I had to be honest, I hadn’t really been familiar with the term pop surrealism (or lowbrow art). Of course I’ve enjoyed the works of Art Spiegelman and his peers here and there, but I didn’t know that was specifically a genre of the graphic arts.
If you’re not familiar with Camilla d’Errico’s work from Tanpopo and Helmetgirls, this is a great introduction. Although the title Pop Painting: Inspiration and Techniques from the Pop Surrealism Art Phenomenon seems a little cocksure, her beautiful artwork here more than justifies the byline. In addition to the obvious fantasy elements, her work is most obviously inspired by anime and varied influences from less obvious sources.
Pop Painting is very practical and breaks the creative process down into sections. Like any good art instruction book it takes both technical and the muse to task in this volume. Too often, a book relating to art instruction, whether it be music, painting, or writing, just cannot get that balance right. The text will be too much step by step instruction, and not enough inspiration. Or the book will spend too much time trying to connect you to the spirits, instead of just pointing you to practical ways to create on a regular basis.
As a musician, my experience is that most of the time, the real path to creating something worthwhile is just getting into the habit of starting something. Even if it’s bad or imperfect, that poem/story/picture/verse you write is a step forward to something else. Camilla d’Errico does an excellent job of talking about the creative side, without getting into flowy, useless language.
For example, I like that in the tips and tricks section where she mentions the “witching hour” as a good time to get creative and points out other cool tricks.
Overall, Pop Painting is a great read, and a helpful step for those stuck in a rut. Even if you’re not a painter by trade or desire, there’s still a lot to learn here. Definitely pick it up if you’re interested in any part of the process.
ComicsOnline gives Pop Painting 3.5 of 5 trippy ponies!