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If Famous Graphic Artists Were Web Designers…

Styles in design are described and classified in many ways. Sometimes they are given a moniker, like “Web 2.0,” other times they are referred to by their appearance: grungy, minimalist, retro, big type. The people (and brands) to which modern design styles are attributed are as numerous as the styles themselves. Many designers look to a brand such as Apple as an example of great modern design because a designer’s sensibility is infused into everything it does.

Even though many current styles and trends can be connected to recent design pieces, they do not originate there. So much modern design originated before computers and the Web were even a glimmer in the eye of their creators.

You may also be interested in the following related posts:

Looking back and drawing inspiration from very early graphic and print design is a current trend nowadays, but that is not the beginning of the story. As you go further back, you’ll find groundbreaking design decades, even a century, ago. In this article we’ll explore inspirational paintings and artists who have influenced modern design. In reading this article, you will see some true evolution in design.

Article Cover

Where Art Meets Design Link

The term “graphic design” was coined in 1922 by one of the first modern designers, William Addison Dwiggins6. He described himself as, “[an] individual who brings structural order and visual form to printed communications.” This seems to be where art meets design. Design is for communicating and achieving a specific goal. Today, the goal is often to market and sell products or services through design, whether by packaging a product, building a brand or creating a Web experience.

Sistine Chapel

So, is design today merely art created for the express purpose of generating profit? One could argue that great artists in history created their own art for profit. Michelangelo7‘s Scenes from Genesis on the Sistine Chapel and Leonardo da Vinci8‘s great work The Last Supper were both commissioned by the church. Today, we regard their work as innovative and embodiments of the Renaissance, but we forget they were also created for profit.

We like to think of great artists as purely motivated individuals who are driven to express themselves or transform our perception of the world. Colors, textures and composition are part of their process of self-discovery and reflect the aesthetics of the time. Modern designers are no different. Even though a particular design may be intended to communicate the message of a corporation, it still reflects the world around us, and the designer has left their mark on it.

Art History Found Today Link

The best art in history was unprecedented and transcended its time. It sometimes seems as if the artists were conscious of future generations enjoying their work. Their compositions, colors, and styles don’t just hang on gallery walls today. They are all around us, in everything from shoes to album covers.

Piet Mondriaan Link

Piet Mondriaan, Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue, 1927

Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue

Mondriaan’s influence seen today: Chiasso Windows Vase9

Chiasso Windows Vase10

Andy Warhol Link

Andy Warhol221611, Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times, 1963

Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times

Warhol’s influence seen today: Soho Brewery Packaging

Soho Brewery Packaging

Yves Klein Link

Yves Klein471912, IKB 191, 1962

IKB 191

Klein’s influence seen today: Chanel Purse in “Klein Bleu”

Chanel Purse Klein Bleu

Robert Irwan Link

Robert Irwin13, Untitled, 1968


Irwin’s influence seen today: ISST Organic Ice Tea Packaging14

ISST Organic Tea Packaging15

Andy Warhol Link

Andy Warhol221611, Banana, 1966


Warhol’s influence seen today: Royal Elastics’ Andy Warhol Shoes

Royal Elastics' Andy Warhol Shoes

Frank Stella Link

Frank Stella17, The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II, 1959

The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II

Stella’s influence seen today: ASKUL Branding

ASKUL Branding

Yayoi Kusama Link

Yayoi Kusama18, Infinity Dots H.R.T, 2001

Infinity Dots H.R.T

Kusama’s influence seen today: The Killers Album Art

The Killers Album Art (2008)

If Famous Painters Were Web Designers Link

What if these great masters were alive today? What if they were using a mouse instead of a brush, RGB instead of mixed oils and a computer screen instead of linen canvas. If these famous artists were alive now, these are the websites they might have designed.

Yves Klein Link

Yves Klein471912, IKB 191, 1962

IKB 191

A website Klein might have designed: Britain Rocks20

Britain Rocks21

Andy Warhol Link

Andy Warhol221611, Knives, 1981-82

Basquiat - Self Portrait

A website Warhol might have designed: Carsonified


David Alfaro Siqueiros Link

David Alfaro Siqueiros23, Collective Suicide, 1936

Collective Suicide

A website Siqueiros might have designed: Snagt24


Lyubov Popova Link

Lyubov Popova26, Painterly Architectonic, 1917

Painterly Architectonic

A website Popova might have designed: Douglas Menezes

Douglas Menezes

Claude Monet Link

Claude Monet27, Impression, Sunrise, 1872

Impression, Sunrise

A website Monet might have designed: Viget Inspire28

Viget Inspire29

Henri Matisse Link

Henri Matisse30, La Gerbe, 1953

La Gerbe

A website Matisse might have designed: Devia31


Paul Klee Link

Paul Klee, Fish Magic, 1925

Fish Magic

A website Klee might have designed: Ali Felski

Ali Felski

Basquiat Link

Basquiat4533, Pegasus, 1987


A website Basquiat might have designed: Orange Label34

Orange Label35

Joan Mitchell Link

Joan Mitchell36, Untitled, 1960


A website Mitchell might have designed: Siete De Febrero37

Siete De Febrero38

Georges Braque Link

Georges Braque39, Fruit Dish, 1908-09

Fruit Dish

A website Braque might have designed: Belvoir Fruit Farms40

Belvoir Fruit Farms41

Hans Hoffmann Link

Hans Hoffmann42, Bald Eagle, 1950

Bald Eagle

A website Hoffmann might have designed: Funny Garbage43

Funny Garbage44

Basquiat Link

Basquiat4533, Beat Bop, 1983

Beat Bop

A website Basquiat might have designed: Starbucks Coffee At Home

Starbucks Coffee At Home

A Closer Look At Six Great Artists Link

If asked to name a few great artists, someone might first think of Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. Many other great artists, though, have shown their influence on modern design. Below are six artists who are unique, innovative and ahead of their time.

Piet Mondriaan Link

Piet Mondriaan (1872-1944) was a Dutch artist known for clean, grid-style paintings. His later compositions, which may initially look simple, took him months to paint. Each element, from the rectangles to the lines, are composed with precision, with careful attention paid to thickness and width. Mondriaan’s work has influenced the design of modern architecture, print layouts, linoleum and, of course, the minimalist style in modern design.

Rhythm of Black Lines, 1935-42

Rhythm of Black Lines

Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-43

Broadway Boogie Woogie

Basquiat Link

Jean-Michel Basquiat46 (1960-1988) was an American artist known for graffiti-influenced and early grunge-style paintings. He started out as a graffiti artist in New York City and later sold postcards and the like along with his artwork on the streets. His painting career took off, and he became known for his use of text and images from popular culture, as well as painting on found objects. Basquiat has been credited with bringing the African-American and Latino experience to the art world.

Self-Portrait, 1982


Per Capita, 1983

Per Capita

Yves Klein Link

Yves Klein471912 (1928-1962) was a French artist known for his minimalist monochromatic paintings, featuring his signature deep blue. He worked with blue extensively in his early career and, in 1958, began to use it as a dominant element, making the color itself the art.

International Klein Blue (IKB)48 is the deep blue hue first mixed by Yves Klein. It is outside the color gamut of computer displays, so it cannot be shown accurately in digital format.

International Klein Blue (IKB)49

La Vague, 1957

La Vague

Joan Miró Link

Joan Miró50 (1893-1983) was a Spanish artist known for an abstract, collage-style of painting. He famously declared, “I want to assassinate painting.” Miró wanted to upset the traditional and popular styles of art. He was against art for the sake of propaganda or to give the wealthy a cultural identity. Miró tried not to associate himself with any specific art styles or movements. His bold compositions and fresh thinking have influenced many great modern designers.

