Plant-Based Power: An In­ter­view with Scott Cain, the cre­ator of In­sta­gram's www. in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants

Q Magazine - - Q Feature: - By Ge­orge Tsan­garis

Scott Cain is the cre­ator of the wildly pop­u­lar In­sta­gram ac­count @ boyswith­plants now top­ping over 90k fol­low­ers. The suc­cess of his page has led to the pub­li­ca­tion of the ‘Boys With Plants' book. Scott is a free­lance graphic de­signer who is based in Perth. Work­ing from home Scott en­joys be­ing sur­rounded by the plants his home is filled with. Where did you get the idea for BWP?

In 2016 I started a plants-themed ac­count, www.in­sta­gram.com/Trop­i­caLoco, where I met some great peo­ple, who I chat with reg­u­larly. I used to swap pic­tures with www. in­sta­gram.com/Jame­sipy of boys with plants and re­alised it would make a really good page so I cre­ated www.in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants in Oc­to­ber 2016.

By April 2017 the page had around 30k fol­low­ers but it really took off in mid-2017 when www.in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants was men­tioned in the Wash­ing­ton Post and got no­ticed in other pub­li­ca­tions like Cleo Mag­a­zine and Metro UK. It was around this time that I was ap­proached by Mod­ern Books about do­ing a book.

To­day you have 90k+ fol­low­ers and a book that has just been re­leased. Many peo­ple only dream of such suc­cess with their In­sta­gram ac­count. It al­most seems like an overnight suc­cess. How did you do it?

It def­i­nitely was not an overnight suc­cess! I put a lot of work into it. I cu­rate care­fully, stick to the theme and I post three times a day: morn­ing, noon and be­fore I got to bed. Oc­ca­sion­ally I might al­low my­self to post twice a day.

I be­lieve the rea­son why www.in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants is suc­cess­ful is be­cause I ac­knowl­edge the boys that are posted. I make it clear that I re­post their image and the guys like how many new fol­low­ers they get once they are fea­tured.

Which plants pho­to­graph best with boys?

The first thing I look for are the plants. My per­sonal pref­er­ence is big, bold fo­liage trop­i­cal house­plants like mon­stera, al­lo­ca­tia, ferns, cacti and an­thuri­ums. It's about the plants first. The sec­ond thing I look at is the boy. If the image is not plant-fo­cused I don't post it. I'm try­ing to ed­u­cate my au­di­ence on what I look for.

(Scroll through boyswith­plants.com/tips for tips on how to get fea­tured).

If it's a great pic­ture I will post it and if a boy gets posted mul­ti­ple times then it's be­cause what he sub­mit­ted is more than a pretty pic­ture. Now, once a week, I fea­ture a ‘Boy of the Week'. These are of­ten the guys I would like to put in the book but ei­ther I was not able to fea­ture then or they came along af­ter the book was fi­nalised for pub­li­ca­tion.

What the most neg­a­tive thing you ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing your time work­ing on www.in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants?

Peo­ple are usu­ally pretty good. How­ever some guys get fea­tured then feel they are get­ting too much at­ten­tion on their own In­sta­gram page. They get sent mes­sages from strangers and then ask to have the photo to be taken off @boyswith­plants. So they get 300 to 400 new fol­low­ers be­cause they got fea­tured and then want their photo re­moved.

Re­cently I posted an image of guy sur­rounded by plants. In the image he was be­ing play­ful with a cac­tus. Not more than 20 min­utes af­ter the photo was posted, I re­ceived neg­a­tive com­ments, and so I re­moved the image. I told the boy about it and he was a good sport; he laughed it off. Things like that don't hap­pen of­ten though.

How do the images res­onate with your fol­low­ers? Were there any con­tro­ver­sies?

I lot a lot of peo­ple un­fol­lowed me af­ter I posted an image of a hunky man cov­er­ing his pri­vate parts with a leaf, de­spite over 9500 likes. https://in­sta­gram.com/p/Bl8UQVQDH0v/ It's a nice image but there are a mil­lion pages out there about mus­cu­lar naked boys. I have a built an au­di­ence who are look­ing with boys with plants and that's what they ex­pect to see.

https://in­sta­gram.com/p/Bop0KQmDQUd This photo was suc­cess­ful be­cause his pose is cool; the plant is in­ter­est­ing with all the ae­rial roots show­ing. In this case he's a ma­ture, mas­cu­line man and it's not sex­ual. It's gen­uine and that ap­peals to peo­ple. Not

ev­ery­one ap­pre­ci­ates sex­ual and that's not the in­ten­tion of the page ei­ther.

