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Another Year of Pining for Vine’s Artistic Community

Dean in the famous "It's art!" scene in 'The Iron Giant'

Once upon a time, I was newly 18 and enjoying a cozy winter break during my senior year of high school. After various onslaughts of rainy weather and birthday/goodbye parties, I was in a peaceful limbo, lying in my bedroom (copious fairy lights, of course) and watching Vine after Vine after Vine. I had a yen for the “artsier” Vines in particular: The ones where animators would loop their creations to music I’d never heard of, or where musicians would loop one line that was catchy enough to grab your interest.

It was a cool little scene and one that I sorely miss, even all these years later. Unlike TikTok’s creative community, Vine’s brevity (six seconds only, baby) made it a counterintuitive service for promotion. The creation was often for the sake of creation. People were doing things to see what they could make with only six seconds. And often, the things they made were pretty damn cool.

Take, for instance, Molehill’s animations. With her fantastic taste in music and distinct style, this London-based animator was one of my go-tos back in the day. Another one was Alicia Herber, who made the coolest, trippiest nostalgia-based animations.

Then there were the artists who capitalized on weird videography. HazelSt was one of my absolute favorites with the variety of ways she screwed around with special effects and set design, back in the days when a filter couldn’t do it all for you.

Of course, Vine was also one of the first places where people combined cool animations with hip-hop and beats. While you have a plethora of YouTube channels dedicated to things like that now, back then Vine was one of the best (and only) places to find things like this. I have this channel saved, and although their name has been unfortunately lost to time, they were one of the best resources for this kind of content back in the day.

Hip-hop wasn’t the only genre that people incorporated into music videos, though. Spicster was one of my favorite accounts in general, as they combined old film with bands that I’d never heard of but would come to love. It’s fun to go back in time and look at these videos; I’m remembering just how much music I learned about through accounts like this (including bands like The Clientele, Good Morning, and so on).

Finally, there were musicians themselves. Those of you who are a bit younger might be surprised to learn that your favorite musicians got their start on Vine. For instance, Ricky Montgomery was one of the most popular musicians on Vine, and now he’s in many teenagers’ Spotify Top 5’s. The neat thing about Vine’s relationship to music was how much of a difference those six seconds made: While TikTok allows just enough time to drop a bridge (thereby creating an excuse to make the rest of a song shitty and uninspired), Vine’s format forced creators to think more creatively. Oftentimes the riffs they’d drop wouldn’t even materialize into a full song, but you’d often wish they did, as those seconds showcased a musician’s instrumental talents.

Of course, even just six years ago, the internet was a different place; one not as inundated with ads and the pressures of promotion. This is partially why Vine was such a special platform for creation: You never got the sense that anyone was trying to sell you something. And sure, yes, the more popular creators were a different story, but I’m specifically talking about the artists. The things they made came purely from the joy of creation. They were original, cool, and fresh, and it was easy to be mesmerized by them without completely losing your life to the app.

That said, I write for a living, which means I have a very different relationship to how I make money than some other creators. If you’re an artist online, I’d love to hear your input in the comments regarding how you compare Vine and TikTok in terms of livelihood. Either way, I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing Vine’s creative endeavors, and I hope someday the internet will come to reflect that kind of uninhibited creative spirit again.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Madeline (she/her) is a writer, dog mom, and casual insomniac. She aims to use her writing to positively represent mixed-race people like herself. Niche interests include folk music, elves/wizards, and why horses are cool actually.