Bob Ross and the Importance of Creativity.


Recently, Twitch.TV has celebrated a new section of their livestreaming website, by offering up something strange – a marathon of “The Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross.

The success of the series comes from Bob Ross and his calm demeanor, joyfully painting away landscapes and encouraging viewers at home to join along, even if they aren’t that skilled in painting.

As a gimmick, it really did help Twitch get a pull in audience, either out of nostalgia for the 11-year old PBS series, or out of “irony” because it isn’t video games, which is what is expected from Twitch.

Personally, I saw it more as a “calm” under all the chaos of Twitch. A normal day at Twitch involves a livestream of a video game championship, while two or three popular streamers have a chat show. The inflections are loud, the noise in the background is loud because of either the video games or the audience. And a sudden push to this channel, and you get nothing in the background, just the sound of Bob Ross and his paintbrush.

It’s a palette-cleanser for the livestream audience, and it’s also a great way to finally introduce something that has been going on for decades now – drawing streams.

Since as long as I could remember, livestreams have always had one “style” that was unlike any other – showcasing digital art.

No matter what time of day, there was always somebody drawing something on the internet for everybody to see, rather it was fanart of an anime character or someone from a video game, to their own original characters and stories, it’s always amazing to see how long it takes to create art, even if it’s just one panel from a comic book.

And what I am expecting is that Twitch wants to have the audience of Tumblr and DeviantArt as well, and get these artists to show-off their art to a greater audience. And having their audience be able to chat and interact with the artists (or fans of the series) in the chatroom as well.

In addition, it might be a better way for artists to make money thanks to the “subscribe” feature Twitch implemented. Besides crowdfunded websites like Patreon and the usual Paypal donation link, that might be able for viewers who want to support an artist without wanting anything in return.

The only thing that might be questionable is the rules of conduct and rather or not Twitch can beef up their administrators for the lengthy homophobic comments that could come from the chatroom, and the need to stifle the creativity.

So far, from looking at the creative portion of the website, I am seeing a ton of great things, from people making fanart, to people performing on violin, to glassblowing to perler art of 8-bit video game characters. It’s showing me the internet is very creative, as long as you give them a place to show it off.

The next step for Twitch is probably to spin-off the livestreaming process to have more streaming media concepts, like a livestream that’s nothing but a different word every hour, or maybe a new concept that allows people to actually build IKEA furniture, not just “make furniture”.

And now to look forward to the live-stream of tattoo shops across the entire world, and see what kinds of designs people are getting, only for the chatroom to be all “salt” when someone gets an arrow tattoo.