Sunday, November 12, 2017

Top Ten Trends in Mixed Media Art in 2017


Trends. Some people watch them, some follow them, and some people avoid them at all costs. But trends are a very real phenomenon that often determines the items available in your local art and craft shop, the art books that you see online, the workshops that are available to take, and the pictures which pop up in your Facebook feed.

The following is a list of the top ten trends among mixed media artists in 2017.  While by definition trends come and go, the list below suggests that trends do come - but may never go. As noted, many of the trends listed have been popular in the recent past and show no signs of disappearing.

Remember that this represents just one artist's opinion and has been limited to ten. Feel free to add any trends that you may have noticed in the comments below. 

And stay tuned for January which brings my list of the top ten trends coming in 2018 as seen at Creativation, the annual trade show for AFCI - the Association for Creative Industries (formally known as CHA).

THE TOP TEN

1. Wet Media. Acrylic paint continues to be the number one choice in this category. While traditional fluid and heavy body paints are the most popular, paint pens, daubers, and sprays are increasing in popularity as well. Of late, there seems to be a spike in people who are engaging in acrylic pouring. There has been continued growth in the use of watercolors as well. More and more companies are developing products in this area, which not only include traditional paints but also watercolor pencils, metallic paints, along with paper and products with a watercolor design.

2. Texture. Adding texture to mixed media artwork continues to be a trend. New formulas of gesso, gels, pastes, and textured elements are continually being developed. Ingredients used to create texture run the gamut from commercially made products to natural elements. Style-wise, they range from matte, vintage and rusty all the way to shiny, glossy and sleek.

3. The adult coloring book trend appears to be losing steam. Last year at this time, the top ten list of mixed media/craft books on Amazon was overflowing with coloring books as were the magazine shelves at Barnes and Noble. Still evident in the marketplace however, these books have lately been focused on highly specific markets rather than coloring in general.

4. Lettering. All things text, letters, fonts and calligraphy remain a powerful force in the mixed media market. Whether as a stand-alone technique, incorporated into artwork, or used as a relaxation technique, lettering remains hot. Think of all the fancy lettering you have seen this past year on those ubiquitous inspirational quotes on Facebook The continued popularity of art journals and planners is a strong contributing factor as well.

5. Stencils. Stencils have become a hot item in the last number of years and, at this point, seem to be more of a staple for mixed media artists rather than a trend that is likely to disappear. Artist designed stencils - rather than more generic, computer-based designs - seem to be driving this continued resurgence. The acceptance of graffiti and street art as a full-fledged art domain has also contributed. Ironically, stencils developed for home decor have been evident this past year, mirroring the purpose of stencils popular back in the 1970s-1980s.

6. Art Journaling. Creatives continue to embrace art journaling and its popularity only appears to be increasing. Many artists find the freedom that comes with keeping an art journal ("no rules") very appealing. The availability of journaling products, books, groups and workshops have taken what at one point was a solitary activity and turned it into a group exercise. While many people still keep private journals, an ever increasing majority share their pages. And as in many creative things, build a community and they will come.

7. Tradition. While it might at first glance seem strange that tradition could be seen as a trend, it often seems like long-standing art domains periodically emerge as popular approaches for mixed media artists. In addition to watercolor, as noted above, collage continues to be strong, with people incorporating paper as well as painted elements, found objects and the many commercial embellishments created for artists and crafters on the market. Portraiture has shown a resurgence, helped along by workshops, books and products such as face stencils that are now available. Other traditions showing an increase in popularity this past year include cold wax, encaustics, paper cutting and sketching.

8. Fiber. Mixed media artists continue to integrate materials and techniques more historically associated with fiber artists. Hand and machine stitching, eco dyeing, shibori, and fabric-based books have all been increasingly evident over the course of 2017. Mixed media weaving to create texture and dimension is also notable and has been supported by the release of small, easy-to-use looms from multiple companies.

9. Mark Making. Mark making has been synonymous with abstract art for many years but it is an area that has been increasingly prevalent in mixed media over the last few years - perhaps in part because the concept of mark making seems so much more accessible to many people than drawing. As more and more people have become increasingly comfortable with the freedom of expression that goes along with mixed media, they have also become more willing to experiment and take risks via mark making. This trend has led to (or been fueled by) an increasing number of mark makers being produced by the craft and art industries and the popularity of more rustic, hand-made mark makers.

10. The Rest. Other mixed media trends noted throughout the year include 1) layering: always a hallmark of mixed media but recently simplified by the many companies releasing "kits" of stencils and stamps, dies and stamps, coordinated products, etc.; 2) metallics: in the form of pens, paints, and mediums, foils and related adhesives and machines, embellishments, paper and design elements; 3) planners: a recent mainstay in the craft industry, 2017 saw the rise of planners in the style of the traveler's notebook; and 4) apps: painting and drawing apps continue to be popular and are bring used as both digital sketch books and to create finished work.

24 comments:

Redanne said...

I really enjoyed reading your summary of trends Seth and have to admit to being fascinated by the recent upsurge (at least here in the UK) of acrylic pouring technique. I guess (and hope) that die cutting will also remain a trend... although I am not such a fan of the very intricate ones that seem to be the fashion at the moment!

Heather Thompson said...

very interesting, some don't surprise me.

