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Interview: Nina Blumberg, the Non-Stop Art Instagrammer

Interview: Nina Blumberg, the Non-Stop Art Instagrammer

Armory Arts Week is New York’s busiest week in contemporary art. The city becomes host of the Armory Show and a handful of satellite art fairs showing contemporary art brought by galleries from around the world. Since 2012, it is rivaled only by Frieze Week. This year, Cultbytes invited the social media specialist and art market expert Nina Blumberg of @Arstagram__  to guest host our Instagram.
My aim was to make the art I was seeing relevant, accessible, and interesting to both people in the art world and outside of the art world who might have less of a context for what they’re looking at than I do.

 – Nina Blumberg

As a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)’s “Art Market: Principles and Practices” MA program and an art consultant at the art advisory Samuel’s Creative, Blumberg is an accomplished art market specialist. But, it is through her Instagram account @Artstagram__ that Blumberg really shines; she is a millennial with an eye for great angles and a good sense of humor, that she shares with an increasing number of followers through witty captions. After her take over, we caught up with Blumberg to ask her questions about the role of social media in the art world, @Artstagram__, and more.
Nina Blumberg Armory Show Artstagram
All photos taken by Nina Blumberg and posted on Cultbytes Instagram.
Anna Mikaela Ekstrand: Describe your Armory Arts Week in one word and one emoji.
Nina Blumberg: Nonstop. 😅
 
How would you summarize Artstagram?
 
At this point, @Artstagram__ has evolved into a map of when/where modern and contemporary art exhibitions and events are happening at galleries, museums, and auctions houses in NYC (and sometimes beyond NYC, when I travel).
 
Your account has a strong distinct style. In terms of finding your voice (through images and captions), how did you get to where you are now?
 
Ah, thanks so much! It probably sounds cliché, but the way I am on @artstagram__ in terms of voice/style is literally how I am in real life. If you look at my personal account @ninstagram___, you’d probably find very little difference in terms of how I present myself online (just different subject matter.. haha). I really do enjoy entertaining people though, so when I first started @artstagram__ and was forcing my friends to follow, I wanted to keep it fun and light for them. My aim was to make the art I was seeing relevant, accessible, and interesting to both people in the art world and outside of the art world who might have less of a context for what they’re looking at than I do. People seem to have connected with the general lightheartedness of the account. 
Nina Blumberg Armory Show Artstagram
Your I-gram account has quickly blown up. I would say that you are an emerging influencer in the art world. How does that feel?
 
I’d be very flattered to be considered that! If I’m an emerging influencer, then your magazine/account is definitely one as well! It honestly just feels great to have my hard work pay off and have people respond positively to what I’m doing.
 
What are your aspirations with Artstagram?
 
It’s funny because originally, I really just set out to create sort of a visual diary of the art I was seeing for myself, as more of a hobby. The only goal I had in the beginning was to be able to use the account as a resume builder/supplement to show future potential employers that I knew what I was talking about when it comes to social media and marketing. Obviously now that it’s become something a bit more time-consuming and far-reaching than the average hobby, I’m looking for ways to monetize it long-term… Still figuring out exactly how that’s going to work though! 
Nina Blumberg Armory Show Artstagram Cary Leibovitz
Name three milestones in your I-gram career.
 
It’s hard to not get too focused on numbers, but when I got my first 1000 followers I think I felt like I really had committed to something and wasn’t going to give up any time soon. There’s kind of a snowball effect that occurs at that point, especially once you feel like people might actually be interested in what you’re trying to do. Then obviously 10K was a big milestone, but I was mostly excited for that because you can’t add a link to an IG story until you have over 10k followers, and I feel like that feature allows me to get more creative with my content. I’d say the other general milestone is just any time a cool/well-known artist, gallery, or art world person follows (yes, I notice!!!). Brett Gorvy follows me and I’m totally flattered by that because I so admire what he does with his Instagram. Recently, Jerry Saltz  replied to an IG story of mine that I tagged him in and told me that “my IG is strong and I have a great eye.” I was definitely starstruck by that interaction. 
 Nina Blumberg Armory Show Artstagram
Is Instagram changing the art world? And, how? 
 
I was just discussing this with a friend recently. Instagram and other social media platforms are definitely having effects on the art market as it has changed the ways that art world people interact and even how art is being sold. One specific effect is that museum, gallery people, and even artists- whether consciously or subconsciously- are catering more and more to the “Instagram-ability” of an exhibition or art installation. Of course, it’s not (and never should be) all that matters. However, the art market is a commercial market just like any other, and social media shares are literally free publicity and marketing that someone else is doing for you. It would be almost silly of galleries and museums to not be taking advantage of it at this point. Social media gets a lot of negative hype, but being able to broadcast art to a larger pool of people is definitely a positive effect. 
 Nina Blumberg Armory Show
Do press offices and PR firms see value in what you do? Or, are there opportunities that are being missed?
 
I think we are at the beginning of PR firms and press offices starting to realize what the potential benefits are of having someone with an account like mine post about their show or event. I’ve been invited to a few press previews and private events as “Artstagram” thus far. But, the art industry has not fully embraced the whole ‘influencer’ concept in the way that the fashion and food industries have, yet. It makes sense that art doesn’t translate the same way as fashion in social media as we are a totally different sort of arena, with a different product, and other end goals. But regardless, it seems like the industry is becoming more cognizant to the benefits of staying in touch with and cultivating their community on social media 
Tell us more about your craft. Do you have a background in photography? How do you get your photos so straight? What camera do you use?
 
I don’t have any sort of formal photography training, but it’s definitely always been a passion of mine. I’m the annoying friend who has to document every moment. It’s funny because sometimes people give me the whole “you should enjoy it and be present” thing, but then those exact same people regret not having the photos after the fact… so I pretty much just ignore those kinds of comments.
 
As of right now, my photos are all taken on my iPhone 7s+. I’ve thought about getting a professional camera, but haven’t taken the plunge yet. And in terms of getting the pics straight… I’m a psycho. I will squat on the floor, lean up against a wall- whatever it takes. The best advice I ever got fairly early on was that if you lower your center of gravity, you’re more likely to get the lines straight (of the artwork edges in relation to the walls). The guy worked in architecture and seemed to know what he was talking about, so I took that to heart and have been using it ever since. 
 Nina Blumberg Armory Show
What are your favorite hashtags?
 
Not sure if I have a favorite per say, but if there are people in the picture, I use #artwatchers and #artwatchers_united. The account @artwatchers_united reposts me sometimes if I use it. It’s a good tactic to research the right kind of hashtags for whatever your target market is in order to get your pics seen by the appropriate audience.
Nina Blumberg Armory Show
What on the internet interests you right now?
 
I’m a big meme girl. I feel like memes are like this weird millennial way of communicating with one another. There’s definitely an art to it though- not every meme applies to every friend. I consider myself an expert meme sender! 
 
Follow @Cultbytes on Instagram here.
Follow @Artstagram__ on Instagram here.
Check out the hashtags #CultbytesxArmory and #CultbytesxGuest.
 
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