will painting nude self-portraits on social media cause problems at work?

A reader writes:

I am a fine artist with a day job at a bank. Most people within my workgroup friend each other on Facebook and Instagram and I did as well.

I promote myself as an artist on social media, since I plan to eventually do art full-time. I specialize in classical realism and paint a lot of nudes, some of which are recognizable self-portraits. In the art world, this kind of output is par for the course.

On Facebook, I filter who can see my posts. On Instagram, I can’t, which makes me very uncomfortable given that colleagues follow me.

My questions:

1. I use a pseudonym for my social media accounts. Despite this, can my employer hold it against me that I post nudity, and see it as in conflict with being a bank employee?

2. Is there a way to unfriend/refuse friend invitations in a way that won’t make me seem as a snob to this close-knit group? In general, when work people learn that I do art and ask to see it, how can I negotiate this request safely?

Legally, your employer can indeed decide it has a problem with you posting nudity and tell you to stop or even fire you over it. That doesn’t mean they will — lots of employers wouldn’t care — but legally they could.

Typically an employer can fire you over anything it wants as long as that reason isn’t (a) a protected characteristic, such as race, religion, sex, disability, etc. or (b) legally protected activity (meaning things the law has specifically carved out as exceptions, like union organizing or making a good faith report of harassment or discrimination), and as long as (c) you don’t have a contract that says otherwise and (d) you don’t work in Montana, which requires firings to be for good cause, or in one of the handful of states that prohibits employers from taking any job-related action based on an employee’s legal conduct outside of work. Outside of those exceptions, if you’re in the U.S. your employer can fire you for whatever it wants.

So, unless you fall into one of the exceptions above, your employer could in theory decide this is their business. Again, it doesn’t mean they will — and in fact they probably won’t. (If you were a teacher, I’d be more concerned since schools are notorious for overreacting to outside-of-work conduct.) But it’s good to be aware of.

Really, though, if you’re using a pseudonym and posting paintings, I’m not terribly worried about it. We’re talking about paintings, not explicit photographs. (Not that there’s anything wrong with photographs either; art is art, and it’s BS that you’d have to worry either way. But if an employer is going to overstep, photos are more likely to set them off.)

To your second question … you can unfriend or refuse friend invitations if you want to! You won’t seem standoffish to reasonable people if you explain it with one of these:
* “I’m trying to be really disciplined about keeping work and social media separate. I’d be glad to connect whenever one of us moves on!”
* “I realized I was letting my boundaries between work and personal life blur too much so I’ve tried to pull back.”
* “I really just use Facebook to keep in touch with family.”
* “I realized I want to have more of a work/life divide on social media. It’s a little awkward disconnecting from people with no explanation, so I’ve been letting people know what I’m doing.”
* “I’m old-fashioned about social media. It’s been drilled into me to keep professional and personal stuff separate.”

And if people learn you make art and ask to see it, you could say, “Some of it is a little unsafe for work, so as a rule I don’t share it here. But it’s really nice of you to take an interest!”

{ 195 comments… read them below }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I’d be kind of weirded out if a coworker friended me and then was posting nude self portraits. I’d also be weirded out if one of my relatives did that.

    Why not have two separate social media presences? One for your art and one for yourself? A lot of authors do this.

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      I was going to say I know a lot of small business/niche interest folks who have two instas for this exact reason

      1. Coldfeet*

        Yup. I have one just because I assume my friends and family don’t care as much about 18th century dressmaking as I do. So I post almost everything on the dedicated insta, but I also don’t want internet strangers knowing everything about my personal life so I keep that on my main account. It’s so easy to switch between them.

    2. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I was thinking the same thing. I have more than one insta. One that’s personal (friends, family, etc.), one for books, and one for makeup. Keeps it easier on me, too, because I can curate the people I follow accordingly -that way Instagram doesn’t decide for me what I want to see.

    3. Fibchopkin*

      Yep- Coming to say exactly this. I know a TON of artists who have a “public” or “day-work” social media persona with their given names- usually just one or two accounts, like a FB and Twitter, or Twitter and Insta, etc, and then their “real” accounts which they use nicknames or pseudonyms with- many of them publish/produce their art under a chosen moniker anyway (which it sounds like OP might?), so it’s usually easier for fans to find them under the assumed name anyway. Then you can give co-workers the day-work persona FB account, and let them know that you don’t really keep up with social much, so then when you only check those accounts once or twice a week, it’s no big deal. If you’re not interested in doing that level of work, and don’t want to get into explanations, you can also always go with “Meh, I don’t really keep up with Social Media, here’s my cell number though, feel free to text!” I promise that, even though it seems like EVERYONE is ALWAYS on social media, that’s not the case, and it’s super normal not to be too involved.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Not just artists. I have a friend who is a teacher and does not want students to see everything he posts. He has one account that is public and one that is kept private.

      2. Al*

        I work with photographers, and lots of them have personal accounts with their general life updates, and a separate account for their photography. Many even divide their accounts out further, so (for example) their wedding photography has a distinct Insta from their newborn or boudoir photography.

    4. Dragoning*

      Also, if the culture is as described, I would feel obligated to follow the weird coworker who is posting nudes on Insta, and oh man.

      Do Not Want.

    5. Nanani*

      You’d be one “update” or “helpful algorithm” away from having them merged without your consent and/or having the art one recommended to people on the other. Keeping profiles completely separate is a constant battle against the algorithm.
      Not impossible, but the big social media companies are really bad about considerations for people who DONT want to share absolutely everything they post with every possible person.

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        I pulled way back on sharing stuff on Facebook when I finally figured out that I’m not the customer; I’m the product!

    6. Happy Pineapple*

      This is becoming increasingly common, and I think it’s a great idea. Just about every person I know who has a niche hobby/fandom has a personal social media account as well as a separate account dedicated to their interest. Drawing, painting, modeling, keto diet, power lifting, mental health, weight loss, pets, you name it, my friends have it. It gives them some privacy if they don’t want their coworkers seeing their shirtless workout videos, as well as allows us as friends to not be bombarded with something we don’t care about.

          1. Quill*

            Not that the people on it have been around long enough to know why one would try to slay a Gazebo? ;)

    7. Mockingjay*

      Yes, two accounts, personal and business. Make sure the account names aren’t too similar. You want followers to differentiate between OP the friend/family/coworker, versus The Artist.

      1. Rachel Greep*

        I wish more people would do this. I’ve unfollowed (not necessarily unfriended) people on Facebook who use their accounts primarily to promote their businesses. I’m here for funny memes and pictures of your kids. Make a separate page for your business and invite me to “like” it. If I’m interested, I will.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Facebook is difficult about pseudonym and second names. They want everyone to have just one account… which is pretty tricky for people who have pseudonyms, stage names, or just a desire for privacy from rabid fans.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Maybe it’s my headache, but I don’t quite get what you’re saying. I’m just pointing out that Facebook discourages two accounts for the same person. This can be a big deal for people who like our OP may want to avoid crossing the streams.

