Coca-Cola Pop Art Gallery: John Clem Clarke

During the second half of the twentieth century, popular culture and the mass media gained a huge significance in American culture. Pop art that was a sign of the times: a product, a tribute to art history and critique of the social situation.
In the sixties, the New York art scene was very diverse, with people coming from different places, backgrounds and art disciplines & movements. The young John Clem Clarke was always fascinated art & advertising. He moved to New York, started painting and quickly made a name in the NYC pop art scene. Art about art is a continuous thread through Clarke’s work. His series re-working the Old Masters, such as Velasquez’s “Las Meninas” and Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” are popular icons of the late 60’s.
Clarke’s works, a mix of photo-realism and comic style with a pop art imagery. hang today in major museums as NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art & Whitney Museum of American Art, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, LA’s County Museum and Washington’s Hirshhorn Museum.

Clarke works in the pop art tradition of Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, Roy Liechtenstein & Tom Wesselmann, drawn on the graphic vocabularies of commercial modernity: “I play back and forth using unique objects and a mass-produced presentation style. You might say that ideas I express are a lot more complex than the apparently simple style I use to express them”.
Speed is vital to the freshness of John Clem Clarke’s works, and animation is the key to his style. Every line is alive, no edge is ever straight. The large size of his artworks plays an important role in the transformation of Clarke’s illustration-based style into high art.
Working on big size canvasses, his work is quite technical. The last years he uses a computer for the design phase, but before he had to work out all specific details as a sketch, use an overhead projector to project this sketches on a canvas, drew the projected image and finally paint it.” His way of working is very similar to the work of illustrators of comics or how graphic designers work today in Photoshop. Clarke: “My first layer was always the black outline. Then I painted a colored layer underneath using the line drawing as an overlay. This is the same technique Disney cartoonists used years ago. Of course, when I was developing it as my own way of working, I didn’t know that. For the actual painting, I use large stencils. I lay them onto the canvas and sponge the paint on. This way there are no brush strokes. Sometimes, I overlay the stencils so that you get the sort of effect you see when a picture isn’t printed quite right -just a little offset. I like that irregular edge”. Just like the works by Andy Warhol or Jean-Michelle Basquiat, John Clem Clarke’s oeuvre is complete with imperfections: “Instead of painting out my “mistakes”, I let them stay on the canvas as alternative solutions to the painting and to show the thought process in making a painting. It bothers me when things look too good. I like to paint and paint and paint, until I get it wrong.”

On weekends, Clarke still roams around flea and antiques markets, looking for vintage retro objects, advertising material and photographs he can use as a point of departure for his artworks. The great ads from the fifties and early sixties are a big source of inspiration: “I try to make the paintings seem as commercially produced as possible. People grew up looking at commercial illustration and print advertising, so they are comfortable with it as a visual style. I make art in a way that people find it immediately accessible”.
Clarke found his future as an artist in his past through the subject matter, themes and styles of forties, fifties & sixties. But Clarke’s works also speak of the present, the moment he creates them, by his vision & the personal touch of his brushstroke.

In the 1910s, the Coca-Cola Company ran an ad of a gorgeous woman drinking a Coke. The copy read: “Nothing is so suggestive of Coca-Cola’s own pure deliciousness as the picture of a beautiful, sweet, wholesome, womanly woman.”
Associating itself with an ideal American girl, Coca-Cola made its appeal to the public. Clarke takes this advertising concept one step further and combines the “Coca-Cola girl” billboard with the all American theme of a police car chase. His painting “Police Behind Cola Billboard” is so filmesque, that we actually wonder what will happen next…

