Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vintage May: My 80's Pop Art Boy

This post is part of the awesome Vintage May series with Skirt as Top and Craftiness is Not Optional. These ladies have put together a 2 week tour of the decades with some very talented seamstresses. Everything in this series is always so inspiring- you won't want to miss anything!

If you have spent much time around my blog, you know that the florally soft vintage look is not really my thing. Don't get me wrong, it's one of those styles that I love and appreciate on everyone else. I just don't usually go for it myself. I do make the occasional allowances, but it's not my MO.

So for some reason, when I began thinking about what I would make for Vintage May, I became fixated on Keith Haring.

Keith was a New York street artist in the 80's. He was kind of the first street artist to make that crossover into a household name, long before Banksy and Shepard Fairey. 

He just made the simplest of line drawings. But they were so recognizable and iconic that they grew into their own language. You've probably seen his radiant baby or dog symbols before. He was making these big social and political statements with street vandalism, but leaving it up to the people to decide what his symbols were saying. Unless it was one of those times he was actually spelling out the message for them.

If you are around my age, you probably remember his illustrations appearing on Sesame Street. I think that's where the positive nostalgia I have with him comes from. It's totally amazing to me how he went from criminal street vandal to this huge pop artist that was even accepted by parts of the high art community. He got his message out, whether it was a giant public sculpture project for a children's hospital or an Absolut Vodka ad. 

I chose this 'batman' icon for Hendrix's shirt just because it makes me happy. I have a positive response to it. That's what art is all about right? And Hendrix always says his favorite flying animal is a bat. I made a freezer paper stencil for the black part and then painted the yellow in by hand. (Which, by the way, was not the easiest way to do things. I should have made a stencil for the yellow first and then done a separate one for the black part. Lesson learned.) 

One of my favorite creative lessons from Keith is that he never planned out ahead of time what he would draw. Even on huge public works, he would just start drawing in his simple bold lines and see where it led him. I know it's not the same on every level, but sometimes my best sewing comes from the times I don't pre-plan, don't over-think things. He was just pure creation in that way. 

I couldn't resist taking these photos by an actual Shepard Fairey mural we have in our neighborhood. His style of street art couldn't be more different than Haring's, but I'd like to think they share the same drive as artists to have their message seen by as many people as possible. It's the new and the old, vintage and modern. 

The shorts are just Oliver & S Sketchbook Shorts that I made slightly more eighties-licious by shortening them a bit. I used a Kaffe Fassett woven stripe that feels to me just like a sheet set or curtains my older brothers might have have had in the 80's. The colors in the stripes are fantastic. 

I'm so glad Kristin and Jess asked me to join along in Vintage May. Otherwise, I might not have had an excuse to make Hendrix this righteous 80's outfit. (Although I am a very strong believer that there are many aspects of 80's fashion that should never be seen again.) 

By the way, I hear that the amazing Dana has something crazy good in store for Vintage May today as well. 

Thanks for reading folks. Remember, crack is wack.


  1. 80s pop art, brilliant idea for stencilling on kids cloths! I love how you remembered to roll up his t-shirt sleeves too:)

  2. Superb. I am really, really convinced now that I need to start some freezer paper stencilling. Maybe in 30 years we'll all be arguing whether we should restore, paint over or preserve our kid's T-shirts. :)

  3. So when are you releasing your line of uber-cool children's clothing? We're all just hanging around waiting Jess!

  4. You nailed it! I love the shorter shorts too! -Caroline

  5. This outfit is rad! LOVE the Keith Haring freezer stencil and I think my brother had shorts very similar to these in the 80s. And that first picture of your adorable little man is totally awesome dude :)

  6. I love this look!

    What type of paint do you use when you stencil? I haven't painted on t-shirts since ye olde puff paint days :)

  7. He cracks me up. I LOVE this. I wracked my brain trying to come up with something boy and failed obviously. :) You hit it out of the park. Love your thoughtful interpretation and detailed process. Love the shorts especially. So totally 80's!

  8. totally fun Jessica. you're on an 80s roll. RAD.

  9. and i love your story about not having everything planned out from the get-go. Tooootally agree on that! I love seeing where the creative process takes you.

  10. awesome! I agree on the spontaneous creativity being something special. There have been times when I've been at a loss for what to do so I just start and it goes someplace fun.
    that boy of yours is such a cool cat.

  11. Like, OH.MY.GOD... this is SO rad. Like gag me with a spoon, Jess, you're so awesome.

    Man... I remember Keith Haring... I feel so old. ;)

  12. Oh wow~! I was going to choose him as the Artist from the last season of Project Run and Play sewalong!
    You did a fantastic job.

  13. Could your son be any cooler?
    Nope - wouldn't be possible!
    Such a great shirt and such fantastic pictures!

  14. Did I forget to comment on this back when? I suck. But you do not - you totally convinced me of Keith Haring's coolness with this awesome look. You win!


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