Andy Warhol: Teaching His Art Methods

By Phill Powell

Andy Warhol was many things: illustrator, photographer, artist, filmmaker, music promoter, author and celebrity.

His rich artistic legacy lives on at DMA, where our art & photography students use some of his famous silk-screening techniques to make image magic! In celebration of what would be his 88th birthday on August 6th, let’s take a look at his influence on our student projects this summer!

Warhol Campbells Soup cans
Andy Warhol left an indelible stamp on American art, and he remains a huge influence on anybody who wants to learn graphic design. (Photo: © 2016 The Andy Warhol Museum)

THE POPE OF POP

Andy Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh and attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology. During the 1950s, he worked as a commercial illustrator, becoming very popular and able to command hefty fees.

By the early 60s, Warhol was pioneering his vision: Pop Art – a school of art that was especially concerned with how modern images were used in popular culture. His most famous early works were his paintings of a Campbell’s Soup can, churned out in a type of artistic mass production.

DMA Warhol artwork by Amanda
DMA student Emily Spikes has the Warhol silk-screen method down, and shows it in this class work.

Warhol often used well known celebrities as his subjects. His silk-screening method borrowed elements of printmaking that Warhol had studied, and used that to create multiple images of movie stars like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.

The typical Warhol “celebrity” silk-screen was a painting containing two or more identical photographed images, each filtered through a different tint or color.

RECREATING WARHOL’S METHODS IN ART CAMP

In our Junior Adventures in Art & Digital Photography camp, kids ages 6-8 get to explore both facets of Warhol’s graphic art – as photographer and artist.

As photographers, students go on “photo safaris” around campus, finding interesting subject matter worth capturing. They also learn how to process those images in Adobe® Photoshop®.

David Bowie by Colette Albertson
DMA student Colette Albertson pays tribute to Warhol’s method with these iconic David Bowie images.

Then students explore Warhol’s famous silk-screen method firsthand, taking an image and reproducing it multiple times in alternate colors. (Repetition of images was a key part of Warhol’s method, such as in 1962’s “Green Coca-Cola Bottles” – an image of 112 Coke bottles stacked in rows.)

What makes this learning experience even cooler is that Warhol is just one of the famous artists covered in the class. These junior campers also study and learn to mimic the styles of artistic heavyweights such as Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse!

DMA Warhol artwork by Maria Kuzmina
DMA student Maria Kuzmina demonstrates her Pop Art smarts in this piece.

Warhol’s silk-screen method is also explored by our older students, as well. The various student pieces showcased in this article were all created by DMA students in our two-week graphic design academy, which exposes students to numerous types of graphics preparation during a power-packed, pre-collegiate experience.

A PROFOUND AND POPULAR LEGACY

Andy Warhol has remained an icon of Pop Art and modern celebrity. He’s been immortalized in everything from sneakers to The Simpsons, and the silk-screening techniques he helped popularize are still in use today…like at DMA.

More importantly, Andy Warhol’s work marks the moment when art and commerce first recognized they were linked through advertising and celebrity. His work still stands as a comment on that powerful relationship – and it’s never had more to say.

DMA Warhol artwork by Ruoxuan Shao
Ruoxuan Shao made this Katy Perry masterpiece in class at DMA!