What is Vaporwave? Is It Nostalgic?

Recently, I made a post exploring the art type known as Generative Art. Researching that article, naturally, led me down a path of discovery. I’ve found out about so many art styles and genres that I had no idea existed. Because of this, I’m starting, or I guess continuing, a new series in which I discuss various forms of lesser known and fringe art. And as you’ve probably seen from the title, this one is about Vaporwave.

Granted, Vaporwave is actually pretty well known at this point. Thanks to The Simpsons edits and memes, everyone has either seen or heard Vaporwave, whether they know it or not. For me, Vaporwave holds a very special place. It was actually the art style that got me into creating art of my own. You can see some of my very first artworks below.

Those are still, to this day, some of my favourite pieces. Not necessarily because of their design or composition, but because of what they represent. They represent my first steps into the art world, and my first attempt of making artwork of my own.

But, that’s enough about me.

So, what is Vaporwave?

The best way I can describe the Vaporwave art style is nostalgic. Often times, this style will use imagery from the 1980s and 1990s, and utilize a VHS style of glitching. When looking at this art style, you’ll also see a lot of Greco-Roman imagery, and a lot, and I mean a LOT of often badly translated Japanese. More elements are also typically present a piece of Vaporwave art, including Windows OS icons and imagery, Fiji water, Arizona Ice Tea and text including often depressing messages (contributing to the SadBoy movement, which has been heavily drawn upon by Swedish rapper Yung Lean.)

As you probably know, Vaporwave is also a music genre too. Songs from this genre will include a lot of samples from 80s/90s classics, distortion and glitching. Often these songs will be pitched down and slowed to increase that dreamy, nostalgic feeling.

I’ve included some examples of Vaporwave artwork below. The problem with genre is that anonymity is an almost vital part, meaning that original artists and sources for Vaporwave works are often very hard to find. So hard, in fact, that I couldn’t actually find the sources for the works below (other than my own.) If you happen to know who they are, please let me know!


Vaporwave is just one of many art forms to come from the Internet. You could argue that without the invent of the internet, or at least the World Wide Web as we know it today, this style, and many others like it, would never have been conceived, let alone flourish to the extent that they have.

This does not mean that all forms of Internet Art have flourished and taken off as Vaporwave has. The are some that are still very niche, and some that have died out completely. I’ll be exploring many of these in coming articles!

If you find these interesting, and know of any micro, sub, or just lesser known art genres that you want to see explored like this, please let me know! I love to find new art forms like this!

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