              1. Arts Akimbo*

                Adric was making a joke. They were essentially agreeing with you. The xkcd cartoon linked is likening the world of one-account social media to a Walmart where you awkwardly run into everyone you know while shopping for personal items.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  Which is just one of the reasons I kind of hate FB. I was active on the web back when pseudonyms were the norm, and I got used to having different web personas for different activities. I resent FB telling me I’m not allowed to do that. I have an account because it’s the most convenient way to stay in touch with certain people and orgs., but I feel really awkward having to interact with my very liberal political contacts and conservative relatives in the same space under the same name.

          1. Oh No She Di'int*

            I actually studied this in grad school. Facebook’s model of social life is that every person is only ONE person. They regard any attempt to have multiple public personas as a de facto form of deception.

            The problem with this is that many, many, many people have perfectly valid reasons for having multiple public personas: artists, gay and lesbian people, people in abusive relationships, actors, people with multiple careers, racial minorities, religious minorities, the list goes on and on. When you unpack this, you realize how deeply Facebook was conceived by people with the privilege (yes, I said it) to always have the same social persona no matter where they go.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Exactly. The first person to point this problem out to me was someone whose reenactment persona was not the same gender as they dressed at the office.

            2. Facebooker*

              When you unpack this, you realize how deeply Facebook was conceived by people with the privilege (yes, I said it) to always have the same social persona no matter where they go.

              You are, of course, not obligated to be on Facebook if you disagree with this.

              1. Oh No She Di'int*

                It’s not a matter of agreement or disagreement. It’s a matter of pointing out how social structures can differentially benefit some groups over other groups. Whether I am or am not personally on Facebook is totally beside the point. How the platform operates in a social context IS the point.

          2. Is Butter a Carb?*

            The worst is that you need a separate email. But seriously I don’t think it’s that hard. I have four cats that each have their own page and have for years (I don’t post to them anymore). They are still there and can be tagged, etc.

          3. Quill*

            They also want you to pay to do any business promotions…

            Most teachers I know won’t put their last names on because they don’t want to be searchable for every Karen whose kid is going to be in their class who wants to dig through their photos to make sure they’ve been wearing school dress code appropriate clothes in every photo they’ve ever taken.

    8. Laney Boggs*

      Instagram makes it pretty easy to run 2 pages at once – I don’t think you even have to log off to switch.
      Of course, if you did that, be very very very careful to check which you’re posting to!

      1. McMonkeybean*

        Yes, I made a separate account when they did that and it’s been great. I initially made an IG account just to compile pictures of my nail art and then because facebook and Instagram reccomend follows I ended up with a bunch of acquaintances and people I knew from high school following the account and I felt weird cause I was like I’m pretty sure none of them actually want to see my manicures.

        So now I have one for just nail polish stuff and another for regular life stuff. I would recommend that for OP for sure. It’s also good for the other way around–you can have total strangers follow your art account but then not have access to the account with more personal information and pics from your day to day life.

    9. Dust Bunny*

      This. I’m in a hobby with a heavy craft component and most artists have separate FB pages or whatever under their studio names. I’m personal friends with some, too, but not all of them. It makes it much easier to manage how much you reveal about your personal life.

    10. LunaLena*

      This is what I was thinking as well. I actually have two online art galleries – one for professional work, one for silly drawings and fan art. The latter is on deviantArt, which allows you to mark content as “Adult” so it’s not shown as a thumbnail in your gallery. If you use a function like that, at least there’s some warning instead of nudes popping out at viewers as soon as they visit your gallery.

      The two galleries are hosted on different sites, have different user names and avatars, and aren’t directly linked to each other, so they’re easy to keep separate. On the rare occasion that I link from one to the other, I always link from the casual one to the professional – never the other way around, so that people looking at my professional work won’t easily stumble into the stuff I draw for fun (they’re mostly pretty harmless, just not how I would represent myself professionally).

    11. Shhhh*

      Especially on Instagram, which makes it very easy to run multiple accounts. Personally, I appreciate it when my friends and family separate their personal account and their art (or other hobby) accounts.

    12. Well Then*

      Yeah, I kinda disagree with Alison here. I have a former co-worker who I started following on Instagram right before she left the organization. She does kinky boudoir-style photography and promotes it on her social media. This doesn’t bother me at all, but if we still worked together, I would have unfollowed her once I saw the content. It’s important to keep boundaries with coworkers; I don’t think art is an exception to that rule — and nude self-portraits especially seem questionable to share.

    1. Heidi*

      It sounds like the horse is already out of the barn for this one. The OP mentioned that colleagues are following her. It would be awkward to disavow the account now when there are recognizable portraits of her on it. Separate accounts are the way to go here.

      1. Dragoning*

        Block them and say you deleted it because it was taking up too much time. Next job, “you don’t have Instagram.”

        Adding coworkers on social media is so weird to me.

        1. valentine*

          It sounds like the horse is already out of the barn for this one.
          If it weren’t, though, there would still be the issue of mentioning they do art and then not wanting coworkers to see, partly because that means giving them the pseudonym. At least one person would dig.

          But it’s not too late to change the pseudonym and move the friending to the employee name.

  2. Caramel & Cheddar*

    On Instagram, you can also go into your followers list and force them to unfollow you and it won’t tell them that you’ve done so. You can also block them at that point if you want to cut full contact on that service.

      1. Dragoning*

        It’s called “softblocking.” On most services, you can block them and then immediately unblock them, and it forces and unfollow.

      2. Mrs Peaches*

        In the app, go to your profile > followers and click “remove” next to the person you want to no longer follow you. Note that this won’t prevent them from looking at photos on your public profile – it just stops your photos from appearing in their feed.

  3. Threeve*

    I wouldn’t use “unsafe for work,” which sounds sort of porn-y. I would say something that makes it clear that the art is shirtless but not sexual, like “appropriate for a gallery wall, but not necessarily the eyes of coworkers.”

    1. Daffy Duck*

      How about “I paint gallery style work rather than traditional corporate,” that takes it away from what people may like and puts it more into type of business.

    2. Bostonian*

      I thought the same thing. “unsafe for work” is going to pique their interest in a way that wouldn’t otherwise, and they might go digging just to see what the deets are.

    3. nnn*

      Is there some kind of technical-sounding art term for nude paintings that could be used here?

      I’ve heard “life drawing” used to describe art classes that include drawing nude models. I’m not sure if that’s extrapolable to painting. But maybe something like “I do a lot of life painting” or some term that makes it sound like it just happens to contain nudity for Serious Artistic Purposes.

      Kind of akin to describing a TV program as containing “mature themes”

      1. Starbuck*

        As an artist (hobbyist, not professional) I would use (and understand) the term “figure painting” in this way. I wouldn’t say NSFW, as to me that would imply something more overtly sexual than your typical figure study.

  4. LizB*

    For work folks who ask to see your art, can you establish a mini safe-for-work portfolio that you can show them of your non-nude works? Just a few photos in a folder on your phone should satisfy 99% of people, honestly, so it doesn’t have to be a big undertaking. Or, do you have a SFW piece of art that you enjoy that you could use to decorate your work space. Then you can just go, “Stop by my cube sometime, the still life with the pomegranates is one of my paintings!” or whatever.

