Amusing Myself to Death on Instagram
May 2017

After years of people telling me “you should be on Instagram”, I am now on Instagram. User: stuartmcmillen.

Thinking outside the square

Instagram is different to, say, a Pinterest page, which sprawls infinitely in all directions. (See below).

Stuart McMillen's Pinterest page

By contrast, Instagram displays a user’s images in a 3-column wide grid:

NASA Instagram grid 3 column wide

Until now, the square, 1:1 ratio of Instagram has always turned me off joining the platform. I generally compose my illustrations to take advantage of the horizontal or vertical frame that they are contained within. Squares provide much less scope for the ‘rule of thirds’ that is so important to composition.

For my Instagram debut, I thought it would be fun to experiment with the 3-column grid format that Instagram uses.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought how the ‘tyranny of the square’ could actually be an interesting creative constraint. It could be interesting to compose each Instagram image, while considering how it relates to the other images that it is next to.

Instagram does have the predictable ‘grid’ format, which is always three images wide. This is a nice constraint for an artist to work within.

(And, yes, I realise that Instagram now supports rectangular images when zoomed-in, but I prefer to work within the original constraint of the medium).

Panel by panel: Amusing Ourselves to Death and Challenged

I decided to turn back the clock eight years to two comics that I published in 2009: Challenged and Amusing Ourselves to Death.

I hadn’t read either of the two comics in years, and was glad that I enjoyed them. They are definitely the works of a much younger and different cartoonist than I currently am. They appealed to me as a comparison to my current work.

Both of these comics live on my old website Recombinant Records, and I thought it would be nice to hark back to the past by posting the comics, in full, on Instagram.

A flood of images

I went back into the comics’ master files; manually rearranging the artwork of the original comic. I chopped up the scenes into the 3-grid format, and then exported the images so that they were exactly 1080 pixels wide, by 1080 pixels tall.

Then, I flooded the images to Instagram in a bottom-to-top fashion.

I realise that this is something that would be annoying for people who are subscribed to my image feed. Luckily, I currently only have 22 followers. So, I decided to bite the bullet, and just do it.

In the future, I won’t attempt something as annoying as this Instagram landslide. The images will remain down the bottom of my feed, as an interesting curiosity for those who scroll that far down the page.

Follow me via https://www.instagram.com/stuartmcmillen/ and I promise that I will be less annoying in the future!

Screenshots of the Amusing Ourselves to Death / Challenged avalanche follow below:

Amusing Ourselves to Death on Instagram

Amusing Ourselves to Death on Instagram 1

Amusing Ourselves to Death square crops Stuart McMillen 2

Amusing Ourselves to Death on 3-column format Instagram - 3

Comics told via Instagram: Amusing Ourselves to death in three grid columns 4

Challenged on Instagram

Comic storytelling on Instagram grid - Challenged by Stuart McMillen 1

Comics in Instagram's grid format - Challenged by Stuart McMillen on Instagram 2

Stuart McMillen Instagram: re-posting comic Challenged 2009, 3

Follow me via https://www.instagram.com/stuartmcmillen/

See Challenged and Amusing Ourselves to Death in their original pages.