I can be picky with fine art. I love illustration and design so I've always been drawn to graphic aesthetics and went through the obligatory Pop Art fangirl stage in high school (the summer I was fifteen, I read as many books about Andy Warhol I could get my hands on and loved one line in his ghost-written autobiography so much I made it my e-mail address: philosophy_runs_out) but the sugary Pop Art eventually left me with a headache so I've since settled into an appreciation of graphic novels, online comics, picture book illustrations, book cover designs, etc. I didn't need to have a catchy term for the genre of art I preferred! I'm not an artist, after all. I'm a designer!
I've been doing a lot more drawing for fun over the past few months and am trying to push my illustration knowledge and abilities as much as possible. After having been in "design mode" for years, being back in "fine art mode" for the first time since art school has been kind of refreshing. I get to be personal and reflective in drawing, observe my habits and then try to get out of whatever creative comfort zone I've created for myself. I've been finding an array of inspiring artists online and their works really help me pinpoint 1) what I prefer aesthetically, and 2) how I can learn from them. These artists are illustrators from the UK, printmakers from Japan, zine teens from Texas, etc. Again, I'm not sure what defining themes their works might have in common (no need for labels remember I'M A DESIGNER), but there were definitely aesthetic similarities. Always graphic, often incorporates text, maybe self-referential somehow, sometimes surreal and even unsettling... Maybe examples would help:
Discovering The Chicago Imagists' work reminded me of when I'd watch classic movies and finally get a reference I never understood from The Simpsons. I suddenly found a history and reference point for certain characteristics I love most about contemporary illustration (as exemplified above by Kyle Platts, John Broadley, Laura Berger, and Marc Bell).
The Chicago Imagists were a group of artists in Chicago from the 1960s known for their grotesque/cartoonish surrealism and distinct separation from the New York art scene at the time. When the MMOCA exhibited a Chicago Imagists collection a few years ago, they described the movement:
Influenced by Pop art–already established earlier in the decade in New York and Los Angeles–Chicago Imagism was nonetheless highly original in expression. It was a fantasy art of brilliant color and underground cartoon-like satires that spoke to the political and social foibles, violence, and whimsy of contemporary life. With none of the deadpan irony and sophistication of New York Pop artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, the homegrown art of the Chicagoans was brash and irreverent–thoroughly Midwestern in its straightforwardness, offbeat congeniality, and goofy, punning titles. It was also emblematic of the decade’s youth movement and counterrevolution that championed flower power and a deep questioning of authority.
This perfectly describes some the qualities I love most in the art I was into before ever having heard of the Chicago Imagists, so it makes sense that I immediately fell for many of the Chicago group's artists. I wish I could find more videos or information about them online, but luckily this movie is out and maybe it will come to New York one day to educate the ironic and sophisticated east coast.
After having thought my education in fine art was over, it's been really interesting observing the details that I've loved so much in, say, Nobrow publications or Desert Island Comics, through a fine art lens.