Arts and Culture

Twenty Colorado Instagrammers to Follow Right Now

Who said dogs are man's best friend?
Who said dogs are man's best friend? @JJYosh
Social media often gets a bad rap, discounted as a frivolous pastime or even a malicious place where people portray and compare manicured truths. But it’s also a place where people can express creativity, build community and grow engagement for their brand or business.

Or simply have fun.

Colorado’s top Instagrammers have interests that range wide, but they all congregate online, where they share their work, solicit feedback and find audiences for their shared obsessions.

Here are twenty of our favorite Instagram accounts to follow, bringing you the best content from every corner of the Colorado experience.

click to enlarge @cheeksonpeaks celebrates birthday suits and buns of glory. - CODY / @CMCPHERS
@cheeksonpeaks celebrates birthday suits and buns of glory.
Cody / @cmcphers
CHEEKSONPEAKS

Doug McConville accidentally started an international community that celebrates the splendor of bare butts.


@CheeksonPeaks got its start when McConville realized that he was jealous that the topless mountain photo trend seemed to be reserved for women. So one day when he reached a summit, he stripped down and struck a pose. “Turns out, it's an amazing feeling,” he says.

It didn’t take long for the Internet to echo this sentiment, as people quickly rallied around McConville’s hashtag, #cheeksonpeaks. Soon he was receiving submissions from around the world. But the fun of @cheeksonpeaks isn’t relegated to the Internet: Leading by example, McConville and his girlfriend often turn strangers into cheeks-on-peakers when they’re out for a hike.

McConville wants folks to know that nudity doesn’t have to be sexual, and that @cheeksonpeaks is all about self-love. “The account is proud to be an inclusive community,” he says. “All butts are welcome, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation/identification, body, ability, political affiliation, etc. We just ask that you send us an ass with a view!”

Follow @cheeksonpeaks for hiking inspiration and butts. Lots and lots of butts.

click to enlarge An illustration titled "Toad." - @SOFIEBIRKINILLUSTRATION
An illustration titled "Toad."
@sofiebirkinillustration
SOFIEBIRKINILLUSTRATION

Sofie Birkin of @sofiebirkinillustration has indelible style, both in her art and her personal life. Asked to describe herself, Birkin points out that she has an enormous collection of berets, her house is haunted (but not as haunted as the last one), she used to be a designer for Dr. Martens, and she has a passion for thrift shopping.


And Denver has a passion for her work: among other things, Birkin has illustrated a cover of Suspect Press, painted two murals inside the Mission Ballroom, and projected her art on the side of the Daniels & Fisher Tower as part of the new Friday Night Lights installation. Her art has also appeared in Playboy and Cosmopolitan, and she’s gearing up for some big projects in the future, such as her first large-scale installation inside the eagerly anticipated Meow Wolf Denver.

Birkin describes herself as “a queer illustrator who plays with bright color and bold shapes to create a diverse range of empowered, playful characters.” Her work “centers queer visibility and the power of daydreaming, and is heavily influenced by fashion photography, contemporary feminist art, 19th century aestheticism and marginalia.”

Follow @sofiebirkinillustration for playful images where everything is personified and bodies are represented with radical compassion.

click to enlarge Who said dogs are man's best friend? - @JJYOSH
Who said dogs are man's best friend?
BACKPACKINGKITTY

Wanderlust is often a reason that people don’t commit to pets. That was the excuse used by adventurer JJ Yosh, the man behind the now-viral @backpackingkitty account that features his cat, Simon.

A few years ago, Yosh’s Boulder landlord rescued a litter of kittens. Without much thought, Yosh ended up with a cat that he thought hated him. But after a few weeks of hiding, Simon decided he was ready to be Yosh’s best friend.

Now their life is the cat’s meow. “Simon is the love of my life. We do almost everything together!” Yosh says. “I even took him to my sister’s wedding in California earlier this year. He was dressed in a tiny cat tuxedo.”

Even though he cleans up nice, Simon isn’t a pussy. He loves kayaking, swimming, rock climbing and hiking. Yosh discovered this because Simon “would try coming out the door with me when I would go for hikes and adventures,” he says. Eventually, Yosh “got a harness and leash and tried them on to see if [Simon] would mind — and he didn’t!” Delighted by this discovery, Yosh (with Simon's help) has since made it his mission to inspire people to take their cats outdoors.

Follow @backpackingkitty if you want to see a cat in thousands of surprising scenarios, including in a pool, on a surfboard and dressed up as a slice of pizza.

click to enlarge Mural in the RiNo Art District by @kokonofilter. - CORI ANDERSON / @STREETARTNETWORK_DENVER
Mural in the RiNo Art District by @kokonofilter.
Cori Anderson / @streetartnetwork_denver
STREETARTNETWORK_DENVER

@Streetartnetwork_denver began as Cori Anderson’s hobby account where she admired Denver’s murals, but she soon found that her page could wield power for artists in the local street scene. “As soon as I started the account, requests and questions came from all directions — where to find a mural, how to commission a mural, who painted a mural, what does this graffiti say,” and so forth, she recalls.

