Do you remember a time when you wanted a new toy that looked awesome in its box? Maybe you were drawn to the bright colors, fun characters, and exciting words that covered the outside. Or have you ever wanted to try a new snack because the pictures on the packaging made it look extra flavorful?
You have commercial artists to thank for that! Commercial artists use their art-making skills to get people’s attention. How they arrange color and shape help draw you in. Once they have your attention, they can share an idea such as:
“This toy is EXPLODING with fun!” or “These corn puffs are the CHEESIEST corn puffs EVER!”
Many businesses and organizations hire commercial artists to help them promote their products and ideas. The artist will design artwork for websites, television commercials, posters, books, and other types of media.
The artist Andy Warhol, who lived from 1928 to 1987, started his career as a commercial artist, designing magazine illustrations, advertisements, posters, album covers, books, and cards. He later became a leader of the Pop Art movement. Pop Art uses imagery from popular culture (television, movies, and comics books) and commercial culture (advertisements). Warhol even hung and stacked his artwork so it looked like product displays in stores.
For this week’s at-home activity, we will be drawing inspiration from the commercial objects all around us. Let’s look for some to draw and color! Maybe you’ll start in your pantry, like Warhol did. Some of his most famous paintings are of soup cans. We have two of these works at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
But you do not have to stick to food. Like Warhol, you can look for other items, such as:
- Book covers
- Board game and video game boxes
- DVD boxes
- Clothing with graphics
- Ball caps with logos
- Children’s bubble bath or shampoo
- Anything with a fun design printed on it!
Turn your search into imaginative play. Find a basket or bag to use, and play “grocery store” in your own house! Collect the things that catch your eye, and then lay them all out to decide what you want to draw.
You can even look out your window for signs, billboards, or logos that may be fun to draw, or visit a retail website and browse through their product images. The possibilities are endless!
I will be drawing a can of pears that I found in my pantry. Once you have decided what you want to draw, find a piece of paper, a pencil, and a hard surface to work on. Since Warhol often painted the same object more than once, I plan to draw my object twice. To create two pieces of paper out of one, I fold my paper in half and cut it down the middle. If you want, you can fold your paper again to make four different pieces of paper to draw on. Make as many as you like. Look at what you will be drawing. What shape does it remind you of? I see that my can, like Warhol’s, looks like a tall rectangle, with a round top and bottom. I start by drawing a rectangle (most boxes, bags, and cans can start as a rectangle). Then, I draw the rounded bottom and an oval for the top of the can. Before moving on, I erase the extra lines. My rectangle has become a cylinder.
Look at the designs on your object. What shapes can you find? Where are they located within the design? My can has a green stripe across the middle, so I draw a stripe across the middle of the can in my drawing. I follow the top and bottom curves of the can to make the stripe look like it’s wrapping around the outside (just like the label does in real life).
On my real can, I see a half-circle filled with sliced pears under the stripe, and I see the top half of a full pear, fresh from the tree, above the stripe. I think that’s a pretty clever design! It makes me think that the pears in this can came right off the tree, too. I draw the same thing, to the best of my ability, below and above the stripe in my drawing.
In the upper-left corner of my can, I notice that there is a logo, or a unique design used by an organization to identify itself, printed over the top of the pear leaf. Do you see a logo on your object? To capture my can’s logo, I first draw an oval. Next, I draw the words and numbers that I see. Commercial artists use words and pictures to share ideas. There are many ways to write letters. This is called typography. Do the letters of your words connect to one another? Are they all capitalized? Are there different types of letters on different parts of the package?
Parents and guardians—help your younger artists copy the letters they see on their objects. It is a great way to help them learn to recognize and write the alphabet. Sound out each letter as you copy them, and then look back and say the entire word. Take turns saying the words, and let your little one watch how your mouth moves to form the sounds. If you’re drawing food and looking for a snack break, sampling your treat might help your young learner connect pictures and words to physical experiences, like taste and smell.
Now I have finished my first drawing! If you would rather just color and not draw, you are more than welcome to download and print my can drawing to color. I love to share, and I’d love to see what colors you choose!
Like me, you may want to draw your object again. To make it easier, I will trace my first drawing. Tape your drawing to a bright window, and then tape a blank sheet of paper over the top of it. This will help you see the lines to trace.
If you have a scanner and printer at home, you can also make copies of your drawing. Share a drawing with someone else in your home to color. Andy Warhol collaborated with his mother, Julia, on many projects. You can even share your drawing with friends and family online for them to print and color.
Now that you have two or more drawings of the same object, color them in! You can use markers, colored pencils, crayons, or any other drawing tools. You can even color your pictures in a grayscale, using only your pencil. Notice how different the designs look when they are colored differently.
Here’s how I colored mine. I hope to see all of your colorful drawings! Share them with us—and the world—on social media. Tag @MilwaukeeArt and use #MAMStudioAtHome. Check back next week for more art inspiration and hands-on projects!
As you explore your pantries for inspiration, we hope you will keep The Hunger Task Force in mind.
If your pantry is full and you are able, please consider making a donation to support their mission to feed hungry families and end hunger in our community:
If your pantry is feeling empty, do not forget there are people out there to help. The Hunger Task Force has great resources on their website:
Kohl’s Studio at Home activities are designed to be enjoyed with the whole family, regardless of age. Families can work together to learn new techniques and materials, and to explore creativity. As with all new things, provide your child the support and supervision that they need for their developmental level, practicing safe use of tools and materials. You know your kids best!
Brett Henzig is the Youth & Family Programs Educator. He manages the Kohl’s Art Generation Studio, leads school tour workshops, and teaches Youth Studio Classes and Summer Art Camps. Outside the Museum, you’ll find Brett making art, rescuing injured wild animals, and spending time with his wife, dog, cat, and rabbit.