Hand Catching a Bird, 1926

Still Life II

L’Oro dell’Azzurro, 1935

The Hunter (Catalan Landscape)

El Lissitzky Link

Lazar Markovich Lissitzky51 (1890-1941) was a Russian artist known for his geometric and early graphic-design style. He was a versatile artist who worked in close to a dozen fields, from painting to architectural design. He influenced the Bauhaus and De Stijl (Mondriaan) movements. His artwork and production techniques heavily influence commercial art and modern design today.

Beat the White with the Red Wedge, 1919

Beat the White with the Red Wedge

Self-Portrait, 1914


Gustav Klimt Link

Gustav Klimt52 (1862-1918) was an Austrian artist known for his decorative paintings that make heavy use of gold and provocative symbolism. He is one of the founders of the Vienna Art Nouveau (Vienna Secession) movement. He is known for his “Golden Phase,” which is characterized by gold leaves and influences ranging from Byzantine to Egyptian. His compositions have symbolic elements that represent such psychological ideas as the “femme fatal.”

The Kiss, 1907

The Kiss

The Tree of Life, 1909

The Tree of Life

Stepping Back To Move Forward Link

Inspiration and examples of well-executed designs fill up galleries, blogs and online sources like Flickr. Leading industry magazines such as HOW and Communication Arts show the best of what modern design offers. Many of us look to these sources for ideas and to find the spark for our next masterpiece.

But many designers do not bother looking to works of art from earlier in history. By stepping back in time and walking through an art museum or reading the bio and studying the works of an artist from the past, we can find new ways to approach today’s design challenges.

Footnotes Link

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Francisco Inchauste is an interaction designer at Universal Mind, helping clients create great Web experiences. He regularly contributes to Web design blogs, magazines, and books. He recently served as Editor of Smashing Magazine’s UX Design section. You can connect with him on Twitter, or read more on his blog.

  1. 1

    Nice post!

  2. 2

    This author should be a genius!
    I cannot even think how many hours it would have been taken to prepare such a great post.
    Inspirational, indeed.

  3. 3

    I’m sorry, but this post shows a deep lack of understanding of Art History.

    Somebody needed to say it.

  4. 4

    Pedro Gabriel

    August 27, 2009 5:53 am

    What a horrible post

    so pretentious, but dont get it.

    I highly agree with tom muller. Go to school or read a book before talking bout art. We can talk about a lot of things, but art, fashion and culture are the most sensible and hard things to understand.

    What a poor article, with poor taughts over the artists and poor pairings. If you read at least one book about Warhol, you’ll know tha he was a graphic designer, and his folio is very interesting. And about your idea of pairing, i think warhol would cry and would stop to do web, after he looked at this wave of web “artists” thinking that web 2.0 icons are something more than s**t.

    Damn you, and you little brain.

    Read more

  5. 5

    Have to agree a very nice post. :o)

    • 6

      I work for an amazing living artist. Simon Bull is the official artist for Muhammad Ali and his art is amazing! you can see it on our website and on the online museum. or just google his name Simon Bull.

  6. 7

    great post…

    we painted that yellow joan miro pic in fourth grade ^^

  7. 8

    Jasmin Halkić

    August 27, 2009 2:46 am

    Very nice post…

  8. 9

    This post immediately got no1 in my favs. Thanks, Francisco and SM

  9. 10

    Why no Katsushika Hokusai? Look at how the scenery in for instance Super Mario World is inspired by his art. He’s probably inspired a lot of other artists too over the years. :’3

  10. 11

    Nice to see modern day graphic design related back to traditional art mediums, well done excellent article.

  11. 12

    Great article, took a lot of time to sort that one out !!

    Not in to modern art, think its crap. No skill at all. Failed artists.

  12. 13

    very nice…

  13. 14

    One of the best post ever ! Very original and informative.
    Bravo !

  14. 15

    GREAT POST. Well done
    I don’t know much about fine arts, this is really something new.

  15. 16

    Rolando S. Bouza

    August 27, 2009 3:34 am

    Beautiful post! Its been a great surprise to find ones of my favourite artists here (Basquiat and Miro)

  16. 17

    Caesar Tjalbo

    August 27, 2009 3:39 am


    The Warhol shoes, Chanel purse and the window vase are all obvious, it wouldn’t take much effort to find dozens of similar examples. Mondrian’s paintings from the 1920’s have been used as inspiration for decoration for just about everything. Yes, everything.

    The Killers album reminds me more of the tests for color blindness: if you want to put a Japanese name with that I’d choose Ishihara.

    The examples by “If Famous Painters Were Web Designers” I find weak too. Yup, I see some (small) similarities but with those painters, there are reasons why their paintings look the way they do and that’s not reflected in the websites. Tell me, what’s kubist about the Belvoir Fruit Farms website? By your example, it looks like Matisse could have designed Google’s website too. Oh and Ebay’s.

    (ps. typo: “Robert Irwan”)

  17. 18

    Not so much a case of ‘If famous graphic artists were web designers’ more a case of here’s a bunch of websites that have been inspired by graphic artists.

    Agree with post above with regard to art history. I would probably go as far as to say lack of understanding web design as well. The two mediums are very different and have very different purposes, in fact you’d be hard pushed to suggest these sites are any more than a pastiche, which there’s nothing wrong with but to suggest it goes any deeper than that would be silly.

  18. 19

    wow, great job on this post, very inspiring!

  19. 20

    Nice post love it.

  20. 21

    It’s great that someone wrote this because a lot of web designers have no clue about modern art history or design history, and really they should. Also great parallels between then and now even though some were just too obvious :) Really love it and hope you’ll make more posts like this SM. Great job.

  21. 22

    agree with caesar and antony. some of them look similar, but that is where it ends. groundbreaking artists like these were all about rationale and manifestos.

  22. 23

    Anthony one has already mentioned it, but this article is a great example of pastiche and noting more profound

  23. 24

    “The best art in history was unprecedented and transcended its time. It sometimes seems as if the artists were conscious of future generations enjoying their work.”

    Really??? I don’t think so….

    I have to agree with an above post… this is not a good post regarding Art History 101.

  24. 25

    Done good research… nice post.

  25. 26

    ((i really enjoyed this article. i absolutely LOATH that tool bar that was on the top of the page when it loaded.. it made it impossible to scroll with the side bar.. just thought you should know. The comparisons, however, were fabulous!

  26. 27

    I’m not convinced by this post, a lot of the examples are very thin and the resemblance is at best fleeting. I mean the brewery packaging doesn’t look anything like the Warhol to me. This article seems to make vast generalisations in order to argue its point.

  27. 28

    In after art history elitists that need to justify their time spent looking at coloured frames in books online.

  28. 29

    very interesting…

  29. 30

    Awesome to the max.

  30. 31

    My favorite is the Claude Monet web version…very smooth.

  31. 32

    Srecko Bradic

    August 27, 2009 5:03 am

    I never know before that Lazar Markovich Lissitzky was that important in the sphere of art and design. Thank you very much!!!

  32. 33

    “So, is design today merely art created for the express purpose of generating profit?”

    Unfortunately, I think that’s the way the majority of my clients see things.

    Great post by the way, I think a few people might be missing the point. it’s nice to see how various styles started out before they were filtered and adapted onto different mediums over the years, I wasn’t expecting an in-depth history of Art, there’s plenty of copy written on that subject.

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  34. 35

    Awesome post. Full marks.

  35. 36

    be careful, with so many great posts, I can be more and more easily desappointed with the next one :D

    Thanks for your great job :D

  36. 37

    Weak post

  37. 38

    It’s good to see this topic show up but I have to say the title is deceiving. A lot of the “famous graphic artists” were actually not graphic artists but just straight-up painters. And the web designs they would have done would be different (better) than some of the done-a-thousand-times examples you have featured there. But I guess it’s an important topic that deserves more than just a blog entry.

