[ART] 7 Things to Like about Jean-Michel Basquiat

7 things to like about…

Jean-Michel Basquiat

ART STYLE : Neo-Expressionist  / Primitivist

Since I was seventeen I thought I might be a star. I’d think about all my heroes, Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix… I had a romantic feeling about how these people became famous. – Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Trumpet. 1984. Acrylic, crayon, canvas. 152.4 x 152.4 cm. Private Collection.

1.  There’s a lot to say about Basquiat, like that he was a very young artist who died young to drug addiction or that he was also a musician and a producer (source)…
And although those are reasons enough to be interested in Basquiat and his work, one thing to like about this American artist is that he’s self-taught (source). Not given the opportunity to learn in a more formal way, Basquiat, irregardless, pursued art because it helped him like everything better (source).


SAMO graffiti, film stills from New York Beat, 1980-81

2.  He gained his prestigious place in the art world through graffiti (under the pseudonym SAMO) and self-promotion.  “To make ends meet, he sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets of his native New York. Three years of struggle gave way to fame in 1980” (source).  Born without the funds that could reassure an art career, Basquiat had to be very persistent and ambitious to make a name for himself.


Basquiat in Italian

3.  Another thing to like about Jean-Michel Basquiat is that he wasn’t limited by his critics and reached out globally to make his art known.  According to Biography.com, he made sure to “exhibit around the country and the world. In 1986, he traveled to Africa for a show in Abidjan, Ivory Coast” (source).  Needless to say, that kind of self-confidence in what he was doing is something to admire.


Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981. Acrylic, oilstick and spray paint on canvas. Photo courtesy of Christie’s.

4.  Even though he was well-traveled, Basquiat also didn’t stray too far from his mixed race and ethnic roots. His art reflects his experience and has a very bold quality about it. There was no way it could not be; “born and raised in Brooklyn, the son of a Haitian-American father and a Puerto Rican mother” — he clearly found the harmony and the angst between these three worlds. Because of  this, Basquiat”has been credited with bringing the African-American and Latino experience in the elite art world” (source).  As an observation made by the Brooklyn Museum states: “Inspired by his own heritage, Basquiat both contributed to and transcended the African-influenced modernist idiom.” (source).


Basquiat. Untitled (history of the black people)

5.  Maybe one of the most noteworthy things about Basquiat is his contribution to representation.  Because he “didn’t see many paintings with black people in them” he made it so that “[t]he black person is the protagonist in most of [his] paintings” (source).  As any under- or misrepresented person can tell you, that matters a lot.


MoMA Skateboards // Reebok’s Basquiat Collection// Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Secret Society // Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail album cover

6.   What’s more, Basquiat continues to get a lot of coverage to this day– you might recognize his style everywhere and not even realize it!  Let’s take Basuiat-appreciator and Brooklyn-born Jay Z, for example. On Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail cover, Jay Z uses the same method of crossing out words as Basquiat does to create intrigue.  Without a doubt, Basuiat’s artwork is basically synonymous with the urban scene and proves to be extremely popular.  Although he wasn’t big on capitalism, he’s “possibly [the] most commercially exploited American “naif” painters of the widely celebrated Neo-Expressionism art movement” (source).

Warhol & Basquiat // Warhol & Basquiat Collaboration

7. And if you still need more reasons to like him, here are some famous people Basquiat influenced! To name a few, his friends Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, and other artists Julian Schnabel and Francesco Clemente all took to Basquiat’s unique, raw style  (source).  Also, for some pop star influence, several hip-hop artists periodically drop his name in their music — GlobalGrind lists 12 rappers (link).  Not only that, the Weeknd seems to be inspired by Basquiat’s hair!  And the admiration doesn’t stop there, Orange is the New Black actress Ruby Rose adorns herself with Basquiat tatts to give tribute to this phenomenal, immortalized artist!

Basquiat // The Weeknd

Ruby Rose // 1


[ART] 7 Things to Like about Jacob Lawrence

It’s Black History Month!  And that’s no excuse not to know some things about famous artists who exemplify Black Excellence! So let’s dive right in and talk about 7 things to like about Jacob Lawrence!!!


Jacob Lawrence by Robert W Kelley

ART STYLE : Expressionist / History Painter

“My belief is that it is most important for an artist to develop an approach and philosophy about life – if he has developed this philosophy, he does not put paint on canvas, he puts himself on canvas.” Jacob Lawrence



Jacob Lawrence. The Migration Series. 1940-41. Panel 40: “The migrants arrived in great numbers.” Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm).

