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Join the Insta-art revolution: how to source unique art from your phone

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Walls looking a little bare? Follow the lead of in-the-know collectors and curators and source your next artwork via social media

Words: Theresa Harold

Insta art

Yana Peel

CEO of Serpentine Galleries (serpentinegalleries.org)

“Instagram gives us virtual ownership of art before we see or buy the real thing. Social media also encourages you to explore masterpieces from the world’s best museums and galleries alongside artworks you never knew existed, prompted by suggestions from people you admire.”

Who to follow

@houseofvoltaire is an arts organisation based in south London that stocks a whole range of limited editions, homeware, clothing and design objects by artists including Chantal Joffe and Michael Craig-Martin. They helpfully include the prices in their captions; prints start at £15.

@wedelart is the account of Amelie von Wedel, a curator and arts philanthropist with the best taste and great insight on emerging and established artists to follow and collect.

@parasite.hk is a Hong Kong art space that I co-chair. It’s brilliant when it comes to sourcing new discoveries. Use Instagram to check out its new show, Soil And Stones, Souls And Songs, as a starting point.

@hansulrichobrist is the Serpentine’s artistic director – his feed is an exhibition in itself thanks to The Handwriting Project, where he posts hand-drawn Post-It notes from all the artists he meets.

@serpentinelimitededitions is the go-to place for pieces by Serpentine artists past and present. Yoko Ono’s ‘magic bean’ Grow Love With Me artwork is just £20. All proceeds go back into keeping the galleries’ exhibitions free for all.

Insider tip: “Insta Stories is also a great way to go behind the scenes of the art world. Stories bring audiences and collectors closer to the art. For institutions, it’s a chance to experiment a little, without ruining the beauty of your curated feed.”

Insta art


Insta art

Kate B Ryan

Head of collections at Soho House Group (sohohouse.com)

“Instagram is a really big force in the art world – it cannot be avoided. Leonardo DiCaprio recently purchased a piece on Instagram from a gallery that he has a relationship with. When you’re busy, and you already use the app, why not?”

Who to follow

@jealous_london is a contemporary gallery and print studio in Shoreditch. They do artist takeovers on their feed, which I really like. The most recent art I bought from their account was a print by Lucy Gough (@lucy.gough) as a Valentine’s present for my husband.

@creativedebuts work with young artists who are coming out of the best art schools in the country. They have a very diverse body of work: urban art, paintings, collage and photography. It’s not expensive; the pieces range from £50 to £5,000.

@auc.art will be the first online auction house exclusively for graduate art. It’s a new business model to help collectors find artists when they’re starting out. The platform goes live in September and each auction will last a week, with only 49 lots available at a time.

@ginasodenartist is a photographer who sells a lot on social media (she’s also my sister). It really helps if your medium lends itself to Instagram – she travels around the world photographing abandoned locations and has exhibited at Saatchi Gallery.

@sohohome is where you can find the pieces we have in the Soho House art collection. You can get big name artists like Willie Doherty for £200. If Soho House has it in their collection, it’s a good artist to collect.

Insider tip: “If you’re searching for art using hashtags, avoid #affordableart. It has a connotation of not being very good and you should see it as a warning sign – #emergingartist is better.”

Insta art

Insta art

Mashonda Tifrere

Founder of ArtLeadHER (artleadher.com)

“I always try to find artists through their Instagram pages. They get to push their work out immediately; it’s instant gratification. I use the ‘Explore’ function a lot; it introduces me to new artists all the time. A good hashtag to follow is #wip (work in progress) and I use #womeninart too, as I’m always looking for female artists.”

Who to follow

@meredithmarsoneartist is one of my favourite artists that I discovered via the app. What I really like is that she does step-by-step pictures of her paintings, so you see the beginning of the work right through to the end. It’s another way of engaging and feeling like you’re a part of the process.

@posterchildprints is great for limitededition screen prints at modest prices. The founder, Sonja Teri, believes that art should be accessible to everyone. Prints range around the £80 mark.

@society6 features artists selling their original work as prints, iPhone cases, T-shirts, duvet covers, wall tapestries… anything really! I like it because there’s a real sense of talented creatives coming together as an international community.

@christiesinc is always great for inspiration (I’m an alumni of Christie’s so I follow everything they do). They post daily updates, behind-the-scenes images, news, and even live feed from their auctions.

@saatchiart is an online gallery that also offers a complimentary art advisory service. Use their hashtag #LiveWithArt for ideas of how to hang pieces in your home.

Insider tip: “While Instagram is great for discovering new artists, their websites usually include their works’ dimensions, mediums and prices. Before buying, always ask to see photos of a piece from different angles.”

Insta art


Insta art

Rosa Park

Editor of Cereal (readcereal.com)

“There is a handful of artists I follow and whose work I love – and I found them all on social media. Instead of just screenshotting the artist’s work, I always write down their names in a notebook. That way, they don’t get buried in my iPhone.”

