21 Artists to Watch in 2011
As many of you know, last year Skinny Artist published a list of 21 Amazing Artists to Watch in 2010. Since then, I’ve gotten to know many of these artists better, and I consider myself lucky to be able to call so many of them now my friends. If you haven’t already had the chance to meet some of these incredible artists, I would really encourage you to take the time to do so.
Now as we settle into 2011, I wanted to take a moment and share with you 21 more amazing artists who I’ve had the pleasure to meet over this past year. These are not just talented artists, writers, and photographers — but they are extraordinary human beings as well. These artists are out there every day creating their art and offering encouragement to the rest of us through their blogs, Twitter streams, Facebook updates, and Flickr photostreams. They understand the value of sharing their creative process as well as supporting the larger arts community around them, which in the end makes us all better artists.
Also this year, I have the privilege of unveiling the original artwork you see above entitled “Diaphanous Daffodil” which has been specially commissioned for this occasion. This spectacular piece of art was created by the lovely and talented Julia Forsyth (@juliaforsythart) who just happens to be one of the amazing artists we featured on the original 2010 Artist to Watch list [see I told you she was cool!]
Finally, as you are reading through this list, please keep in mind that these are obviously not the only artists/writers/photographers on Twitter and Facebook who are worthy of a follow. I will apologize in advance if I happened to overlook you or someone else you admire. Unfortunately it’s just not possible to include every deserving artist on a single list, however if there’s someone you would like to mention, please feel free to add them to the list in the comment section below.
Note: You can now follow all of these incredible artists on the official 21 Artists to Watch in 2011 Twitter list!
21 Artists to Watch in 2011
In no particular order of awesomeness!
1.) Annick McKenzie
Annick is one of those artists who just seems to exude creativity and art from every fiber of her being. Maybe it’s the fact that she was born in France and has lived all over the world, but more than anything, I think it’s that you can almost feel the passion she has for her work in every single painting that she does. If you take a moment and stroll around her online gallery, you will see Annick’s unique ability to play with color with amazing and often unexpected results.
Like so many of the other artists on this list, however, Annick doesn’t simply create her art and call it a day. Most days she can be found on Twitter and Facebook encouraging other artists and celebrating their personal success stories with others. Recently, she has also begun to share more of her own creative process on her new art blog Treasures of the Heart. Annick is an incredibly talented artist, a kind creative soul, and one who certainly deserves to be at the top of any list of artists to watch in 2011.
2.) Pete Hobden
Pete is another one of those visual artists, like Annick, who may have started painting later in life (their words not mine) but seems to be making up for any lost time with a passion. Pete himself admits that “I am under the spell. I paint my universe.” The fact that his website is called Pete Hobden’s Painting Adventures really says it all. This is not a burned-out bitter artist who is simply going through the motions, this is a man who has completely immersed himself in his passion for art and living out his creative dreams. I mean, just by looking at his avatar, you know that he’s having fun.
Pete is also a member of the informal #Draw365 group on Twitter and is always there supporting the work of his fellow artists. Many of his own extraordinary drawings can be found on his Frequent Drawings site. The thing that impresses me the most, however, is that Pete is one of those generous souls who is always putting other artists first. He is generally the first one there on Twitter retweeting other people’s work or offering them an encouraging word when they may need it the most. Pete is truly an amazing artist and an even better friend, which is why he’ll certainly be an artist to watch in 2011.
3.) Annika R
Annika is an art photographer and teacher who lives in Finland.
As a writer I have always been fascinated by the stories behind a particular photograph or a work of art. Many people claim they don’t want to peek behind the creative curtain and ruin the magic. To me, however, learning about the thought process and often the struggle that went into creating a particular piece of art, deepens the meaning and beauty of a work immeasurably. This is what initially drew me into reading Annika’s photography blog and discovering the stories behind many of her magnificent images.
Looking through her online gallery and her Flickr photostream, you begin to see her deep connection with nature and how she is able to capture what so many of us overlook in our daily lives. When she’s not busy trekking through the breath-taking forests capturing these incredible images, Annika can be found sharing her love of nature with her students to whom she teaches environmental education.
