The Viral Sensation: TikTok Art

TikTok App Logo

It’s pretty clear that at this point, TikTok has the ability to jumpstart a person’s career practically overnight. And once you’ve “made it” on TikTok, it seems you can just quit your day job, sit back, and get paid. 

Just kidding. I mean, don’t we all wish it was that easy? It’s not. There is, in fact, a method to the madness.

The truth is, TikTok is a powerful tool and visual artists have begun catching on to the hype—possibly changing the way artists “get discovered” forever. There’s even a realm of TikTok called #Arttok which combines the words “Art” and “TikTok.”

I first began paying close attention to #Arttok when I found a user called @paints.v. This artist mesmerizingly records her entire painting process—from the blank canvas to the finished product. It’s kind of brilliant. I don’t know about you, but one of the first things that crosses my mind when I see a work of art is “What was their process?” or “How did they DO that?” 

In one way or another, the world of #Arttok reveals an artist’s secrets in an extremely satisfying way. In most of the art videos that go viral, the artist starts with a blank canvas, showing each brushstroke every step of the way. One fascinating phenomenon TikTok reveals is the abrupt “start over” or “reset” process many artists do mid-paint. In some videos, @paints.v decides to completely paint over all of the progress made and start anew. This is a pretty common occurrence for artists. And in most cases, if a work of art has been painted over several times, a viewer looking at the final product in-person would never know. TikTok art videos have officially changed that and now, reveal it all.

@paints.v on #Arttok

Not only does the viewer get to watch the creation of art each step of the way, the video is almost always paired with a song or TikTok “sound.” A TikTok sound is a 30-60 second audio clip that could be a song or could be someone talking … possibly monologuing about life, someone making a joke, or maybe even a celebrity talking. The sound is then used as the background noise on millions of videos, making that sound a “viral TikTok sound” for weeks. The key is, if you use the viral sound on your videos, you get more views because everyone is looking for the newest trend that coincides with viral sounds. It is fascinating to see the creation of art in this way, and it is even more intriguing to watch it alongside a soundtrack, kind of like a movie. There is something so peaceful about listening to music and looking at art, and TikTok has opened up a door to music and art in such a compelling way. If you’ve ever walked around a museum with your headphones in and music on—although it is not exactly the same—TikTok now allows you to do so in the comfort of your bed on your phone. 

But @paints.v isn’t the only one using “sounds” and revealing artistic processes.


Curating of “Can I take 5” ————————————————-————————— #art #artwork #artcurating #fyp #originalart #painting #acrylicpainting

♬ Cries And Whispers - Cho Young-Wuk
@pqhaus on #Arttok

Another artist with the username @pqhaus is following 0 people and has 466,800 followers. This artist must be doing something right. Slightly different from @paints.v, @pqhaus posts a mix of “works in process” painting videos and, of course, final products. @pqhaus also uses viral sounds. @pqhaus has curated somewhat of an online gallery, representing their own art. TikTok can act as a gallery space, too.

@eyeinspired, or Kelly Edelman, a prominent artist gone TikTok viral

There’s another realm of #Arttok that is sketch-based work. One artist, @eyeinspired, has 5.3 million followers and follows 90 people. The videos feature graphite on paper drawings. Nothing fancy, just simple, good quality drawings. In one way or another, TiKTok is also a sketch-based drawing class. These specific videos sort of inspire viewers to take out their graphite pencils and start sketching, too. Perhaps TikTok art is bridging the gap between a more traditional, formally educated side of the arts and a more “self-taught” sector. One artist, @luludaria, titled a recent video “Going to art school so that you don’t have to,” and proceeded to walk the viewer through each step of her painting process. The world of TikTok art is making art a much more accessible concept. 


Would you guys like to see my grades for this class? #artschool #fyp #foryou #artist #art #fakebody

♬ Boy's a liar - PinkPantheress
@luludaria TikTok titled "Going to art school so you don't have to"

Now, if you really go deep into the black hole of #Arttok like I may, or may not have done for this article, there are even “New Trend Alerts” for TikTok artists to take part in. One recent trend was “Share an image of your first drawing or work of art and then show your most recent.” I only watched a couple million of these videos … and my favorite was from @mlandart, a comic book artist. Again, these videos inspire artists to be vulnerable, showcasing art from their “early artist days.” This can act as an inspiration for aspiring artists viewing these progress videos.

It is exciting to think that this platform may be changing the “art game” forever. As artists turn this virtual art space into art studios, classrooms, sketching spaces, movie scenes, and a platform for inspiration, who knows where it could lead in the future? I’m excited to find out.

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