SKULL POP ART - Sugar Skulls as Art

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I have a friend who loves skulls and she wanted me to illustrate a skull for a tattoo. Skulls are kind of not my thing, ya know? Skulls are very goth and goth is dark and scary - not bright, colorful or humorous, all things I tend to infuse into my style of pop art.

But pop art is defined as "a form of art that depicts objects or scenes from everyday life and employs techniques of commercial art and popular illustration." Pop art gets to play with the images that bombard us daily and skulls are all over the place in today's graphics so why not play with skulls?

I am not into goth, dark or scary but I figured why not do Pop Art Skulls in my own psychedelic, sixties pop art style? I love Day of the Dead skeletons so I took my cue from the vibrant way that an image of death is treated in the folk art skeletons of the Day of the Dead celebrations. (If you're not familiar with the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos - Mexico's version of Memorial Day - take a look at some of the Day of the Dead images on Google.)

In this series of Pop Art I am taking silhouettes of every day images then filling them with parts of another pop art design I've created. In this pop art design I wanted my typical rainbow colors but slightly darker and less saturated overall so I dropped in black shadows and overlays on the background areas.

I also wanted some solid black shapes to sharpen the colors and to bring in the "dark" element so I popped in some black "holes" and a big graphic black circle for balance with some ghosted white stars shooting out from it. Then in went some big, bright round areas for tension across the front and all of a sudden I was seeing "black holes" and a "big bang".

These all translated nicely on the skulls giving them cracks and shattered areas - like skulls that had been around for a while. I got rid of the jawbone, added some jagged breaks and removed a tooth just to add to the illusion. What I ended up with was a cosmic explosion inside of a human skull. I kind of like the idea of a bunch of black holes and a big bang floating inside a dead head, it's sort of modern day physics meets Gothic horror - very fitting so close to Halloween!

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