    1. Dragoning*

      This sounds perfectly in line with what I would do, as well! I write, and sometimes people ask me “oh, what do you write?” and I give the blandest summary ever.

      They’re mostly asking out of politeness, anyway, not because they want to see your entire body of work.

      1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Interesting, I just finished my first book and it’s adult content erotica. I wonder how I can frame it when co-workers or friends ask about the content without divulging the content.

        1. Dragoning*

          Depends on what else is in it…you could say something like, “Oh, I wrote a romance novel for adults about an X and a Y” or what have you. Non-book-people never seem to know the difference between romance and erotica anyway.

          1. Miso*

            Honest question – what is the difference?
            If I heard the sentence above, I’d absolutely assume it has a couple of explicit sex scenes.

            1. Dragoning*

              Romance novels don’t require sex, especially not explicit sex although yes, they often have them. That’s actually fairly recent, though…a lot of older romance novels are full of fade-to-blacks and vaguely-described actions. Like, Pride & Prejudice doesn’t have sex, does it?

              Erotica is about sexual relationships. Romance novels are about romantic relationships. One is focusing on a physical aspect of the relationship, one is focusing on the emotional aspect.

            2. ADHSquirrelWhat*

              romance may have a few explicit scenes – erotica is per-page more sex than other story, or the sex is integral to the PLOT of the story.

              also, romance inherently involves people who are NOT together at the beginning of the story and ARE together at the end. Erotica does not require people to be faithful, does not require people to stay together, does not require the happy ending .. well. not the /storybook/ happy ending.

              And not all romance has actual sex in it, either. Romance has both /fade to black/ sex scenes and /waiting for marriage/ relationships and the entire gamut – one can have chaste romance, but there’s no such thing as chaste erotica. (or if there is, my brain truly cannot conceive it!)

              1. AnonForThis*

                There’s niche fetish erotica out there where nothing *technically* sexual happens, but… by that point you’re talking about stuff for a very *specific* audience.

        2. ADHSquirrelWhat*

          Erotica is easy to frame as “romance” – assuming there’s a plot and it’s not just straight-up porn, just summarize the plot. “oh, y’know, boy meets girl in zero-g and there’s an alien convention happening on the space station” – you don’t have to mention that it’s actually a zero-g orgy! (hopefully not actually related to the plot, that would be weird)

          I’ve written a bunch of novels (not published yet (sadface)) and people only want the five-minute version at most unless what you say hooks them.

          The problem is if your zero-g orgy actually IS something your mom wants to read!

        3. Smithy*

          This whole post reminded me of a different/similar question submitted to a podcast. Essentially the person submitting the question had a niche podcast for a show while also having a day job. The person’s boss had started listening to the podcast and it was making them feel uncomfortable because of how personal/not workplace professional the podcast could be and then her boss wanting to talk about it.

          While there are the very genuine concerns about getting fired, I also think it’s relevant to flag concerns around someone actually finding your side art/activity interesting and then actually seeking it out. Like, if one colleague goes – oh wow – I actually really love Ancient Rome Space Romance Mashup Fantasy, I’m now going to read it and want to talk to you about it in the hallway at work. And then if that person happens to be your boss….

          So as exciting as a novel or podcast may be to someone, once you tell co-worker friends, even the polite version, there’s a chance of it reaching other coworkers who will just geek out over it and then want to talk to you about it later. And how much you are or are not open to that at work.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Yeah, I had a coworker who learned that I wrote romance and started exclaiming “Gazebo writes sex books!” to everyone and asking me how I wrote sex scenes and saying that in order to write sex scenes I absolutely *had* to be basing them on my own life, so what was my sex life like?

            I was actually less bothered about this than I’d have expected, but still WOW SUPER INAPPROPRIATE. I told her something like “the same way I write about anything else; most of what I write is not based on my own life!”

        4. Quill*

          I think “I wrote a romance novel” will run off anyone who isn’t into wanting more details.

          Though I still laugh about the time my mom tried to help me network with a local author: my mom was a teacher and the local author’s son, her student, declared “mom writes kissing books, they’re boring” and when my mom put me into contact with the author and I made it clear I was in my mid 20’s, you could absolutely hear the “oh thank GOD, this isn’t some teen trying to get into publishing!”

  5. Autumnheart*

    Putting identifiable nudes of yourself online is a terrible idea regardless of medium. Don’t do it. If you’re going to insist on doing it anyway, make sure that the art social media account has an entirely unique pseudonym that has NO link to your real identity. Two reasons: 1) a lot of employers aren’t going to see this from the eye of artistic legitimacy, and 2) all it takes is for you to piss off one a-hole online anywhere, for him to sniff out this account and put you on blast.

    Surely you have other art that will more than sufficiently showcase your talents, without being identifiable nudes of a real person. If you don’t, make some. Yes, it’s a shame that we live in a world where people will use any ghost of sexual impropriety to try to ruin a person’s life, but here we are.

    1. Allypopx*

      This seems like a different situation than posting nudes online – I mean having these paintings put on blast would actually be a good thing for someone who wants to do their art full time, except in the context of this day job. I don’t think the normal “no faces in your nudes” rules apply here.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          Have you met art?

          I don’t mean to be snide, but I think this is an entirely different situation. It is common for painters of nude self portraits to put themselves on blast because that is their art. They generally want people to see it. That’s the whole point of making it. Whether it’s a good idea given OP’s day job may be a separate issues. But the fact of the paintings being found and shared with others honestly seems like a non-issue.

        2. TechWorker*

          I’ve certainly never heard of any ‘revenge porn by the medium of a painting’ – sure LW might not appreciate specific people seeing them but in terms of what’s a) ‘scandalous’ and b) likely to spread, I don’t think paintings compare to nude photos.

          1. ACDC*

            Totally agree. Plus if you consider the community standards that Facebook/Instagram enforce, OP isn’t posting full frontals of her genitals or anything like that.

          2. Joielle*

            Yeah it’s not really “revenge porn” if the OP painted it herself and put it online herself. It’s art.

    2. hbc*

      I think that’s an overreaction. Is it possible that OP will have some impact in life from these pictures being online? Yeah, there are prudes everywhere. But I could use that same reasoning to say that you should never get a tattoo or move in with a non-spouse or any number of other activities that cause people to clutch their pearls.

      I just think the blowback for pseudonymous posting of self-made, non-sexual nude paintings isn’t likely to be big. Pretty sure if some coworker dug up the connection in my workplace, half the people would go check them out, a few people would gossip until they got bored, one person would complain to HR and get shot down, and that’d be the end of it. And I’m in the midwest.

    3. Mary*

      >> Surely you have other art that will more than sufficiently showcase your talents

      If the OP is hoping at some stage to make a career out of her art, this advice won’t work! She’s not trying to sell her talent, she’s trying to build a reputation for (and eventually sell) her art. If the art is nudes and figure studies, that’s what it is and that’s what she needs to show.

