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The Federalist

Highlighting Artistgram

A deeper understanding of the artists behind Instagram art
Highlighting+Artistgram

With the introduction of social media in 1997, industries changed. We saw old ways fall and new ones arise. One huge change was the art world, where now, with social media platforms such as Instagram, small artists can rise and be successful through the democratization of fame. 

I reached out to 8 artists and was able to successfully interview 4 influential accounts of “artistgram” through DM exchanges to understand what makes them tick. Conversations are edited for clarity.

Artist 1: @bruceymako

‘bounce’ a piece by @bruceymako
A piece by @bruceymako
A piece by @bruceymako

Q: What made you begin your artistic journey?

A: I wouldn’t call it a journey, sounds so grandiose, I wouldn’t even call myself an artist. I was bored at some point, I tried new things, and I just never stopped. Life is funny that way haha.

Q: How would you describe your artistic process?

A: Lots of trials and errors haha, but I guess that’s just how you learn about any skills, you just practice and do it enough times until you can satisfy your own ego through your progress and results.

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: My art style is known as Mike Mignola’s art style. It’s a comic book art style—it has this total black shading with no gradation in between, giving it a very dynamic lightning and feel. It focused more on shapes, composition, and the negative space.

Q: Who are your influences?

A: Mike Mignola, John Paul Leon, Jeremy Sorrell, and so many others I can’t even remember.

Q: How do you know when a piece is done?

A: I guess when you feel satisfied enough about it, it may not be the best, and it wouldn’t be perfect, but if it’s good enough for you, then nothing else should matter.

Q: How has Instagram influenced you as an artist?

A: Instagram definitely helped me a lot. It connected me to many other inspiring artists that I can share and learn from about art-related things, it helped me reached the people who likes my kind of art style, and I got almost all my clients from Instagram. It was never my plan to be an artist, I still think that I’m just lucky, I posted my drawings online, and some people seems to really like it. I’m actually just drawing for fun, so I don’t have this burden to make it as an artist, for me, Instagram is just a platform to make this art thingy even more fun.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin posting their art online?

A: Just do it for YOU, have fun with your art, enjoy the so-called ‘journey,’ and don’t let people online be a parameter on how you should feel about your art. Likes and follows really doesn’t mean anything, if you need a huge following and tons of likes before you can feel satisfied about your art, then maybe art is not really what you are looking for.

Artist 2: @snacktoast

‘midwest emo’ A piece by @snacktoast
‘b-side’ A piece by @snacktoast
‘valley girl’ A piece by @snacktoast

Q: What made you begin your artistic journey?

A: I first started taking art seriously as a potential career option when I was in 7th grade. I had been watching a lot of cartoons like Adventure Time and Regular Show at the time, and it started clicking for me that working in the animation industry was an actual job people got paid to do! Since then my trajectory has shifted from animation to more of an illustration-adjacent career, but I still have a deep love of animation and would love to experiment with it someday.

Q: How would you describe your artistic process?

A: My artistic process is fairly straightforward. All of my drawings are done digitally in Photoshop using a drawing tablet plugged into my laptop. I almost always begin with an initial rough sketch, then move onto cleanup and linework, then color/lighting, and finally I finish off the drawing by adding a paper texture layer to give it a more traditional look. My favorite question I get asked when I finish a drawing is “Is this traditional or digital?” I’ve found that a lot of my favorite art blurs the line between traditional and digital media, so whenever I can replicate that I feel like I’ve done my job.

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: Personally, I have a tough time describing my style because I’m so close to it, but the comments that always seem to come up are “nostalgic,” warm,” and “dreamy,” and I think those do a pretty good job of describing what I’m usually going for!

Q: Who are your influences?

A: As far as art influences go, I’m really inspired by the work of David Hockney, specifically the way he approaches line art, and Victoria Vincent!

Q: How do you know when a piece is done?

A: Knowing when a piece is done is something I honestly still struggle with. The perfectionist in me could keep tinkering away at a drawing for hours, but at this stage in my career I can usually find a point in a drawing where the level of detail begins to have diminishing returns, and that’s when I know the piece is about finished.

Q: How has Instagram influenced you as an artist?

A: Instagram has influenced me as an artist in a lot of positive ways! Being able to see my peers’ work is always inspiring and constantly pushes me to be a better artist, and knowing that I now have an audience to report to who are awaiting my next post keeps me on my toes and always wanting to outdo myself. However, Instagram doesn’t come without its drawbacks. With it being so easy to see the work of other artists on the platform, it’s also a lot easier to compare yourself to others, which more often than not will make you feel worse about your own work, so when posting art online just remember to avoid falling in the trap of comparing yourself to others, and instead compare your work now to where you were a year ago, and you’ll be much happier for it.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin posting their art online?

A: My best advice for someone who wants to start sharing their work online is to post consistently, and to not overthink it! Sometimes people get intimidated when you tell them it might require posting multiple times a week to build up a following because they think it means they have to create a new Mona Lisa every day, but I can’t tell you how many of my posts I barely spent any time on that have blown up, or vice versa. You never know who a piece might connect with, so don’t be afraid to share often and work with what you have!

Q: Do you have anything you would like to plug? (any shops, upcoming projects, etc).

