Gary Taxali’s artwork doesn’t shy away from the past. Rather, it embraces it wholeheartedly. A fan of all things retro, his work is in constant dialogue with the design and iconography of the 1930s, leaning on the visual language of vintage comics, pop culture, and period advertisements as he touches upon contemporary issues. A blend of past and present is always at play with Taxali, who often includes political commentary through his art.
Taxali’s fascination with the past is also apparent through his choice of materials. A mixed-media artist, his mediums are varied and include paintings, illustrations, and sculptures. “I have a couple of different rules when I work,” he further explained in an interview with Cool Hunting. “One of them is that I don’t really like to work on anything white—like a blank canvas or a fresh piece of paper. I think it’s very scary and intimidating.”
Working with the material rather than against it, Taxali is informed by the paper’s texture and color when beginning his piece. “I might do a drawing on a little piece of paper—a scrap paper from my studio—then I’ll think of where it’s going to end up,” he explains. Other times, he might use wood as his canvas. “I might pick up a wood panel or an aged piece of paper and I think of that as most of the picture being already done, and then I think of the character or drawing as finishing it. After that I might then add a word.”
Showcased at both public and private galleries and museums, over the years Taxali’s artwork has also been featured in top-tier magazines, publications, books, and public installations in the art. He also doesn’t dismiss commercial work and has collaborated with brands like MTV, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, and Coca-Cola. His work also includes wooden toys, comics-inspired pieces, and merchandise.
A master of invention, being inspired by the past doesn’t mean his work isn’t original or unique. “The ideas are an extension of my work; I don’t do other people’s ideas,” stresses Taxali.