Andy Warhol As An Illustrator

The concept of illustrations first arrived in the 19th century. By the 20th century, many famous illustrators had stormed the art world. One such illustrator is Andy Warhol and his blotchy masterpieces. 1950s magazines used to be filled with his illustrations and accompanying articles as advertisements. He was a famous commercial artist who became the leading figure in the Pop Art Movement. 

Andy Warhol’s Career

Andy’s career first started when he moved to New York in 1949. However, shoes played a considerable role earlier in his career. The former Art Director of Glamour magazine hired him for some illustrations of women’s shoes. He presented her with several pieces of his artwork, which proved to be a commercial success. 

His earlier work has earned him recognition from Women’s Wear Daily, which gave him the title ‘Leonardo of the shoe trade.’ Andy has since then worked for many publications and some of the biggest fashion brands. During the early years of his career, Warhol worked for a shoe manufacturer as the sole illustrator making new shoe drawings every week.

Earlier in his life, Warhol used ordinary everyday objects as his subjects but then used celebrity people and objects. Since then, Andy has also ventured into other forms of art. He published more than 80 books on various topics, including self-biographies. He also worked as a film producer and director making famous movies like Vinyl and Empire. 

Illustrations By Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol’s 1950s illustrations had a more private persona. But further in the years (the 1960s), his art had a distinctive identity. Some of his famous illustrations are:

Marilyn Diptych (1967)

Andy Warhol was particularly famous for his silkscreen prints of Marilyn Monroe, and Marilyn was the first ever human subject of his blotchy artwork. During that time, Warhol was fascinated by the idea of popular figures having glamorous lifestyles, and people started looking at celebrities as mythical creatures. 

Warhol used Marilyn Monroe’s silkscreens to convey that they, too, are regular human beings capable of feeling pain and hurt. But unfortunately, the prints were made right after her death, and the artist used publicity photographs from the actor’s movie Niagara, and he knew no one would recognize them. 

This piece of art was made 50 times on two silver canvases. But before painting the famous image of Marilyn, he screen-painted the others. Printing and painting allowed Warhol to explore various graphic possibilities. As a result, some of the top Andy Warhol portraits of Marilyn are named, i.e., Lemon Marilyn, Licorice Marilyn, Cherry Marilyn, etc. Others are identified due to their backgrounds. 

He used metallic paints and day-glow to produce variations in his work of Marilyn Monroe. This was one of his incredible works during the Pop Art Movement.

Marilyn Monroe – Andy Warhol

Tattooed Woman Holding a Rose (1955)

In 1955, Andy used tattooed ladies in calling cards. This illustration of Andy Warhol portrays his earlier style. Andy drew Tattooed Woman Holding a Rose as a calling card for the Japanese printmaking paper. He used this as a way to advertise himself. 

The illustrations show a woman holding a rose and wearing a skirt containing his name, contact number, and the neighborhood he lived in, i.e., Murray Hills. The woman’s body is covered with tattoos, and the tattoos are the names of the brand Warhol has worked with. This offset lithograph was made on green onion paper using orange ink.

32 Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962)

Warhol’s famous 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans is among his most famous works. It’s in the New York Museum of Modern Art for all to view. He made this for his first major exhibition. The screen-painted canvas consists of 32 Campbell’s soup cans. All cans are different, representing different flavors that existed. 

Its first version consisted of the Campbell soup cans on top of a shelf. His main idea was to give a grocery store-type experience. This particular piece gained fame later on. However, this was first thought to be mechanical, cold, and sterile. 

But throughout, it remained Warhol’s favorite painting. When asked, the reason for making this particular piece was because, for the longest time, it was a part of his daily life. He used to eat these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Banana (1967)

Andy Warhol’s illustration of a banana became an internationally recognized symbol of him. It was initially made for commercial purposes, and it was made several times to represent different pieces of art. Originally it was made for the music cover of The Velvet Underground & Nico’s debut album. 

The banana illustration was a banana peel sticker. People would see a flesh-colored banana when they removed the peeling sticker. Above the banana was an invitation ‘Peel Slowly and See. 

Andy made two versions of Banana. One was for the LP cover, and the was a bigger edition screenprint of the first. This was Warhol’s first interaction workpiece which gained quite fame even after his death.  

Mickey Mouse (1981)

Mickey Mouse is another famous illustration Andy Warhol made. This is a part of his portfolio ‘Myths’, which includes ten other artworks. This print and all other screen prints in his portfolio are inlaid with diamond dust. While the ink is wet, it is sprinkled on top, creating a shimmering effect. Mickey’s ears are highlighted using pink and gold outlines. 

The portfolio is based on different famous characters in American pop culture. Other screenprints included are of Santa Claus, Superman, Dracula, etc. Andy considered each character to be a faucet of his personality. 

Mickey – Andy Warhol


Warhol’s blotchy artwork holds quite significance in today’s graphic design. His incredible work of art during the Pop Art Movement helped give him the title ‘Pope of Pop.’ His work appeared in magazines like New York Times, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. His work increased in value when the artist died in 1987.

Andy led a very successful life as an artist and an entrepreneur. He had a very business-like mindset, making it one of the very reasons he showed quite a successful life.