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Virtual Museum Exhibits/ VOMA

Virtual museums expand the exhibit

Virtual Museum Exhibits/ VOMA
Virtual museum exhibit// courtesy of VOMA

Virtual museums expand the exhibit

A virtual museum called VOMA (Virtual Online Museum of Art) is pushing the boundaries of what can be shown in a museum… namely, pieces from all around the world or ones that don’t even exist anymore. With VR technology making VOMA even more interactive, top physical museums may even create their own digital destinations in order to house all the art they’ve displayed over the years.

Start the art
Museums are undergoing a digital revolution.

  • Developed by British artist Stuart Semple, VOMA is an online museum made using Unreal Engine that recreates the in-person museum experience.
  • The museum, which can be rearranged and expanded endlessly, is free to visit, includes “two large galleries full of art, an outdoor sculpture pavilion, and an artist space for performance pieces.”

VOMA currently features a Banksy piece on a wall in Palestine, a Diego Rivera fresco from NYC that was destroyed, and a reconstructed Monumental Arch of Palmyra from Syria, which ISIS destroyed in 2015.

Cross your 1s, dot your 0s
Even in a virtual landscape, Semple and his team are following all the same protocols any physical museum would have to. According to Wired, “copyright and image rights organizations like DACS are involved, as are artists’ estates, which means color reproduction, framing, and lighting are scrutinized by multiple parties, much as they would be with a physical loan.” That means patrons can expect the same level of care as they would at any other destination.

VOMA may still only average 500 visitors a day, but with the right outreach, VOMA could attract a worldwide crowd… and no one ever has to stand in line.

AI and automation could take over human jobs in the future

The jobs AI won’t take

AI and automation could take over human jobs in the future
AI comes for human jobs

The jobs AI won’t take

In the very near future, nearly every human worker will have a new colleague: artificial intelligence. Some job displacement is inevitable, but that will only shift the focus to work that requires uniquely human qualities, like social and emotional intelligence, imagination, and creativity. The people that will excel in the coming economy may be the ones who prepare themselves for jobs that only a human can do.

Mind work
AI and automation are coming for jobs… but that doesn’t mean you’ll be without one. Fast Company has some ideas:

  • Focus on human intelligence. Different from the hard-knowledge intelligence of AI systems, humans excel at creativity and social and emotional intelligence. Jobs of the future will put a premium on these qualities.
  • Make AI better. Instead of fighting AI, humans can constantly make AI better and act as a final arbiter on decisions or tasks made by the tech. At the end of the day, someone will need to answer why AI behaves the way it does.
  • Allow tech to connect. Not from tech to tech, but human to human. AI can help catalyze language translation and work collaboration much more efficiently, acting as a powerful augment to interpersonal communication.
  • Imagination reigns supreme. With AI set to increase productivity by an estimated 40% in the U.S., people will have more time to focus on jobs that value imaginative work, such as the arts, philosophy, and politics.

At the end of the day, the rise of AI will (hopefully) not be an “us vs. them” paradigm, but instead, the next evolution in humans working alongside technology to work — in the words of Daft Punk — “harder, better, faster, stronger.”

TikTok and Snapchat beat out Instagram as teens’ favorite platforms

Teenagers may be scrolling past Instagram

TikTok and Snapchat beat out Instagram as teens’ favorite platforms
Instagram// Illustration by Kate Walker

Teenagers may be scrolling past Instagram

Instagram is struggling to keep teenagers interested in the platform, as many of them are decamping to competitors like TikTok and Snapchat for communication and entertainment. Instagram has been doubling down for years to win them back, to no avail. Getting kids back on Instagram might be a losing battle, but Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to shift to a metaverse company could do the trick.

Pipeline people

Instagram has a teenager problem.

  • According to a recent study, TikTok and Snapchat beat out Instagram as teens’ favorite platforms.
  • Overall, teen usage is down, with the typical three-to-four hours a day (double that of adults) spent on the platform dipping.
  • Instagram is very aware of the issue, with leaked internal documents stating that “if we lose the teen foothold in the U.S., we lose the pipeline.”
  • Since 2018, Instagram has used most of its global marketing budget ($390 million this year) to target teens — specifically 13 through 15-year-olds that the company calls “early high school.”

The slip in numbers puts into perspective why Instagram is so bullish on creating its controversial Instagram for Kids. Those plans were put on hold after the company faced backlash from documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen, which revealed that teen girls reported an increase in body image issues after using Insta.

Kid challenge

While Instagram still has a larger user base than TikTok and Snapchat… an Instagram strategy document from last year admitted that the other platforms (including YouTube) are gaining popularity because “these apps offer things that Instagram is less known for — communication interests and entertainment.”

Art Trends of 2021

Every generation is marked by specific fashion, styling, and art movements. These trends seem to arrive quickly and disappear before anyone has a chance to notice that they’re already hopelessly outdated.

