Painting has been considered high art. Thinking about paintings, one usually imagines big museums filled with thousands of exhibits and tourists sympathetic to art. Probably the vast majority of people find paintings very expensive and made for rich people or the elite to understand and enjoy. However, Travis Chapman might change your mind about this form of art because his artworks offer funny approaches to famous images borrowed from pop culture.
Travis is known for his meme acrylic paintings that went viral after the artist posted a video showcasing them on TikTok. His artworks feature cultural milestones with a funny twist. Have you ever wondered what Vincent van Gogh would look like skating or baby Yoda learning how to ride a bike? Then you came to the right place, because Travis' paintings capture comical situations of famous characters and more!
Travis has been painting for 15 years. He started painting with his daughter when she was very young and just never stopped. "I always liked to draw, and I have experimented with wood carving, sculpture, but I first started painting with my daughter's watercolors when she was very young. And I had so much fun I just kept going. I played around with oils but eventually settled on acrylic paints which I use every day."
After being asked if there's a character that inspires him more than others, the artist didn't exclude a singular character, but he admitted that Vincent van Gogh has a big impact on him. He also added that he has painted a wild variety of subjects.
Travis shared that he never took himself too seriously: "whenever I would make a painting I would always have something in it to ruin it, if there was a seagull in a painting I would make him smoke a cigarette or something like that." Eventually, the artist leaned into that humorous style and played around with juxtapositions combining two opposite things. The humor seems to be a way to distinguish himself from people that were just technical masters at painting. "It seems more fun to me if it is absurd but also painted well, like a cartoonist that is trying too hard. Finding ideas that haven’t been painted before, you have to get pretty weird with it."
Travis never studied art officially, but he has practiced a lot. "I try and create art that amuses me, and hopefully it will make people laugh and smile."
The artist shared that he likes to use pop culture references because they are relatable to many people and they are nostalgic for him personally. "Pop culture characters come with their own backstory and then I can add something to that."
Talking about influences, Travis mentioned that there are people who inspire him humor-wise, like Dave Larson. "I like that everything is in one frame." As painting influences he named Bob Ross and Jerry Yarnell as well as Vincent Van Gogh and Banksy.
The artist usually comes up with ideas as he plays with words, making things super literal, or he takes one subject and tries to think of the most unlikely situation. "Usually it’s something I want to paint, and then I figure out what would make it funny. Once I get started I can add fun things to the image as it develops little details in the background."
Travis' favorite part of the creative process is when an image is coming together: "it feels like I created something, especially if I like the looks of it and if it makes me laugh, that’s always a good sign. The most difficult part is to tell a story or get my point across in a single image. Many times I want to add too much stuff and it just clogs it up. Taking an idea in your head and making it into a two-dimensional image can be very challenging."