I came up with the concept of creating several different brands for my artwork during the summer of 2018. Throughout the last few years, I had been diverging a bit from what has been called my "signature style" to create paintings using different styles and concepts pertaining to art. But the art world favors a more linear development of one's style or technique, slowly developing and building upon what has been done before. This is the approach I had always followed, with a few "experiments" that differed from that technique thrown in the mix. I had always wrestled with the question: How do I keep developing along my linear path while starting new paths which can develop in different directions, exploring different types of Pop Art?
There are many traditional, immediately recognizable types of Pop Art. The first and most recognizable would be the Lichtenstein inspired comic book panel art. There are many artists today who build upon, or merely use, this concept of Pop Art. I spent years publishing online comic books, so I had always considered the idea of painting some of my panels on canvas.
Another type of Pop Art is food art. Some food art is not Pop art, but paintings of cheese-burgers, hot dogs, pizza and other fast food items are Pop Art. I have done some food art in the past using my signature style, but I also would like to explore Pop Art using food in different painting styles.
Other types of Pop Art are brightly colored celebrity portraits, word art, and more.
So, I was wrestling with the idea of exploring some of these types of Pop Art just to see what I might make of them. Then one night, I had an epiphany. Like the branding used by a company such as GM, where they have different models with unique names all under the umbrella of Chevrolet or Buick, I would launch several series of paintings with different brand names. This would differentiate the work from my original brand, and provide linear paths in the different directions from different starting points. I could still continue to explore my original intent of merging modern Fine Art Painting and Pop Art, while exploring more traditional Pop Art paths to see what I could wring out of them.
Richard Hamilton, the father of Pop Art, stated “Pop Art should be popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and big business.” So far, my art has been popular (as people buy it), mass-produced (the series paintings I have done), sexy (how can any painting of Marilyn Monroe not be sexy?) and maybe a few others. Now I can add “gimmicky” and “big business.” What could be more Pop Art than dividing one’s career into a series of brands?
The first brand I created was the Fiero Brand. These are characterized by colorful, flat Pop Art portraits. The use of bright colors reminded me of the early 20th century Fauvist movement, so I decided to use a similar name for the brand name. Fauve means "wild beast," and was applied to those painters because of their use of wild color. I came up with the name Fiero. Fiero is Spanish for "fierce," (reminiscent of "wild beast") and I really like the way the word looks emblazoned on the flat colorful paintings I am doing. These paintings are quite different than what I usually do… unvarnished to enhance the flat quality of the large color fields, and reminiscent of a Pop Art print, not a painting.
These paintings will not be different just in technique and appearance. The Fiero brand, and subsequent brands, are a different relationship with art and art history than my traditional approach… I have considered myself as a Modern Art painter in the Pop Art Field, with the focus being the exploration of paint on a canvas with relatable subject matter. The Fiero brand will be radically different, as it focuses on the person in the image rather than then artistic technique. This is quite a departure for me, as I have never strayed from the 20th century idea of "paint on a canvas." Thus, it necessarily needs to be its own brand.
I have even written a new Artist’s Statement for this brand: "That indelible image. That snapshot of time. One moment in a million moments captured in a split second. We will never know what someone was thinking at that moment they were forever captured, but we know that captured they were. We can suppose, we can surmise, but it is just a fancy in our minds. My goal is to add some color and drama to those moments, using the timeless images of our culture. The manipulation of color in a scene can increase or heighten the drama of the moment and suggest something other than the actual moment. What were they thinking? I have put my spin on it, now it is up to the viewer."
I began creating paintings for the Fiero brand, while also continuing with what I now call "The Original Brand." Another brand soon followed, the "Yum Brand," featuring the aforementioned food art. Other new brands are being planned for rollout in the coming months.
One of the most interesting thing that happened to my art because of this branding was an immediate cross-pollination between brands. The first painting I completed for the Yum Brand was a very realistic cheeseburger painting, in a bright but traditional style that I had developed in the years before evolving into a Pop Artist. But something happened on the third painting I completed for the brand, titled "Two Hot Dogs." While I intended to paint the subject in the same painterly traditional style, the work took on a life of its own. I started working the zen-like brush strokes I use in the original brand into the work, giving it a much more Pop Art appearance. It wasn't a conscious decision. Something about the subject made it happen intuitively, and as it was happening, I started really liking the results. Of course, at that point it became more conscious and gave me a painting in the end unlike any I had ever painted before.
As I was developing these brands and the paintings within them, I had another epiphany. Almost any artist working in a particular mode always wants to be the best that one can be in their field. How does one become the best one can be in Pop Art? I came up with the concept of being both the Mozart and the Beethoven of Pop Art. Mozart is known for writing some of the most beautiful Classical music of his time. But he usually did it within the norms of Classical music. He didn't change Classical music, he just composed it better than anyone else. Beethoven, on the other hand, changed Classical music. Music after Mozart went on as it did before... after Beethoven, Classical music was a much broader field to play on. Without Beethoven, we would have no Mahler or Stravinsky.
So when it comes to Pop Art, I will try to be both Mozart and Beethoven. The intent of my original brand has always been to combine modern concepts of color and the idea of "paint on a canvas" with the subjects of Pop Art. The goal is to merge two disparate types of art by creating Pop Art with a Fine Art sensibility. Many have even questioned whether my work under the Original Brand is Pop Art, because it doesn't look like any Pop Art they have seen before. So in my mind, much like Beethoven, I am succeeding in creating a new type of Pop Art rather than working in the accepted modes of Pop Art.
But, as stated earlier, I would like to explore the established types of Pop Art, and it is here I will liken myself to Mozart: to create Pop Art in widely recognized Pop Art styles, but try to have the work in each of these styles be the best it can be. The best food art I can produce for the Yum brand, the most colorful and and bold paintings I can create for the Fiero brand, etc. To do it all as good or better as anyone working in those modes. Not just create Pop Art, but BE Pop Art. Using the concept of branding to categorize these modes, while still working in my original brand as well. And by succeeding in being both the Mozart and Beethoven of Pop Art, I will be able to say: "I Am Pop Art."