If you’re interested in animation, social media can be a great resource. By following top animators on Instagram, you won’t only get a look at some of their most recent art, but you’ll also get tips and inspiration for creating your own animations. Plus, you may even get a peek into the personal lives of your favorite Instagram animators.
Before we jump in, we’ll provide a brief history of animation, so you can get to know the animation artists that started it all. Then, get ready to hit “follow” as we explore a list of the best animators on social media.
The History of Animation
In 1908, French animator Émile Cohl made what is considered the first-ever animated film, a bleary black-and-white short entitled “Fantasmagorie.” Less than 90 seconds long and composed of 700 drawings, the film set in motion—pun intended—a trajectory that would establish animation as a major force in popular culture.
Today, films like “Frozen,” the “Despicable Me” franchise, and “Minions” have each grossed over a billion dollars. Beyond TV and film screens, motion graphics have also become a ubiquitous part of our daily digital lives. From reacting to a status on Facebook to the confetti explosions and fireworks celebrations of iMessage, it’s safe to say that animation in its current state bears little resemblance to its hand-drawn beginnings.
It’s not just the art that has evolved, however. The industry itself has become more democratized as the technology for making motion graphics has become more widely available. With digital tools like Photoshop, graphics tablets, and After Effects now at their disposal, animation artists don’t have to work at Pixar or Apple to create the animations of their dreams. And, when it comes to marketing that work, platforms like Instagram allow animation artists to take their ideas directly to their audience’s feeds without compromising on artistic vision.
For fans of art and animation, social media now provides an avenue to get to know the personalities behind the art we admire. Want to stay-up-to date on the best animators on Instagram? Whether you’re gif-obsessed, a cartoon super fan, or just looking to learn animation, you’re sure to find visual inspiration in the feeds of these social media–savvy top animation artists.
The opening credits for Comedy Central’s popular “Broad City” provide a strong glimpse into the mind of their creator, Emmy award–winning animator Mike Perry. A prolific painter and sculptor, Perry is also the curator of #GetNudeGetDrawn, a series where he and a crew of collaborators put out an open casting call for strangers who wish to be drawn in the buff. His psychedelic, candy-colored work is incredibly satisfying and endlessly entertaining, and his Instagram feed won’t disappoint.
2. Cat Frazier
Cat Frazier’s animated gifs made a recent appearance in the latest season of “Broad City.” Based in the Bay Area, Frazier has been called “the woman responsible for the greatest gifs on the internet.” Part meme, part self-help art, part acid trip, Frazier’s work always provides an electric dose of hilarious (and very neon) enjoyment. Looking for more—as Frazier describes her work—“dad jokes if your dad was a black lesbian”? This is the feed for you.
3. Neil Sanders
On Neil Sanders’ Instagram, you’ll mostly see animated dancing characters as part of the LoopdeLoop challenge, which Sanders created. The challenge tasks animators with creating a looping animation each month based on a certain theme—like “Hollywood,” “mask,” or “the smiling boy.” If you need a little lift in your day, look no further than the light, fun animations that Sanders shares.
Libby VanderPloeg is an illustrator and designer with a penchant for adding animations to her creations (and she can teach you to do the same). On her Instagram feed, you’ll see a mix of letterforms, print materials (like calendars and planners), and illustrations of powerful women. While she only features a few animations on her Instagram, you can see plenty more examples on her website.
VanderPloeg has worked for clients including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Design*Sponge, Netflix, Anthropologie, Condé Nast Traveler, and many more.
5. Yukai Du
Born in China and based in the UK, Yukai Du continues to rack up successes. She was recently tapped to develop in-store graphics for Apple, asked to design a collection for Everpress, and invited to speak at the prestigious Pictoplasma conference for animators and character designers in Berlin. As if that wasn’t enough, she was also asked to be the featured artist on one of Asia’s largest LED walls, located outside of the SOGO department store in Hong Kong.
Her Instagram feed, which often features detailed work set in the cosmos or reimagined landscapes, illustrates the point that there is nothing easy about animation. For originality from a master at work, Du is the artist to follow.
Brooklyn-based artist John McLaughlin has made a name for himself on Instagram with his inventive animated creatures that he calls “fuzzy dudes.” A colorful, friendly, and very furry mix between a yeti and Gumby, the creatures are surreal, lively, and wildly fascinating. They watch TV, they float in space, and their dance moves are, without a doubt, their most mesmerizing quality.
Though his fuzzy dudes may be McLaughlin’s main source of internet fame, he’s also an established motion graphic artist whose portfolio boasts projects with brands like Conoco, Apple Music, and Giphy. He’s even got credits in a Beck music video. Turn to McLaughlin to spice up your feed with a little surrealism and a great soundtrack.
Director, designer, animator, and illustrator Bee Grandinetti moved across the globe to pursue design—from her birthplace of Brazil to Sweden to study motion graphics to London, where she now resides. On Skillshare, she teaches a class on creating a character dance loop animation. On her Instagram, you’ll see plenty of animation examples, often featuring cute dogs and other animals.
