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If you follow any illustrators or visual artists on Twitter, you may have noticed a glut of mermaid art. Traditional Disney-style cartoon mermaids, grotesque monster mermaids, butch warrior mermaids, fanart mermaids, you name it.
The mermaid meme began with Disney animator Tom Bancroft, who suggested the #MerMay hashtag on his blog. Each year, he encourages artists to post mermaid art throughout the month of May. This year he’s actually drawing a serialized children’s story called The Mermaid Who Wanted To Fly, which you can follow on Instagram.
Welcome to #MerMay, day one! I hope you all are sketching a mermaid and posting it today. This is the cover art for my new book, exclusive to Instagram, and #MerMay2017 ! Check my Gallery everyday to read this story! Colors all month by the brilliant @jskipper_colorist !
A post shared by Tom Bancroft (@tombancroft1) on
#MerMay really took off this year, with dozens of illustrators and animators taking part. Just in case anyone finds it hard to think of new mermaid ideas for a month, Bancroft posted a list of daily suggestions like Star Wars-themed (May 4, obviously), pirate mermaids, mermaids with shell phones, and so on.
Browsing through the #MerMay hashtag, we’ve collected some beautiful and unique examples, beginning with lilylilbee‘s adorable teacup mermaid seen in the header image.
Lionhead goldfish merman by Rika
Betta fish mermaids, by Lissa Treiman
East African mermaids by Meena
Monster mermaids, by Sadie
Dot the mermaid and her babies, by Ita
Japanese historical mermaid, by Ida
Mermaid remixes have been popular for years, experimenting beyond the traditional image of a slim, white, conventionally feminine mermaid. The #MerMay hashtag sent this idea into overdrive, encouraging artists to draw mermaids with more diverse appearances and cultural backgrounds, and take inspiration from underwater creatures.
With two weeks left to go, the hashtag is inspiring more original ideas every day. Well worth checking out on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor