The internet is a great thing for creative minds. Sure the criticism an artist can receive is a heck of a lot harsher than what a face to face confrontation would be and you need to be ever vigilant of the dreaded trolls who are lurking at every dark corner of the web ready to rip your work apart. However, it does offer numerous benefits such as getting your work out to numerous people on a global scale and having the freedom to do what you like. This freedom has given us some superb pieces of work which when successful, can spread like wild-fire with pop culture fans and internet users alike. There is also freedom to interact with your audience in an instant way which just might not have been possible before. It is these elements of artist freedom that both Brandon Bird and Jim’ll Paint It excel in but they both use this freedom in very different ways.
Brandon Bird may not be a name that you know but his work is instantly recognizable. In fact one image in particular sent the internet into free fall when it came out. It is the image below that most internet users will recognize and it has popped up on numerous message boards and memes and has been embraced by the pop culture universe.
Brandon comes from California and has worked in some degree in numerous projects, most interestingly helping out the punk rock group the Aqauabats with their merchandise and show designs. The thing that is so great about Brandon’s work is the sheer creativity in his mashups (Peter Dinklage as Wolverine is incredible) but also the childlike innocence behind them. They embrace childhood whether it be the rejection of children you want to play with (Harrison Ford suffers from this in one painting), or the sheer excitement as an adult we get of seeing our childhood icons mixed up in interesting yet somewhat natural feeling ways. They always gel together so well no matter what is getting mashed up or how surreal the outcome. His merchandise enforces this notion with coloring books and adventure kits available that harkens back to a simpler time when we made our own entertainment. It is ironic then that the internet has embraced his artwork so much. Maybe we all just want to remember that feeling of childhood one more time?
Jim’ll Paint It also has close connection to the internet, more accurately it is his audience he relies on for part of his inspiration. Little is known about Jim (other than we think he is called Jim) but it’s what he does that is important. He takes requests from internet users on what to paint, with the more extreme and bizarre the concept, the better. The love of retro and childhood shows that Brandon has embraced with his art is seen here because Jim’s (mostly) UK audience have looked back into their past for inspiration and got Jim to incorporate these memories into the pop culture icons of the present. So you have Jim Bowen from UK show Bullseye doing his best Thelma and Louis impression while the band T–Rex and Jurassic Park combine together to form a stunning visual piece. But it is not just retro stuff Jim excels in; his audience throw anything at him from Christian Bale watching over Ben Affleck’s version of Batman to Voldemort becoming happy he found a can of coke with his name on it. The great thing is though the audience give him the idea it is Jim’s incredible mind that puts it all together and gives his own unique spin on it. It is always an incredible experience to read what the person has requested and then see Jim’s surrealist version of it.
Both Jim and Brandon have their own websites where you can buy their products and also look for Jim’s Facebook page where you can check out more of his fans requests. If you want to see your favourite pop culture icons engaged in ways you never imagined possible, then keep checking out these guys work as they continue to create incredible pieces every week or so.