Art and illustration influences culture whether it is in our subconscious thoughts or our consciousness. In today's social awareness, we may dismiss anything artistic illustration that will influence our daily lives or our culture. But subconsciously we act and dress what we see on our media today, whether we like it or not, art is part of our lives, from what we hear on the radio, to what we read on the daily paper.
Since the dawn of humankind, tribes and hunters illustrate their daily lives on caves, using iron oxides and charcoals that they scrounge from their bonfires, whether to record their daily lives or as a means of communication they used illustration to transfer values to one another.
To the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, where pharaohs used it for their religious literature. And the word Hieroglyph means ‘sacred carving’.
To the wood engraving of the Victorian era, where they print illustrations using woodblock, from literature to children’s books, it was their favorite mode of entertainment.
The frontispiece of A Christmas Carol with handcoloured illustrations by John Leech (1843). Courtesy of Wikimedia.
This Novel was written by Charles Dickens and illustrated by John Leech is an example how books changed at that time period.
And to what we see today in magazines and apps. It serves as a form of communication that tells different cultures, norms, opinions, and even ideas without saying a word. Visual communication is sometimes undervalued and overlooked by today's society but it can subliminally influence us without our knowing some can change our opinions, imprint principles, and even manipulate our daily lives.
I've always been into comic book art and the 1960s are full of pop art, it was the era that revolutionized this kind of style from Andy Warhol to Roy Lichtenstein. A certain piece from Lichtenstein that struck me, the 'Look Mickey!' piece, it was the first time that comic prints are painted on large scale, and most of his works were adapted from pop culture icons of that time.
Lichtenstein adapted a previous illustration from Bob Grant and Bob Totten and created its own pop art the depicts Mickey and Donald Fishing.
He was also accused of copying art from other artworks but to his defense, he altered most of his paintings to look different from the original, kind of like today's NFTs where most of those pieces are copied from pop culture icons, and they say that copying is the highest form of flattery. Whether some of us think that this is kind of unethical most artists started from copying others’ work and grows into a much better and more original as their previous counterpart, much like Lichtenstein did and that some of his works were originally his. It is also embedded in today’s society the fair use of property rights where we can adapt pop culture into our own piece of art, fan fiction novels to doujinshi – a fan-made manga created from an existing pop icon.
And speaking of manga, a Japanese term for Comic Book is inspiring the whole world in its own way. Whether you’re from Asia or the Americas it brought us cultural and societal diversity, Artist Takashi Murakami: a contemporary artist from Japan was a fan of Anime and Manga, his works were considered a bridge from the western media to the Japanese culture, where he established himself first in the western art world and bring his Nihongo roots to his style. ‘Flower Ball’ was his most influential work with a colorful and joyful aesthetic that blends anime/manga roots to the western style of art, different color was represented to different human emotion to set up the colorful pop art.
It doesn’t matter where you came from, what culture you belong to, art and illustration can be a medium that communicates between culture and societal barriers, even if we don’t speak the same language art can speak for itself
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