      OP, I would consider speaking to someone in HR, or your own manager if you feel safe enough, and telling them that you’re a practising artist who paints nudes and figure studies, and making it sound as boring as possible in a “this won’t be a problem, will it?” way. I’d also keep separate Instagram accounts and use a pseudonym, as much as a courtesy to your co-workers as anything else, so they don’t casually search you and end up confronted by your boobs. However, I do think it’s worth making sure one or two key people in your organisation are aware that you’re also an artist and that’s documented somewhere, so that you don’t live in fear of being Discovered or outed or something. And if you get to the point where you’re sufficiently successful that you have an exhibition or something and it’s under your real name and it’s going to be what comes up when clients or co-workers google you, you’ve laid some groundwork where it matters. And hopefully you’ll have some opportunities to have conversations with other artists, agents or even lawyers who have helped artists navigate that stage to help you decide how to manage it.

      Good luck!

      1. Czhorat*


        I think it’s easy for those of us out of the fine-art field to see this in a prurient way “NAKED WOMAN! OOOH!” and not as what it is – a showcase of the artists’ talent in a certain genre of work. I think that context really matters.

        (and I agree with Allison – it shouldn’t. If they were a stripper or an “adult actress” they should be able to share that on their social media as well, but we aren’t there as a society).

  6. Czhorat*

    This so SHOULDN’T be a big deal. THat you even need ask the question says something bad about our society.

    If it bothers you, I agree that firewalling it by creating a separate social media presence is wise. Otherwise… it’s part of who you are and your side business. I’d honestly not think anything of it if a colleague or professional contact did nude self-portraits or even nude modelling or burlesque; we need to work to destigmatize these kinds of things.

    That is, of course, easier to say for me given that I don’t face the risk of backlash. If you’re not OK with the risk (and I agree there’s probably some) that’s understandable.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      Wait a minute… This could totally be a big deal.

      I have 2 employees, both have friended other employees on their SM. One posts artistic nudes recognizable as themselves. Another posts pictures of themselves naked.

      Which one of these could be considered harassment in the workplace? The answer is both. All it takes in both cases is someone making a complaint that a coworker is sharing nude pictures of themselves to them. It makes no difference if the medium is oils or photography.

      In other words, OP, unless you are a professional in some capacity where nudity is accepted. Then you should never mix nudity and work…ever.

      1. Czhorat*

        If you post nudes in the workplace, it is harassment.

        If it’s non-targetting posting of nude images on private social media, access to which is opt-in then it isn’t, so long as said social media is not being used for any official business.

      2. yala*

        I don’t think you can make an argument that someone posting nudes on their own social media is sexual harassment.

        In a group or private chat, where it’s specifically SENT to people, yes, but not just up on their own wall/blog/feed/whatever

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Honestly, I think I could make that leap pretty easy. Remember that companies are almost always going to side with the one making the complaint if the complaint falls in a gray area. And the bar to fire an employee is pretty low.

          For heaven’s sake, people have been fired for holding ‘what looks like’ a cocktail on their private SM. It’s not a stretch to think that nude pictures of oneself being openly shared with coworkers would have a different outcome.

          1. Czhorat*

            This would be entirely unreasonable and out of line for any employer.

            It’s also not something about which any reasonanable co-worker would complain. ALso, if you allow people into your social media they are likely at least work-friends who would talk to you or unfriend rather than run to the boss.

            I don’t think the situation you’re creating in your head is realistic.

            1. SomebodyElse*

              I disagree. There is never a good time or place for coworkers to share nude pictures of themselves to other coworkers and it’s just asking for trouble.

              -Again unless there is a work reason to do so. Which is few and far between in a bank setting.

              1. Health Insurance Nerd*

                That’s….not how social media works. The LW isn’t “sharing” anything with their coworkers, they are posting their art to their own personal social media which their coworkers may/may not discover. Someone would be very, very hard pressed to make a case for sexual harassment based on the content of a coworkers social media which they have chosen to follow.

          2. Oh No She Di'int*

            There are two separate questions being blended together here: (1) can OP be fired for the images? (2) could such images posted in a public forum be considered harassment? The answer to (1) is “sure possibly” because someone can be fired for ANY reason. The answer to (2) is no, this is not a harassment scenario because it is public, not at work, and not aimed at anybody.

            1. SomebodyElse*

              So a man sharing Dxxx pics of himself to coworkers is ok as long as they are friends on FB/instagram/tumblr/whatever?

              Does it matter who friended who first? You don’t think an HR team wouldn’t investigate harassment if the coworker came to HR and said “Yeah, I was following bob on facebook and he started sharing all of these pictures of himself. I stopped following, but I’ve heard other coworkers talking about his pictures and it really makes me feel uncomfortable”

              1. Oh No She Di'int*

                I don’t know what you mean by “sharing” photos “to” someone. That’s not the social media paradigm we’re talking about. OP has what sounds like a public profile where she is posting pictures. Some coworkers have found her. She is not seeking them out, and she is not sharing anything “to” anybody else.

              2. Joielle*

                I get the sense that maybe you’re not that familiar with social media? There’s a big difference between posting something on your own page and sending it to someone via a DM (direct message). The former is what we’re talking about here, and in that case someone can only find it if they proactively seek it out.

                If the OP was hunting down coworkers on social media to personally DM them her nude paintings, yeah, that would be sexual harassment. But that’s not at all what’s happening.

                1. Clisby*

                  Not exactly. Any of my FB friends might have something I post on my own page show up in their feed. Of course, they can unfollow me and opt out of that if they like.

              3. Avasarala*

                Also you can’t post explicit prn pictures on any social media account I know of (FB/insta/tumblr/twitter)

          3. Joielle*

            It’s usually teachers who get fired for “scandalous” pictures on their personal social media, not bank employees. And even that is not for sexual harassment, it’s because people think someone who drinks shouldn’t be around kids or something (obviously ridiculous, but that’s a topic for a different comment). That’s… not at all the situation here.

            1. Beanie Baby*

              Teaching comes with a very long history of moral purity required, to the extent that teachers used to be required to be single and not date, and heaven forbid they ever drink or stay out past 8pm. The code has eroded a lot, but this partially explains why teachers are still held to a higher moral standard than other working persons.

      3. Oh No She Di'int*

        OP *is* a professional in some capacity where nudity is accepted: she’s an artist.

        Yes, I get that an employer could fire OP for any reason whatsoever, but a public social media post explicitly and voluntarily sought out by other employees would not be considered harassment in the workplace. For it to qualify as harassment, the post would have to be directed at someone. In other words, OP would simply say, “My art offends you? Don’t follow me!”

        1. Czhorat*

          If it’s Iat work you can make an argument for hostile workplace, possibly. IT would certianly violate policies.

          Other than that?

          If you do business on social media, network with coworkers, plan meetings than you could argue that avoiding the nudes would also cost business opportunities.

          Absent either of those it’s neither a legal nor ethical issue.

        2. SomebodyElse*

          Not in the case of the bank. The pictures being shared in the context of the artist makes sense, but sharing them with bank coworkers is totally different.

        3. Mary*

          The only thing with that is that OP has to tell colleagues she’s an artist who paints nudes, and it sounds like she’s not yet at the stage where that’s something she wants to do.

