The Evolution of Pop Icons in Design and Media

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Steven Heller, the author of How Graphic Design Shapes Popular Culture, explains pop icons as “celebrities who have transcended the usual fifteen minutes of fame to become natural (or manufactured) members of the cultural pantheon.” Some great examples of this in graphic design are Sheperd Fairy’s Obey campaign (which I talked about in last week’s blog) and the 2008 Presidential Campaign for Obama, Hope (actually somewhat of a response to Obey – talked about in more depth in Steven Heller’s article, Design for Obama).

Today I want to talk about pop icons in other media. Graphic design has evolved into more than just print media… the range of graphic content has transpired to motion, video, animation, and more.

I read a great article today discussing teen pop icons and how they have evolved in the 21st century. The author, Camille Paglia explains the digital age and digs deeper into the over appreciation for literally, iconic people… specifically these relationships that occur between celebrity and fan that are no longer backed up true talent, but instead by personified images. Images that are isolated, non-emotional, and well… digital. The article, Lady Gaga and the death of Sex, rationalizes this theory describing pop culture.

“borderlines have been blurred between public and private: reality TV shows multiply, cell phone conversations blare everywhere; secrets are heedlessly blabbed on Facebook and Twitter.”

So what does that mean for graphic design and media? Perhaps it means that pop icons in 2010 need to have a digital edge in order to pass mainstream culture ‘cool’. Whatever the case… I’ll keep you posted… look out for my tweet.

One thought on “The Evolution of Pop Icons in Design and Media”

  1. So what’s the deal with Justin Bieber? I just got a bunch of teen magazines to catch up on my under 18 culture and he’s everywhere 🙂 All the ladies love him!

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