Bob Ross would have been 73 years old on October 29. The painter, who became famous as the host of The Joy of Painting, which aired on PBS during the 80s and early 90s passed away in 1995 after a battle with cancer. His oil painting work has lived on through the Internet and the man known for painting "happy little trees" still maintains a cult following today. But even the biggest Bob Ross fan likely would not have been able to predict what has played out over the last week on Twitch TV.
Let's Get Creative
Twitch, a site known for its streaming of esports like League of Legends and other video game related content, launched a new landing page dedicated to the arts on Ross's birthday. It's called Twitch Creative, and it features broadcasters taking part in activities like painting, drawing, cooking, music composition and film editing, all for a live audience. To celebrate the launch, Twitch will air every episode of The Joy of Painting on a weekly basis, introducing Ross to a new generation of fans, 5.6 million of whom tuned in to Twitch to watch reruns of the late artist's iconic, stoner-friendly series. (The channel has maintained 30,000 or more concurrent viewers for the entire duration of its initial marathon.) Gamers have taken a major liking to Ross, with viewers jokingly reacting to the show through Twitch's embedded chat program like they think they are watching one of the live esports matches that the site is known for.
With the assist from Ross, Twitch Creative has so far been a smashing success, and it's coming at the right time for the site, which is under new pressure from Google's YouTube Gaming and other competitors. The section allows Twitch to branch out to a bigger audience while maintaining true to what has made it so popular.
Come for the Games, Stay for the Streamers
A couple of months ago, Jimmy Kimmel ran a segment on his late night talk show poking fun at people who like to watch others play video games on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. It didn't go over too well. Many gamers thought Kimmel appeared out of touch and they weren't afraid to let him know it. While Kimmel was likely just trying to create a funny segment, it's clear that video game streaming is no joke. Last year, Amazon paid almost a billion dollars to purchase Twitch.
The site, which got its start as a small startup called Justin.tv back in 2007, now boasts more traffic at times than Facebook, Hulu and its new parent company.
Ask a frequent Twitch viewer what they like to watch on the site and it will soon become clear that the question shouldn't be what, but rather, who. While Twitch is certainly a great place to check out a new game upon release, a primary reason so many become hooked on the site is because of the streamers themselves. What Kimmel didn't realize is that many Twitch personalities treat their broadcast like a TV talk show with similarities to his own, airing at the same time every day and with recurring segments to entertain the viewers. The Twitch streamer is in many aspects the next evolution of the "YouTube celebrity" that rose to prominence during the last decade. Gamers might enjoy watching their favorite game to an extent, but the reason many keep returning to Twitch is the entertainment provided by the person behind the keyboard or controller.
Who To Watch
While Twitch Creative provides an official spot on the site for the process of art creation, many Twitch streamers were already doing creative things on their broadcast before this new platform launched. Some have set up an easel to draw on while waiting for their next League of Legends match to begin. Others have taken their viewers into the kitchen with them for a cooking class when it's time for a dinner break. Twitch Creative may only be about a week old, but Twitch has plenty of creative streamers worth giving a follow. Here are some of the more unique streams to take a gander at if you'd like to get your own creative juices flowing.
Bob Ross may have been crowned the unofficial mascot of Twitch Creative by viewers, but Twitch is actually partnering with another major creative company to get the new endeavor off the ground. Adobe, the company behind Photoshop and plenty of other art-oriented software, is serving as an official sponsor for the launch. The channel has been featured near the top of the Twitch Creative page for the past week. Adobe is bringing in some of the world's best Photoshop wizards as well as popular Twitch streamers to showcase and teach art techniques using its software. Artists are demonstrating everything from how to create storybook art to how to illustrate graphics for video games.
MissCoookiez was one of the Twitch streamers that partnered with Adobe for the Twitch Creative launch, but long-time Twitch viewers know she was one of the first streamers to pull in a large audience due to her artwork. She's an avid League of Legends gamer, but frequently keeps her webcam enlarged so that viewers can see her working on her next art project in between League matches.
She's done drawings and paintings of everything from her favorite video game characters to portraits of other famous streamers. She also has a series of videos on her YouTube page where she provides an educational series on drawing.
LethalFrag rose to fame on Twitch thanks to his daily streaming over the course of two full years. He started steaming on January 5, 2012 and did not take a single day off until the start of 2014, streaming for at least two hours each day.
He is primarily known for playing video games, but he is also known to have a creative side. Towards the end of 2012, he launched a popular series called Cooking with Frag, where he simply teaches viewers how to cook or bake some his favorite dishes. He had to receive special permission from Twitch to start this project back then since it wasn't gaming content, but the project ended up being an early creative success for the site.
Frag is also known as an aficionado of traditional pinball machines and regularly streams himself cleaning or restoring the multiple machines he owns. He was able to turn this hobby into a successful Kickstarter following the end of his two-year streaming challenge.
Gonzossm streams gameplay and his creative work every Wednesday and Friday at 5 p.m. MTD. His favorite games include League of Legends and Minecraft, but most viewers tune in for his professional-grade artwork and videos. His setup includes a Yiynova Tablet combined with Macromedia Flash Pro and Adobe Flash CC that he uses to create elaborate digital drawings and animations live on stream, while providing educational commentary along the way.
He's also known for creating short films based around his favorite games, which can be found on his YouTube page.
Okolnir's artwork has a primary focus on comic illustrations and manga, as evidenced by her Deviant Art page. Most work is done in Photoshop with a Cintiq tablet. Okolnir frequently offers tutorials and timelapses on manga creation techniques like cel shading.
R1ish is a licensed tattoo artist in Minnesota who sometimes streams his work live from his tattoo shop. He can't always interact with the chat while he's working, but he'll often jump on the stream after each tattoo is complete and answer viewer questions about what it was like to draw the new tat.
Twitch Music is actually it's own separate channel on the site and it launched more than a year before Twitch Creative. That said, the page sometimes features musicians composing their latest tracks or providing educational classes on how to play the piano, guitar and other instruments. Twitch stated with the launch of Creative that it wants the Music channel to be more performance oriented with Twitch Creative being used for the creation process. That said, viewers are still likely to find a little of both happening on Twitch Music.
When Twitch Music launched in the summer of 2014, the company celebrated with a livestream of DJ Steve Aoki performing live in Pacha Ibiza.
The above streamers and channels provide only a glimpse of the wide variety of content that is being streamed on Twitch Creative. There are thousands of streamers broadcasting on the platform and it will likely take some time for some of the better streams to rise to the top since it's so new. But the Twitch Creative FAQ makes clear that just about anything "creative" is welcome on the site, whether that's a filmmaker working on some video editing, a writer putting his or next script into Final Draft or someone choreographing a new dance routine. Twitch also provides a FAQ on how to get started streaming for those interested.