1.  In his art, he recorded historical and social aspects of black life.  From desegregation to the African-American migration from the south, Lawrence captured the energy and essence of a movement/transition/event.  According to the University of Washington, Lawrence “used his art to tell stories about black history — stories that were overlooked in the typical “American History” taught in schools.”  Who doesn’t like amazing, visual documents of history hardly taught?



“Young Jacob Lawrence at 6.”  (onlinenetworking)

2.  Lawrence faced many adversities from a very early age and throughout his life, and, despite it all, Lawrence succeeded to make meaningful, noteworthy art. As About.com states about his childhood: “He kept up painting when he could, but was forced to drop out of school to help support the family after his mother lost her job during the Great Depression.” How can you not like someone who has so much determination at such a day and age?

Jacob Lawrence. The Migration Series. 1940-41. Panel 58.

3.  He was an art educator, very much loved by his students (source).  He made art in the meantime but he left major impact on younger generations of artists under his tutelage.  Who wouldn’t rally for someone who contributes to the success of others?



 Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series No. 58.

4.  “Lawrence was the first African-American artist to exhibit in a mainstream New York gallery” (source). Breaking through the racial barrier into the more privileged white circles of society, he cleared the way for other black artists to be majorly featured.



The Butcher Shop, 1938

5.  His unique style still influences black art with its bold colors, nearly featureless faces, and the essentialized shapes aesthetic.”I think of him as one of the great figurative formalists of the century,” Spafford adds. “He really altered the art landscape of the Northwest, and his career blossomed here, although you wouldn’t expect that, coming from a hub like New York” (source).



Gwendolyn Knight // Gwen and Jacob

6.  He didn’t stifle his wife’s career.  Married to fellow artist Gwendolyn Knight, Lawrence benefited much from his wife’s artistic insights.

The Seattle Times Obituaries says that: “Until her husband’s death in 2000, Ms. Knight was both muse and creative partner to Lawrence, one of the premier American artists of the past century. Their partnership lasted 60 years. Ms. Knight continued making art, showing some of her strongest images in a 2003 retrospective at the Tacoma Art Museum.

Unlike her husband, whose intense focus on his painting came to him early in life, like a calling, Ms. Knight preferred to spread her creative energy around. She painted for pleasure, but even before she developed an interest in painting, Ms. Knight loved to sing and dance.”



Jacob Lawrence

7.  “Curator Beth Sellars, who organized the 1998 exhibition of Lawrence’s work at the Henry Art Gallery [says] “His kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity—both he and Gwen, actually, because I think of them as one. So much of what he accomplished was through her sheer strength.”” (source).


[ART] Spümcø / John K style! INFLUENCE

Spümcø Inc. is an animation company that lead to the creation of 90s show Ren and Stimpy.  The show’s creator John Kricfalusi /ˌkrɪsfəˈluːsi/ (better known as John K) gave us this  detailed, comical and insanely grotesque art style.  


Ren from Ren and Stimpy

Changing animation forever, the Spümcø / John K style needs a bit appreciation for what it’s done.  So here’s some examples to show how this art style has inspired some of the most well-known cartoons when they want to emphasize a moment of total bizarreness. 


Spongebob Squarepants

Spongebob // Squidward // Spongebob // Mr Krabs

Adventure Time

Finn // clown nurse // Finn // Ricardio

Star vs the Forces of Evil

Ludo // Marco Diaz // Star Butterfly // Marco Diaz

Steven Universe

Yellow Diamond // Steven U. // Amethyst // Steven U.

The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy

Principal Goodvibes // Billy // Mandy // Billy

The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack

Captain K’nuckles // Flapjack // Captain K’nuckles // Captain K’nuckles


Sanjay and Craig

Craig // Sanjay // Sanjay // Craig

Honorable Mentions

Teen Titans Go! // Gravity Falls // The Amazing World of Gumball // Courage the Cowardly Dog // The Misadventures of Flapjack // Catdog // Billy and Mandy // Fairly Odd Parents // Fairly Odd Parents

Things to Note about the John K. Stylistic Influence in Cartoons

  • usually a close-up on one character’s face
  • extra lines around the mouth and chin
  • eyes of the character are not typical for that character (usually extremely expressive)
  • certain facial features (like hair and/or teeth) are detailed / more pronounced
  • the animation with the John K art style is notably different from the rest of the animation in the show
  • lasts for only a few seconds at most
  • gives the impression of intense strain/stress
  • usually accompanied by what is considered to be unhygienic bodily functions (such as snot, tooth decay, sweat, etc.)
  • if it’s likely for the character to have facial hair but does not regularly appear to have it, stubble/scruff shows up in these moments

[ART] 7 Things to Like About Vincent van Gogh


The Starry Night. Saint Remy, June 1889. The MoMA, NY.

