Contributed by Angelina Tovar

Instagram provides a platform for students like Angelina Tovar to post art like this, showcasing her creativity and emotions throughout the world.

Michelle Arshad, Reporter

Social media is considered to be a generational marker of the 21st century.  Its platforms can advertise, advocate, spread movements and cultures from all around the world. One recent breakthrough in social media is Instagram accounts dedicated to art. Through this platform, budding artists are able to build portfolios, careers, and established profiles. In a world where careers based on art are stigmatized, many young people are using social media to kickstart their careers and redefine what it means to be an artist.

Artists, specifically on the photo-sharing app Instagram, set up pages showcasing their work and gain popularity from likes, shares, and comments. Gone are the days when exhibitions were the only way to have your art recognized–Instagram is an accessible way to share pieces globally, both for professional artists and amateurs. Once an artist establishes credibility and a fanbase, they are able to set up websites and accounts on sites such as Etsy or Red Bubble to start selling different prints, stickers, and merchandise featuring their art.

Emily Connell (@seasaltpretzels) is a junior at Seminole High School. In 2016, the talented Connell set up a small account on Instagram and since then has built a significant fan base by displaying her drawings and watercolor art. Recently, with her gain in popularity, Connell has switched to digital art in order to start producing stickers and prints to her fans on the popular small online business site, Etsy.

“Building my Instagram was the best decision I have made for my career as an amateur artist,” she said. “I have grown in popularity and even might start selling merchandise. While I’m not looking to pursue art professionally, it shows me that I could if I wanted to. It has also helped me to build my passion and assess my skills.”

Another junior also established an Instagram art account as a form of portfolio and for fun. Angelina Tovar (@torridatlantic) has aspirations to go to an art school and pursue her passion professionally. She has found that through her growing Instagram account, she is able to display art and gain popularity that could help her when applying for art school in the near future.

“Art is my passion. It’s what I want to do with my career, with my life. I’m even planning on going to a pretty high-class art school,” she said. “I was skeptical of the online pages at first, thinking that they would be useless and a painful waste of time. However, as I built my page and gave it some time, I found that I was getting valuable feedback, and I was able to connect with my audience really well. I think that’s the most beneficial thing for this whole situation.”

Living in a digital age where most people in the United States have a form of technology that allows them access to the Internet, marketing, branding, and building careers online are not only great tools, but necessary skills. Platforms such as Instagram and Etsy are helping young artists build successful careers and lives, beyond the scope of normal art shows and shops.

“Social Media is viewed as such a negative invention. In reality, it’s really great. It connects people around the world and allows us to experience cultures and places without having to pay expensive airfare. It helps individuals like me build careers and small online businesses. Social Media is a powerful tool,” said Connell.