There are not many accounts on Instagram that offer a creative way to showcase a product. Luckily, we are friends with some of the most popular ones. Today we spoke to Richard the founder of a very clever and epic Instagram account Marvelatwhisky. After you get a small peak into Richard’s life, hit the link in his name and give him a follow. Richard has some big projects coming up and you don’t want to be the one to miss them. Consider this our Public Service Announcement for the day.
Hey Rich, let’s kick things off with a little bio about you.
R: I’ve always been a Marvel fan, but my fascination with Superheroes, Sci-Fi and larger-than-life characters are not limited exclusively to the Marvel Universe. So, whilst my feed is dominated by Deadpool, you will see amongst others Bruce Lee – a real ‘larger-than-life’ hero and Ryu – a throwback to my teenage years and addiction with playing arcades. I’d say though, the character I am most intrigued by as a person and would like to own as a figure is Rorschach from Watchmen. Who incidentally for my fellow geeks is part of the DC Universe.
I guess you could say being an 80’s child I’m quite nostalgic about this period – along with Street Fighter I have played with ideas of Back to the Future in my posts and am working on a Stranger Things image starring Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) – for those that have watched the series, you can guess what she will be lifting with her psychokinetic powers!
You run the account on Instagram Marvelatwhisky? Were you always a Marvel fan? What drove you to move your passion onto social media? How did you get started on Instagram?
R: Instagram for me, spawned out of following some of the amazing toy photography accounts. Whilst I had never posted anything I enjoyed flicking through these posts and admiring the creative expression going on and mix up of characters from alternate worlds. I suppose then back in the summer of 2017; I saw a bottle of spirit that contained a snake eating a scorpion. Out of instinct more than anything else, I took a photo and uploaded it to Instagram – and so I stepped off the precipice and into the Insta-rabbit hole.
The transition from that post to MarvelatWhisky was then quite natural. The reactions from this first post led me to focus on the spirit I loved the most: whisk(e)y. A few months later I dropped in an image of Deadpool alongside a bottle of Talisker 10 and the reaction blew me away. That was the moment I decided to unleash the my world of Superheroes onto the more mature and discerning whisk(e)y community.
What central message do you impart on your followers through your posts? Why do you think you have garnered such a positive reaction in such a short period of time?
R: The central theme for me has been to combine both these elements in a fun and amusing, yet informative way. I wanted to connect with kindred spirits as well as those with just a passing interest. Most of all, I wanted to create images that captivated a broad audience, regardless of their level of interest in the subject matter and craft stories that intrigued them enough to want to learn more. Occasionally it comes off as intended! Sometimes I talk about how a whisky tastes and sometimes I talk about what’s happened in my week or whatever’s on my mind. But I always try to be authentic – to be just me (says the man who hides behind Superhero toys). Maybe I’m just Peter Parker, with all of those inhibitions thrown out as soon as I don my Instagram persona. I should say, I think it’s easier to hide behind the mask, then to stand in front of the camera as so many great accounts do – that I admire greatly.
Why did you decide to incorporate spirits into your marvel posts on Instagram? Did you have someone that inspired this direction of posts for you?
R: I guess people connect with the creation of a story that’s fun yet thought provoking, it’s something they can engage with more than just a picture of a bottle and a series of hashtags. I think that whether it’s balancing bottles, whiskies with a stunning view, an insightful experience or some kind of pairing, it’s the story that intrigues people and encourages them to react and participate. The trick is finding that connection between your image and your voice. It’s why I always try to give my images a title or strap line, so that even if people don’t have time to read the full content, they can take away some context for how the image came about in my weird mind. Some folks notice that I try and use locations which relate to the image and content, sometimes the most difficult part is finding a suitable location – I’ve been fortunate that someone somewhere, decided to call their business “Oh Shit” which perfectly matched an image of Bruce Lee accidently slicing the hand off a Stromtrooper!
What do you love most about social media, particularly Instagram?
R: I think Instagram creates this shared experience in a way that no other medium can. You can dip in and out instantly and spend as much or as little time as you want engaged. I find Twitter is a platform for brands talking to other brands – it’s not personable. I enjoy watching reviews on YouTube, but it doesn’t offer the accessibility of Instagram, nor the sense of community. It is absolutely the community that’s pushed me to try things I had never thought of before – both in terms of actual whisk(e)y and photos.
What tips would you share about creating engaging content?
