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'What's Hot!' and 'What's Not'

Eyeing Trend

Fashion is born by small facts, trends, or even politics, never by trying to make little pleats and furbelows, by trinkets, by clothes easy to copy, or by the shortening or lengthening of a skirt.
- Elsa Schiaparelli

What this Italian designer says about fashion is just as applicable to art. The marketers, producers and consumers who make and enjoy Hollywood's smash hits also affect artwork and its audience. Art production and consumption are both influenced by the same consumer, business, brand and marketing trends that influence skirt style and length and crowd the highways with similar auto design, style and color, whether the models are Chevrolets or Cadillac's.

Tech Past & Futures: 'The Future is Tech' Then and Now

Technological art and cultural themes keenly demonstrate shifts in trend that speak to audience behaviors, image and brand. Consider case briefs below that examine art's influence and the influence of art as they relate to technological advances and trends.

NBC's logo changes in 1987 depicted statements about the "Peacock Network" and its divisions; the bird stature was shifted to infer the corporation's "forward looking" position. NBC's logo history and artwork are available at

Technology has afforded remarkable advances in both the creation and popularity of digital art, animation and illustration. Consider for example the influence of anime, the Japanese animation and design rooted in comic books, cartoons and now prevalent in products, fashion, games and films.

Trend Parts, Patterns and Resources

Trendy isn't good, (unless of course you're Andy Warhol, or the creator of the Hula Hoop). 'Trending on average' isn't too bad and trend watching is absolutely terrific. But above all that is trend spotting. It's phenomenal because once a trend is identified, accepted, examined and thoroughly discussed it's mainstream. Unless it shows real staying power or the potential segue of trend-setting niches, the marketplace is way too crowded to pioneer a move or strong position. Probably, because trends are predictable but always subject to change! Likewise, trends repeat.

Your artist's observation and awareness are your best resources for determining trends. Still, here are some helpful tips, predictions and guides to supportive resources:

  • What's at Wal Mart? Check out your local Big Store. What's on the end caps? Check the impulse aisles, toy department and even the clearance rack -- where last year's trend moves out the door. What's in Big Store's art department?
  • Go shopping. Compare that shopping excursion with visits to local car dealers, specialty stores and boutiques, from fashion and jewelry to home design: carpet, cabinetry, lighting and tile. What colors are influential? What cultural themes? Shapes? Designs? What's promoted as inspirational, trend setting, a 'designer favorite' or creative and unique?
  • Pick up a periodical. Likewise, a visit to the library's periodical section is a must. There, you'll find the depth and breadth of trend's artistic, cultural and political influences. Be sure to flip through the range. Architectural and 'luxist' journals, ethnic trades and pop culture are just as revealing of trend as your customary art and photography journals.
  • Examine junk mail. Got junk mail? Don't throw it away! Junk mail, as well as spam, actually offers value for trend-spotting. Free catalog's and advertising circulars are good info sources. Upscale catalog's will help you identify the rising trends behind new products and the customer-designer favorites driving artistic design, color and style. Discount ads, specials and coupons are definitive in showing downward trends. And even the content and subject lines of spam can be revealing.
  • Remember real estate. Consider the political, consumer and cultural trends that are impacted by environmental issues, land premiums and real estate markets. These market drivers emerge homeowner and tenant trends toward tiny houses and small spaces. Tiny spaces often demand really big art that flows or mirrors light and 'opens' space. Cultural and environmental influences will be very important to this art buyer along themes that relate to green space, landscapes, light, water and cityscapes.
  • Think green. Framing and medium materials that include recyclables, architectural salvage, and enviro-friendly products, organics and sustainable resources should also continue gaining momentum among new buyers and 'luxury' collectors. Natural design materials such as bamboo and grass cloth will gain higher status, and may indicate stronger preferences for matting and art colors from nature's palette.

Additional Resources

With your artistic eye and camera lens on the panorama of trend, it won't be hard to spot. Then ask the next question, the one attuned to your creative hunch. Here's one to inspire you: One renowned designer projects a return of chrome as a metal influence, which may indicate a rising trend not unlike the Art Deco period of minimalism, especially in light of today's cultural path toward reducing one's 'ecological footprint.' What future does chrome hold for your work?


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