Kitschy Knick Knacks

I have always had a thing for the unusual things in life, the ones that are extra, the ones you don’t need but want. When I first started collecting data, I looked around my apartment and found many items that I never threw out for various reasons. Of course, these cute but useless things have one thing in common: they are all kitschy. I would call myself a Kitsch lover, I adore the weird but engmatic aesthetic.

I started my research by drawing a mindmap.

Then I gathered all the raw data by photographing them.

I started thinking about all the common qualities that make them endearing but cheesy.

  1. Easy to reproduce (mass-produced)

2. Frequent reproduction of artworks of the past (eg. Mona Lisa, van Gogh’s Sunflowers)

3. something occurs in the form of something quite different (eg a clock in guitar shape)

4. exaggerated dimension, but still usable (eg. an oversized glass, or a tiny vase)

5. the imitation of another time (eg new figures in the style of the 18th or 19th century)

6. Even an unrealistic accumulation of negative clichés is considered kitsch. Holthusen coined the term “sour kitsch”.

Now the question is: how do I turn my raw data into an art/design project? I began my visual research and I found many different projects based on the idea of kitsch.

I was intrigued by the variety of styles and elements in my visual reasrch. I started to explore my data with some line drawings and textures at first.

I was immediately drawn to the bright color palette of the 1950s kitchen interior and the human figure motifs of the aesthetic. My second round of sketches were more illustrative and cohesive.

After reflecting on the second round of sketches, I figured that the pattern and the repetition were working well, but the color scheme seemed a bit too mellow for a bold kitschy look. Also, I decided to play with the materiality of the poster. Luckily, I was able to try out the new neon pink and green ink with the Riso Printer, and I have access to the engineering lab’s laser cutter, whic provided me a new approach to recreate the Lover boy’s album cover in neon without getting actual lightbulbs.

I like how the plexi glass material interacts with its environment. The neon glow gives the sign a new look and feel. The glow changes when the sunlight level in the room changes which brings much more dynamism to the poster set.

I realized that the Riso printer works well with large blocks of colors. So I made some color changes an simplified the designs, the bold color scheme is more Riso-friendly.

The colors in this poster set are so vibrant and energetic, it attracts attention when people pass by. This poster set delivers and celebrates the slightly “obnoxious” but unapologetic attitude of kitsch which I absolutely love.