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Mona Lisa: The Ad World’s Favourite Muse

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Look around and you’ll find ads everywhere. In the newspaper, on billboards, on your TV screen and even in your social media feed. With countless ads bombarding our consciousness every day, it becomes difficult for us to remember each one clearly. That happens only if the ad is very quirky and manages to stand out from the rest. To make such ads, advertisers have to work extra hard and come up with concepts that are truly unique. Often, they turn to classical paintings for inspiration. While some ads seek to spark chuckles by parodying famous paintings, some use software like Photoshop to tamper with the painting and make it fit into a theme. Here are some creative ads that have used the ultra-famous Mona Lisa painting to promote products and organizations.

In 2007, Pantene came up with this print ad to promote a product that promised to rejuvenate damaged hair. The copy that accompanied the ad was:

“Pantene Time Renewal. Restores Age-damaged Hair.”

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When Prince Spaghetti Sauce wanted to advertise their product, they turned Da Vinci’s most intriguing creation. They used a chubby version of the smiling Mona Lisa to advertise their chunky version!

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Knowone/Online, a dating site, showed the potency of their website through this hilarious ad.

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Nescafe came up with a humorous campaign to promote their well-loved stimulant. They depicted characters from famous paintings with bulging eyes. Here’s what they did to the Mona Lisa.

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Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization that works towards promoting and protecting human rights. They also highlight human rights violations through several impactful campaigns. Here is one of their print ads titled The Mona Lisa.

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Miniature Art: Little Things, Big Impressions

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

When people say ‘size matters,’ they usually mean ‘big is better.’ But, some artists have taken it upon themselves to prove to us that this need not always be the case. Welcome to the compact world of miniature art, where tiny creations rule the roost. When we say tiny, we mean minute, minuscule, so small that the creation fits in the palm of your hand or even, in the eye of a needle. Unsure if such petite wonders actually exist? Well, they do and a lot of artists have begun exploring this form of art. Creating miniature art is immensely challenging because you need oodles of patience, skill and of course, a very steady hand to get the details right, not to mention good eyesight. Yet, the end product is so unique and charming that they become instant hits with whoever spies them. Hence, these creations sell at exorbitant prices and honestly, we don’t mind loosening our purse strings if we stood a chance to own something as exquisite as this.

Still not convinced of the marvelousness of these tiny wonders? Here are a few example of miniature art to help you make up your mind.

Miniature Tattoos

We are not talking about minimalist tattoos, but miniature ones, where entire images or scenes are shrunk to fit into a tiny surface area. Eva Krbdk is a Turkish tattoo artist who has mastered the art of creating miniature tattoos. Here are some of her works.

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Image courtesy: Bored Panda Art

Miniature Sculptures

There was a time when people got a kick out of creating larger than life sculptures. Michelangelo’s David and Rodin’s Thinker stand as shining example of this train if thought. However, today, sculptors have begun finding joy in creating masterpieces of just the opposite kind, the smaller than normal kind. Here is an artist who creates tiny replicas of mouth-watering dishes using polymer clay. To view more of her creations, visit her website:

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Image courtesy: Fair child art

Miniature Paintings

Painting is a difficult art form, you have to be an astute observer to notice the tiniest details to include them in your painting. Also, you must have the patience to do and re-do every brushstroke as many times as required to make your painting seem life-like. Now, imagine if this painting was about an inch and a half tall. How much more careful, patient and diligent would you need to be to make a detailed, striking painting? Artist Lorraine Loots paints miniature paintings of animals, cosmic bodies, her favourite books and everyday objects. View more of her work on her website:

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Image courtesy: Bored Panda

Miniature Books

Reading the fine print is not an easy task, literally and metaphorically. But, that’s exactly what you’ll have to do is you want to own one of these ant-sized works. Those with a craze for shrinking things have set their sights on comprehensive works like the Bible or the tales of the Bard, and have set about compressing them into inch-sized books. Take a look at some of these books here:

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Image courtesy: Finding Shakespeare




Image courtesy: minibooks7

Well, clearly there’s a need to tweak the old adage ‘Big is Better.’ Maybe it should be something on the lines of Big is Better, but Small is Special!’