  38. 39

    A fine example of correlation not proving causation, but still being a lot of fun.

  39. 40

    Sorry but I have to agree with Caesar Tjalbo’s comments — this is very, very lazy research and just mixing and matching obvious things that have no relation whatsoever (pairing a blue painting and a blue purse and saying the painting inspired the purse design is really stretching credibility). Similarly, the Soho Brewery packaging has nothing in common with the Warhol piece. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    The sad thing is that the majority of the comments (and readers) are applauding the article for its “great research” without actually thinking twice about it .
    This only propagates bad design education. Honestly, if you must write an article about a link between art and design read a book.

  40. 41

    “”The sad thing is that the majority of the comments (and readers) are applauding the article for its “great research” without actually thinking twice about it .”

    I’m glad you know exactly how I read this article…and guesses exactly how my mind is made. That deserves a great article in your own best blog ever that has always best articles ever and should be much more read than smashing magazine.

    You’re the one Tom!

  41. 42

    Great post, I just gave a VERY similar presentation last week. From Goya to Google: Traditional Design Principles at Work On the Web

  42. 43

    Brilliant! Thanks!

  43. 44

    Great collection…

  44. 45

    @ Samoth:

    I based my comment on the amount of positive comments on this article and made an extrapolation from there.

    My problem with this article is that its based on absolutely nothing and disseminates incorrect information.

  45. 46

    Awesome post! Great examples of how art influence commercial creations.

  46. 47

    How do you know these web designers got their inspiration from these artists? Did you ask them, or did you just go poking around on the web haphazardly connecting things that might look just slightly similar to each other?

  47. 48

    This post is so good on so many levels. So many great artists mentioned! It’s really cool to see them relate to design in the 21st century.

    Only disappointment… where is Sol Lewitt?

  48. 49

    Fantastic post.

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    Me thinks Smashmag staffers smoke too much pot…

  50. 51

    Francisco Inchauste

    August 27, 2009 6:21 am

    Thanks for the comments so far. I wanted to respond to a few like the one on “lazy” research. This took a long time to read through modern art books and cross reference modern day styles. The point is not a lesson in art history, but to show the strong influences on design today. The resources from the Museum of Modern Art, Time, and many others talk about these same ideas. No one can say what these artists may or may not have done, or how they would feel about web design today. The “If they were web designers” was just a more interesting way to say “here are some sites with a style/concept they influenced”.

    @Tom Muller said “pairing a blue painting and a blue purse.” Tom, It’s not just any random blue color. That purse is actually in International Klein Blue. Klein created his own blue hue and that color became the art when he painted it and saturated the canvas. That specific blue would not exist without Klein. And Chanel brought that exact patented blue into their purse design. So this is not a stretch.

    @Caesar Tjalbo Some examples are more direct than others. Like I mentioned, someone using Klein Blue (IKB) in a piece is directly from him. Others were to show the “look” of sites we create today are not fresh and original ideas, but a style that has evolved over the decades in various mediums. For example, Monet seen in the Viget blog when they use an image with an applied filter to give that similar feel. In these examples Chanel was directly influenced and Viget was indirectly influenced by that evolved style.

    @Pedro Gabriel That’s the point of the article, get people to find inspiration in art by reading a book or going to a museum.

    @Pete Understands the main point “see how various styles started out before they were filtered and adapted onto different mediums over the years”

  51. 52

    “A website Klein might have designed: Britain Rocks”

    Uh, no…. He would probably have denounced the majority of web “design” as petit-bourgeois tedium, utterly obsessed with the ‘look’ of things. Promoting patronising dross like “Britain Rocks” would have been the last thing on his cultural agenda.

  52. 53

    Ha. It looks like Francisco just pimp slapped Tom Muller back into 1983.

  53. 54

    If “the best art in history was unprecedented and transcended its time” like you said, then most of these are unoriginal, rip-offs of something that has already been done. Transferring the same techniques to a different medium is definitely not transcending.

    @nihil – well said.

  54. 55

    Caesar Tjalbo cannot be satisfied, if the product is directly related to the painting it’s too easy to find, if it shares only vague similarities it is too much of a stretch! haha…

    I personally enjoyed this post very much, thanks Smashing!

  55. 56

    I thought about influence, inspiration and relatedness in design and art often. The greatest article that I read today. Thank you!
    But I think that Andy Warhol would not have designed a website like “Carsonified”.

  56. 57

    A lot of these examples are a bit of a reach…

  57. 58

    While i do appreciate the work the writer put into making it, this article is not accurate at all. To simply claim that a “_ might have designed” is a stretch. a few examples are the Starbucks site (they could have gotten inspiration from ANY restaurant with a chalkboard in it) and Ali Felski’s site even has a walk through of how she created the theme/background.

    If the writer had reached out to the web designers and asked what artist had inspired their design, then took samples of their work to compare to the site, it would be more fitting to the title.

  58. 59

    We had to analyze the El Lissitzky Beat the White with the Red Wedge last year in my ID studio. Great post, I think it’s important to understand how art influenced design. :)

  59. 60

    @ Francisco Inchauste

    Re: IKB — And right you are. I apologize on that point.

    As for the rest of the article, having re-read it, it still feels very forced, and quite obvious. To be very blunt: the majority of web design doesn’t even look that far back fro inspiration, if it looks back at all. A lot of the design & site examples you hold up next to a piece of art seem incidental — the Britain Rocks item for example has a brush stroke effect and a shade of blue (not even IBK), similarly for the Monet/Vignet Inspire comparison: yes they’re landscapes – where is the unique link? And comparing the Carsonified design with a Warhol screenprint? There is nothing similar there as far as I see it.

    Again, a lot of stretching going on. I can sit down with a book on Rubens and try and find a site that uses vaguely the same colours and say its inspired by his paintings.

  60. 61

    Sorry guys but this post it’s really bad, not accurate and the comparisons don’t have any argument.

  61. 62

    another fantastic article!

  62. 63

    Saying a site draws direct inspiration (or even rips off) an artist’s style is completely, TOTALLY different than claiming the artist would’ve designed the site in that manner. This feels a little like web design butt-kissing…
    Still, I love the article for references.

  63. 64

    I wish I could say I enjoyed this post – Interesting work though.

  64. 65

    Brilliant! Good to see the earlier art still influencing design today, and not just Moderism either. All of these are great starting points to design – influencing style, mood and character.

  65. 66

    surely there are innovators and imitators.

    nice Warhol trainers though.

  66. 67

    Wow Francisco, you really have a great post here. I really appreciate the effort that went into this. It’s much more than just a smash-up of random inspirational images, but rather why they’re considered inspiration. This is a great post to at least get people to look for inspiration in better, more thorough ways. It really touches on the level of “oh, you like this? tell me why” rather than “where’s a tutorial for that effect?” I vote we need less tutorials on the web, and more of this!

    However, I do agree with some of the comments that came before me. A lot of your examples seem to fit earlier designers well, but the Warhol and Carsonified comparison just does not make sense to me. But, this is all really how one interprets the work personally in the end. Plus, I bet Warhol would be a motion graphics guy if he were around today!

  67. 68

    @Tom Muller:

    He’s not saying that these pieces are inspired directly, necessarily. He’s showing readers how these artists had a such a profound influence that their influence can be spotted today, even indirectly.


    Thank you for an awesome post. Truly original. And I’m glad you took the time to respond to the negative comments. Some people just prefer to see another “500 links to CSS tutorials”, I guess. How inspiring is that?

  68. 69

    ha haaaa viget is monet! appropriate im as sick of seeing their site as i am sick of seeing his paintings!

  69. 70

    Thank you, Francisco, for taking the time to research and put this together. This is a very impressive and comprehensive treatment.

  70. 71

    Very Cool!

