For a number of months, maybe years, even, I've been evaluating my own feelings toward Pop Art and Mass Consumerism, two things that went hand-in-hand during the rise of the Pop Art movement in the 1960s.
I'll be the first to admit my love for Andy Warhol and his work. Actually, it's more of a love/hate relationship. He has been a major source of inspiration over the years, but I feel like as a self-proclained 'Pop Artist,' I get tired of feeling like I'm in his shadow. He set the bar pretty high for future Pop Artists. As I'm getting older and my tastes become a little more sophisticated, I'm thinking about my work a little more seriously, rather than just 'being an artist on the surface.'
I feel like Pop Art is dead, for the most part. Other than painting current celebrities or old stand-by classic ones, like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, there isn't any new ground to cover. I'm sick of celebrity culture and worship. Within this conundrum, I'm trying to take a step back from Pop Art, and look at my work differently, hence a new series of screen prints I'm currently working on, called the "Death of Pop" series. I'm taking iconic packaging and distressing/destroying them. Once the overall package has enough distress marks, creases, folds, etc. to my liking, I then photograph the package and recreate each color layer and detail for print. The first such example, "If It Wasn't For Bad Luck (Lucky Strike)" maintains it's iconic branding, packaging form and colors despite the logo being obscured and folded in on itself. The strength and visual impact of the Lucky Strike logo over the years, as well as it's elevation of importance as an American pop culture icon, far supersedes any distress or damage the package may endure and still be recognizable.
The irony of this series suggests no matter how much time passes, there is a reason why certain brand names and logos will forever be affixed to the Pop Art cannon, and artists will constantly be drawn to them for their work. Brands and mass consumerism are just as much a part of American culture as the brands Americans consume, and trying to escape it will forever be an uphill battle.
No matter how you look at this series from a critical point of view, ultimately, this exercise is merely for me to have a better understanding of my work, as well as a means to not always be stuck in Warhol's shadow. Only time will if my experiment is a success, but in the meantime, I'm feeling pretty good about its prospects.
More 'Death of Pop' iconic packaging coming soon.