August 16, 2017

No, nothing exploded. It’s just that we’re gonna talk about Pop-Art and how the mid 20th Century’s art EXPLOSION is still an influence today. Fun, huh? 

So what is Pop Art? Well, I’m not going to give a perfect definition, or even try, but I’ll sum up. Basically, it’s the infusion of imagery from popular culture into art, advertising and elements of visual communication. Simple. Got it?

We’re all familiar with the noteworthy, breakthrough pop-artist Andy Warhol and his recognizable images of Marilyn, Elvis, Campbell’s Soup, oh, and being seen at Studio 54, right? Well, his work is still an influence today.

Take the very popular Obama “HOPE” poster by artist Shepard Fairey. It consists of a highly stencil-esque portrait of Obama, with slightly muted solid colors. Not only was this poster seen everywhere as it was adopted as part of the 2008 presidential campaign, it’s also been the subject of an abundance of parodies and imitations.


Moving forward, we find an interesting pop art influence in the poster artwork and website for the 2013 Steve Jobs biopic. I find it a perfect fit for a movie representing a man who changed our lives and the way we live them. It consists of massive blasts of color, on what looks to be a canvas, of a close-up of Steve Jobs face. The only black in the art is Jobs’ recognizable facial features.

Now, let’s not forget the two grand-daddy news publications of Time and Newsweek. If these two want to exercise a point, they tap into the pop-art influence for a cover that will help put an exclamation point on their topic or to accentuate a mood or feeling. 

For example, the August 25, 2008 issue of Newsweek printed a highly-contrasted black and white image of George W. Bush with a red background. Quite reminiscent of Warhol’s work, a way of simply manipulating an image to provoke further thought. Another issue from May 16, 2011 shows an illustration of Osama Bin Laden with a red face and white turban, with a block of white covering Bin Laden’s eyes. A visual technique to “cover” one’s identity. The illustrator is Edel Rodriquez.

A TIME cover that caught my eye is the August 15, 2011 issue. It features George Washington on the U.S. dollar with a black eye. The article’s headline is "The Great American Downgrade." Again, a unique way of using an image everyone is familiar with and manipulating it. Yep, America got punched in the eye.

There are other examples, but I wouldn’t want to bore. However, when appropriate, businesses today could use a punch of infusion of pop-art in their branding. Illustrators and designers, like Charles Anderson from Minneapolis, have been doing it for years and still going strong. Fact is, Pop-Art is alive and well, and still an influence in art and advertising today.





About the author: John Scapes

John Scapes is 6AM's Senior Art Director.

Post tags:creative

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