“It’s Instagram’s world, and we’re all just living in it,” is a nice modified catchphrase we borrowed in the 2018 SVA Spring Journal to highlight some alumni and the way they use the social platform, and nearly three years later, the maxim feels truer than ever. Instagram boasts one billion monthly active users, has given us influencers, a barrage of different types of marketing, the advent of dozens of new tools—stories, reels, IGTV, live, Instagram Rooms, shopping and more to come—and has arguably shaped the way we live our lives online.
In the inaugural installment of our “who to follow on Instagram” column—SVA community members that include alumni, faculty, staff and beyond—we decided to focus on female artists. Many of theses artists already celebrated March's Women’s History Month in variously creative ways, are using their Instagram platform imaginatively on the daily, and, in general, are just casually doin’ it for the gram.
BFA Illustration faculty member and alumnus Yuko Shimizu (MFA 2003 Illustration as Visual Essay) is a renowned illustrator, designer and artist based in New York City. Known for her eye-popping illustrations, often used by cutting-edge pop culture-centric companies such as MTV, GQ, Rolling Stone, Nylon, D.C. Comics, the Criterion Collection and major publications like The New York Times, The New Yorker, WIRED, and more, Shimizu’s accolades are many (gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators, for example). Shimizu’s Insta account (@yukoart) is excellent for keeping up with her current projects, works-in-progress, and sometimes, her current mood.
Alumnus Nichole Washington (MPS 2016 Digital Photography) blends photography, painting and design into work that is bold, expressive and unapologetic in its ideas of femininity and Blackness. Washington just held a recent i3 Photo Lecture presented by MPS Digital Photography and has created some terrific work for Black History Month and Women’s History Month, including photographing Judas and the Black Messiah star Dominque Fishback for Refinery29 and shooting Queen Latifah for the 25th-anniversary legacy issue of Bitch Media.
If the work of alumnus and MFA Illustration as Visual Essay faculty member Hyesu Lee (MFA 2011 Illustration as Visual Essay) looks familiar, it should. Known for bright, warm, colorful, cartoony works, Lee designs many of the illustrations and gifs for SVA's #MondayMotivation series on Instagram. Clients include Apple, Microsoft, The New Yorker, Toyota, United States Postal Service, and dozens more. Some of the publications that have featured her work include The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Out New York, Advertising Age, American Illustration and more. Her fun and entertaining Instagram account @heyheysu, highlights much of this work.
If you’ve opened up a newspaper or a book in the last decade, you probably know the work of New York Illustrator, artist, author, and BFA Illustration faculty member Ellen Weinstein. Her vibrant illustrations routinely show up in newspaper articles around the country in publications like the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Time Magazine and more. Her work is often inspired by the simple, clean, yet evocative work of Milton Glaser, who she describes as her “childhood hero.” Weinstein is also known for writing and illustrating several books, including the widely-acclaimed Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity, a children’s book in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art.
Photographer Olivia Locher (BFA 2013 Photography) has shot for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Kate Spade, and many more. She published her first book, I Fought the Law (Chronicle), in 2018. Locher is known for her sardonic and humorous approach to studio photography, focusing on color and concept. Lately, her IG account (@olivialocher) has been a mix of creative self-portraiture, or using work—like an abandoned feature film—to commemorate dates like International Women’s Day.