When Follow Me was released I received lovely gifts from friends, a few of which were Pop Art/Andy Warhol themed, because of the influences in my book. The photo above shows a very thoughtful gift which was put together by my very creative friend, Rebecca – I love it so much and it is a brilliant memento to hang on my wall!
Last year there was a bit of a Pop Art resurgence, with a Pop Art exhibition opening at the Tate Modern and the BBC recently devoting a whole week to the movement, broadcasting excellent documentaries such as, ‘How Pop Art Changed the World: Soup Cans and Superstars’ (by Alastair Sooke), and ‘A Day in the Life of Andy Warhol’ (by Stephen Smith). I was really interested to watch these as a lot of the observations and themes were ones I had written about and studied during my time at University, which then fed into aspects of my Young Adult novel, Follow Me.
When studying Pop Culture as part of my undergraduate degree in Communication and Mass Media at Glasgow Caledonian University, I developed a fascination with Pop Art, and in particular one of the forefront artists, Andy Warhol. Warhol’s art was inspired by pop culture. He produced work which focused on celebrities and incorporated media headlines and everyday consumer products, such as Campbell Soup Cans and Coca-Cola bottles, into his art work. He used repetitive images, reflecting sameness and loss of originality.
I continued to read about his art, and life, long after I graduated, all of which influenced the idea to feature an underground hangout in Follow Me called the Barn, modelled on Warhol’s infamous ‘Factory’. Warhol’s Factory studio was a magnet for celebrities and misfits – the artist’s workplace transformed into a social meeting place, attracting not only those in the art world, but film stars and other music icons.
As the plot for Follow Me began to form in my head I thought about how attractive and appealing an underground hang-out might be for a group of bored teenagers stuck in a small town where not a lot is happening – especially if out-of-town attractive art students were the creators. The Barn within my book offers an escape and holds an allure for the young people, but there is a darker side to the hangout, creating the mystery element of my story.
What always struck me was how perceptive Warhol was about the direction society was heading, in relation to our obsession with fame and ‘the surface image’. He championed the idea that ‘art is for everyone’ and should be accessible to the masses. He was credited with the infamous line, that, ‘In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.’ With the oversaturation of reality TV and the oversharing of our daily lives – through personal photos and video clips on social media channels – it appears that today everyone is indeed having their fifteen minutes of fame. Society’s obsession with image and fascination with celebrities, (a fascination which appears to deepen when they die young, at the height off their fame), sparked off other themes within my novel.
Warhol became more than just his art – everyone wanted to know him and be with him. He actively encouraged and embraced this fame and recognition, and also constructed an ‘image’ of himself to portray to the world (donning a wig and sunglasses).
Through my studies I became more fascinated with the story behind his art work, and to me he became both an Icon and product of the postmodern world -Warhol himself is the art.
Sooke stated something similar in his Soup Cans and Superstars documentary, saying Pop Art images are now ripped off and used to sell products.
On the night of my book launch I wore an Andy Warhol ring -a clay construction of his face, created by an artist Flamingos and Giraffes on Etsy. Unfortunately Andy’s face fell off sometime during the after party! I’m sure this is fitting in some way…
I also wore a pair of Campbell Soup Converse trainers to my first school event. The quote on the shoe box is from Warhol ~ Art is what you can get away with. (He used to customise his own Chuck Taylor trainers with silk screens). If you pop into the gift shop in the Gallery of Modern Art you’ll find Campbell Soup prints, donning the names of areas in Glasgow.
If you ever hear people mention Andy Warhol and wonder who he is, take a look around – his art is out there, in many forms, waiting to be consumed…