Art and Instagram

When debating if social media can be classified as Art, first we must pose the question: what is art anyways?

For as long as we can remember, art has inclusively been a part of history, cultures, and everyday life in some way or form — and yet, its meaning is constantly developing around society.

Out of the numerous amount of social media platforms used in society each day, I have decided to focus on only one form of social media — Instagram. In this blog I will use the information that I have found in articles during my research and give my deduction as to why it is possible for the content on this social media platform to be classified as art.


In the Huffington Post article, 10 Powerful Responses To The Question “What is Art?”, Andrew Issac Burill provides us with the responses of 10 powerful artists asked the question “What is Art?”. Burill writes Christian Villanueva’s attempt to define this as “something you invest YOURSELF in as a means to communicate”, this response stood out to me because of its emphasis in self expression which Instagram accounts have been widely used to show.

This source shows us many opinions on what Art is and supports my idea that if you invest yourself into any form of communication then it can be considered as Art. Therefore if someone uses Instagram to express themselves and communicate, then it can be considered as art.

When completing the research on the subject of art and the evolution of it, I came across the article Audience Constructed Genre with Instagram: Street Art and Graffiti by Christopher D.F. Honig and Lachlan MacDowall where they acquaint us with the all popular street writing and graffiti among the youth in Philadelphia and New York in the early 1970’s. In Christopher D.F. Hong’s and Lachlan MacDowall’s article, Pierre Bourdieu is quoted arguing that “cultural legibility is essential to appreciation and hence to legitimacy. Culture that is illegible to the hegemony becomes redefined as ‘lower’, ‘vulgar’ and ‘coarse’.” (Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste), explaining society’s opprobrium regarding subjects that we do not fully understand. Bourdieu’s ideas are also seen in this article suggesting that some art is only fully appreciated when both of the parties are similarly interested and “who possesses the cultural competence”, otherwise one could feel lost not being able to find meaning. Just like the Street Art in New York, I have learned that “Art” in all forms can be loved by some and misunderstood by many — which according to Bourdieu is the causation for some art forms (content on Instagram) to be considered illegitimate.

This source can show us how what we consider as Art now, was once not socially acceptable and seen as “lower”. Art as Instagram can be a subject that at the moment as “lower” as well as street art once was, but as society changes and content on Social media evolves it might once be seen as a high form of Art and self expression.


On a Ted Talk, Amber Liu talks about The Art Of Social Media and her experiences using social media to express her Art. Liu had started selling her artwork on social media such as Instagram, she explains how her social media platforms have not only given her a way to express herself and share her artwork but it has also given her a job. Liu also makes the point that the purpose of her Ted Talk was to “talk about how social media can affect the distribution of Art”, suggesting that social media platforms — like Instagram — can give artists a way to share their content with all people around the world. Social media has given artists a unique way to share their content with numbers of people that they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to reach while also being able to create a strong bond with their followers. She also tells us of a story about her first collaboration and how Instagram gave her the chance to work with a well known company, expanding her own business. As we see with Amber Lui’s story, Art and Social Media can be incredibly powerful and important for artists all around the world.

This personal story about an experience with Art and Instagram can show us how affective Social media can be when Artists are trying to expand their business and communicate their artistic expression. Artists like Amber Liu not only benefit from Social media but sometimes even depend on it.

The Art of Social Media | Amber Liu | TEDxUWCSEAEast

Virginia Tech released an article called Defining Art in One Sentence or Less where Donna Thompson provides us with the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of Art as “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.” and suggests the ideas that “Art” can be seen everywhere. This analysis on the term “Art” can support my claim that Instagram can be classified as Art, being created with imagination and skill and can be seen as beautiful and express ideas and feelings. Thompson also brings up the difference between the term “Fine Arts” and “Art” on its own. Art is a more general term that can be blanketed over every day encounters such as building and bridges.

From this we can learn that “Art” is a very general term and can be everywhere around us. Social media is just one of the many things around us that can be seen as Art.

NewsWeek magazine published an article called “Is Instagram an Artform?” by Rosie Millard where she talks about a book curated by Jim Stoddart — “the publication of Life on Instagram”. Rosie Millard explains how “when Instagram started, the whole point was its accessibility: freely available photographs on your handheld screen, taken by millions of us, far away” and has now evolved to a much more mature and artistic platform. Millard adds in her article that Jim Stoddart’s book Life on Instagram “doesn’t let you down with too many dumb breakfast shots or endless selfies. In these pages are beauty, intrigue, sadness and comedy:” and is more about the Art and allure that it poses.

Rosie Millard also shows us another example of how Art has given Artists a platform to expand their business, like Richard Prince. Millard tells us that in 2015 “a set of prints from the artist Richard Prince, all of blown-up Instagram photographs, none taken by him, went on sale at the art fair Frieze New York with price tags upward of $90,000”. This demonstrates just another way that Instagram has been impacted by Art, giving Artists a way so share and sell their Art.

Although Instagram started off as breakfast shots and endless selfies, Millard adds that Stoddart says that now Instagram is more “about the beauty of everyday moments and everyday life, captured by everyday people.” — A form of Art that can be appreciated by many.

In conclusion, I have learned that the word “Art” can take on many meanings and can depend on the person viewing it, their culture and what they define as Art. Instagram has affected numerous amounts of Artists in the past couple years, helping them share their artwork and expand their businesses. Overall, Art is an expression of someone’s thoughts and ideas and surrounds us every day — including on instagram.