As artists who were born in the 1980s matriculate into the art world, we begin to see how the consumer landscape has shaped their point of view and how being raised in the age of marketing has affected their conception of art.
For those of us weaned on a steady diet of Saturday-morning cartoons, its not only the characters that populate our collective subconscious but also the products they came to represent. Action figures, lunchboxes, stickers and T-shirts—every figment of animated imagination had a counterpart in the material world, and few among us can claim not to have owned something associated with our favorite cartoon. The result is a generation of artists t
hat works in a heavily graphic aesthetic and sees little reason to delineate between art and merchandise.
Steve 'SteveOramA' Wilson, the artist whose work Hero on a Half Shellis on the cover of this week's CityBeat is the ideal generational ambassador. A 27-year-old graphic designer who recently relocated to San Diego from Honolulu, Wilson focuses mainly on apparel and product design, recently winning a competition that will see his work featured on bottles of 1800 Tequila. His colorful, cartoonish designs are available on T-shirts sold through websites like Infectious and DesignByHumans.com, and he's currently working on a project that will culminate in a footwear line to be sold throughout Europe.
Although he dabbles in other media, like sculpture and photography, Wilson prefers apparel. “It's the easiest and best way to get your art out there to a big audience,” he says. “People walking around in public wearing your design is the ultimate reward.
As for product design, Wilson is drawn to it because 'I can walk into a store and see something that was once just an idea now sitting on a shelf waiting for someone to purchase it.'
Editor's note: The story originally got the name of the tequila brand wrong. It's been changed.