          If she is successful in her bid to become a full-time artist, at some point she’s going to have to navigate that, because there will almost certainly be a period where she’s not able to be fully financially dependent on selling art, but she’s well-enough known that googling “Original Postername” brings up her pictures rather than her corporate LinkedIn or whatever. If at the moment she just doesn’t want to have to deal with either telling colleagues what’s on her art social media or the risks of letting them see it and having to deal with a complaint, separate Insta accounts is a good way to go.

          (Although as someone has pointed out, the algorithm WILL notice that posts are being made to two accounts from one device, and recommend @SecretNudeyArt to followers of @OriginalPostername1997, so best bet is probably to have a public @OriginalPostername1997 that doesn’t follow any coworkers or seek coworker followers, but which will come up if anyone looks for you, and @SecretNudeyArt as well.)

      4. hbc*

        I don’t think either of these could be considered harassment in the workplace, but I think you’re playing the circular game of “Someone will think it’s harassment so it’s bad, and it’s bad because those theoretical people might think it’s harassment.”

        Find me some precedent or something, because I don’t see “Waah, I voluntarily connected with a coworker outside work and saw stuff I didn’t like” going anywhere in a court of law.

  7. animaniactoo*

    If you don’t want to do 2 separate accounts as suggested above, you can explain it from a dedicated use perspective:

    “I use my Instagram mostly for a specific interest, so it would be better not to follow me on that one.”

    As far as people asking to see your art, this kind of shouts the need for a smaller curated portfolio/album that doesn’t include the self-nudes that you can share. Possibly no nudes depending on how you feel about it, but definitely without the selfportraits.

    1. Dragoning*

      I have never had a coworker ask to follow me on twitter, but if I did, my response would be something like, “It’s just me screaming about TV shows, it would bore the heck out of you.”

    2. Quill*

      And if you promote your art on facebook, you’re probably going to need a new account for it, unfortunately.

  8. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    Remember that even if you make separate social media accounts, your device can still connect them. There was a comment here from someone who’d made a completely separate IG account for exercise (IIRC). She used a different email address and name. But her colleagues still got a recommendation to check out her new account. I don’t know if that always happens or how to prevent it, only mentioning it as something to keep in mind.

    1. Nanani*

      Yep, this.
      Honestly, I would be shocked if OP hadn’t already attempted this route and found it unworkable for their purposes.

    2. Allypopx*

      Yep that happened when I made an account for my sims channel.

      And these algorithms are always changing so it’s difficult if not impossible to keep up with all the ways you can be discoverable and circumvent them.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, I’m sure people have stumbled from my tumblr to my sims stuff to my fanfic from time to time even though they’re on different platforms, just because I’ve been around the internet long enough that most of these have linked up at some point. Two different accounts on instagram? I can only imagine the crossover.

        Though hopefully instagram recommending the art account won’t immediately let her coworkers know it’s her…

      1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

        I know that Facebook has connected my “because some video games make it impossible to not link to Facebook to save them” account to my actual identity – I don’t know if it knows I’m the /same/ person, but the list of people I “might want to friend” .. includes my entire family. and I have literally never even posted in it.

  9. Macedon*

    Honestly think you can be upfront and say, “I paint nude portraits and post them to this account. If you’re uncomfortable with that, I completely understand – please don’t feel bad unfriending!” A courtesy heads up, that is it.

    It’s extremely common to paint nudes, especially among starting artists (easiest way to capture the human form, minority of textures). Anyone who is incapable of gazing at what they would see in most museums can self-select out. And yes, I say this as someone who also paints.

      1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

        honestly, though, if you paint people AT ALL painting nudes comes up at some point because it’s easier to learn the human form that way.

        It’s not “ooh naked people!” it’s “okay so the arm bends this way and looks like this when nothing’s obstructing it” so you can figure out how to do it when the person’s clothed. It’s not /naked/ it’s /anatomy/ – but, yeah, it’s also naked.

        If nothing else, it’s almost always a necessary learning /step/ – and artists, like most creative folk, are never DONE with learning all the possibilities of whatever! So the step repeats.

        1. Dragoning*

          Oh, I know that. I also wouldn’t…want a coworker specifically telling me about it.

          “Oh, I go to a beginning figure painting class.” I know what that means. But we can maintain the polite fiction that I do not.

          Perhaps OP could frame their art as “Oh, I do a lot of anatomy sketches” or something.

      2. Megan*

        Well, I think nude SELF portraits is a little different, also. I might be comfortable seeing a nude painting that a coworker did of a model who is, most likely, unknown to me. But seeing a nude painting of a coworker may be just a bit too much.

        1. Macedon*

          That’s definitely something that OP can disclose — “Hi, I frequently post nude self-portraits as part of my artistic journey… ” etc. So, again, people who are not comfortable with this (as is their right) can unfriend or withdraw the request.

      3. hbc*

        What would make you comfortable in this situation? You ask the OP to see their work, and they say….

        Full disclosure: I don’t think your discomfort in this situation is OP’s problem, but I’m curious if there’s a way that you could both be happy.

        1. Dragoning*

          Well, it is OP’s problem, because OP doesn’t want to make work awkward, and that would make work awkward. I don’t even have a problem with nudes. But I don’t want to talk about it at work, with my coworkers! As far as I am concerned, my coworkers come with clothes painted on, thank you very much!

          I did actually suggest alternate framing above.

          1. hbc*

            For your change above, I don’t get the distinction between “anatomy sketches” and “nude paintings.” Both tell me that I’m going to see some body parts usually covered by a swimsuit.

            But really, a momentary discomfort over finding out, “Whoops, don’t want to see those kinds of paintings” doesn’t mean awkwardness forever. I don’t find that anymore revealing than a story that includes, “The doorbell rang while I was in the shower.”

            1. Dragoning*

              The point is not “don’t tell your coworker what you’re making.” The point is to word it in such a way where we can both pretend otherwise.

      4. Macedon*

        Okay – but you’d have the option to opt out. I don’t really see what the problem is, as long as a courtesy note is given. Even if it’s just a new, “Hey, sorry I failed to mention when I added you — I typically post (self) nude portraits on this account. I appreciate this can make some people uncomfortable, so please don’t hesitate to unfriend/unfollow, if that’s the case.”

        1. Dragoning*

          Because a coworker saying that to me would make me hideously uncomfortable and I would feel like I have to respond or acknowledge I saw it when really I’d like it to never have happened. I just do not want my coworker to be that straightforward and blunt about it. It would make me uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable just thinking about it. I would not be this uncomfortable if someone I did not have to work with and interact with professionally told me this.

          Is that a problem? I don’t know, maybe. Is it entirely fair? I don’t know, maybe not. But it’s also reality, and it work,, and if OP doesn’t want to make their coworkers uncomfortable, it’s something to consider.

          1. Macedon*

            But they are not exposing you to the nude imagery by saying “I post art of my nude imagery”. You are becoming uncomfortable by mentally visualising it — that’s not OP’s fault. They would not be providing you with graphic detail of what this nude imagery entails.

