Since starting her Instagram account in 2013, Megan Fatharly, a UK-based independent artist, turned social media into her primary source of business, reaching almost 40,000 followers. In 2020, she was hit with various forms of online abuse before getting hacked – losing total control of her account and years of documentation.
What was your initial reaction to being hacked?
A. ‘The biggest thing was losing years and years' worth of my work. I use Instagram as a traveling sketchbook: if anybody wanted to see my portfolio, I'd send them my profile. I guess that's what Instagram is for me, an extension of self. It felt like somebody had walked into [my] house and stole something. I've been having therapy for the past year now. It's made me realize that I talk to myself in such a negative way. This is where a lot of the “small reminders” and “notes to self” that I write and share come from. Turning it into art helps me actualize it and visualize it. That's what I've lost in my work at the moment, because I guess I've been validating it with social media, rather than just the pleasure of making it.’
Did you manage to get any advice on your situation?
A. ‘An illustrator who was hacked last year reached out to me and he said, “I know this sounds counterintuitive, but you just have to get your work back out there.” When you've built up a large following online, the advice he gave me was instrumental. You can build something with social media, but also away from it. I'm learning to negotiate my worth and self more, both online and offline.’
What have you learned from this whole experience?
A. ‘I'm learning to separate myself from my Instagram, which is hard, because it's also how I network with other people. And also understand people's intentions –most of them are positive – but don't be afraid to disrupt the status quo. Everything you've gone through, or are going through, has got you to where you are.’
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This special feature was first published in Courier issue 45, February/March 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.