1.  You look at this painting, and you’ll get people saying this is the epitome of his ability to inspire abstract expressionists.  It’s expressive, emotional and imaginative,.  The Starry Night is so distinct, it’s still relevant– of all merchandise-inspired-by-High-Art, this is one of the most recognizable.  So much of his art is marketed to you, and you probably didn’t know it until you look up a virtual gallery of all his artwork. And why his stuff of all stuff?  I think it’s his bold use of colors and lines.  And it’s fantastic that he makes it look like there’s so much psychological tension– you  just know that he set the scene for a crazy interesting story with you as the main character.  But that’s my speculation.  Whatever it is, it’s 100 years later and The Starry Night, as well as his other paintings, are influential as ever.

2.  He said “Normality is a paved road; It’s comfortable to walk but no flowers grow.” And although many artists can say the same thing, you should look at his life.  He wanted to join the clergy but stubbornly refused to finish his requirements; he pretty much went overboard with trying to be romantic with his crushes; he was in love with a pregnant prostitute despite the obvious nosedive it was taking;  and he wasn’t even famous during his lifetime.  One might say he lived a miserable life, but he sure as hell lived by his motto, and I sure as hell give him props for it.

3.  Van Gogh appreciated nature, and if you love nature, you’ll probably appreciate him.  He could paint flowers and the outdoors with such romanticism, they’re pretty much a go-explore-nature campaign.  In letters, he’s praised it by saying “If you truly loved nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”  And, I guess that’s enough to like van Gogh but he accomplished something that’s even greater than that– he can convince you through his art if an environment is menacing or peaceful.  I mean look at it:

Wheat Field with Crows. July 1890. Van Gogh Museum, AMS & Cafe Terrace at Night. 1888 Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo.

He’s using the same colors, but he paints with such different motives that you know instinctively which one would make you feel safe and which one is more akin to a horror movie scene.  Yellow is scary in Wheat Fields.  Yellow is inviting in Cafe Terrace at Night.  Both have no people to tell you how to feel, but both convey it so clearly.  Look at his range here!

   4.  His use of deep blue is hypnotic, and I can’t emphasize it more than what beautiful blue!

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was his favorite color, but he sure knew how to use it.  If Picasso had the Blue Period, van Gogh made it his religion.  Dominating shades of blue for every occasion.  Sad?  Obviously blue.  Happy?  Why not try blue?  Pensive?  Blue is good.  Whimsical?  Blue.  As the website colormatters say: “you can’t go wrong if you use blue.”

5.  He’s “largely self-taught” (source: moma.org).  When so many of the greats were given their career through apprenticeship or were encouraged into art school in their teens so they could get their pedigree, it’s amazing Vincent van Gogh felt confident enough to make this his career.  Even if he thought his brother being an art dealer could get him anywhere, his brother made it clear to him that his pride and joy first painting The Potato Eaters was not up to Parisian standards and he couldn’t sell it.  By this time, it was 1880 and van Gogh was about 27 years old.

6.  Another thing that’s pretty admirable is his close and inspiring relationship with Theo– his brother, friend, art dealer, and financial/emotional support (source: wiki).  With about 800 letters between them, the van Gogh brothers really conveyed their warm brotherly bond.  Not only that, but van Gogh shows off his thoughtfulness.  Even in a depressive state, you can tell he’s amused by his own nature, and you begin to root for him to recover his mental health.  He waxes poetic, but you can tell he sincerely feels everything he writes.  Everything seems to affect him, and he’s sometimes too idealistic, but without it, you know he wouldn’t be half as creative as he turned out to be.

7.  Van Gogh got a reputation as “Christ of the Coal Mines.”  Before pursuing painting as a full-time profession, he lived in a town of coal miners.  He sympathized with the poor workers and made it a point to document their lives in art.  And although van Gogh was a well-read polyglot, he refused to learn Latin on the premise that it wouldn’t help him serve anyone but the well-educated (source: biography.com).  With the common people in mind, van Gogh deserves some respect for his unambiguous morals, standing his ground and facing a lot of disgrace for it.

Perhaps this article doesn’t convince you to like van Gogh, but I hope I gave you seven good reasons that help you see what made him different from the rest.