When gazing upon the silhouette of a rabbit's head, most consumers steeped in pop culture likely think of one of two things: Bugs Bunny and the Playboy logo. One is a signifier of childhood recreation, the other is squarely aimed at adults (and overcurious children). Artist Bruce Yan, however, apparently cannot help but look at a rabbit silhouette and see both Bugs Bunny and the Playboy logo, as he proves in his new exhibit.
“I’ve always been a fan of pop culture and branding, so the marriage of the two seemed like a natural pairing," Yan says. "I wanted to create a project that I could relate to that would also resonate with a broad audience.”
Yan's consolidating of these two influences is called "Brand New," the latest show at Los Angeles-based bastion of pop culture-friendly art, Gallery 1988. The exhibit recasts familiar logos with animated characters of varying popularity. We've seen quite a few logo tweaks recently, and this latest batch continues to draw out our enduring fascination with the insignia splashed across every product.
Yan started creating pop culture-based art in fall 2012, so he was happily surprised when Gallery 1988 approached him early last year about doing a featured show. After he landed on the idea of integrating animated characters into branded logos, he set about fine-tuning his process.
"I first created the designs using a computer," Yan says. "I joined a fabrication workshop called FabLab in Tacoma, Washington, and there I learned how to use a laser cutting/engraving machine and a CNC router to cut out all the pieces. After the pieces were cut out, I hand-painted all the parts with acrylic and assembled them by hand using wood glue to give the logos a more dimensional look. I really wanted to create art that looked like large logo signage."
While some of the pieces in the exhibit, like The Bunny and The Mermaid, are clever despite being somewhat obvious choices, others are more unexpected and several come from animé. The logo for Toronto baseball team, the Blue Jays, is transformed into two characters from Cartoon Network's Regular Show, while the arm from Arm & Hammer is revealed as belonging to Mario of Super Mario Brothers fame.
"I started with a selection of iconic logos that utilized mascots within the designs," Yan says. "From there it was just a matter of finding animated subject matter that made sense to pair with the branding. That was challenging to some degree because I really wanted the branding and animated characters to blend seamlessly."
Considering that the Peanuts gang become the enduring mascots for Met Life Insurance, though, some of Yan's blends feel weirdly plausible.
Have a look through more of the images in the slides above.