Student Spotlight

Elaine Almeida

The barrier to entry to share creative work and ideas with the world is the lowest it’s ever been. Graduate student, Elaine Almeida, talks to us about how she is leveraging Instagram to share her art and how it has become a practice to help her grow personally and creatively.

1. Why did you decide you wanted to start @almeidaagain on Instagram?

Almeida(Again) started as an online diary of sorts-- I’ve always done some kind of art, whether it be photography or graphic design or writing. So in the beginning--and Lord forbid you scroll back far enough you’ll see it yourself-- the account was just a hodgepodge of random art I made as a way to procrastinate from whatever I was supposed to be doing. I didn’t really have a style for a long time.

Things changed this spring when I just started sketching voraciously. With no intent to post, I just really leaned into a lot of neurotic energy I had tumbling about within myself. That’s where I found a lot of my pressure points––oh, I was sketching men a lot because I felt that there was a dearth of those kinds of images existing on social media; oh, I was sketching nudes a lot because I became obsessed with this idea of how little I could do to show a lot; and oh-- this was the biggest ‘oh’ for me--I was sketching myself a lot because there is both tremendous vulnerability and tremendous power that exists at the intersection of being the viewer, the viewed and the creator. Once I saw those themes I just leaned into them harder and started sharing this huge collection of images I had lying about doing nothing. So I feel incredibly lucky that my art gets to oscillate between being a really mindless activity, just posting to post, to a very intentional and mindful exercise for myself.

2. Where do you find inspiration for each piece you create?

I am always actively searching it out. I’ll hole up in libraries, people watch, scour my friends’ social media pages. I have this saccharine belief I cling to that ‘every body is worthy of art’ so I’m trying to live that out in my work.

Looking at other art is so important. It’s helpful for me to ideate about creativity as being a language rather than a trait, and something you have to work to be fluent in.  In the same way you have to be able to read, write, speak and hear a language to become fluent in it, I think it’s the same with growing creatively– lots of stimulus, lots of exposure, lots of practice using your own voice. I’m not sure you ever become “good” at being creative but you can grow to understand yourself and others better.

3. How do you think this work will help you in your job search post-grad?

Honestly, it’s main job is to keep me sane. I studied Advertising in undergrad as well and was interested in pursuing art direction or strategy. I started doing a lot of informational interviews with people to figure out where I would fit best. Regardless of agency size, speciality, what field the person was from, the biggest piece of advice they told me was to have a side hustle. Don’t pour all of yourself into one thing. So this is that side hustle.

4. What’s in the future for @almeidagain?

You know, I’m a little superstitious so I won’t say too much, but I will speak this into existence: a good deal of my profits goes to National Park Service and my goal for my upcoming 23rd birthday is to donate in some large increment of 23. So all futures moves are orbiting around that.

5. What advice would you give to others who want to find ways to share their creative content?

Find your niche, find your community and lean into it. Remember the 80/20 rule and choose quality over quantity. I think at first glance you see that I have less than a 1k followers and you’re like who is this joke? Well it’s me and that small number of followers helped pay my bills last month. Don’t get caught up on numbers-- choose engagement and community and authenticity.

Also, love your work regardless of the numbers. Gleam insights from the numbers, sure, but at the end of the day, tune out the din and love your work for what it is.

6. What do you want to do post-grad?

Hopefully come off of this caffeine high and get a proper circadian rhythm.

To see Elaine’s work check out her Instagram @almeidaagain

Edna Diaz