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Pre-Pop Warhol

Andy Warhol will always be remembered as the artist who did pop culture representations of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell's soup. His earliest works are often overlooked but, when explored, a whole new side of the artist emerges.

Warhol Finds Work

Before finding his Pop Art, Andy began as a commercial artist. After graduating from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1949, Andy went to New York. He brought with him an original drawing technique called the "blotted line." This technique involved a broken line of irregular thickness. This was achieved by a reproduction technique known as "monotype" - a drawing that was done in ink on nonabsorbent paper, and then pressed while still wet onto another sheet. This then became the "original".

In September of 1949, Andy was commissioned during the first two weeks of his move by Glamour Magazine. His first commercial appearance was for a page of shoe drawings. This full page of shoes launched his career, along with five subsequent pages for a series on "Success," and countless other drawings of shoes. Andy drew so many shoes; some thought he had become obsessed with the idea.

For the "Success" series, Andy did drawings of people climbing a ladder of success. "Success is a Job in New York" is often thought to be Andy's first assignment since this is the article that created Andy Warhol. By accident, the credits read "Andy Warhol" instead of Andy Warhola, Andy's given name. After this misprint, he decided to officially drop the "a" from his name.

More work followed his assignments for Glamour, including drawing for magazines such as Vogue, Mademoiselle, Harper's Bazaar, book jackets, holiday greeting cards and album covers. He enjoyed great commercial success throughout the 1950's, including commendations from the Art Director's club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

Andy celebrated his first gallery show in 1952 at the Hugo Gallery for Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote. More success followed, and Andy began collecting the materials from mass media that would become his Pop Art.

"I was getting paid for (my commercial art work) and did anything they told me to do. If they told me to draw a shoe, I'd do it, and if they told me to correct it, I would…The attitude of those who hired me had feeling or something to it; they knew what they wanted, they insisted; sometimes they got very emotional. The process of doing work in commercial art was machine-like, but the attitude had feeling to it."
- Andy Warhol, 1963


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