However, trends like fashion and art have a tendency to be circular: Young millennials mocked their mothers’ high-waisted pants. But the next thing you know, everyone was filing into their local mall in search of “mom jeans” or the “dad hat,” which was briefly a faux pax when flat bill snapbacks were the rage (The coolest kids knew to leave the sticker on the underside of the hat brim).

Just like fashion, art goes through trends as well. Pop art, impressionism, surrealism, and more all resurface now and again. Each time they change and evolve as artists react to the world around them. Even when art nods to the past, it is still something new to behold. Interestingly, these trends are morphing faster than ever before, thanks to internet culture.

Read on to learn more about the top art trends of 2021.

Street Art

Street art and graffiti have come a long way. Its origins are clearly inspired and rooted in prehistoric cave paintings and went from illegal tagging to the high art form it is today. Modern street art is a direct descendant of graffiti and is now often commissioned and completely legal.

Early History of Street Art

The medium of street art has changed and evolved quite a bit. It’s no longer considered just spray painting a wall in an alley. Street art now includes sculptures, performance art, and much more. One of the main qualifiers to be considered within the medium is that the piece or performance should be in public. 

However, even that “requirement” has started to change as art galleries display spray-painted murals, and it’s becoming increasingly popular. Graffiti artists have gotten a bad rap over the years because they often create their work in legal grey areas. 

Recently, cities have adapted to this particular art form by providing blank concrete walls for people to freely spray on, which has largely worked. Instead of random buildings and alleys getting tagged, these parks provide a cultural space of free expression.

The Art District in Los Angeles has multiple building owners that offer their walls for artists to create stunning and impressive murals. It’s been nothing short of a success with reports of increased business thanks to sightseers who spread the word through social media and viral photos.

Street Art in 2021

The style and techniques of street art, specifically graffiti-style murals, have heavily advanced. New artists are making a name for themselves with some unbelievable work in 2021. 

Some of the best work in the world can be found in Bushwick, New York. Much of the street art scene in Queens was destroyed by a real estate project, so Bushwick became the new street art epicenter. 

There are even walking tours you can take through certain areas to see the best work. A great place to visit is the Graffiti Hall of Fame that not only features famous pieces by famous artists but also pieces by lesser-known artists. The Hall is consistently updated with new work. 

Art Inspired By Nature 

Trends in art change regularly, but these artists are being inspired by the natural world around them and the problems that they see in it. 

Banksy

You’ve seen their work even if you don’t know their name. Banksy is an anonymous artist who is known for their paintings, sculptures, and stenciled graffiti art found around the world. As an artist, Banksy and their works are critical of politics and capitalism. 

Most of Banksy’s street art is completely unannounced and has to be randomly discovered by passersby. It’s likely they create their work in the middle of the night to avoid detection. In the earlier years of their career, Banksy’s street art was not viewed kindly by the British government. 

However, Banksy’s work brought in significant sums from gawking art collectors and tourists traveling to the United Kingdom to witness these unique creations. The local government is now encouraging street artists to hopefully uncover the next Banksy and the next great piece of art.

Earlier this year, a possible Banksy mural was found on a wall in an English coastal town. The piece features three small boys playing as sailors in a piece of scrap metal with the words “We’re all in the same boat” above them. 

Two of the boys are looking ahead while one is taking a bucket and trying to stop the boat from sinking. This piece is believed to be a message about environmentalism and the importance of a unified approach to fighting climate change. 

Qi Lei

Born in 1986, Qi Lei is a contemporary artist who has earned a lot of praise in the abstract and nature-oriented space. He combines vibrant colors with traditional methods of Chinese landscape paintings. 

His oil paintings, like The Swimming Pool in Summer, feature striking compositions and have a liveliness that is rarely seen in concert with the two styles. Lei’s work is world-renowned. His exhibits have been displayed all over China, and he maintains a popular online presence. 

Qi Lei’s latest solo exhibition, “Stalker,” was revealed in 2019, but he continues to create in 2021.

Making Social Statements

There’s also a running trend today of using art to comment on social problems. 

Mark Jenkins

Art has amazing superpowers. It can instill a variety of emotions in the viewers. Not everyone has the same experience when seeing the Mona Lisa that the other tourists in the Louvre do. However, there is a general reaction with one street artist: and it’s not the warm and fuzzy feelings that Norman Rockwell’s 50-year career engenders.

Mark Jenkins, a Virginia native, creates statues and 3-D public art that shocks, awes, and hopes to inspire change. In a recent interview, Jenkins told Insider that his intention isn’t to scare viewers. His public sculptures ranged from a figure tied to several balloons, appearing to drown in a Swedish river, or a figure of a man leaning into a Washington D.C. wall, with his head disappearing into the bricks.

Much of his recent art is intended to bring light and resources to suicide prevention, especially in male demographics underserved by traditional mental health services.