            This is reminding me of the debate here about whether it’s acceptable for women to keep tampons in a work cupboard, because men might imagine them in use.

              1. Macedon*

                Someoen who is adding you on personal social networks is doing so in a personal/intended friendly capacity. You can approach them in a non-work context (next company drink session, next you’re out lunching together, etc) and mention, “Hey, about that add request. I want to mention… ”

                Or whenever they bring up the unanswered add request, because that is when they are signalling the conversation has turned from professional to personal/friendly matters.

              2. hbc*

                Do you just not like the word “nude”? Because “anatomy” in this case is a pretty clear synonym, but you seem to be okay with it.

                But I think you and the OP might have to treat this as a one-off, 5 second discomfort that fends off a whole lot of discomfort with the “Why is she being so squirrelly about friending me? Is she too good for us?” or “She said she’s not on social media but she just talked about sharing her paintings online, that lying liar.” You just move right past it like you happened to see her in the locker room at the Y.

                1. Macedon*

                  That’s exactly it — giving people a heads up allows them the opportunity to politely opt out of a situation that might make them uncomfortable, no harm, no foul. Also, ‘anatomy sketches’ is just too vague.

                  ‘Anatomy sketches’ could mean body parts (so, just hands and feet studies, etc), which would unfairly represent the situation. Someone who’s okay seeing frequent Durer-style sketches of hands in prayer might be completely disconcerted to see self-portrait nudes. Honesty is a great policy when it comes to consent.

            1. TL -*

              No, we have language to maintain polite fictions exactly for situations like this. “I do a lot of figure drawings, anatomy sketches, and self-portraits” may be saying the same thing, but it does it in a way that lets your co-workers pretend you’re a never nude.

              “I need to run out to the bathroom real quick” is the same thing as “I need to pee like a big dog” – but we use one for work and the other for the locker room, even though everybody knows what you do in the bathroom. Polite fictions exist for a reason.

              1. Macedon*

                Except there is nothing contentious in the word ‘nude’, particularly in this context, where it describes an art topic. You are not graphically saying which bits you’re baring and to what extent (which is closer to your ‘I need to pee like a big dog’ example). Using ‘anatomy’ can be misleading and very often refers to independent body parts or very loose sketches to learn and illustrate proportions and angles — someone might agree to friend you on the assumption that you’re just posting those kind of anatomy sketches, then get blindsided with nude artwork.

                I’m not sure why the word ‘nude’ is so problematic, especially as it’s with regard to an off-work social (media) relationship.

                1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

                  I suspect it’s because “nude” = “naked” – even though they’re not actually the same thing.

                  A picture of my face is a nude self portrait, because it’s my face without obstruction. It’s not naked, because you can’t tell if it’s just my face.

                  Nude doesn’t mean sexual body parts. A nude painting can be done in a way that’s not showing any sexual bits. /Naked/ is /without clothing/ and therefore falling into “don’t want to think of someone that way”.

                  Which, y’know, since /nude/ is non-sexual, I .. wouldn’t want to SEE that artwork without warning, but I wouldn’t be all “didn’t want to think that.” Someone says they post /naked/ self-portraits, I’d expect visible bits normally covered by clothing. Nude could be .. elbows.

                  …. I think I’d be far more disturbed by a website full of elbow studies, actually. But there’s certainly nothing wrong with assuming that nudes means “weird elbow drawings”.

                  or, heck, the palest color of stockings is “nude” – as is pale-person foundation makeup, or at least it was. Maybe they mean that! Plausible deniability!

                2. Gazebo Slayer*

                  Yeah, it feels like Dragoning just doesn’t like the word “nude,” but it’s not really fair or realistic to expect your coworkers to intuit the words that specifically squick you.

                3. Avasarala*

                  I agree, and also I’ve noticed Dragoning has a different threshold of uncomfortable/acceptable human interaction than what is common in my experience. I’m not sure we can solve an interaction without making them uncomfortable when the nature of the subject makes them uncomfortable.

      5. Valprehension*

        What would you want them to do if you were asking to follow them on social media though? Would you rather they *not* warn you? What is your proposed course of action?

    1. Mel_05*

      Yeah, I think that’s a good way to frame it. Because I don’t have a problem with people painting nudes, but I never, ever want to see a nude painting of my coworkers.

      Of course, I don’t connect with my coworkers on social, because there are a LOT of aspects of my coworkers lives that I would prefer to not be real familiar with, but some people feel compelled or just friend everyone and they’re almost certainly not expecting nudes.

      1. Macedon*

        It’s absolutely understandable if exposure to artistic nudity is not something you are comfortable with, and OP should definitely make sure their wording makes people feel at ease with self-selecting out (and not as if they’re a killjoy/prude).

    2. Blueberry*

      I wish I could agree, because people ought to be able to but I have had coworkers whom I know would have been made uncomfortable if I told them such a fact about my art.

      1. Macedon*

        Bluntly, that’s a ‘them’ problem, and I really want to fight back against attitudes that the onus is on the OP to not make things “uncomfortable” for their workplace.

        Nudity in art is absolutely a tradition which we have all been acquainted and subjected to. There are nude and semi-nude pictures in history books handled by middle-schoolers (typically a Venus of some kind). Surely we can all handle the reality that nude art studies happen.

        Being exposed to them directly without our consent is a completely different conversation, and hence why I think there should be a courtesy note.

        1. Blueberry*

          It totally is a ‘them’ problem, but, well, they’re the ones who’d go to HR and lodge a complaint against OP. Look at the discussion you had with Dragoning up there — I kind of want to warn their artistic coworkers not to say too much. I might, depending on the job and my capital, push back against the idea — you are totally right about how wrong it is — but I can’t recommend OP do so because I don’t know how much they can afford to potentially lose their job.

          1. Dragoning*

            Oddly, I *am* the artistic coworker, and I *don’t* talk about it at work. And there is no way in heck I would go to HR about it, personally, I would just stew in discomfort and awkwardness.

            It’s not that I think it’s morally wrong! It’s that I think it’s inappropriate for a workplace! Because it is!

            1. Macedon*

              But no one is saying for OP to scream atop the work rooftops they paint and post nude self-portraits without prompting. I am saying, when a friend or follow request on social media comes up ( which is already a non-work environment ), give the coworkers a polite heads up to ensure they know exactly what they are getting into and to choose to opt out if this exceeds their comfort levels. Seriously, what do you want OP to do, misrepresent and refer to the nude self-portraits as ‘anatomy sketches’, then end up making a coworker who was expecting bone studies a full view of their privates?

              Finally, I really wish I understood why we are rushing to conflate ‘nude’ with ‘pornography’ and imply there is anything gross or contentious about the former as an art form. Nude portraits are not inherently sexual; they are studies. Certainly no one ever seems to blink an eye when medicine students are learning through dissection, even though we all know the bodies are fully bare.

  10. François Caron*

    If your employer is a church, expect problems.
    if your employer is an art museum, expect offers.

