Andy Warhol, King of Pop Art

In the 1960s, Andy Warhol began to make paintings of famous American products such as Campbell’s soup cans and Coca-Cola. He switched to silkscreen prints, seeking not only to make art of mass-produced items but to mass produce the art itself. He hired and supervised “art workers” engaged in making prints, films, books and other items at The Factory, his studio. A lot of Warhol’s works revolve around the concept of American culture. He painted money, food, women’s shoes, celebrities, newspaper clippings and everyday objects. To Warhol, these subjects represented American cultural values. For instance, Coca-Cola represented democratic equality.

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV ans see Coca-Cola and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.” Andy Warhol


While all colas are colas, only one is Coke!
Warhol & Coca-Cola fashion collection by Cultura.

When Warhol started painting, he wanted to find a niche for himself. At that time Pop Art
-as it was later to be called- already was an experimental form used by artists as an alternative to abstract expressionism. Warhol turned to this new style where popular subjects could be part of the artist’s vocabulary. His early paintings show images taken from cartoons and advertisements, hand-painted with added paint drips. He added these drips to give his paintings a seriousness by emulating the style of the abstract expressionists that were en vogue at the time. He wanted to be taken seriously and to sell his paintings.

Andy Warhol’s images have appeared in magazines, on TV, clothes and billboards. Everywhere. The visual impact of his best work is stunning: fresh colours, great composition and thought-provoking subjects.
Along the way, Warhol defined modern-day USA, consciously or unconsciously exposing the ambiguities of US society. The amount of material he produced is phenomenal: film, audio, paintings and prints, books and interviews.

Warhol’s subjects were quintessentially American. His 210 Coca-Cola bottles depict mass production for the masses. They are produced in 1962, shortly after his silkscreen innovations allowed him to mass produce pictures of mass production.

Warhol’s art is larger than life. He paints from a place far back in his mind, away from everyday ways of looking, although his subject matter is always ordinary and available. He paints real, humble things, so that they seem dreamt, visionary. “A Coke is a Coke”, Warhol said, and yet the even rows of bottles filled to varying levels in his Coca-Cola paintings are depicted with a clarity that pushes realism into a sense of wonder. These Cokes are mystical Cokes, bottled life.

Source: “Warhol – Accident & design” by Socialism Today; “The Life & Death of Andy warhol” by Victor Bockris. All images and artworks are property of The Andy Warhol Foundation © All rights reserved.

Idokungfoo

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

ARTIST PORTRAIT
Illustrator and designer Simon Oxley lives and operates from his wife’s hometown of Fukuoka, Japan. From 1986 to 1989 Oxley attended college in the UK, studying graphic design, photography, drawing and typography – a solid basis for what he has been doing as a job ever since. In the early 90s he spent a lot of time making pseudo artistic paintings hoping these would become the next big thing and appear in the best galleries worldwide. Sadly, this was not the case and Oxley ended up giving them to friends as Christmas and birthday presents – lucky people!
In 1997 Oxley moved to Japan to work in a design company based in Harajuku. Since 2002, Oxley has run his own design and illustration studio, Idokungfoo, and works for clients from all over the world. His future goals include writing stories which he can illustrate with his famous characters / producing films which include original scores produced by simple means (amateur sound recording equipment and the help of friends) / making new merchandise which features his images / opening a store which offers all Idokungfoo products and all the other things he likes.

INTERVIEW

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING AS A DESIGNER?
Since 1989, when I left Graphic design college and found employment at a computer game production company – I designed and artworked the cassette inserts.

DID IT TAKE LONG TO FIND YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
My personal style changes with the weather. Like many image makers, I am often unhappy with images I made more than 3 or 4 months ago. I appreciate the importance of achieving a unique style in commercial terms – but I am unsure whether I have arrived just yet… It seems to be always work in progress…

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
This is basically something I cannot pin down to one thing….

WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM PROJECT AS AN ARTIST?
It is my goal to own a shop someday, selling strange curiosities which appeal to all ages.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEAS BEHIND YOUR ‘‘COKE’ SIDE OF LIFE’ REMIX POSTERS?
I like to work spontaneously – so just see what happens as I draw. A shape will evoke a direction, as will a word or phrase. I spend a lot of time writing phrases which come to mind – these help to create a story line to guide the visual direction I take.

HOW DID THE ‘COCA-COLA’ HISTORY AND THEMES INFLUENCE YOUR REMIX WORK?
Being 38yrs old I can recall many ‘Coke’ campaigns – Coca Cola is an iconic part of many cultures. I chose the Christmas theme instantly, since I felt my imagery would work best with this festive theme. I also remembered that the common image we have of Santa Claus in the red costume originated from the early ‘Coke’ campaigns – which I still find extraordinary!

