Last week in my Articles of Interest, I linked to an article about Bailey Richardson, one of the eleven original employees working for Instagram when they were purchased by Facebook for one billion dollars in 2012. The article discusses how Richardson and a few other original employees have now abandoned the popular social media platform by deleting their profiles, citing as their reasons, a move away from the original ethos of artistry, intimacy, discovery and free expression on the platform, giving way to a celebrity-driven marketplace.
It seems that only three of the original eleven employees who helped catapult Instagram to success are left working with Facebook, with the cofounders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger leaving in September this year after rumoured clashes with Zuckerberg over the direction of the platform. Richardson, who resigned from Instagram in 2014 and deleted her account this month, laments the how she curated the original Instagram blog looking for the best accounts. At that time, posts were seen in a chronological order and users predominantly made their own discoveries before Facebook introduced its controversial algorithmic feed in 2016, in which software now feeds users tailored content. The crux of the issue the original employees seem to point to how Facebook wanted to scale the platform to a large audience using software, rather manual organic growth as had been practiced previous to the acquisition. It is easy to see their point when you understand that Instagram has grown from 30 million users in 2012 to 1 billion users this year.
In saying all this, every once in a while we do come across an account that does seem to fit the original ethos of what Instagram was trying to do. You can see the positive force for good, and how it celebrates someone who might otherwise have gone unnoticed…
We came across one such discovery recently, happening upon it in the local newspaper. The account belongs to Concha García Zaera: @conchagzaera, whose profiles says “Soy una señora de 88 años. Me gusta pintar con el programa Paint. Y sobre todo estar con mi familia y con mis amigas.” / I am an 88 year old lady. I like to paint with the Paint program. And above all be with my family and with my friends.
Years ago, after her husband passed away, Concha gave up oil painting. Her family gave her a PC and she started to explore using Microsoft Paint as a way to pass the time. Paint is a notoriously difficult program to master and produces a very specific renderings. Over the years, the grandmother persevered, and has been able to create magical landscapes with incredibly intricate detail using the program on Windows 7, and amazingly, only a mouse as her input. She takes her inspiration from postcards she has collected over the years from friends and family, and local inspiration from Valencia. The pieces can take anywhere from two weeks to a month to complete.
For a long time, her granddaughters tried to persuade her to open an Instagram account to share her work, but she always refused. One of her granddaughters opened one for her, and her artwork quickly went viral, amassing over 150k followers.
Concha has become something of an internet celebrity not only in her native Valencia, but also all over Spain, and has even received an honour from the city. So much so, that she now spends a part of her days charmingly responding to fans of her work on social media, proving you’re never too old to learn something new.
Here are a few selections of our favourite pieces of her work.