TikTok has opened up a new avenue for creators to express their individuality and creativity in a way that hasn’t before been possible. The aspirational aesthetics long associated with social content are becoming a thing of the past, as the app’s users embrace the imperfect over the perfect and the unconventional over the familiar.
With an algorithm defined by interests and shared experiences rather than social connections, creators are able to reach new audiences like never before. Whether they create content on music, sustainable fashion, queer culture or conspiracy theories, on TikTok there’s a space for every type of creator to innovate and thrive.
A new type of songwriter
Rachel Sandy made her TikTok debut in May 2021, sharing her self produced song inspired by the up-and-coming singer, Phoebe Bridgers. In the four months since, the 18-year-old has amassed over 990k followers and has racked up more than 60 million views, all with just 14 videos. Rather than following the typical blueprint for songwriting on TikTok, Rachel shares her own unique take that playfully mocks artists and their fandoms. The young producer has found a way to pave her own path for songwriting on TikTok.
Heather Chelan is another musician who has taken a different, yet equally successful route to creating music on TikTok. From normalising acne and advocating for pockets on women’s clothing, to encouraging self-care, the London-based American creates lighthearted pop tunes that are rooted in empowering messages.
Songwriting isn’t new to TikTok, but Rachel and Heather’s creative formulas are. Creators don’t need to reinvent the wheel, they simply need to put their own spin on it (pun very much intended).
Art, but not as you know it
It may be unsurprising that one of the most inventive corners of TikTok belongs to the app’s artistic community. Art is being shared and consumed on TikTok in completely fresh and novel ways, with artists finding fans across the globe. Jake Pearce is a London based illustrator who joined TikTok to showcase their simplistic yet beautiful line drawings. They found their creative niche in tattoo designs inspired by Gen Z trends and culture. Basing their designs on the likes of Olivia Rodrigo songs, anime shows and zodiac signs, Jake is tapping into cultural moments to reach a host of different tribes and communities with their innovative content.
Another artistic vertical that has seen huge growth on TikTok is beauty, with non-traditional makeup artists going viral for their original looks. Creators like Mei Pang and May Akhtar are showcasing their individuality and creativity to millions of users around the world.
Unconventional looks, like Mei’s surreal, colourful designs or May’s intricate freehand eye makeup, are rivalling the more classic styles associated with traditional makeup influencers. Beauty and skincare brands from Smashbox to CeraVe are teaming up with influencers like Mei to become part of the conversation.
New faces of fashion
Creators on TikTok are redefining what it means to be a fashion influencer, and brands are taking notice. Alternative, stereotype-breaking content is receiving incredible reception with new and eager audiences. Zainab Jiwa is one creator who is pushing boundaries with her cosplay inspired modest looks. By rewriting the rules of the modest fashion influencer, Zainab has resonated with users and brands alike, having recently collaborated with SHEIN and Rimmel.
Nathan Hopkinson is another creator who is pushing fashion boundaries and reaping the rewards. Known for his distinctive retro style that challenges gender norms, Nathan’s content has caught the attention of ASOS, New Balance and Gucci to name a few.
There is another type of fashion creator who is succeeding on TikTok, but this time for pushing creative boundaries. With surreal effects and slick transitions that bend reality, creators like Pele Newell and Mike Quyen are showcasing their style in new and exciting ways. Fashion brands from the worlds of streetwear to luxury have collaborated with Pele and Mike to create content that stretches far beyond the creative benchmarks of the typical fashion influencer.
Innovation cuts through
TikTok creators who are innovating and stepping out of the box are connecting with users in unprecedented ways, and brands are beginning to understand their potential. Those who are pushing boundaries and breaking moulds are able to meaningfully engage with emerging audiences in ways that haven’t before been possible. Brands big and small from every industry should be paying very close attention.