Meet the Scottish artists making their mark on Instagram.
While not technically Scottish, this Glasgow School of Art alumnus and 2013 Turner Prize-nominee has been living and working in Glasgow since 1988. Shrigley posts (regularly) a mix of his own work and other people's, his travels and exhibition openings, and IRL versions of the absurdities that lie in wait beneath the everyday which are the hallmark of his bleakly funny cartoon-like drawings, all accompanied by fittingly simultaneously deadpan and affectionate captions. Instagram is an ideal outlet for Shrigley, not only as an artist whose Post-it note-like musings fit the format perfectly, but as one who has said that the books he publishes are as important as any exhibition of his art. He has embraced democratic platforms since the beginning of his career, a time at which he has said he never imagined galleries would be the place for what he does, and, following the same philosophy of accessibility as Keith Haring's Pop Shop, his work can be found on salt shakers and birthday cards, skateboards and air fresheners – even, in one recent Instagram post, on the fingernails of a fan.
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The big and brash, slick and shiny world that Chris Labrooy creates might seem fantastically far from the North East of Scotland, but the artist was born, bred and still lives on the outskirts of Ellon. While his clients include business behemoths such as Nike, McDonald's, British Airways, Citroen, Virgin Media, Target, X-Box, Argos and Pringles, the end result, much like Lebrooy's location, is always a tale of the unexpected. With an MA in Design Products from the Royal College of Art, his work sits at the intersection between typography, graphic design and sculpture, using 3D technology and CGI to create works for commercial advertising and editorial work (including for Fortune, Time and, somewhat more quaintly, Readers' Digest), as well as visual art, with a trademark playful bent and hyper-real aesthetic. However, with one of his projects this year entitled Highland Fling – a giant floating Highland cow's head – it seems Labrooy does still take inspiration from home turf.
Emerging artist Coll Hamilton is based in Glasgow, and studied at GSA, and recent Instagram posts will be familiar to anyone else who knows the city, with drawings of haunts including Ashton Lane and Oran Mor on the grid. However, it is Hamilton's sketchy and soulful portraits that are the stars. Using pastel, pencil, ink and paint, his faces are roughly-hewn at first glance but rich in character and heartbreakingly expressive, while his (surprisingly delicate in comparison) flower series is inspired by narratives and the passing of time. His work can also be seen in the real world at the Barras, where a three-headed figurative mural greets mid-century furniture hunters outside the market's hipster enclave BAaD, or find his illustrations in Penguin Books' Doctor Who – 100 Illustrated Adventures.
Bristol-based but Scottish-trained (she studied at both Leith School of Art and Glasgow School of Art) emerging painter Eva Ullrich produces abstract landscapes that have caught the eye of Tomatin whisky, who have featured her paintings on a series of limited-edition single malts, with three having been released this year (launched in Glasgow) and the two more to follow in 2018. The pairing is a natural one, with her works evoking the vastly varied landscapes of Scotland, from beaches to mountains, ice to rock to sand, and Ullrich having taken inspiration from locations including the Outer Hebrides. Also posting behind-the-scenes images of her preparations and processes, her account provides a snapshot of life in the studio as well as the end results.
Scottish collage artist Portis Wasp channels his magpie tendencies into mash-ups of Disney cartoons and underwear models, splicing reality stars, high-fashion advertising, religious iconography and movie posters into portraits of digital existential despair that belie the sum of their parts. Equal parts pastiche and homage, Wasp's images are born of a love of celebrity and pop culture (he also works as a freelance writer, interviewing starlets for the likes of MTV and ASOS), custom-made for the Instagram generation. Indeed, Wasp is an Instagram artist in the truest sense – his collages started life on the social media platform, and having been shared by Insta It-girls including Gigi Hadid and Lily Aldridge, it was from there that publications including Paper, Attitude and Harper's Bazaar subsequently sought him out.
Hailing from the North East, where she studied at Aberdeen's Gray's School of Art, Glasgow-based photographer, illustrator and sculptor Jennifer Argo posts her inspirations and everyday life as well as her work, which means you'll find a good earring selfie thrown into the mix every now and then alongside her delicate prints and wares for sale, as well as her explorations of Scotland's natural beauty, inspired as she is by organic forms and the patterns found within them that translate to inherent strength and durability – and how they can act as metaphors for human communities. In recent posts this has meant trips to Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens, Glasgow's People's Palace winter gardens as well as the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll & Bute, making her account a must-see for fans of Scotland's landscapes and plantlife as well as its emerging artists.
Another adopted Scot, again via Glasgow School of Art, Darren Cullen has mastered the art of courting controversy – becoming a favourite tabloid target along the way – for all the right reasons. His Instagram is a chronicle of his one-man mission to skewer Establishment targets from Trump to the Tories, payday lenders to oil companies and army recruitment – with his latest posts displaying the “golf cart command HQ” he has helpfully created for the US President. Previous posts include tweets he's sent to Theresa May, tributes to Scots artist Alasdair Gray, dispatches from Banksy's Dismaland theme park project (at which Cullen set up his “pocket money loans” shop) and snapshots of his mock Conservative Party election posters (made available to download for free from his website to encourage artistic activism) in action – “We're not shooting the sick and disabled in the street. But it gets the same results” emblazoned on a Bristol bus stop. But while there is also a Corbyn selfie in the mix, there is nothing po-faced and tedious here – satire is Cullen's weapon of choice in trolling the great and not-so-good, and it's done with wit, style and searing intellect, as hilarious an account to follow as it is devastatingly incisive.
Turner Prize-nominated, Trinidad-based but Edinburgh-born painter Peter Doig needs no introduction to Scottish art fans, but his (very) recent embracing of Instagram is helping introduce his work to a new generation of enthusiasts – nearly 12,000 of them. Doig's account, which he posts to frequently (as of the last week, it would seem), showcases the work of former students as well as his own, making it a place to discover emerging artists as well as to see his own record-breakingly beloved brand of magical realism (his painting White Canoe sold in 2007 for $11.3 million, at the time the auction record for a living European artist) – as well as see the odd snap of life in sunny Trinidad.
A largely (as yet) undiscovered gem, Mark Osborne and his magic eye graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2015 and now post inventive images of Scotland, turning the ordinary into the almost alien and encouraging the viewer to look for an alternative view of what's around them. A visual and abstract artist, Osborne was the recipient of Glasgow gallery Streetlevel Photoworks' Futureproof prize, and has exhibited both at home and overseas. From oil rigs to bonfires, playgrounds to hay bales, factories to arcades, golf courses to railway tunnels, Osborne's snapshots add up to an unexpected but unmistakeably Scottish landscape on his Instagram grid.
With work that was made for sharing, anyone who spends any time on the internet will have seen the work of Ayrshire-born Robert Montgomery, even if they couldn't name him. Having previously cited fellow Ayrshire boy Robert Burns as an inspiration, Montgomery's work is part-poetry, part-slogan and his emotive light installations – “The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive” being perhaps his best-known – have garnered a fanatical following (apparently his words are a popular choice in tattoo parlours),and his Instagram account showcases his beloved texts in the wild, as well as new work (and some very sweet snaps of his family life too).
- This article was produced in partnership with the Edinburgh Art Fair