TikTok: A New Platform For Aspiring Arts-And-Crafters?

Gemma Cockrell

Tik Tok has quickly become the most popular social media platform for sharing art. Whether an aspiring artist attempting to gain that all-important, career-starting exposure, or simply someone trying to fill their time creatively during lockdown, DIY painting, sewing, and drawing tutorials are finding significantly sized audiences, with the potential for thousands, or even millions, of views.

These are often short tutorials, sped up in order to conform to Tik Tok’s 60 second time limit, with one of the app’s popular viral songs sound-tracking the video. Rather than clear, detailed, informative easy-to-follow tutorials, these videos exist with the main priority of entertainment, whilst also providing inspiration for fellow artists and crafters.

Whilst longer crafting tutorials are best suited to the renowned platform YouTube, many content creators are drifting away from YouTube to explore these new horizons and the new forms of content that Tik Tok enables. For example Vanessa Vargas Wilson, owner of popular DIY YouTube channel and website The Crafty Gemini, turned to also creating content on Tik Tok, due to its popularity with the younger generation, enabling her to broaden her audience. In turn, if viewers see something they like, they can go to her YouTube channel to see more in-depth, detailed tutorials. Examples of her recent content includes how to make a Santa hat, hairband, quilt and pillow.

The revival and resurgence of these skills proves that they are not a forgotten element of the past; instead, they are still highly relevant today

Old-school crafting techniques such as knitting, crochet, and sewing, previously not notably popular with the younger generations, have seen a sudden surge in popularity due to Tik Tok, with 41% of users being between the ages of 16 and 24. These are crafts which are traditionally associated with older generations, sometimes coined ‘granny crafts’, seemingly lost in the 21st century age of technology. The revival and resurgence of these skills proves that they are not a forgotten element of the past; instead, they are still highly relevant today. Tik Tok videos often capture these crafts with a modern spin, including the process of creating clothes that fit with the current fashion trends. This results in unique creativity and self-expression, whilst simultaneously assisting the fight against fast fashion and helping the environment. The increasing amount of these videos on the app is direct proof that Tik Tok is inspiring more and more people to give crafting a go themselves.

A creator who has turned her Tik Tok fame into a money-making scheme is Amy Lesko (on Instagram as @shopamyclothing and Tik Tok as @amylesko) who sold a collection of her handmade clothing online, a hobby and talent which she wouldn’t have pursued if it hadn’t been for the social media platform. She said the app made her think, “Wow, everyone is so talented and creative, and I want to create my dream wardrobe too!”. Her collection included a multitude of on-trend items, such as crop tops, bucket hats and bandanas, which instantly captured buyers’ attentions. However, it was also the current climate of the fashion industry, with the widespread exhaustion with fast fashion, that contributed to sales. DIY clothing is seeing a boost in popularity as people realise it is more sustainable than buying from high-street or online retailers such as Pretty Little Thing and Shein. As Lesko said herself: “We’re tired of fast fashion brands ripping off those that have put so much time and craft into something. We want to support small creators, not multi-million-dollar companies! Mass production isn’t sustainable and is already damaging our planet and people are waking up to that! Consumers are becoming more educated and are making more conscious decisions”. Here, she speaks for her entire generation.

Tik Tok star Ana (on Instagram and Tik Tok as @anamakesrugs) expressed that she would have never even started making rugs if she hadn’t seen a video tutorial on how to make one on Tik Tok. She has now turned her rug-making hobby into a business venture by selling them, as well as gaining thousands of views on the platform for her impressive, unique and creative skill. She agrees with Lesko that the surge in crafting has been due to Generation Z’s awareness of climate change, and their desperation to minimise their contribution towards the environmental damage that fast fashion causes. She believes that this is more than just a trend, and that the passion to save the environment that is being expressed is genuine. Traditional crafting is representative of Gen Z’s value of sustainability and ethics. Sustainability is a very talked about topic on Tik Tok, with the hashtag #sustainable currently holding 409 million views and #sustainablefashion 673.5 million views at the time of writing.

The main motive for Generation Z’s sudden interest in craft is lockdown anxiety and boredom, according to Beatrice Andrew, a behavioural Science Consultant at the human experience agency VERJ. She believes that arts and crafts provide comforting nostalgia and allow for self-care, which is especially necessary during the difficult times of 2020 which have irrefutably and understandably led to much stress and anxiety for a lot of people.

His videos of colours blending together in oddly-satisfying psychedelic and mesmerising swirls and whirlpools proved to be a viral sensation on Tik Tok

Another popular form of content on Tik Tok which provides similar stress relief is the art of paint mixing. This all began in December 2019, when Ohio University senior Tony Piloseno (on Tik Tok as @tonesterpaints) experimented with paint mixers in the Sherwin-Williams store where he worked in Athens. His videos of colours blending together in oddly-satisfying psychedelic and mesmerising swirls and whirlpools proved to be a viral sensation on Tik Tok. After being fired from the store, he still continues to mix paint from home, and his audience is still growing exponentially, with a current following of 1.5 million. Another influential paint mixer is Brendan (on Tik Tok as @paintturner) whose account boasts over 4 million followers. This proves that as well as crafting, many forms of art-related videos have proved to be insanely popular on the app.

Ceramics is another similar form of content which has gained large amounts of attention on Tik Tok, for the same reasons. The videos are soothing and calming, providing distraction from the current state of the world, whilst relieving stress and anxiety. An example are the video tutorials by Lisa Asano (@lisa_asano on Instagram and @speckledbrownie on Tik Tok), a 25-year-old artist based in San Francisco, with 381.2k followers on Tik Tok, and 31.9k on Instagram. In the same way as crafting provides an escape from the world, these soothing and therapeutic videos also bring you back to the nostalgia of childhood, allowing us to fill our brain with something comforting, according to ceramics artist Vivi Matsuda.

Another aspiring artist, 24-year-old New York native Devon Rodriguez (on Instagram as @devonrodriguezart) garnered a following of over 8 million on Tik Tok simply from drawing strangers that he saw on the subway, with the aim to capture the current state of the world by creating artwork of mask-wearing commuters during the pandemic. This has helped to kickstart his career as an artist, as he explains, “I would’ve never expected to reach these milestones within my lifetime so I’m super excited about that. I’m going to take things day by day and continue making art. Lots of big opportunities have been coming my way and I know more will come but I’m not sure what they’ll turn out to be.”

Therefore, not only does Tik Tok provide a platform for Generation Z to share their lockdown crafts and creations, but it also provides a platform for professional artists to share behind the scenes of their work, helping them to rediscover their usual communities which were taken away from them due to the pandemic. Tik Tok audiences are engaging with artistic content more than ever, fascinated by the levels of creativity seen on the app, increasingly inspired to try these creative arts and craft skills out themselves – and with Christmas around the corner, there is no doubt that this month will see a surge in Tik Tok tutorials for new, innovative and exciting Christmas craft ideas.

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of patricia serna via Image license can be found here. No changes made to this image.

Article images courtesy of @best.dressed and @paint_turner via No changes made to these images.

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