If you’re interested in discovering more about Annika and her work, I would really encourage you to check out this fantastic interview Sondra (@Modernmarks) did with Annika recently on her site. Her passion for capturing and preserving the beauty of the natural world shows in everything that she does, which is why Annika is an artist to we will be watching in 2011.
4.) Cat Salter
Cat is an artist and photographer who lives in the U.K., however, it’s her kind and generous personality that has earned her friends and fans all over the world.
I’ve always admired artists who are able to create a signature style for themselves that becomes unmistakable. These are the artists who can take any subject and turn it into something uniquely their own. Cat is clearly one of those rare and talented artists. As you view a collection of her artwork, you can begin to see that almost invisible thread that connects them and infuses them with the soul of that particular artist.
If Cat was simply a great artist alone, however, she probably wouldn’t have made this list because the world is filled with great artists who wouldn’t give you the time of day unless you had your checkbook in your hand. Cat, however, doesn’t just show her work–she shares it. On her remarkable art blog, she shares with us some of her favorite tools and techniques along with some lessons she as learned along the way. She has even created some helpful tutorial guides for the beginning artist or curious art aficionado. It is this unique blend of artistic talent, magnetic personality, and generosity that makes Cat an artist to watch in 2011.
5.) David Sandum
Follow David on Twitter @DavidSandumArt
David is one of those artists who I discovered I was watching long before I ever officially followed him. Anyone who has been involved in the Twitter arts community for awhile has probably seen @DavidSandumArt pop up frequently. David is a fantastic visual artist, but he is also an incredible social connector. If you’re an artist on Twitter, chances are most of your current (and future) artist friends are already connected through David. He is kind of like the Kevin Bacon of the Twittersphere where no one is more than one or two connections away from him.
As is you needed any more proof of David’s ability to bring artists together, last year he organized the first ever international #TwitterArtExhibit in order to raise money to support the public library in Moss, Norway. Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of artists around the world, it was a remarkable success and David was able to solidify his already considerable reputation as an artist who brings people together.
As I mentioned previously, David is also an amazing visual artist. You can view all of his latest artwork on his gallery website and while you are there, be sure to read the interview about how he discovered his passion for art because it is a truly inspiring story. David’s artistic talent, his selfless generosity, as well as his ability to bring people together for a greater cause is why he is an artist to watch in 2011.
6.) Hannah Stephenson (aka The Storialist )
Hannah is an extraordinary writer and poet who does what so many other writers fail to do. . . she writes a lot. Unlike so many other writers and especially poets I see online who typically post something every few months, Hannah publishes her work almost everyday. In fact she’s had over 500 posts on her site The Storialist since it began. As someone who’s seen far too many blogs come and go within 6 months, this is remarkable. It clearly demonstrates how much respect she has for her craft as well as for her audience.
Hannah is very active on Facebook and Twitter but she is always looking for new ways to connect with her friends and fans around the world. Recently she began to experiment with adding videos of her poetry readings on her site, which I think is a great way for any artist to share their personality with their audience. And even though it doesn’t really seem fair, Hannah is a great singer as well. Recently she has begun sharing her amazing vocal work on Soundcloud and is well worth checking out. Between her talent, her dedication to her craft, and her natural ability to connect with her audience –Hannah is certainly an artist we will be watching in 2011.
7.) Lynn Bennett-Mackenzie
Lynn is another one of those visual artists who have somehow developed this amazing signature style that is completely her own. Her artwork has a fantastical dream-like quality to it that swirls in color and form. Into her artwork she weaves these mythic stories and symbols that serve to create an emotional connection with the viewer. Describing her work, Lynn says that “she is fascinated by the notion of what is around us that cannot be seen but often felt by some, faith, and the way people interpret consciousness & reality.”