Who to follow

@nicole__patel is the first artist whose work I bought via social media more than two years ago. She works with natural materials such as linen and Japanese wool threads to make delicate grids and shapes over canvases.

@fredericforest does beautiful line drawings which are hugely popular – a lot of people have had his work tattooed on them. I haven’t bought anything from him yet – you need to email him directly to arrange a purchase.

@christianespangsberg is a Danish artist who recently moved to Sydney. I found her on Instagram – I kept seeing her work pop up on different people’s accounts. I heard that her first major show in Sydney sold out within the hour. She sells her work via @jerico_contemporary.

@rosemarieauberson is a Swiss artist based in Paris. I’ve never had the opportunity to see her work in person but I love her combination of collage, painting and drawing. She also collaborates with designers such as Hermès and Rachel Comey.

@rvstapleton, my partner and creative director of Cereal, gets a lot of people asking for prints of photos shared on his Instagram. So he’s decided to set up an official print shop, which should be running by summer. In the meantime, potential customers can discuss their needs via email.

Insider tip: “Consider your collection at large when buying a new piece of art – it’s wonderful when pieces can work with each other as a whole.”

Insta art

Insta art

Gemma Rolls-Bentley

Gallery relations manager at Artsy (artsy.net)

“Social media offers access to art all around the world, around the clock. The immediacy means that a show might open in Switzerland and I can see it on Instagram at the same time as people in the room, which is great if I want to buy any of the pieces.”

Who to follow

@daataeditions produces video, sound, poetry and other web-based art that you can buy for £80-£5,000 – they even have some that you can download for free. For a new collector thinking about buying art beyond traditional mediums, digital art is really interesting. I know a few young collectors who have a monitor on their wall and screen video pieces in their home.

@whitechapelgallery is one of London’s most important art institutions and produces limited editions created exclusively for the gallery that are really affordable – I bought a beautiful print by Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller for less than £100.

@pilarcorriasgallery is one of my favourite London galleries and they support a lot of female artists such as Elizabeth Neel, Mary Ramsden and Koo Jeong A. Prices here range from £1,000 upwards, encompassing artists at all stages of their careers.

@andreaheimer is a self-taught painter who I discovered at Hometown gallery in Brooklyn. It turns out that the gallerist had discovered her on Instagram himself.

@artsy alerts you to artworks available from galleries, art fairs, institutions and auctions around the world. The mission of the company is to make art accessible to anybody with an internet connection.

Insider tip: “It’s always worth asking where an artist’s studio is and if they would be open to a visit. It really helps you understand an artist’s practice.”

Insta art

Insta art

Payal Uttam

Art writer and critic

“A snapshot on Instagram is like an amuse-bouche that entices you to experience the artwork in person – it gives you a taste that leaves you wanting more. I suggest following a mix of galleries, auction houses, artists and art writers to get a glimpse into the inner workings of the art world.”

Who to follow

@paceprints is affiliated with the renowned New York-based gallery Pace. It features a broad selection of prints by artists such as Shahzia Sikander and amazing behind-the-scenes photos of the print-making process. Prices start from around £800.

@ekonugroho_studio is inspired by traditional Indonesian shadow puppetry and has become known for his fantastical characters in large-scale murals. He sells his merchandise on @dgtmb – cool T-shirts and toys for under £100.

@ocula.art works with galleries across the globe to gain an international perspective on the contemporary art world. Their feed features a range of emerging and established names, and alerts you to exhibitions that you may otherwise miss.

@phillipsauction has a refreshing approach compared to other auction houses. Different specialists from across the globe contribute images, which makes it interesting. They post pictures of upcoming auctions with useful details in the captions, such as where you can view the works in person.

@vhils is the pseudonym of Portuguese street artist Alexandre Farto. His feed captures recent works and gives a glimpse into his artistic process. You can buy via his website, but be warned: it sells out quickly.

Insider tip: “Don’t search vague hashtags such as #contemporary art or you run the risk of being bombarded with random images.”

Insta art

Opener Artwork: Embrace (Pink Dotted) by Joe Webb, Jealous Gallery
Artwork top to bottom: Jeux Enquête – Choisissez Vos Ennemis by Julio Le Parc (Serpentine Limited Editions); Modern Art Presents Sanya Kantarovsky at Art Basel Hong Kong; Phased Out by Kristian Jones (Jealous Gallery); Lady With Hand Over Her Mouth by Doreen McPherson (Soho Home); Work In Progress by Meredith Marsone; Shapes In Movement by PCP Collection (Poster Child Prints); Untitled by Rich Stapleton; 2016 By Christiane Spangsberg; Untitled (2014) by Mai-Thu Perret (Whitechapel Gallery); Sapphire by Tschabalala Self (Pillar Corrias); 
Print by Jane Hammond (Pace Prints);   Contingency by Vhils

Underneath, curated by ArtLeadHER, 7 April to 6 May at Lawrence Alkin Gallery, 42 New Compton Street, London, WC2H (lawrencealkingallery.com)

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