Design Inspiration: The Most Reproduced Image in the World

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The Green LadyI have to admit, I’ve never seen the Chinese Girl, also called The Green Lady print by Vladimir Tretchikoff and yet, it is said to be the most reproduced print in the world. After the original sold at auction in March for a record $1.5 million, CNN spoke to Tretchikoff’s biographer, Boris Gorelik, who says “the picture was ‘one of the most important pop culture icons’ of the mid-20th century.” Other reports claim that the artist sold over 500,000 prints of Chinese Girl during his life and was the most popular prints of the sixties and seventies. If you look closely, you might even see the print in episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Dr. Who.

Tretchikoff worked as an art director and cartoonist. It wasn’t until 1950 that he painted Chinese Girl, although she was the second iteration of his theme. His art was far from considered exceptional. In fact, during his lifetime, he was called the “King of Kitsch.” He did, however, earn international exposure when he was commissioned by IBM’s CEO Tom Watson to represent Malaya in an international art exhibition in 1937.

CNN’s Bryony Jones covered the auction story referring to Chinese Girl as th “‘Mona Lisa’ of kitsch” in her headline. Her interview with the the model, Monika Pon, who was a teenager at the time and had only recently been discovered after 60 years, was telling:

“My uncle had a laundry and I worked in the office. Tretchikoff used to pop in there every second week or so. He said to me, ‘Hello… I’m Tretchikoff… I would like to paint you, would you like to sit for me?” “He wasn’t famous. People hardly knew him,” she said, adding that she was no fan of the finished work: “Ugh, green face… Why is my face green?”

It wa perhaps that green face that caught the world’s eye. Art, or perhaps the kitsch buyer, can be fickle.

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Today’s Visual Artist

Visual artists continue to inspire even those who are not art collectors. If you like to look through the pages of an art book to appreciate good work, compare your own work with others and possibly get some great ideas, The New Visual Artist’s Anthology from the editors of Print Magazine is worth the investment.

This ebook is available as a download with 344 pages of the top visual artists under the age of 30 from 2007-2013. Tretchikoff was 16 when he got his first commission.

The best part of this six-year showcase is the diversity of the winners – from abstract to traditional, visual art is communicating through the canvas. The New Visual Artist’s Anthology reveals designer insights and digs into what drives their passion for art and what they hope their work will accomplish. If you’re ready for some design inspiration and to hear from up-and-coming artists and learn more about this beautiful anthology, then just click here.