  71. 72

    One of my favorite articles from Smashing Mag ever. Provocative, intelligent, inspirational.

  72. 73

    Yeah, this was quite a stretch. The one that finally got my eyes to roll was the blue purse. Are you kidding me? Now I see why I’d never heard of this site. Damn you Digg!

  73. 74

    @Frank Furter

    Which blue purse? Do you mean the Klein Blue purse?

    You’re right, absolutely no influence going on there…

  74. 75

    Paulo Canabarro

    August 27, 2009 8:41 am

    Really good post, such rich information and sample displays. Awesome job Francisco!

  75. 76

    This post is great for starting discussions and debates.

    But some of the ideas, like that Basquiat may have designed the Starbucks site, or his style influenced it, are pretty weak.

  76. 77

    always great as usual! thx sm!

  77. 78

    Francisco Inchauste

    August 27, 2009 8:50 am

    @Tom Muller I appreciate the response and a second read. I guess you are missing the point, which is fine. I’ll explain these last points and the rest is just what people decide to take away from the article.

    Re: “the majority of web design doesn’t even look that far back fro inspiration” I disagree. I see so many posts about cool vintage book covers, packaging, posters, etc. These are all older mediums than the web. The point is most of the connection to old art to now is invisible since it has been remixed so many times. Paul Rand was influenced by Miro. And many designers today consider him one of the greats and use his logos, etc as inspiration. If you listen to the podcast MOMA did on Joan Miro you’ll find the deeper exploration of how many modern designers were directly influenced by him. If these artists had not created these paintings the design styles today would be much different.

    Re: “Carsonified design with a Warhol screenprint”. The Warhol has a two color print quality similar to Carsonified. They have a post from designer Mike Kus talking about his thoughts on creating the site ( and he was inspired by “United Colors of Benetton” with their flat two color art in ads. At one point Benetton featured Andy Warhol in an old ad campaign representative as an influence. The influences are not always a direct line, but they are there.

  78. 79

    Great article! Just seeing the comparisons between then and now is very informational.

  79. 80

    Zacqary Adam Green

    August 27, 2009 9:07 am

    Hey! Where’s M.C. Escher? His design was very influential to the web! Just look at Perl.

  80. 81

    I’ve got to agree with some of the naysayers here. Similarity (and in an obscure way as depicted here) is not correlation. Sure, the blue purse uses the blue, but otherwise has nothing to do with the painting. The Robert Erwan vs. ISST Tea bottles? Are you serious? I mean, you don’t think ISST could have gotten “colored circles” from any other source, or a designer just came up with it on his own since it’s a very simple design? Circles have been around for a long time.

    I’m not an art critic by any stretch of the imagination, but it sure does take an imagination to see any link between most of the examples provided here. I’ve made plenty of simple designs for web sites, flyers, and other simple materials and you could undoubtedly find hundreds, or perhaps thousands of similarities between what I’ve done and what’s been done before. Especially when you’re talking about a simple color or circles.

    And to say IKB “wouldn’t exist” without that artist is absurd. The color has always existed; he just made it into a paint. Beautiful color, no doubt, but just because I paint my car IKB doesn’t mean he influenced the car itself in any way.

    I recognize that art is an evolutionary process – artists build on the work of their predecessors. I simply can’t see the connection between Warhol and the beer bottles besides the fact that they’re both red. Was that the only connection? In that case, I’m sure Target got their inspiration from Warhol too, since they also use the color red.

    I’m sorry but I’m just not buying it. It was a good try though.

  81. 82

    This post really irritated me. So what exactly are you comparing with the Miro piece? Web “design” or the illustration? Because to me, comparing that work to a layout is like comparing apples to oranges. And if creating an illustration is web design, well I am really confused. Or maybe if I draw a mobile too then I could be compared to Miro? If I draw a sheep and put it in a web page, am I now the next Marc Chagall web designer?

    Art history today eh? I thought being inspired by something meant taking bits and pieces of it, expanding it, making a comment on it, making something new with it, presenting it in a new way, etc, etc. But the Andy Warhol example is kinda redundant. I mean, it’s essentially Andy Warhol’s work on a shoe. There’s no inspiration anywhere. The guy’s name is on it.

    Don’t even get me started on the Braque comparison.

  82. 83

    “That specific blue would not exist without Klein” is not in any way, shape or form even remotely true, and is a shocking thing to read on a design site.

  83. 84

    nice idea ….

  84. 85

    Francisco Inchauste

    August 27, 2009 9:52 am

    @Harry “IKB was developed by Klein and chemists to have the same color brightness and intensity as dry pigments, which it achieves by suspending dry pigment in a clear synthetic resin. This new medium was patented by Klein.”

    In the context of art and design that specific brightness and intensity of blue did not exist without chemical manipulation & Klein putting it together. How is that shocking?

    @Joe Re: “colored circles” and “Target and Warhol” You are stating the obvious in all these pieces which is not the point. Some of the printing techniques that Warhol used are seen today. Yes circles have been around, but not always presented like Irwin. Circles with the translucent effect were what he was known for. This became part of a “light and space movement” in the sixties. I didn’t say any of the modern designers would not have come up with these pieces on their own. It’s hard to deny the influence didn’t evolve into something that inspired ISST to use that effect.

    Also, if you painted your car in IKB, then that would mean you were actually inspired by the blue enough to paint your car that color…

  85. 86

    yeah, very superficial comparisons between small visual motifs in paintings to small visual motifs in websites. if any of those artists were still alive they would all probably roll over in their graves to see the kind of shit you compared them too.

  86. 87

    The reactions to this post are appalling, and clearly lack an understanding of the purpose of the article.

    You did a great job, Francisco. Unfortunately, because of the wide-range of readership on SM, those without a true appreciation for art’s direct and sometimes indirect influence are bound to have their ignorant say.

  87. 88

    @Francisco —

    No, I’m not missing the point. Its clear that the goal of the article is to show that design doesn’t live in a vacuum, and that it therefore (like any other creative medium) draws on what’s come before. The problem I have is that no matter how you look at it, your examples do not add up, are painfully obvious, or inaccurate — and on a site that has over 140K people subscribing to the RSS I would expect something of a higher standard content-wise.

  88. 89

    @Louis – Um, no. It would be appalling if every comment would kiss the author’s ass just like you did. How boring would that be? SM’s wide range of readership should be applauded for keeping people honest. I find it hard to believe that anyone with artistic background could think Andy Warhol paintings wrapped around a shoe have any significance in the realm of “artistic influence”. Direct or indirect, it is just lame.

    I think everyone appreciates Francisco’s effort but there has got be some criticism here as well as every other post for that matter. This article simply misses the mark.

  89. 90

    Francisco Inchauste

    August 27, 2009 10:38 am

    @Tom Muller – Well if I use one of the examples you stated as one with very weak or poor ties: Carsonified & Warhol and I showed how the web designer stated his “flat two color art” influence was from the Benetton ads and their influence from Warhol. I don’t see how that’s inaccurate.

    Re: “expect something of a higher standard content-wise” Ouch, that’s pretty harsh. This is a post meant for finding new places for inspiration not a deep conversation about Picasso’s symbolism in his “Blue Period”. I’m sure that would have been too boring. I actually had your site for an example I didn’t end up including.

  90. 91

    Hortenze Riddyculie

    August 27, 2009 10:40 am

    Sad really, When working in design WE constantly and knowingly Rip off real practicing fine artists It is wicked gross.

  91. 92

    I think that if you were to take an Art History class of some sort, you would flat out fail. Just like you failed with this article.

    This is like saying my the design of my Google Phone is inspired by a blank piece of paper, just because its white.

  92. 93

    This post reminds me to look sometimes to the past for influence. Something I haven’t done a lot of recently.

