Lachlan MacDowall’s Instafame: Graffiti and Street Art in the Instagram Era, published by Intellect Books and the University of Chicago Press, is now available.

Instafame is a pioneering study of the impact of social media and digital culture on graffiti and street art. Using 23 million pieces of publicly available data from Instagram, it paints a picture of the global networks of attention and taste that underpin contemporary graffiti and street art.


Instafame covers:

  • the inter-related yet distinct histories and definitions of graffiti and street art

  • how photography and other media have shaped graffiti and street art

  • why and how Instagram has become the predominant media platform for graffiti and street art

  • critical studies of the top 100 most followed graffiti and street art accounts on Instagram, including profiles and analysis of Banksy, JR, KAWS, OSGEMEOS, Martha Cooper and others

  • new research techniques and methods for analysing graffiti and street art

  • an account of the recent institutionalisation of graffiti and street art in festivals, museums, magazines, documenters and Instagram accounts more than 75 colour and BW photographs, charts, maps and tables.

In addition, the book is the first to examine the origins and architecture of the Instagram platform in detail, providing the first platform study of an app that has more than 1 billion users but is largely absent from critical scholarship.

Instafame charts the impact of Instagram – one of the world’s most popular social media platforms – on visual culture in the decade since its launch. The book traces the intuitive connections between graffiti, street art and Instagram, arguing that social media’s unending battle for viewers’ attention is closely aligned with the eye-catching ethos of unsanctioned public art. Beginning with the observation that the scroll of images on a sideways phone screen resembles graffiti seen through the windows of a train in motion, MacDowall moves outwards to give us a wide-ranging look at how Instagram has already effected a dramatic shift in the making and viewing of graffiti and street art. Using more than 23 million pieces of public data, Instafame is both a detailed study of the Instagram platform and the most comprehensive study of the intertwined global fields of graffiti and street art to date, making visible its key players, institutions and patterns of taste.

From the Instafame book: cities of origin of graffiti writers and street artists in the top 100 most followed graffiti and street art accounts on Instagram, 2015.


Table of contents:

  1. Introduction: The Instagram Era

  2. Graffiti and Street Art

  3. Global Media Histories

  4. The Architecture of Instagram

  5. The Streets on Instagram

  6. Instagram on the Streets

  7. The Top 100

  8. Conclusion: The Death of Instagram

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