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When I Saw Andy Warhol’s Artworks

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I remember the first time I saw Andy Warhol’s artworks was about ten years ago at an exhibition in Taipei, Taiwan. At that time, I was not a big fan of Andy Warhol and I didn’t understand why all the works that only show some mundane objects could become a form of great art. I couldn’t appreciate his works like most of the people do. After visiting the exhibition with skepticism, I started questioning myself what is real art? What is originality? I curiously dove into the pop art culture and realized that it is not what defines art, it is the art that defines itself. What Andy Warhol did is truly impactful, but I never thought one day I would decide to utilize a controversial artist’s way of thinking and doing as my inspiration to address a social issue and develop a paper.

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When Andy Warhol was eight years old, he suffered from Sydenham chorea, a neurological disorder commonly known as St. Vitus dance, characterized by uncontrollable movements that confined him to bed. As a young boy and spends much of his childhood in bed with comics, Hollywood magazines, paper doll cutouts, and drawing lessons. In his spare time, he continued to draw upon getting back his health. He developed an interest in art which help him build the foundation of his future career. He also had a pigment problem that caused spots on his skin. In response to his physical imperfections, he cultivated various looks through his cosmetics, wigs, clothing, and plastic surgery. His interest in beauty and skincare fields also affected his early artworks.

“Business art is the step that comes after art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. During the hippie era, people put down the idea of business. They’d say “money is bad” and “working is bad”. But making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” ― Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was not only an artist but also an entrepreneur. He started his career as a commercial illustrator and earned a significant revenue to invest in opening up his own artistic ventures. Catching the trend of radical thinking and free love of that time, he developed new art methods which placed him as a major pioneer in the pop art movement. He successfully grew his business with groundbreaking works and constantly challenged himself to explore new media including film, music production, publishing, fashion, performing art, and television. He believed that art should not be restricted in canvas and it can be displayed with diverse techniques through different platforms. He also did a lot of self-portraits in which he viewed himself not only as an artist or entrepreneur but also as a business brand to build and promote.

Throughout his career, Andy Warhol frequently collaborated with many celebrities and brands to produce a varieties forms of commercial artworks and he built up a “factory” to help him scale his art business which allows him gained a substantial amount of profits as well as significant reputation and popularity. He also helped others who he worked with achieved stardom. Realizing the facts, he predicted that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.’ This saying really came true and reflected on the booming of live streaming, social media content creators, and any other internet celebrity in today’s world.

“What’s great about this country is America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good.”

― Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol frequently used the bottles of Coca-Cola and Campbell’s soup cans as the subjects in his artworks because he thought these objects are the fairest things in the world, no matter how rich or poor people are, they all spend the same amount of money to buy the same Coca-Cola drink and Campbell soup. In front of these daily commodities, all individuals are created equal, rich people will not get a better taste product despite the fact that they have more money to spend on purchasing those products.

“I like to be the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place. Being the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place is worth it because something interesting always happens.” ― Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was a gay man, he delivered homosexual related content through his paintings and films at the time of homosexuality is convicted of guilty in 1950s America. He mixed his intimate relationship life and professional pursuit throughout his career and he was not deterred by the issue of AIDS public health crisis that destroyed the gay community and he still generated paintings that communicated it.

At the time of the emergence of capitalism in the US, some rich people would collect artworks to hang on their home’s wall to demonstrate how rich they are, therefore; he thought that there is no need to paint a masterpiece or care about creative concept, if people love money and want to tell everybody they are wealthy then they can just hang the money on the wall. So, Andy Warhol printed a picture of multiple two dollars cash and sign his name on it, making people retrospect the issue pertaining to art and the value of art itself.

Andy Warhol’s pivotal insight is usually not understood by most of the world. It is because human brains are linked to remove the mundane and center on the novel. He believed that conquering this cognitive bias can lead to a better appreciation of beauty. Andy Warhol also claimed that people should do things that average people don’t see or understand because those are the only great things. He proposed that putting the two opposite things that never meet together could generate the most exciting fascinations. Thus, having the courage to disrupt what people believed in this world can make a greater impact on the world.

Andy Warhol maintained that it is crucial not to think about making art, but concentrate on getting it done. Let other people determine whether the work is good or bad, or they love it or hate it. While people are deciding, we should make even more art. This is similar to the brainstorming process which is essential to defer our judgments and spread out to generate as many as ideas we can.

Collecting and Documenting are Andy Warhol’s two core practices. He liked to collect every trivial item in his life and summarized all the pieces from his daily life until he died. Besides, he not only documented all the surroundings via his paintings and films but also via his tape recorder and Polaroid photography to capture both his ordinary and magnificent encounters. His films focused on mundane topics and presented them in an obscure way. He let the everyday little things that are monotonous suddenly excite us and allows everyday boring items to exhibit the ethereal beauty of life itself. The lesson is when most people don’t cherish something and throw it away doesn’t mean the thing is trash, the value of it is waiting for someone to unearth.

Blotted-line: Andy Warhol built a blotted-line skill that integrated drawing with basic printmaking while he was in college. The blotted line technique allowed him to produce a variety of illustrations utilizing the same initial pattern. This approach significantly influenced his commercial art career and empowered him to be able to bring several ideas to clients. Realizing the benefits of gathering lines in production, he began his lifelong interest towards quickly create multiples, despite the fact that he controverted the universal perception of the uniqueness of art and the value of hand-painting itself.