  93. 94

    I took exactly one art class in college, and that was about ten years ago. So take this with whatever weight you want to.

    First of all, I love this site more than most for one reason. The comments always add another layer of thought (through criticism) that I didn’t get from the post. It’s a fantastic community.

    Now, with regard to defining who inspired who, I find it equally ridiculous that the post author can claim that X inspired Y as I do the critics saying X in no way inspired Y. To me, every input (be it visual, tactile, audible, etc.) someone encounters in life “inspires” them to some degree. Whether it’s good or bad, joy or anger, people are certainly changed by the state of their surroundings.

    I believe that someone’s inspiration is the sum total of everything they’ve ever experienced. Some elements will be weighted more than others, but the effect is there to some degree. A greater understanding of art history will likely train you to pay closer attention to these relationships and better recognize them, but I can’t assume it makes you better at defining someone’s path of inspiration.

    I frankly don’t understand technical art history people who point to historical art and use that to label (mostly in derogatory terms) current art. There’s no right or wrong with art. Everyone has a different definition of it than others, and to presume that you can stand on your definition as better than someone else’s makes me believe that you don’t understand it nearly as much as they’d like to think.

  94. 95

    Wow. Some of you folks are a little uptight. I’m responsible for the “patronising dross” of the Britain Rocks website. Sheesh, lighten up. It’s a website driven by timelines, budgets, clients, and all the other things that influence a project. I have a mortgage and a family to support so I can’t cut off my ear and die penniless at the moment.

    The motivators and agenda for a Guernica are a lot different than the ones most of us deal with on a daily basis. To say the various work shown, whether knowingly influenced or not, is “shit” is awfully elitist. I don’t think the projects shown were designed or created with the same result in mind as Klein may have had. His work was constantly misunderstood. That’s not terribly conducive to good client relationship as a day to day practice.

    That’s it for my off-topic blab. I’l let Francisco get back to definding his post.

  95. 96

    thank you! i feel smarter now, like i didn’t need to go to graphic design school anyway!

  96. 97

    What the hell, what’s with all the malice directed at this post? I feel like people are taking this way too seriously. I’m not trying to kiss the author’s ass, I’ve said before on Smashing when I didn’t enjoy or agree with a post and that’s totally fine & cool, but the personal insults directed at the author are appalling. I thought only adults read Smashing but I guess I was mistaken.

  97. 98

    The haters are out in full tonight :)
    I enjoyed it and if articles like this inspire people to to go check out all the great art of the last century and be inspired by it this article has served a worthy purpose.
    Props for mentioning Joni MItchell!

  98. 99

    Great article but maybe a bit too much Warhol. “few great artists, someone might first think of Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.” Really?

  99. 100

    As an art buff, I thought this post was cute. Though tenuously linking famous artworks to modern web layouts is superficial in every sense of the word. Comparing two different products like a Klein painting and a blue purse is like comparing 50’s big band music to 90’s ska because they both use trumpets.

    The only redeeming part of this post is getting to see nice reproductions of great works of art. The other annoying thing is that most art work (except for perhaps Pop Art) has little to nothing to do with utility, practicality, or commerce, whereas much web design is driven by these concerns (I am generalizing). The fine artist and web designer’s concerns seem to be too divergent to truly warrant comparison. That’s not to say there are no interesting intersections between art and web design, but just don’t think this post is not example of it.

    Nothing personal to the author, it was entertaining, just not informative.

  100. 101

    PS, kudos to @average joe’s comment a few above mine…. I much agree.

  101. 102

    At the very least, this article provoked many passionate responses. Not surprising considering the personal nature of art.

    Having said that, I am dismayed by the rudeness that seems to characterize so many of today’s exchanges, especially on the Web. Belittling others is a quick fix for a low self esteem, eh?

  102. 103

    For me the point was older works of art can inspire modern creativity, here is how that might be the case. Nice post, I dont think the Author was looking to deliver a in depth lesson in art history, and for that I am glad. A good post, light reading and something to take away with me. Nice one, thanks alot.

    @Tom Muller. Everyone has the right to express their opinion on a post like this, and I respect your right to do so. My suggestion to you would be to write a better, more accurate and in depth article. I would look forward to reading it. I mean that sincerely, not as an affront to what some may consider a negative comment.

  103. 104

    gr8 post! it made me read all the comments :) interessting how much some people have to point out the fact that THEY know alot about this topic… made me smile.

    anyway thanks for this post

  104. 105

    I think a lot of people who are tearing down this article have missed it by a mile. Take a look at the category. INSPIRATION. I am inspired to look at the great artists of our time and reflect on how I could be inspired by their pieces in my next designs.

    This article is not offensive to the artists in any way. How is it offensive to say their work could have inspired this, or inspired that? And I don’t remember reading anywhere in this article that “Fact: Andy Warhol would have designed a website exactly like Carsonified.” Take it easy, it was just a thought and a pretty damn good one in my opinion. Much more inspiring than “Weak”.

    I think it was a great thought that Francisco had to say “If Andy Warhol would design a website, what would that look like?” because that opens up a huge avenue of creativity. It’s an attempt to get into the brain of a certain artist and channel some inspiration. This something I think most designers should do. Sounds like a great way to grow to me.

    The art elitist should find something better to do with their time. This wasn’t an art history article.

    @Tom Muller – Whether you like to admit it or not, you completely missed the mark.

  105. 106

    There’s a lot of web-based art out there that’s not commercial. Maybe these painters would have been making sites like those, instead of commercial sites.

  106. 107

    Pretty shallow, guys. Betrays a lack of understanding of the relationship between design and art. In my opinion, artists are better at appreciating and understanding good design than designers are at understanding and appreciating fine art. I’m a member of both camps, so….

  107. 108

    “Killers album art” is of course Paul Normansell. Much of his art is entirely, or in part, dot based. I’ve no idea if he cites Kusama directly.

  108. 109

    @Francisco —
    I apologize if my comment came off as harsh. What I meant by the “higher standard” is that because of the big readership this blog has — and (I will generalize) most comments on articles are of a “Thanks! I learned something new!” nature (which in itself is not a bad thing), even when you present them with information that is far fetched and not really accurate. I don’t expect, or need to read ‘deep articles on Picasso’s Blue Period’ for it be valid content, but at the same time comparing circles Irwin painted with bottle packaging which happens to feature similar circles and claim its inspired by that (or any other painting featuring circles) is oversimplifying a design and reaching for a connection to illustrate your point.

    Again, I get the goal of the article, but I disagree with the majority of the examples and rhetoric you use.

  109. 110

    Caesar Tjalbo

    August 27, 2009 2:32 pm

    @ Francisco Inchauste

    The point is not a lesson in art history, but to show the strong influences on design today.

    I called it weak and I do it again but thanks for pointing out that Piet Mondriaan and Andy Warhol had a strong influence on art today. Have you heard of Vincent van Gogh by any chance?

    Re-read my comment, I think I got the idea of your post but your examples suck.

    Others were to show the “look” of sites we create today are not fresh and original ideas, but a style that has evolved over the decades in various mediums.

    It’s good to remind people of the past, especially when it comes to the origin of ideas.
    The Chanel purse already contains a direct reference to the original artist. The shoes with Warhol’s banana are unlikely to be seen as “oh wow how cute, somebody put a banana on a shoe!!111!!!!!” That particular banana is part of the world’s cultural reference by now; more people know the image than know that it originally graced an album cover.

    I have no doubt Paul Klee would have loved to design websites and work with other digital media. Now, would you please compare the given example of with 10 (whatever, 1 will do actually) randomly chosen paintings by Klee and explain to me, very slowly, on what tiny bit of inspiration the webdesigner got stuck whilst completely ignoring that other aspect of Klee’s work namely ‘color’? Oh wait, it’s already obvious from the example you’ve given.

