25 art directors you need to follow on Instagram in 2016


Follow these amazing artists on Instagram to stay inspired and ahead of the creative curve in 2016.

Instagram is the social media home when you’re looking to share or be inspired by art and design.

But as of late September, 2015 the platform had over 400 million users, so while there are plenty of creative watering holes for you to find inspiration, the sheer volume can be overwhelming.

Luckily for you, we’ve done the hard work curating the best creative talent on the social mega-platform. From photographers to digital artists, painters and typographers, if you follow these creative thought leaders in 2016, you’ll not only find inspiration, you’ll also stay ahead of the creative curve.

01. @George_Byrne

The first Instagram creative that caught our eye with his Swiss-style inspired photography was George Byrne. It appears we’re not alone, as he has over 40,000 followers to date.

Utilizing white space always makes a huge visual impact (as we’ve discussed in these articles about swiss-inspired design and designing with white spaceand Byrne’s images are no exception.

Real name: George Byrne

Followers: 111k

How he got started:

Byrne’s sister can be credited with giving him his start in photography. He was originally more interested in painting and drawing than taking photos.

However, while studying photography in high school, his sister would leave her “beautiful old Canon AE1” around the house. Byrne was granted permission to borrow the camera on weekends and instantly fell in love.

His journey:

For a long time, photography was more of a passion project for Byrne than an actual career. To pay the bills he worked a wide array of jobs, from construction to hospitality, to music. However, he has now been able to make a full-time living off of his art.

What gives him inspiration:

While his sources of inspiration vary, currently Byrne says he is inspired by “particular combinations of light, color and form.”

“If I’m then able to sew into that arrangement a poetic/ethereal sensibility that refers directly or indirectly to the time and place of the image, then I know I’m onto something and I’ll press the button.”

Creatives on Instagram that he follows:

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02. @spielkkind

This illustrator and photographer brings whimsy and charm to ordinary objects on her Instagram account.

Real name: Kerstin Hiestermann

Followers: 296,000

Her day job:

These playful drawings, while garnering her over a quarter of a million followers on Instagram, are not what she uses to pay the bills.

During the week, Hiestermann works as a full-time teacher of young students with physical and mental disabilities. In our interview, she said that her works on Instagram were more of a hobby.

Her creative path:

Unlike some of our artists, who have been photographing or drawing for decades, Hiestermann’s style arose by chance. Having never drawn or even photographed much before, she came to Instagram to share her quirky take on the regular items we see each day.

What inspires her:

Hiestermann’s inspiration comes from all around her, including her work at the school, her children, cooking, or even her gardening. Hiestermann just will simply wait until she sees an object that her mind creates an association with, and then she goes from there.

Even without any formal training or years of practice, her work is infused with an infectious joy that is sure to brighten your day and your designs.

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03. @joselourenco

Real name: José Lourenço

Followers: 107,000

If you’re looking for an account that combines color and photography, then José Lourenço is your perfect match.  A visual artist and photographer out of Lisbon, Portugal, each Instagram shot he posts offers art with an occasional touch of sass.

Whether showcasing a minimal design aesthetic with his photographs or providing a bright mix of color, each of his images can be a creative spark for your next project.

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04. @the_artistry

Followers: 18,500

Unlike the other accounts profiled so far, this account is composed of a group of creatives, instead of just one. Self-described as a group custom-built to create content to tell their client’s brand story,” their images encompass an assortment of topics and mediums. 

With each image’s unique perspective, any designer can be almost guaranteed to find a source of inspiration amongst them.

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05. @themostfamousartist

Followers: 77,200

This mysterious Instagrammer is a full-time artist and curator. His work spans countries and artistic mediums, and can sometimes hint at a more sinister undertone. If you are in search of some avant-garde inspiration, then this Instagram account should definitely make the list.

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06. @muenchmax

Real name: Max Muench

Followers: 143,000

Muench uses his Instagram account to photograph landscapes that are so majestic that they seem like something out of a movie. Based out of Berlin, this creative mind uses his lens to share the amazing world we live in and provide inspiration for travelers and designers alike.

