#LightBoxFF: Around the World With Street Artist JR

3 minute read

Jun. 3, 2014. JR in Paris.

Welcome to this week’s edition of TIME’s LightBox Follow Friday, a series where we feature the work of photographers who are using Instagram in new and engaging ways. Each week we will introduce you to the person behind the feed through his or her pictures and share an interview with the photographer.

This week on #LightBoxFF, TIME speaks with French artist JR (@jr), popular for his large-scale, black-and-white portraits of people which he’s been pasting on walls around the world for the past decade. In 2011, he launched the Inside Out participatory project, calling on people to print and share their own portraits. This week, his latest body of work can be seen on the walls of one of Paris’s great monuments, the Pantheon.

LightBox: How are you using Instagram now, and how has it become a part of your professional practice?

JR: I use Instagram everyday. It’s a way for me to directly connect with people around the world, to build teams and assemble volunteers for my projects. Sometime I just tell my followers, “We’re starting a pasting here, join us.” It’s the easiest way for me to connect with them. The funny thing is that I always find one person whose window is directly facing one of my pastings, and I always end up taking a photo from there after “instagramming” with that person. It makes the world seem so much smaller.

Mar. 15, 2014. The mobile photo booth in Caranac, France, one of the many stops on its journey to capture portraits of people around the world.

LightBox: How has Instagram allowed you to further your projects?

JR: By gathering people around the world and discovering, sometimes through Instragram, how they have used the posters I sent them as part of the Inside Out project. A lot of the institutions that I work with also follow my Instagram feed. They often connect me with specific projects that relate to what I am working on.

Jun. 3, 2014. Inside of the Panthéon in Paris.

LightBox: Which post inspired the most audience feedback and engagement, and why do you think that photo got people’s attention?

JR: A nice sunset will always resonate with people, but I’ve never posted any. I like posting photos that show my work process, even if they don’t get as much feedback. But, as you would expect, pictures of the final pieces always get more buzz. It’s definitely a way for me to keep a photographic journal of the people I meet and the rooftops I end up visiting on my travels. I take most of my photos with my phone, but sometimes use a small camera I carry with me. And I always post in real time.

Apr. 23, 2014. Dancers from the New York City Ballet work on a project in JR’s studio

LightBox: Who do you follow on Instagram?

JR: I follow friends and artists who inspire me. I really like following the process of other artists — we all work so differently. The best Instagram accounts are those that have a consistency and a style that you recognize right when you see the image.

JR is a photographer and artist based in Paris and New York. Follow him on Instagram @jr.

Erica Fahr Campbell is an associate photo editor for TIME. Follow her on Twitter @ericafahr.

See more from TIME’s #LightBoxFF series here

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