Ron English (born June 6, 1959) is an American contemporary artist who explores brand imagery, street art and advertising.
English has produced images on the street, in museums, in movies, books and television. He coined the term POPaganda to describe a mash-up of high and low cultural touchstones, from superhero mythology to totems of art history, populated with his original characters, including MC Supersized, the obese fast-food mascot featured in the movie Super Size Me, and Abraham Obama, the fusion of America's 16th and 44th Presidents. Other characters in English's paintings, billboards, and sculpture include three-eyed rabbits, cowgirls and grinning skulls – visual, with humorous undertones.
English was interviewed for the documentary Super Size Me (2004), which showed his McDonald's-themed artwork—inspired by his belief about the effect of fast food franchises and restaurant chains on American culture – "MC Supersized" is English's interpretation of Ronald McDonald, a western culture "Buddha" eating a diet of what is sold by McDonald's in the religion of consumerism and an over-sated devotee.
English has painted album covers for The Dandy Warhols' Welcome to the Monkey House, the 2010 album Slash, and the Chris Brown album cover for F.A.M.E. Some of his paintings were used in the Morgan Spurlock documentaries Super Size Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. English has collaborated with Daniel Johnston and Jack Medicine in the Hyperjinx Tricycle project. In 2010 he created the artwork for Art Nouveau Magazine's first print issue.
English is the subject of a Pedro Carvajal documentary titled Popaganda (after one of his art books). He is also a subject of "The Art Army" action figures by Michael Leavitt. English and his fellow artists Shepard Fairey, Kenny Scharf and Robbie Conal guest-starred on the March 4, 2012, episode of The Simpsons, "Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart." In 2015 he was a guest judge on the Oxygen Network's reality show Streetart Throwdown created by Justin BUA. English's work was included in Seth Rogen's film This is the End and Movie 43.
English has an early background as an art reproducer. English has initiated and participated in illegal public art campaigns since the early 1980s and for this is often referred to as the 'Godfather of Street Art'. Ron English street art activities are the subject matter and covered extensively in the Pedro Carvajal documentary titled Popaganda.
Culture jamming is one aspect of English's work. Although never an official member, Ron several times joined with the Billboard Liberation Front, which practices culture jamming by altering billboards by changing key words to radically alter the message, often to an anti-corporate message. Frequent targets of English's work include Joe Camel, McDonald's, and Mickey Mouse.
English intends his culture jamming technique to inspire people to question consumer capitalism. English does this by using his over emphasized, grotesque, and to some, offensive, characters to intrigue the consumer, luring them in to reveal the truth behind the product.
Later English focused on another form of advertising: product packaging. He recreates several different kinds of packaging (cereal boxes, milk cartons, cigarette packs, etc.), to reveal truth in advertising. After designing the packaging English and his Team POPaganda infiltrate different retailers around the country and "shop gift". Some of English's product packaging designs include, "Cap'n Corn Starch", "Duncan High Hash Brownies" and "Camel Kool's" THC Enriched Tobacco Cigarettes.
English has created murals a locations throughout the world.
English is a fine art painter specializing in oils. He received his bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. After receiving his MFA from The University of Texas he moved to New York City and apprenticed with several artists, beginning to sell his own work. His style is characterized by extreme photo realism, use of secondary color and appropriation of pop imagery. Frequent themes are revisiting and reworking childhood with adult skill as well as examining the darker meanings behind garish pop surface imagery. English also uses historical imagery as a template to explore universal issues. He has frequently reworked images of The Last Supper, Starry Night, and Picasso's Guernica.
English has appropriated many well known images and characters from pop culture, reworking them into his own images. These include a reworking of Charlie Brown into his "Grin" character and one of his famous "MC Supersized" based on the idea that Ronald McDonald ate his own product. Another image of the idealized American female is that of Marilyn Monroe with Mickey Mouse breasts.
In 1980, English exhibited "Grade School Guernica", one of his versions of Picasso's Guernica, at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston. The painting depicts the scene acted out by his children viewed from the point of view of the bomber airplane. His largest collection of "Guernica" paintings was on view at Allouche gallery in New York City from September to October 2016.
"Lazarus Rising" was English's first exhibit in the UK, at Elms Lesters Painting Rooms in London. His exhibition "Season in Supurbia" took place in 2009 at the Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City, where he had a second exhibition "POPagandastan" in 2013. In 2011 he exhibited "Skin Deep: Post-Instinctual Afterthoughts on Psychological Nature", a new body of works exploring the inner lives of iconic figures, at Lazarides in London that represents the artist.
