Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an Influencer?

Last month, I was invited to a meet-up for a private preview of the highly anticipated Takashi Murakami retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery. As we gathered in the lobby and exchanged social media handles, I soon realised that most of the group attendees came with an audience range of 30,000 to over 1.6 million followers each.

Here I was with a paltry audience of 1,650-something followers. How did I even get here?



Truth be told, my friend @helananas had won a social media contest and she invited me as her plus one. Prior to seeing the impressive numbers of the other attendees’ social followers, I had assumed that we were all winners of a promotional contest. “What a lucky bunch!” I thought.

Imagine that: a private preview of a major retrospective show – personally guided by the mega international artist himself (on his birthday no less) – followed by a Murakami-inspired 5-course menu at the Shangri-La. All of that just for a handful of average Janes and Joes. I was none the wiser. How cute is my naiveté right now?

On one hand, this was a strategic event which treated us like high society. The whole experience felt incredibly privileged. On the other hand, I gathered that this small group of Influencers had a collective reach of at least 5.2 Million viewers. It’s no secret that brands covet this reach with a millennial demographic. That’s the kind of reach that can swing open the golden gates of opportunity.

Social reach aside, I was excited to preview the exhibition, but before embarking on our tour we were all reminded of the hashtags to use when posting our content. Ah, yes, I know this gig very well. Our group’s inaugural posts about the exhibition would become the seedlings from which the hashtag campaign would spring forth and proliferate across our preferred social media outlets, organically reaching netizens across the country and beyond. Even though I am far from being an Influencer, I do fancy myself a content creator at least. Naturally, I took this brief seriously. What I lacked in viewership I would make up for in quality and quantity of images.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it definitely felt like I was doing an honest day’s work (ok, a half-day’s work), creatively documenting my personal experience for the event sponsors and working to repay the value that I personally extracted from the private tour in some form of social currency.

Check out my collection of photos from the influencer event below.

Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg is an Instagram-friendly show so if you’d like to snap your own selfie in front of a famous Murakami art piece, visit the Vancouver Art Gallery from now until May 6, 2018.


After the show (and a quick zip through the gift shop, duh) the party moved to @marketjg_van in @shangrila_van to enjoy a superb Murakami-inspired tasting menu. I’m already obsessed with being a Google local foodie guide – acting like an obnoxious cameraphone photographer, standing on chairs to get the shot and all that – but I put in extra effort for my food snaps here to honor the Chef’s artistry. – This is the Lotus Flower dish, which you will be able to enjoy starting tomorrow (Feb 5). Sunchoke soup, sorrel, and tonka beans paired with Osaka Junmai sparkling saké. – #marketxmurakami #vagxmurakami #foodie #foodporn #foodography #foodlover #finedining #vancouver #vancouverart #hellobc #takashimurakami #artofplating #foodieguide #localguides

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I snapped a quick portrait of Takashi Murakami (@takashipom) on his 56th birthday at @vanartgallery a couple of days ago. – Earlier that morning, he explained that the name of the show takes its inspiration from a Japanese folklore saying, “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” — sometimes in order to survive, you have to take from yourself and deplete your own reserves to get by. – He then stated that he does not believe he has talent ( 😱 ), so he must constantly recycle from himself – eat his own leg – to create new work and meet the public’s demands. – I also admired the sentiments he expressed about crediting contributors and his Kaikai Kiki team for helping him realize his large scale installations. Upon learning this, I imagined that his early years of survival has forged his gracious nature. This only makes him even more relatable; more admirable. – As my brief visit to Murakami-land came to a close, it became clear to me that Takashi-San is as giving as he is humble. I hope you all enjoy the show as much as I did. – Special thanks to @helananas for letting me tag along and to 🐙@booooooom 🖤@vanartgallery 🐙@shangrila_van 🖤@marketjg_van 🐙for inviting us.

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