We're led to believe that there's a hierarchy in art. You know, fine art - that's the best; mass-produced art - that's no better than advertising; and digital art – well, anyone can do that, right?
Maybe there is, but there are plenty of 'originals' that are distinctively average; instances of 'fine art' that are bereft of ideas; and Andy Warhol overcame the contention that mass-produced products/ mass produced art couldn't appeal to art collectors. As far as digital art goes; it's part of our inescapable future. The rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) with sales now into tens of $millions shows that there's value. Of course they're not short of inflated hype, but that's not something that the art industry has shied away from before.
Where do I sit on this? Look, why listen to me? What I want to do above all, is to create art that makes you think about the wider world and where it's going. I'm not wedded to digital - I'd love to use aerosol spray cans, stencils and mixed media more. I'm not yet into NFTs. One day perhaps, when the froth and vapour has evaporated.
What I do believe in, is the idea that the medium - with which an artist works - speaks to them. It's the role of an artist to respond in kind. I also believe that art, as well as upcycled objects, have a ‘natural home’.
In my case, the 'natural home' for a lot of my designs is to be worn, to be carried, or to be hung in the home, but not necessarily printed on paper behind reflective frames. This is why I have partnered with Redbubble to create a shop with hundreds of products appropriate to my designs. Perfect as gifts, especially for those who have limited space for non-practical things, like art...
At the heart of my 'Merch' range, is the ironic definition T-shirt. If much of my art is about showing you one thing and meaning the opposite, so that you might reflect on why all is not as it seems, then lets get a definition out there on what irony is; and then of course, subvert it.
A natural way of doing this is to define not irony, but to imagine the dictionary definition of 'ironic T-shirt', and then bring in dramatic irony to subvert. This means starting with Ancient Greece, as all things 'Western' must, where protagonists in Greek plays often didn't know that they were in a tragedy, comedy, or farce... So one ironic T-shirt definitions reads:
The use of words to convey a meaning on wearable cotton material, that is the opposite of its literal meaning, often not grasped by the wearer.
You can work it out for yourself, but I love the idea that the wearer does not know that the ironic T-shirt that they have gone out and bought and are now wearing, is ironic. That's ironic.
I know, it’s a bit meta, right? But this concept is central to observational comedy, and to life itself. Are we not sheep that flock? If a sheep does not flock, is it a sheep? And who is the shepherd in this…field?
There is a 'I am not a sheep' T-shirt of course too... You can choose from a large selection of ironic designs in my Redbubble shop, and not only T-shirts, but baseball caps, clocks, duvet covers, coasters, phone cases, shower curtains, I know I've really have gone all out... but then wearable art is awesome, and this stuff is unique.
You can have the advantage of being knowingly ironic.
My Redbubble Shop
The 'natural home' for many of my designs can be found in my Redbubble shop 'Ben Cowan Art' via this link. Here you will find an array of T-shirts in all shapes, sizes and colours, sustainably produced.
Other worn, but brand new... accessories include baseball caps, aprons, scarves, bags and dresses.
For the art home, there are clocks, prints, canvases, coasters, mugs, flasks, even duvets and blankets...
Finally, for your knowingly ironic tech gear, there are mouse and desk mats, phone and tablet cases of all types and sizes.
Come and have a look - You will find a great choice of fantastic quality ironic products to gift or to cherish yourself. Offers are available...