    It’s an interesting issue these days. As more and more people post risky stuff online (nudes, music, videos, political stuff), who determines at which point an employee’s personal activities risk negatively affecting their employer’s reputation?

    And what if the employee’s activities were posted online without their knowledge by someone else?

  11. Pretzelgirl*

    I am going to bet as long as you don’t post YOURFIRSTNAME LAST NAME who works at Big Banking Company here are my paintings, you will probably be fine. I realize this doesn’t guarantee you 100% job security. If you can keep your settings private and be very careful who you let follow you. I wouldn’t friend or allow any managers to follow you. This is something I do anyway. No friends with management, until I leave the company.

  12. Juli G.*

    Two things to consider in addition to Alison’s advice

    1. Check to see if your company has a social media policy.
    2. Don’t put where you work in your profile

  13. Mary Whitney*

    On instagram, if OP’s profile is public, she won’t have the option to accept/deny follows. She’ll have to block coworkers, likely proactively, to ensure they don’t see her artwork.

    Another option might be having a SFW personal profile and then an art profile. But that might be a lot of work to set up and get started, especially if OP already has an art following established.

  14. boop the first*

    I’m torn.
    On one hand, you can hide your art away from your workplace and fly under the radar, which is the simplest solution people are coming up with. Sure. Easy.

    But I did that for 10 years… everybody thought that I was deeply invested in my day jobs (I guess I stupidly was), and while a few people knew that I was taking art in college, and a few others knew that I was hanging in galleries, it wasn’t widely KNOWN. It was just a piece of background information like I had a cat.

    The result of keeping my business separate? I’m a decade in and I still have ZERO local support. The only people who saw my art were strangers, and strangers don’t care about strangers the way they care about friends. I sacrificed a LOT for my day jobs, one of which took advantage of me and paid me greatly less than my coworkers, another that laid me off, and another who lied constantly about my schedule. You have coworkers following your work, so you don’t want to lose that. You want everyone to know that you’re open for business.

    Your job will never make that kind of sacrifice for you, but it also sounds like a decent job, so I’m kind of torn on it.

    I guess the only remaining detail is the classical nudes. Is it going to be your lifelong subject of choice? It’s the one detail you can easily control, if you feel truly stuck.

    1. boop the first*

      After reading the other comments, yes, I just want to reiterate that unless you’re going out and meeting new people regularly, hiding your art from the only people you likely interact with daily would greatly stunt your growth.

      Unless you ARE going out and meeting new people outside of work constantly, that’s another option. Probably a better one, actually.

      1. JSPA*

        Much better.

        Re-read your own post, if you’re beating yourself up retroactively about opportunities lost, at work…the people you dealt with at work (as you describe them) were not particularly invested in you nor reliably kind to you. Any second guessing about the past that presumes that if they had known your other life, they would have been better as coworkers, also been real friends, and also been invested in your art? That’s quite possibly magical thinking, not realistic assessment of a path not taken.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      There’s a bit to unpack in your comment, but didn’t you have local friends not through work like other artists and creatives? Those seem like the local networking connections you need get your art career off the ground, not your co-workers at the bank.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Ironically enough, the upper level managers at DayJob who are being protected from being offended by learning that an employee paints gallery-worthy nudes are also the ones who would have the disposable income to commission art.

        1. JSPA*

          It’s still going to be Crossing the Streams to buy edgy art from your own three-levels-down subordinate (or selling to your great grandboss). I mean, maybe not, if it comes to your notice by way of an auction for a good cause you both support; but “CFO buys nudes by receptionist and becomes a patron” is more of a romance novel plot than something that sits comfortably inside the reporting structure of a bank!

          They buy from some other not-so-starving artist in a completely different day job; you sell to someone else’s great grandboss.

        2. Avasarala*

          Next week on AAM: “My boss bought a painting from me, now they have a nude self-portrait of me hanging in their home”

    3. Anon for this one*

      “[I hid my art away from my workplace for 1o years]…. The result of keeping my business separate? I’m a decade in and I still have ZERO local support. […] The only people who saw my art were strangers”

      What was the alternative? To exploit the relationships your bosses had built up with clients? Hang up your artworks in your workplace?

      You should have been “[stupidly] invested in your day jobs”; why? Because they were paying for your life day-to-day while you agonised over which portrait to paint next or whatever, you still had a steady income, from those “day jobs”.

      1. Blueberry*

        This response rather assumes the worst of Boop The First. I can envision many other ways being more ‘out’ about their art might have helped their career than the examples of inappropriateness you bring up. In fact, getting paid for art to decorate one’s workplace might not even be inappropriate depending on the art. I’ve had more than one coworker who did so.

  15. AntiSocialite*

    Oh, no. No no no.
    You need to have a separate Insta (and dedicated email address) for your art, and then another for anything else that commingles with co-workers.

  16. Kittymommy*

    I swear I first read that headline as “is it okay to paint nude self portraits while at work?”

    No, no it is not.

    1. JediSquirrel*

      Well, damn. I guess I better get my easel out of the first floor bathroom and take it home.

  17. That would be a good band name*

    OP – I’d be careful. It’s been several years (14-15) since I’ve worked for a bank but there were some pretty strict clauses at the ones I worked for that included having to have ANY outside employment approved. And I was just a bank teller, not anything high level. I could easily imagine work consequences if they connect it to you.

  18. Kevin Sours*

    While I believe Alison’s opening couple of paragraphs are entirely correct for private employers, if the employer is a government actor it bring in 1st amendment issues that are complicated (in this instance you need to ask a legal expert and their answer is going to start with “it’s complicated”).

    Obviously that doesn’t apply to this specific case but applies more broadly than I think a lot of people realize (at least people seem to be constantly surprised that places like UCLA are government organizations)

  19. HR Jedi*

    The problem that I don’t think is being taken into consideration is that it may seem all well and good when you are friendly with your coworkers, but it becomes sexual harassment when one of them gets angry with you.

    Even if you disclosed that you display nude art before friending someone, that isn’t going to exempt you from policy. Think of it this way, if giving prior warning exempted employers from harassment complaints, every employer would disclose to their new hires that it’s possible that their boss may hit on them.

    In general, I don’t recommend connecting with current coworkers on social media that isn’t a strictly professional. Use a different account to promote your art that does not identify who your employer is and restrict who sees it when you promote using your regular accounts. Otherwise, unfriend your current coworkers.

    1. JediSquirrel*

      it becomes sexual harassment when one of them gets angry with you

      No it doesn’t. They have the option to unfollow if they don’t like it. And they have the option (on Instagram, at least), to see the contents of someone’s feed before they follow it. Nothing is being forced on them, so this is not in any way harassment.

      In general, I don’t recommend connecting with current coworkers on social media that isn’t a strictly professional.

      Seriously, though, this is the best policy. I don’t connect with any of my coworkers via social media. If they want to send me the request, that’s fine, but I won’t honor it until the day we are no longer coworkers.

  20. Shramps*

    I see a lot of comments telling OP to separate the accounts, I really don’t agree. I think separate accounts are a step, but INstagram has been around for 10 years- what If OP already has art followers on her main? A lot of artists are their brand, so their name must be included and the account must be private. I think to create a separate PG just for work IG may be just as strange to coworkers.

