The Adventures of Gary Baseman: Dumb Luck or Brilliant Creative Strategy?

By Andrew Selby and Alastair Adams.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Such approaches require both creative intentionality and inventive, resolute market positioning. Gary Baseman, the Californian-based illustrator, has described himself as a ‘pervasive artist’, with interests spanning illustration, vinyl toy design, animation and fine art. His work explores some complex and challenging issues that have pioneered the way for other artists to express ideological sympathies further, through a variety of media outputs. In doing so, Baseman’s work has taken on a cult status, exemplified by frequent personal appearances at global events to publicise and promote his deliberately limited edition works. This paper argues that far from masquerading as an insular and maverick creator, Baseman is instead a remarkably shrewd and considered businessman, able to prolifically engineer successful conclusions to projects that other artists might routinely reject through subjective, ethical or moral concerns. In so doing, he personifies a new dimension of mercurial approach to the field of illustration and pervasive art, moving beyond the recognised definition of the term ‘entrepreneurial’, to instead concentrate and consolidate his creative business interests around the ideas of low-brow art, commercial desirability and an aversion to risk. Models of practice are considered from some of the material and formats that Baseman has created to explore why these approaches were necessary, successful and how such strategies might be employed by other creators.

Keywords: Creativity, Entrepreneurialism, Illustration

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.187-196. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.247MB).

Andrew Selby

Lecturer, School of Art and Design, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK

Andrew Selby is an award-winning illustrator who works extensively for publishing and advertising clients both nationally and internationally. His work has appeared in newspapers, on billboards and on the covers of major corporate reports for household names for nearly two decades, including campaigns for Nike, Accenture, British Gas and Eurostar. His work has consistently been selected by 3x3: The Journal of Contemporary Illustration, Society of Illustrators’ and the Association of Illustrators’ Images juried exhibitions and annuals. His research interests originate from a deep love of the subject of illustration and questions its perceived ‘place’ in the expanding context of visual communication. This research has unearthed a number of areas for further examination that stem from the interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary nature of the subject, resulting in a number of individual and collaborative projects with other academics, including academic papers on Chris Ware and Saul Steinberg. Current research activity centres on the investigation of the importance of wit and humour in visual communication and this has successfully traversed the areas of illustration, animation and graphic design.

Alastair Adams

Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK


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