In the first of a new series exploring how Instagram has changed and shaped the practice of a number of artists, Painter Danny Fox explains how the platform allows an immediate and direct channel of communication with his audience, who can see him at work in his studio – or a painting minutes after its completion.
I mostly make large autobiographical paintings but recently I’ve been doing some ceramics too. I find myself looking for the powerful images in life - sometimes classic images like a man riding a horse or a Corpus Christi. I take those images and manipulate them to tell my own story. I grew up in Cornwall where I was heavily influenced by local artist Alfred Wallis and I recently went back there to do a residency at Porthmeor studios in St. Ives, in Patrick Heron’s old studio - number 5 - where I produced a series of landscapes. I tried to paint what had changed in the ten years that I’d been gone, which was mostly the arrival of giant supermarkets. Nowadays I live and work in Kentish Town, painting the grimey city existence.
I was at my friend Liam Sparkes’ tattoo shop when I first heard the boys talking about Instagram. They were using it as a way to book appointments and promote their constant travelling circus overseas. Someone said I should give it a try - that it could really work for a painter. I protested. I said that I was too busy. I said that it was cheap and desperate, and I didn’t want to get it like that. Then Liam gave me one of his thorough dressing downs, which he used to do every time we polished off a bottle of Stoli together. He would get in that vodka rage and tell me I wasn’t Van Gogh, and I should pull my head out of my arse if I ever wanted to get anywhere in life, especially as an artist.
This went for a year or so before I finally signed up. Since then we’ve had shows in London, Paris and Moscow which we’ve promoted through Instagram and they’ve been heaving. It’s especially amazing to me, someone who has spent hours walking around town stapling posters to coffee shop notice boards to promote my exhibitions, only to find them ripped down the next day. Instagram is disposable on the one hand, but everlasting and permanent on the other. In the cloud.
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Like this? Capture and consumption: Images and digital culture is a panel discussion on artists who use social media, taking place in the Tate Modern Starr Auditorium, Wednesday 6th May 2015 18.30 - 20.30 Book now