    I think OP will have to come clean a little bit, and admit they have an art account that other people may not appreciate or may not be appropriate for coworkers. It could be an award conversation (and it could inspire the curiosity OP is trying to avoid) but it could be exactly what she needs to set a boundary.

    1. JSPA*

      Incorporate a distinctive, fake middle name / nickname / nom d’arte for the art site. If I’m looking for Gloria M. Jones in accounting, I’m not going to click on Gloria “PinkCallaLily” Jones’ or Gloria “DarkBird” Jones’ instagram. (Or rather, if they do, they deserve to live with whatever they see and can’t unsee.) People who are already following the instagram will note the addition, but presumably not unfollow on that basis (?).

      Also, separate personal emails (if work wants one, and you have one linked to the site).

  21. wondercat*

    You can’t use it for a selective audience for regular instagram posts, but if you use Instagram Stories, you can make a “instagram close friends list.” That would limit your stories to only be available to the people on your list .

  22. Anon for this one*

    If there’s any way it could be tracked back to you (googling usernames, tying back to an email address etc) then you aren’t really anonymous.

    Are you really a “fine artist with a day job at a bank” or more likely in reality (from the point of view of your employer)… a bank employee with an easily accessible instagram account with compromising pictures on it!

    Ultimately your job is what pays for the rest of your life so you need to be at least somewhat aware of what they might be expecting from you.

    I know I have interacted with bank employees (with business cards! “Mortgage Adviser”, etc) and googled them to check out they were real. Personally I wouldn’t have been put off by that stuff but I know many many people who would.

  23. windsofwinter*

    I am also in a somewhat close-knit office with a lot of people I genuinely like and even hang out with outside of work sometimes. I have just good-naturedly told them I don’t add people from work on social media. It’s a new boundary I set when I started this job after being burned in the past. No one ever gives me grief about it. The key is that I really have to stick to it. I have been tempted to lift my ban for certain people after becoming close with them, but I have to draw a hard line. That way no one else can get their feelings hurt because I’m declining them. I decline everyone!

  24. JSPA*

    Style, tone and composition? If it’s photorealist, or included contorted, distressed, overtly sexual or otherwise heavy / complex matter, that’s going to risk more immediate recognition and stronger reactions than if it’s more abstract, meditative, etc.

    If changing the hair color would convince most of your coworkers that the subject is your sister / friend / imaginary person, title the naked self portraits “portrait,” futz with the hair color, and assume that most coworkers can live with the idea that you paint nudes, but may not want to have to think of having seen you nude.

    And, yes to the pseudonymous site.

    Making sure coworkers don’t have to deal with, “I lost your cell number, did a deep google to find it, and accidentally saw recognizable images of you in the buff” is a good goal.

  25. Miss H*

    “On Facebook, I filter who can see my posts.”

    OP, I’m not sure how long you’ve been on Facebook or how much you follow news on it, but Facebook has been consistently terrible about maintaining privacy settings across changes to the interface/backend. When I was on Facebook, I used to use an old Groups function to filter out some posts for friends/family/”limited profile.” That worked great…until suddenly something changed on the back end of things and everyone was seeing everything. I fixed my settings for that, but another change in their system made my stuff less private again. This is par for the course for Facebook. You can’t catch up. There is no announcement about these changes ahead of time, and sometimes you only find out when you run into complaints on the internet or someone on your “limited” list mentions something they should never have seen.

    Do not put anything on Facebook you are not okay with the world seeing. Do not be Facebook “friends” with anyone from work. Consider deleting your profile entirely; I have and never regretted it.

  26. Jennifer Juniper*

    Maybe the OP can have a filter that blurs out private areas. I don’t know if that’s possible or how that would work.

    1. JediSquirrel*

      There are apps that can do that (at least on Android, I’m assuming also on iOS), but this would probably not go over well in the art world, which is where OP wants to end up eventually.

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        Is there a way you can set up the photo filter so that you have to click a warning: NSFW link to see the unblurred photo?

  27. Not Da Vinci*

    As a hobbyist traditional artist myself (who’s been known to post the occasional life drawing on social media), I’m wondering how peoples’ comfort levels change depending on the subject of the portrait.

    Obviously, self-portraits are pretty divisive, based on these comments. What about nude drawings of other models? Or a “master copy,” where you paint a copy of a famous nude from art history? Or highly stylized/simplified illustrations vs. realist art?

  28. Anono-me*

    O p, please Google “Texas woman fired over engagement photos”. This woman worked in a bank in Texas and she was fired in 2017 . I thought that the photos were only mildly racy*.

    It is my understanding that the banking industry as a whole is exceedingly conservative in every shape and form. If I were in your position, until I was ready to leave the banking industry; I would exercise Extreme Caution and sharing anything at work about your artwork that could lead to any of the nudes you painted.

    *I thought the photos were lovely and romantic. There were scenes where both the woman and her male fiance appeared be partially clothed, but there was no actual nudity shown due to smart photography and strategic posing.

  29. lilsheba*

    I’ve always said that my facebook and my instagram are MINE and not my employer’s business. I don’t post much on facebook but on instagram I post a lot of witch related stuff. And I’m not going to stop.

  30. FlyingNun*

    Hi everyone, I am the original poster.
    First, a huge thank you to Alison for answering my question. I really appreciate the suggestions and advice.
    Second, a huge thank you to the commenters as well, your input is very helpful.

    There is a lot of ways to paint the figure or tell a visual story, and my works are not about sexuality or my attractiveness level at all. It’s a spiritual theme where the nudity is about vulnerability and surrender. There’s also the the fact that realist nude figures are considered traditional and conservative in the art world, rather than risqué. My perception of the social impact of sharing my paintings was fairly biased.

    So it was great to get some perspective from folks who have said that a co-worker with nude paintings in her social media would be creepy and make them very uncomfortable. That is definitely not my goal in life. Clearly, sharing my art accounts with coworkers was a monumentally dumb thing to do.

    I am going to quietly disconnect them on Instagram and Facebook, and use Alison’s scripts to decline connection requests in the future. And thanks to the people who suggested making a SFW portfolio on my phone. The coworkers that have seen my social feed have responded as if it’s no big deal, but I’ll be more careful in the future.

    1. Qwerty*

      Sounds like a plan! And honestly, you probably won’t even have to use the scripts. I have a whole long list of pending requests on Instagram from colleagues that I just keeping sitting there – I choose to keep my Instagram limited to a small, personal group. And most platforms will also not notify people when you remove them. No one has ever followed up with me to ask me why I haven’t added them, or why the we’re removed! It’s easy to overthink how much stock other people are putting into follow requests. But the scripts will work perfectly if it does come up.

  31. cheeky*

    Yes, your IG can absolutely become a problem. Block any coworkers who follow you, and consider making your account private.

  32. S*

    First, have separate personal vs art accounts on each platform. Defriend coworkers as needed.

    Second, save pictures of more work friendly art to your phone, and when coworkers ask to see your art show directly instead of directing them to your online account.

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