Silkscreen printing: Andy Warhol kept cultivating his mass production of art creations technique, he executed his most famous style which is photographic silkscreen printing to duplicate the look of commercial advertising. This approach provided him an accurate replication of his origin images while allowed him to explore various means, such as registration (align colors on a single image), over-printing (print one color on top of another), and color combinations. He worked with studio assistants and professional printers to aid his artistic manufacturing and successfully leveraged commercial endeavors with avant-garde works. He let art can be consumed by many people.

A new poll done for the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Business Council Institute found that 95% of respondents believe homelessness is either a serious or very serious problem. Even the notorious traffic congestion issue cannot beat the concern over homelessness. Some people said that homelessness is caused by low wages that aren’t catching up with the cost of living, some people claimed that it is the result of the personal decisions and actions, not a broader problem in society. Also, some people believed that substance abuse and mental illness are the main causes of homelessness. No matter what are the reasons behind the homeless problem, homelessness is substantially existing all over LA, people are living with it on a daily basis. 

There are several debates correspond with the idea to deal with the homeless issue, one is that the city of LA cannot prohibit sleeping in public because people should have the right to sleep or live on public land unless the city officials provide enough housing or shelters for those who need them. So, there is a dilemma among the rights of the homeless people and the housed, some people showed the willingness to pay more taxes for efforts to solve the societal problem with services, temporary shelters, and housing, but still, public’s empathy has limits, some people strongly disagree with it and feel that homelessness crisis was mainly an outcome of individual’s choices. 

Although homelessness had been a pain in LA for decades, public awareness has tremendously increased. People feel like the government should do more and think the money that the city has already put into solving the issue of homelessness had been spent ineffectively. As the homelessness problem has worsened, the LA city is struggling with the speed of the shelter’s construction and other services to keep up with the herd of people moving to the streets. People are overwhelmed by the growing homelessness issue, and the frustration that people are experiencing now would be more profound.

While most of the people are intuitively drawn to pay more attention to the obvious solutions which are temporary shelters and public services. Andy Warhol would start with accumulating all the small things around the public property and homeless people as many as possible, putting all the pieces together and scrutinizing them in order to set up a thorough up to date homeless profile database and tracking network, he makes ordinary things suddenly become meaningful. Also, the whole procedure of collecting and documenting would be repeatable, he can refine it and make the next iteration of the system that much better.

Andy Warhol will begin to flare out and generate as many ideas as possible while other people are still evaluating during the ideation phase. His goal would be reaching for quantity, not for quality and quickly generating a lot of ideas not solutions, but the seeds to possible solutions because he thinks it is vital to be open-minded when it comes to doing brainstorming process. Doing this helps step beyond obvious solutions, employ the collective creativity, and discover new and unexpected areas to explore.

When it comes to homelessness, people usually think of the problem of mess and drugs, but Andy Warhol will see things differently and do things that other people disagree or even disregard. He will not let himself trapped in a cycle of bias and he will overcome the inclination of human nature, and this can be a powerful way to create innovative design solutions to challenging problems. He will first reframe the way that a problem is viewed by figuring out what’s attractive in homelessness, even if the idea is so crazy and it doesn’t seem worth of try, he will use that to inspire a movement. 

Utilizing the better appreciation of beauty of the mess and function of drugs, Andy Warhol is able to provoke the confidence and self-respect among a group of homeless people who has been socially marginalized and launch a homeless pride campaign on the basis of their shared identity, culture, and experience, making the homeless understand they still have the power to make impacts to the world and motivate them to take actions to help build the world a better place. Sometimes a bad idea can surprisingly turn out to be a great idea.

Apart from the pride campaign, Andy Warhol will harness the creativity to put two opposite things that never meet together to be merged together. Most of the people would never think about one day they will have to live like a homeless, so the disruptive event would be a massive sleepover event that utilizes a park or enclose an entire street and promote the concept of staying overnight at the public property to experience the life of homelessness. This idea could possibly generate the most fascinating social changes to the society, the housed people might become not that intimidated by the homeless people, and they are likely to get to know more about the homeless mindset and result in coming up with even more unexpected disruptive solutions to address the homelessness problem.

The cost of living is getting higher than ever, more and more people suffer from the lack of housing affordability that put intense pressure on them trying to make ends meet, and finally, they have no choice but to live their life on the street. Instead of building traditional public shelters, Andy Warhol would utilize his notable repetition technique to try to produce a type of mobile housing that can be easily built in a month and most likely can be replicated efficiently and mass-produced to achieve high quantity and satisfy the high demand. It can also be on-demand as long as the production line is highly duplicated. Moreover, its mobility and lightened materials features can be a benefit to the residence management and it can be easy to reform and reboot.

All in all, as we all know that one of the most serious issues in LA is homelessness and the level of public concern has clearly increased. There is no such thing that who has the main responsibility for solving the problem of homelessness. People cannot escape it because we all live in the same society and we need to be pushed to address homelessness. Walking through the design thinking process of Andy Warhol, it empowers us to rethink, relearn, reframe, refine, and restart and to inspire the newest innovations. 

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