Album Cover Art: Top Painting/Art-inspired Album Covers

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

When Alex Steinweiss, the first art director of Colombia Records, introduced the concept of decorated album covers way back in the late 1930s, little did he know that this experiment of his would create an artistic revolution in the music industry. His colourful addition to the otherwise drab album package inspired such record-breaking sales that it quickly inspired other recording companies and musicians to follow suit. Today, album cover art is given as much importance as the album itself. In fact, most music production houses know that the cover image holds sway over sales. Hence, when it comes to hiring designers, photographers or artists to design these covers, no corners are cut. Great pains are taken to come up with a cover that represents the spirit of the album, to create a graphic that transforms into an image, all that has been layered on the tracks inside.

Coming up with creative illustrations time after time can prove to be quite a challenge and so, for inspiration, designers often sift through the work of other artists, and this includes paintings too. You’ll be surprised by the number of album covers that have imbibed elements from paintings. Whether it’s the style of the painting, the themes, the message or the actual image itself, one finds traces of famous paintings in the art of several album covers. Sometimes this is done because a painting depicts an idea a musician is trying to communicate, sometimes it’s done to pay homage and sometimes, well, sometimes it’s just a case of unethical appropriation.

Revolutionary Music

Coldplay Viva La Vida

Coldplay’s album Viva La Vida, which also means Death and His Friends, has one of the most famous paintings of the French Revolution ‘Liberty Leading the People’ by Eugène Delacroix on its cover. The songs in the album tackle themes of freedom and happiness and thus, this iconic painting was chosen to represent the spirit of the album.

Pop Inspirations

madonna celebrations

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The album cover of Madonna’s ‘Celebrations’ was designed by Mr. Brainwash, who combined two earlier popular photographs of Madonna, one from the cover of Bazaar Magazine (1990) and the other, her ‘Who’s that Girl Portrait’ (1987) However, the final touches of bright colour give it a striking resemblance to an Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe print. It isn’t surprising that the Queen of Pop would chose to pay homage to the King of Pop Art through her album, right?

Surrealistic Story lines

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Although the cover of Muse’s album, ‘Absolution’ doesn’t use the actual image of a painting, it does draw inspiration from one of the most famous surrealist paintings of our times; Rene Magritte’s ‘Golconde.’ The countless human figures on the cover look like they are either coming down to earth, leaving this world, or suspended mid-air, just like the figures in the Magritte painting. To explore the themes of this painting, read our article The Dream-like Paintings of Rene Magritte

Starry Nights

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Cyndi Lauper made us swoon over her hits like Girls just Wanna have Fun’ and ‘Time after Time.’ Her album covers however were equally eye-catching. Among the many prints, there was also one that paid tribute to a famous painting by Van Gogh, ‘Starry Night.’ On the cover image of her album She’s So Unusual, you can see a similar print of the black , night sky on the back of her shoe.

Out of the Shell

Depeche mode

Salvador Dali

Depeche Mode’s album titled ‘New Life’ uses the man breaking out of an egg image, just like Salvador Dali did in his painting titled ‘Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man,’ to represent themes of newness and renewal.

If you liked this article, here’s something else you’ll really like. This talented artist combines magazine covers with classical paintings to create really interesting images of musicians. Mag+Art Project

The Dream-like Paintings of Rene Magritte

Friday, May 6th, 2016

Rene Magritte is one of the most influential surrealist painters of our time. His unique style involved using everyday objects to explore abstract ideas. A Freudian dream-like effect is always seen in his paintings and this makes the work seem bizarre and baffling. However, it is through these puzzling twists that Magritte communicates his philosophies. Thus, appreciating a Magritte painting not only teaches you about art, but also about a unique way of looking at reality. To help you get a taste of his eccentric genius, we’ve analyzed two famous paintings of his. Enjoy!

The Lovers


Magritte enjoys putting an eccentric spin on everyday objects and situations and we get to see this interplay, between the regular and the extraordinary, in his painting titled ‘The Lovers.’ By introducing an element of bizarreness, Magritte forces us to focus our attention on the mundane, thereby causing us to notice and question things we didn’t before. This painting showcases a scene we’ve seen a million times, of two lovers locking lips. But, Magritte presents this all too familiar scene with an unsettling twist; he shrouds the faces of the lovers with a cloth.