When she’s not busy in the studio (and sometimes even when she is) Lynn can often be found on Twitter and Facebook supporting her fellow artists and interacting with her friends and fans from around the world. Lynn is not just a fantastic artist, however, she is also a great writer and every week I look forward to reading her latest thoughts and stories on her wonderful art blog. I really like the fact that she doesn’t simply talk about her latest work, but she openly talks about her journey as an artist and how it has changed her as both an artist and a human being. It is this exceptional mixture of talent, pure imagination, and openness that makes Lynn an artist to watch in 2011.
8.) Trevor Jones
Let me just say up front that Trevor Jones is a dangerous artist. He’s not just dangerous because he hangs out with Jon Lord of Deep Purple & Whitesnake, he’s dangerous because he knows exactly what it takes to market himself as a visual artist online in 2011. He knows that it takes a lot more than simply making great art in order to become a successful money-making kind of artist.
While so many artists are still out there wooing gallery owners, Trevor has not only created his own virtual gallery on his website but he has also made it dead simple for people to purchase his incredible artwork through his online store. He doesn’t make you go over to Etsy and create a pointless account in order to buy something — you just click, pay, and it’s yours!
Now if Trevor was simply a great artist/businessman we’d still be able to learn something from him but he probably wouldn’t have been included on this list. Fortunately, Trevor is a fantastic person as well and he is always willing to share his thoughts and ideas with the rest of us on his art blog. When he’s not busy creating his art, connecting with other artists on Twitter and Facebook, or teaching an art class, Trevor is often raising money for the Art in Healthcare charity which recently auctioned off an autographed Gibson guitar that he had personally refinished and painted. As a visual artist who clearly understands the value of giving back and connecting with the larger artist community, Trevor is absolutely an artist to watch in 2011.
9.) Sarah Wiske
If you think all visual artists are gloomy self-absorbed people, you clearly haven’t met Sarah Wiske. Sarah’s personality is as cheerful and whimsical as her beautiful artwork. When I first met Sarah several months ago on Twitter, I figured out fairly quickly that she was going to turn out to be an artist to watch in 2011.
People don’t just buy art, they buy the artist. . .
I’ve already said this far too many times on this site, but when it comes to marketing yourself and your creative work to the online world — it will ultimately be your personality that gets you noticed. People don’t just buy art, they buy the artist. In this day and age of blogs and endless social media updates, talent alone is simply no longer enough to break though. Fortunately for Sarah she not only has the right personality, but she has an incredible amount of creative talent as well.
One of the things that has impressed me the most about Sarah is the fact that she has this amazing ability to connect with people and make them feel like a friend first and a potential customer second. Recently Sarah launched her new beautifully designed website and has been sharing her latest thoughts with us on her art blog. When you find someone with this much artistic talent combined with an extraordinary personality, there’s no doubt that Sarah will be an artist to watch in the upcoming year.
10.) Kat Ostrow
Follow Kat on Twitter @katost
One of the things that impresses me most about Kat as a visual artist is that she is never afraid to take chances in her work. If you take a few minutes and read through her Painting in Progress art blog, you’ll see how she’s willing to follow her vision wherever it leads. I think she sums this up beautifully when she said recently. . .
“Life happens and if you are a painter then it spills right out onto the canvas regardless of plans or intent. That is why every canvas I paint is a map of my inner workings at that moment and that is why after layering those emotions/ braiding them one on top of another >> the canvas carries those emotions. For me it is the emotion more than the figure that I am painting.”
She is one of the least self-conscious artists I have ever met and her complete willingness to follow her instincts and focus on the creative emotional process rather than the final product is truly remarkable. Check out her online art gallery and then go back to her blog in order to see how a particular piece came to be.
Kat also shares her creative process on Twitter and hardly a day that goes by where she is not busy sharing another artist’s work, supporting their dreams, or celebrating their small victories. She is truly an amazing friend and certainly an artist worth watching in the year ahead.
11.) Sarah Marie Lacy
Let me start off by saying that Sarah isn’t just an artist to watch in 2011 because she’s going to be spending a good portion of it having the time of her life studying art in France at the Studio Escalier. It’s also not just the fact that she is one of the nicest people I know on Twitter. And it’s certainly not the fact that she is an extraordinary painter and perhaps an even better writer . . . then again maybe it’s all of those reasons.