Ai Wei Wei

Another artist that has shown themselves to be an activist is Ai Wei Wei. Part of the Excessivism movement, he focuses on human rights issues, often making use of multiple mediums like video, porcelain, and sculpture. 

Ai grew up in China, in a remote corner of the north-west after his father was exiled. His art isn’t the only way that he demonstrates his activism—he also investigates government corruption, and is openly critical of the government. 

One of his most famous pieces is called Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, and it’s a collection of three images of him allowing an ancient urn fall and break. While this is one of the more well-known pieces, he’s a fairly prolific artist.  

Virtual Exhibits

Not all artists get a popular reception when they first burst on the scene. However, decades or hundreds of years later, a more modern audience sits up and takes notice. 

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this is Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Famous for (as one prevalent theory states) selling only one painting (Red Vineyard at Arles) during his lifetime, Van Gogh is now one of the most revered and celebrated artists ever. 

In case viewers can’t see an authentic Van Gogh in a museum, now the museum is coming to them. No, there isn’t an armored car carrying dozens of priceless paintings; one would only need to walk into the Van Gogh Exhibition: An Immersive Showcase. Traveling to over 20 temporary locations, with this exhibit, viewers can walk right into a painting.

The combination of 15,000 screens, 500,000 cubic feet of projections, 60,600 frames of video, and 90,000,000 pixels create a 360-degree virtual reality experience where patrons can scroll through Van Gogh’s greatest works. Aided by music and shifting images, patrons experience everything from Starry Night and the Sunflowers.

Art in the Digital Age: How It’s Changing Things

With the rise of social media, the way we have consumed art has radically changed. If you go to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, you would be lucky to see past the barricades of cell phones and cameras. 

The advent of the internet created some of the best ways to stay up to date with new and changing trends. Museums can use social media to promote new artists and exhibits, drawing in record audiences to experience the beauty their fellow humans can create. During the Covid-19 pandemic, with virtual museums, people at home during lockdowns could visit any museum in the world with a simple click.

On the other hand, social media has created the need for proof of experience. People snap pictures of art to post on their own Instagram or Facebook to prove they were there. This trend of photographing and the capacity of others to reproduce public art might have far-reaching implications for street artists. 

For example, over the past several years, Bansky has tried to trademark his works to no avail. The courts of the European Union have decreed that since his art was created in public spaces (coupled with his anonymous identity), he cannot claim a trademark over his iconic images. This poses a potential risk for all street artists. 

Changing Art Trends

Art has long since adapted alongside our changing technological landscape. From different ways of creating paints to the use of technology in graphic design, technology and art coexist in a delicate balance. 

Art trends come and go. With the technology of the future, who can truly say what is going to happen next?

 

Sources:

A Brief History of Graffiti: A Look at 5 Modern Graffiti Artists – 2021 | MasterClass

An Artist Is Leaving Faceless Sculptures in Cities Around the World | Insider

Did Van Gogh Sell Only One Painting During His Life? | ThoughtCo

The ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ exhibition is coming to L.A. to devour your social feed | Time Out

Banksy trademark ‘at risk’ after street artist loses legal battle | The Guardian 

TikTok, iPhone, & more partner with Museum's

Museums debut brand partnerships to lure Gen Z

TikTok, iPhone, & more partner with Museum's
Courtesy of Off-White.

Museums debut brand partnerships to lure Gen Z

Like any business, art museums are turning to brand partnerships as a way to create new revenue streams and lure younger patrons to their exhibits. The gambit is already working, which may show that even the most bourgeois of cultural destinations are not immune to the opportunities of crossover marketing.

A little new, a lot of old
Museums are betting that partnerships with popular brands will shake out the cobwebs as the pandemic wanes.

  • Fashion. The Met collaborated with Estée Lauder on a makeup line inspired by artwork. The Louvre collabed with Virgil Abloh’s Off-White on tee’s and hoodies. And MoMA teamed up with Vans on footwear inspired by artists like Monet and Dalí.
  • Streaming services. The Brooklyn Museum partnered with Netflix on a virtual exhibition of pieces from The Crown and The Queen’s Gambit that were shown alongside items related to the show’s setting or characters.
    • Social platforms. Uffizi Gallery — one of the most popular destinations in Florence, Italy — saw its Gen Z attendance double once it started to use TikTok.
    • Snacks. Most deliciously, the Palace Museum in Beijing partnered with Oreo on a limited edition cookie. The museum made $222 million through product sales alone in 2018.

    Last year, visitor numbers to the top 100 art museums dropped by 77%, and now museums seem to be dusting off every trick in the book to get people back.

NEW YORK, USA - SEP 25, 2015: Picture gallery in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met), the largest art museum in the United States of America

Why Is Art Important?

Human beings have an incredible capacity for complex language, but sometimes the things we want to express can’t be put into words. This is where art, and all its forms, come in. It is the language of the self. Without art, humanity would likely crumble. 