The best part about Magritte’s paintings is the countless explanations they evoke. This painting too makes you wonder about the meaning behind it. Does it give a nod towards the famous adage ‘Love is blind?’ Or, does it point towards something more unsettling, a trend that has become common in today’s technology driven age, where screen-to-screen conversations replace face-to-face ones; that of being completely clueless about the actual identity and personality of the person we are corresponding with. Some have also interpreted this painting as depicting sexual frustration. The man and the women engage in the intimate act of kissing, but what they taste is not their lover’s passion, but the vapid taste of dry cloth. Aloofness and the absence of desire are symbolized by shrouded faces that mask not just identities, but feelings too.

So, what is your interpretation of the painting?


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Magritte was a master of de-familiarizing the familiar, and here’s another painting that does this beautifully. To begin with, he choose to depict an ordinary subject, business men, dressed in dark coats and bowler hats. The structure behind his falling/flying/floating men has a severely linear construction. No fancy embellishments decorate it; the colors too are uninspiring. Stark, bleak regular, that’s the impression Magritte is trying to create. Then, he destroys this illusion by painting these seemingly identical men floating mid-air, in hexagonal patterns. The men are arranged in multiple grids that recede into the background, beyond the building, perhaps into infinity. So, what is this painting trying to represent?

Based on his previous works, here are some conclusions we can draw. By painting these men mid-air, Magritte is again drawing attention to his favorite trope – the falsity of images. The men aren’t real men but representations of them. Therefore, they can be painted in anyway, including in this dream-like, buoyant manner. The painting can also be looked at as a silent critique on capitalism, the economic model that has often been accused of inspiring feelings of greed in man. This causes man to spend his entire existence in the pursuit of wealth, slogging away at mundane jobs and in the process, completely losing his identity and individuality. When the men in the painting are looked at from afar, they all look identical. Their mannequin-like faces stare straight ahead and are devoid of any kind of expression. The endless repetitions symbolize monotony and loss of individuality. On examining the painting further, we start to notice the differences in these men. They do have different faces and are even carrying different objects. But, these difference are lost in the symmetry and similarity and all they look like are Anonymous bourgeois businessmen.

Also, the name comes from the ancient Indian city ‘Golkonda,’ once considered to be one of the wealthiest cities in India. Interesting, isn’t it?

Raja Ravi Verma: The Father of Modern Indian Art

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Raja Ravi Verma, who was born on this day, several years ago (29th April, 1848) is celebrated as the father of modern Indian art. He was the first Indian painter to combine European academic techniques with Indian sensibilities. His dedication to realism, expert understanding of light and colour and attention to detail helped infuse life into his paintings. He is also known for breaking the boundaries around ‘high art.’ Ravi Verma was perhaps one of the first Indian artists to reproduce prints of his paintings and sell them to the masses. This enabled even the common man to view and display Raja Ravi Verma’s paintings. He is best known for his paintings of Hindu deities and mythological characters. He has even painted crucial scenes from revered Indian mythological texts like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Here are some of his best works.

His depiction of Radha’s introduction to Krishna. Notice the interest on Krishna’s face and the shyness on Radha’s.

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This painting captures the abduction of Sita by Ravana. It freezes the moment after Ravana chops off Jatayu, the vulture demi-God’s wing.


This painting depicts Lord Vishnu with his two wives, Lakshmi and Maya, seated on Garuda. This is a very popular Raja Ravi Verma painting.


This is one of Ravi Verma’s most expressive paintings. It captures the exact moment when Nala is leaving Damayanti. Notice the grief on Nala’s face. His anguish at having to leave his wife and his anxieties about the future are almost tangible.


His depiction of goddess Saraswati. Notice the relaistic Sari folds and beautiful natural setting


(All images sourced from Orange Carton)

If you ever get a chance to visit an exhibition of his works, don’t miss it!