One of the things that I’ve always admired about Sarah is her unique sense of openness, vulnerability, and pure determination to succeed. Every week she writes a remarkable column on her blog entitled The Sunday Hug. These articles address the issues that so many of us face but far fewer of us are willing to risk talk about. Things such as “Doing the things that scare you” “Forgotten Dreams” and “The Difficulty of Dreams“.
Don’t let any of this distract you from the fact that Sarah is a fantastic painter and I would certainly encourage you to check out her online painting portfolio. Let’s be honest though, as good of an artist as she may be, Sarah is an even better human being, and that’s why she is an artist to watch in 2011.
12.) Mary Vargas
Follow Mary on Twitter @artinwater
One of the things we talk about all of the time on this site is about the importance of connecting with your fellow artists and potential customers by allowing them to see the person behind the art. Mary is one of those rare visual artists who not only understands this, but somehow she makes it look virtually effortless at the same time. When you look at any of her gorgeous time-lapse painting videos on her YouTube channel you can’t help but wonder why more visual artists don’t do this. People love to see the creative process in action. Mary also uses videos intermixed with her own paintings on her remarkable Vargas Art Studio website.
The subjects of Mary’s paintings are typically common everyday objects painted in an extraordinary way. Her work has this amazing subtlety of form and color that her watercolor technique accentuates perfectly. When she’s not busy painting, Mary can usually be found on Twitter supporting her fellow artists and friends. In everything she does online, it’s obvious that Mary loves to connect with people, lift them up, and share her art. This is the reason Mary Vargas will be an artist you’ll want to be watching in 2011.
13.) Jessica Kristie
Jessica is another one of those rare poets that actually writes poetry. She understands that poetry, like any other type of creative art is not simply an act of inspired thought, but inspired action. Her poetry blog is not only filled with some incredibly poetry, but she also includes her prose writing, related videos, and insightful author interviews as well. When she’s not busy writing, Jessica can usually be found on Twitter connecting with other writers and sharing the latest news on her Facebook Fan page.
I was first introduced to Jessica through an interview she did recently with The Dark Press. It was then that I realized that Jessica wasn’t your typical sporadic internet poet who only seems to be inspired to write when they are feeling sad. In the interview Jessica talked about how it’s not enough to simply write the poetry, but how you also have to then put it out into the world. Not just tucked away in some dark corner of your blog that no one reads, but actually submitting your work to publishers both online and off. She talks about the importance of polishing and editing your work and only submitting a piece of work to relevant publishers. In other words, Jessica is not just another poet wannabe, she is a professional writer. This is why it came as no surprise to me to discover that Jessica’s new poetry compilation “Dreaming in Darkness” will be published this Spring by Willow Moon Publishing. Jessica will be an artist we will be watching (and reading) in 2011.
14.) Rebecca Phillips
Let me just say upfront, that Rebecca is one of those artists who have the ability to rekindle your faith in humanity. She is living proof that it’s possible to be an extremely talented artist and an incredibly nice person at the same time. I have rarely met a more kind and generous spirit who is always busy sharing other people’s work on Twitter as well as her Lilly Beck Art Facebook fan page.
Her wildlife paintings and photographs remind me of those beautiful vintage postcards that you would pick up at some exotic island locale. This is not surprising considering that she makes her home on the picture perfect Sunshine Coast in Australia. Having had the pleasure of visiting Australia last year, I can tell you that there are very few places that can match the sheer natural beauty of that area and Rebecca captures it perfectly in her work.
As I’ve said many time before, I always enjoy it when an artist is willing to share his or her creative thought process with the rest of us. Rebecca uses her art blog as a way of setting the backdrop for her latest work. She doesn’t just tell you what she did, instead she tells you what she was thinking, any concerns or doubts she may have had about it, and also how a piece might have turned out differently than she had initially imagined. It sounds real, because it is real. Rebecca’s not using her blog to try and sell you her work, or make herself out to be some infallible artistic genius, she’s just sharing her creative process. She’s a real person creating some incredible art, which in my book, makes her an artist to watch in 2011.
