Heller highlighted the significant roles of mainstream vs. underground concepts in design. These concepts are defining contemporary design today. For example, commercial culture continues to survive, but intellectual property thefts. Mass marketers use the stolen intellectual property and ideas from visionaries by altering the original ideas to achieve livelihood. These marketers or commercial artists reissue the same for public consumption as a new product. The commercial culture transforms an insurgent into a commodity. Initially, ideas or designs that could have been shocks of new designs have become shlock of modernity (Aldhahi). The early expressions and alternative cultures have become sampling grounds that mass marketers pilfer for their new publications. Invariably, the founders of radical ideas are wellsprings of appropriation. Heller observes that rebellions breed following, who form a new demographic.
Design is one of the most valued topics in the modern world. However, many people have developed negative judgment on this topic, particularly the mainstream appropriation. The mainstream appropriators twist the real meaning and identity of underground designs. The questions surrounding the creation of subversive designs and art remain a concern. The underground designs appear to be a commercial venture because it is no longer an outlet for subversive thinking (Aldhahi). The commercial culture and design must have influenced underground art. It is necessary to consider creating ideas and images with hidden meanings. The mainstream, however, continues to strip away the creation of original images. Heller reiterated that avant-gardes prioritize the mass marketplace instead of original ideas.
The commercial mantra influenced the work in question. It saw the advertising executives borrow or co-opt avant-garde art into their quotidian products and campaigns to capture customers’ attention (Aldhahi). Expressionistic and futuristic veneers understood that the avant-garde modern art features superseded strongly-worded slogans (Heller 99). Commercial artists added new ideas and ornaments to modern art to make them palatable. The styling goods doctrine proved critical in the new product marketing and progression. The underground designs only required a few ideas and elements to make them tolerant and appropriate for commercial purposes. The underground design targeted new and improved modern arts to define the commercial culture.
The work in question has shaped the mainstream in different ways. The experimental designers and artists focus on improving existing arts and designs to achieve their commercial interests and mantra. For these designers, it is needless to waste time investing in original work and ideas (Arzensek 19). The commercial artists only target the modern arts and appropriate them. These artists add ornaments to make them palatable. The two ways of styling the goods included capable mimics and skillful acolytes. These intrepid commercial artists only focused on MAYA because the elitist subculture created a predictable trajectory for mass acceptance. The futuristic veneers threatened the underground design because the mainstream or psychedelic artists overturned the rules of the game. Joan Cornella uses surreal communist and iconic comics and artwork to communicate his message to the audience. The Spanish illustrator and cartoonist use original ideas and incorporate them into black humor (S16Gallery). The illustrator uses the mainstream media, especially social media, to share his exemplary and creative artworks and comics. His cartoons and illustrations make him an influential visual artist capitalizing the distinct cultural characteristics and expressions to make shocking and interesting art. His work fits into this dichotomy because of the cartoonist’s efforts to overturn rigid artist rules and manifest the ideals of modern society.
Aldhahi, Mariam. “How Steven Heller Redefined the Design Industry.” Magenta, February 8, 2017, magenta.as/how-steven-heller-redefined-the-design-industry-c02aca4d742c. Accessed April 25, 2022.
Arzensek, Martin. Underground Vs. Mainstream Cultural Production- Valorising The Underground And Ethnographic Research On Underground Electronic Dance Music Movement. Erasmus School of History, Culture, and Communication: Cultural Economics, and Entrepreneurship, Rotterdam, June 2016.
Heller, Steven. “The Underground Mainstream.” Graphic Design Theory, 2008, pp. 98-101.
S16Gallery. Joan Cornella. S16, n.d, s16gallery.com/artist/joan-cornella. Accessed April 25, 2022.