Siggi Eggertsson, the Jigsaw Puzzle Impressionist

Siggi Eggertsson is a young graphic designer/illustrator, with already a huge amount of work under his belt.
Born in Akureyri, a small town on the north coast of Iceland in 1984, Eggertsson was raised by his mother, who is also an artist. When Siggi was 15 years old, he started to “fool around” with design programs, making posters for music concerts and art exhibitions.
To quote Lou Reed & John Cale (from their Andy Warhol tribute “Songs for Drella”): “When you’re growing up in a small town/You know that you want to get out”. There was indeed no Picasso or Michelangelo coming from Akureyri, so when Eggertsson was 18 he was getting a bit bored and applied for the Graphic Design Dept. of the Iceland Academy of the Arts. He got accepted, so he moved to Reykjavík.
To broad his horizons, Siggi did an internship at the New York design studio Karlssonwilker, lived and worked in Berlin before ending up in London.
Eggertsson quickly started to make a name for himself in international design, art and media circles. In 2006, Print magazine ranked him as one of the 20 most promising designers under 30 years old. His works have also been featured in many books and magazines as Computer Arts, Clark and Dazed & Confused.

Eggertsson’s influences are varied and eclectic, from ancient Viking, Egyptian and Roman art, classical painters like Matisse, Legér and Picasso to the current music scene. He also feels inspired by people as Stefan Sagmeister, Peter Saville, Robbie Williams and Vincent Gallo – the way they think, their lifestyles and their approaches to creativity.

Siggi had the luck to do projects for bands as Zoot Woman, The Delays, Gnarls Barkley, … and open-minded brands as H&M, Nike and Stüssy. Still he feels that his self-initiated work is more important than anything else. It’s where he can experiment and push his style in new directions.
During his stay in Berlin, he created his own version of the cityscape in true Impressionist tradition but instead of taking a canvas outside, he created his artwork directly on his computer.

Eggertsson has a very simple yet very original and recognizable style. He begins an illustration with a sketch on grid paper, and adds abstraction and color later, fusing linear into pixilated shapes. His muted take on geometric & symmetric shapes and curving lines results in impressionistic jigsaw puzzles. Very ‘fresh’ and ‘now’, glorious pop art for the years 2000. “It’s still developing and I’m really interested in how far I can take the style,” he tells. We’re curious & looking forward to see his new work and projects.

Berlin, En Plein Air
“I’ve drawn this image on top of a 12 floor building in Friedrichshain. The battery in my computer does not last for ever, so I had to do it in several turns. I used Illustrator while I was drawing the image, and the colouring was done afterwards in Photoshop. This is an ongoing project”.

Patchwork Quilt
“This is a quilt I made for my graduation project in The Iceland Academy of the Arts. It’s based on my childhood memories and it’s made out of 10.000 pieces”.

Polar Bear & Tiger

Peter & the Wolf
“An illustration for one of my favorite children stories”.

Poster for Zoot Woman

Album Cover & Concert Poster for Gnarls Barkley

Coke Side of Life Posters: Op Art, Pop Art, Minimalism & Surrealism

Eggertsson did 4 posters for Coca-Cola (through Armchair Media). “I was playing with color and shape. Later I realized that each poster is similar to an art movement. The first one is Pop Art, the second one refers to Minimalism, third one is kind of Surrealist and the last one Op Art.”

You can see more of Eggertson’s art on his Vanillusaft website.

Gil Elvgren, Top Image-Maker & Pin-Up Glamour Master

Born in 1914 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Gil Elvgren was a master painter and one of America’s first and best loved pin-up artists. He is possibly the foremost painter of sensuality through using models who possess a ‘girl-next-door’ quality. His heroines are often caught in humorous situations that cause their skirts to rise and our eyes to follow. His paintings are an excellent proof of the phrase, “A picture is worth one thousand words.”

Elvgren commenced studies at the Minneapolis Art Institute, and later studied (and even taught) at the Chicago Academy of Art. His parents first encouraged him to study architecture, but shortly after starting his studies he decided to pursue art instead. Some of Gil’s fellow students were Al Buell, Andrew Loomis, Coby Whitmore, Robert Skemp and Ben Stahl. Many of his academy friends would later also work for Coca Cola.

