Why You Should Try a 30-Day Instagram Challenge
If you’re looking for a way to take your art to the next level, an Instagram challenge may be exactly what you need.
Back in February of 2020, which was a leap year (and the year the world was a complete dumpster fire) I decided to give myself a 29-day Instagram challenge. I’d just purchased an iPad with the hope of using it to draw and reconnect with my inner child. When I was a kid, I drew all the time, but I lost touch with that in college. I was hoping my new iPad would change that.
My 29-Day Instagram Challenge
When I got my iPad, I realized that I didn't really know what I wanted to draw. But Black History Month was coming up and I got an idea. I decided that each day in February I would draw and post an image of a Black woman who has done great things. The image could be of a woman from history or a contemporary woman. But I had to draw and post something new every single day in February.
I called series #29Queens. It featured activists like Angela Davis and Tarana Burke; athletes like Simone Biles and Serena Williams; actresses like Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong'o; musicians like Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé; media mavens like Oprah and Elaine Welteroth; pop culture icons like Grace Jones; and many others.
Why an Instagram Challenge?
I decided to do this challenge because I needed to give myself an assignment that would force me to show up consistently. This was the first time I’d ever attempted to create a collection of artwork centered on a theme. This exercise showed me how to be tenacious, how to keep producing work, and how to keep my mind sharp as I developed my daily practice.
If you think an Instagram challenge is going to suddenly make you famous, think again. My posts got the attention of my friends who were excited to see me creating and were cheering me on and even suggesting who I should draw next. But the series didn’t lead to any “big break.” However, when I did start to get attention from brands and publications later on, the #29Queens series was a great way for them to get more familiar with my work. Because of that series, people knew that I was a Black woman who is celebrating other Black women. It gave publications a great story to tell – one that was captivating but also authentic.
If you dive into the stories of your favorite artists, you’ll find that many of them have given themselves similar challenges. Here’s why I think exercises like these are so popular: One of the biggest hurdles for us artists is that we get caught up in our heads about how people perceive our work. And sometimes that leads to inconsistency in how we produce and how we show up. We might post a piece and then never post again because we didn’t get the reaction or outcome we had hoped for. We feel disappointed or even ashamed for sharing in the first place.
But if you give yourself a challenge like #29Queens, you’re forcing yourself to show up no matter what. Best of all, challenges like these help you build community. When you’re posting on a regular basis and people are expecting to see your work, you’re making yourself a part of someone else’s daily routine. That’s how people get connected to you and what you’re doing. And soon people will be eager to dive into even more of your work.
So choose a theme that you’re passionate about, pick a month for your challenge, and start creating! Showing up for yourself consistently is one of the best things you can do for your art career.