    Starbucks: carefully created type, carefully divided lay-out. Basquiat: carefully created type, carefully divided lay-out. What have the two in common: well, it’s light on dark but not much else. See also Matisse vs. Devia, it’s bright colors on white but not much else.


  110. 111

    Unless any critics here are willing to provide an intelligently written response article, then you have no case. Claiming something is “weak” or “obvious” is not an argument — It’s a shallow opinion. Sure, Francisco’s point here may also be characterized as a shallow opinion by some, however there is a more polite way to say “I don’t think this works”. (I’m not talking about you, Tom Muller, you’ve been gracious in apologizing and explaining yourself)

    And let’s not forget that it’s just one artist’s opinion, not the full views of SM or web designers in general. So let’s all take a valium and appreciate the effort involved in writing this article, which by the way is provided FREE of charge to all SM readers! After you express some appreciation in a polite manner, then maybe you’ll be in a position to provide valuable criticism that will be taken seriously.

  111. 112

    im really impressed whoa
    not that somebody got too much freetime to do such a wide research lols
    but its really a nice find

  112. 113

    I enjoyed this post. great idea.

  113. 114

    one of the best posts ever

  114. 115

    Great post! And yeah, this pretty well proves there are no original ideas.

  115. 116

    And just to clarify, I don’t mean that in a negative way.

  116. 117

    Just awesome guys!

  117. 118

    Artist did profit from their work

  118. 119

    commercial website design connect with art~

  119. 120

    Great post – very interesting and informative. I enjoyed reading this.

  120. 121

    I don’t get it.

  121. 122

    wonderful post, interesting and informative thats way we enjoyed reading this.. ;)

  122. 123

    A couple of New Zealand artists that people might find inspiring:

    Gordon Walters: Gordon Walters.

    Colin McCahon: Colin McCahon.

  123. 124

    This is what i really like :-)… Off course Webdesign has it’s roots in Graphic Design, Print Design and … Art!!!

  124. 125

    Don’t agree with most of the comparisons.
    There is much more to art than what meets the eye, and that’s about it the authors compares to.

  125. 126

    There is always a “great” artist acclaimed behind any style, even when the style or the work is not great. We always need to be hit by a form of Stendhal syndrome just to make headlines.

  126. 127

    I dont know how could SM can come out with such great stuff and article like this.
    amazing!!!. SM,……. keep going.

    I love SM.

  127. 128

    interesting articles,good creative~

  128. 129

    wow GREAT POST!!!
    congratulations, by far my favorite!

  129. 130

    It is a great post and will form the basis of something similar I am giving a talk on soon. I agree most design companies, be it web or traditional, don’t go back that far for inspiration. I wrote a short piece on my blog called Creative Block, have a look and see if it resonates with you?—What-do-you-do-.aspx

  130. 131

    i agree with those who say: GREAT POST! inspirationary! nice painting, obvious, and very nice design works..!
    although i agree also with the fact that it’s not “if-famous-painters-were-web-designers”…
    summin’ up… i liked it a lot!!! :D

  131. 132

    I´m in the not convinced boat, as soon as I saw the title I knew this one was headed for controversey!This article was pretty weak for me as well, I thought the same as alot of people when I first read the article, that it was very poorly researched and more or less just a “pastiche”. However after reading Francisco´s replies here in the comments it seems that the research was there, and he did actually establish a chain of influence in at least some of the examples, What´s dissapointing is that this was not presented in the article! I mean to do all that research and identify influences only to post some thing like;
    “Irwin’s influence seen today: ISST Organic Ice Tea Packaging”
    Is not really helpful is it?
    I didn´t like this article, but I could have, Francisco, please share your research with us in the future, or just do a “top 20 websites that look like famous painters paintings” post.
    Thanks anyway.

  132. 133

    nice post, always get a lot from you.

  133. 134

    Klaus R. Zweydinger

    August 28, 2009 2:06 am

    Oh. This is where designers heart beats…
    Thank you, Mr. Francisco…

  134. 135

    Bizarre… this is a wafer thin article attempting to align modernist and pop art imagery with web design by comparing the likes of Warhol’s orange car crash with the soho brewery branding – or to say that he could have designed the Carsonified site! Utter rubbish. There’s no substance here whatsoever, and it reads very much like an undergraduate essay.

  135. 136

    this really genius post man… totally make us clever! :D :P

  136. 137

    I wonder if the negative opinions here would have been abated if there had been examples of how to practically apply the post’s premise, rather than a list of comparisons, with limited captions or commentary.

    If the post is targeted at those without an art or design background, then maybe some suggestions of how to take the work of an artist or designer and develop it in to a design for a web page would have helped. Part II perhaps?

  137. 138

    You are asking young people to study history? Nice try. Most young people don’t know what happen before 1996.

  138. 139

    Loved the post, thank you for sharing!

  139. 140

    this is not a “great post” as so many have said. this is art history 101 and a poor article explaining art and design influence, which has a long rich intermixed history. people who say this is a good article, need to educate themselves better about both art and design. no offense, but this article shouldn’t have made it past the editors — with flair it combines both a lack of knowledge of art history and a tangential understanding of design, at best.

  140. 141

    Nice! This was like a mini refresher course in Art History. I especially liked the section of the article showing how these artists could’ve created web designs. It just goes to show that if you really do study artists from the past it can influence beautiful designs in anything you do. And by the way, one of my favorite artists is Herb Lubalin. I just love the logos he designed, and I try to incorporate the curves and swashes into some work that I do. =)

  141. 142

    Being from non-design background, I failed to understand the significance of what made an artist’s design… their style, and thus the justification of why the article claim a site design is of the same style.

    From the comparison, I only grasped the picture and colour, but what about the content layoutting or even the boxes (some samples looks just like design used in many place but with specific background and colour scheme slapped in)

  142. 143

    Christopher Rees

    August 28, 2009 7:42 am

    As someone who went to art school, and studied art history (I’m not an expert by any means, but I did take those classes) I think the post isn’t bad. I don’t think all the examples are spot on, the brewery example is a massive stretch! :)

    However, blog posts are made for several reasons…

    1) To invoke a response – which this one certainly did, bravo!

    2) To inspire thought – Which this one certainly did as people ponder what is and what isn’t a good example, where connections lie, etc.

    I think often times people tend to look at the written word, especially in blog posts as offerings of irrefutable facts. This isn’t the encyclopedia, it’s not Wall Street Journal or anything of the sort where every word is assumed to be 100% factual. It’s a blog post with one author’s opinions. I certainly agree everyone is free to agree or disagree, but to bash someone who took the time and effort put this together, to inspire thought and invoke responses is missing the point a bit.

    If this were a tech article on how to script something or use a piece of software, and it was riddled with inaccuracies I could see decrying it’s value. But this is nothing more than one person’s opinion designed to invoke some thought and audience participation.

    At the very least, offer kudos for taking the time and effort to put the article together.

    Smashing Magazine is one of my favorite blogs, keep up the great work!

  143. 144

    Awesome post! Now I need to go create something…I feel inspired!

  144. 145

    This is a great post, seeing the relationship from fine art to design. / SML

  145. 146

    Alexander Bickov

    August 28, 2009 8:46 am

    Amazing works

  146. 147

    I had no idea there were so many ass-kissing bots on SM! I’m gonna go ahead and agree with everyone that this was a shoddy attempt at making something look legitimate when it isn’t.

    To say these sites were inspired is a stretch — I’ve made sites very similar to those shown listed and I don’t even enjoy fine art.. no less was I thinking “How would x do this?” There is no consistency between a good portion of the original references and the “knock-offs” besides those directly taken from the artist (ie Klein/Warhol) and using those examples makes this argument even more weak.

