A Social Study With Illustrator Bijou Karman
If you’re curious about how other artists and makers handle social media, the social study series highlights some of the best to get an inside look at how they do it.
Bijou Karman is an artist and illustrator based out of LA. Inspired by fashion, vintage imagery, strong women, plants, and a love of print and bright colors, Bijou’s work is eye-catching and just downright fun. Scrolling through her Instagram feed, you get a strong sense of her style, personality, and interests. Here she talks to us about how she promotes herself on the platform.
Your social media presence is solely on Instagram, which I’m assuming was an intentional move. We’re curious - why only Instagram and no other platforms? How important do you think it is for an artist to have a presence on Instagram?
Instagram is a great visual platform to be able to share what I’m working on and get feedback from people who are interested in my work. I don’t see other social media platforms being as influential or important for sharing work, and I prefer to spend as little time online as possible.
Speaking from my personal experience, it’s very helpful. Clients definitely see it as an asset. But I wouldn’t worry about it too much if I were new to illustration. It’s most important to make work, and there are many other ways of getting it out there.
How do you adapt when there’s a big change, like the move away from a chronological feed or the addition of Stories?
My usual response is to ignore it! I’m really not tech savvy. With Instagram stories, I resisted using them for a long time because I kind of thought they were dorky. Stories are now a nice way for me to share things that are in progress or aren’t as essential. As for the changes to the feed, I don’t know what I could do differently, so I just don’t worry about it.
Do you have more of a strategic or organic approach to posting?
A little of both. I consider it a part of my job now, to get my work out there. So I will sometimes map out what to post when. But it can be organic as well. If I feel like making a quick warm up drawing one day I’ll share that without much planning.
What, if anything, do you think about when creating a post? Can you give us a couple examples?
I try to think, will anyone care about this? Or I think whether I would be interested in what I’m posting if I were encountering it on my feed. I also ask myself, is this the best way to show this? I decide whether it is more visually appealing to for example, scan a drawing and post the cleaned up image, or take a picture of it in my sketchbook as I’m working on it. I try to mix it up to keep it interesting to people.
Have you struggled with keeping your name/credit attached to your work when it gets shared online?
Definitely yes! I know this is something a lot of artists on Instagram struggle with and it really bums me out. People post my work all the time without credit or use it in a way I wish they wouldn’t. Most often it is a brand using my artwork in a way that is promoting their product, when they never hired me or asked my permission to use it. I’m like, do they not understand that is what I get paid for?! Then I think some people really don’t understand it’s wrong, which is why it’s important for artists to share this kind of stuff. I have to ask accounts to take posts down a lot. I have also had followers send me goods that are being sold online using my artwork illegally. This is infuriating, but ultimately I cannot pursue every case.
Dang, that sounds super frustrating. You mention asking accounts to take your posts down - are there other additional measures you take to manage this problem? Do you have any tips for other artists on how to handle these types of situations?
One thing I’ve learned is to never put high resolution images online ever again. Every artist who is sharing their work should be resizing everything to 72dpi or 150dpi. This is so the images cannot be printed on anything without being pixelated. Other than that, trademarking your name and copyrighting your works occasionally is a good measure to take. And for tips on how to handle this: I have a standard message that I or my assistant sends out for me to the people who violate my copyright, politely asking them to take it down, or I will take legal action.
What’s been the most unexpected benefit of using Instagram?
Meeting new people! I love when an Instagram connection becomes a real life connection. I have met (in person) other artists whose work I admire through Instagram. This has led to collaborations, studio visits, and hangouts!