Windows Into the Past

Art is an amazing method of transporting yourself to different times and perspectives. Just by picking up and reading an old journal or book or engaging with an old painting, you are opening a portal. Literature and other kinds of works are like abstract wormholes for our imaginations to explore. 

Prehistoric Art

Culture is the method human beings use to communicate with members of our kind from the past. Ancient cave paintings, sculptures, and pottery can teach us about how people lived and what they thought. 

It’s likely that our modern interpretation of what art is may be rooted in ancient forms of communication and the transfer of knowledge. Ancient cave paintings from thousands of years ago give us a glimpse into how ancient people thrived in their environments. 

The oldest examples of cave art that we have discovered so far dates back 65,000 years. That’s when Neanderthals were still walking around. Most of the cave art we’ve found is less than 40,000 years old and was made by Homo Sapiens. 

All kinds of animals from the Ice Age have been depicted in cave paintings, like horses, mammoths, deer, and even saber tooth tigers. Most of the pieces found were painted with black and red pigments from stones and sediments. 

Not all ancient cave artwork was painted. Some examples were actually carved into the rock walls with tools. The meaning behind cave art has been a subject of debate among scientists for a long time. Some say that it may have been a practice conducted by shamans on spiritual journeys. 

There have been symbols found to be repeated across cave locations, hinting at the possibility of some of the earliest forms of graphic communication. Paleolithic art can help us have a better understanding of our species and how our minds evolved. 

Artistic remnants of the past are integrated into our technology today. The common asterisk symbol can be traced back to European caves of the Ice Age. 

Historical Works and Styles

You may have taken an art history class in school and might have pondered the subject’s importance. Why bother deep-diving the music, literature, sculptures, and paintings? The works of the past have ripple effects that permeate our culture today. 

The Renaissance is a wonderful example of a time where art was the driving force for innovation and cultural advancement. Thanks to countless artists and works, we have a relatively clear view of what life was like in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 

The contents of paintings and writings are not the only elements to pay attention to. The styles utilized can give some pretty interesting insight into people’s thought processes and perspectives. 

Thanks to popular culture, many believe that English men and women of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries spoke very similarly to modern people, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, you would barely be able to understand English speakers in the fifteenth century, if you weren’t used to the old-fashioned language. 

Regarding contents, much of the literature and paintings made back then were heavy on religious themes, and that is reflective of those times. Catholicism was at the forefront of daily life and culture. 

Creating Our Mark on the World

Art is a way of speaking from the past and to the future. Something that no other species can do. In the age of the internet, everyone’s art can be experienced and saved for future generations. 

The downside of historic artwork is that we can’t see all of it because we can only enjoy the work that has survived. Many pieces throughout history will never get to be seen because of wars, accidents, and acts of god. 

With new technology comes new mediums of art to experiment in, like movies and video games. Art is becoming more and more difficult to describe and define. It has evolved in ways we never expected. 

Even though there are new platforms for artists to experiment and innovate on, some of the classic mediums will seemingly thrive regardless of the times. Today’s painters have created stunning works that are worthy of preservation. 

Artists like Jenny Saville have created stunning work that will likely be studied and appreciated for generations to come. Depending on style and subject matter, paintings can capture what the artist was feeling, not just what looks interesting.

A Modern Form of Art: NFTs

An NFT, or a non-fungible token, is a modern form of art that’s taking the world by storm. They’re unique, digital pieces of art that are part of the Ethereum blockchain. They can be literally anything—from images of wine bottles to GIFs. It’s the next step of fine art collecting, and there’s huge money in this field. 

Economics

Art is not just a distinct and separate part of the economy. It is integrated into nearly every aspect of all markets. Think about that the next time you see an advertisement that has nothing to do with art. Someone had to direct that commercial, and someone had to create those animations. 

The Financial Impacts of the Arts

Artists need to be used in just about every part of the goods and services we consume. A large chunk of what we buy and the services we pay for rely on artists. Every movie, videogame, song, and trading card you consume was made possible by talented people. 

Even things like cars first had to be commissioned and sculpted by people who can paint, draw, and carve out the designs we see on the road. Unfortunately, there is a huge disconnect between what artists create versus how much money they usually make. 

The Dark Side of the Art Dealings

Many artists are given the shaft after creating a piece or set of pieces. H.R. Giger, the artist famous for creating the “biomechanics” style, was responsible for the design of one of the most famous movie monsters in history. 

Alien (1979) was a groundbreaking sci-fi horror movie with creature designs that shook people to their cores. H.R. Giger was given credit for his artistic contributions to the first two Alien films. However, he was not given proper credit for his designs in Alien 3 (1992). 

According to Mr. Giger, 20th Century Fox was supposed to credit Giger as the creature designer but was credited as “Original Creature Design.” This distinction caused Giger not to be eligible for that year’s Oscar nomination. 

