Artist Livens Up Boring Thrift Store Paintings With Pop Culture Icons
If you’re a thrift store junky, you know that you’ll likely never come upon a Picasso or Van Gogh with a sale tag on it. But one artist has made it his life’s calling to transform cheap, banal art into highly imaginative—and to some, valuable—opuses.
Canadian artist David Irvine has been making art for 25 years, specializing in “found art” projects such as the “Re-Directed Art” series, where he injects junk art with new life by inserting iconic, popular culture images or concepts into original works. “These unwanted works were bought at thrift stores, yard sales, and even salvaged from the curb,” Irvine tells RealClearLife. “I’ve taken great care to touch up any scratches or marks and then added in my own visions,” he continues. “Ninety-percent are prints or lithographs, and the remainder are anonymous paint by numbers.”
For example, Irvine adds the famous sweater from The Big Lebowski‘s Dude to the image of Jesus Christ; while Kermit the Frog, in full journalist regalia, is inserted into a rather mundane street scene (see below).
Irvine tells RealClearLife that he’s since fanned out from the “Re-Directed Art,” moving on to mediums such as throwaway LP records (rest assured someone‘s turning all those Engelbert Humperdinck records time forgot into something worthwhile). “All the records used were far too damaged to play properly anymore and destined for [the] landfill,” explains Irvine. “They are primed and prepped and painted, with a light spray finish for protection and gloss.”
Irvine’s even moved on to burned-out light bulbs, fashioning them into Christmas tree ornaments. “Each burnt-out bulb is cleaned, [its] gloss finish is removed, and then [its] primed,” says Irvine. “From there themes range from black-and-white portraits to full-color scenes.”
If you’re wondering how much Irvine’s works run, they’re actually quite a bit more affordable than the average Jean-Michel Basquiat. Irvine tells us that his pieces from anywhere from $150–$750, and he gets commissioned all the time by buyers as far off as Japan and Australia.