Topics to Watch: September 2016

This month is about finding momentum in themes from months past and diving back into sub-cultures. Remember dosas? South Indian cuisine is now popping, too. How about Sachiko stitching? Now we see longarm quilting. Even gloss from July and cosmetic primer from June are resurfacing through a fascinating practice, permanent make-up. So as we look for the next big thing for creative and product development, we’re excited to see how topics covered before are evolving today.

Digital illustration
Acrylic painting, Brooklyn, NY, Comic books, Fine arts, Game art design, Houston Texas, Pencil sketching, Pictures, Scratchboard, Texting

Essentially “drawing from scratch” through digital devices, digital illustration is no longer in the realm of professionals only, as everyday phones and tablets embed capabilities amateurs can access. This, along with thriving awe over gaming, comic and film design, sees digital illustration emerging as an art form in its own right. So it’s not surprising to see it linked to acrylic painting, pencil sketching and even fine arts. But as aficionados and designers alike will tell you, it’s not enough to have tools. Like all art, good work stems from talent and training.

Longarm quilting
Machine quilting, Padding, Pantograph, Quilt, Quilt art, Quilting, Running stitch, Tack, Thimble, Thread (yarn)

Longarm quilting uses longarm sewing machines (big sewing machines that can accommodate much larger materials) to stitch together larger-scale quilts. Much faster and easier to use than domestic sewing machines, longarm quilting is gaining traction among hobbyist quilters and those running small businesses from their homes. But these machines are expensive! So many quilters rely on local shops to help finalize projects. We’re seeing local shops going online to highlight the talents of their customers and invite people in for training and machine usage.

Permanent makeup
Facials, Hair stylist, Hair tattoo, Las Vegas Nevada, Makeup, Manicure, Manicures, Massages, Miami Florida, Piercings, Tattoos

Like it sounds, permanent make-up is the use of tattoos to resemble make-up, such as eyeliner or lip pigmentation. New techniques—like micro-blading, shadowing and 3D styles—have been leading to more natural styles and increased popularity. Today the practice is just as much about using the body as a canvas as it is about restoring confidence to those trying to disguise scars or hiding the effects of aging or illness, like alopecia totalis.

South Indian cuisine
Chinese food, Crepes, Goats, Indian food, Pancakes, Recipes, Restaurant, Snacks, Spicy food, Vegetables

Following August’s dosas call-out, we’re seeing South Indian cuisine rising as a whole (dosas are a South Indian staple). Further showcasing the US’s love affair with Indian culture, interest in South Indian cuisine extends to vegetables, reflecting the usually vegetarian South Indian diet. Spiciness is not only a hallmark of the cuisine, but it also links back to last month’s pepper-based adobada, highlighting interest in hot foods. While restaurant dining pops as an associated term, so does home cooking, like we’ve seen in topics published in past months.

Bitbop, Electro music, Music production, Music videos, Pop (music genre), Power noise, Seapunk, Synthesizers, Vaporwave, Video games

Topics to Watch has been no stranger to nostalgia. And ’80s nostalgia has reached fever pitch, particularly in fashion, film and TV. Enter synthwave: a music style from the mid-oughts that is inspired by 1980s scifi, action and horror media. Mainly instrumental, it includes ’80s clichés like electronic drums and analog synthesizers combined with modern production techniques. As those who grew up in the ’80s take charge of creating content, we’re seeing mass celebration of simpler, more innocent, less-tech-filled times of many people’s lives—across genres and media.

Urban horticulture
Flowers, Green wall, Organic gardening, Plants, Raised-bed gardening, Vegetables, Seattle Washington, Sustainable gardening, Urban gardening, Washington Park Arboretum

Cities are flooding with people during this decade’s urban renaissance. And with them, interest in urban horticulture. It is the study of plants and urban areas interacting, and today’s focus is on how horticulture improves the urban environment. One example is community gardens. Benefits are seen to be wide-ranging: from improving neighborhoods, to growing food to eat and teaching children healthy eating habits. As people move into cities and lose their lawns, urban horticulture is taking a center stage in culture and people’s mental and physical health.