Things like this are far too common in not just the film industry but in the artist industry as a whole. There is also a huge problem of artists either getting paid very little or not at all. Musicians are struggling to make money with new streaming platforms

Have you ever seen a seemingly ordinary painting bought for an extraordinary amount of money? There is a possibility that it was used for money laundering. These schemes are often utilized by people who want to evade sanctions and other international financial laws. 

Expression and Thought Provocation

Art is a uniquely human way of expressing complex emotions and creativity. It is created not just for work but as a form of meditation and stress relief. Artistic expression is important, no matter the skill level of the individual or the medium.

Neuroscience

Scientists say that creating art is beneficial to our brains in many ways, like preventing memory loss and building cognitive strengths. It also activates the reward area of your brain, giving you feelings of accomplishment. 

A new type of therapy is on the rise; art therapy. It’s used to help people of all ages with stress, depression, and anxiety. There is a reason why wine painting classes are so popular. Creating something can help process our emotions and have a better outlook on life. 

Experiencing art can have similar effects. Sitting down and absorbing a painting at a museum is a tranquil experience. It’s also really fun to play the latest video game and appreciate the sheer level of detail. 

Even the architecture that you drive past every day had to be designed by someone with an artistic vision. With art therapy, the therapist might ask the patient some questions while they’re creating a piece. They might inquire about the patient’s feelings about the process and so on. 

After the piece is considered finished, the therapist will ask further about the experience and provide observations about the patient’s emotional state. Decoding abstract messaging in art is a difficult task, and it requires a high level of skill in both therapy and art. 

Humans Need Art

Art is a vital part of the human experience. It’s entertainment, a profession, a form of therapy, and so much more. Some say that artistic expression is the language of the soul. Not everything we feel can translate into a written or verbal language. 

 

 

Sources:

Cave Paintings Found in Spain | National Geographic

Renaissance | Britannica

What Happens In Your Brain When You Make Art | NPR

The Cheapest States to Live In

With the rising costs of homes, Americans are keener on savings than ever before. Houses that were once considered average homes for the middle class are now being seen as luxuries. There are still a few states where homes are affordable and in good condition. 

Shift in Priorities

The 2008 financial crisis was thought to be a once-in-a-generation event that we would recover from. That didn’t turn out to be the case at all. It’s arguable to call this generation of young Americans to be the unluckiest generation in modern history

The Economic Challenges of Housing

After WWII, the greatest generation built a foundation for the economy and handed it to baby boomers on a silver platter. Things were going great with some of the highest recorded growth in economic history. America was booming. 

The housing market was seen as the foundation for much of the American economy for decades after WWII. Houses were plentiful and cheap. Low-skill jobs, like factory work, paid well, and the cost of higher education was also cheap. 

Millennials were told and shown by their parents how normal, middle-class life was supposed to look like; a house with a white picket fence and 2.5 kids. Then, in 2008, when many millennials were graduating high school and college, the housing market crashed. 

Jobs were scarce, pay was low, and college was astronomically more expensive compared to when baby boomers went to college. Because of this, millennials took lower-paying jobs and took fewer risks, choosing not to start a business or have children. 

Then, Covid-19 hit in 2020. There is no way to put it lightly; this ongoing event decimated the economy and has destroyed countless lives. Just when we thought the worst economic event since the Great Depression was in the rearview mirror, something worse comes along. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, housing prices have skyrocketed out of control. Because of a labor shortage and higher costs of materials, few houses are being built. Job relocations have partly driven people from the cities to the suburbs

High demand and low inventory created the perfect storm for would-be home buyers. Millennials are a generation of mostly renters, and with the rising prices of homes, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better. 

WFH Is Giving Us a Choice

There is one silver lining to the pandemic. Because of the surge in the Work From Home business model, many people no longer necessarily have to live near their work. People can live pretty much wherever there is internet access now. 

WFH cut out daily commutes and the costs associated with it, like vehicle maintenance and gas. There are certainly challenges and downsides to working remotely, though. People have to contend with internet disruptions, children, etc. 

There are a few obstacles that make people hesitant about moving to a new area or a new state altogether. First is the cost of moving. Packing up and moving to a new place can easily cost thousands of dollars and time off of work. 

Another deterrent is the possibility of employers pulling the rug out from under people and forcing them back to the office. We already see this happening with some companies that only embraced WFH as a temporary measure. 

Companies have made it very clear that WFH isn’t great for every single type of job. It would be incredibly risky to move to a new place away from the office without a WFH guarantee. 

It’s also difficult for some of us to move because it would mean leaving friends and family. Many people have families in more expensive parts of the country and are later priced out of being able to live in the neighborhoods they grew up in. 

If you are willing to move and have a flexible job that allows WFH permanently, moving to another state with more affordable housing may be the right play to make. Luckily, there are many areas in the US that are still within financial reach. 