Elvgren graduated from the Academy during the depression at the age of twenty-two. Elvgren first job was one for one of the major US advertising agencies, Stevens and Gross. One of their most exciting clients was Coca-Cola. Elvgren contributed to several Coca-Cola ads. No artist working for Coke could sign his work, but Elvgren’s hand & style remain very recognizable.

Elvgren’s work also mirrors the sheer, nostalgic revery that the breathtaking illustrations of Haddon Sundblom’s “Coca-Cola” Santa’s evoke. No wonder, as Elvgren quickly became a protégé of the legendary Sundblom. The old master taught his star pupil the lush brush stroke technique that makes Elvgren’s girls such glowing wonders.

Elvgren conveys the ideal of real life, fun, beauty and sensuality in every of his paintings. Never sexual, always sensual, their style is the epitome of the age of elegance in which he lived.
He spent extreme amounts of time posing the models for the pre-painting photograph. Elvgren always looked for models with vitality and personality, and chose young girls who were new to the modeling business. He felt the ideal pin-up was a 15 year old face on a 20 year old body. In some cases, he combined the body of one girl and the face of another to achieve the desired result.

In 1937, Gil began painting calendar pin-ups for Louis Dow, one of America’s leading publishing companies. These artworks are easily recognizable because they are signed with a printed version of Elvgren’s name, as opposed to his later cursive signature. Dow paintings were often published first in one format, then painted over with different clothes and situations.

Around 1944, Gil was approached by Brown and Bigelow, a firm that still dominates the field in producing calendars and advertising specialties. They offered him $1000 per pin-up, which was substantially more than Dow was paying him. Elvgren signed on with B&B. Gil’s Brown and Bigelow images all contain his cursive signature. Elvgren painted twenty calendar girls each year, ranging from the girl next door letting her dog out, to brave rodeo heroines & water skiing action girls.

Besides a successful career in advertising, Gil Elvgren also did a lot of magazine illustrations. His pretty girls also appeared on many billboards, the same image sometimes modified a bit to sell more than one type of product.

According to Elvgren author & art collector Louis Meisel: “Between the mid-1930s and early 70s, Elvgren produced over 500 paintings of beautiful girls and women. As the decades progressed, the paintings just kept getting better and better. Elvgren continually surpassed himself, always improving in composition, ideas, color and technique.”

The beautiful Elvgren girls are never portrayed as a femme fatale. They are stylized ideals in which the realities and essentials of female form and expression are heightened and exalted artistically. Their charms are revealed in that fleeting instant when she’s been caught unaware in what might be a surprising, sometimes even embarrassing situation. She is intruded upon as she takes a bath. Her skirts get caught in elevator doors, hung up on faucets, and entangled with dog leashes. The elements conspire in divesting her of her clothing. The Elvgren girls, pictured in a variety of fun and clever contexts, are life-affirmative art of the highest order.

Elvgren died in 1980, at the age of 66. Lately, there’s a resurgent interest in his work and prints of his pictures are still bestsellers. Today, Elvgren is recognized as one of the top image makers & glamour artists of the 20th century.

The Pop in Nu Pop Culture: A New Art Generation Inspired by Coca-Cola

More than 45 years ago, artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Mel Ramos and Andy Warhol started to use images of the Coca-Cola bottles or cans to create their pop art. The embrace of popular consumer goods such as Coca-Cola by these iconic artists had a great influence on pop culture, broke aesthetic barriers and touched a deep cultural nerve.

Today, a new generation of artists eager to focus on Coca-Cola’s artistic aura. Using centuries-old techniques as drawing and painting or state-of-the-art Photoshop or Illustrator skills (and sometimes a mix of old & new), they transform Coke’s iconic visual elements into original and captivating works of art.

