California-based artist Amanda Oleander (@amandaoleander) maintains a devoted following of nearly half a million on Instagram alone. Her impressive portfolio of work can be summed up in a single word: honesty. Perhaps best known for her illustrations, Oleander captures the uniquely human moments of private life. Whether it be snuggling with warm laundry that’s just come out of the dryer or eating pizza in bed.
We sat down with the talented artist to discuss her creative process, her advice for growing a following online, and how she approaches sponsored content. Hear from Oleander herself in an exclusive interview below.
1. How did you develop an interest in studio arts? What drove you to move that passion onto social media?
I’ve always been very passionate about art since I could hold a pencil. I’ve been taking lessons since I was about five. Then I went on to get my fine arts degree. Social media is about sharing your life and thoughts on social media. My life is art. It’s what I do every day. It’s my passion and obsession, so it has always been a part of my social media.
2. You’re well known as one of Periscope’s most popular users. In what way has the app most transformed your career as an artist?
Periscope helped me connect with so many art lovers around the world in real time. Trending on the app resulted in many features in magazines and on television, which helped expose my work to a larger audience. Livestreaming the process of my work opened up conversations about art and conversations about other people wanting to pursue art but who are scared that it’s not a great career choice.
Those connections and conversations have made me very passionate to also give talks as an artist to those on the fence of pursuing a career in art. I was a full-time artist in Los Angeles before I trended on any platform. After Periscope, I started traveling to give talks about art and social media.
3. How does your creative approach differ by social platform (e.g. Periscope, Instagram, Facebook)?
Periscope is livestreaming so I usually go on it when I’m painting or just to talk about art, following your passion, etc. I’m currently doing a drawing challenge so I share my daily drawings on Instagram and then share the time-lapse process of each drawing and my life on Instagram Stories. I rarely go on Facebook but I do share every drawing I do on Facebook.
4. What central message do you hope to impart to followers through your drawings? Why do you think they’ve garnered such a positive reception?
I’m enthralled by the way people behave behind closed doors; the things we all do but don’t really talk about or share on social media. If those moments were photographed it would alter the way we behaved in that moment, so I draw them.
Based on the feedback I’ve gotten from my followers they appreciate the art because it makes them feel that we’re all the same to some extent behind closed doors. It doesn’t matter what language or race we are, we are all more similar than we think. I’ve also gotten many messages telling me that it makes them [my followers] appreciate the simple things in life that I draw. Moments that are beautiful that we sometimes overlook.
5. What benefits have come with an influencer career specializing in drawing and painting?
I wouldn’t call myself that. I’m an artist who happens to be an influencer. The benefits that have come with having a large audience are opportunities. I get approached every day with opportunities. I get to travel and speak to audiences about art and social media, paint live at awesome events, create art for brands, it’s always a lot of fun.
6. Since August 2017 you’ve created a drawing for Instagram every single day. What strategies have you employed to keep up with such a rigorous content schedule?
The drawing a day is not specifically for Instagram. I’m publishing four books by the end of 2018 with 100 drawings in each, so I share my drawings online to keep people in the loop of my current project.
I mostly work on the drawing first thing every morning. Some days life takes over and I end up doing it later on in the day but the drawing a day is my priority. It’s all in the mind. Just like you make brushing your teeth a priority every day that’s what drawing a day is for me. When I’m traveling I take a suitcase with all of my supplies with me.
7. Have any tactics been especially effective in helping you grow your audience online?
Post about what you absolutely love talking about. What are you passionate about? There are a lot of accounts that are just trying to trend or grow. If your goal is to be an influencer you’re on the wrong path. What makes you so happy? Is it gardening? Then talk about that. Share your garden, techniques, tricks, and knowledge with your audience. There’s an audience for everything.
Consistency. That’s really important to keep your audience engaged. Wearing your heart on your sleeve. There are so many curated accounts that only show the highlights of their life. I find the quickest way to grow an audience is to share your life, unfiltered. Who are you? Figure that out first and then share your truest self with the world.
8. How do you approach sponsored content creation? How do you ensure branded messaging fits in well with your feed?
I’m extremely picky about who I collaborate with. I’ll only work with a brand that I already love and use. If it’s a new brand I’m not familiar with I won’t collaborate with them until I have used their product and love it. The way I think of it is like this: I personally would rather discover a brand through an influencer I follow and trust. I don’t really trust commercials, I trust reviews and normal people like you and me that happen to have a following. I trust that the product is great if I purchase something through an influencer.
If the product is bad it’ll disappoint me and I’ll lose my respect for the person that is just trying to make quick money. I never want to be that person so I always go into it with that mindset. The way I ensure it [sponsored content] goes well with my feed is that I either collaborate and create an art piece for the brand and share that or I livestream/Instagram Story about it.
9. Lightning round:
If you had to give up all your social media accounts but one, which would you keep?
Instagram because it has everything. Photo sharing, livestreaming, Stories, text Stories, and not as many ads and ridiculous random posts as Facebook.
Florida, North Carolina, or California?
California all the way, sorry Florida!
Instagram or Snapchat Stories?
Artist you’d most like to meet?
Shel Silverstein RIP.
10. In what ways do you hope your social media career develops in the next two years?
I just hope to keep reaching and connecting with more people from all over the world. I’m hoping to go on a world tour with my art within the next two years and documenting it on social media. I want to meet my followers from around the world.
11. Any exciting projects on the horizon that your fans should get excited for?
Ah! So many. I can’t talk about some but get ready for some art books. I’m also currently working on three-foot by three-foot paintings of selected drawings for pop up gallery shows. Traveling and documenting it in art.
This interview has been edited for clarity.