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07. @jessiewebster

Real name: Jessie Webster

Followers: 72,200

While it may seem like we are focusing heavily on photographers, it’s hard not to admire the carefully crafted images presented by Webster. A photographer out of Los Angeles, her images are the works that bloggers dream of creating or curating for their own websites.  

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08. @abstractink82

Real name: Dave Weisberg

Followers: 280

Weisberg may not have the hundreds of thousands of followers that some of these other accounts do, but that doesn’t make his work any less amazing.

How he started:

Weisberg’s lack of inspiration was what sparked his motivation to create work for Instagram. Despite having a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art, and a concentration in drawing, he, like many artists, had hit a wall. 

He described this experience by saying, “I . . . couldn’t bring myself to start or finish even the simplest of design concepts.”

Thankfully, having always considered handwriting, typography, and calligraphy a method of art and design, he realized he could channel his blocked creativity into creating beautiful lettering.

It also helped that his mother was an architect and designer, so he was “exposed to technical lettering and calligraphy at an early age.”

Weisberg said:

“Lettering simply became a way for me to practice keeping pen to paper without a self-imposed standard or expectation. And as it often does, the exercise gradually became the outcome.”

His day job:

Though Weisberg would like to be a full-time artist, he still works a regular day job to pay the bills. He looks forward to a time when he can “take the leap” to “invest all of [his] efforts into [his] art.”

Even without making a full time living from his work, Weisberg says that “the art itself started and remains as my meditative practice and serves me greatly whether it’s generating income or otherwise.”

What gives him inspiration:

Weisberg describes himself as extremely introverted but does say that he draws inspiration from literature, music, film, philosophy, emotion, as well as travel, life experiences, and personal reflection.

Creatives on Instagram that he follows:

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09. @juliaspowell10

Real name: Julia Powell

Followers: 9,317

Powell is another artist who dreams of taking the leap to become a full time creative. A lawyer by day, she works close to 70 hours a week between both her art and legal career. Her use of bold colors will help set fire to both your Instagram timeline and your creative energy.

How she got her start:

As a young girl, Powell used watercolors and other mediums to paint what she saw surrounding her. However, it wasn’t until two years ago, when her brother gifted her an easel and oil paints, that she truly found her medium.

Her dedication and hard work, along with a dash of luck, allowed her paintings to reach the peak level where she’s recently been able to secure gallery representation.

Where she gains inspiration:

Having painted from a young age, her time growing up in New England left a lasting impression on her art. Powell says “the woods, ocean, and mountains” continue to provide her with ever-present material for painting.”

Advice to aspiring artists:

“[It] sounds like a cliche but honestly reading and taking classes and looking at other artist’s work [that] I admire is integral to getting better.”

Creatives on Instagram that she follows:

  • “I also like . . . accounts that feature the fauvists and the impressionists … Anything from van Gogh or Matisse!”
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10. @mottafernandez

Real name: Gonzalo Fernandez

Followers: 316

Fernandez, a graphic designer out of Buenos Aires, Argentina, uses a variety of unusual images and mediums to express himself on Instagram. If you need a dose of inspiration that involves the artistic road less traveled, then scrolling through Fernandez’s posts will provide you that in spades.

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11. @dudibensimon

Real name: Dudi Ben Simon

Followers: 22,300

This Instagram account, run by Ben Simon out of Israel, will break with any preconceived notions you may have as to what qualifies a work as art. Luckily, that is exactly what Ben Simon intends.

His goal through his posts is to change the conventional perceptions of creativity and design, and should offer you plenty of material for your own works of art.

How he began his unique style of art:

Ben Simon has studied the history of art since high school and became fascinated by the unlimited possibilities of using daily objects as art, especially when they are disconnected from what they are normally used for.

This innovative approach helps him to broaden the concept of what makes something art.

His day job:

Ben Simon’s posts blend his day job with his artistic expression, as he currently works as a top creative executive at an ad agency in Israel. Instagram also serves as a home for him to unleash his unlimited creativity.

“Working in advertising by day, my ideas are driven toward a goal and my work is done within marketing formats.” However, he says that on Instagram, there are no limits to what he can create and share.

