With Instagram we became able to reach out to vast international audiences with just a few clicks of buttons on our smartphones – this has almost replaced the traditional way of how art dealers used to approach galleries and how art was sold and showcased just a decade ago. Online self-representation/promotion has become a new trend amongst emerging artists and it has profoundly changed the way art businesses and galleries work now. 

Hugely popular instagram account @ratedmodernart has become one of the top ‘Instagram galleries’ and has provided exposure for a vast number of artists who are proactive in self-promotion.

We’ve met up with the curators of @ratedmodernart, to discuss how and when social media exploded into the art world and became one of the key online platforms for artists, collectors, galleries and all creatives. What’s good and bad about it, what are the prospects…?

AMM: Could you please tell us about the time you first started the venture with the RatedModernArt Instagram account. How difficult was it to build an audience and grow it to such a highly popular art account?

RMA: @RatedModernArt (RMA) was created June, 2015. We were inspired by Art Basel, an annual art event. We started out posting a lot of images from the show and used the #artbasel hashtag which created a lot of traffic on our page right away. About a month later, other art sharing pages on Instagram contacted us and we started cross promoting with them which helped us grow quickly.

AMM: How has RatedModernArt changed if at all from its start to now – have you found your role changing as your reach has increased? 

RMA: Our focus has always been the same, which is to connect people with art. The form of this can vary between pushing the fascination that art inspires, to placing an artist’s painting in the home of a collector. With the growth in our audience and a very focused page that has garnered interest from many well-known players in the art space, things have become easier, as momentum and recognition are powerful forces.

AMM: Instagram launched in 2010, and in only 7 years this platform has become the key social media above all others for many creatives – how early did you realize the opportunity of using Instagram as a tool for helping to promote the arts? 

RMA: When we first created the account, we didn’t realize Instagram had such a large role in connecting artists to galleries and art collectors. There weren’t many contemporary art sharing pages around back then—mostly lowbrow or kitsch — so we wanted to create a site that was geared towards higher end art. We realized the opportunity of using Instagram as a tool for helping to promote the arts after receiving positive feedback from artists we promoted telling us they received gallery representation and/or sold their artwork through us. Being featured on our page helped them develop relationships that might not otherwise have been possible.

AMM: Did you always believe that a social media tool such as Instagram could turn out to be so powerful in terms of bringing together artists, collectors, galleries and art platforms from all over the world?

RMA: Initially no, because the traditional way of looking at art in the past had been via art galleries and museums. Hundreds of millions of people are now using the app worldwide, and we have been able to subvert the art market with our Instagram page. We now think of our page as an international art gallery that is open for viewing 24/7.

In an average art gallery, the artwork gets viewed by hundreds of locals. On our page it gets viewed by nearly 600,000+ individuals worldwide! With just one click, any individual, no matter where they are, has direct access to the artwork we share.

AMM: The New York Times earlier this year wrote an article around how Instagram has become a “commercial game changer for the art market” – it’s hard to disagree, but how do you see Instagram as a platform in the next 5 or 10 years? The world is constantly evolving; will it be just as integral? 

RMA: Instagram can and likely will be part of the future. While virtual reality and other improvements are possible, the simplicity of Instagram in representing things visually and being able to share them so easily is what gives it legs. In the next 5 or 10 years, we predict that there will be more art purchases through social media than via traditional art galleries, auction houses, and art fairs. We are already seeing a very large percentage of artwork getting sold after promoting artists and galleries on our page.

AMM: We constantly talk about how useful Instagram is, but in your experience, what are the limitations (if any)?

RMA: There are minor technical limitations, such as the number of hashtags you can use, but we’ve recently seen a lot of improvements with the app itself, such as the new slideshow features and max video duration moving from 15 to 60 seconds. It helps to have these options when presenting certain artwork, such as adding detail shots.

AMM: How do you decide what to post? What does the process look like and how many submissions per day/week do you receive? 

RMA: We post contemporary artwork from both emerging and established artists from all over the world. We receive around 50 submissions daily, and of those about 5% fit within our spectrum of interest. Once we select an artist or art gallery to sponsor, we continue working with them. Due to the high number of submissions, we have a waiting list for new submissions.

AMM: Is there a particular style or theme of art that tends to get more ‘Instagram success’?

RMA: Overall, if you look at most art pages, “satisfying” posts such as cutting of kinetic sand, paint mixing videos, playing with slime, or pottery videos tend to attract a lot of attention. Our most popular videos, ones that have gone viral, fit into that category. They are very successful, and we like to add a little fun to our page at times, but for the most part, we like to stick to higher end art.

AMM: On Instagram everyone is equal, what are your thoughts on this?

RMA: Instagram mirrors life. You can gain followers through the same means a person might attract people — humor, beauty, insight, common interests, etc. And of course popularity breeds more popularity. So to answer your question, I think everyone is equal in the sense that there isn’t some artificial barrier, but some are more popular than others and there must be some reason for that.

AMM: RatedModernArt has a wide reach with a great audience including many prominent figures in art, who have been the most engaging? 

RMA: We have been very fortunate to work with a lot of big art collectors and celebrities (famous actors, professional athletes and musicians) who are all very engaging. It’s always exciting and rewarding when they contact us and inquire about artwork!

AMM: Could you share the most memorable experiences collaborating with artists/curators/collectors?

RMA: Ahh, there’s so many! A few months ago, we had the privilege of working with Klaus Biesenbach (director of MoMA PS1 & chief curator at large at The Museum of Modern Art, New York) who did a guest account takeover and curated our page for a day. And recently, we worked with Stafford Broumand (one of America’s top plastic surgeons and art collector) who did a guest account takeover. Both were fun experiences!

It’s incredible how Instagram has connected us with influential individuals in the art scene today. Last year, Brett Gorvy and art collectors Niels Kantor and Carole Server also did account takeovers on our page and provided different perspectives which was refreshing. It was also a pleasure working with Simon de Pury, Swiss art auctioneer and collector.

We’ve had many success stories with artists receiving gallery representation and memorable moments of artists who have connected with big celebrities after we’ve featured them.

AMM: What would be your best advice to all those who want to gain bigger recognition on social media account and use it as a business tool?

RMA: Focus and frequency. If you have a good eye for what others want to see and you are updating your page daily, you are bound to attract like-minded people. Also, investing in a good camera (or hiring a professional photographer) can make a big difference.

Interview by Olha Pryymak for ArtMaze Mag.