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"Tactilism" and why it should be important to you

fingers making art

In my days at art school I made up my own art movement.

I briefly researched to see if it was something that someone else had already discovered or done.

It had been done- but fleetingly back in the 1900’s and it was 2010- so the world was ready ( I assumed) for an update on Tactilism.

My version of Tactilism is about the necessity of process through material, it is all about getting dirt under nails, paint splattered on skin, feeling the texture of textiles or the click of the camera under your fingertip.

In high school art class before I would leave for the day my friend and I would pour white glue from the jug purposely down the side of the plastic container.

The goal with this was to come back the next day and marvel at how the glue had dried and proceed to peel it off.

We were obsessed with the tactile transformation that occurred and we loved the feeling of peeling the glue, only to start the dripping and drying process all over again.

But why is tactilism important to you, you may be asking?

In learning about art and the world , the greatest value comes in exploring.

The most important part of this learning is the process; discovering what your material does rather than reaching for the outcome.

Instead of trying to create a sculpture of a dragon out of clay why not first understand how to use your clay.

Spend time with it, get to know it intimately.

By focusing on process over product our understanding of a material unfolds naturally.

It promotes self exploration, we make our own way, our own discoveries rather than looking around to see what outcome someone else reached (and inevitably comparing our work to theirs).

By exploring without an endpoint in mind we learn to enjoy where we’re at, to pause with our hands dirty or wet or covered in paint, even if just for a moment.


Choose a material- something that you can get your hands into.

It can be anything- sand, dirt, clay, dough- spend some time exploring your material with your hands, close your eyes and feel it.

What does it feel like?

What do you want to do with it?

What could you do with it?

What does it remind you of?

Record your discoveries!

Share them with us by using the tag #tactilism on instagram!

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