Jo's Web Wizardry

Jo Atherton

This month we take a look at what is probably the most visual of all the social networks - Instagram. Find out how others artists are engaging with the service for inspiration, promotion and meeting others working on similar projects.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo sharing website and application that can be downloaded onto mobile phones. Rather than simply snapping photos and uploading them to Facebook or Flickr to share with your friends, Instagram encourages a whole new world of creativity.

One of the most exciting aspects of Instagram is the ability to apply one of eleven filters to your photographs. These instantly transform the mood of your shots and let you play with a variety of settings. A quick photo can quickly become an atmospheric composition which you can tag with keywords and share with the world.

Using Instagram to promote your work

Due to its visual nature, Instagram is an excellent promotion and connection tool for artists. The blog, Visual Matters explain that ‘many contemporary artists use it to show behind-the-scenes photos, work in progress, and snapshots of their daily life. It is also great to use as a sort of idea log, and upload photos of sketches or ideas that might not ever see the light of day otherwise.’

Should I use it just for my artwork?

Nowadays, the Internet allows us to promote our work with ease, and life as a creative can be a wonderful journey. We share our art and inspirations with the world, telling a little piece of our story, and allow people to find out more about the person behind the artwork.

This is where Instagram offers a really elegant way of telling your story - shots of work in progress, your creative workspace or favourite treat. All of those quick shots you snapped - perhaps an interesting shadow you spotted through the trees, some frosty leaves or a blue phase you might be going through - all can be uploaded, tagged with keywords and shared, connecting you with the world, and others also snapping #autumnsunsets, #pumpkins, #frostywindows or simply the colour #blue.

Instagram as a pocket sketchbook

Artist Austin Kleon describes Instagram as ‘a place to house doodles and one-off pieces that I might not put anywhere else’. As artists, we’re always creating, thinking and scribbling down new ideas. Many of these won’t ever amount to a final piece of work, but serve as handy reference points in the development of a project.

Often the artist’s sketchbook can be a cumbersome object, and many of us often feel intimidated by all those blank pages. Having Instagram on your phone means you always have a virtual sketchbook with you. Snapping those doodles and quick sketches and sharing them online means you have a permanent record with you at all times, and they can be quickly accessed from anywhere. Remember, it’s not just traditional sketches, inspiration can come in many forms. Why not search for other images also tagged with #moodyskies, #pottery, #decay or whatever the focus of your next project is.

I love it! How do I install the Instagram App on my phone?

You can download Instagram for free on your phone using your usual app store. This will vary depending on your service, but usually Play Shop for Android or iTunes for Apple will be your starting point.

Once downloaded, you will be asked to create an account and register, then you are ready to start exploring this exciting, new social network.

You can get help on downloading and registering Instagram on their website, then find out more about taking and manipulating your photos.


Find out more

25 Artists You Should Be Following on Instagram

Instagram for Artists: Using Instagram to Promote Your Work

Austin Kleon: Instagram As An Artist’s Sketchbook

10 Amazingly Creative Uses of Instagram

Dos and Don’ts of Instagram