Sunday, March 4, 2012

Trip down memory lane with Seymour Chwast

I took one screenprinting course in college - the second semester of my senior year. This was 2005. Somehow the school organized an exhibition and lecture by Seymour Chwast and he also led a class critique by some of us in the art department. He gave us a prompt, and then we were supposed to create an image. I think the prompt was “idea” or something like that - pretty open to interpretation.

Around 11pm the night before the crit I came up with my idea. I was (and am still) annoyed by how often images grabbed from the internet become uncredited parts of some artwork and wanted to make, a probably less-than-subtle stab, at a few artists in particular. So my idea was to take Chwast’s anti-Vietnam War poster “End Bad Breath” and use it as “source material” for an image which would make a point about the lazy appropriation of images from the web. So instead of a bombing in the mouth of Uncle Sam, I drew a computer screen and instead of “End Bad Breath”, I wrote “Stop Google Image Search.”

It seems pretty heavy-handed and dumb now, but at the time I was figuring out my own sense of right and wrong as an artist, and the fact that it sort of makes me cringe now just means I’ve grown right? Right???

Anyway, I stayed up that night and created hand separations for my poster and screenprinted it in 3 colors - finishing I think an hour before the crit.

He hated it.

He said he got my point, and thought the idea was funny, but he just hated that I used his image and couldn’t get past it. I think I half-sleepily protested that that was the point, but it was a crit and we just sort of moved on. In retrospect it’s sort of amazing that he even came to my tiny little school, and I’m thankful for the experience.

So that’s it! Here’s the poster:

Poster by Greg Pizzoli circa 2005, with apologies to Seymour Chwast, circa 1967 


  1. Thank you for sharing this story!
    I know that I did and still do contemplate the issue of the usage of other artists work. I think that some students don't do enough of it, they just google & use!
    And the realization of having grown as an artist is so wonderful :)

  2. Thanks, Sarah! I always prefer to just draw it myself, makes everything simpler.