#RIPTwitterCrop: What it means for artists and creators
Last week, Twitter announced that they were getting rid of the Twitter auto-cropping image feature. If you’re an artist like me, you probably saw the celebration all over your timeline. The announcement from Twitter caused #RIPTwitterCrop to trend as photographers, illustrators, (and skeptics) flooded the timeline to test it out for themselves. It was then that it became glaringly apparent that we’ve all been tied down by the former image dimension constraints of the platform. Not to mention there’s nothing more annoying than having a nice image ready, only to be disappointed by the crop that gets posted to the timeline.
I was late to get into Twitter among my friend group and even after I made my account I rarely used it. Today, I’m happy to say that I’m a proud member of #arttwitter. The community has a unique vibe from Instagram that is something I truly do cherish. So when I saw the viral reaction among my fellow creatives, I knew this announcement by the platform meant more than just pixels gained. I think it’s time that we think about the limitations that have existed throughout social media and what they mean for us as artists and creators.
Words are great, a photo is better
Twitter is a platform founded on the power of words (as long as you don’t exceed the character limit.) So why is Twitter even focusing on images on their platform? They said it themselves in their announcement, “bigger and better.” Media sharing on Twitter is huge, and if there’s an image attached to a tweet, it becomes more sharable. At the end of the day, we all like visuals, because they aid our understanding (and also…meme culture.)
However, whenever I would go to post my artwork on my Twitter feed, I was constantly googling “What are the image dimensions for Twitter?” While I’m sure I made a lot of SEO experts happy with my inquiry, it was annoying, to say the least. When every platform plays by its own rules, they leave us as creators to conform. I think Twitter is finally starting to understand that more freedom is better for the user and that there are plenty of other platforms they can learn from to prove it.
Thinking outside the Instagram box
When Instagram launched in late 2010, it revolutionized the mobile photo-sharing experience overnight. 25,000 people joined on day one, and from that point on, everything was ruled by the square. It wouldn’t be until 2015, that the Instagram square died…kind of. They released an update that allowed users to upload posts in portrait or landscape. After that, for me, it was like a dense fog was lifting. We as users were now allowed to create, share, and think differently. However, we’re not the only ones being challenged in this way. Apps like Tiktok, Snapchat, and even newer features like Youtube shorts are championing the 9:16 video format. With every new update, tech companies show users aren’t we’re not the only ones trying to stay relevant.
Creating for the crop
Social media burnout isn’t going anywhere and it’s hard enough to find the motivation to create for ourselves let alone for the feed. On more than one occasion I’ve had creative blocks trying to brainstorm outside of 1:1 compositions. I even jokingly tweeted that there’s deeper psychology to the conditioning of social platforms specifically as an artist. Everything that I’ve made has been a square because, after years of posting to Instagram, it’s almost seen as the default.
Then, I remember that I live in the real world where billboards, postcards, and posters exist, and suddenly, the square seems like a very limited canvas. As an artist, I feel that over time the line between the art that I create for myself vs. for social media has become very blurred. As long as I’m posting, I’m developing and growing, right? As long as I’m “creating” it doesn’t matter where it ends up, right? Try answering that one for yourself and let me know.
The joy of feeling seen
At the end of the day, I think the single most valuable contributor to the viral nature of #RIPTwitterCrop was the feeling of being seen. This feeling of “look at what I made/did/am wearing” doesn’t ever leave us even into adulthood. Social media is fed by this very idea after all. And the idea of “if I share it they will come” is a proven method for finding your tribe. I’m glad to have found mine in #arttwitter and similar places around the internet. What does the end of the Twitter crop mean to you? Do you feel seen? Do you find yourself more motivated to share your work? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Alanna Flowers is a freelance lettering artist & designer based in Brooklyn, NY where she runs AGF Design Studio. Feel free to connect via Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, or her newsletter to keep up with all things hand lettering and to help grow the creative community.