A: I don’t have a ton to plug, but I do have a Patreon page where people can subscribe for $8 and receive a new print and sticker in the mail every month, as well as access some cool behind-the-scenes bonus content, so if that sounds like it’s up your alley you can find it at Patreon.com/Snacktoast.

Artist 3:@demzoart

A piece by @demzoart
A piece by @demzoart
A piece by @demzoart

Q:What made you begin your artistic journey?

A: I’ve been obsessed with drawing and listening to music since I was a kid. I loved expressing myself in my own way through my interests. As a result, I’m now remaking album covers in my own style.

Q: How would you describe your artistic process?

A: I usually look at album covers that I like and draw them in my own style. I don’t do a sketch first, I just start painting with brushes. I’ve been adding some animation to my drawings lately. I use an iPad and Procreate.

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: I follow the aesthetics of the wild school (Fauvism). it may seem rough, but I focus on leaving a strong impression.

Q: Who are your influences?

A: As I mentioned earlier, my style was influenced by the Fauvist painters, and the illustrator Eric Carle. Now, I am inspired and motivated by many of the artists who are active on Instagram who are similar to me.

Q: How do you know when a piece is done?

A: That’s when it just feels right. It’s more about the feeling than the details

Q: How has Instagram influenced you as an artist?

A: Instagram is a very meaningful platform for me. Without it, not many people would have seen my work. (Even now, Instagram is very important to me.) I’m considering expanding to other platforms, but Instagram will always be a big part of my online presence

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin posting their art online?

A: Consistency is key, and doing what you love is important.

Q: Do you have anything you would like to plug? (any shops, upcoming projects, etc.)

A: I create album artwork for various indie artists, and I also sell prints and accept Patreon support. If you have any questions about this, feel free to DM me on Instagram. Thank you. 🙂

Artist 4: @picklegrl

A piece by @picklegrl
A piece by @picklegrl
A piece by @picklegrl

Q: What made you begin your artistic journey?

A: When I was younger I used to read a ton of comic books and I was always drawn to the illustrations in them. in second grade, my friend and I decided to create a comic book series and we made around like five books and ended the series in 4th grade. This definitely got me into the habit of drawing every day and [I] started seeking to improve my art.

Q: How would you describe your artistic process?

A: I usually look through artwork on Pinterest, clothing, or other things like rooms and trinkets to give me inspiration! I then map out the composition of the drawing and the overall vibe/theme I wanna give it almost like a mood board and then start drawing. It’s usually digital or oil pastel!

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: My art style is a result of the combination of various influences: artists I follow on Instagram, Impressionist artwork, Riotgrrl zines, and nostalgic shows that I used to watch when I was younger, like Winx Club! I started drawing seriously when I was eight and really fixated on drawing people, and over time, I stylized it to reflect my interests.

Q: Who are your influences?

A: Definitely Monet and other keystone Impressionist artists. I draw a lot of inspiration from 2000s cartoons and fashion figures/sketches as well. I would look up to a lot of early big art YouTubers growing up like Lavender Towne, and I think really small influences of her work show up in my style a ton.

Q: How do you know when a piece is done?

A: When I finally feel like the vibe is complete and I really portray whatever theme I chose for that drawing properly, whether it’s through the clothes/characters style choices, my colors, or items I put in the background.

Q: How has Instagram influenced you as an artist?

A: Instagram has impacted me definitely in two very contrasting ways. It’s pushed me to be a better artist given my audience and has given me an amazing community of people who like what I create, but it’s also led to having this kind of pressure on me that emphasizes quantity over quality, which isn’t a great thing when it comes to art. At times, even if I wasn’t happy with my work or too passionate/motivated at the time, I’d feel the need to create and post it in order to maintain posting frequency on my platforms. I started treating social media as the priority and art as the supplement/means to succeed in it. I’ve slowly backed away from that thinking over time as I grow satisfied in my work and understand that no numbers on a post is worth turning my passion into something that stresses me out!

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin posting their art online?

A: This is very cliche and it’s harder said than done as I often don’t listen to it myself, but don’t worry about likes or how much attention your art is given online; that does not determine the value of your work or skill as an artist. Only you can determine your value and your skill. Stay passionate about your work and keep art fun for yourself as it should be an outlet of expression not a cause of stress. If you’re looking to grow your platform though, I strongly recommend building a community of mutuals and other smaller artists to support one another!

Q: Do you have anything you would like to plug? (any shops, upcoming projects, etc.)

A: I recently started a charity organization called ArtHub that works to strengthen art programs in areas with low funding in the arts by hosting art supply drives & donating the proceeds to nonprofit arts organizations like Project Create. Out of 13 chapters across the US, we currently have 3 chapters in Cali with 1 located near LA, but we’re always looking for more chapter heads leading initiatives in different schools! You can learn more about us at @arthubmd on Instagram.

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About the Contributor
T.J. Brunelle, Audiovisual Editor
T.J. Brunelle is the audiovisual editor for The Federalist. He is a senior in the SAS at Alexander Hamilton Senior High. T.J. covers stories inside and around Hamilton High through audio and video content. He is interested in filmmaking, sports, and sneakers. You can share feedback and story ideas with T.J. through email at [email protected] or on Instagram @federalistathami.

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