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Art and its relationship to social media is customarily described by words like “aesthetic” or “artsy”, often used to illustrate day to day life. Many people, especially teenagers, feel the need to make their life seem visually pleasing, or aesthetic, which is another way of glorifying themselves for social media. They often get creative when taking their pictures, whether this be the angle at which the photo was taken, a stray ray of sunshine streaking across the frame, or a flattering filter. This “artsy” mindset is taken to a whole new level when people use social media to promote their own works. On top of their usual accounts, it is becoming increasingly more common for artists to make a separate account where they post their artwork, whether that be drawing, painting, or various forms of digital art. Many people follow professional photography accounts for the aesthetic, but aspiring artists are beginning to digitally display their work as well.
One such artist is Jaden Young. Her Instagram account, @life.of.art, is her main outlet for sharing her work with her peers. She often draws people and trees, because they symbolize life, but she also takes the meaning of her work to the next level.
“I post pieces that have significance and meaning, something I can make a statement about,” Young said, referring to her recent post that brought awareness to Black History Month. Drawn with vibrant colored pencils and graphite, the illustration depicts a girl holding a tree with black roots. Brightly colored leaves swirl throughout the entire picture.
“Sometimes I’ll take something that’s happening in the world and try to draw it,” she expressed. “I want people to see things from my perspective.”
This is social media at its finest. For young artists, it is important to show their work to the world. What better way to exhibit the fruit of one’s labor than a post on social media; a profile for art is basically a personal, digital art show that can be pulled up on a smartphone within a minute. Because their art is publicly visible, some of the artists have made connections through their art.
Many artists receive feedback from others on social media, which helps their skills flourish. Occasionally, Young digitally chats with her fellow artists. “I’ll ask them how they developed their skills, and then they’ll just give me tips on how I can become a better artist,” she said.
Although Young finds this feedback helpful, social media is still a sadly wasted resource whose full potential remains woefully untapped. In today’s day and age, social media is used for communication and entertainment. For many people, communicating on digital platforms is often scrolling through the typical mundane selfies, with inspirational captions tagged along with the usual forced smile. “Sm;)e” and “it is what it is” are often seen on Instagram residing in their natural habitat, perhaps a picture featuring Snapchat’s flower crown or the infamous mirror selfie. However, there are better ways to utilize this valuable tool than sharing one of the million ways you make “duck lips” at the phone camera.
One artist who sketches and uses makeup to create special effects is Samantha Viele. Viele’s selfies are a long way from the iconic flash or manufactured rainbows. When scrolling down her profile (@samv_artwork on Instagram), there are no sweet Snapchat crowns atop her head. Instead, she has candy canes sticking out of her eye with realistic blood and scars marring her face. These effects create macabre illusions, adeptly making Viele look like demonic clowns or shattered dolls.
One of Viele’s most impressive looks, a “Female Pennywise”, inspired by the 2017 remake of It.
“I’m not afraid to make myself look weird or scary with special effects makeup,” conveyed Viele. “I’m hoping that inspires people to be themselves and do what they love.”
Both artists have been positively influenced by their conversations with their role models. “I have met an artist, who has a few thousand followers on both YouTube and Instagram,” Viele said. “She taught me a bit about how to draw anime style characters. It was very interesting.”
Young was inspired to never give up and to keep practicing her art, and Viele in turn teaches other ambitious artists. They want their work to have a beneficial effect on their followers, whether it be to inspire them or to help them see things in a different light.
While many teens use social media to show off their life and generic smile, others use it to share their passion with their peers. With the help of social media, artists are able to reach through the screen and paint their joy and enthusiasm into the lives of others. Their detailed, beautiful works earn them the praise of their peers, and the satisfaction of knowing that people are enjoying their hard work. Instagram, among other platforms, has been raised from the degraded selfie station to a communication network of the noble fine arts, providing promise and gratification to young artists everywhere. Besides, earning respect from a masterpiece is certainly better than getting it from an extended hip and an intense flash in a mirror.