Today, social media has become prevalent in our society, becoming an important and popular way to connect and entertain millions of people around the globe. However, as opposed to this conventional use, social media also proves as an artistic outlet or source of inspiration for millions of artists around the globe. On the Westminster campus, junior Max Graves and junior Taylor Boozer are prime examples of student art presence in social media.
Graves’ art account on Instagram, @d00dlr, garnered over a thousand followers in merely one year. He first created his account in September of his sophomore year, while he was taking Honors Advanced Studio Art: Drawing and Painting at Westminster.
“At first, I only shared my artwork from my art class, which mainly consisted of collages,” said Graves. “I started my account with the sole purpose of cataloguing my work, so I wasn’t concerned about gaining followers or popularity in the online community.”
As his account continued to grow, Graves started creating original art of his favorite music artists in his free time. His first piece featured singer Billie Eilish, rendered intricately with colored pencil.
“The drawing of Billie Eilish was re-posted and shared by a lot of different fan accounts, even reaching Billie at one point because she liked my post,” said Graves. “That piece was the one that really caused my account to start picking up and gaining followers who supported my art, and because of that success, I continued to create and post art with a similar style afterwards.”
In addition to being a creator on Instagram, Graves also uses social media to help him expedite his creative process and inspire him with new ideas. Before each drawing of a celebrity, Graves uses technology to make a collage-like reference photo and channel that person’s style and aesthetic. As he looks for new project ideas, browsing the internet and looking through other people’s artwork can give him suggestions on what to create next.
“I also use Instagram and other social media to find inspiration for my art. There are insanely talented artists out there, and sometimes I look through other art accounts to get motivated or find ideas,” said Graves. “Social media’s definitely the easiest way to access other people’s artwork.”
Pamela Martinez, the upper school art teacher, has mentored Graves throughout high school and is familiar with his digital success.
“Max has been recognized by thousands of people, and even by the celebrities in his drawings,” said Martinez. “Now, with social media, you get to connect with people such as Billie Eilish that you would never normally be able to connect with.”
Another talented artist has also demonstrated the impacts of student art presence in social media. Junior Taylor Boozer’s fashion account, @taylor_.made, is entirely different from Graves’ art account. Inspired by her fashion course during JanTerm, Boozer reuses older, thrifted clothing and transforms it into a new garment that fits in with today’s modern style.
“During JanTerm freshman year, I started to develop an affinity for making clothing and putting things together,” said Boozer. “The following summer, I borrowed a sewing machine and started transforming old clothing, and I watched many YouTube videos and tutorials for inspiration.”
Boozer also started her Instagram account in her sophomore year to organize the garments that she’s made by posting detailed before and after pictures of each piece of clothing’s transformation.
“Originally, I recognized that I needed a way to create a portfolio that was outside of school, so I used it as a way to document my work,” said Boozer.
Using Instagram, Boozer is able to share her love for fashion with her friends, classmates, and anyone who is interested in her work.
“I love that now, when you follow people like Taylor, you can see her work from tiny little details to the clothing’s overall fit on the person to the storyline of the garment and where it goes after it is made,” said Martinez.
Furthermore, Boozer now uses her social media platform to express an important message underlying her creativity to the millions of people that use social media. Using her talent for fashion, she demonstrates the importance of upcycling and reducing waste to the world.
“Millions of clothes get thrown out by people all across the world. The fashion industry is actually the second top environmental hazard,” says Boozer. “I think that repurposing old clothes like I am doing will have an environmental impact too, and I want to show that and raise awareness about this issue to a larger audience.”
Despite these numerous benefits, sharing personal art online is vulnerable and scary, with challenges that every online artist struggles to overcome.
“It’s difficult to stay true to yourself and your style because everyone else can be so overwhelming. You have to truly love art, rather than fixating on the number of followers you have or number of likes on you post,” said Graves. “Just remember that practice makes perfect, and that by sharing on social media, you are inspiring so many others to do the same.”