All about pop art and how to use it in your designs.

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What is pop art?

Pop art is an artistic movement that originated in the mid-to-late 1950s and early 60s. It was inspired by popular culture and a rejection of traditional art styles.

Famous pop artists such as Richard Hamilton made the style more accessible, while Andy Warhol helped pop art break into other industries, such as movies and even music.

This article will explore the different elements of pop art and give you some inspiration and tips for using the art style in your own designs. Plus, discover free pop art templates for you to personalise and tailor to your needs. It’s time to make your creative projects pop.

Key characteristics of the pop art style.

A piece of pop art is incredibly distinctive, often with loud colours and bold shapes. Influential pop artist Richard Hamilton helpfully listed its characteristics as being:

The pop art movement began when contemporary artists began to feel that their art education and what they saw in galleries was unreflective of their life experience.

The style is, therefore, representative of popular culture, sourcing inspiration from comics, Hollywood, vehicle design, advertising, and other media. Artwork within the genre is also heavily laden with satire, humour, and irony.

When it comes to its formats, you’ll often see pop art in collages, paintings, sculpture, and mixed media.

Andy Warhol’s colourful screen-print of actress Marilyn Monroe is one of the most famous examples of pop art. Another is The Beatles' iconic collage album cover for ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, designed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.

Tips for bringing your pop art ideas to life with Adobe Express.

One thing’s for sure – the pop art style is eye-catching. This makes it perfect for advertising, flyers, social media posts, and more. Here, we’re going to jump into some top tips on how to create distinctive, pop art-inspired designs.

Go sharp with colour and use clean lines.

A quick search online for examples of pop art will bring up a page full of sharp images bursting with colour. If you want to create a poster or logo for your business that will immediately capture attention, these iconic designs will work wonders.

While using bold colours will catch the eye of your audience, clean lines will ensure the overall image remains simple. This helps to convey your message effectively, without things looking too busy.

For example, creating a bright poster with multiple images could easily get messy. However, dividing colours and images into defined boxes on the page will enhance the pop art vibe, while ensuring messaging is coherent.

Collage and combine images.

Collages are incredibly captivating. Every time you look at one, or a piece of media that combines images, you see something new. If you use this pop art technique in your design, it can encourage customers to stay a while to study the image. Whether you use the collage format for an advertisement or Instagram post, you’ll be on to a winner.

Look at The Beatles’ album cover for Sgt. Pepper, then look again – you see someone, or something, new every time, don’t you?

Not only will this format give your audience something a little bit different to engage with, but it also offers an opportunity to include multiple aspects of your business in one format. Just remember to keep it clean.

Repeat items.

Want to make a message unforgettable to your audience? Repeating items is a surefire way to help make sure what you’re portraying will become ingrained. A famous pop art example is Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup artwork – take inspiration from this iconic piece and reimagine it to be relevant to your needs.

This technique will help your design be fun, interesting to look at, and convey a message in an unmistakable way.

Repeating items is also a fabulous idea for making cards. Yours can be the most eye-catching card on the shelf, online shop, or mantlepiece.

As the name might suggest, the whole pop art movement was inspired by pop culture. So, have a think – is there something you could hook into that’s current in the world of celebrity and popular culture? Can you create something fresh and of the moment to get people talking about what you do?

Much of Andy Warhol’s work drew on celebrity culture, with his unforgettable images of icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Mick Jagger, Liz Taylor, and Debbie Harry becoming world-renowned.

Anything reactive will be well-suited as a social media post to create instant engagement.

Find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Some of the earliest examples of pop art focused on ordinary objects. These included road signs, commercial packaging, fast food, soup cans, and comic strips.

Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary can be an aspirational sweet spot for marketers and small business owners. Do you need to add some sparkle to an upcoming flyer? Drawing inspiration from pop art for this could be exactly what you need. Design it into a comic strip or put your subject matter into an out-of-context visual to capture attention.

Pop art colours and patterns.

Bold primary colours – red, yellow, and blue – feature heavily in pop art. The style typically uses stand-out patterns such as cartoon or comic book-esque graphics and action bubbles.

You’ll also see uses of dot work in many pieces of pop art, alongside vibrant mixtures of colours. Other pieces concentrate on saturated colours. Famously, Warhol uses this technique in some of his work, including ‘Marilyn’ and ‘Mao’.

Useful things to know.

When did pop art start?

The pop art movement emerged in the UK in the mid-to-late 1950s. It was inspired by and reflected popular culture, while also challenging what conventional could be. This movement also developed in the USA in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Who created pop art?

Many artists have created iconic pieces of pop art over the years. However, Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi (main members of The Independent Group), Andy Warhol, David Hockney, and Roy Lichtenstein are known for being famous founding pop artists.

Where did pop art originate?

Pop art originated in the UK as a rebellion against conventional art, its traditions, and culture. An assembly of artists, architects, and designers – known as the Independent Group – met often at London's Institute of Contemporary Art to discuss these topics in the early 1950s. The formation of the group, and the art that came out of it, are viewed as being the root of pop art.