Re­gard­ing sub­mis­sions; what ir­ri­tates you the most and why?

Peo­ple think­ing they are more im­por­tant than their plants. On my page they're not, even if they are good look­ing su­per-model type of guys.

What is the most pos­i­tive thing you ex­pe­ri­enced through your jour­ney with www.in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants and why?

Re­ceiv­ing my book in the mail. It felt like the cul­mi­na­tion of a lot of work, both on the page as well as the de­sign process.

Who was your favourite boy and why?

One of my favourite boys is Jan K, www.in­sta­gram.com/home­by­fousna – he pho­to­graphs his plants beau­ti­fully. He is gen­uinely in­ter­ested in plants, in grow­ing and prop­a­gat­ing them. And he is a good re­flec­tion of how in­ter­na­tional the page is: he is Czech and lives in Bo­gota, Colom­bia. We've built up a friend­ship.

Who was your least favourite boy and why?

I don't have a least favourite boy but I do have a least favourite type of boy. It's some­body who sub­mits a photo think­ing it is amaz­ing for the page. Maybe it ticks the boxes but for what­ever rea­son I choose not to post it. Some of the guys fol­low up and are so pushy that they can be­come un­pleas­ant.

I also get sub­mis­sions from mums send­ing in pic­tures of their two-year old child with house­plants. While the pic­tures are fine I would never post images of chil­dren with plants when they are sur­rounded on a feed with half-naked men. It's weird. Why look at an In­sta­gram ac­count of men and then sub­mit a photo of your kid?

What de­mo­graphic is your read­er­ship?

From the sta­tis­tics I get, www.in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants started out with 25% guys and 75% girls. Now it has moved to 45% guys and 55% girls be­tween the ages of 25 and 35.

Is there any­thing you would like to change about BWP or the process?

I might have like to call it www.in­sta­gram.com/men­with­plants be­cause it's a more ac­cu­rate re­flec­tion of who is rep­re­sented. Ini­tially I started out with www.in­sta­gram.com/men­with­plants and then speak­ing to some friends about it they rec­om­mended that www. in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants had a bet­ter ring to it. If you look up www.in­sta­gram.com/men­with­plants you would find a link to www.in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants.

With plants be­ing a fo­cus on your In­sta­gram page you're ob­vi­ously con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­ment. What tips would you give to your fol­low­ers for them to make even a small im­pact to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment?

I have re­cently stared a part­ner­ship with a char­ity called One Tree Planted (https://one­treeplanted.org). For ev­ery prod­uct that I sell on my page (t-shirts, mugs, stick­ers) I do­nate to them and they plant one tree. This idea came about be­cause one of my fol­low­ers sug­gested that if each of my fol­low­ers planted one tree we would have over 90k trees planted.

At times BWP can be fairly racy, what do peo­ple clos­est to you say?

My grandma hasn't seen it. My mum sup­ports it but has not seen the page. I think it's a bit too racy for her. But she is busy with her own plant-based In­sta­gram ac­count.

From boys with plants to a boy with plans: what can we ex­pect from you 2019? Maybe ‘Boys With Plants: The Movie'? Or per­haps budgie smug­glers?

I have more prod­ucts com­ing out in 2019 to go with the t-shirt, mugs and stick­ers that I al­ready have out. I would like to do a va­ri­ety of t-shirts. I will have a www.in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants tote bag out and things like socks, phone cases and cush­ions so make sure you visit the page and the site for more in­for­ma­tion. There might also be a cal­en­dar if all goes to plan in 2020. More info on Scott and www.in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants be­low: In­sta­gram: https://www.in­sta­gram.com/boyswith­plants Web­site: https://www.boyswith­plants.com Face­book: https://www.face­book.com/boyswith­plants Twit­ter: https://twit­ter.com/boyswith­plants The ‘Boys With Plants' book is out now.

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