Marit said...

Very curious when I saw you blogged about 'top 10 trends' and I thought about it before I went to your blog to read what would be on it.. I'm not a trend-watcher but I would have thought 'gelli plate' (monoprinting) would be on it (is that trend over maybe? I still see it a lot) and in the Netherlands, you can't go into a bookstore/artist store without seeing 'bullet journals' (and yes, travelers journals too) Very interesting to read your list coming from another continent. you have a nice Sunday Seth! Hug from Holland

Patricia Crossland said...

I think digital downloads are becoming ever increasing popular Seth....we see them everywhere, in mixed media especially...

Brian Kasstle said...

Interesting. Where is my Sunday papers? LOL

Juli Riedel said...

Interesting article about trends- I'm always reminded of that saying of "what's old is new, and what's new is old!" Just like trends in fashion, home decorating come in 20 year cycles, it's interesting to see what people create. I have seen acrylic pouring which reminds me of the mirror cake pouring that is currently popular in the cake decorating realm. Same type of effect, just a different medium. Great article!

Brian Kasstle said...

PS. I really think it is interesting Art Journaling is still a strong trend. Many have said it is waining. I personally see it as getting stronger and larger.

Caterina Giglio said...

I certainlt agree with Brian.. About art journaling.. This is a great summary and from what I have seen I would agree! 😉

Nikki Acton said...

Great read! Very pleased to see that, for the first time in my life, I might be almost on trend! Also ahead of trend when I used an early app to mark make ten years ago and had it printed on aluminium! Now on the wall of my staircase.. Look forward to the 2018 trends x

Deborah Wainwright said...

Enjoyed reading this Seth, and agree, especially around watercolour. It’s been my fav medium all year, in traditional pans/tubes as well pencils. A recent addition to my stash is the water brush, filled colour. A great value buy, as once the original medium has been used it can be filled with more colour or plain water.

For 2018 I’d like to see more encaustic, which I think is a gorgeous medium, that can be coloured and textured to produce wonderful art. Great medium for stencils too.
Hugs Debsx

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Ironic that I'm really behind the curve. I still make art in altered books and often don't use words, like art journalists do. I DO use a lot of acrylic paints, either craft or fluid acrylics.

I.m just now starting to use a few stencils, but I don't have the texture pastes most people use to make them stand out. I like your ten (or so) trends and am also surprised gel plates aren't listed, and neither is washi tape. I see both all the time in the mixed media world I visit.

Mixed Media & Altered Crafts said...

A good read. Thank You.

Kim said...

That was so interesting! I'm usually behind the curve, so I can't wait to read what's coming in 2018... I'd love to be at the front end of a trend and enjoy it longer!

Anonymous said...

This was very interesting. I'm certainly in some trends, and some I'm not. I'm not a fan of digital downloading. I'm old fashioned and I like things in my hands. I'll be really interested in what you think is trending for 2018. Since I'm not at any craft shows, I can only judge what is out there by what I see on-line. Thanks for sharing!! One thing I wish would go away is writing a comment here and other places and I have to put in my Google Account. I've only tried a dozen times to set one up and it never works, so I'm "anonymous", AKA, Karenann Young And I don't have a website because No. 1, no one ever visited it and N0. 2, someone hacked into it! I deleted it then.

Chris Kurman said...

As I look over the trends I am amazed that some have been around a long time and just keep resurfacing as people either discover them or rediscover them. As far as I am concerned I LOVE that you and others put a new twist on old things!
Miss you Seth!

Teresa Abajo said...

Fantastic list Seth! I can see there's some geographical variation, but the art community is pretty much global and when something makes someone happy don't we all want to try that too?

StampsandScrapbooks.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
StampsandScrapbooks.com said...

As usual, you have your finger on the pulse of the Art World! I agree with your Top 10 but do see lots of Washi and Gelli Plate too. I'm thrilled that all the things I love are on trend! :-D

Nora said...

A very interesting article...
Greetings, Nora.

Chris Lally said...

Great post! Thanks, Seth!

Chris Miser said...

Really enjoyed this post! Thanks, Seth. Collage, stencils and stamping have become great tools for jumping off to expand and enhance my own image-making and journaling within or without a bound structure. The impact of collage has become a way of layering, mark making and texture, all of a piece with drawing my own images. I even incorporated cut portions of coloring pages in some instances! Interesting how techniques can flow together and meld in vibrant ways. Trend? Or tradition?

Shelby Pizzarro said...

Excellent post. I agree about the colouring books. They were everywhere, including supermarkets, in our area amd now seem to be disappearing. Glad about the stencils. Look forward to your post in January :-)

Theresa said...

I waited a bit to read this while I pondered what I thought of as trends. Your list does a great job at summarizing what I have seen. I have gone through so many different cycles in my own art making in the last 40 years. Mixed media, art journaling, seem to be here to stay in my own framework. I have journals full of mark making on both fabric and paper going back at least twenty years. Nothing learned is ever wasted. It all cycles through again. thanks as always for sharing.

Shari Czerwinski said...

Stumbled upon your blog via Twitter. Great list! I now have to go Google "mark making" because I have no clue! I am new to mixed media, so it is no surprise :)
I see a lot of Junk Journaling, and would agree about monoprinting (gelli prints). Thanks for sharing!