How Instagram Is a Creative Industry

With every innovation comes the capacity to do something new. The invention of the pen and paper made it plausible for nearly anyone to write, the smart phone afforded its users the ability to easily photograph, and the development of Instagram, the widely used social media platform, not only made it possible for its users to be creators, but also participants. Participants of what, you may ask be asking? Participants of an activity that can be seen as its own creative industry. 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport mapped creative industries into thirteen different sectors. What advertising, art/antiques market, architecture, crafts, design, fashion, film, interactive leisure software, music, performing arts, publishing, software, and television and radio have in common, can be seen through the foundation of what actually makes creative industries, creative (DCMS 1998 Creative Industries Mapping Documents). All thirteen sectors have primary expressive intellect that upon being commodified, is then circulated through populations and economies. While Instagram itself is not categorized as its own creative industry by the DCMS, the application does embody this process of creation, circulation, and exchange. Instagram, along with the established creative industries, propel forward their fabrications through this framework. 

Upon the post of a photo to Instagram, whether the user be a famous lifestyle influencer or an amateur, creative material is circulated. The mere process of selection in what photo to upload, what filter to use, and who to tag, is something creative in its own. The term creative industry heavily relies on the structure that something creative reaches an audience or a population. The spectators of a posted Instagram photo consist of the users that follow the individual that posts. With the correct privacy settings, where a profile is public, this same picture can reach the “explore page” that collects and displays all public posts in chronological order. To this point, this one single posted photo not only reflects the user’s creation, but also the creation’s circulation through a population. 

Those who become successful enough can turn Instagram into a full time job. A fashion blogger named Ashley, who goes by the name Bestdressed on YouTube and Instagram, relies solely on those two social media platforms for her primary income (Tubefiller). She has created her own business based upon her creative endeavors and is now both sponsored and paid. Upon sponsorships, a user’s participation in Instagram as a creative industry, can additionally be seen as interacting with the creative industry of advertising. 

Although creativity is often associated with those who identify as artistic, any user of Instagram is creative in some sense, whether that be just in what posts they choose to like or not like.  In Creative Industries: A Typology for Change, Jones describes creativity as follows: “Creativity is when existing elements and ideas are intertwined to create something new” (30). The invention of Instagram affords its users the ability to intertwine their own thoughts into something concrete, or at least as concrete as a digital profile can be. These digital posts and profiles can thus be seen as a product that parallels that of a DCMS established creative industry like music or film. 


(Youtube Millionaires: Ashley (aka ‘Bestdressed’) Teaches The Internet How to Do Fashion With a Combo of “Uncensored Personality” And Expertly crafted videos). 

Jones, Candace, et al. The Oxford Handbook of Creative Industries. Oxford University Press, 2015. Ch. 1.

DCMS 1998 Creative Industries Mapping Documents

Image Credit: Instagram, Sunset, Network, Ashley Best Dressed, Creativity

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