What exactly is meant by Lowbrow art? Starting from the late 1960s up till now, Lowbrow Art has developed immensely and has gained wide popularity from all around the world.
It refers to the visual art inspired by graffiti, car art, surfing culture, and punk music! There are many more exciting facts about Lowbrow art and how it gave birth to incredible artists. So, without further ado, let’s learn what lowbrow art is and how it has changed over time.
Meaning of Lowbrow Art
Lowbrow art arose in Los Angeles, California. It was mainly used by underground artists who weren’t fond of conventional art styles. The word “lowbrow” itself means simple and lowly intellectual. Since this art style was used in comics and cartoons, it wasn’t taken very seriously. Most posters with lowbrow art have bright colors that quickly grab your attention.
Lowbrow Art Movement
Initially, this style was used by a very tight-knit community of a few tattoos and comic artists. However, Ed Roth is the one who turned this into a whole movement known as The Lowbrow Art Movement. He was a car designer whose illustrations became very popular. He also designed Rat Fink and Hot Rod, which consisted of a rat with bulging eyes and a big mouth that looked evil.
In 1994, Juxtapoz Magazine was released, in which the entire art design was lowbrow, including the front cover! It was a massive opportunity for lowbrow artists to showcase their talent. It’s safe to say that lowbrow art became more mainstream from this point on, with different TV shows and companies using it in their marketing campaigns.
By the 1980s, lowbrow artists were also being recognized by award shows. One example is Gary Pantar, who won an Emmy award for his set design in Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. One way to describe it is that lowbrow art is the opposite of the minimalistic art style we often see today. It is extra, loud, and conveys several messages.
Once these artists started growing, the art style also changed a bit. As these designs went international, more illustrators started giving them their touch. It became more sophisticated and mature. It is when there was a divide created between Lowbrow and Highbrow art. The term “Pop Surrealism” origins from this divide.
Let’s explore what pop surrealism entails! The word “surreal” refers to something weird and unreal, which is the central theme of this art style. Similarly, the term “pop” shows how the designs reference pop artists and celebrities. This combination of dreamlike characters and stories from everyday life defines modern Lowbrow/Highbrow Art!
Three Incredible Artists of The Lowbrow Art Movement
Now that we have covered how the Lowbrow Art movement started, you must be curious about which incredible artists stood out in the campaign. So, let’s get into it.
Robert Crumb, also commonly known as Crumb, was the founder of the lowbrow art-inspired magazine Zap Comix, released in the 1960s. It was the first underground magazine that Robert was featured in, and it was a huge success! It pushed the lowbrow art movement a step ahead because companies hired him to make their characters, such as Fritz the Cat.
R. Crumb’s main published work is deemed to be quite explicit, with a combination of humor. In the late 1970s, it was highly uncommon for an underground press to become famous, mainly because it contained Lowbrow art. This is why Crumb has said to set the blueprint for underground magazines! Later, he released some personal projects, such as R. Crumb’s Comics and Stories.
Victor Moscoso is another underground artist from the 60s who impacted the Lowbrow Art Movement through his psychedelic posters for musical artists and advertisements. However, unlike most lowbrow designers, Victor was highly educated! He completed his art degree at Yale University.
Mike Jagger by Vitor Moscoso Victor_Moscosopsychedelic poster Victor Moscoso
After the success of Zap, the magazine started looking for more lowbrow artists to join their team, and one of them was Victor Moscoso. He was featured in all of the issues of Zap that included characters like Mickey Mouse and Little Nemo. His work went international once it was published in the magazine, thus increasing his demand.
Robert Williams is said to be the founder of the lowbrow art movement. After being an underground artist, he started Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine. As we know, this magazine exposed all of the lowbrow street artists, which led to the international administration of this art style—Robert mixed pop art with psychedelic illustrations in his artwork.
Robert-Williams ArtRobert-Williams ArtistRobt. Williams Painting, Low Brow Painting
In 2019, he released a book showing all his drawings and sculptures from his career. It was also presented in an art exhibition which attracted a lot of aspiring lowbrow artists! Those who are inspired by his designs can use this to observe his art techniques.
The history of Lowbrow art is truly inspiring! It’s incredible how a small, underground community of lowbrow artists can expand into something so mainstream. There was a time when lowbrow art was neglected for being non-conventional. Still, now it is being used by many different franchises and illustrators! This shows how every art form is valid and deserves appreciation.
Born in Turkey, Sibel Meydan Johnson lived and studied in Mons Belgium most of her life. She graduated with honors with a major in Liberal Arts.
In 1990 Sibel left her hometown for New York City. She worked for several years as a production assistant for " En Plein Air Masters" one of the first online plein air artists mentor programs then as director of production for Brush With Life TV’s series on visual art.
Today Sibel is an autodidact painter, Freelance writer specializing in art and the business of art. Mother and wife, she is a full-time artist.
Sibel's art captures and brings forth the hidden emotion of his subjects and evoke a sense of curiosity and introspection pushing the boundaries of creativity and expression, her work often combines elements of abstraction and realism, creating a unique and captivating visual experience that sometimes disturb the viewers.