Here's the Story Behind the Artwork on A$AP Rocky's Instagram

A$AP Rocky's feed turned Instagram into an Installation with help from Robert Gallardo and Tan Camera.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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This past weekend, A$AP Rocky unleashed a barrage of art across social media. The catch? It was done, frame-by-frame, image by image, through Instagram. While this may sound like something unobtrusive, when your art installation is comprised of 168 individual frames of imagery, including work from noted artist Daniel Arsham, you can expect to draw a lot of attention (and complaints) from the public. 

While Rocky ultimately explained the stunt to his fans via twitter, the entire event, effectively a "digital installation," was done in co-ordination with artist Robert Gallardo—one of the minds behind Rocky's small but secretive internal art direction team, known as AWGE.

For AWGE's first major public work, it's best seen on your mobile phone, as the images become clearer to form a more complete, flowing image. This, of course, was all intentional. For Gallardo, the project (and his work) "is modern day fine art, just delivered to you differently because of the times we live in. Social media feeds instead of galleries." 


But what exactly is AWGE, and what's Gallardo's role in it? "Rocky found me based off of some artwork I did in memory of A$AP Yams," Gallardo told Complex. "Once he found me, he was impressed by my other work and wanted me to join the team. Now I'm his art director." When asked further about what exactly AWGE is, he said that "as of right now [AWGE] is the internal creative team that Rocky is building. He has big plans for what it will become, but that's what it is currently."

While Gallardo was the mastermind behind Rocky's overall Instagram design and layout, it wasn't just his perspective that was present on Rocky's feed. Tan Camera (born Kimi Selfridge) also contributed to the digital mural, through a series of photo collages.

Tan Camera's work utilizes something of a "homespun" aesthetic. For Rocky's project, she created images that combine Polaroids, painting, and pattern work, all revealing a more intimate picture of the rapper. "I made each collage by hand with various materials, including photographs shot on 35mm film and Polaroid film," Camera explained via e-mail. "Then [I] scanned them for Instagram." 


Faded images of Rocky are juxtaposed against the clothes and/or logos of names like Palace, Stussy, Raf Simons, and Bianca Chandôn. It's an intimate look at A$AP Rocky, and his interests—not unlike a homemade gift.

Camera's intimate perspective isn't by happenstance either. As she told i-D, she met Rocky while at SXSW. When the pair returned to NYC, she and Rocky linked up again—this time getting together to work. "He really trusted me to do my thing, and brought me in from day one—something about my work paired with the way our energies naturally flow with each other," Tan Camera told i-D. "He gave me freedom to do my thing in his really interesting, and well curated world. He was very unguarded, very trusting—he still is."

More than anything, the whole piece isn't meant to only show A$AP's newest artistic pursuits, but also to keep hype at an all time high for Rocky's upcoming album At.Long.Last.A$AP, which is due out on June 2. Gallardo and company remain fairly secretive about other details, but as Gallardo told us via e-mail, "None of the images you see on his Instagram are there by accident."


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