Renowned surrealist painter Salvador Dali remarked, “A true artist is not one who is inspired but one who inspires others.” The inspiration provided by artists is progressively branching out on digital platforms such as TikTok. From eerie miniature vignettes to Lisa Frank-esque celebrity portraits, an intriguing abundance of art is featured on the app. The video-sharing platform is one of the most rapidly growing spots on the internet, with approximately 36.3 billion views under the hashtag #ArtistsOfTikTok. Here are some of my favorite artists to emerge on TikTOk in 2022.


Artists have long been fascinated by the concept of humans as mortal, organic beings. Self-taught painter René Patrick Martinez created a next-level piece exploring this theme, posted to TikTok in February of 2022. “Unraveling Mercedes” shows the stages of a woman’s life through a heartbreakingly beautiful form: using vertical segmented paper-strips to portray human existence from embryo to death. He peels the multilayered, sticker-like piece on camera (gaining over 15 million watches).

Martinez’s use of contrast is mesmerizing, featuring bright-colored backgrounds to signify the shifts in life chapters. But, the visual story opens and closes with black backgrounds, signifying the mysterious voids of creation and death. Martinez remarked that the piece took almost two years to perfect—a process that he showed viewers through a timelapse TikTok. The piece, reduced to strips of paper, is given a ‘rebirth’ by the artist: creating an abstract sphere from the leftover pieces. Martinez continues to post both relatable artist content and his continuing experiments in art. For instance, he plays with AI in one TikTok video and creates ‘portraits from fire’ in another. 


The mysterious, macabre miniature world created by artist Lauren P. Dodge is a stunning reflection of themes that permeate the Southern Gothic literary genre. She takes viewers along as she creates miniature treehouses or unfurls her dollhouse’s complex, toxic mother-daughter storyline. From domesticity and isolation to the paranormal and murderous, her form is a visual love-letter to writers such as Flannery O’Conner and William Faulkner. Dodge’s in-progress Victorian-style ‘abandoned’ dollhouse is a wunderkammer of grim grandeur. An adolescent girl’s bedroom, submerged in resin, resembles a flooded room—objects of girlhood floating eerily. The tiny bathroom floor uses human teeth as tiles. Weird wins in Dodge’s world, and her large following demonstrates this. The intricacy of the miniature mansion is amazingly true-to-life. Dollhouse details, like a tiny ashtray or a rusted sink are accompanied by tutorials for inspired morbid miniaturists to follow. Her work not only appeals artistically and thematically, but also societally: touching on issues such as gender norms and toxic family life. 


Artist Safeyah Aljabouri finds power in artistic tradition: creating stunning pieces with rich, earth-toned oil paint, reminiscent of old masters such as Rembrandt. Her dark-to-light mode of paint application is mesmerizing visually. She shows that color theory is all about context, seemingly out-of-place tones making perfect sense upon completion of the piece. Aljabouri teaches viewers the importance of trusting the process. Further, the artist also provides insight and advice into the skill of painting, from reviving old brushes to blending techniques. Her pieces maintain a classically realist aesthetic—her work has an almost sculptural-feel with its attention to both smoothness and form.  Aljabouri takes the centuries-old practice of classical painting and brings it into 2022, featuring muses such as Lana Del Rey or Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams. 


The world is Sweet Joey Vermouth’s coloring book, and we’re just living in it. Viewers watch as the artist sketches a celebrity, covers the piece in stickers and children’s coloring pages— just to promptly throw it in the trash. Their art is wonderfully nonsensical, occasionally serenaded by quirky, campy songs of their own creation. The symbolism of Vermouth’s work is open for interpretation: perhaps it intends to mock celebrity culture or it simply touches on a Gen-Z meme tradition of randomness. Nonetheless, the artist’s style resembles the notebook of an early 2000s middle school girl (in the best way), adorned in Lisa Frank-style pastels and butterflies. But, the art is brought into 2022 by featuring the internet’s most discussed figures. In one video, Vermouth creates an image of controversial conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, covered in cheetah print spots, a neon technicolor background behind him. Vermouth’s work, which they refer to as ‘bug art,’ is both admired and questioned by TikTokers. But, as a lyric in one of Vermouth’s songs states: “You don’t need to like my bug art, its okay.” 


“Art imitates life” some may argue. However, for Alexa Meade, life is art. Meade paints on the bodies of her models, tactically using brush strokes to make them appear two-dimensional. A living, breathing human becomes a walking painting, adorned in splotches and smears resembling that of impressionist impasto. Physical three-dimensional spaces are also compressed in Meade’s work, creating the illusion of flat, Van Gogh-esque rooms.  The human form becomes the artist’s canvas and her TikTok videos let viewers witness the process. In just a matter of seconds, the montage videos show a model transformed: once Meade’s unpainted canvas, they now resemble a Degas sketch or a moving Lichtenstein piece.

Meade has made an esteemed name for herself, painting mega-stars such as Ariana Grande and obtaining a Tribeca Film Festival Award for Disruptive innovation. The interactive, illusory nature of her style beckons for an immersive public experience. In 2022, she opened an exhibit called ‘Wonderland Dreams’: an Alice in Wonderland-inspired experience in New York City. Visitors can, quite literally, become part of the iconic Lewis Carroll world, checker-print and psychedelic hues abounding. Her TikTok page documents the exhibit behind-the-scenes, letting viewers experience the whimsy of Meade’s unexpected, revolutionary work. 

The artist community of TikTok inspires amid the pandemonium of social media culture. TikTok’s ‘gallery’ is always open: reimagining the future of art’s public reach.