Artists have used Instagram to share their art for years, but the inconsistent algorithms have made it less than ideal as a creative outlet. Few manage to get a following and, even then, artists typically find the app unrewarding and constrictive. Instagram supports those who start with an established fan-base, such as make-up and model accounts, but most artists on Instagram merely get their start and end up staying in the dark. Then, there was a buzz within the Instagram art community about a new account. The account in question was @artfolapp, and the first few words of its description read, “a social platform for artists.” The account did not have many posts, but it did have a website — and artists were interested.
Artfol‘s claim to small-time-fame is that it was created by artists for artists, promising to be a more fun and community-based app with quality “better than Instagram.” The description goes on to list some of the most desired features for artists: “chronological feeds, customizable galleries, commission pages, no image cropping, community challenges, and more.” Artfol‘s basic features already cater to artists in ways that Instagram never did, not only by removing restrictions but offering creative support. It goes on to explain that followers, likes, and monetary gain will not put you at the top. Instead, there is a first-come-first-serve deal for exposure of artists of all skills and levels. User interaction has also been a huge bonus. While the Instagram profile only shares the basics, in Artfol, the creator answers Q&As in the stories and asks users for their feedback when creating the app. They even have a Discord linked on the website. That combination of promises and friendly user interaction helped create support for Artfol on Instagram. Some might find this too good to be true, but as of September 2020, the app‘s beta became available on Android and Apple, open to a select group of testers. Beta simply means the app is unfinished, but allowing users to find bugs, test features, give feedback, and get a feel for the app before the final release. To see for myself how the account‘s promises faired, I became a beta-tester.
Downloading the beta works differently for Android and Apple devices. On Android, the user can just open up the Google Play Store and search for Artfol. Apple is much more complicated. The app cannot be found in the App Store, and the website and account do not detail where to find it, at least from what I could find. It took a few days, but everything you need to know can be found on this website. After finally getting ahold of the app, I set out to make an account, finding that I could not. After Artfol released its beta, so many people joined at once that the servers couldn’t handle everyone. It needed to be temporarily deactivated before it could allow the fan-base to use the app. When I was allowed to create an account, the first thing Artfol had me do was choose if I would be an “artist” or “not artist” account (which if desired, could later be changed to “artist”).
I chose an artist account to experience more of the features. After filling out my information, agreeing to the terms and services, and picking a birthday cake color, I could finally use the app. The home interface was bright and blank. At the bottom were four buttons: the home button, explore page, notifications tab, and account management. At the top, you can write a post or select an image to share, both unrestricted in size. The explore page allows you to find recent art and word posts and browse art challenges and critiques.
Arftol’s beta had a rocky start, and it is still working out some bugs and adding features, but I would say that they delivered on their promise to fans. Artists are elated that Artfol is providing them a platform and community unlike any before. Even in its unreleased stages, people are making the switch from Instagram. In fact, Artfol allows artists to link their previous works from different apps and websites, so they do not have to leave those behind. Artfol isn’t as shiny as other professional apps, but when it comes to content, Artfol is leading the race. People love it regardless of its kinks and cannot wait for the release. I too, look forward to seeing how Artfol evolves. I hope to recommend it to any artist that wants to try something new and is fine with a promising work in progress.