“Coca-Colored” (detail) by Kofi Ansah aka De Godson (Italy/UK)

Kofi is a 19 year old artist with a goal and determination. He is originally from Ghana but has spent most of his life in Europe. His main residence is in Milan, but currently Kofi is studying 3D Animation at Ravensbourne College of Design & Communication, London. Kofi is also the webmaster and driving force of DigitalFlow, a dedicated site for young graphic talent.
http://degodson.com/

“Coca-Cola” illustration by Issam 991, Morocco

“Koi Cola” by Orticanoodles, Italy

Orticanoodles is a street artist from Milan, famous for his stencil art. Orticanoodles is making a name for himself since 2005, filling the city with his spray & brush images. The koi carps quickly became his signature design, being so colourful and suitable for different pictorial treatments.
http://www.orticanoodles.com/

“Diet Coca-Cola” by TrashCandy, Israel

“Coca-Cola Can” by MKitos, Portugal

“Coca-Cola Cup” by Kasia H4waiian, Poland

“Coca-Cola Can” by Thomas Pwgy, Romania

“Invisible Lines” by Hannouska (Hannah Maité), France

“This is a painting İ made to illustrate the invisible lines between the body and it’s environment. So as you can see, there are differents objects that appear thanks to the lines. Everything is connected to each other. Do you see the fox?”

“Feel the Love” by Go Green, Canada

“Coke, Cake & Cream” by Aya Takagi, UK
Sweet, sour, yummy and melting sensation expressed through delicious syrupy and rich, fresh and fruity colours in dynamic shapes and images. Screenprint with aquascreen ink on paper.

Aya Takagi was born in Tokyo in 1984. She graduated from University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts with BFA Printmaking in 2006. She is continuing her study in fine art at University of Canterbury in the BFA Honors Programme this year. She uses silkscreen as her main printing method, since her interest in printmaking was influenced by Pop Artists such as Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg.

“Cherry Coke” by Schimpansen

Coca-Cola Happiness Factory: the Commercial, the Movie, the Premiere & Making-Of

“Happiness Factory”, Coca-Cola’s multi-awarded TV spot by Psyop & Wieden+Kennedy tells the wonderful story of the journey of a Coca-Cola bottle through a vending machine. The stunning graphics, brilliant animation and emotional intensity make this “Coke Side of Life” commercial an instant classic.

The storyline shows a young man putting a coin into a Coca-Cola vending machine, which brings us into a world of fantasy behind the machine. We discover a great variety of the most spectacular 3D landscapes and a wondrous mix of cute and strange animated creatures. As the coin rolls down into a waterfall, a squadron of Chinoinks (a cross between a pig and Chinook helicopter) transports an empty bottle to the filling station. For the “Happiness Factory” workers, this is the start sign to exhibit a true labor or love. Everyone does the best they can to fill the bottle with happiness. Once finished, the bottle is kissed goodbye by the Love Puppies (some cute & fluffy white balls), while penguins scientists chill the bottle by shredding a snowman with a wood chopper. Once cooled, the Coca-Cola bottle is sent to the vendo’s exit door accompanied by a marching band, cheerleaders and fireworks.

Psyop’s storyboards and character sketches for the original “Happiness Factory” spot.

The Happiness Factory spot was so successful, that Coca-Cola asked animation experts Psyop to come up with a mini-movie. In the three-and-a-half-minute film the story follows the adventures of a Happiness Factory worker as he discovers that they run out of Coca-Cola. Be prepared for some drama, struggle & overwhelming action.

In a launch usually reserved for blockbuster movies, Coca-Cola rolled out the virtual red carpet for the premiere at the Coke Cinema in Second Life. This glamorous event was attended by hundreds of stars avatars, including Coca-Cola’s Sr. Vice President Marc Mathieu and punky pop star Avril Lavigne.

Wieden+Kennedy, the ad agency behind Coca-Cola’s “Coke Side of Life” capaigns, also created trailers, movie-inspired poster ads, wallpapers & other e-goodies and even this making of / mockumentary, which takes us behind the scenes of the Happiness Factory.

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