by Monica Smith | staff writer
A blank sheet of paper and a set of Prismacolor pencils is all junior Pedro Diaz needs to create a drawing so detailed and vivid that it makes you wonder if his hands are a magic printer. His Instagram account, containing a variety of realistic portraits, is proof of that.
“I’ve been creating art for forever but I realized I really liked it and wanted to go in that direction around sixth grade,” Diaz said. “So I made a plan to take an art class the next school year and kept going ever since.”
From the accurate shading down to the precise highlights, Diaz manages to capture accurate proportions and values that make it appear almost like a photograph rather than a drawing. His most liked post on Instagram is a portrait of American singer, Ariana Grande, and his second-most being a self-portrait.
“Creating portraits of her is very popular in the art community,” Diaz said. “I also think my self-portrait did well because of its horror and surrealist atmosphere.”
His artwork can be found on a variety of social media platforms.
“I share my art mainly on Instagram and promote it on my Snapchat in order for others to see it,” Diaz said. “I do try and make TikToks on the process of the drawing, but I usually become forgetful and complete the drawing, forgetting to film the rest of the TikTok.”
The creative process of beginning a drawing is critical to any quality piece. Whether it starts with a simple sketch or construction idea, an artist must have some sort of direction on how they want to present their artwork.
“I usually start a drawing with inspiration to create something that appeals to me and others,” Diaz said. “Then I take reference photos to guide me throughout the drawing.”
The road to self-improvement is not a straight path, especially with a subject like visual arts, where learning a new skill or technique can determine the cohesiveness of a piece. An artist can know how to shade with color pencils perfectly but if they lack a simple understanding of the color theory it can easily blemish the imagery of a piece.
“When I first started my account I only cared about the likes and exposure, which I think is normal for someone starting from scratch,” Diaz said. “I would post drawings that were rushed and felt formulaic. I’ve learned that the more drawings you post, the happier you’ll be with your account. I take my time on my drawings in order to make them the best they can be.”
In reference to gaining followers and attention on Instagram, it can be a demanding and stressful process.
“At times I do feel some sort of pressure to post really good drawings and post often,” Diaz said. “Personally making a drawing that is perfect takes time and it’s almost impossible to post often and have those be really good drawings. Even if I was okay with posting bad or mediocre drawings, I mentally cannot. I can’t help but always want to improve a drawing and constantly criticize it.”
With the large and diverse amount of creators in the art community, support is never far away.
“I often receive a lot of support from my peers on Instagram, whether it’s them reposting my art on their stories, commenting on my art, or simply direct messaging me complimenting me for my work,” Diaz said. “I think it’s crazy because I’ve become good friends with artists I’ve admired for the longest time, even before I started my art account, and they constantly support me and my art.”
One of those creators Diaz has admired being José Claudio, who started his Instagram account back in 2015, and now has over 100,000 followers. The collective hype around his artwork is deserved based on his obvious talent and dedication to each post.
“Having a large following where I can reach out to people is very useful,” Claudio said. “I’ve had job opportunities that I never thought I could have and companies reach out to collaborate or just send products for me to try out.”
Gaining a considerable platform may be the end-goal for many creators but there are actually more expectations and constraints that can develop a barrier between creative ability.
“Art starts to become like a chore instead of something to do for fun,” Claudio said. “it’s good to maintain a consistent posting schedule but taking a break every other week feels great. You can think of new ideas or just rest.”
But with a downside, there is also an evident upside to having an active social media presence.
“Some of my biggest achievements would be growing my page and having an audience to share my artwork with,” Claudio said. “Also getting noticed by celebrities — this is not something that I necessarily look for when I post, but when a celebrity notices you it feels rewarding in some way.”
Claudio who has had years of experience growing his Instagram profile now has to deal with maintaining an account by adapting to what artwork is most appreciated by his following. That mostly being drawings of celebrity portraits.
“As my account grew, I learned that my artistic freedom got a bit restricted by what I normally post,” Claudio said. “I still enjoy what I do but I would like to post more experimental stuff that I do in my free time
His advice to artists aiming to have a large platform is solely based on what he has learned through his own Instagram account.
“I would say to just not think about growing your page too much, just post and then people will come,” Claudio said. “It’s less stressful and you get to grow organically while doing something you enjoy.”
Diaz, who also cherishes and puts this advice into his artwork, continues to put effort into his account in order to build a strong platform.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with my account because there’s always room for improvement,” Diaz said. “But I do believe I’ve come a long way since I first started. I’m proud of where I am and I can’t wait to improve some more.”