Abbey Lossing’s work features distinctive, colorfully rendered urban-dwelling characters with enviable wardrobes. Her work showcases the goings-on of everyday life. Her vivid, flat style has won her clients across the country, including tech giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter, and she’s contributed to publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Want to learn animation by exploring Lossing’s process and how she animates? She teaches a class on how to create layered gifs with Photoshop and AfterEffects on Skillshare.
He doesn’t post a lot of animated content to his account, but artist Jacolby Satterwhite is an artist and animator name to know. Fresh off of creating the music video for Solange’s “Sound of Rain” from her latest album and corresponding film “When I Get Home,” Satterwhite builds a 3D animated reality that is visually arresting and unlike anything else in the field.
For “Sound of Rain,” Satterwhite leans into video game imagery and drone projections to create a universe that includes spacecraft powered by animatronic horses, naked cowboys, and the rapper Trina. The video also showcases his mastery in digitizing incredibly complicated choreography, a feat in and of itself.
10. Alex Clark
On YouTube, Alex Clark documents his life in a weekly animated series—which has gained him more than 4 million subscribers on the platform. Those subscribers have helped him win four People’s Choice Awards. So why follow him on Instagram? On his feed, you’ll get sneak peeks into his upcoming videos, as well as a look into his real (non-animated) life. You may even catch a few unpolished sketches that reveal his creative process.
11. Lana Simanenkova
Lana Simanenkova works as a Senior Creative at Animade, where she contributed to the animations featured in Dropbox’s illustration-heavy 2017 rebrand. Her instagram feed is playful, filled with primary colors and expressive characters that run, skateboard, and fight against Monday (sometimes quite literally). It also includes a lot of hugs.
If you’re looking for animation artists who move effortlessly between pictorial, illustrative elements for clients and a more personal body of work, Simanenkova is a great animator to know.
12. Hannah Jacobs
Working with a hand-drawn, painterly touch, Hannah Jacobs makes work that is organic and soft, with rounded edges and a soothing quality. An illustrator, animator, and director, she has had her films shown in film festivals and events around the world, including SXSW, the Tribeca Film Festival, and MONSTRA, among others. Jacobs has also developed pieces for The New York Times, Vogue, and VICE. Follow her feed for picturesque cabins, cute dog content, and sentimental landscapes. She won’t disappoint.
13. Fraser Davidson
Skillshare instructor and the Creative Director of Cub Studio, Fraser Davidson uses his Instagram to both showcase his artistry and provide glimpses into his personal life, including his young son. Davidson’s feed is sports-heavy, as his studio has been contracted to create animated works for clients including ESPN, FIA Formula E, Strava, Fox Sports, the NFL, and more.
Beyond finished illustrations and animations, Davidson often shares process videos, demonstrating how he’ll move from a sketch to a final product—which can serve as great inspiration for aspiring animation artists. And if you’re interested in learning from him, he teaches a Skillshare class on creating a simple character animation that’s great for beginners.
14. Jake Bartlett
Jake Bartlett teaches a Skillshare class on how to add playful personality to your animations—and his Instagram is the perfect representation of those principles. You’ll see a wide range of characters on his feed, from realistic renderings of Super Mario Brothers characters to abstract interpretations of characters like the Man in the Yellow Hat from “Curious George.” Best of all, he shares process pictures and videos, so you can see his visions come to life.
Josiah Brooks—also known as Jazza—is perhaps best known on YouTube, where he posts a variety of art-based videos for over 5 million subscribers. From character design challenges to animation and drawing tutorials, he shares new content every week.
On his Instagram feed, you’ll see a different side of Brooks, including his ventures into painted miniature figures and even puppetry. However, he also shares character design drawings and occasional animations. So, if you’re looking to follow a multi-talented artist who’s always picking up new skills, Brooks is a great one to follow.
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16. Frank J Guzzone
Frank J Guzzone is a multidisciplinary artist who has designed animated works for clients including Apple, Kate Spade, and Red Bull. As you can see from his Instagram feed, his animations differ greatly from the typical, 2D animated style. His realistic 3D designs—which often resemble slime or lava lamp–type shapes—are soothing and mesmerizing.
17. Alex Grigg
You will see a variety of artistic styles featured on Alex Grigg’s Instagram feed. From bold, primary-color-based illustrations to anime-style characters, he doesn’t hesitate to experiment with his art. That versatility has led him to work with a number of impressive clients, including The New York Times, Cartoon Network, and BBC.
18. Tom Bancroft
A Disney animation veteran, Tom Bancroft is the original creator of the character Mushu from “Mulan.” Now, he shares a plethora of interesting content on his Instagram page. You’ll likely see Mushu reappear from time to time—sometimes as a mashup with another character, like a Jedi or Nightcrawler. You’ll see some other well-known characters, too, ranging from Goofy to Spiderman to Simba. Best of all, Bancroft often shares process drawings and videos that show how his drawings go from sketches to a final illustration or animation.
Following these top animators on Instagram will give you a daily dose of inspiration. With a glimpse into their current animation work, other artistic ventures, and even personal lives, you’ll feel connected to the most famous animators today—which can give you the motivation you need to move your own art forward.
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