We all have them: those pictures that always make us smile or remind us of a happy time in our lives. Mine happens to be a picture of my sister around age 3. She’s rocking some pretty sweet pigtails and a mouth full of baby teeth. She’s so genuinely happy and smiling so hard that her nose is slightly scrunched up. Looking at it never fails to brighten my mood. So, this seemed like an ideal portrait for an Andy Warhold-Inspired pop art make over.
My mom scanned the original 8×11 photo and emailed it to me to manipulate digitally. However, first, I needed inspiration…
While Andy Warhol definitely has a distinct signature, his treatment of objects and portraits varied over his career. Bright colors might be painted on Marilyn Monroe like makeup, traced over a still life of abandoned cocktails, or take the form of random shapes in the background of The Last Supper. However, what ultimately inspired me was his treatment of the Mona Lisa and “The King” aka Elvis.
Like most of his works, both Mona Lisa and Elvis are manifested in high contrast. However, these works have two other defining characteristics in common: the absence of color and a double rendering. To introduce my sister to their ranks, I first converted the image to grayscale. From there, I increased the brightness to 12% and the contrast to 83%. (I arrived at these two percentages through trial and error and it will likely differ for every photo, but this might be a good place to start.) Next, I made a copy of her and placed it adjacent to the original. Lastly, I saved the image, uploaded it to Walgreens, and ordered a print to be delivered by mail. Easy peasy.
A few days later, a tube arrived with my Warholed-sister inside. I hung her prominently over my bar cabinet. Only afterwards did it occur to my that it might not be appropriate to have a 3-year-old presiding over happy hour. But that’s art. Right? It’s emotion-driven, often unexpected, and–at times–controversial.
For more pop art inspiration, check out these 12 rooms.