Hey Creative Friend,
Reflecting on all I’ve been seeing and reading about in art recently, 5 big trends in art stand out for me. You don’t need me to tell you that last year was a consequential year. I think that because of the kind of year we had, we’ll see some of the things which became necessities last year become norms now that we’ve tried them and seen that they’re not so bad.
For example, video calls are no longer the exception in how we communicate with one another anymore. They’ve become quite the norm nowadays. Similarly, certain art trends we saw last year are here to stay.
Five of these trends readily come to mind and that’s what I want to share with you today.
1. Craft Infused Art
Last year was a difficult year for most people. The pandemic, the economy and especially lockdown forced people to slow down and look for ways to distract themselves. Also, there was an urgent need for folks to find ways to sort out the complex feelings they were experiencing and discover new ways of expressing themselves. A lot of people started new hobbies, and journal writing. Some folks went back to old hobbies and creativity was at an all time high. In times of difficulty and uncertainty creativity has a way of calming us down and helping us to make sense of the world around us. And that’s what happened.
The return to crafting during the pandemic is unlikely to end after the pandemic. It’s here to stay for a long while. People aren’t going to instantly put away their woodworking tools, knitting pins, or quilting machines as soon as we’re out of the woods with the pandemic.
There’s also been a fusion or, shall I say, blurring of lines between art and craft that’s been going on in recent years that I’m definitely watching. Artsy writes about this trend where contemporary artists are using craft media and craft techniques to create figurative works – something they’ve termed Craft Figuration.
2. Virtual Exhibitions and Programming
I’ve been managing art exhibitions for the past 5 years. So exhibition development and programming are always on my radar. The pandemic forced galleries and art centers to rethink how to develop their exhibitions for the viewing public. We saw many of these organizations exploring virtual exhibitions for the very first time. A lot of artist talks were also moved to online video conferencing platforms.
Now that these institutions have been forced to make investments in software, and train staff to manage this new normal, we’re unlikely to see this go away very soon. Rather, I can foresee institutions making additional investments to enhance these experiences for their patrons. Even when we’re able to return to regular in-person viewing of art exhibitions, we can can expect to see that these virtual programming options as added features.
3. Diversity in Artist Representation
The death of George Floyd last summer, and the resulting racial unrest threw the topic of race back into the national discourse in a big way again. Our national reckoning with race issues saw individuals as well as corporations, large and small, make commitments to certain changes. One of those is more diversity and inclusivity. Although many did it because they didn’t want to look bad, they’re many more who’re truly committed to making changes to give people of diverse backgrounds opportunities to showcase their gifts and talents. As a result, I expect to see more artists from underrepresented groups being given the chance to excel. I can envision a richness in the art that we’re going to see in 2021 that we haven’t quite seen prior to this new(est) national awareness.
A phenomenon that became pervasive last year was commentary art. Artists used their art as a tool of activism. The topics that artists covered ranged from politics, to race, to the environment and many more. Artists have always used their art to express their thoughts and feelings. However, last year, there was a palpable ratcheting up of artivism among artists.
This was very evident on social media platforms. I watched many artists on Instagram literally “find their voices” last year. I’m quite confident that this is not the end of this trend. We’re going to see more artists expressing themselves about the topics which are important to them through their art.
5. Marketability of Digital Art
Finally, trends in digital art are something I’m watching and geeking out over.
One thing I’ve been following with keen interest in digital art is what is called crypto art. If you’ve shared any image online, you know how it can easily be copied and re-shared without attribution to you. That’s always been a challenge for digital artists selling their work.
Secondly, proving ownership and provenance for an original piece of digital art was virtually impossible. How do you show that you purchased a piece of digital art and sold it to this person, who sold it to that person? Without that ability to authentic and transfer ownership, digital art didn’t stand the chance of being anywhere as marketable as physical art. Well, until now. Crypto art is trying to change that by giving artists the ability to do more with their work.
The purpose of this innovation is to give artists the ability to embed unique tokens with each piece of digital art they create. In other words, artists are able to sign their digital creations in a way that guarantees ownership.
This will give them intellectual property rights to their original works. Since the unique tokens (or signatures) will help you track who created what, when it was sold etc., authentication, ownership transfer, and bundling and sale of rights will become easier.
As you can imagine, this innovation is evolving fast. There’s still so much to learn. I’ve just scratched the surface. I don’t know everything there is to know about crypto art. I don’t know if it’ll ever become mainstream. But I’m excited to watch this trend develop, though.
So, there you have it. These are the 5 biggest trends in art that I’m watching,
Question: Do you have any trends on your watch list that you didn’t see on my list. Share your thoughts below.