Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Curating your work, Part II, by Mike Ciccotello

Last time I wrote, we spoke about curating your work for a website. Now I’d like to share my experience of curating work for social media, specifically, I want to tell you about my Instagram experience. 

At the NJ SCBWI summer conference, I met two art directors, Maria Middleton, Random House, and David Dewitt, Little Bee. Both art directors said they have searched for new talent on Instagram. If you are an illustrator looking for work, that little bit of information should make you think about having an Instagram account.

Here's a preview of my Instagram feed.
If you are an Instagram user, you know that you can search users, tags, popular stuff, not so popular stuff, it’s endless. You can view new images people have posted when you click your home button, or you can swipe right and view what people you follow are liking. It’s visual. It’s cool. And like most social media, it can eat hours of your day if you’re not careful.

The thing that sets Instagram apart, in my opinion, is Instagram offers a unique visual experience, The 9 Image Grid. When you view a users feed, within the Instagram app on a smartphone, you can see 9 square images, 3 across and 3 down. Typically, a user will post one image per square that doesn’t necessarily relate to the other images. A dinner plate, an adorable dog, pictures of kids… you get the point.

Now, what if we played with that space? What if we pushed the boundaries? Instagram is always 3 images across with a portrait orientation. So, what if you take a 3x1, long horizontal image, cropped it to 3 squares, and post each square image separately? What if we took it a step further and cut up a 3x2 image or a 3x3 image? I once posted a 12x3 image… that’s 36 square images. 

I have seen photographers use this technique and thought it might be interesting to try. I wanted the whole feed to flow from one group to the next. 

I have been influenced by this idea of an “infinite canvas” many years ago when I met Scott McCloud at NY ComicCon.  Years after that conversation, I saw this amazing comic by XKCD, titled, Click and Drag.

I understand Instagram doesn’t scroll left or right, and every feed has a starting point. But being able to infinitely add imagery is pretty cool. I tried it out and kept up with it for a while. I posted Monday through Friday, at least 3 images a day. I had to take a little break due to deadlines etc., but I’ll be back to posting just in time for INKtober.

Once you start posting in a format like this, you need to always post in 3’s, to keep everything in order. If you only post one image, it throws the feed out of wack and the images won’t line up until you post a third image. 

I didn't invent this, I just put my own spin on it. Look at Dave Pilkey's Instagram feed. He’s shifted away from it a bit, but if you scroll down his feed, you can see ways he has played with the space. 

Consider the images you post and what they look like as a group, rather than an individual piece. Each post could be an individual piece, but maybe there's an overall color pattern you could follow, or textural element. How would you use this space to curate your day-to-day art gallery?
  • Plan your grid of images ahead of time. 
  • Look into tools like Tail Wind or Instagrid. 
  • Use photoshop with a grid overlay to see what goes where.
  • Post the last image first and keep working backwards.
  • Always post three images at a time.
If you have questions, please feel free to comment.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Instagram ( @ciccotello) to see my upcoming INKtober posts and how everything evolves. I’ll be speaking at Johnson & Johnson Corporate HQ next week talking about my current show, Wishes and Daydreams. If you or someone you know works for Johnson & Johnson, stop by the show and send me a message. I’d love to hear from you.

Represented by Rachel Orr
For more info contact 

Twitter: @ciccotello 
Instagram: @ciccotello 


  1. Mike, you are just SO amazing, I can't get over it! :D Your instagram is unbelievable! And I wish I was closer to Johnson & Johnson. I would see it when I went down to Rutgers for my son!

  2. Hi Mike
    thanks for the informative post.

  3. Love it! You are the king of layouts!