12 makers on Instagram to inspire your creativity
By Fionnuala Deasy
Published on 25 January 2021
If you’re looking to get creative at home, why not start by filling your Instagram feed with artists? From paper artists to ceramicists, here are 12 accounts that will inspire you to start making.
1. Try up-cycling old clothes into works of art, like James Merry
Embroidery is the perfect low-cost craft to do from home. Take inspiration from James Merry, a self-taught embroidery artist who lives and works in a remote cabin on a lake in Iceland. He's embroidered masks for Björk and Tilda Swinton, and has over 100,000 followers on Instagram. Scroll through Merry's feed to see his extraordinary headpieces and intricate hand-embroidered flora and fauna sprouting through the logos of old sweaters.
Merry says he “starts with something from the natural world – I will get obsessed with a certain flower, an insect, a particular vertebrae of an animal... All I need to work and travel are a needle and a few threads.” Why not dig out an old hoodie and have a go at embroidery?
2. Learn about paper art from Kyla McCallum
If you think paper is just for writing on, you need to see Kyla McCallum’s art. At the Foldability studio she founded in east London, McCallum creates paper installations, artworks, products, set design, paper art and sculptures inspired by origami and geometry.
Follow McCallum to see the work that goes into creating these huge, dizzyingly intricate paper creations – and get some ideas for your own paper art. You don’t need loads of materials either: for our Picasso and Paper exhibition, McCallum created Entwine, an architectural paper structure made from just two pieces of paper. The sheets are transformed into rippling and dense combinations of beautiful curving and intertwining folds. Why not see what you can achieve at home with two pieces of paper?
3. Pick up a pen and illustrate like Luke Edward Hall
For sketching inspiration, take a look at Luke Edward Hall's romantic and whimsical drawings, which evoke the work of Jean Cocteau, the Bloomsbury group and Ancient Greek sculpture. Edward Hall is a multi-talented creative, with a portfolio that includes interior design, fashion projects, murals and illustrations. He recently collaborated with the RA Shop to create a range of cards and objects inspired by our 250-year history – take a look here.
Edward Hall has an impressive 150,000 followers on Instagram, where he shares images of his beautiful drawings, his stunning countryside home and his very, very cute dog. His gorgeous feed will make you want to grab a felt tip and some paper and start drawing.
4. Grab a scalpel and take inspiration from Petra Börner
If you enjoyed collaging in school, let Swedish artist and illustrator Petra Börner show you how to level up your paper creations. She creates modern, distinctive images that combine faces and silhouettes reminiscent of ancient sculpture, with bright colours and patterns. What makes her work stand out, you ask? Well… she does a lot of it with a scalpel.
Börner’s exclusive RA Edition (pictured) was originally hand-cut in paper using a scalpel and made using a mixture of drawing, cutting, and tearing paper to create layers of colour and shape. Check out her Instagram for a mixture of drawing, printing and paper-cutting process videos.
5. Take a tutorial in basket weaving from Tabara N'Diaye
Designer and maker Tabara N’Diaye creates beautiful handwoven baskets, and she can teach you how to do it too.
She was inspired to start designing and making woven objects after seeing women weaving baskets in rural villages during childhood trips to Senegal. The women use a sewing technique called "coiling", where the weaver uses an awl tool to pierce holes in the basket foundation (a cotton tube), then draws sewing strands of recycled plastic through these holes to create structure.
N’Diaye experiments with different techniques and materials, creating basket bags, tableware and storage baskets using different materials. Her Instagram is full of inspiration and how-to guides for weaving your own baskets.
6. Turn your words into art like Bob and Roberta Smith RA
Patrick Brill, the artist behind the Bob and Roberta Smith pseudonym, trained as a sign painter in New York, and their hopeful slogans champion art and the power of creativity.
All you need to create your own word art is a catchy slogan, some paint and spare cardboard or wood — and if you need inspiration, Bob and Roberta's feed is full of bright and colourful work to get you going.
7. Take a lesson from Sophie Sellu on sustainable woodcarving
Woodcarving might sound complicated, but really only a few tools are needed to turn a piece of wood into an artwork.
Woodworker Sophie Sellu makes hand-carved objects from sustainable and reclaimed timber, creating simple yet elegant bowls, brushes and vases in abstract shapes from the textured wood.
She also has a very cute whippet who features regularly on her ultra-aesthetically-pleasing Instagram feed. Check her out for more beautiful shots of these amazing handmade objects.
8. Throw some (pottery) shapes, and add playful designs like Liv and Dom
Pottery needs a bit of investment to get started (you'll need clay, slips and a kiln if you're not air-drying) but the results are worth it. Don't believe us? Look no further than Liv and Dom.
The twin sisters are illustrators and ceramicists who create gorgeous plates and tiles adorned with flowers and joyful dancing female figures from their studio in Lewes, East Sussex. On their Instagram feed, they share images of their playful designs painted onto handmade clay tiles, candles, dishes, lampshades and candlesticks (check out their naughty nude incense holder!).
9. Embellish your old jeans with a needle and thread like Sofía Salazar
Sofía Salazar’s work is inspired by Matisse, Picasso, Hockney, and ancient art and mythology (this pair of jeans features two hands touching, Michelangelo-style). Her work typically uses single lines of chain stitch in bright colours, which you can readily replicate at home with just a needle and some thread.
Her Instagram is full of helpful how-to videos for transferring designs to embroidery hoops, basic stitches, using a Kantan needle, as well as screen and reduction printing.
10. Feast your eyes on Lily Jones’s retro cakes – then try making your own
For a baker, a piping bag is a brush, frosting is paint and the cake is a canvas.
If you need persuading that baking is an art form, take a look at Lily Jones’s decadently frosted cakes. Jones founded the Lily Vanilli bakery in east London, and her Instagram feed is a feast of gorgeous iced cakes and process videos (who knew watching icing being piped could be so mesmerising). Plus, Jones is a self-taught baker, so if you are feeling disheartened after some soggy bottomed bakes, take heart from her amazing cakes – and get baking!
11. Transform your drawings into prints with a little help from Mary Collett
Lino-printing is a great craft to start from home, with just a few tools needed to create high-impact prints (and you can check out our how-to guide for relief printing here). If you're looking for inspiration, take a look at Mary Collett’s lino-print portraits of animals that are full of life and character. Her Little Red Dog print (pictured) was on show at our 2020 Summer Exhibition, and Collett's fox print is in circulation in Bristol in the form of £10 Bristol Pound note.
If you’re looking to turn your drawings into prints, Collett's Instagram feed is a great place to learn more about this process. She shares her beautiful drawings and shots of her cut lino squares (and look out for a shot of Little Red Dog covered with the coveted red 'sold' dots of the Summer Exhibition).
12. Take a class in handwriting from Crooked Calligraphy
Calligraphy is the ultimate low-investment craft; all you need to get started is a pen holder, ink and nib (and our shop has lots of calligraphy supplies to get you started).
If you're looking for inspiration, Shinah, founder of Crooked Calligraphy, is the superstar calligraphy teacher you need. She shares tutorials and guides to get you started with this calming craft (and you'll never have to buy a birthday card again!). Head to her Instagram feed for her hilarious sweary calligraphy creations.