(This article is one man’s opinion, not fact-based journalism. )
I came across this post on one of my favorite creativity blogs Designyoutrust about Instagram photo repetition. The basis is on an Instagram account called insta_repeat dedicated to this very point. It makes me very conflicted as a designer and maker and got me thinking. Is visual ‘same-ness’ & image repetition on Instagram a sign of the end of creativity?
You see, I am a designer, animator, and creative director, and like many, I love looking at, liking, sharing and creating inspiring imagery. More than that, and like a lot of school-taught design students, my raison d’etre is pure never before scene originality even in my personal life (I know, a torturous aspiration). Along with that comes a strong will that is almost a hunt to stay ahead of the curve of art, culture, fashion, travel, and technology. Like so many other people it seems. Honestly, it is just exciting and keeps things fresh and entertaining.
That is why viewing original outfits in unique poses in unusual places with unexpected Instagram filters or super lovely 3d animated loops for example put it into perspective. The world is small, things are less often new, & what used to feel original or rebellious is far from it. This bummed me out. I wanted to explore why.
Is subversive even possible any more?
A part of art, design and image making as a whole has always had at least a portion rooted in a rebellious nature. Its subversive existence accompanied by inaccessibility has made some of the most original art finds that much more impactful when discovered. But is that even possible when even the most innovative and out of the ordinary creatively can be made, shared and duplicated in an instant?
Are accessibility and shareability desensitizing originality and the magic?
Does something incredible like a stylized colored portrait in an ice cave in Iceland on Instagram make even the greatest of creativity average? Especially when geotagged if twenty people repeat it? Does it make it even less impressive in person when you go for the photo but less for being there in the moment?
Are we getting lazy creatively?
Do we even want originality as media consumers? Deep down I hope so, and I think so. And even deeper down I think we all believe we are creative because of the combination of easy to use creative apps that make images look great with not a ton of efforts and the intimacy of our devices that make us feel like we are the center of our world artistically (which we are.)
We are not lazy, nor is Instagram killing creativity.
Instead, in a hard to swallow sort of way, the accessibility of so much cool imagery is driving the average much higher, and that is an excellent thing. What I’m saying, is with so many creative tools from so many creative people with so many eyes on it, the bar is raised a lot higher than ever of what becomes original and unique and most importantly, exciting to view.
What this tells me is that originality may not even matter. What does matter to viewers is the mutual and aspirational feeling you get by seeing someone else making, seeing or visiting the same image you have or want to. It creates a sense of belonging and happiness for humans whole are tribal by nature. That is powerful.
And oh-em-gee, who am I kidding. The troves of rad s%^t on Instagram is epic, and the act of making and sharing in itself is the pinnacle of creativity.
If you got this far, thank you.