The "Canvas Swap Trend" Has Traveled From the Art Classroom to TikTok

TikTok trends can vary from silly to outright dangerous to inspiring. The canvas swap trend is one of our favorites.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Apr. 23 2024, Published 11:36 a.m. ET

Three different TikTokers try the canvas swap trend
Source: TikTok/@maddierhae3/@tah4art/@amber.mariee44

Some people love how TikTok trends can inspire more content, while others find them to be limiting and hacky. But some trends, like the canvas swap trend, are nothing but good. All they do is promote art and inspire people to collaborate and create, so we can’t complain about this specific trend.

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Over the years, various TikTokers have gone to great lengths to keep up with the trends. Now, the canvas swap trend, which has been around since at least 2021, if not earlier, is taking over. Basically, two people each start with a blank canvas and paint for about 10 minutes. They switch every 10 minutes until they have two final collaborative art pieces!

Finished products from TikTok canvas swap trend
Source: TikTok/@amber.mariee44/@tah4art
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People have been doing the “canvas swap trend” long before it made its way to TikTok.

While some things have only become trends because of TikTok — think specific dance routines, the “A Day in the Life” trend, ASMR trends, and more — others have been around for years before TikTok captured the attention of the masses. One such trend is the “canvas swap trend,” which has likely been an activity for centuries among artists and art students.

In the trend, two painters swap canvases every 10 minutes to create two collaborative paintings. Some people switch it up by changing the time limits — some as short as switching every minute to longer intervals like switching every hour. Regardless, it’s a fun and creative exercise that has since been coopted into a date night or friendly bonding activity.

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Because of its evolution over the years, the canvas swap trend made its way to TikTok by 2021. The first popular video we can find of the trend is credited to a self-taught mixed media artist named Tah from Indonesia. In October 2021, Tah and her boyfriend switched small canvases every 10 minutes and they created two totally unique tiny paintings.

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Anyone, whether an artist or an average Joe, can do the canvas swap trend.

While some of the examples we see on TikTok show talented artists swapping canvases, anyone can do it! All you need is some oil paint (which dries quickly and is also easy to fix if there are mistakes) and a canvas. Many of the examples from recent years feature regular people just swapping canvases to have a bonding activity that isn't just drinking or watching something on TV.

Most recently, on April 14, 2024, high school teacher Amber Marie did the trend with her friend. She captioned it, “You can tell I’m not the artsy friend,” although she still has some artistic talent. At the end of the swap, they had two very cute paintings with a bit of magical realism. Plus, not only is the canvas swap trend easy and fun for anyone to do, but it’s also really easy to show every step of the process on TikTok!

So, what are you waiting for? Give the canvas swap trend a try!

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