Wall Murals: Picture-perfecting Public Spaces

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

My whim to explore wall art in Bandra took me to the very quaint and beautiful Chapel Road. There, I came across countless examples of street art, from cheeky graffiti pieces to expansive, elegant murals. (To view my finds, follow this link: Chapel Road: The most Badass Lane in Bandra!) Having always been a fan of graffiti, I was familiar with the subversive and startling style of these vibrant scribbles. However, I realized I didn’t know much about wall murals and decided to do a quick study to up my knowledge about this time-consuming but beautiful painting style. I found so much information on this form that I decided to write a post about it. Here’s what I’ve discovered.

Let me begin by communicating the purpose of wall murals. Many people, including myself, have often wondered why artists take pains to create such huge paintings on dilapidated buildings or an obscure wall somewhere. Aren’t paintings supposed to be displayed inside respectable spaces, like in an art gallery or museum? Well, the main purpose of creating wall murals is to break this misconception. Wall murals come under street art and aim to make art accessible to the common man. Thus, one doesn’t have to pay a fee to view these paintings for, having been created in a public space, these paintings can be accessed freely and easily by all. It also fulfils another purpose, that of communicating a social message or representing a community ethos. Wall murals also help beautify a space and are hence painted on architectural structures that are no longer pleasing to the eye. Another interesting aspect of wall murals is that they are designed to blend into their surroundings. They often interact with elements in the surrounding to acquire a deeper meaning or aesthetic quality.

Taking from the project ‘Murals of Faceless Figures’ by artist Seth, the murals in this series aim to depict the disconnected relationship children have with their chaotic, globalized environments.

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Image courtesy: Art People Gallery

The art of designing wall murals isn’t a recent phenomenon and apparently, has been around for ages. Traces of wall murals have been found on the walls of caves and some of them are believed to have been made almost 3000 years ago. One can still discover them inside the mysterious spaces of Egyptian tombs, Minoan palaces and even inside the legendary Roman town-city Pompeii. Closer to home, several murals have been discovered in Kerela, inside temples, churches and palaces. Most of these murals have been painted between the 9th and 12th centuries CE. What ushered the art of painting wall murals into contemporary art repertoire however seems to be the Mexican muralism art movement. This art movement, which kicked off in the 1920s, made use of wall murals to promote social and political messages in a bid to reunite the country under the post Mexican revolution government. The impact these massive public paintings had is immense and seems to have created waves not just in Mexico, but a ripple effect was felt through the Americas, including the United States. This painting style quickly gained a fan following in the art world and was soon being used to make political statements, build community dialogue and beautify the urban landscape. Even brands like Red Bull, Nike and Cocoa Cola have used wall mural advertising to reach out to young consumers and thereby, have popularized wall murals and street art among the youth.

Murals are made using different techniques. Some aim to preserve colour for a longer time while some focus of utilizing a smoother canvas for painting. In the Fresco painting style, the plaster on walls and ceilings are used as a canvas. In the Buon fresco style, pigment is mixed in water and is then applied on a thin layer of fresh, still wet, lime mortar or plaster. Murals made using this technique have a longer shelf life. Fresco-secco paintings are done on dry plaster (secco means dry in Italian).Since the plaster is already dry, painters make use of a binding medium to get the pigment to stick to the wall. The Mezza-fresco technique involves painting on semi-dry plaster. There are also techniques that involve creating a painting on a portion of canvas, tile, glass, ceramic or porcelain and then installing these fixtures on a wall.

Here are some examples of beautiful wall murals, each painted for a unique purpose:

North Korea is dotted with wall murals that glorify the regime or propagate a staunch communist ethos. Since wall murals are easily accessible to the public, they become lucrative spaces for disseminating propaganda.

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Image courtesy: Flickr

Lodhi Colony in Delhi was recently transformed into a hub for street artists, thanks to the St+art Street Art Festival.  Beautiful murals have been painted on several walls here, and each mural conveys a different message.

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Image courtesy: Better India

(Read their full article on Delhi’s St+Art Festival here:

Wall mural from Toronto, Canada.


Image courtesy: cartridge save

Spotted in Montreal, Canada, this mural pays tribute to the music scene in the area.

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Image courtesy: cartridge save

A wall mural painted on a street in Spain. Guess the brand, anyone?

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Image courtesy: cartridge UK

Well, I hope this article has helped you discover a wonderful and egalitarian form of wall art. The next time you visit a new city or place, keep an eye out for these breath-taking pieces. They shouldn’t be too hard to find.