Every day, people across the world use Instagram to share visuals from their life. The platform has grown into a community that extends beyond borders to connect over common interests. In Issue Two, we spoke to creatives from Middle East and Asia to understand how they use Instagram as a platform to showcase their visual art. We also spoke to Eri Mishima, Community Manager, Instagram APAC to understand the platform’s initiatives to keep up with the demands. Most recently, the platform has launched a project specifically for the Indian community as a guide to foster kindness and support.
An illustrated zine, Insta Gyaan aims to educate people on how to maximize their Instagram experience including tips to showcase their work, connect with people, and ensure that safety is priority. Bangalore based independent comic artist Kaveri Gopalakrishnan collaborated with the organization to create this zine. We had a quick chat with Kaveri and Tara Bedi, who handles Community Partnerships and Programs for Instagram, India to learn more about the initiative.
How did the idea for the Insta Gyaan zine come about?
Tara: One of the most powerful and meaningful thing about Instagram is the kindness of our diverse, global community – which creates a safe space where millions can feel comfortable to share their lives and connect with one another. To continue to keep people on Instagram safe, we wanted a way to share our values, new features and safety information with our Indian audience in a visual and engaging manner and thought, why not work with our biggest strength – our community – to do that.
How did the collaboration happen?
Kaveri: They liked my profile so Tara got in touch and asked if I’d like to illustrate a publication for them. They said it was going to be an initiative that connects people together. I’m a comic artist and I like working with things that have some kind of a narrative. I didn’t want to give them images and work with a graphic designer, so it ended up being a complete experiment. I told Tara I’m not a graphic designer; I’m a comic artist, so I’m used to writing and laying out text as long as I’m writing and drawing myself.
Tara: We see so many incredible Indian artists on Instagram so we decided to work with one such illustrator/artist to visualize this information. We discovered Kaveri on Instagram and loved the strong feminist voice in her work.
How did you decide on the format of a zine for the content?
Kaveri: I was briefed that this was going to be a free publication available at Instameets. I wanted to do something that felt personal and handwritten. I have a collection of mini zines and comics that I’ve been collecting for a long time. It seemed like a very nice informal way to talk about the content. They were not particular about it being about the brand. The focus was on it being something people could connect with. Since it’s targeted at young adults, the color palette is much more muted. The colors aren’t that bright and happy. I took a sober approach and used colors that even I can relate to. I just didn’t want it to look like a booklet. The idea was to give it a collectible kind of a vibe.
Tara: When we started discussing the project with Kaveri, she suggested going down the zine route and we thought it worked perfectly with what we were trying to achieve – a visual way to make our messaging more than just information, but something that was beautiful, memorable and something you’d want to revisit and hopefully share with your friends!
What was the process of collaborating with Instagram like?
Kaveri: It was very open ended. I had about 25 pages that I could use as spreads or individual pages. So I didn’t even technically have to put text on all of them. Creatively, it was superb! It was not like working with a typical client in that sense at all. I really liked Tara’s personal approach. In terms of the characters, I included some random bird headed people here and there, and I loved doing that. Those are the kind of things I’d do for a comic that I would perhaps upload on my Facebook or Instagram, but not for commercial projects.
Since the guide is created specially for the Indian community, how has the response and engagement with the platform in India been?
Tara: India has and will continue to be one of the most engaged and passionate Instagram communities globally – and as more people start to use Instagram, it becomes increasingly important critical that we invest in ensuring that they have a safe and engaging experience. While Instagram is designed to be intuitive and easy use, we wanted to create the guide to ensure that more people are equipped with the knowledge to make the most of their experience on Instagram.
The Insta Gyaan zine is available as a free download here. Physical copies of the zine will also be available at select Instagram community events. Other local well-being resources can be found here under the India section. You follow Kaveri on Instagram here and Tara here.