‘How many likes will I get this time?’ I would ask myself every time I post my drawing on Instagram. It has been about one year since I actively used Instagram as a platform to share my art. However, this question, which captured and stressed me out all along, never failed to make me feel uneasy about sharing my own drawings.
If you use any kind of SNS, you might easily relate to the experience of caring about the number of likes you get a little too much. As soon as I post a drawing, I would wait until small hearts pop up and make me feel satisfied and rewarded. But when the post got less likes than my expectation, I was irritated. I would think to myself, ‘Was it because my drawing did not look good enough?’ I was somehow equating the number of likes with the value of my work, and it was not long before I found myself comparing my work with others’.
There are numerous artists with varying popularity on Instagram. Some “big” artists have followers up to millions, while “small” ones have only several hundreds. Ever since I started using Instagram, I naturally followed and supported other artists. I have, and still do, genuinely admire their works and express my love for them. However, at the same time, I would look at the number of likes they get and compare it to mine. It all begins out of curiosity, but I would normally end up feeling inferior to them. Or even if I happen to be the one to get more likes, I would feel bad about myself for feeling somewhat superior. I believed the “number” was directly related to the worth of a drawing. So, whenever I came across simple sketches drawn by famous artists getting much more likes than my drawing that took a week to finish, I felt unfair.
The truth was that the number could never reasonably measure the worth of art. This is because the number of likes largely depends on how much exposure your posts receive. Even if you could paint like Rembrandt, you would only get few likes if your posts are not discovered by enough people. It all comes down to the fact that the prime key to a high level of recognition is to keep practicing and consistently posting. Impatiently comparing yourself to others will only make you feel jealous and insecure, like I did. The realization that I was being desperate for the validation that I don’t actually need made me think about the initial purpose of posting on Instagram. I wanted more people than the ones I see in my daily life to appreciate my art. The fact that more people, even just one or two, could see my art mattered more than becoming famous. So, why did I ever let the number of likes influence me so much? The real problem was within my attitude. By trying to measure everything with numbers, I overlooked the dearness of each of the likes that I receive, as well as the effort that famous artists put in their career in order to get the current amount of recognition.
It took me a while to finally realize that I was letting the number of likes irrationally determine the value of my drawing and the effort I put in it. In fact, the one that needed to give enough love and pride for my drawing was myself. Honestly speaking, I still care about likes and hope my drawings get more love and attention. However, my emotions no longer ride the rollercoaster led by the numbers. At last, I am ready to let my love for art become the fundamental motivation to practice drawing and share my work.