GEN Z BY GEN Z: DEEP DIVE BY VINNY CAMPAGNA
As 2000s babies, we — Gen Z kids — were raised during the early decades of the digital era. We witnessed the swift birth and extinction of many technological dinosaurs — Ipods, flip phones, Blackberries — and the subsequent rise of the dominant platforms and products: Youtube, iPhone, Instagram, and Tik Tok. A global connection has never been easier, and a new form of socialization arose alongside the worldwide flattening of communication.
Of course, this effect trickles down to arts and media. GBA’s content manager Luna Alatorre says, “Instead of word of mouth or formal exhibitions, the new generation harbors work through technicolor screens. The analog has become digital, and at times the digital mimics analog. We see this as a result of youth raised chronically perceiving each other. There is little time for nuisance, and everything must be said in one breath or forgotten. With no surprise, the observations Gen Z makes often have to do with the seeking of the true self or rather the exploration of identity in different lenses.” Born from the desire to appeal to a Gen Z base, a surge of cultural exploration has exploded across media, unique from any prior generation. Depop, Dimes Square, and 100 Gecs are a few examples of this cultural awakening spurred by a Gen Z audience. This journey is reflected in the online drop of Gen Z by Gen Z artists, whose works offer varied commentary on religion, sexuality, gender, race, mental health, and traditional arts.
But cultural relevance is not the only differentiator. As Luna proposes, artworks must now stand out in analog and digital, as internet presence has become ubiquitous for experiencing and sharing new content. Artists have been ushered into a realm saturated with marketers and influencers, and the art reflects this new environment. The Gen Z by Gen Z artworks burst with bold colors and compositions, reflecting Instagram and Tik Tok feeds. Information constantly pumps through young minds via smartphones and laptops, mirroring Gen Z’s vibrant and microcosmic artworks.
The age of social media marks a turning point in accessibility and strategies for creating work. Artists excluded from the art world can now reach audiences of millions, profiting from views without the need for gallery representation or museum validation. I know a few fellow artists with more income from Tik Tok than from art sales. Some artists receive thousands of views, making money from brand promotions or collaborations. They don’t even need to sell the artwork.
The trajectories of Generations X and Y have led to Gen Z’s tug-of-war between pop culture and academics and the blurring lines around content creation and artistic resiliency. Commercial design and fine arts are now living and critiqued in the same space.
While we haven’t seen a formal bridge between these binaries, GBA is undertaking the groundwork for Gen Z artists to be acknowledged in a tangible way. As the digital age's evolution continues to redefine the artist’s practice, GBA moves to be at the forefront of artistic innovation. And one thing is sure: Gen Z is leading the charge into the unknown.