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CULTURE

INSTANT Gallery

A creative collective transforms their Instagram images into limited edition prints that raise money for worthy causes

by Julie Wolfson
on 02 November 2016

Photographer Alan Gastelum remembers feeling a sense of frustration with the consuming power of social media. Instead of shying away from it, he began to search for a way to create further meaning from the interaction. He wanted to showcase his own work along with that of his colleagues, with the intention to support artists and to raise money for worthy causes. From this quest, the idea for INSTANT emerged.

In 2014, Gastelum was volunteering at NYC's East River Park and helped organize a group of volunteers for the East River Coastal Cleanup—part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day supported by the Ocean Conservancy. At the same time, he recruited like-minded photographers to join him in raising funds by selling images and donating 50% of the profits. “The best way to let people know what we were doing was through social media,” says Gastelum. “The power in numbers. Collectively, INSTANT's photographers have over two million followers.”

The current roster of more than two-dozen INSTANT photographers—who eacg offer five images for sale per month—includes Kwaku Alston, Finn Beales, Ike Edeani, Yoon Kim and others. In addition, INSTANT features a guest artist series. This month, travel and lifestyle photographer Alice Gao, chef Camille Becerra, and singer songwriter Cat Power are joining in this fundraising effort.

All kinds of organizations have benefitted from INSTANT, including medical research and meal donations, clean water projects to disaster relief, children and family resources, and even animal welfare. “We are doing something a little different this month,” explains Gastelum. “We are working with a charity called KIVA. KIVA Microfunds is a 501 non-profit organization that allows people to lend money via the internet to low-income entrepreneurs and students in over 80 countries.” KIVA's mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. At the end of this month, INSTANT will choose a loan to fund. When it is repaid in about a year, they will flip the money back into another one, allowing their November earnings to back another loan.

They also recently launched "INSTANT Originals,” making one-of-a-kind signed pieces of art for sale. Eventually, the INSTANT photographers want to expand their roster to more painters and illustrators, to offer large format printing from their personal photography, and to open a brick and mortar gallery. INSTANT images, processed as archival Giclée prints on glossy Hahnemühle paper, are available with or without frames by Simply Framed from their online shop. This includes the current, aforementioned guest series—where each participant is donating 100% of the profits to KIVA.

Images courtesy of INSTANT Gallery

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