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What Web Designers Can Learn from Andy Warhol

July 02, 2014 by Mainak Biswas under Design Web design428 views
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In The Philosophy of Andy Warhol from A to B and Back Again, the legendary artist spoke about the importance of art viewed as business and business viewed as art. He suggested that without artistic thought in a particular enterprise, it might, actually, not go very far. He stressed on the importance of art when it comes to running a business. His contribution to graphic designing and web designing is unfortunately not recognized much.

Andy Warhol needs more recognition among web designers

Most web designers today only have a faint idea of who Andy Warhol is and what his contributions to the world were. Though, initially, denigrated as a radical pseudo-artist who gave prominence to mass production, industry and pop culture, he is now considered one of the most important figures of post-modernism. With that in mind, Andy Warhol can always be seen as an inspiration to the websites that we build.

If we do not find inspiration in his art for every website that we build, his philosophy will surely help us to create works of art, instead of “me-too” websites. Andy Warhol was probably one of the most versatile artists in the world and he tried every medium & method to express his thoughts.

“You Are the One” was probably one of the first computer-based works of art handled by a major artist. Andy Warhol created the video with the help of Amiga. He animated Marilyn Monroe images to a soundtrack that is now displayed at the Museum of New Art.

With all this in mind, he can be a source of inspiration to web designers and developers alike. In this article, let us take a look at some of Andy Warhol’s quotes, views on design and theories in art to see how web designers can inculcate them in their own professional lives. Each of his quotes have something to say to the community of web designers.

“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

The most important legacy of Andy Warhol was to stress on the importance of art in business and business in art. He also revealed the single most important truth that a good business is like art. It runs well and it makes you to think, it moves you & it inspires you. When it comes to web designing, we need to remember that it, usually, translates into some kind of business.

If you were to succeed as a web designer, you will have to consider your work as an artist does. Designing websites is not a profession but an art. You need to bear that in mind before you take up projects. When you decide to create works of art, your website will certainly look unique and function better than what your client expects.

Always choose to bring art to your work and business. Whether you build websites or design logos, remember that you are an artist first.

“It’s the movies that have really been running things in America ever since they were invented. They show you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, how to feel about it, and how to look how you feel about it.”

Andy Warhol was famous for its admiration for pop culture. When he looked up to the American cinema, it was not considered of high quality. His contemporaries who were artists often looked down upon Hollywood movies.

On the other hand, Andy Warhol considered American movies as an example of what American society ideally could have been. He found magic in the banal and art in the kitsch. He firmly believed that movies could inspire us to do many things, including creation of art. With that in mind, web designers could choose to keep watching movies from different genres and try to find inspiration in them.

To find inspiration in movies does not mean you need to copy what you saw in a movie. Instead, it just means that you bring an idea or a theme from a movie that you like and then create a website based on that theme.

For instance, if you were to design a website for people aged between 25-40 years and your client sold vintage clothing, one of the ways to design the website is to take in themes & colors from a movie like The Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino. You are not going to copy what you saw in the movie but you would create a website that makes references to that movie. The target audience will already be sold.

“Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, So what. That’s one of my favorite things to say. So what.”

When faced with a creative problem, try to think like an artist. If you happen to brainstorm an idea that feels intimidating and you are not sure if it will work as a design, ask yourself “So what”. By questioning yourself and dismissing your fears, you will be able to create websites that are not replicas of what everyone else is doing.

You need to have the strength and courage to ask yourself “So what”; and that is very important according to Andy Warhol. Approach your creative problems without being intimidated by them.

The tech world is a place that is based in objectivity and results. For us, it can be a little scary to face problems and accept the problems as if they were a creative solution. The more we find in ourselves the ability to accept creative problems and turn them into artistic solutions, the better we will get in our businesses. If we had left our creative problems to be solved by Andy Warhol, he would have retorted with a “So what”.

“You have to do stuff that average people don’t understand because those are the only good things.”

While this quote is decidedly condescending and conceited, it has a little truth in it. What falls within the limits of existing norms can be ordinary and something that is expected from you. By sticking to the safe zones and creating websites that will be well-expected, you might compromise on your creativity & making changes within web designing industry.

Without being condescending and conceited, it is possible to stray away from the norms & be adventurous when it comes to designing. Try and explore new ideas that have already not been explored. Use permutation and combination to arrive at creative solutions that haven’t been thought about.

We do not agree with the statement that what average people do not understand is always good. Instead, we would like to read that statement as “what always falls within the safe norms may get boring and uncreative after sometime; and thus, it might be better to stray away from the norms & try to engage in creative adventures once in a while”.

“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 was someone who always tested people and their ability to digest his often difficult humor. In this particular quote, what he meant was that it is sometimes good to do things that are unexpected. If a corporate website demands that you create something staid, do so. However, try and make it a little visually appealing too. There is nothing wrong with that. As a web designer, you have creative and artistic freedom that other professionals do not have. With that in mind, it is sometimes nice to do what is not expected or rather, what is sort of unexpected. However, do not take this as a permission to mess things up.

Andy Warhol has left an indelible mark on pop culture and art as a whole. Whether you design websites or logos, there is always something to learn from the master. His attitude towards business is equally important for us to observe as well. It helps us to look at art as a business and business as an art. With that attitude, we can certainly overcome some of the most difficult creative problems in our hands.

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again) (1975, ISBN 0-15-671720-4), The Andy Warhol Diaries (1989, ISBN 0-446-39138-7) and Popism: The Warhol Sixties (1980, ISBN 0-15-672960-1) are some of the books that we recommend to learn more about Andy Warhol.

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