What gives him inspiration:

By viewing the world from his own angle, Ben Simon finds inspiration almost anywhere. “In most cases I see an object that I relate to (design, shape, color, or meaning) and then it’s a matter of minutes until the idea is born.”

Sometimes, it can be a few days before the idea comes to fruition, but once it does, Ben Simon is committed to capturing it with his camera and then sharing it with the rest of the world.

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12. @palomaparrot

Real name: Phoebe Draeger

Followers: 316,000

A photographer out of Germany, Draeger could be considered the Instagram queen of the Swiss-inspired photograph. With her minimalist design aesthetic, muted color palate, and ample use of white space, her work is an inspiration to any designer who doesn’t want to be outlandish just to be seen.

Where she began:

Draeger benefitted from having a father who enjoyed photography as a hobby in her formative years. At the ripe old age of 10, she began to compose and capture images herself.

From that moment on, she says she knew she wanted to be a photographer. It also didn’t hurt that she earned a degree in photography from university.

What inspires her:

Like many artists, Draeger can find inspiration practically anywhere. Everything from a quote, a song, to moments in her everyday life,  she says provides a groundwork for her next photograph.

Creatives on Instagram that she follows

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13. @sejkko

Real name: unknown

Followers: 186,000

This artist out of Lisbon, Portugal uses his or her lens to share nature’s beauty. This majestic scenery, from the smallest plant to cliffside waves, cannot help but be a source of inspiration for those afflicted with wanderlust as well as for designers.

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14. @yoshimitsu_umekawa

Real name: Yoshimitsu Umekawa

Followers: 5,134

This Japanese artist creates images that are both mind-bending and wildly colorful. Self-described as a photographer and artist, Umekawa offers a different perspective through his images that others may not have imagined.

While some believe his work contains a dark undertone, they can also be seen as providing a new beginning and inspire creative growth.

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Spread the word on your favorite:

15. @abel.psd

Real name: Abel Perez

Followers: 51,300

According to the online article linked in his Instagram profile, Perez is an “[e]ntrepreneur, computer programmer, world traveler, and a maniac photographer.” The images on his Instagram evoke both modern scenes and a dystopian future world.

This theme is purposeful, as that same article says that Perez, “bends reality with pixels to create futuristic elements and arts.” Whatever you may read into these posts, Perez provides viewers with plenty of creative spark to gain from.

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16. @cole_younger_

Real name: Cole Younger

Followers: 179,000

Younger manages to capture scenes around Los Angeles that others may overlook. His posts include deeply evocative scenery, social commentary, and views of nature’s fury.

Younger is also the co-founder of Esthetic Label (@estheticlabel) which is a company for premium photography workflow tools and accessories. If you are seeking design inspiration that comes from big city life or is influenced by the American West, you need look no further.

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17. @jasonmpeterson

Real name: Jason M. Peterson

Followers: 694,000

The eponymous owner of this account is the only photographer on this list who specifically uses a lack of color to convey his message. In addition to being a photographer, he also works as the CCO for Havas Worldwide.

While his photographs may not be his day job, they still provide a deeply moving view of the world around us.

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18. @ronnydevylder

Real name: Ronny De Vylder

Followers: 421

This artist is a self-described “creative visualizer.” That term is apt at describing the inventive and original work created and captured by this account. If you’re looking for inspiration that is off the beaten path, this account might need to be your new go-to source.

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19. @tomasleczynski

Real name: Tomas Leczynski

Followers: 167

Leczynski, who calls himself an Illustrator / Designer / Graphic Artist / Calligrapher on his Instagram account, brings this same array of interests to his posts. You can find everything from typography, to geometrical patterns to drawings created or photographed by Leczynski in his timeline.

With such diverse images, almost everyone can find something to inspire them.

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20. @kami_kadze

Real name: Daria Seliverstova

Followers: 114,000

This Moscow-based artist gives her Instagram followers a look into her life and her art through her page. Seliverstova, shares a love of street art, reading, and her city with the images she captures.

Any blogger or designer that wanted inspiration for a lifestyle-type story or blog would find their home amongst Seliverstova’s shots.

