Using famous icons and trademarks in fine art?

Lately I’ve been playing with icons and famous cartoons for an upcoming show. I usually do my own thing, but have noticed that “Fine Art” in Asia is usually a combination of traditional/ancient art skills with modern pop culture. Paintings of Hello Kitty, KFC, Doraemon, Astro Boy etc. are huge sellers (tens of thousands of dollars for a little hello kitty painting.) Recently I’ve seen Angry Birds and other iPhone apps making an appearance in fine art. Technically all this stuff is copyrighted; so it should be illegal. If I want to use them in a graphic design and sell them on TShirts via CafePress – I can’t. So why can I sell trademarked images on paintings for big money to private collectors? No idea!

However, since it seems to be “the thing to do” I’m doing a big series. It’s much faster, simpler than the oil paintings I usually work on. It’s not particularly creative. But I’ll be giving the art world what the art world likes, and we’ll see if that pans out for me. 🙂

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