Artists get inspired by so many things – I know I do. Browsing photos online, watching movies, seeing other artists create their work – it’s all so wonderful and gives me ideas, motivation, and determination that anything can be accomplished.
Today we’re going to explore one of those artistic inspirations and how I weave it into my work.
It’s pop art! The original bold, simple, clever art that weaved graphic design and art together and created a whole new area of art to explore.
What is Pop Art?
Pop art was created in the 1960s by using paintings and sculptures of mass culture objects or media stars to blur the line between high brow art and lowbrow art. The main concept was that there is no hierarchy of culture and any subject could be influential. It is often identified as emotionally removed from the work.
For example, a piece of art that didn’t take you years to create and wasn’t a deep meaningful subject matter, but rather “I thought it looked cool”.
One of the main criticism of pop art is that is seen as an endorsement of capitalism due to the people/objects chosen as the focus. Some people believe that by using McDonalds, or Chevy’s in artwork, you’re endorsing them and subtly inviting people to spend money on them.
This debate does have merit and I can understand why someone would see specific artwork that way. However at the end of the day I tend to subject art to it’s aesthetic quality myself, so if I can appreciate the technique, then I can appreciate the piece.
It’s also important to note that the majority of famous pop artists began their work in commercial art. Many were graphic designers and illustrators. This does support the commercial theory as most of the main artists were heavily involved in selling and marketing through visual mediums.
I think that’s one of the reasons I find it inspiring as well. My background includes lots of graphic design and visual communication. I like the ability to portray imagery with simple shapes and lines, which you can see in my sticker art. I think it’s fun to create a concept with such simplicity. I can appreciate an art for it’s technique or style without finding a deep meaning in it’s subject matter. That’s just me personally though!
Some of the Big Pop Art Players
You can’t talk about pop art without mentioning Warhol. Easily the most famous pop artist. His goal was to take popular subjects into exclusive galleries and private homes, and he’s done just that! His print of Marilyn Monroe in 1967 was simply a series of a photograph where he dramatically shifted colors using silkscreens. It sold for $38 million dollars!
I am not a huge fan of his color choices, but I do appreciate what he brought to the pop art movement. He opened the door for many other designers and illustrators and let people think outside the box and push the envelope.
Probably my personal favorite of the pop artists, Lichtenstein is known for his comic book style prints. Like Warhol he eventually took himself out of production and relied on mechanical reproduction using silkscreens and prints. His subject matter came from comic books and he was often accused of no originality and blatant copying.
I believe his prints contained enough alteration that they could be considered ‘inspired by’ and not ‘copying’ but it’s still debated to this day.
Comic books have been a huge inspiration for me and I love they style and movement they portray. My illustrations definitely have a comic book style to them, and I use comic books for drawing references all the time.
Today’s Pop Artists
Artists today still explore and inspire in the pop art genre. Still using the same graphic design style and current culture imagery, they create paintings and works that blur the lines of ‘expensive’ and ‘cheap’ art. You can find examples of pop art all over the internet, from Pinterest to youtube or DeviantArt.
People tend to either love or hate pop art. Yes, it lacks the traditional subject matter of older oil paintings. Yes, it can lack the technical craftsmanship that the traditional masters portrayed. But it does provide you with an aesthetic quality that makes you stop and look. It can cause an emotional response based on the subject matter. It all depends on how you look at it.