When Lauren Glazer ’11 posted an Instagram photo of herself at an art exhibit three years ago in New York, she had no idea that the photo would impact anyone, let alone change her life.
The photo took on a life of its own earlier this year when Lauren learned that the image, which shows her standing on the Ad Attivazione Cinetica 6B, 1966-2015, created by artist Marina Apollonio, became the primary marketing image for “Vertigo,” a contemporary art exhibition at the Mumok museum in Vienna, Austria. When the museum, which is the largest art museum in central Europe, contacted her about using her image, she didn’t believe it at first. “I thought it was a scam,” she said. “I did research and made sure it was legit.”
Lauren agreed to the museum’s proposal and sent the original files. In May, she and her mother traveled to Vienna to view the exhibit in person and were stunned to see her photo on street advertisements and even in a 20-foot reproduction on the side of the museum building. Her image also ended up in Air France magazine in an advertisement for the exhibit. “I couldn’t go a few feet without seeing my face!” Lauren said. “It was a surreal experience.”
At the exhibit, Lauren was thrilled to meet Apollonio, who speaks no English. “We were having a silent conversation but she just lit up when she realized it was me,” Lauren said.
Since that time, Lauren’s work as an art world influencer on Instagram has grown in myriad ways. She was able to meet new artists in Austria, learned more about contemporary art and added a number of European followers to her account, which to date is more than 10,700. She has kept in touch with the Mumok as well.
The journey to her current status has been unique. At HIES, Lauren took art classes every year, many with Judie Jacobs. “Lauren was so dedicated and one of the most focused artists,” Mrs. Jacobs said. “She’s always stayed focused and it has paid off for her.”
Arts classes were among Lauren’s favorites among her course load at HIES. “Mrs. Jacobs’ classes were my creative outlet and she pushed me to follow my passion,” Lauren said. She also enjoyed the class field trips to the High Museum to see in person the art that they had discussed in class. “I loved having those connections and hearing what the docents had to say about the museum and its exhibitions,” Lauren said. “I still visit the High whenever I come home.”
When Lauren was an Upper School student, Mrs. Jacobs and Heidi Domescik added an art history program in which students participated in both a history class and a visual arts class. “When I went to Paris and I saw Van Gogh’s ‘Bedroom’ painting, I dragged my mom across the gallery because I was so excited to see something I learned about in my art history class,” Lauren said. “It pushed me to study art history [in college] because I always loved learning the how and why behind an artwork.”
After graduating from Queen’s University in Charlotte, N.C. with a B.A. in art history in 2015, Lauren applied to the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York to pursue a master’s in art business, which she completed in 2017. Knowing no one in the city and moving into “a 450-square-foot box,” as she said, was a bit daunting but Lauren’s mom visited for extended periods about every six weeks. “It was a huge culture shock,” Lauren said. “People in New York are very vocal and public transportation is very different from being in your car.”
Her “day job” is publicist at Wolf PR in New York and in the evenings and on weekends, she strolls the art galleries near her Hell’s Kitchen apartment, often with her fiancé Joseph Lytle, a cyber security expert. They were engaged in June in Newport, R.I.
As an influencer, Lauren sees her role as creating access to art. By using her education and knowledge of art and media, she can provide an in-depth opinion about works and the message of the artists. Her goal is to encourage others to visit and enjoy the wide variety of exhibits available not just in New York but in other cities as well. She takes time to research exhibits and artists before she sets foot in a gallery, particularly if she is invited by other publicists or by artists themselves.
Being an art influencer on social media differs greatly from influencers in fashion and beauty as those positions come with significant paychecks from big brands. Top influencers have millions of followers, sponsorships from international brands and may even create products in partnerships with well-known companies. Instagram influencer marketing is a $2 billion industry and growing, according to Hopper, a U.K.-based social media company. Influencers with a high number of followers and a top engagement rate can earn six figures or more annually.
“I do it for the love of art and to share it,” Lauren explained. “It’s meant to educate, to help people understand art and to motivate them.”
Art followers have contacted her directly to ask for suggestions on which exhibits to visit and others have used her Instagram feed as a guide while touring around New York.
Becoming an influencer requires one, a good photo editing app and two, a solid amount of networking – going to events, meeting people, sharing ideas and always growing but also watching what one posts and writes. While Lauren’s photo took her on an extremely positive journey to Vienna – and beyond – she knows other influencers who have damaged their own efforts through negative statements or posts. Even at exhibits where she personally hasn’t liked the artwork, she can always find something that she appreciates about one piece or the artist’s use of color or medium. “Screenshots are real and you need to be careful what you share,” she said. “Come from a place of being nice to everyone, no matter where you are.”
As far as future plans, Lauren hopes her work will continue to grow within the art world. She studied art preservation and conservation at Sotheby’s and may pursue work in that area but she also has ideas about opening an artist’s studio to support fledgling artists. With wedding plans and a family in mind for the future, she expects that she will eventually return to Atlanta.
Follow Lauren and her art adventures on Instagram @laurencsglazer.