What do Emilee Rudd, Chris Campe, Lisa Quine, Micaela Forziati and Petra D all have in common? They are all kickass lettering designers who know their way around social media platforms. They don’t utilize the same platforms but one thing is for sure, they are all active on Instagram. Instagram is an exceptionally visual platform designed for users to share their work, their personality and little tid bits of their lives allowing followers the opportunity take a peek as a form of inspiration or admiration. For this group of designers, Instagram is an otherwise free way to share their creativity and their work to self-promote, make a sale or book a client. Knowing how to fully use this platform takes time and effort in order to take advantage of what it has to offer. Instead of only viewing their work as inspiration, as designers, we should look for inspiration in more than one way. We should pay close attention to how they are using social media platforms and we should try to use those same features on our own accounts.
Instagram offers a wide array of features across the platform. Aside from posting photos or videos on their wall, users are able to post content in their story. The Snapchat-like feature is a photo or video sequence that disappears after 24 hours of being posted. One of the best questions you can ask yourself when trying to decide what to post in your own story is, what kind of story do I want to tell? The story feature is simple and easy and a good narrative can help distinguish your brand as a designer. The story feature is also a great way for designers to share their process work on current projects and save their completed work for their wall posts.
Unlike Instagram stories that disappear after 24 hours, Instagram highlights live on your page until you delete them. Chris Campe, Emilee Rudd and Micaela Forziati all utilize this feature on their Instagram profiles. Chris Campe seems to have mastered this feature with highlights ranging from book polls, recent lettering projects and the weather in Hamburg, Germany.
As a designer, it’s a good idea to create icons to use as the main image for your highlights that work well with the overall design of your page. Later.com explains Highlights as “a movie trailer for your Instagram feed. They’re a creative way to express yourself, show off products, drive traffic, or market your business!” We’re in the design business and what better way to show your current projects (we are always working on more than one project at a time) than giving each one their own story? We are all visual storytellers and Instagram highlights seem to be the ultimate social design playground.
Instagram just released its newest feature IGTV (Instagram TV) in June 2018. Before the release Instagrammers were limited on the length of their videos to just one minute. Now with IGTV, users are able to record up to an hour and post it to their channel. Users are able to “watch TV” specifically chosen based on their interests, who they are following, what’s popular across Instagram, and what they have watched in the past. It’s simple to create a channel for your own work and it’s another great way to show your current work as a designer.
The only designer on the list to use only one platform for social media is Emilee Rudd. Emilee is an Instagram Queen and heavily relies on the platform to showcase her latest designs. Emilee is currently based in Sacramento, California where she works as a freelancer doing graphic design, lettering and illustration. She currently has 19,800 followers and 436 posts. Emilee first started using Instagram in 2013 primarily posting about lettering. In a recent Drunk on Lettering podcast, Emilee says her web traffic mostly comes from Instagram but she is constantly trying to improve her web presence on the platform. Emilee is a huge nature lover! She enjoys plants and the outdoors and she really knows how to show her two passions and how they are interconnected on her social media account. Emilee includes her website and her email in her Instagram bio as a way for potential clients to contact her for freelance work. Emilee currently has four Instagram highlights, which include: Nature, Signage, Garden Game and Zion Adventures. She also uses her Instagram story as another way to showcase the amazing work she is doing.
“It’s mostly, the good ‘ole Gram.”
Emilee’s Instagram has a coherent voice, look and feel to give followers a good sense of who she is as a designer. If a user is following people within the same field, the feed can all start to run together. It’s important to keep posts consistent so that when a follower is scrolling through their feed they will know who posted the photo without ever having to look at the account name. This is something Emilee does really well and as a follower I always know when I see her work.
Lisa Quine just finished a beautiful Instagram campaign called Inktober where she “inked” the changing leaves of the fall season with different illustrations during the month of October. Lisa picked a theme, paired individual leaves with her illustration skills and created daily posts with a matching style. She started and ended her campaign with posts addressing the campaign itself. Each post started with the number of the day she was currently on for the campaign. Leading up the final week of the campaign, she shifted gears and decided to showcase her favorite October movies on the leaves. She illustrated Beetlejuice, Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas. In her final post, she included a photo of all the leaves she used throughout the campaign as a way to tie a nice ribbon on all the work she had done.
Instagram is a fairly simple platform to navigate but it can seem overwhelming when trying to utilize all of these features without direction. The first thing you will want to do is choose an overarching theme for the entire profile. Once you have started posting you will want to create a story that relates to the theme of the account using the story feature of the platform. If one of your stories is an ongoing project it might be a good idea to highlight that story and give it a permanent place to live on your profile using the highlights feature. Remember, if you are creating videos that are longer than the one-minute allowance for Instagram posts you can always create a channel to post videos that are up to an hour. This will give your followers something to watch within IGTV. Finally, if you really want to spice up your profile and add to your following, a campaign is a great way to do that. Choose and theme and stick with it for a few weeks. Include daily posts as well as stories to keep followers engaged in your campaign. Remember to use the same hashtag with every post, or have some fun and create your own. If you ever get stuck or are curious about the best way to use a feature on Instagram, look at whom you are following and how they are using them. That’s often the best way to learn. Happy Instagramming!