What happened when 1000s of artists protested Instagram?
12 Questions with the creator of #sharingiscaringInstagram
In this interview, we spoke to beax_exe, a digital artist who organised a “raid” against Instagram to protest artists’ treatment on the platform. beax_exe speaks about why they organised the raid and how sharing on social media can be huge for small talented artists.
“The algorithm is throwing away most of us artists. It means no one can get any recognition, except if you have a big number next to your name” shared @beax_exe. If you are an artist you might recognise the feeling of struggling to get recognition for your work, but beax_exe decided to try and do something about it.
Beax_exe was the artist behind the Jan 7th “raid” on Instagram, protesting the way that the platform is treating artists. They are also responsible for creating the hashtag #sharingiscaringinstagram for the “raid”, which has now over 30,000 posts from artists around the world.
In our interview, Beax_exe talks about what motivated them to do something to challenge Instagram and why sharing is such an important tool for small talented artists to support one another.
What motivates you to share your artwork on social media?
The thing that motivates me to share is the overall response I get. It’s nice to be encouraged and to have nice comments about something that I created. Also, seeing how involved people are with my art is just super great. It just tells me that it’s worth putting my art out there and that I can make people happy.
Tell us about the event to make Instagram aware about artists concerns around sharing.
So, the event was initially a joke. I mean – I was going to do it but I just didn’t expect for so many people to take it so seriously. At the time, I had 1k followers and the algorithm was beating me up. My posts were doing horrible and my audience was dying, so in the context of that, I didn’t expect the idea and the post to get so popular. But it did, and so my idea was to gather everyone together, creators and not just artists, and “raid” Instagram as a protest.
[ Initially, beax_exe posted the idea of the raid on their Instagram feed which then went viral with over 80,000 likes. The post is now archived ]
We would be commenting our hashtag #sharingiscaringinstagram on Instagram’s recent post because they were taking away the share feature. I got a lot of hate for this post but an overwhelming amount of support and love for it too and a lot of people just had fun, so it was all good. We didn’t expect much change from it but we all came together, and that was the main idea. Also, we weren’t going to stay quiet about it anymore. Jan. 7th was gonna be our day to vent to Instagram. So we did.
View this post on Instagram
What motivated you to organise the event?
The thing that motivated me the most was the fact that everyone in the art community just kept staying silent. It just annoyed me that they kept taking about it and making posts about coping with it. So in my mind, I decided that instead of coping and dealing with it, we should try something new and just completely let our voices out. I knew that it wouldn’t do much, but being silent was so annoying so I figured that I had to be the one to do this because no one else would. So I did.
How did you spread the word about the event and get people involved?
So I made a post about it and like I said at the time, my audience was pretty much gone. So the only reason why it got so big was because everyone liked my idea and wanted to try it out. Everyone shared it non-stop, made countdowns on their stories, and just kept spreading word. It got so huge that artists with larger followings started to get in on it and started to share it. So it wasn’t really me that made the post blow up, it was the art community who did it and they did it because they liked the idea.
What impact did the event have?
So, I knew that Instagram wouldn’t care that much, and that they wouldn’t notice us, but this actually left us with a positive impact that no one expected. Because of the raid, we have a new hashtag #sharingiscaringinstagram and because of that hashtag, a lot of artists have grown a bunch. Small artists that went from 50 followers are now at 200, certain people’s posts have blown up. This caused a huge impact in the art community also by bringing us closer together. It’s amazing seeing the comment section on Instagram’s post because it’s just us talking about one thing. So the impact is amazing and I’m so glad.
As an artist, what are your frustrations with social media?
My biggest frustration right now is the algorithm. The algorithm favours certain people over others. Most of the huge artists with a huge following looks the same. A certain aesthetic with certain characters, and I just want to see something new. The algorithm is throwing away most of us artists. It means no one can get any recognition, except if you have a big number next to your name. Which is sad, because I know so many people that are so talented and deserve so much more but the algorithm is just messing up their chances.
In fact, the algorithm doesn’t even favour artists, I feel that it favours celebrities much more than actual creators who are wanting to share their talent. Even on Instagram’s page, it’s all the same thing. You don’t see many small artists or anything.
Why is sharing so important for artists?
Sharing is important for many reasons. One reason is, of course, you can showcase your favourite artists and give them some attention. But sharing is also very motivating and shows that someone cares about your art enough to show others outside of your own following. Also, in a case where someone drew something for you, of course you want to show everyone, and even save it to your highlights. It’s just super special and sharing is the whole point of Instagram honestly.
If you could change one thing about social media, what would it be?
I would change the algorithm. The algorithm is sad and like I’ve said many times. Hey, I’m down to be the new CEO of Instagram. Lets kick the Zuc out pfffft.
As an artist what would you want from a social platform?
What I want from a social platform is equal opportunity. Knowing that I have the same chance as someone else. Instagram just simply doesn’t have that, and it’s extremely disappointing.
For a new artist who has just started sharing their work on social media and is looking for exposure, what are some of the most important things that they should consider?
The very very most important thing about just starting is to make sure you love what you’re doing. Honestly, it’s just social media, but I understand wanting a bigger audience, but before you worry about that, just make sure that the art you make is art that you love. That you love it before you put it out there for others to love it. Because if you learn to love it first, then the number of likes and comments would be irrelevant because you would know that it’s beautiful and you don’t need that validation. And once you do that, my next advice would be to just wait it out. It takes time!! Just keep talking to other people and start to slowly build your account up! Use tags and ask your followers to support you by sharing and getting your name out there.
View this post on Instagram
Who are your favourite artists online?
OH MY! I have so many. All of them are also my close friends too.
There are others too but these are my main ones
Tell us about an exciting current project and where people can find you.
Being honest here, I’m not working on much. I guess the next best thing would be to just follow my posts on Instagram because I’m currently making a story with my characters and I’m posting about it a lot. I make animations, comics, and drawings about them.
I’m going to make an actual comic one day but I don’t know, we’ll see. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll do another raid, but we’ll do something more impactful. You can find all of these things on my account at @beax_exe.
Thank you to @beax_exe for doing this interview. You can find them and check out their artwork on Instagram.