An experiment in using Instagram hashtags to bring together limited edition records.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 19.01.11

Using Instagram To Create A Gallery Of Rare Vinyl

A tribute to one great album, and a project that seeks to harness photo sharing in 2014, to gather evidence of a rare and obscure object from 1996.

Launch The Project


“If we can get fifty to a hundred copies, I’ll be really happy. I’d be surprised if everyone who owned a copy also had a smartphone, used Instagram, and was into the idea. It’s a pretty niche project in that sense.”

There was once a band called Boilermaker. I really really like them. I like their second album so much that I paid somewhere between £30 and £60 to get it on vinyl. They’re quite rare you see. I don’t even know how many there were – less than 300 certainly. And each copy is unique. Released in 1996, on the DIY label of a professional skater in San Diego, the album’s sleeve is the sleeve of another record with the Boilermaker logo screen-printed over the top of the original artwork.

That’s been done before and since by other bands, for reasons aesthetic, political and monetary. But there’s something about the Boilermaker one that makes conversations happen that don’t stop at how amazing the contents of the vinyl are. What sleeve is yours? What colour is the screenprint? Is yours shiny or matte? Proper geeky stuff. But, you know, for the love of the format. And it came out before the internet or digital photography was what it is now, so there’s not that much out there in terms of evidence that it exists.

It was one of those geeky conversations that inspired this project. I was on tour with Crash of Rhinos, supporting Braid last summer. I knew Todd (Braid’s bass player) was a fan (and vinyl geek) so I asked him about his copy. I really wanted to see a picture of it. I use instagram, I use the internet, so those things melded together into a thought – could I use Instagram to bring together a collection of photographs from around the world, celebrating an object that less than three hundred people own?

Recently, I’ve been developing some ideas for near-future projects that look at ways to use Instagram as an engine for other things. By its very nature, the Facebook-owned social photography app is about spontaneity, capturing an instant, which is why that single column torrent of vintage-filtered content is so ephemeral. But a lot of the photos I see are way too meaningful to just drop out of view within 48 hours. On paper, Collection of Shadows required a certain feature set that happily aligned with the Minimum Viable Product version of these ideas. Whether anyone contributes to the Collection of Shadows or not, it felt really good to take an idea that came from a conversation at a distro table in Glasgow, and make it into a real and functional thing.