15.) Patti Agapi
I have to admit that Patti’s artwork fascinates me. Her mixed-media collage work are like little microcosms of the entire creative process. They’re amazingly colorful. They have all of these layers that run far deeper than you can imagine. They’re sometimes crazy and chaotic, but they are always extraordinarily beautiful. To me they are pure imagination unleashed.
With the risk of offending her, I’ve always seen Patti as a creative kindred spirit of mine, because she has this incredible ability to pull seemingly unrelated references from literature, poetry, photographs, music, and artwork together in order to create this spectacular creative soup that is then translated into her art. Take a few minutes and read through her fascinating Mad with Rapture blog as well as her studio website to see how Patti is able to find inspiration virtually anywhere.
When she’s not busy stirring up her creative soup, Patti can almost always be found on Twitter or her Mad with Rapture Studio Facebook fan page supporting her fellow artists and sharing her latest #draw365 drawings with the world. Personally I can’t wait to see what Patti has in store for us next, which is why she will be an artist to watch in 2011.
16.) Terrill Welch
Follow Terrill on Twitter @terrillwelch
On her website Terrill tells us that she is a woman living a life of simple abundance, but that only tells you half of the story. Terrill is what I like to call a pure creative spirit. She has created this amazing life for herself where she is able to paint, write, or photograph beauty wherever she may find it. She makes no attempt to define it, only to recognize it in its native state. After reading her powerful artist biography, I was once again reminded about how the creative tools we are given to explore as children can have such a profound effect on us for the rest of our lives.
Terrill shares her creative process with us on her Creativepotager blog where she talks about her latest works and discoveries. She writes about her life and her art and each post ends with a unique “Sprout” question that is intended to get the reader thinking and interacting with the topic in a creative new way. While you’re there, be sure to take a moment to enjoy Terrill’s beautiful paintings and photographs in her online galleries.
She may be living a life of simple abundance but with over 16,000 tweets to her credit, Terrill still loves to connect with other artists on Twitter. Most days she can be found there continuing the conversation and sharing the best the Twitter arts community has to offer. She is an extraordinary artist and a truly remarkable person as well, which is why she will be an artist worth watching in 2011.
17.) Sky Pape
Follow Sky on Twitter @skypape
It should probably come as no surprise given her name that Sky is an artistic breath of fresh air. Just when you think you may have seen everything the art world has to offer, you stumble upon an artist whose incredible artwork doesn’t neatly fit into anything you’ve seen before. Sky describes her unique style as “an intensive examination of traditional drawing materials through unconventional methods.” She calls them drawings, I call them visual experiences that have to be seen to be believed. In this day and age where computer-gernated fractals and digital images are seemingly everywhere, you can sometimes forget the raw power and emotion that can only be found in a hand-drawn design created by a extremely talented artist.
Her latest work is a collection of extraordinary black-and-white Sumi ink drawings created on handmade paper. Any attempt by me to actually describe these drawings would be incredibly foolish so I’ll allow you to experience them for yourself. While you’re off exploring, however, be sure to stop by Sky’s Drawn Together art blog and read one of her in-depth articles on a variety of art-related topics. When she’s not busy dazzling the eye with her art, Sky can often be found on Twitter sharing links to all of the latest news in the art world or cheering on her fellow artists. With a unique mixture of massive creative talent and a caring heart, Sky is an artist to watch in 2011.
18.) Michelle “Shell” Rummel
Those of you who have followed this site for awhile know that I’ve always been drawn artists who use the world around them to inspire their work. Some artists use photography to find inspiration while others use poetry or music to feed their art. For some artists, anything and everything around them is fair game. Shell is one of those amazing artists who is able to find inspiration from virtually any source.
Her beautiful watercolor paintings and photographs almost always include a poem or a short verse that inspired them, which she generously shares with us on her ShellArtistree website. Sometimes they are the work of others, but many times they are poems she has written herself. That’s right, in addition to being a fantastic painter and photographer, Shell is quite a gifted writer as well. While it may not seem entirely fair to me that she has been blessed with all of these talents, it is a distinct pleasure to watch this incredibly creative mind at work.
