Staff Top 10
Top Ten Current Visual Artists

fine art is becoming more and more available to the masses as the graphic designers of the day push the boundaries between art and design. I’ve quite frankly, become quite bored with what most people pass off as “Fine Art” these days. Most gallery artists and scenesters have worked incredibly hard to make themselves celebrities and icons, instead of artists. They create art that only people who have lots and lots of disposable income can afford. They put the artist on a pedestal above the viewer... and the art suffers. It’s dangerous to put the art and artist above the viewer. The viewer gets alienated, and then people wonder why the public at large doesn’t have much interest in art. Who can blame them? They’ve had shoulders turned to them. But these artists aren’t above slapping their images on a tee shirt. It’s not selling out, it’s beautifying the world. These artists are making graphic art that’s smart, fun, and perceptive of the world around them. The best part is, you’ve probably seen almost all of these folks work in one way or another. It’s out there...


A modern Paul Klee. Bold, graphic line drawings that have enough integrity and imagination to jump over that line of graphic design and into the world of fine art. Like Paul Klee, he plays with lines and colors. There is a rhythm to his paintings. Squiggly lines and shapes play and overlap with strange amoeba like heads and creatures. Incredibly fun to look at. Are graphics art? Yes.

Paul Pope

The best comic book artist there is right now. He refuses to cater to the Joe Quesada school of huge eyes, hands and feet on short, angular bodies. His, flowing, painterly line quality sets him far apart from not only mainstream comics artists, but also, most of the independent artists who seem to be stuck in an all too cutesy style lately. In my opinion, no one can approach him. He’s one of the few comic makers that I still hold any interest in, he’s got more than just style. The fluidness of his drawings brings real warmth and life to the subjects he draws, and his stories possess an often child-like joy under all the darkness. Everything from spindly legged robots to tough school girls and circus freaks. Beautiful, humorous, stuff. I’m not sure Paul Pope ever sleeps. He’s currently doing a Spiderman book and his own series, 100%, about life in New York City.

Yoshitomo Nara

Anime on piss and vinegar. Nara makes cute things sharp. Paintings, sculptures, album covers, and snow globes. Though the idea isn’t really new, “Things aren’t always what they seem...”, Nara grabs people’s attention by making his paintings so deliciously irresistible. Bright and warm colors draw you in, and then you notice the not-quite-right part. Little girls with wry looks and bloody hands. Farting doggies. Lollipops shoved into mouths. He’s being pimped all the time in the pages of Giant Robot. Pick up a copy right now, and I guarantee that they’ll mention him at least once.

Pete Fowler

Yeah, it’s the Super Furry Animals guy. He paints the monsters that live in the modern world. And I don’t mean that in a metaphorical, George W. Bush sorta way. I mean that in a big, hulking monsters talking on their cell phones on a street corner sort of way. Cheeky.

Margaret Kilgallen

Sadly, Margaret has passed on, and is painting in some other place, some other thing, some other... that isn’t here. But she left behind an amazing body of work. Whimsical and lovely, collage like paintings that were inspired by graffiti art and old sign lettering. One of the biggest bummers ever, is that we’ll never get any new Kilgallen work.

Geoff McFetridge

MTV, The Virgin Suicides, Grand Royal Magazine... just to drop some names. Geoff’s work is very bold. His designs often look utilitarian and simple, but his color choices and subjects ooze warmth.

Jim Avignon

AAAAAAHHHHH!!!! Cartoons on acid! Is it a bad trip or a good one? It’s pretty hard to tell. Strange creatures with toothy grins get distorted in Picasso like fashion and live in little worlds a lot like ours. They watch TV, put on lipstick and pick flowers. They also tote guns and needles and take power lunches. Social commentary coated in candy colors.

Keren Richter

Drawings of hipster kids get the Keren treatment and suddenly have amputated arms and fucked up teeth. Chicken drumsticks sprout wings and float about the mutants. Loose and fun and definitely someone to watch out for.

Barry Mc Gee

Also known as “Twist”, Barry Mc Gee started doing graffiti in his native San Francisco, but his distinctive style set him apart from most writers who, for the most part, all stuck to very similar looks. His droopy eyed faces and blank word balloons are often layered with collage like blocks of color and even found objects. He’s a city guy makin’ city art.

Mark Ryden

Much like Yoshitomo Nara, Mark Ryden likes to take the cuteness out of the cute things. His incredibly rich and detailed paintings often portray wide-eyed children surrounded by cuts of raw meat and religious icons. Every object in his paintings is a reference to something, childhood memories, science, historical figures, cryptic logos and uh... meat. His skill at his craft is impeccable.

By: Colleen Delaney
Published on: 2002-08-05
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