Cover Feature:

An interview with Instagram’s Eri Mishima

By Payal Khandelwal

As part of our cover feature that discusses the relationship of visual artists in Asia and Middle East with Instagram, we spoke to Eri Mishima, Instagram Community Manager of the APAC region. Eri talks to us about the value that visual arts add to Instagram, and how Instagram can truly enable arts in these particular regions. Read on:

How have visual artists of different kinds really added to Instagram as a platform – in making it an app which is much more than just photo-sharing? 

Much like art, Instagram is a vehicle for self-expression and a visual platform to share experience. Visual artists have certainly added to the vibrancy and richness of the platform by bringing their perspectives and narratives to people and also by contributing to ongoing conversations on important topics.

For example, Bengaluru-based artist Sonaksha Iyengar (@sonaksha) uses her art on Instagram to discuss mental health issues and to try to destigmatize the topic. Aniruddh Mehta (@thebigfatminimalist) – a visual artist based in Mumbai – combines visuals from his hometown with contemporary art styles on his Instagram to create visuals that are familiar, yet surreal.

old pic, new piece || close cutz

A post shared by Aniruddh Mehta (@thebigfatminimalist) on

How is the platform being constantly innovated/developed in ways that keep these artists in mind and how they use the platform – especially when they use it as a potential business platform? 

When designing new features – be it for brands, artists or everyday people – we are conscious that we are creating a platform where people can build relationships through shared experiences. The tools that we create are geared towards enabling everyone to share their stories in a way that is engaging, interactive and yet intuitive and simple to create and navigate. Some of these creative tools include multi-image posts, Boomerang and Hyperloop videos.

For artists that are looking to use the platform as a business channel, the visual nature of the platform is a perfect fit for reaching out to a wider audience. If fact, 60% of Instagrammers say that they learn about products and services on Instagram and 75% say that they take action after being inspired by an Instagram post—like visiting a website, searching, shopping or telling a friend.

Instagram is always looking for ways to help businesses meaningfully connect with people. We will continue to evolve Instagram Business profiles. For example, later this year we will roll out the ability to book a service with a business directly from their profile.

Earlier this year, we announced immersive, full screen ads coming to Instagram Stories. Ads in stories let businesses and artists use targeting and reach capabilities that make ads personally relevant to the people they want to reach.

In November last year, we began testing a new shopping experience in the U.S. that made it easier for people to find, evaluate and track relevant products on Instagram. Based on the encouraging early results, we’re rolling out these shopping features to businesses that sell apparel, jewellery or beauty products in the coming weeks. This feature is currently only available in the U.S. though.

Instagram not only works as a portfolio for many artists but also as a communication tool. Like there are these ‘Everyday’ accounts like Everyday Mumbai, Everyday Middle East, Everyday Afghanistan etc., which are Instagram enabled in every which way, and are showing a side of these places that was barely ever seen before. What do you think about this? 

As I said earlier, the goal of our platform is to empower people to connect through shared experiences, and it is extremely heartening to see previously undiscovered treasure being unearthed and showcased on Instagram. The most powerful aspect of this “movement” is that is being entirely driven by a passionate and engaged community – and we see our role as empowering and giving a voice to these communities.

Can you share some global examples of visual artists using Instagram to their maximum advantage? 

Established artists like Takashi Murakami (@takashipom) – a Japanese contemporary artist who works across painting, sculpture, fashion and animation – have used Instagram to reach out to a whole new audience. Takashi himself has even organised “InstaMeets” which are community driven gatherings for communities on Instagram. In 2015, he hosted one in New York at the Gagosian which attracted thousands of people. Most recently, he held an InstaMeet at Art Basel Hong Kong in March 2016.

For new artists, Instagram is also a way to garner greater exposure and connect with other artists. For example Jayde Fish (@mrsjaydefish) – an illustrator and designer based in San Francisco – caught the eye of Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci, who incorporated several of her drawings into prints for his collection for the label.  

Established artists like Takashi Murakami (@takashipom) – a Japanese contemporary artist who works across painting, sculpture, fashion and animation – have used Instagram to reach out to a whole new audience.

What are some of the advantages that Instagram offers to visual art practitioner vis-à-vis any other social media platform? And lastly, would you like to give any particular tips/advice to artists to use the platform?

Instagram has and will be a mobile first medium that provides a visually rich experience. This aligns perfectly with the strengths of a visual artist in how they deliver their narratives. In addition, it is a platform that enables both discovery of new content and a channel for ongoing engagement – allowing artists and communities to connect easier.

Artists can also really build value with simple, low-cost, non-traditional approaches. Some considerations they can keep in mind include:

1. Showcase your passion  – take people along your creative journey.

2. Explore different visual storytelling formats such as multi-post format or Instagram Stories. Video on Instagram is growing and presents new storytelling options.

3. Connect with your community. Engage through comments, positive conversation and collaborations.


You can read the rest of the issue two here.

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