The Biggest Art Trends of 2016 | The Wrap Up

We predicted the biggest trends of 2016… how wrong were we?

by Giaco Furino
30 December 2016, 7:00pm

Three characters from Overwatch, decked out in their Olympics-themed outfits. Photo courtesy of Blizzard


When The Creators Project looked ahead to the trends in art and culture that could cause a stir in 2016, the current state of the world seemed so implausible that jokes about “President Trump” were front and center. Not funny. But the predictions made about tattoo artists growing their followings via Instagram, fake clickbait meant to humor, professional gaming’s emergence into the mainstream, augmented reality, and professional art copiers were based on careful observation and a few good hunches. Now that this tornado of a year is winding down, it’s time to look back on the predictions and ask: How’d we do?

Celebrity Tattoo Artists


A photo posted by Daisy Watson (@daisydoestattoos) on

At the beginning of the year, Instagram and tattoo artists seemed to be a match made in heaven. Tattoo artists like the alien-centric Seanfromtexas and the design-savvy Daisy Watson use the platform to show off their work and announce when they’re taking on new clients. But in March of 2016, Instragram announced that it was implementing a new algorithm to organize content not by time posted, but in a way that would help users see what they “care about the most.” “The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.” Tattoo artist Gene Coffey, owner of Coffey Shop Tattoos in Queens, NY who uses Instagram as his primary source of marketing, says “Instagram has been less helpful after the algorithm changes this year. For myself and many other people I know,” he explains to The Creators Project, “the exposure when you post something is almost half of what it used to be.” Between cracks in the system and even further changes in the algorithm, it remains to be seen if Instagram can continue to be the “must-have” social media source for artists, tattoo or otherwise.

Fake Clickbait

It’s hard to imagine living in a time as simple as when this article covered “Fake Clickbait” and meant the fun, goofy headlines from sources like Clickhole. But as the election swirled and neared, “Fake Clickbait” met its devious cousin “Fake News.” With made up stories reaching far more engagement than fact-based news and prodding nuclear tension, it’s tempting to wonder if there was a correlation between “Fake Clickbait” and “Fake News.” How many stories saying things like “Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS” were inspired by trolls who saw people on their own Facebook walls getting tricked by Onion headlines? As for the “art form” itself, Clickhole produced quality work throughout the year, but topped itself in September when it perfectly lambasted the uneasy early birth of Facebook Live in their live post “This old man is trying to steal our beautiful vase.”

Professional Gaming

As predicted, 2016 was a very good year for professional gaming. ESPN has gone deep into Esports, with their dedicated news vertical unafraid to sound like another language to the uninitiated. Major sports owners and teams are buying into pro gaming, like Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens gets into the ring with a purchase of League of Legends championship rights and player contracts for $2.5 Million. Even culturally Esports seem to be gaining ground, as Will Ferrell is set to star in an unnamed new comedy about the phenomenon and Michael Phelps refers to pro gamers as his “fellow athletes.” But aside from the business and cultural side of things, the release and huge popularity of the multi-platform hero shooter Overwatch gave another booster shot of life to the scene. Its accessible-but-deep gameplay, evocative artistic style, and near $600 million in sales on PC alone have created a frenzy around the game. Casual players want to play it, pros want to be the best at it, and this rising tide bodes well for the various ships of pro gaming.

Augmented Reality


Press images from Pokemon Go. Photo courtesy Niantic/The Pokemon Company

When the original article was written saying that augmented reality would be popular in the new year, Pokemon Go was still seven months away from release. And though now it’s hard to find anyone playing the game, this location-based augmented reality game completely transfixed the world. Artist Austin Lee, who incorporated augmented reality into his work in 2015 through a book that people could upload an app to augment, says “I haven’t done much with augmented reality this last year besides using Snapchat filters.” Indeed, along with Pokemon Go, AR’s big break into the mainstream was certainly helped along by dog tongues and flower crowns. “Last night I overheard someone in a bookstore talking about it,” Lee explains to The Creators Project. “They thought it would be the next big thing because it will help people feel less lonely. I don’t know about that!”

Professional Art Copiers


With one of the biggest names in art copying Stanley Casselman moving away from Richter inspiration and into his own style, and art copier champion Jerry Saltz shouting through handwritten signs, there wasn’t much news from the predicted boom of professional art copiers. Though artist Damian Elwes continues to nestle reproductions of classic works into his paintings of famous art studios, and Eric Doeringer has a new Johns and Rauschenberg-inspired solo show, the pure art of the “perfect fake” hasn’t become the trend this article predicted.

What were some of the trends and movements you expected to take off in 2016? And what are you expecting to be huge in 2017? Leave us a note in the comments below, or tweet @CreatorsProject.


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