More than 14.5 million “selfies” a day are now thought to be taken in the UK alone – fuelled by social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.
Now Scottish teenagers are being offered the chance to create the ultimate self-image in one of the nation’s most prestigious art institutions.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is hosting a two-day “selfies masterclass” in which international artists will work with participants.
The exploration of the art of the selfie, which is being held at the gallery on 8 and 9 October, will look at how self-images have been produced by generations of artists.
Participants will also get the chance to explore a current exhibition, created in collaboration with two other major European art institutions, which charts the history of about 150 self-portraits over six centuries.
Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Allan Ramsay, Henry Raeburn, Edvard Munch, Henri Matisse, Joseph Beuys, John Bellany, Douglas Gordon and Tracey Emin are among the artists to be featured. The National Galleries of Scotland said 15 young people aged 14 to 18 would be able to take part in the workshops, which are similar to those already held in the two galleries which have collaborated on the exhibition – the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Karlsruhe, in Germany, and the Musée des Beaux Arts, in Lyon, France.
Helen Monaghan, head of education at the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “We do lots of different workshops throughout the year, but this one has come out of the collaboration which has pulled together our collections for the current exhibition.
“We decided to offer workshops in each location which are specifically aimed at young people and are basically asking how they see themselves and how they want to be seen by others.
“For us, it’s about exploring materials, being experimental and perhaps doing stuff that you wouldn’t normally do in the classroom. They’re also getting the chance to work with live artists from different countries. It will be really interesting for them and the artists, who have been working together over the last year, to see everyone’s take on it.
“Mobile phones will be used but it’s not just going to be about taking a selfie. It will take the exhibition as a starting point, looking at self-image, how artists presented themselves, and what sort of clues they put in to give an idea of who they were.”
Researchers last year found 5.2 billion selfies a year are captured in the UK. The 25 to 34 age group share more selfies than anyone else, posting ten a month, according to Carphone Warehouse’s research. One in seven of them share a selfie every day on social media. Almost a fifth of over-55s pose for selfies and one in ten take more than six snaps of themselves a month. The same research found it takes an average of three attempts to take a selfie with which the subject is happy.