SXSW is simply teeming with musicians, filmmakers, and comedians, who take center stage at their respective festivals. But outside of the spotlight, other artists from around the world show up to share their work and expertise. Spanning nearly every medium, it’s the perfect place to find inspiration no matter what kind of creative you are.

Don’t miss out on this lesser-known creative well at SXSW—and read on to learn about a few of the artists that you won’t want to pass by.

About SXSW

SXSW (which stands for South by Southwest) is an annual conference and festival held in Austin, TX that gathers the best and the brightest at the intersection of tech, film, music, education, and culture. Over the span of 10 days, you’ll find performances, panels, parties, and plenty of opportunities to learn from other creative folks. Considering SXSW’s mission is to help creative people achieve their goals, it’s the place to be every March, whether you’re looking to launch your career as an artist or just want to light your creative fire. 

8 Artists You Need to See at SXSW

1. Shantell Martin

Shantell Martin working on a recent mural for Ralph Lauren.

Shantell Martin’s signature black and white line drawings have shown up in solo shows at renowned art installations, as murals around the world, and even on the wares of iconic brands such as Puma, Nike, Max Mara, Tiffany & Co, Warby Parker, and The North Face. Given her deep experience with partnerships like these, she’ll be speaking about how brands and artists can collaborate in a way that fosters creativity and pushes the industry forward—without exploitation.

2. Beeple

A recent “everyday” post by Beeple.

Beeple, the artist name for Mike Winkelmann, is a digital artist who creates surreal landscapes using techniques including rendering in 4D, VR/AR, and VJ loops. He’s best known for his “everydays” project, in which he’s created a piece and posted it online—that’s right—every day for the past 10+ years. At SXSW, Beeple will be in conversation with Laurie Segall, founder of Dot Dot Dot, a media company focused on onboarding the mainstream into the era of Web3.

3. Marina Amaral

Historic black and white photograph recolored by Marina Amaral.

Marina Amaral is a Brazilian digital colorist famous for her work “breathing life into the past” by adding color to old black and white photographs. Her process involves historical research to determine the correct colors and masterful editing skills to make the final work look true to life. Catch her on a panel discussing how brands can tell stronger stories through digital art, where she’ll be joined by digital artist Sutu.

4. Cruz Ortiz

Oil painting by Cruz Ortiz.

American artist Cruz Ortiz works with many mediums—screen prints, figurative abstract portraiture, dream-like landscape paintings, temporal guerrilla installations, hand-carved wood sculptures, large-scale public art—to explore our connections to nature, hope, healing, beauty, endurance, and the cosmos. At SXSW, he’ll be participating in a panel about the connection between art and activism.

5. Emi Hariyama

Emi Hariyama in a recent performance.

Emi Hariyama is a Japanese ballerina known for her improvisational technique. At SXSW, she’ll be performing and presenting alongside jazz pianist and STEAM educator Sachiko Nakajima as they discuss their experiments integrating physical senses, cutting-edge technology, math, and culture into the work that they do. 

6. Zoe Si

One of Zoe Si’s 2021 New Yorker cartoons. 

Zoe Si is a Canadian cartoonist, illustrator, and children’s book author who has gained a following for her simple and silly line drawings about life. She’ll be speaking on a panel packed with the best cartoonists aroundEmma Allen, Liza Donnelly, and Navied Mahdavian—all about how single-panel cartooning fits into the world today.

7. Pplpleasr

Pplpleasr, is a digital artist who has taken the web (at least web3) by storm with her work in the NFT space. At SXSW, she’ll be joining Skillshare SVP of Content, Community & Brand Alicia Hamilton-Morales to empower the next generation of creators to take advantage of this new market. From finding success as an NFT artist to the Web3 creator economy and decentralized content, this session will dive deep into the culture of NFTs and how they’ll transform creativity and communities in the years to come.

8. Desireé Vaniecia

Paintings by Desireé Vaniecia.

Desireé Vaniecia is a contemporary painter from Dallas who will be showing up in her home state to create an art installation for SXSW. Her distinctive style challenges a stereotype of Black women constructed by the media, and this exhibition is no different—in “Offer Them Comfort. Offer Them Rest.” she’ll be documenting her fears of motherhood and coming to terms with situations she has no control over. 

Explore More Artists at SXSW (or at Home!)

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the artists you can catch at SXSW. Make sure to check out the other arts exhibitions and talks, or just explore around town to see what other events you stumble upon! (Check out all of our Skillshare guides to SXSW for more on what to do.)

And if you can’t make it to Austin this year, why not explore all the amazing teachers on Skillshare to learn from artists right at home? 

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