The Web as the New Petri Dish for Budding Talent




Since @marymetcalf introduced me to Tavi’s blog, I’ve tweeted and shared her posts ad nauseum. At 12 years old, Tavi is one of the smartest and most creative style mavens on the Web. Her ability to mix DIY creations with store bought staples is as impressive as her ability to turn Rei Kawakubo’s CDG H&M line into a chic little rap for readers.

She’s a true example of what the Web does best: giving a young person the ability to share her talent with the world and have a voice in a crowded scene regardless of geography, social connections or professional status. In a case of digital Darwinism, Tavi’s emerged as a prominent figure, capturing the attention and respect of New York Magazine, Vogue and New York Times style critics, to name a few of her admirers.

She’s so talented, she’s met several skeptics along the way who question the truth that she’s achieved all of this and is only twelve years old. Recently, she responded to these skeptics directly saying, “Apparently there was some recent press about me being the 40 year old man again? Sigh, humanity…Wait, I forgot! 12 year olds don’t have thoughts… we can’t think, write, read, do research (though we have the whole internet in front of us and all research needs is curiosity), learn from people we know that have a wide knowledge of fashion, use a camera, or get dressed!”

As unbelievable as it is, Tavi and her other twelve year old digital counterparts are turning the Web on its head. The Web has become a veritable petri dish for budding teen talent. Today, 39% of teens share their artistic creations online and 33% create personal Web pages and blogs to do so. Spend any time surfing Tavi’s blogroll, the Ruby Pseudo archives, Fashion Space, Red Studio, Deviant Art, Flickr, Etsy and similar sites and you’ll see that this is just the start.

More talented teens like Tavi will flock to the Web and way before any of them submit portfolios for perspective college admissions officers’ and employers’ review, they’ll have published deep archives of posts, photos and videos to showcase their work, digested threads of feedback from readers and garnered a following of admirers.

Any teens not taking advantage of this platform will have a significant disadvantage when trying to play in this league of self-made digital publishers and any employers and admissions officers not rethinking traditional methods of scouting new talent will miss out.

What I’m most excited about is seeing self-published talent like Tavi enter the workforce with an incredible entrepreneurial verve, whether they works for themselves or decide to join an existing company. After years of asserting themselves online, they’ll have no problem fully expressing their ideas and passion at work and moving through their career with a fluidity and confidence that comes from having established one’s independence early on.

To Tavi and her peers: publish on! The Web has a bright future with you on the other end of the keyboard.

Image borrowed from Teen Vogue

-Amanda Mooney


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