It would be far easier to be jealous of Shell, however, if she wasn’t also one of the nicest most selfless people I’ve met on Twitter. Every day, she can be found online connecting with the Twitter arts community and sharing their latest work or personal triumphs with her followers. Shell also takes the time to talk about her creative influences and daily progress on her Shell Artistree Facebook fan page. As an incredibly talented artist who has this rare ability to make everyone else around her shine, Shell is an artist you should be watching in 2011.
19.) Russ Potak
Having lived in New Hampshire myself years ago, Russ represents everything that I remember and still admire about the beautiful New England region. I remember how words are always measured carefully and praise (or blame) is never handed out indiscriminately. I remember the pride of independence mixed in with the willingness to always help out a neighbor in need. I remember the sound of the mountains and seashore colliding together and I remember that eerie silence after a fresh snow. As an artist, I’m assuming that Russ is not directly responsible for any of this (at least I don’t think), but once you see his amazing artwork you’ll begin to understand it is forever linked to these proud New England ideals. To me his work has this extraordinary impressionistic view that not only captures this region’s physical beauty but its very essence as well.
Russ talks about his creative process on his art blog and how he is always experimenting with new methods and techniques just to see where they lead. Like so many of the other artists and writers on this list, Russ understands that he is not always in control of the creative process and he mentioned this fact in a recent blog post:
“How a work evolves, is how it evolves. I can direct, .. but things can happen along the way which I did not anticipate. That is one of the exciting things about exploring the creative process. It holds in store mysteries, not yet revealed, until the work, becomes a work in progress.”
In the end, true art is always a process of give and take. It is an exploration. It is discovery of oneself. As an artist, Russ is constantly listening, learning, and exploring new ideas which not only makes him an incredibly gifted artist, but an artist to watch in 2011.
20.) Daina Scarola
I’ve always admired those rare creative artists (or anyone for that matter) who not only have this incredible passion for what they do, but have managed to carve out their own unique niche in the creative art world. Daina calls herself a Surf Artist which apparently is code for awesome artist who gets to hang out on the beach and surf a lot for “research”. This is yet another painful reminder that I have apparently chosen the wrong career path for myself. Daina’s artwork combines her love for nature and the ocean, and has this amazing retro-vibe that can’t help but take you back to those old Hawaiian surf shops in the 1950’s-60’s.
Daina posts regularly on her Art by Daina blog where she talks about her latest projects as well as sharing some of her favorite artists and websites from around the web. Like so many of the other artists on this list, Daina can be found daily interacting with the growing arts community on Twitter as well as her Surf Art Facebook fan page. As Daina continues to surf and create her extraordinary art, she is an artist we will definitely be watching in 2011.
21.) Mona K
Follow Mona on Twitter @monakart
I’ll admit that a few months ago, I had never even heard of the poet and visual artist named Mona K. I hadn’t seen any of her amazing drawings or admired her visually stunning figurative paintings. I hadn’t yet witnessed any of her ethereal dreamlike landscapes that often appear to be the creative descendants of J.R.R. Tolkien himself. I hadn’t yet experienced her metaphoric still-lifes that are a far cry from the typical fruit and flower motifs, and are chocked full of enough symbolic objects to make even the most jaded Jungian smile. Needless to say, I have quickly become a fan of this incredibly talented artist.
Mona had this to say about her creative process. . .
“What reflects on the canvas is the breaking point of were my inner world meets the exteriour world.Sometimes its a conversation, sometimes a wish, a vision, a dream . . . sometimes it’s a question. . . if I been lucky then its an understanding I am still exploring”
As if that’s not enough, Mona is a remarkable writer as well. Her poetry, like her art, is a rich mixture of visual imagery and dreamlike symbolism which can all be witnessed in her extraordinary poem “Insomnia“. Mona chronicles all of her latest poetry, paintings, and creative thoughts on her art blog. Even though I may have missed out on following her last year, I certainly won’t make that mistake again, which is why Mona is an artist to watch in 2011.
About the Author
Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book "Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work" is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.