CAN YOU GIVE SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON YOUR FAVOURITE REMIX ARTWORK?
The large bubble character blowing up out of the top of the bottle is my personal favorite. Maybe it’s the simplicity of form – or just the innocent expression of fun which I like to think ‘Coke’ pursues.

WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING?
My wife and I have two young sons, so much of my time is spent playing with them – seeking out natural and cool locations in the mountains or shopping in malls on rainy days. Illustration is not really work for me, I often draw with the children, teaching them at the same time. I also spend a lot of time producing photographic and vector imagery for iStockphoto.com picture library.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IDEA FOR THE INTRINSICS POSTERS YOU DESIGNED FOR ‘COCA-COLA’?
I wanted to make something simple visually – not clutter the space too heavily and risk producing a wallpaper pattern in the triangular area made available above the iconic bottle silhouette.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH AS A DESIGNER?
I would like to make people feel happy, laugh, become curious, question everything they believe, discover renewed enthusiasm for life and generally feel encouraged by a sense of variety which the world has to offer us.

ANY INSIGHTS IN YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
Keep thinking and recording thoughts however obscure. Many times an apparently weak idea can work depending upon the method of interpretation. Also, I find it important to take breaks: stay away from computers for a few days sometimes, wander around a fish market, go to the countryside and watch people ploughing fields… basically remove myself from my cozy bubble.

DO YOU START SKETCHING ON PAPER OR DO YOU WORK DIRECTLY ON THE COMPUTER?
I enjoy sketching and brush and ink painting – but only occasionally I scan these in to work from. It is true that the hand drawn line contains way more character than a computer stroke, although the computer stroke has its own personality which I like also. It is easy to manipulate parts of an image to create a result which is not preconceived.

YOUR IMAGERY SEEMS LIKE TO TELL A STORY EACH TIME. DO YOU HAVE THE STORY IN YOUR HEAD FIRST OR DOES IT COME GRADUALLY WHEN YOU START ILLUSTRATING?
I treat all my images as frames in a storyline, but I enjoy the moment before something is about to happen – or an ordinary moment which people may be surprised to find illuminated. I try really hard to empty my head of the piles of past visuals I have buzzing around, trying to influence the story I am making. This is the hard part.

IF THERE WAS AN IDEAL IDOKUNGFOO WORLD, HOW WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
It would be a world covered in fake fur so no-one would get grazed knees ever again falling on concrete. There would be large shiny animated statues of characters everywhere which everyone could climb on, through and over.
Large shopping malls would be leveled to make way for traditional high streets with shops and businesses specializing in one of a kind quality hand made characters and designer goods. And everyone would drink ‘Coca-Cola’ upside down… 😉

Serge Mienandi

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

ARTIST PORTRAIT
Serge Mienandi was born in 1967 in Brazzaville, Congo. He studied art in the famous Poto-Poto School of Painting in his hometown.
Since its establishment in 1951, this school has been a vital location for the creation, exhibition and sale of African paintings. The school has often been described by critics as historically important and very significant in terms of longevity and widespread influence. The idea of the Poto-Poto School is to save the essential spirit of African art and adapt it to modern life. Inspiration comes from local legends and traditions mixed with today’s reality. Mienandi’s artworks depict village and market scenes of drumming, hunting, dancing and masquerade performances. But he brings also modern subjects as urban culture, cinema, cars and fashion to life. Since 2002, Mienandi lives and works in Dakar, Senegal.

For ‘The Coke Side of Life’ Remix project, Mienandi created 4 paintings in the traditional Poto-Poto style. Here you can see the original artworks.

And this is the final “Coke Side of Life” poster…

Todd Alan Breland

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

ARTIST PORTRAIT
From creating his own comic books as a kid to designing skateboard graphics as a teen, Todd Alan Breland has always been an artist in heart and soul. However, he didn’t know art was going to become his career. “I figured I’d just be a professional skateboarder my whole life. I began to take art more seriously when I got accepted into the Old Donation Center for the Gifted and Talented. My eyes were opened up to a broad range of mixed media : from painting and fresco to illustration. I attended advanced college level art courses in high school, but it wasn’t until I moved to college that I heard the term ‘graphic design’.”
After graduating from college with a BFA in Communication Arts, Todd Alan Breland worked for a handful of firms as a designer, eventually moving up to art director. Those years provided a lot of great experiences, while he learned the ins and outs of the business, working with a team and handling client interaction.
In 2004 Breland started to work as a creative consultant / art director under the moniker IMNY: “I’ve done it all – independent to corporate identities, branding, advertising, editorial (from newspapers to magazines to books), cd’s, posters, apparel and accessories, packaging, gallery shows, art for the web, to even greeting cards.” Breland seeks to bridge the gap between ‘art’ and the wide world of corporate design. “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of the most amazing and talented people in the industry; artists, agencies and clients alike. But it all boils down to this…simply put…I love what I do.”