R: If I was to offer any tips about crafting content, I’d say think about the message you’re trying to convey with each post and with your account in general. Would you be engaged if you saw that picture in your feed? But above all, make it an expression of who you are – the rest is all fluff really. An Instagram account is a portal for others to view your world as you see it, it’s not a résumé or your Tinder profile. So if you take a snap in dark lighting of your half eaten dinner, alongside the remnants of a finished dram with ketchup stains around the rim of your Glencairn, who gives a shit if you don’t! Just enjoy yourself. Have fun – “Life is too important to be taken seriously” as a much wiser man than I once said.
You’re really big into the Whisky, we can tell. How big is the whisky scene in London? In terms of prices and allocation, comparatively to the United States, is it easier and cheaper to get some of the hard to get bottles there?
R: Early on in my Insta days I connected with Eddie (@the_smoking_klub) who runs the bar at Milroy’s – London’s oldest whisky bar. He encouraged me to engage more with the ‘real-life’ whisk(e)y scene here in London, to meet people and share experiences together. Since then, I have met many great people and made real friendships who started out as just virtual acquaintances. The scene here is really vibrant and very active, with some incredibly knowledgeable people working in the industry or simply enthusiasts. London’s also a global city, so when folk from further afield head over, Milroy’s has become a kind of whisky Mecca and I’ve been lucky to hook up with people from all over the world.
That said, sometimes I do feel as though the spirit made so close to my home is often more easily available in places so far far away! I guess though, if you’re a big business and your core markets are the US and Asia, it doesn’t matter where you make your product, its heading to those places first. I generally find the allocation to be smaller here and often more expensive. The flip side however, is that some of my favourite brands release limited editions which if you act fast, you’re more likely to get being here.
“Whether it’s simply terminology or not, I dislike the jargon of Influencers, Followers and Fans. I believe we are all influencing each other and whilst a small minority of people may think that because they have a large “follower” base they are “influencers”, that measurement is far more complex. And I’m happy to call this out. The greatest accounts in the community come in all shapes and sizes. Influence is connected to mutual engagement in my view and I would be embarrassed to think of myself as one.” – Richard
Top 5 List of best whisky you’ve ever tasted:
R: Best whiskies is a difficult one. I find my palate changing over time and according to the mood I am in! If I had to pick 5, I’d probably go with:
Glendronach 15 Revival (2014 version)
Springbank 19 Single Cask sherry – as given to me by @holdmyscotch
Macallan 10 Cask Strength
Bunnahabhain 25 XOP Single Cask
And don’t hold me to that, I am liable to change my mind!
As you know the #whiskyfabric community is a tight knit community for the most part. But there will always be some people who just won’t support your art no matter what you post. If you could openly address the hateraid, what would you say?
R: To be part of the #whiskyfabric is unlike any other connection I have had with a group of people in my life. The diversity, enthusiasm, positivity and passion is truly remarkable. Aside of the group as a whole, I am part of many smaller groups on Instagram (some of which you well know, Gene) and speak with many people regularly over DM. Not everyone is going to get what you do all of the time and I welcome both critique and suggestion. I’ve not experienced any direct hostility towards what I do, but really because I have no agenda, I’m never phased by what people might think or say. My ‘real-world’ job equips me well to be confident in whom I am, but not arrogant in the way I act.
I have talked a number of times about things I am cautious with on Instagram and in platforms where there is always an underlying agenda of marketing, sales and money. Whether it’s simply terminology or not, I dislike the jargon of Influencers, Followers and Fans. I believe we are all influencing each other and whilst a small minority of people may think that because they have a large “follower” base they are “influencers”, that measurement is far more complex. And I’m happy to call this out. The greatest accounts in the community come in all shapes and sizes. Influence is connected to mutual engagement in my view and I would be embarrassed to think of myself as one. My focus is on getting people to react with my posts through likes and comments and then acknowledging this and interacting with them. I want to build friendships not followers as the man @scotchandtime says – and it’s a mantra I truly believe in.
We couldn’t have said that any better. On that note, any upcoming projects your fans need to know about?
R: What the future holds for MarvelatWhisky remains to be seen. I’ll continue on my journey of growth and discovery and my passion for trying new whiskies and hopefully some of that will translate into the evolution of my feed. I’ve had no one knocking on my door telling me not to post images of “toys” and whisk(e)y yet, so I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. At the moment I am working on a concept piece which will see Iron Man smashing a bottle of Craigellachie over the head of Deadpool – it’s proving difficult! I have also promised a few Insta-friends that the Hulk will make an appearance and have sworn to @cigarlover12 that I will find Wonder Woman! If I have one aim over the coming year, it is to create a stop-motion film using the figures, so I can tell a moving story as opposed to a still image. If there are any budding directors out there, do reach out!