“Social media is changing how we think, talk, and write about art — but is it doing it for the better?”
In the latest issue of It’s Nice That’s biannual magazine Printed Pages, our esteemed colleague Daphne Milner wrote an article which posits whether social media really is “the end of the elite” in art. With interviews from the art world’s BNOC’s such as Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jerry Saltz and Max Geller, the piece investigates how social media is changing the accessibility of art, and conversations surrounding the subject. Whether the outcomes are positive or otherwise, social media and its algorithms has become an unavoidable part of art criticism, and to visually support this topic, we, (at It’s Nice That) felt there was no one better to illustrate the piece than the whimsical animator and director, Sophie Koko Gate.
In her first commissioned illustration brief, Sophie brings her humorous sense of expression to themes of social media. The animator is known for her beautiful yet grotesque characters which move with a spine-tingling gentility that she applies to her illustrations. Speaking to It’s Nice That, Sophie explains how “making an illustration is kind of terrifying, one image that people look at for more than a second?!?!” By comparison, she says that “with animation, you can get away with so much bullshit. You can be below average at animation but people will still be impressed because animation is always impressive as it is ‘the perfect’ art form.”
Sophie went about illustrating the piece “real rough in a sketchbook” followed by a “nice sketch in photoshop” for the creatives at It’s Nice That to look at, followed by a further refined design, also in photoshop. She depicts the universally understood language of emojis in her trademark Sophie-esque style. In one illustration, the poo emoji sits contently in Duchamp’s 1917 masterpiece Fountain. In another, a haggard-looking Mona Lisa grimaces down the lens of yet another smartphone that is shoved in the poor woman’s face.
“I guess I am grossed out by social media”, says Sophie, “but that’s not why I illustrated the piece in a deformed way. When you zoom into the iPhone’s emojis, they are naturally gnarly creatures, I just made them a little gnarlier.” Far from shy in her use of dark shadows and sickly tones, Sophie’s emojis look more the creepy cousin of the perky Apple emoji’s.
On the topic of how social media impacts creatives today, Sophie says “it’s a pretty positive thing for indie creatives and DIY types.” She adds, “It allows you to be somewhat free to get your own work and clients without the use of an agency. Apart from making us all depressed and obsessive social media fanatics, it’s fantastic.”
Lastly, Sophie shares her thoughts on how social media effects public viewings of art. “I see a lot of art through other people seeing art which actually a time saver lol. It kind of spoils it a bit, but on occassions, it actually makes you go out and see the ‘art’. Like the giant slugs at the Tate Britain — WHAT THE HECK? An absolute vision, who is this genius? I saw it today on social media and will go see them this Friday.” Finally, she says, “I really love what the White Pube are doing. Art can often trick you into thinking you are an idiot, the White Pube does the opposite. It talks about art in intelligent ways that I appreciate, understand and feel. Thanks guys.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.