Pulp Art as Fine Art

by Sara Light-Waller

Trio of faux pulp magazine covers

The pulp art style remains popular after nearly 100 years. Why—? Is it the garish colors? The melodramatic (and sometimes soft-core) subjects? Memories of dynamic times, long past? Or does it have something to do with dreams of a different kind of world? While all may seem true, I think the latter has much to do with it. Our world today is not an easy one and nostalgia seems a good band-aid. For some, Americana is the answer and pulps from the 1940’s certainly covered that territory pretty well.

For me, there’s another hook also—keeping a dying art form alive. While there are new pulp artists out there (some quite good) many are working digitally. It’s a recognized fact that vinyl recordings sound more mellow and warm then do precise digital recordings. The same is true of paintings. And the original pulp paintings were done by hand. The brush strokes are broad, the color palettes unusual to modern eyes. Compositions were tight and well-thought out. And the renderings of people, generally excellent.

For several years I have been studying the way the pulp art style was put together. I’ve taken the pieces apart and put them back together. Made copies. Tested different media. Analyzed how pulp art from the 1930’s differed generally from the 1940’s, etc.. In short, I’ve made a close study of the subject. Eventually, I felt I understood enough to make my own pieces of new pulp art.

My new pulp art collection represents the first paintings of this new series. I have created them as if they were cover paintings for various popular pulp magazines from the 1930’s and 40’s. I have mocked up covers showing how the art might have looked under those mastheads. The originals are for sale on my new Flying Pony Studios shop, as well as are prints & greeting cards. Each piece has an artist’s statement as well as information about my inspiration for the work.

Over the past few years, I’ve shared my interest in the artists and authors of the pulp era. I’ve shown that it was more than under-dressed hotsy-totsies floating around on space ships. I believe the art style still has something to say and I plan to say it.

P.S. Launches are causes for celebration but also a time for working out any bugs. If you notice anything not working on the site, please let me know. Thank you!

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