INTERVIEW

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING AS A DESIGNER?
I graduated from college in 2000 and immediately started working for a local newspaper. Right after, I jumped from that to a small design house and then to a larger corporate firm before going out on my own in 2004. I’ve been going strong solo since (knock on wood 😉

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
My environment as a whole really shapes my work. My friends and family, nature, our environment, everyday people, the news, the food I eat, stress, misery, happiness, … are all factors I believe. Other than that, i just have a strong sense of motivation; that amazing feeling of accomplishment when a project is finished and I’m proud of the outcome.
As far as other art/artists, I’ve always been a huge fan of Alphonse Mucha and Roy Lichtenstein. My love for Mucha’s intricate floral illustrations and Lichtensteins bold imagery and vivid color are really the largest influences in my work.

DID IT TAKE LONG TO FIND YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
Not particularly. I’ve always had my own style but early on being a designer working corporate I couldn’t really express it in my work. Now that I’m on my own it’s a great feeling to be contacted for work solely because of ‘my’ style. I guess if I had to define my style I would call it ‘pop nouveau.’
The gestural and flowing line movement of art nouveau and the silkscreen stencil work of pop mesh well in my head. I love using bright and vivid color, heavy patterns and layering. I’m fascinated with women too, as they are the subject of most of my work. I love how such a slight change in movement and curves or an expression can manipulate the entire feel of a piece.

ANY INSIGHTS IN YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
I think I can speak for most artists by saying, when you’re feeling creative you have to go with it. Its hard to put a time on creativity. Some days I wake up and its like I’ve stumbled into a whole new universe. I feel innovative and I’m all over the place. Other days I can stare at a blank canvas or mess around for hours and not feel the least bit motivated. Once I do get into my work, there is no method. I usually just play and play until I feel the piece is done. I hate people seeing my work during the interim stages before it’s complete. What they see then, may look completely different 10 minutes later.

DO YOU START SKETCHING ON PAPER OR DO YOU WORK DIRECTLY ON THE COMPUTER?
I keep paper and ink pens handy on my desk because I’ll go back and forth. If I don’t go into a project with a concept already planned out, I’ll sketch around ideas on paper until I come up with a solid direction. Most of my final artwork though is done digitally. It’s still so new to me. I’m 30 now and I didn’t have a computer at home or even in school until college, so I grew up using sketchpads, newsprint, etc for art projects.

MUSIC SEEMS TO HAVE A PROMINENT ROLE IN YOUR WORK. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THAT SCENE?
I believe it’s natural for any artist to reach out into other creative outlets. For me that was being involved in writing music and being in bands. Art, music, fashion and entertainment all go hand in hand. It’s natural for those things to intermix. I think my ‘being in a band’ days are over but I still love creating artwork for others.

WHAT INTERESTS YOU MOST IN ‘THE COKE SIDE OF LIFE’ REMIX PROJECT?
I think what interested me most was the global aspect, having artists with such a variety of styles from all different parts of the world working together. I was really curious to see the interpretations of each artist or agency.

HOW DID THE ‘COCA-COLA’ HISTORY AND THEMES INFLUENCE YOUR REMIX WORK?
Well there’s a constant fun, loving feeling in ‘Coca-Cola’’s advertising. It was very easy for me to reproduce that feeling because it comes so natural to me in my work. The way ‘Coke’ has been pushing art and design into mainstream marketing is incredible. I think they are one of the few large corporations that realizes how much of an impact art has in the world. Being represented by artists like Rauschenberg and Warhol is also a huge influence. Those artists were able to find that perfect balance in their work of enhancing the iconic imagery of ‘Coke’ as well as being a complete reflection of the artists personal style. I like to believe I achieved the same.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEAS BEHIND YOUR POSTERS?
I wanted to avoid any thought process and just evoke feeling. A simple idea with a colorful palette that anyone can understand.

WHAT IS THE MESSAGE IN YOUR REMIX ARTWORK?
Enjoy what you’re doing, always!

IS IT DIFFICULT TO COME UP WITH ARTWORKS THAT FIT A THEME?
It can be very difficult if it’s not a theme that naturally flows with the artists’ style. However I think having a graphic design background allows me to be more flexible because I’m accustomed to catering to a clients needs.

WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM PROJECT AS AN ARTIST?
I’m always looking to go ‘bigger.’ I think it’s a lot of artists’ dreams to see their work at a large scale. I’m talking beyond billboards 😉

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH AS A DESIGNER?
I’d like to use my artwork as a tool to help humanity. I recently did a pro-bono collaboration with the music industry to raise money to fight HIV/aids. I’d love to start a foundation that collaborates with all kinds of artists and creatives to do something on a more global level.

WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING?
I wish you could find me laying in a hammock on an island. That’s where I need to be 😉

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