ARTS ED: Top Down? Bubble Up!

Learning about the arts isn’t just for school anymore (or the museum or theatre, or concert hall).  Peer-to-peer movements are disrupting the ways we deliver arts education, with vitality, camaraderie and, maybe most important, a process- and practice-focused delivery system. On YouTube and Vimeo, Soundcloud, Reddit, Facebook and countless other networks, students –  however lacking in art materials or instruction in a traditional public school setting- have become both makers and instructors of art. And it’s transforming the ways we think about learning – and participating in – culture.


Watch some examples of  YouTube U digital communities and practitioners, creators of product-in-process.



Some YouTube U arts practitioners have built their arts practice beyond their initial YouTube community.

Makeup artist Michelle Phan has built her youtube presence into a media empire.

Whether you’re into makeup demos or not, she’s entertaining and ingenious.

Particularly interesting demos she’s made:

Zombie Barbie!

Lady Gaga Bad Romance!

Tim Burton-inspired


The Chibisama is another makeup artist, who does elaborate, highly engaging demos of anime-inspired makeup techniques, more underground and DIY than the now-famous Michelle Phan. She’s high-concept, and it’s compelling to watch her work, her use of time lapse is really good and she’s a wonderful painter.

Here she’s doing a look from the Japanese anime “Bleach:”

For this one Chibisama takes on a dark Carnival theme. Her editing is really good, and you can see her use of several conventions of the makeup genre, like holding the particular brush or tool in front of her palm to “frame” it for the camera.


Here are a few very DIY dance tutorials, chosen not necessarily for “professional” qualities but by their straightforward appeal to the viewer to learn technique.


A training video for an upcoming Bollywood flash mob, choreography meant to be disseminated for a real-world event:


Wanna learn how to pirouette?


Mike Song is a terrific dancer and a great tutorial artist, this is his “isolation” demo:


Regional dialect/accent videos are extremely popular with teenagers in particular. The practitioner uses a rubric from Tumblr to demonstrate her or his accent, and talks a little about her or his culture. Again, there are endless variations on this theme. The Tumblr formula really caught on, possibly because it gives performers something specific to do. They generate tons of views and user comments. Are they art? Yes. This is digital performance.

A YouTuber in Ireland:

Girls from New Jersey:

A Midwestern practitioner:


Digital musicians who use “chiptune” or “8 bit” tools taken from video games create new compositions.

These artists often collaborate, share techniques, and celebrate their subscribers.


Here’s a no-nonsense tutorial with step-by-step instructions — including what software to download. I like the “Hey Ya” cover, too.


This composer provides lots of information given about where he found the sounds, and describes his tech setup really well. It was made in celebration of his/her 1000 subscribers.


This musician keeps up a crazy lively dialogue with his subscribers/audience, and shares a lot of technique with them,


One particularly popular (and puzzling) YouTube phenomenon is musical cup stacking.

Take a look at these.

This is apparently the “first” cup stacking take, by indie singers Lulu and the Lampshades.

This performance inspired a slew of other iterations, such as this fun tutorial which combines elements of how-to and parody:

The cup percussion grew into such a “thing,” in fact, that it showed up in the recent teen acapella movie “Pitch Perfect” as Anna Kendrrick’s character’s audition.

Jaclyn Selby, a doctoral candidate at USC Annenberg in Technology Policy, made this excellent short video documenting the origins and spread of the cup mania. This video is a really good examination of digital culture interacting with “regular” media and some of the theory behind interactive culture, too.

CupsRemix from Jaclyn Selby on Vimeo.





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