Realizing this “huge void of knowledge,” Anderson was inspired to start her business, The Street Art Network, “which educates lovers of street art, connects artists with opportunities and resources, and documents the ever-changing scene.”

Anderson is proud of Denver’s street art, which in large part is “steeped in Central and South American iconography” that pays homage to the Chicano-rights movement, she notes: “We have some amazing cultural traditions in Denver that have survived almost exclusively through the art of murals." Despite the community-building power of Instagram, she admits that she wants “to see more street art with purpose and technique, and less street art that looks good as an Instagram backdrop.”

Follow @Streetartnetwork_denver for the latest on Denver's changing walls and the artists who make them happen.

click to enlarge @neoma.lun, an Ecuadorian pop star who recently relocated to Denver. - @JULIANNAPHOTOGRAPHY
@neoma.lun, an Ecuadorian pop star who recently relocated to Denver.
@juliannaphotography
JULIANNAPHOTOGRAPHY

There’s no shortage of music- and musician-obsessed photographers in Colorado, but Juli Williams of @juliannaphotography is capturing artists with a signature style.

Using a variety of filters, glass and random objects that she’s collected over the years, Williams loves to distort and embellish reality. With her collection of tools, she manipulates light to make marks on her images, resulting in colorful prisms, kaleidoscopes, shadows and bokeh. The result is psychedelic photography that is both playful and enchanting.

Recently, Williams has also started to explore arts beyond photography. She wants to offer musicians a wider variety of assets, she says, “things such as concert posters, album covers or even promotional videos. I’m currently editing a music video I shot for the artist Neoma, and it has really ignited a new love of video editing for me. It’s been a blast exploring new avenues for my creativity!”

Follow @juliannaphotography for your fix of trippy and experimental images. And who knows? Maybe one day you’ll see her post pictures of her ideal subject, Kevin Parker of Tame Impala.

click to enlarge "Today I took a moment to own all of me. Not just the pretty, confident parts of myself, but I own my insecurities, too." - SYDNEY / @SASS_PHOTO
"Today I took a moment to own all of me. Not just the pretty, confident parts of myself, but I own my insecurities, too."
Sydney / @sass_photo
CHRONICLESOFASASSQUATCH

Lots of people have a “WTF” moment when they stop and wonder why their life feels so much like they’re just going through the motions and so little like intentional living. Meghan Fisher, the woman behind @chroniclesofasassquatch, was once one of these people.

At first, Fisher took the traditional self-improvement route of stepping back from her tired routine and seeking guidance. But her breakthrough moment, she says, was when a mentor told her, “Stop trying to get rid of the monster inside of you. Why don’t you change your relationship to the monster? Why don’t you dance with the monster? Why don’t you create with the monster?” And so Sassquatch was born.

This sassy monster has stirred up quite a following on Instagram, and Fisher recognizes that the character serves as an inspiration for many. “When we share our troubles, our joy, our shame, we realize we are all in this together,” she says. Although “self-help” narratives can be hard to swallow, seeking inspiration from a Sassquatch is a great way to learn how to dance with your demons.

Follow @chroniclesofasassquatch for inspirational quotes and endless smiles induced by a woman who loves nothing more than hamming it up in a skin-tight Sasquatch suit.


click to enlarge From David Sachs's Denverite story on prisoner-turned-millionaire Bernard Hurley. - @KEVINJBEATY
From David Sachs's Denverite story on prisoner-turned-millionaire Bernard Hurley.
@kevinjbeaty
KEVINJBEATY

Kevin J. Beaty is a photojournalist for Denverite, covering “a really wide range of subjects,” all of which he sees “as one body of work about the city.” His photos are not only technically impressive, but they offer an empathetic look at Denver, as well as the citizens and issues that define it.

On his account, @kevinjbeaty, he says he tries “to find something new in every shoot.” To that end, he explains, “you can usually find me on the ground or on top of something as I try to find fresh angles.” This is evident in his work, which ranges from cheeky photos of wildlife, such as Denver’s newly edible geese, to sobering images from the post-shooting vigil at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

For his feed, Beaty posts images in trios, which works well with Instagram’s three-across “grid view.” He admits, though, that this creative choice is also “an exercise for me to think about pushing myself, even on visually boring or challenging assignments.”

Follow @kevinjbeaty for the latest in Denver’s visual news, plus the occasional illustration, time-lapse and even some .gifs.

click to enlarge For "anyone who ever dreamed of joining the Space Jam squad...we’re that brand!" - @BFRESHGEAR
For "anyone who ever dreamed of joining the Space Jam squad...we’re that brand!"
@bfreshgear
BFRESHGEAR

Colorado is known for many things, but fashion isn’t one of them. This state’s residents, who take pride in wearing socks with sandals, are at best quirky and at worst homely. But Coloradans do have a strange affinity for loud, retro gear — likely stemming from the ski-fashion days of the ’70s and ’80s — and local brand B Fresh Gear is capitalizing on that gaudy and glorious Colorado taste.