    Artists are not designers.
    Designers are not artists.

    I know we’d both like to think we’re a bit of both but when it comes down to the fundamentals and what makes us tick — what makes us do what we do — they are for two different reasons. Artists primarily do it for themselves, designers primarily do it for others.

    Designers work in boundaries that artists would never be able to deal with and there’s nothing wrong with that — some of us need structure and some of us don’t.

    However this post just cries “trying too hard,” and in all honesty, I think both the artists and the designers who were compared to each other would likely be disgruntled at such assumptions. Personally if I were the designer for any of these sites/products I’d be pretty pissed that you had the audacity to say I didn’t bust my ass trying to be somewhat unique and instead assumed I jacked my ideas from someone I’d never even heard of.

  147. 148

    @Christopher Rees / others claiming that the author put a lot of effort into “compiling this” and should be applauded:

    It’s easy to pull a list together in your spare time if you’re getting paid:
    Of course! The amount of money depends on the volume of the article and its quality. Before the article goes live we make sure both sides agree upon the publishing & payment conditions. It is also possible to put a link to the author’s web-site.

  148. 149

    very good idea!

  149. 150

    Way to go SM… you’ve just proved that the majority of your readers have no clue about art history.

  150. 151

    Rolando Peralta

    August 28, 2009 1:13 pm

    I’ve been studying fine arts since 13 years old, so it’s quite refreshing to see and read this kind of comparison. I’m more than agree with it, it’s a great post! The best comparisons of all are Piet Mondriaan’ and Georges Braque’s.
    By the way, Gustav Klimt is my fav.

  151. 152

    A lot of them make sense.
    Nice post

  152. 153

    My favourite comment: Christopher Rees.

    And I liked the article.

  153. 154

    This post is awesome!

  154. 155

    This is a bit far fetched imho.

  155. 156

    Very informative!

  156. 157

    Socea Cristian

    August 29, 2009 1:12 pm

    attractive post, smashing one :)

  157. 158

    Liked the article. My only gripe is that you insist in calling the guy Mondriaan. He dropped the extra “a” from his name in 1912. I think he would like us to do the same.

  158. 159

    Mahmudur Rahman

    August 29, 2009 7:33 pm

    Interesting Article , keep posting Francisco… excellent art with web designing

  159. 160

    Very good article.
    When referring to art, the words “influence” and “inspiration” don’t mean an attempt at copying or imitating. Commenting naysayers are missing the point that the work of fine artists of the caliber of Gaugin or Mondrian (only one a, please) permeates today’s culture and has defined and has become part of our collective visual vocabulary. Artists and designers pick up the queues from the culture that surrounds them; including the work of influential artists that came before them.

    As far as the comment about artists not being designers and designers not being artists, what that apparent truism is missing is the fact that effective visual communication must be built on familiar points of reference. Some fine artists have been so influential that they have created or defined points of reference that designers can’t help but lean on.

  160. 161

    Posts like this make me stop visiting this site. It makes me trust the source less and less. Stick to what you know. Some of the ‘inspirations’ were actually ‘homages’ which would probably mean you’re better off trying to find other works by the artist who did the homage, as they clearly like the artist they’re respecting enough to be inspired by them. I agree with the above comment stating that the inspiration comes from the inherent style our culture has grown accustom to, but to put these things side by side and say ‘look, close huh?’ makes me feel like you’re putting some of these average websites up beside some masterpieces.

  161. 162

    Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. I saw the faceplate of a vintage 70s radio in the layout of a website the other day. The web designer is the new black sheep, informally educated, experimental designer that characterized the 90s (think Raygun).

  162. 163

    Loving the posts from the art history squeakers on here. I’m reminded of a quote from a stonemason on my fine art course … “If you want to make art what the f**k are you doing here?”. Nothing annoys me worse than the pathetic squibbles of people who think they can plump up their egos by dissing somebody else’s perception of what they consider good by calling up a reference to some other jumped up talentless no-mark’s preconception of an artist’s work… We aren’t fools – we know theft when we see it, we also recognise inspiration and know the difference. The websites cited aren’t art, but then neither are most of the websites, posters, brochures, tv adverts, illustrations, commercial art, logos, product designs, architectural drawings, photographs or doodles which most of us who read SM produce. That doesn’t mean we cannot draw inspiration, and who the f**k gives you idiots the right to say that X did not derive inspiration from Y? The article perhaps takes a liberty in saying that the website/product in question deliberately pre-supposes (or indeed directly references) the artwork but who’s going to argue semantics? This is about inspiration, not words. Nice article SM – more of the same (but maybe under the SM*ART banner ;-] ) … gonna have to trademark that SM*ART thing…

  163. 164

    Awesome collection. Really.

  164. 165

    Rajesh Trilokhria

    August 31, 2009 2:26 am

    Super :-))

  165. 166

    This article is so wonderfull! I didn’t know how many inspiration we can take from the older artists. Thanks!

  166. 167


  167. 168

    I hate to be a naysayer but most of those connections seem tenuous at best.

  168. 169

    Very Nice! I like the way you have linked the two up. Really interesting article.

  169. 170

    Andrei Scarlatescu

    September 1, 2009 12:11 pm

    Kinves –> Carsonified haha, I loved that!

  170. 171

    “…who the f**k gives you idiots the right to say that X did not derive inspiration from Y…”

    Nearly two decades of international art practice, a post graduate degree, and a continuing dedication to research across many kinds of visual and literary communication. And an ability to trust my own instincts….

    “Judo has helped me to understand that pictorial space is above all the product of spiritual exercises. Judo is in fact the discovery by the human body of a spiritual space.” Yves Klein.

    If anyone can convincingly explain how “Britain Rocks” is a form that attempts to articulate the relationship between the corporeal and the transcendent, rather than being an attempt to capitalise on nationalist sentiment, then I’ll happily retract my previous description of it.

    And as for the nature of ‘influence’ it is simply not good enough to point at an Yves Klein Anthropometry (mistitled as IKB 191, by the way), and say “oh yeah, this blue website has got a bit of montage in it, so Yves Klein would have made something like this”. I’m sorry but that insults the intelligence of this community on so many different levels, its really quite discourteous.

    Style is a nebulous concept, but its not just about how something looks….

  171. 172

    Wow nihil, so you are you saying this amazing biography makes your opinion better than the rest? I don’t think so.

    “If anyone can convincingly explain how “Britain Rocks” is a form that attempts to articulate the relationship between the corporeal and the transcendent…”No even CARES to discuss that relationship. This is Smashing Magazine, not some snobby art show, which apparently you’ve just stepped out of. Style and inspiration are relative. The definitions of style I’ve seen relate to aesthetics over content. As a designer I get inspiration in a visual sense. It might be the use of color, or a type treatment. The point is we don’t have to know Klein’s inner thoughts to think the montage aspect of the painting could be an element we’d like to explore in a design.

    “…insults the intelligence of this community…really quite discourteous.” Ah yes, I imagine that is why this was written, to slap all the readers in the face. You’re right, the intention of the article was not to show some visual similarities of art in design today. 

  172. 173

    Barry Barrington

    September 3, 2009 12:35 pm

    Well this is about the silliest post I think I’ve read on this site. *thumbs down* Can’t win’em all I guess.

  173. 174

    Fuad Ahasan Chowdhury

    September 5, 2009 7:14 am

    thats a great share.. :) cheer

  174. 175

    Are you kidding? Why are you trying to imply fake inspirational leads for some of those websites? Did the author of this post email any of those sites’ designers and ask “What inspired you?” That would’ve made for a much more interesting article than to view some GREAT pieces of art through such a narrow-minded filter.

  175. 176

    very interesting comparison, creative and smart.


  176. 177

    excellent article. I would like to read something from the author about kandinsky’s influence on web design. I think kandinsky truly inspired a web design style. any commnents?