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21. @isa_ts

Real name: Isa Agert

Followers: 1,571

As this list would not be complete without at least one Parisian capturing the beauty of the City of Light, might we present to you Isa Agert? Agert uses her lens to share the colors, images, and stories behind the people and the buildings that make up Paris.

No house is too big or street art too obscure to not find a place in her frame. If you have ever wanted a behind the scenes look at Paris, or just want to feel inspired by such, Agert is your go-to Instagram account.

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22. @jackieocean

Real name: Jackie Passetti

Followers: 224

This artist gives back to the world with more than just her images. During the day, she works as a high school art teacher and spends her free time taking photographs. Despite describing herself as “not much of a photographer,” any artist could glean inspiration from her fantastic shots.

Her artistic journey:

Passetti describes her childhood as filled with drawing and painting and an undeniable love for art. Her interest in photography came late when she began using Instagram as a medium for cataloging her photos for later reference in her other works.

What inspires her:

Like so many of our artists featured, Passetti takes aspects of everything surrounding her and uses them to inspire the images she captures. She also looks to other artists to provide her with inspiration from their artistic methods to subjects.

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23. @gregory_euclide

Real name: Gregory Euclide

Followers: 7,554

Jumping from the artist above who is minimal and traditional, to these works of explosive colors and materials, this is your new favorite account if you love an account that holds nothing back.

These works of art leap off their canvases and demand you give them your attention. Anyone who needs a dose of cutting edge art and design, can find it right here.

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24. @nopattern

Real name: Chuck Anderson

Followers: 100,000

It would appear that Anderson doesn’t enjoy having much downtime. Aside from being a designer and photographer, he also works as Creative Director for Havas Worldwide out of Chicago, IL. You can use his posts and unrelenting creative output to help inspire your own work.

His journey in photography:

From the time he was a kid, Anderson says he has been making art in one form or another. Thankfully, he lucked into discovering photography as the medium he was most adept at using.

The images he creates are “very untraditional” (according to him), since they rely on the heavy use of editing and manipulation prior to posting.

Despite this heavy-handed approach, Anderson wholeheartedly believes that you must start with a spectacular photo to produce an even more amazing end result.

How he handles the demands of his job and artistic passion:

Even though he admits that it can be a lot of hard work to handle both, he truly loves what he does. For the past ten years, Anderson has had his own art and graphic design studio called No Pattern.

He joined the team at Havas Worldwide in March of last year, but has loved every minute of working there. This exuberance is likely the product of his specialized agreement between himself and Havas.

As Creative Director, Anderson collaborates with a variety of teams and clients, mentors young designers, and helps bring a fresh perspective to this large agency.

Since he is allowed to continue his freelance work while a part of Havas, he manages to tap into both roles with ease.

What inspires him:  

Anderson describes his inspiration as being a part of everything that surrounds him:

“I get inspired a lot by my city, Chicago. I love it here, I love what’s going on culturally and creatively. There is a lot of good energy from artists, designers, and photographers here right now.

I’m very much inspired by my closest creative friends, people I’ve known for a long time who are doing really amazing things now.

Benjamin Edgar & Virgil Abloh, two long-time friends who I started THEBRILLIANCE.com with, inspire me both each day with their work. My friend David Allen, an amazing tattoo artist.

Designers and artists like Cody Hudson, Deanne Cheuk, KAWS, Phil Hale. These are artists I’ve been following for a super long time and always blow me away.”

Instagram accounts he follows to stay creative:

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25. @justinmaller

Real name: Justin Maller

Followers: 97,100

Maller, a digital artist out of Brooklyn, New York, rounds out our list of Instagram accounts to follow in 2016. Like the other artists who came before him, Maller is adept at creating digital images that cause you to pause and take a closer look.

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Final takeaway:

At the beginning of every year, you might feel as though you are brimming with creativity and inspiration. However, sometimes those creative juices can suffer from over or under use.

No matter what type of design you produce, there is an account above that can move your mind to think and create in a variety of new ways. Make sure to follow one, or all, of these accounts in 2016 and prepare to have your most creative year yet.

Your secret weapon for stunning design