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Brief Published: 5 Oct 2016

Online Influencers: September 2016

Josefin Jonsson

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.

  • Dark Beauty: A generation of make-up artists is emerging with aesthetics that seem like an even darker twist on New York's Club Kids of the 80s and 90s. Welsh artist Caleb Morris (girlacne) has quickly generated a loyal 22,000-strong following on Instagram. Their abstract and highly editorial make-up looks are dominated by classic goth symbolism and new Rorschach-inspired looks. Only launching their social media account earlier this year, their beauty directions have already been featured in Dazed magazine.

    Boychild is an LA-based gender-fluid performance artist who uses heavy brush strokes. With 50,000 followers, she has become a fashion fixture, regularly collaborating with New York menswear label Hood by Air. Meanwhile, Phoenix-based make-up artist Maren Bailey (teratology) works with sculptural stencils and paperwork. The 20-year-old artist has amassed 57,000 Instagram followers since posting her first 3D look five months ago.
Caleb Morris
Maren Bailey
  • Art in Digital Contexts: Elaborating on imagery like that of Ukrainian artist Alexey Kondakov, who puts the subjects of classic paintings into modern urban contexts, digital collage artists are retro-fitting art history with social media moments and meshing contemporary visual culture across centuries.

    Arthistorysnap adds Snapchat captions to classical paintings for 11,000 Instagram followers, while Classicalfuck (90,000 followers) and Classical_art_memes (60,000 followers) do much the same, echoing Fly Art's work of overlaying rap and hip-hop lyrics on artworks. Earlier this year, Pakistan-based agency Serial Kolor launched a campaign that transformed famous paintings into creation moments for Instagram posts.

    Texts from Your Existentialist is an Instagram account that combines imagery from across the centuries and visual art forms with existential iMessages. Meanwhile on Tumblr, a post with more than 200,000 shares discusses how meme culture's cut-and-paste assembly and its use for political and social commentary could make it a neo-Dada movement.
Texts from Your Existentialist
Serial Kolor
  • Cybertwee: Nostalgia for the optimistic future visions of technology during the 90s is driving a new visual direction online. As the re-emergence of virtual reality brings back memories of what it looked like when it was last seen in the 90s, blocky 3D visuals in pastel colours are mixed with glitch art to create a retro tech feel.

    The Cybertwee collective, an art movement trying to reframe the web's aesthetic for a more feminine perspective, also drives similar alternative ideas for the look and feel of digital platforms. The group describes itself as "if cyberpunk had a cute kid sister who was secretly better at hacking".

    Cybertwee's Chicago-based founders say they want to challenge the perception of frivolity surrounding this 'soft' aesthetic, and create space online for individuals of any gender who find things that are "excessively or affectedly quaint, cute, pretty, or sentimental" appealing. Fan culture has been displaying a desire for a more balanced range of visual flavours for a while. Here, memes like placing flower crowns on brooding characters and fictional serial killers' heads inject twee themes to contrast with the gritty tones of contemporary pop culture.

    Swedish digital 3D artist Josefin Jonsson creates gleaming pastel scenes and sculptures for 17,000 followers, while Australian artist Tanya Schultz, aka Pip & Pop, builds physical spaces with a plethora of materials including candy, sugar and glitter. The aesthetic is also surfacing in US performance artist Sky Ferreira's glitchy soft-lens cover for Playboy's October issue. 

For more on media that differentiates by catering to the female gaze, check out August's Pop Culture Round-Up.

Josefin Jonsson
Flower crowns in fan culture
Pip & Pop
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