The Epic Battle Between Clout and Merit Rages On

Updated: Apr 20

In the current world of social media success, there is a quiet battle stirring up between those who are good and those who appear to be good. Between the image of being good and truly successful product. Sometimes the two overlap, but it is honestly rare. It is odd to me the accounts of artists on instagram that have gained an insane following and the ones that can seem to get more than 50 likes. Recently I have been trying to decipher the actions taken by said accounts that make people want to engage. While an interesting phenomenon and one that I don't believe will last, I figure it is worth diving into and seeing what we can learn.

For now I would like to stick to instagram; as it seems the most relevant and profitable at this point in time. The career of influencing is indeed an interesting one. One that is becoming the greatest marketing tool around. Dictating trends as well as steering the interest of mass audiences. Even though influencers are paid to promote products to their audiences it is usually the case that the product has merit. It is a new solution to a problem, a cool trend in fashion, quality product that the audience needs to know about. This is a commendable skill and one that all people selling thing should be envious of. However, there is a strange translation to the art community. Most artists with large followings on instagram don't off the best work. The quality is not there. Rather it is the artists account that has the value. There art seems to become a sort of souvenir or merchandise for the f-list celebrity the person has become. Take for example large accounts: @shelbyandsandy & @the_kaplan_twins





I am just realizing now that the both accounts are for sibling artists who make work together. And it is hitting me that, this may be part of the interest. The Kaplan Twins, as well as Shelby and Sandy are in no way lacking talent. Nor do I want to come across believing that they do not deserve the success that they have had. However, it is undeniable that there are countless artist, serving a better product; more merit-able work. These artist receive tons of support from other celebrities allowing them to sell work for large sums of money. I can't help but wonder if their work sells because it is great or simply because of their celebrity status and following. There are people that I know and I am sure you do to that couldn't tell you who painted the Sistine Chapel, but they liked The Kaplan Twins last post.


Across the battlefield there is a painter, whom I am sure most of you reading this will know, by the name of Vincent Desiderio.


Now I don't think anyone in there right mind would make the claim that either of the two listed above are even in the same stratosphere ability wise as Desiderio. I honestly believe they would even agree to that. I also would not like to present the notion that Desiderio is by any means unsuccessful. But why is he not a house(phone)hold name the way that Shelby and Sandy or the Kaplan Twins are. Maybe Desiderio doesn't need or want to be instagram famous, but he honestly should be without trying. So what is the obsession. Is it the Kaplan Twins beauty; Shelby and Sandy's humor. Maybe on the surface. But I believe there is a genuineness to their accounts. A transparency to their process of making. An accessibility to their work that makes audiences feel more comfortable. More willing to learn to love art. Of course their is no right way to go about your career but there is something to be learned from either side. On one hand true merit, a result of hard work and talent, doesn't need the fluff; the celebrity to be successful. While on the other hand work that still has some merit but to a lesser degree can thrive off of an artists ability to get it out there. You can build an entire audience of supporters simply from you. Your work becomes an extension of you account.


This article comes as the world of online presence is constantly evolving. There is no way to tell the direction it will go next and I certainly don't have the answers. But as artist we should always be looking to those who are successful and studying why they are.