Lowest Real Estate Costs

Much of the best properties for sale are in the Southern states. The number one reason why southern states have such inexpensive real estate is simple; there are fewer people. A lower population means lower demand for housing. 

Big cities are not more expensive because they are of higher quality. They are expensive to live in because of high populations and high demand. A lot of people want to live in the same spaces, but land is not something you print more of. 

Why Buy Cheap Property?

One of the biggest advantages of investing in a low-cost home is that it will likely only rise in value. It’s projected that millennials and younger generations will not be as financially well off as their parents, so low-cost housing will rise in demand. 

Larger and more expensive homes may not necessarily rise in value in the future because it’s unclear if the demand will match the supply. So, that area of the market will likely fluctuate. Homes for the middle and lower class are virtually guaranteed to rise in value. 

Another reason to buy cheap is to keep your mortgage payments as low as possible. In this day and age of job insecurity, you never know if your income will be slashed by unexpected layoffs or big life changes. 

Doing so will allow for easier budgeting on additions and repairs to a home. Having to replace or fix things, even in new homes, is almost a certainty. You might as well save by having a lower mortgage. This will also minimize the interest you’ll have to pay off. 

Having to pay a lower down payment will also take a load off your shoulders when comparing homes. A lower down payment means more money left over for a rainy day. It’s a good way to lower your financial risks. 

You will be dealing with a lot less competition for cheaper properties. Less expensive property is, by association, less desirable because it’s often in less than ideal areas of the country. 

Least Expensive Houses in America

West Virginia has the lowest home values in the country, with an estimated median value of about $115,000 to $120,000. However, those numbers are steadily rising and showing no sign of slowing down. 

This state has a lot to offer. There is a lot of history and the seasons are very beautiful, especially autumn. A big perk to living there is the national parks. The Appalachian Trail is a wonderful source of free outdoor fun. 

Mississippi Is also a great state to find inexpensive homes. The median price for a house is about $140,000. The cheapest cities are Jackson and Greenville. Rent is also fairly low, but Mississippi is rapidly getting more expensive. 

Home prices have surged approximately 17% in the last five years. The state still has the lowest living costs in the country, though. Costs for homes are expected to go up because of the rise in material costs, buyer interest, and competition. 

Arkansas is another promising prospect for good deals. The median price of a house is just under $150,000, and the cost of living is far below the national average. Things like healthcare and public transportation are decently below the national average as well. 

Despite the higher costs of houses, the average cost to rent is actually a little bit lower in Arkansas than in Mississippi. 

Be Careful What You Buy

There are all kinds of risks associated with buying a house, no matter where you are or how much it costs. Keep in mind that cheap houses are cheap for a reason. A good way to get a feeling for a neighborhood is to simply ask your would-be neighbors what they think of the area.

They can give you a keen insight into the pros and cons of the neighborhood. Ask questions about the crime rates, HOA benefits, and the quality of the local businesses. How they respond will inform your decision greatly. 

There could be major problems uncovered that your research didn’t tell you about. Maybe the HOA doesn’t do a good job of maintaining plumbing systems or issues involving the local schools and universities.  

Your would-be neighbors can also tell you the positives of the area you’re looking in. Maybe traffic is much lower than the state’s average, or the neighborhood has an annual block party that everyone goes to. 

Once More Unto the Savings

Some of the cheapest states to live in have a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty and quality of living. If you are willing to move to a southern state, you can save big on a home or rental and get a lot more for your money. 

Houses in states like Mississippi have homes that are relatively new and much larger compared to what you would get for the same amount of money in a coastal state. 

 

 

Sources:

Millennials are the unluckiest generation in US history | Washington Post

Implications Of Bringing Employees Back To The Office | Forbes

Those Surging Home Prices May Not (Totally) Be A Bubble | NPR

What Will Future Houses Look Like?

In the last few years, we’ve seen nearly every technology get a “smart” makeover. Appliances we didn’t even realize could or should get hooked up to the internet are suddenly responsive to an app on your phone.

Did you know they make smart litter boxes now? They self-clean. Seriously.

Products like these are only becoming more popular and, importantly, more affordable. And as it’s hard to go back once you’ve started relying on smart products, we have to wonder what houses of the future will look like.

Is there a world where everything around us is automated? Can we live in smart houses? At a time where climate change is already delivering its devastating effects, how can we build houses that both help the Earth and withstand disaster?

Well, our team at The Future Party took a spin around the internet to see what’s being developed for homes of the future. Some are more science-fiction than others, but all are pretty eye-opening about where we’re headed. Ready to start decorating for the 2030s and beyond? Keep reading for our predictions.

Everything Will Be Smart: The Internet of Things Will Only Expand

Coined in 1999, the Internet of Things refers to the connectivity between human beings and the objects around them. It’s the technology that empowers us to turn on air conditioners before we get home, set the mood with colored light settings, and see who’s knocking on our doors without getting up from the couch.

