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How to Apply the Lessons of Pop Art Greats to Your Artwork

We look at the lessons learned from looking at the greats of Pop Art and how they can be applied to your work. Pop art is still thought of as the most modern trend in art, despite the greats having reached their peak decades ago.

The work of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Richard Hamilton, to name but a few, are still very relevant today. So, what made them so timeless and endearing, and how can you incorporate that into your artwork? Read on to find out.

Andy Warhol

Aside from the celebrities he admired, since no one can call Marilyn Monroe ordinary, Warhol liked to make the ordinary extraordinary, which can be seen in his Campbell’s soup can works. They have been parodied since its inception with loads of other brands making their won colorful version of their products, without taking in the message of the artwork. Play about with whatever you can find lying around and ask yourself how you can make that ordinary household item extraordinary.

The other lesson taken from Warhol is to separate emotion from your art. As much as he gushed over Monroe, you can’t say his work on her depicted anything especially meaningful about her, simply the icon she was. It is seen in other works of his, like The Velvet Underground banana album artwork and more.

It would be an interesting experiment to take something that is inherently emotional and attempt to drain emotion from it. Emotion is in everything. It’s in color, light and subject matter: the three prisms of artwork.

Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton’s work showed that a paintbrush wasn’t the be-all and end-all of high art. Most of his work would be better described as collages, as he took juxtaposing images from magazines to create a new message.

In a time where people are saying that there is nothing new anymore, take what is old and build from it. Take opposing elements and intentions and create something new from them.

Overly, overfill, duplicate, and combine to take the past and make art that depicts the future.

Another huge message of pop art was its criticism of consumption and materialism, usually repurposing 50’s adverts to create a message about anti-capitalism. In a time where anti-capitalism is at its height and we’re all a lot more aware of what we’re consuming and what we’re wasting, reusing elements of past artwork feeds into the pop art message.

You can use a pencil extender for Prismacolor to make even more bold colors in your artwork and not get a hand cramp doing it. And in a very anti-capitalism move, they extend the life of your colored pencils and adjust to fit any pencil. 

Roy Lichtenstein

When you think of Roy Lichtenstein, you probably think of comic books. A lot of what the comic industry initially thought of as flaws, became showcased focal points of his work. Things like basic cartoonish designs and the iconic dots that made up the colors were necessary for the printing presses of the time but are features of Lichtenstein’s work. It is a great example of one of the pillars of pop art: borrowing from mass media.

Like early comics, Lichtenstein’s work is defined by its bold primary and contrasting colors, thick lines, and few details. If you are looking to stand out in modern art and graphics, you should embrace bold colors. 

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