  177. 178

    So interesting to see the resemblances between the artists and the designs.

  178. 179

    I sometimes find it difficult to understand the purpose of posts like this. It’s all very nice, thank you, but what’s the point? The comparisons are stretched and rather personal in nature. Moreover, the influence of great artists can be so profound and diverse that it is difficult to measure it with any appreciable amount of accuracy.

    And why go gaga over Warhol alone? Notable exceptions include Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec and about a hundred more! I’m afraid, this is severely incomplete list!

  179. 180

    Great article but seeing Basquiat and Warhol makes me want to vomit on a canvas and sell it. I’m not too far from what they do. It’s hard for me to appreciate any of their work when nothing they do impresses me. I see nothing aesthetic pleasing about them. They’re overrated and overpriced dribble.

  180. 181

    Brendan Stromberger

    September 20, 2009 6:03 pm

    Yeah, not to be a dick or an art history douche, but here goes:
    I’m still an undergrad in Fine Arts, but this article really fails to grasp the notions and intentions of these art movements. Comparing Monet to Viget Labs? What a silly comparison…

    Moreover, these web sites (and web design in general) is heavily influenced by Swiss-grid-based design. That is to say, this article treats web design as if it is a design paradigm existing in a vacuum, whereas in reality it has roots in real graphic design movements (Bauhaus, Constructivism, Swiss design, minimalism, etc etc)

  181. 182

    Great post, and a great overview of some great influencers of modern art and design. Personally love Basquait’s work, Rothko, and Yves Klein’s IKB is seriously deep when seen in real life.

    It might be a good idea to avoid generalist statements such as at the end of the article: “many designers do not bother looking to works of art from earlier in history”. There’s no measurable way to back a statement like that up. I studied art history for 3 years as a part of a bachelor of design studies. I’m not sure what other design related courses include, but I’d lean away from generalizations.

  182. 183

    ”No even CARES to discuss that relationship.” Merman

    That much is obvious… But if you can’t be bothered to examine such relationships, why get annoyed by those who can. Why not just re-examine your attitude?

  183. 184

    No matter what, this is a great post. Thanks!

  184. 185

    Francisco, great article. I guess I don’t have a real problem with the idea that current web design may be influenced by the great artists of the past. Since most web designers were at one point more than likely in an art history class, it just stands to reason that their art would be inspired directly or indirectly. I love the idea of drawing correlations between famous works and current web trends. I love it because I don’t take it too literally and can sit back and see similarities regardless of how small they would be.

    For all the pretentious art history gods on here, lighten up. What a miserable crowd. This is an article on Smashing Magazine meant to promote thought and encourage further research. This isn’t a manifesto outlining artistic absolutes across history and mediums. I don’t need lessons about the underlying philosophical differences between Andy Warhol and Carsonified. Give me a break.

  185. 186

    Blue i can feel it mmm… its … very nice…

  186. 187

    Great stuff. Tack on one :thumbsup: from me.

  187. 188

    Honestly, I’m not sure whether the article itself or the flood of ass-kissing that followed is more depressing.

    Look -and I say this as a working designer- we’re NOT artists, we’re paid shills (and the indifference/hostility most of the posters have here towards ‘proper’ art and art history shows it.) We’re cogs in a much bigger machine to move product- which is fine. It’s just a job. But please don’t start comparing working designers to artists- it just makes you look like you don’t understand the underpinnings or goals of either.

    About as superficial as they come, this article.

    @P. Dross: Fair Enough. I don’t think the anger here is really intended to be directed at any of the designers of the sites listed, just Mr. Inchauste. Yours is really an excellent site, and It’s unfortunate you got caught in the crossfire.

  188. 189

    You’re really stretching it trying to connect some designers to famous works of art…

  189. 190

    I’m unimpressed. Just because something appears screen printed it’s inspired directly by Warhol? I think this was a very uninspired post, not what I’m used to seeing from Smashing.

  190. 191

    Raschid Alami-Merrouni

    October 28, 2009 1:34 pm

    Thumbs up from me too – really interesting idea. As a long time graphic artist (mostly in print) moving into web design, I thought the article was absolutely relevant and a good source of inspiration. There’s no need to over-think this. You have to at least appreciate the massive effort.

  191. 192

    Great Post. Keep it up..

  192. 193

    Kristin Currier

    October 29, 2009 7:27 am

    As a traditional artist who does web graphic design to fuel her dreams, I really enjoyed this post. I think the more I learn about web design (I was in print before) the more I’m inspired to make sites that look more like art. This post most certainly helped.

    There is a vast and incredibly rich strata of fine art throughout all of history that will help us put a more organic, human face on our technology.

  193. 194

    This article was NOT meant to be a fucking masters dissertation on artistic influences you bunch of niggling panty-waists. It’s one designer’s opinion.

    Francisco, you obviously put a whole lot of time into researching and writing this article and I applaud your efforts. FYI: my wife teaches art history at a local design college and was equally impressed.

  194. 195

    Fernando Lins

    October 29, 2009 6:47 pm

    I was brought here by another friend who enjoys your articles, mainly because his knowledge of art is limited. Mine is too, but I’m an art student and I can say that this article is pathetic. The comparisons are stretched so far out of the acceptable. Comparing the work of Matisse to the Devia website or even saying the second was inspired by the first is simply ridiculous. Please stop making things up, there are enough bad designers out there as it is, we don’t need more people learning it all the wrong way on the internet.

  195. 196

    Interesting Post . Enjoyed every bit of it.

  196. 197

    This post alludes to the idea that an artist is a generator of styles. It is likely that many of these designs were created without much reference or tacit knowledge of the artists. Particularly as they are adopting styles for branding and not a historical conceptual background that would generally be used to guide artworks.

    This says a lot about contemporary ‘global’ society and culture, ideas and visual languages are adopted without any understanding of why they are being referenced apart from they look good. A nineteenth century example would be a designer who holidays in Istanbul and on their return they use motifs discovered in a mosque as the starting point to develop a logo for a bank. The contemorary designer is more likly to be inspired by anything that shifts across their screen. The result may look good but does nothing for the development of meaningful visual identities. The phenomenon is not just western as evident in an exhibition in London on Chinese design. Most of the work looked like an endless parade of western visual styles and consequently totally empty of original ideas.

    I would propose a scheme in which a group of designers adopt the theoretical frameworks used by certain artists and see what comes out of it? For example from Dada comes Warhol comes Punk comes Ad-busters? This does not mean copying visual styles but using belief systems to create work. It also requires asking honest questions of yourself before you put pen to paper and not opting for easy stylistic solutions to problems.

  197. 198

    Outstanding article! I completely love it. I am doing research for a similar article I am writing about great web designers. Your article is well written and intelligent. Keep up the great work.

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    Akshay Chauhan

    October 20, 2011 12:33 am

    Some the artistes mentioned wouldn’t make the exactly the sites given as example.

    For example, Andy Warhol if ever made a website it wouldn’t be like Carsonified because the kind of work he did was different of his time.
    Carsonified is game changing design but based on same structure.

    I bet these artistes would have made their websites on Flash..

  199. 200

    Good try, i see why you wanted to create that post. Unfortunately there are lots of big mistakes in your research, as for example Monet and Viget website! OMG!!! How can you think Viget’s designer got inspired by Monet? He did a watercolour website, Monet used oiled and was one of the painters who cut from traditional classicism by inventing impressionism. Nothing to do with watercolour!

    Where do you see Braque in the website you present?

    Paul Klee/Felski is very true on the contrary, well done for that one.

    Starbucks designers didn’t get inspired by Basquia either, but by the fact that cafes present their product on black boards. As simple.

    This post deserves to by rewrote, as it gives an interesting perspective for inspiration.


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