Arts

Prince hated the Internet, but he found time for fan art on Instagram

When Prince joined Instagram last fall — dubbing it “Princestagram” in a stroke of dad-joke genius — the pop star was all over it like a shiny new toy. Now, it’s one of the few places online where you can get a sense of the late pop star's personality and his relationship with fans, some of whom he’d occasionally feature on his account by sharing their fan art. We’ve rounded up a few of the examples.

Sorry, that should read 'Princestagram'

Few pop stars maintained an air of mystery quite like Prince, and Instagram is one of the few places online where he shared some of his personality with fans.

Everything about Prince was unusual, but in 2016 it isn't his sexually ambiguous mystique or his insistence on 100 per cent artistic control or even the "Batdance" that made him a magnificent pop anomaly — it's the the fact he barely left a high-heeled footprint online.

As you're probably discovering today, at least if you were hoping to share a few memories of that time you saw Prince at Coachella or the Sony Centre or Place des Arts, you'll never find your old concert memories on YouTube. His team (a team of all black female lawyers, because Prince) has long been vigilant against bootleggers, yanking Prince videos as soon as they surface online. But Prince's relationship with the Internet seems to go beyond protecting the brand. The Internet is "outdated" and "completely over," he famously declared in 2010. It was a statement that made sense if you put yourself in his well-coiffed head. "4" him, he'd been spelling like a digital native since the early '80s. Emojis? He invented the unpronounceable symbol.

But if the Internet was "outdated," social media, for whatever reason, was a different story. When Prince joined Instagram last fall — dubbing it "Princestagram" in a stroke of dad-joke genius —  the pop star was all over it like a shiny new toy. Within a few days he'd posted around 90 pictures — memes, nail art, pictures of his laptop playing Prince songs and pretty much anything that might appear if he Google Image searched his own name.

The account can be hilarious, not just because it was a living theatre of how not to use Instagram (in those early days, at least), but because it had an appropriately oddball sense of humour. Now, it's one of the few places online where you can get a sense of Prince's personality and his relationship with fans, some of whom he'd occasionally feature on his account by sharing their fan art. We've rounded up a few of the examples.

Jeremy Martin

Celebrities are definitely a favourite subject for iPad painter Jeremy Martin, and Rupaul and Iman have re-grammed their portraits by this Detroit artist, too. Prince shared this pic on both Instagram and Twitter along with this one-word review: "LOVE!!!"

Jonathan Caustrita

Featuring titles from the Prince discography, from "Alphabet Street" to "Nothing Compares 2 U," Prince shared this illustration with the caption "L E G A C Y."  Jonathan Caustrita, a Dallas artist and web-comic writer, drew the picture.

Murray Eisner

He is the Purple One. And in this picture from Florida pop artist Murray Eisner, Prince is also the Orange One and the Gold One and the Cerulean One, as well.

Prince: Alter Ego

You'd have to be a die-hard fan of both Prince and comic books to recognize the six panels the pop star Instagrammed mosaic-style this winter. The images were taken from Prince: Alter Ego, a DC Comics title that ran in 1991. An origin tale in the style of Batman, or Purple Rain for that matter, the comic apparently turns Prince into a rock-star/Twin Cities action hero who's busting up gangs when he's not jamming at First Avenue. For Denys Cowan, who pencilled the piece, it was "one of the highlights of my career." The artist left a few comments on Prince's Instagram when he shared some of the comic art. "I'm the biggest Prince fan so doing this was a thrill to say the least."

A few panels from Alter Ego, a 1991 comic book about Prince. The pop star shared these images on Instagram. (Instagram/@prince)

Our friends at CBC News Arts have more on Prince's life and legacy.

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