If you’re an #Instaphile (read: Instagram obsessive), you’ve probably heard of the artist known as Santlov. The Miami-based photographer and graphic designer is the mastermind behind ToysRLikeUS, a collection of photographs in which familiar toy figurines and comic-book icons—Woody, the Joker, Gollum et al—appear to have run amuck, graffiti-ing on walls, luxuriating in bubble baths, and ’gramming their meals with the hashtag #foodporn. The series went viral, and Santlov has accrued just under half a million Instagram followers, whom he feeds a regular stream of images populated with deviant toys.
Santlov isn’t the first to riff on popular culture (see the still-reigning kings of Pop, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein), or poke fun at human conditions and behaviors by placing toy figures in ironic or absurdist situations (see Slinkachu’s miniature dioramas), but he might be the first to so clearly articulate the sweeping influence of social media on human culture. The joke’s on us; Santlov has created an internet meme that self-reflexively comments on its own mode of distribution, playfully mocking social media trends, while also relying on them. His figurines play on their iPhones, surf Craigslist, and, paste “KONY 2012”—the notorious viral charity campaign—posters to their walls. Irresistibly irreverent and kitschy, @Santlov’s images may have you scrolling for some time.
If following artists on Instagram is your thing, we recommend: Yoko Ono (@yokoonoofficial), Ai Wei Wei (@aiww), Takashi Murakami (@takashipom), and KAWS (@kawsstudio), David Choe (@davidchoe), Tom Sachs (@tomsachs), Snarkitecture (@snarkitecture), Olek (@oleknyc), Jose Parla (@joseparla), Ryan McGinness (@mcginnessworks), Aakash Nihalani (@aakashnihalani).
Explore more artists at Avant Gallery.