B Fresh, run by a staff of mostly “unicorns” (that is to say, rare and elusive natives of this region), makes retro streetwear with a focus on visor shades, fanny packs, printed swimwear and puffy vests. But it’s not just these fun and flashy designs that make B Fresh Gear’s feed so great. It’s the chuckle-worthy photo shoots and larger-than-life personalities that make the brand a true spectacle.

As founder Brian McBroom likes to put it, “You could say we know how to have some flippin’ fun!”

Follow @bfreshgear for patterns and power stances.

click to enlarge "Breakfast Poutine of Champions from @wendellsdenver: shoestring fries, sunny eggs, the most delicious sausage gravy!" - @HUNGRYHUNGRY_HIPSTERS
"Breakfast Poutine of Champions from @wendellsdenver: shoestring fries, sunny eggs, the most delicious sausage gravy!"
@hungryhungry_hipsters
HUNGRYHUNGRY_HIPSTERS

In true hipster fashion, Christian and Ashley of @hungryhungry_hipsters met while working in a photography lab and “bonded over weird memes and gas station hot dogs.” After finding each other, they decided to uproot their lives and move to Denver, where they found that dinners out were when they felt the most connected to each other, as well as to their new city.

Without friends or family in Colorado, they started @hungryhungry_hipsters as a way to document their dining adventures and keep in touch with loved ones back home. “We post on our page to encourage others to get lost in their meals and their partners and to hopefully feel inspired to find connection to something meaningful, whatever that may be,” they say.

Denver is a bustling place to be a foodstagrammer, but Christian and Ashley say that their niche is the two-for-one approach: “Since we both have diverse and often vastly different flavor profiles, anyone who follows us gets double the recommendations! One of us prefers vegetarian-focused cuisine while the other is a total carnivore. One likes smokey, full-bodied cocktails and the other is a wine drinker. We hope there is a little something for everyone on our page.” And indeed there is, with beautiful photos and up-to-date specials that can help any Denver foodie decide where to eat next.

Follow @hungryhungry_hipsters for glorious food porn, date-night inspiration, and maybe, just maybe, an elusive gas station hot dog.

Poppies blooming at the foot of the Flatirons in Boulder, CO. - @REMINGTONROBINSON
Poppies blooming at the foot of the Flatirons in Boulder, CO.
@remingtonrobinson
REMINGTONROBINSON

Art collecting is often viewed as cost-prohibitive, a pastime reserved for the wealthy, or those who make a serious, concerted effort to budget.

Remington Robinson paints with this dilemma in mind. Though he started his tiny, hyper-realistic collection because he wanted to be able to complete a scene in one sitting, he also loves how his works make owning original art more affordable and accessible.

When he finishes a scene, the tiny painting is sold in its container with the original palette used for the artistic process. In this way, Robinson says, his work is “almost a crossover between painting and sculpture, with the palette being a sort of behind-the-scenes element to the piece.”

Follow @remingtonrobinson to see the best use for empty mint boxes as well as fine art fit for studio apartments, tiny homes and even campers.


click to enlarge Ollie looking adorable, as always. - @EXPLOREWITHMEDIA
Ollie looking adorable, as always.
@explorewithmedia
EXPLOREWITHOLLIE

When Stephen Martin left the Army, he moved to Colorado to pursue a degree in exercise science. At the time, his sister was working as a veterinarian at a local clinic, and she encouraged her brother to adopt a tiny, eight-week-old pup.

Now that pup is the star of the online empire @explorewithollie. Martin insists that Ollie “was the catalyst to helping me find the great outdoors” in Colorado, and says that he “continues to be a consistent reason to stay motivated and accomplish new challenges.” Challenges that include 38 fourteeners, countless nights of camping, and at least a few romps with really big sticks.

In addition to easing Martin’s transition into civilian life, Ollie has helped Martin find his passion. Even as he studied exercise science, Martin’s calling as an artist began to shine through as he worked to grow @explorewithollie. Today he’s a full-time photographer and videographer, “completely leaning into the creative spark” that Ollie ignited, he says.

Follow @explorewithollie for adorable dog pictures and some serious inspiration to start exploring with a four-legged friend.

VOSSLING

Sierra Voss is a multi-talented artist who exercises her creative muscles in photography, wardrobe styling and set design. She’s built a career as an art director, passionate about imagining worlds and bringing those worlds to life. Her account, @vossling, showcases her work, ranging from product promotions to experimental arthouse shoots.

Born and raised in Denver, Voss is deeply embedded in the local arts community, and she collaborates with many Colorado creatives. Though her clients range from beauty product companies to rock stars, her work is always infused with a singular creative vision, never straying from bold designs, bright colors and perfection in the details. Aside from her work as a creator, Voss also offers creative counseling for artists, brands and independent projects.

Follow @vossling for all things beautiful, and proof that no matter the subject, there’s magic to be made.

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Lauren Antonoff is a Denver native dedicated to telling Colorado stories. She loves all things multi-media, and can often be found tinkering in digital collage. She joined the Westword team in 2019, where she serves as the Audience Engagement Editor — connecting people, ideas, and the stories that matter.
Contact: Lauren Antonoff