Sometimes, rather than being the inescapable hellscape of inauthenticity, mindless scrolling and impulse purchasing that boring people say it is, Instagram can be a truly magical place of discovery.
If you follow the right people, IG Stories can take you to the strangest corners of the internet, and there you may find delight, horror, intrigue…. or at least a worthy rabbit-hole to trip headfirst into.
Anyway, a while back I came across a portrait. At first I mistook it for a photo-realistic image of Barnaby Joyce, but on further investigation, it became clear that the truth was even funnier.
I had happened upon a portrait of “Prince Philip, Duke of Edinbruh” (sic). I had also found my new favourite Instagram account, and what I believe to be the best portrait artist in the world…. portraits246.
Desperate to get to know the person behind the mysterious account, I reached out. What follows is our conversation, conducted over email to preserve their anonymity.
Spoiler: I’m still no closer to knowing who they are.
VICE: portraits246... Who are you?
portraits246: Some guy who paints portraits
Why have you chosen to be anonymous?
Great question. I guess I want my page to be about showing my art, not my disgusting fugly face (I'm fugly, can't be an art himbo)
How would you describe your work?
Probably insane style!!!!
What is your life like offline?
What is it like online?
Why do you paint portraits of celebrities? What do they mean to you?
They don't really mean much to me, but they seem to mean a lot to a lot of people. I just like doing portraits, and celebrity subject matter kind of allows me to paint in my style and have it reach a lot of people. I'm just cashing in on the cult of personality.
Who is your favourite celebrity, and why?
All of them!!!!!!!!!! Probably all of the ones that were in that one video singing “Imagine all the People” (Bob Dylan song). I love all celebrities because they're very important and because they teach me about NFTs!!!
What has been your favourite portrait, and what inspired you to paint it?
Probably, Harry Styles. Even though I genuinely know nothing about the guy except that he ran someone over with his car and that he wears dresses. My inspiration usually comes after a self induced panic attack when I'm wired on that insane style 100% Brazilian bold.
What is “insane style 100% Brazilian bold”?
Insane style 100% Brazilian bold is coffee.
Why do you think people love your portraits so much?
I think people unconsciously value something different, because most art in social media is hyper realistic coloured pencil drawings of Iron Man.
How does Instagram help you with your art?
It’s the only place where people could find some sort of value in my art. Traditional art world (gallery style) would probably think it's beneath them because I don't talk in metaphysical elitist mystical intellectual ethnic heady-ass-terms to describe my paintings.
Do you use other platforms?
I'll use every platform I can. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Pornhub, Reddit, Linkedin. Anything that will allow me to show my work to as many people as possible.
When did you start painting portraits and why?
I started portraits246 in 2019 because I wanted to make art people would actually talk about.
Can you elaborate on this a little bit more?
I've been painting and drawing since I have a memory. I'm 26-and-a-half now. Before, I made a trillion paintings that meant something only to me. The portrait format allowed me to actually make art that would make people talk and comment on. I mean, it's almost impossible to not feel something when looking at a face.
Do you think you have achieved what you wanted to achieve?
I think I have. I think I could push it a lot more. I hope people stick around for the stuff I have planned.
Last year some tabloid implied I committed treason with my Queen portrait. Firstly, I’m not British (thank God), secondly it’s pretty cool that a painting in this time could cause such a reaction. Old Facebook people (they rock) were losing it over the painting and arguing on whether it was actually art or not.
What is your favourite part of the art making process?
Probably the first few manic brushstrokes.
How long does it take to produce one work?
It takes one week to finish one portrait.
Why is art important??
I don't know if its important, but at least it helps me cope lol
Do you sell your art?
Yes!!! (please buy my paintings [I want to buy a monkey with a top hat])