Five wāhine you should be following on Instagram
While social media has its downsides, Instagram has proven itself to be a powerful platform for the modern artist. A place where you can fashion and orchestrate your own dream space, Instagram’s art community is both supportive and exciting. Here’s a list of five female, Māori artists to stalk, and why each of them loves using the platform for sharing their art.
Juanitur (Nita) works digitally on her iPad using the app Procreate. She is working on expanding her mediums, and sells prints, stickers, T-Shirts and more through her Instagram, as well as her via her website: Juanitur.com.
Nita’s designs are warm and strong. Heavily influenced by her Māori heritage, she depicts mainly women, exploring themes of aroha and self-care with pastel minimalism.
Heavily influenced by her Māori heritage, she depicts mainly women, exploring themes of aroha and self-care with pastel minimalism.
“Instagram has opened up a whole new world for me,” Nita says. “It connects me with people I otherwise wouldn’t even know existed. I can create relationships with other creatives and businesses. My biggest opportunities have come through Instagram. My sales jump when I post in my stories and interact with my followers. I found my stockists through Instagram. Humans are naturally nosey, they love to see behind-the-scenes. When my customers can see the dedication that goes into it, they’re always more than happy to support my mahi.”
Melle Haimona is a contemporary Ngunawal and Māori artist who works digitally for the most part using her iPad pro and Apple pencil. “When I started people said it was ‘cheating’, but it’s stroke for stroke like any physical artwork, just with the added benefit that I can tweak things a bit easier,” she says. Melle’s work is female-focussed and she sells prints, stickers, and commission drawings all through her Instagram and website: Mellehaimona.com
Asked why she creates and shares her art, Melle says: “When my daughter was born I just felt like something was missing for her. Sort of like looking at my childhood and missing my indigenous connections and knowing she was going to miss out on both her Koori and Māori sides. So basically I decided to do something about it. I read so many books and had a heap of guidance from my beautiful cousin Dallas. The more I learned, the more I was reminded of the richness of both sides of her, and that came out in my art.
“Being an artist, I’m obviously really visual, so the constant source of inspiration, diverse beauty and knowledge is something I gravitate to daily.”
“I absolutely love Instagram. I’ve connected with INCREDIBLE artists, writers, mamas and I’ve even made actual friends out of them. Being an artist, I’m obviously really visual, so the constant source of inspiration, diverse beauty and knowledge is something I gravitate to daily. Sometimes too much!”
Sara Moana, of Welsh and Māori descent, is studying her BFA with Honours at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland. She draws with pen and ink and paints on fabric. Sara draws cartoons which she describes as “honest, yet cheeky, yet tragic,” and sells T-shirts, caps and commissions through her Instagram. Her designs are eye-opening and bittersweet, often dealing with mental health and the hard truths of life. Sara twists dark concepts with a bright bluntness that very few artists can depict with such ease.
“I use Insta because it can be used as an archive for all of my work.”
“I use Insta because it can be used as an archive for all of my work,” says Sara. “I like to see how my work progresses and how my drawings change with relation to situations in my life. A lot of my work is spontaneous, so using the platform can be like writing in a diary that is open for anyone who is keen on seeing me having a breakdown or drawing bums (there’s no in-between). The ‘gram allows the people who are interested in the artist’s work to see it. In the physical world, your work is more exposed to the general public. For me personally, it was beneficial to spread my work on Insta to build up my confidence as an artist. And with Insta, you have this intimate, cute space to share your work before you toss yourself into the physical world.”
Wini Rose draws simple, stylish, and celestial pictures. She works mainly with the sketchbook app on her phone, but also uses water colours and acrylic paint. For poetry, she uses the Canva app, and is currently tapping into animated illustrations.
Wini flies between goddess-like imagery and personal, illustrated poetry. She says her work developed from the lowest, darkest point in her life, when she was too ashamed to ask for help. As a way of trying to understand her mental health and make it through, she began to write and share her poetry. From there, Wini balanced her kaupapa with both darkness and light, and believes that “if you want to pursue art, do it. If you want to create, do it. If you need space to bear what's on your heart, create a space! Everybody will have an opinion, and to someone you're not doing it right. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what anyone says, because art is an expression of who you are and what you're feeling and going through in that moment. There's no right and wrong to that.”
“At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what anyone says, because art is an expression of who you are and what you're feeling and going through in that moment.”
“I initially used Instagram because Facebook is very public in the way that everybody is able to have access to all of you, and I was trying to hide what I was sharing, and I was also needing to connect with others who I could relate to and who could relate to me. I guess things are still the same now but I don't really care who has access to me or about hiding anything. I think the major benefit Instagram provides for artists is a platform to share their creations with other like-minded creatives. As well as giving them the opportunity to be seen and have their voices heard widely.”
Haylee Ngāroma’s work is polished and personal, created mainly with digital mediums and occasionally pen and paper. Her kaupapa is to help the Māori community to be able to have a bigger selection of their own mahi toi to hang in their homes. Haylee uses uplifting whakatauki, “so that we are having constant reminders from our tipuna of our worth. It makes me happy to think they are hanging in our whare!”
Haylee’s portraits are rich and detailed. She plays with many different styles, but always maintains her own influence and signature. Without a doubt, Ngāroma is one to keep an eye on.
“Instagram is awesome for showcasing our mahi. Its sole focus is pictures, which works well for artists, and it also helps us to connect to our customers on a more personal level, as well as connecting with other artists. My advice to anyone wanting to become an artist is to stay focused on a version of art that makes you happy and fulfilled. Don’t change just to suit your customers, or make more money, because you will always find people that resonate with what you are wanting to share.”
Haylee sells prints and greeting cards through her 'gram and website: Ngaromaart.bigcartel.com