'STUFF' Article

Thanks David James for the sweet writeup!

The artist finding fame and some fortune on Instagram




Meredith Marsone and her painting, 'The Lost Generation', at the Millennium Public Art Gallery.

So apparently Instagram is no longer just a forum for selfies and pets in holiday costumes.

As a viable marketing tool for getting some exposure while making money, Instagram is the real deal.

For artists, in particular, social media has also transformed the way their art is seen and bought. It's not just happening, it's already happened.



'The Delicacies of a Dream', as part of Meredith Marsone's 'Arbitrary Dreams' exhibition.

The measure of success is, without doubt, down to the artist's talent, and the quality of their output, but the reach and spread of an artist's influence can also be reflected in the number Instagram followers they accrue, and how attentive they are to their loyal fan base.

Indeed, international galleries take note of an artist's social media influence, and art brokers have started calling artist's when they have a strong social media following.

And such is the story of Marlborough artist Meredith Marsone. Her work is probably known more internationally than it is in New Zealand, and part of that global success has come about from her ability to reach and interact with a global fan base, or 'following', through her Instagram account.

And when her Instagram account reached the tens of thousands, international galleries came calling.

"Instagram needs to be looked at as exposure for artists," Marsone says. "You're not likely to sell your work directly through the app - I have done that, but you need a fairly big following for that to start working.

"Really, it's about showing what you do, how you do it, how committed you are, your process, your whole practice. That gains you a reputation over time. You can show exactly how committed you are to your practice.

"Someone can flip through your Instagram and say, 'Oh wow, they've been posting regularly for an entire year. This is their life. They're doing it for real'.

"It means that a gallery can start trusting an artist right off the bat. Before social media, there was no way a New York gallery would take a punt on a New Zealander who's on the other side of the world ... no idea about who they are, how they practice.

"They just won't bother, not when there are so many artists on their doorstep, but now they can see it, or right there on their phone or their computer."

Oh, by the way, Marsone is an incredibly talented, and self-taught, painter who has been making her mark on the art world through her ethereal depictions of realistic figures embedded in an abstract world of soft colour palettes.

There's an opaqueness, and misty overlay separating Marsone's faces from the viewer, which gives the effect of a subtle, eerie voyeurism. You feel like you are staring in on an undiscovered world, that is awfully familiar, and at times uncomfortable.

Marsone's work has gained plenty of international attention through Instagram, but this will be her first time showing in New Zealand in nearly three years.

"I travelled for my solo last year in LA and then the year before that my solo was in Sydney. Prior to that, I was only showing in New Zealand.

"Prior to the Instagram, very local. After Instagram, very international, so now I'm trying to bring it back home and show locally."

Marsone gave a floor talk on her new exhibit 'Arbitrary Dreams' at the Millennium Public Art Gallery earlier this month, but she is presenting a new talk on Sunday in which she will be discussing her own Instagram strategies for artists.

In the floor talk, 'Instagram for Artists Workshop', Marsone will be reflecting on her own experience using Instagram, while imparting some clever tips and tricks for using the tool for art marketing. 

Marsone admits that she stumbled across her own Instagram strategies through trial and error. But then, one day, her account just started "blowing up".

"Yeah, and that's just been an organic growth. People are a bit fascinated by the fact that I have more than 30,000 followers, and want to know how I did it. I thought, 'Well, I can share that. I don't mind doing that'."

And since Marsone made the move from Christchurch to Marlborough with her husband and family, she says she is looking forward to the opportunity to connect with other artists in her new community.

"There's a few secrets I'm perfectly happy to share with other artists, and I hope that they work for them as well."

The details

'Instagram for Artists Workshop' with Meredith Marsone

Millennium Public Art Gallery

Sunday, May 27, 10am – 11am

 - Stuff