Jane Samuels is a UK artist and activist who has leveraged the accessibility and popularity of Instagram to promote her art globally. She has over 5,000 followers on Instagram and has been published in “The Instagram Book” and has been interviewed by publications such as Al Jezeera. Jane gave us a little insight into the Insta-world as well as her passion for human rights and activism.
How and when did you first get interested in and start using Instagram and Facebook to promote your art?
I started using Instagram about three years ago. It was by pure fluke: I downloaded some photography apps, not even realising one was a social network. It was Christmas, so I had time to play around with it and was hooked by the opportunity to share and view work. I briefly used facebook for art promotion but quickly realised it lacked the reach that Instagram can achieve: the fb algorithms mean you’re reaching such small numbers of your potential audience. These days I’m off facebook altogether, and still enjoying Instagram and Twitter.
What doors has your popularity on social media opened up for you?
Lots. In the past three years I’ve been involved in exhibitions, featured in blogs and discussed in academic papers. I’m currently in “The Instagram Book” published by Ammo, and have given interviews to Al Jezeera and various magazines. Much of my work is grounded in psychogeography and urban exploration/ walking practice, and I’ve been able to connect with a lot of similar practitioners too.
The Women Who Rock Social Media:Jane Samuels
Do you think there are opportunities that have found their way to you via social media that would not have otherwise?
I think without social media, opportunities would have been less global and harder to find. I’m lucky in that bloggers and writers pick up the work of previous writers, so if you’re mentioned once, it can snowball, and that can be picked up anywhere in the world. Everything really stemmed from one feature in creativebloq. That’s the beauty of online presence.
How do you think that the world of visual art and social media interact with your tutoring university students who have specific learning difficulties, physical disabilities and/or mental health issues?
They’re two very different world’s. My teaching life requires a different type of professionalism and thought. It takes place well away from social media and not very many of my students know about the other half of what I do. My artwork allows me the freedom to let go of all those boundaries and really explore. Both elements require creativity, a thick skin, wide research base and dedication, but offer me the opportunity to apply them in very different ways.
Your art and teaching both seem to be strongly influenced by a passion for human rights, how does this translate across other aspects of your life?
It runs through everything I do. My teaching work centers around everyone’s right to education, equality and respect. My artwork explores our freedoms and our place in the world. That goes way beyond human rights too. I’m a vegan, and I’ve been involved with UK animal rights for a long time. I did my arts degree and then my MA years ago, but its only now I’ve stepped back from campaigning that I’ve been able to concentrate more on my professional art practice. I still campaign, and currently I’m thinking about establishing art meets and walks for local elderly people who would like to socialise more (which takes me full circle I guess. Art, walking, human care).
If you could sky-write one message to the public, what would it say?
Oh, that’s a good one. Aspirational or campaigny? We might need a bigger sky! How about “Wait. Listen”. That sort of covers both.
Jane Samuels is currently living in Manchester and working as a professional artist, and a tutor in Manchester’s Universities. Her work is housed in several private collections, and she continues to exhibit across the UK.
Photo credit: Jane Samuels Twitter