In 2005 English began creating designer toy versions of his creatures and has been producing these collectibles ever since. He has produced over 50 different designer toys.
Ronnnie Rabbbit was English's first designer toy, produced in 2005 by Dark Horse. In 2013, he joined Slash to create a limited edition fiberglass bust of the image used for the Slash and Friends album artwork. He also joined singer Chris Brown to launch their "Dum English" toy; a 10-inch turquoise and pink Astronaut Star Skull.
In 2013, English collaborated with rock band Pearl Jam to produce "Falla Sheep", a blind box line-up with seven color variants of 3.5 inch sheep in wolves' clothing toys. These were sold in stores and also at shows during Pearl Jam's 2013 tour.
Quotable quotes by Ron English
See Wikiquote page Ron English.
- Original Grin: The Art of Ron English (2019)
- POPaganda: The Art & Subversion of Ron English (2004)
- Ron English's Fauxlosophy (2016)
- Ron English's Popaganda Coloring Book (2017)
- Ron English's Vandalism Starter Kit (2014)
- Lazarus Rising (2009)
- Art for Obama (2009)
- Abject Expressionism (2007)
- Son of Pop: Ron English Paints His Progeny (2007)
- Abraham Obama (2010)
- Art is a Horrible Waste of the Imagination (1988)
- Status Factory (2014)
- Death and the Eternal Forever (2014)
Ron English has produced the following music projects:
- English 101 - a collection of songs about Ron English by various bands including: Unkulunkie Records presents English 101, a compilation disc of 14 bands who have come together to celebrate the vision and spirit of contemporary artist Ron English. Each band used the artist's work and personality as inspiration and departure point for their own unique ventures, resulting in an eclectic collection of music with as many styles as there are words to describe a picture. 16 tracks: 1. The Sutcliffes - Ron's Turnin' On 2. Little Yellow Different - All American Man 3. Baby Snufkin - Waltzing Nepenthe 4. Charles Herold - The Ron English Train 5. The Gefkens - Billboard 6. Belleskye - I'm Picturing... 7. The Whatnots - The Odd Side of Normalcy 8. Charles Herold - Do You Know What I Mean 9. Becky Boo and Redmond Jacques - My Kid Could Do That 10. Laura Robinson - Only a Ron English Painting 11. The Sutcliffes - Ron English 12. Banana Blender Surprise - Last Lunch 13. The V-Tones - Speak English 14. The Dusty Diamonds - Art At The Speed of Life 15. Bleecker Street Reality Band - The Ron English Train 16. Sweet Little Roxana - I'm Picturing
- Popaganda CD - a collection of songs about Ron English by various bands including:
1. TRIPPING DAISY “Cartoon Bikini” (Tripping Daisy & Ron English) 4:36 (lyrics adapted from Frank Sinatra's “My Way” by Ron English) 2. SCISSORS “Lone Star” (A. Widoff) 3:32 3. EYEBALL “Ron Sees It All” (S. Harbison, A. Harbison) 3:26 4. INVISIBLE CULTURE “Painted Into A Corner” (Invisible Culture, Ron English) 3:18 5. WESLEY WILLIS “Ron English” (W. Willis) 2:44 6. WOODEN “The Outer World” (E. Issac, M. Prine) 3:58 7. THE WHATNOTS “The Odd Side of Normalcy” (J.Higgins, The Whatnots) 5:05 8. THE GEFKENS “Billboard” (M. Azzarto, The Gefkens) 3:14 9. THE SUTCLIFFES “Picture This” (B. Jemeyson, R. English) 2:41 10. WAMMO “Eulogy for a Vandal Artist” (Wammo, Illness) 4:00 11. THE REVEREND VINCE ANDERSON and his Love Choir “Mr. English (You’re Going to Hell)” (Vincent R. Anderson) 3:11 12. ROBBY LEDOUX “He Said It in English” (R. LeDoux) 2:58 13. BRIAN DEWAN “The Trial” (B. Dewan) 3:19 14. DANIEL JOHNSTON “Still Life” (D. Johnston, R. English) 15. WOODEN “Outer World Dance Mix” (E. Issac, M. Prine) 3:18 Remixed by Jessie ‘Creeper’ Baumier
- Revelations Book II - a collaborative music project with lyrics by Ron English and music by different bands including Daniel Johnston, Patti Rothberg, Emilio China, Wammo, Sara Hickman, Railroad Jerk, Phoebe Legere, Reverend Vince Anderson, Mojo Nixon, Cloud Cover (Kathy Geary)
-  Rabbbits in Delusionville Part I, Rabbbits in Delusionville Part II and Rabbbits in Delusionville Part III