The Gift & Curse Of Insta-Success
It’s the kind of success we all hope for. The mighty oak from a small acorn story. An Instagram, transformed into a global business practically over night (at least in business terms). It’s the holy grail of the millennial era, the stuff of modern-age fairy tales.
Or is it?
Turns out, the reality of insta-fame for a creative can be a whole lot different to what you’d expect.
With a distinctive aesthetic, all curves and sultry flowing lines, Olivia Fayne’s work quickly amassed a rapidly growing following when she started posting on social media five years ago. Inspired by traditional mandala and henna designs, her pieces also incorporated references to strong female symbolism, offering – for what felt like the first time – big, intricate tattoo pieces that felt soft, dainty and feminine. Sexy, even. Fresh.
A tiger, to represent strength. A hamsa, a sign of protection. A peony, an omen of good fortune. A lotus, symbolising growth. All elaborately embraced by Olivia’s distinct handwriting.
Clever collaborations such as Dr Martens and forays into homewares and solo art exhibitions expanded her audience, ticking the follower count to over 100,000 in just a few short years. Her core business of offering custom tattoo designs exploded to all four corners of the globe, all from an epicentre of Leeds. Although not yet a tattoo ‘artist’, she quickly solidified herself as an artist of tattoos, a tattoo designer, with a style that both infinitely unique in its talent but ravenously and broadly appealing in its audience.
The orders continued to grow. But the thing about being an artist, is that Olivia’s infrastructure couldn’t. She remained one person, creating beautiful, unique, hand drawn pieces for each and every client.
“Unfortunately, the problem with social media is that people forget there are humans behind the page. Behind the feed,” she confesses on her Instagram page. “I’ve grown tired of explaining I am one person running a global sized business at the same time as having to deal with my demons. Just to clarify, there is not a team behind my business.”
Battling her mental health while juggling an explosive online business is one thing, but the impatience of some of her customers has proved too much to manage. As has being so conveniently connected to them, across all their different time zones, with a quick and easy hop into the DMs.
This month, after five years of growing her business online, Olivia Fayne has closed her books to custom orders globally.
It poses the question … as much as social media can bolster creatives, exposing them to new audiences all over the world, is the weight of that responsibility crushing just as many? Does the exposure leave them too exposed?
In a sea of friends and followers, have we forgotten what it feels like to … well, feel for the other person at the other end of our inbox?