Think about the objects around you that are currently hooked up to the internet. Five years ago, that may have just been your phone and your computer. Today, that list may include your doorbell, your refrigerator, or your vacuum cleaner. More and more, manufacturing companies are looking to install ‘smart’ capabilities into their products. These tools allow us to operate the products remotely, get reports on their efficiencies and errors, and save ourselves from some manual labor.

It’s a safe bet that homes of the future will consider this standard practice. So let’s explore what we can expect to start seeing in listings.  

Home Security

This is a trend we’re already seeing everywhere, and it’s only going to become more prevalent. After utilities (water and electricity meters), the security industry is the second biggest use of internet-enabled devices. 

In other words, expect to be monitored every time you step foot onto someone’s property. Facial recognition technology will also enable homeowners to use their faces to unlock doors, rather than using keys.

Cooling and Heating

You’ve probably already seen this technology at work, too. Google’s Nest thermostat allows homeowners to set their home temperature from their phones. It also knows when you’re not home and adjusts the temperature, so the house is more efficient. Expect more technology like this; anything that helps homes save energy will be huge (even more so than it is now).

Food Storage and Cooking

More and more refrigerators and pantries are being installed with screens so homeowners can order groceries and look up recipes without leaving the kitchen. 

Experts see this type of utility expanding even further, with voice activation technology enabling people to essentially tell their kitchen to prepare their food. Long-term, we may even be able to 3D print our meals, though something tells us a home-cooked meal from mom will always taste better than a 3D-printed one.

Waste Disposal

Remember the litter box from before? Imagine that kind of technology but made for, well, humans. Smart toilets exist, but they’re not yet in widespread use. You can use voice commands to heat up the seat, flush the toilet, and even put the seat down. These also include high-tech cleaning abilities to spare you from having to scrub ever again. 

From our coffee makers to the cars in our garages, everything in the future will be wifi-enabled, BlueTooth-operated, and increasingly automated. 

Preparing For A New World: Building Homes in the Age of Climate Change

As you can see, there’s a lot to look forward to in the future. Personally speaking, we’re definitely ready for self-cleaning toilets. 

But one element we are less excited to meet? The realities of climate change. Simply put, starting now (and what should have been yesterday), all housing needs to meet the demands of the new world. There are two important ways that these demands will change what our homes look like.

1. Environmental Efficiency: Homes Have To Become Greener

If we’re going to do anything to stop or slow the effects of climate change, our houses are going to have to work harder to reduce energy expenditure.

Tesla has been hard at work on their solar roofs for a while now, and we’re expecting this technology to become more commonplace soon. More sleekly designed than solar panels of the past, these tiles can power your entire house. And while the technology itself costs a pretty penny, once installed, they’re actually less expensive than most people’s monthly electricity bill. You’re also likely to be eligible for tax incentives.

Beyond electricity, homes of the future will also work harder to conserve heat and reduce energy waste. Within the walls and on the floorboards, you’re more likely to see engineered and 3D-printed materials that need less frequent replacing. Which is a perfect segue to… 

2. Resistance to Extreme Weather: Homes Have to Deal With Unpredictable Storms

Houses of the future are going to need to withstand more weather, no matter where they’re located. While we can’t know what the future will bring, we do know that more moisture in the air will lead to more storms. So we have to raise the standard for what we deem acceptable when we say “up to code.”

Expect to see fire-proof and earthquake-proof bunkers included in home listings. At the very least, you should see flood and storm insurance rates increase. That’s the cost of living in the future. 

Okay, But Where’s The Floating House I Was Promised?

We know you may have been hoping for a more glamorous future, and we can’t blame you. Building homes to resist the impact of climate change is not the happiest topic and so we offer this section as a reprieve.

In 2016, Samsung released its SmartThings Future Living Report, outlining the potential for housing in the future based on current trends and demands. There, they sketched out something that feels more science-fiction than dystopian thriller. Here are some of the highlights:

  • High rises that dwarf current skyscrapers and house entire cities. These will need to be resistant to heavier winds.
  • Underwater cities in massive bubbles. Imagine a school of fish swimming by your living room. Kinda cool, right?
  • Groundscrapers (high rises that build down rather than up). With space on the Earth’s crust becoming more limited, it may be time to start digging. This also helps with the shelter issues we talked about earlier.
  • Virtual office and remote meetings. As this report was released in 2016, Samsung could not have predicted the prevalence of remote work today. Now that the world has gone remote, we’re unlikely to ever return to offices in the same numbers.
  • Colonies on the face of the Moon and Mars. This, in addition to commercial space flight, is actually looking more and more like a reality. One benefit? We all weigh less up there.

In the five years since Samsung released this report, some of their predictions have been proven and so it’s not a stretch of the imagination to think ground scrapers and underwater cities could be a real possibility for our lifetimes.

