Could TikTok Save a Broken Art World?


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For many emerging artists, social media platforms have become an indispensable platform for jumpstarting their careers. But years after Instagram sparked its first zeitgeist-shaping visual trends, a different set of creatives has begun finding their rhythm outside the bounds of traditional institutions thanks to a newer app: TikTok. Owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance and powered by an uncannily perceptive content-discovery algorithm, the video-sharing platform now counts nearly a billion active users around the globe and seems to be transforming a growing list of teens and twenty-somethings into millionaire influencers.

For contemporary artists like Colette Bernard and Kelsy Landin, TikTok has also proven to be the most effective app yet for building a sizable audience of loyal—and often paying—fans. Now, though, with the Trump administration threatening bans of TikTok and WeChat in the US over security concerns, Bernard, Landin, and countless other artists are facing the prospect of losing their newfound livelihoods only months after finding a true creative home on the platform.

On this week's episode of the Art Angle, journalist Zachary Small joins the show to discuss what has made TikTok such a revelation to artists across a variety of age groups, which kinds of artworks are attracting the most attention there, and how a TikTok ban would only worsen the devastating "brain drain" vacuuming young, diverse talent away from the increasingly troubled art industry.

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