Assignment Inspiration: "Pop Culture"


UFG's next assignment is titled "Pop Culture", and as its name suggests it will feature art connected to media and entertainment- from film and music to internet memes and famous news stories. Pop culture art has become more and more popular in recent years with the rise of galleries like Gallery 1988 in LA, along with numerous online spaces devoted to geek and internet culture. This type of art has enormous range in style and subject, but always pleases the knowledgeable viewer with its sense of the familiar and nostalgic.

If you're thinking of making work for "Pop Culture" but could use some inspiration, here are a few examples of artists' treatment of the subject, among other resources. We are accepting submissions until September 29, so go geek out, get inspired, and submit to the show!

When it comes to pop culture, my personal obsession is film so my favorite pop culture art tends to come in the form of poster design. So many talented artists have taken to putting their own spin on posters for classic and cult films, either for special screenings or just for fun. Peter Strain, Matthew Warren, Claudia Varosio, and Meagan Hyland are among my many personal favorites. And of course pop culture poster art can expand outside of film, into the realm of gig posters and other advertisements.  I'm a fan of Nat Damm's colorful and somewhat cheeky music posters.



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Portraits of actors, musicians, famous personalities, or fictional characters are a great way to pay tribute to these recognizable figures, and sometimes poke fun at their personas. Cindy Lesman creates wonderfully expressive watercolor portraits of various film and tv characters, complete with quotes. Painter Richard Phillips created a whole series devoted to Lindsay Lohan in his signature sexualized, hyper-realist style. Ileana Hunter's black and white pencil drawings of actors and singers are absolutely breathtaking.




Many artists enjoy creating crossovers or mash-ups of their favorite characters and/or art styles. For example, Dan Hipp places Mario and Yoshi in the famous bike scene from ET. Among other things, Megan Lara illustrates cult favorite characters in an intricate Art Nouveau style reminiscent especially of Alphonse Mucha.




There's so much amazing pop culture art out there I can't begin to succinctly categorize it, so here's a bit of potpurri! Annie Wu creates gorgeous, at-times gritty illustration for comic books and television shows.  Jim Ferguson illustrates iconic scenes from movies in beautiful inks. Olly Moss is among the most well-known pop culture artists, and his varied film, television, and video game work tends to play with the eye in clever ways. Of course, literature is not left out of the pop culture genre, so I've pulled James Fenwick's take on characters from Neil Gaiman's fantastic book, American Gods, and cartoonist Kate Beaton's hilarious riff on the Brontë sisters.






The internet is chock-full of resources relating to pop culture and pop culture art, so check out a few of these sites if you'd like more inspiration!

Agents of Geek (news and art) The Art of Animation (concept art, fan art, sci-fi/fantasy art, really just beautiful stuff) Buzzfeed (internet memes and lists) The Cool Ship (various nerdy news and features) Dork Shelf (Toronto-based site with a little bit of everything) Foreign Movie Posters (I run this one) F**k Yeah Movie Posters (both official and fan-made) Geek Art (art, film, and design) Largeheartedboy (music and books) The Mary Sue (female-centric geek news and opinion) Tom and Lorenzo (fashion and television)