Some Last Thoughts On The Future of Homes

In many ways, it feels like we’re on the precipice of a new era in housing and technology. People living today may be the last to remember what it was like to flip a light switch, clean a toilet by hand, or answer the door without already knowing who is there.

While we’re in this limbo, it’s fun (and at times daunting) to consider the possibilities of where we’re headed. We can never know for certain what will happen, but we’re predicting to see:

  • Internet-enabled everything. From the walls around us to our cookware to our cleaning products, in the future, everything will be automated and controlled via remote devices or by our own voices.
  • Climate change adaptivity. As the world around us evolves, housing will need to meet new demands. Expect stricter regulations on energy efficiency standards and construction designed to resist extreme weather.
  • Science-fiction-inspired design. Cities will soar even higher, and we may even see them move underground or underwater. Astronauts will become colonizers on foreign planets and moons, and we may never go back to the office. 


So, are you prepared for what the future holds? If nothing else, we’re excited to check back in a few years and see what we got right and wrong, and The Future Party will keep you updated all the way there.

 

 

Sources:

What is the IoT? Everything you need to know about the Internet of Things right now | ZDNet

4 Designers Envision the Post-Pandemic Kitchen of the Future | Real Simple

Resilient Homes; Why We Need To Build To Withstand Climate Change Events | EcoHome

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1. Environmental Efficiency: Homes Have To Become Greener

Booming trading-card resale market shows the value of nostalgia

Pokémon cards
Booming trading-card resale market shows the value of nostalgia

The Future. Fueled by an increase in savings and boredom during the pandemic, trading cards — baseball, Pokémon, Magic the Gathering — have kicked off an investment gold rush. Mixing money-making with nostalgia is a winning formula… and it may be fueled by the same ideals that turned GameStop into retail traders’ catnip.

Hologram hit
We hope you still have your Pokémon or baseball cards lying around somewhere.

eBay saw a 142% surge in sales for sports, non-sport trading cards, and collectible card games in 2020.

Sales were up 4,000% on StockX, even though that site is mostly dedicated to streetwear and sneakers.

Mercari saw a 405% increase in 2020.

Pokémon has struggled to print enough cards to keep up with demand. StockX co-founder Josh Luber compared these collectible cards to rare Picassos… maybe not in terms of quality, but definitely in terms of supply-and-demand scarcity.

Baby steps
Trading cards have garnered a reputation for both their nostalgia and also their financial value.

eBay's General Manager of Collectibles and Trading Cards Nicole Colombo said that they are “a perfect mesh of something that makes you feel good, but it could also help you make a lot of money.``

Mercari CEO John Lagerling said trading cards are sort of like ``old school Bitcoin(s)`` because they are a “volatile and valuable investment.” But cards also bring joy because they are “a tactile asset that can be enjoyed by their owners before being sold.”

For many, trading cards are an easy first step into an investment because collecting them doesn’t require the same technical know-how of traditional stock trading or hyper-technical crypto, which is why platforms such as Rally are quickly growing in popularity.

gen z

Gen Z FTW

Gen Z is a doozy.

The digital natives born between 1995-2010 are an unpredictable but intriguing group. They consume new media at a terrifying rate, yet they are savvier and more realistic than Millennials. Probably their most identifiable, and admirable, characteristic is their inherent ability to detect BS.

According to Goldman Sachs, Gen Zers are more conservative and prragmatic than Millennials…

  • They are less likely to take abuse at work.

  • They are more practical about money and the value of their labor.

  • They are more likely to view the news with a skeptical eye.

They also happen to make up 32% of the world population—and will control 100% of the future—so we should probably pay close attention to them.

Their Apps

Gen Z loves apps just as much as Millennials… they just like better ones. A recent report from Zebra IQ identified Gen Z’s most used apps and channels. Besides the usual suspects—Twitch, reddit, Tik Tok, imgur—there were also a few surprises.

  • NTWRK: The sneaker drop app for the StockX generation.

  • Unfold. The ultimate aesthetic-booster for better storytelling on Instagram.

  • Brat: Apparently the new MTV?

  • Lomotif: Another Tik Tok for DIY music vids.

They’re also less narcissistic, and more about that action

While just as Instagram-obsessed as Millennials, Gen Z is less focused on self-expression and more focused on giving followers what they want.

  • “It’s not about what you like, it’s about what your audience will like,” says the report.

Perhaps as a reaction against the “famous-for-no-reason” paradigm of the Millennials, they also put a premium on action, responsibility, and DIY success.

So how do you get through to Gen Z? It’s less about aesthetics and more about finding the purpose behind the aesthetics. Take Gen Z Billie Eilish’s new CK ad as an example.

“I never want the world to know everything about me,” she says. “I mean that’s why I wear big baggy clothes: nobody can have an opinion because they haven’t seen what’s underneath, you know?”