was a very clear difference between art in a museum and everything else. Art, to me, was something prestigious that only few people had the talent for.
Whilst I’ve grown to realise that there’s art all around us, there are still so many hidden creatives who hold their work up to the gallery pedestal. So many budding artist who see artwork in an exhibit as superior to their own.
Seeing the exclusive ‘influencer only’ art installation in LA piqued my interest this week. It's a mural which isn't open to the public. Only social media users with over 20K or a verified tick on Twitter can view the mural and take a photo. It's guarded by tight security so there's no chance of anyone slipping through.
Whilst it might not be a stuffy gallery or highly-curated museum, it still has an air of exclusivity. That’s what makes this work of art so thought provoking. Let me explain…
Who influences the art world in 2018?
Latest UK figures now show that the number of people visiting galleries and museums has declined for the first time in years. Overall, during 2015/2016 there was a 1.4 million decrease in footfall across UK museums.
It raises the question, do we still see the wonder in the more exclusive side of the art world?
I’d argue yes, but that the influence is shifting…
Whilst art councils, gallery owners and museum curators still have a grasp on the industry, a new community of less conventional influencers have made themselves known in the art world.
Enter stage – the social media superstars.
Love them or loathe them, social media influencers have truly made networking platforms their own. I have to be honest and say I’m bias as a blogger and I don’t think the influencer industry is necessarily a bad thing. Sure, it should be regulated in the same way as the advertising world, but on the whole seeing more and more people getting into creative content online isn’t such a bad thing.
That said, creatives, brands and artists alike are looking at these new influencers to collaborate with in a bid to push their work. Secondly, consumers are looking at these influencers for ‘the next big thing’. Thirdly, new artists aren’t just aspiring to get their work into exhibitions, they’re aspiring to be part of the social influencer community too.
So what’s the big deal about the influencer only mural?
At first glance it’s easy to say ‘Oh God, how pretentious’ but what if this piece was social commentary on our idea of exclusivity?
These days people become enraged by influencers under the belief they get freebies, money and success by doing the bare minimum. So to give them exclusive access to street art – one of the most free forms of art – it’s provocative and it’s sure going to turn heads.
But the question the mural poses to me is – how is this any different to museums and art galleries? There are still so many incredible artists who will never be considered ‘good enough’ to be featured in a gallery or museum. There’s still an air of exclusivity in the art world, one that stunts growth and holds people back.
Not just this, but it taps into an artist’s fear of being considered irrelevant. Many of the artists we work with are rather shy in their approach. They don’t like putting themselves out there and would rather let their work do the talking. However, social media has created a middle ground for them to show a little more of themselves whilst still having the comfort of hiding behind the screen. Despite this, there will always be the niggling voice of self-doubt telling them they’re irrelevant if they don’t have a certain amount of followers.
What does the influencer only mural achieve?
I’m willing to bet that most people will see this and simply roll their eyes. Nobody has claimed the mural but it does as people to tag the @LikeandSub twitter account, which has tweeted three times and doesn’t link to a company yet. At first, many people assumed the piece was linked to the LikeandSub podcast. As such, they’ve had to release a statement saying it isn’t them, but I’m sure they’ve received a lot of attention off the back of it!
Maybe the piece is social commentary, or maybe it’s marketing. I guess when it comes to the world of influencing that really is the big question, isn’t it?
Is this real or is it an ad?
I’ll let you be the one to decide that.