Modern Art With A Victorian Twist: ‘Silhouettes From Popular Culture’ By Olly Moss

‘Silhouettes From Popular Culture’ is the first ever book by acclaimed British artist Olly Moss. His book takes the Victorian era silhouette portraits and gives them a modern twist – for inside these pages that look like they could be from the late 1800s are images of popular culture’s most worshipped and idolized characters.

The book is a collection of Moss’ celebrated ‘Paper Cuts’ series that was part of his sold-out exhibition at the 1988 Gallery in 2011. California’s 1988 Gallery which is run by Katie Cromwell and Jensen Karp is one of the most renowned gallery’s for popular culture-themed artwork.

Born in 1987, Moss is a British artist, graphic designer and illustrator, he is probably best known for his re-imaging of movie posters and his work has often been featured in Empire Magazine. He was also commissioned by Marvel Entertainment to create a poster for the recent blockbuster Thor and is a literature graduate from the University of Birmingham.

The images in ‘Silhouettes From Popular Culture” are reminiscent of Victorian pin brooches and Moss created them using industrial lasers that he said made him feel “like a Bond-villain.”

By Moss’ own admission, his ‘Paper Cuts’ series took on a life of their own, for no sooner than he had completed one character, the inspiration for another that couldn’t possibly be left out, would pop into his head. That is how the series came to include some 300 works and ‘Silhouettes From Popular Culture’ is a selection of those that Moss deems his favorites.

I consider myself to be someone who knows quite a bit about popular culture, so picking up Moss’ book and getting involved in the geeky guessing game he invites his readers to play was great fun for me. Admittedly I found some characters were unmistakable, others were a little trickier to spot and would need a few minutes of focus before I could make the association. There was one or two that I did not know, simply because I have not come across them before…But I will find out!!

Obviously the cartoon characters with their distinct head shapes and obscure features are amongst the easiest to spot, but a testament of Moss’ skill and artistry is the way in which you can immediately identify movie characters that do not sport oddball hats or iconic weapons. Characters like Pulp Fictions Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield or Die Hard’s John McClane.
It is like a who’s who of the most important popular culture characters to capture the public’s hearts and minds. Moss seems to have ensnared them all in their shadow form, from Admiral Akbar and the Karate Kid, to Jay and Silent Bob!
It doesn’t seem like Moss has forgotten anyone as the book includes your favorite action heroes, your most adored Disney creatures and characters, iconic videogame champions, Sci-Fi idols and comic book superstars.

By choosing to depict the characters in this manner, Moss’ artwork echoes how important these popular culture icons are and what an impact they have on our lives. For being able to recognize them from a mere silhouette must surely mean that the memory of them is ingrained deeply in our consciousness.

The foreword is written by Duncan Jones, director of Moon and Source Code, who is a great fan of Moss’ work. Jones said: “Olly is very special. A new Brit great who straddles the cool of Banksy, the humor of Shrigley and a wit all of his own.”

New York Times describes Moss as having “Bold graphics, serious inspiration and a wry sense of humor” and Slashfilm said he was “one of the most in demand and influential pop culture artists today.”

Published by Titan Books, ‘Silhouettes From Popular Culture’ will be available to purchase on October 26th and is a must have for any popular culture fanatics.

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About Sheniz Raif

I am, and think I have always been, a writer. I’ve been scribbling stories since I was old enough to hold a pen and thoroughly enjoy using my words to make people laugh or inspire them. I love going to gigs and am a professional groupie for a couple of awesome bands. I am an avid fan of socializing, football, film, and refusing to grow up! I’m also a proud member of the BODO UK team!