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Brief Published: 27 Oct 2016

Online Influencers: October 2016

Angela Deane

Trending hashtags and visual microblogs are valuable indicators of what moves consumers. In tandem with our monthly Pop Culture Round-Ups, we assess key directions emerging from social media, and highlight the influencers driving them.

  • Mermaids: A development from the Wicca trend and with connections to a new era of body positivity, people are now embracing mermaids on social media with the hashtags #mermaidlife and simply #mermaid. Similar to the occult directions spotted earlier this year, women are interpreting various elements surrounding the mythical beings to incorporate into their appearance and lifestyle.

    Key influencers include Hannah Mermaid, a performance artist who raises awareness for underwater conservation among her Instagram audience of 109k. A similar account is Project Mermaids, which lets users submit photos and also raises environmental awareness, while the Mermaid House serves as a visual inspiration board. Meanwhile, AmytheMermaid's selfie account has 290k followers.

    The moment is a treasure trove for make-up brands, which are flooding the thirsty market with pearlescent highlighters such as Love Lux Beauty's duo-chrome highlighters, Mermaid Beam Loose Powder Highlighter by Makeup Addiction Cosmetics, and Sara Hill's Pink Opal Collection, offer nuanced shades and shimmers for consumers to combine into their own customised shine. Extreme highlighting is the most versatile element of the mermaid look, and a potent direction in beauty at the moment. American teenager James Charles' highlighting skills have earned him 400k followers in just a year, and led to him becoming US beauty brand Covergirl's first ever male ambassador.
James Charles
  • #Girlgaze: The Girlgaze collective is focused on spotlighting and supporting the next generation of female photographers. As only 15% of new photographers globally are female (World Press Photo, 2015), the organisation feels a great need to ensure women are amplified and fairly reflected across all media. "Even though you see women in the media, creative photo projects focusing on women are largely executed by men... through the male gaze," says co-founder Amanda de Cadenet.

    Helping women realise their creative potential regardless of race, sexuality, ability and personal background, the movement started simply by inviting girls and women to submit their photographic view of the world under the #girlgaze hashtag. As 450,000 submissions piled up over just a few months, it was evident that the GirlgazeProject had tapped into a persistent need to change our visual culture.

    Girlgaze now collaborates with Teen Vogue, which has just led to the September issue of the magazine becoming the first in its history to be photographed entirely by female-identifying individuals. With an exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography in LA and a book of collected works set for 2017, the team is now working on a mobile app to connect the Girlgaze community to each other as well as to job opportunities.  

For more on how considerations for the female gaze are impacting our visual culture, see August's Pop Culture Round-Up.

#girlgaze @alizalyn
#girlgaze @amalsaid
#girlgaze @alissamitchell
  • Traditional Meets Digital: Enabled by improved image-capturing technology, web artists are rediscovering traditional image-making techniques that contrast with the smooth, digitally generated art that has previously defined online directions. The result is layered imagery that blends collage and the mixed media of traditional art and social platforms we noted last month.

    Brooklyn-based animator Lauren Gregory creates frames for her looped gif animations by painting with broad impasto strokes of oil, while Spanish street artist Cheko creates similarly labour-intensive gifs, turning his pieces into frames. This 'gifiti' process was named by street artist Insa, whose work is also shown at the V&A Museum in London.

    Meanwhile, Berlin-based animation studio Talking Animals has created an analogue rotoscope animation by painting directly onto frames of physical live-action film. Florida-based artist Angela Deane paints onto still images to create whimsical ghost scenes from found vintage photographs. 

 To read about how visual abstraction and rotoscope animation can help you talk about socially sensitive issues online, see our Pop Culture Round-Up: September 2016.

Lauren Gregory
Talking Animals