Lexicon: Dude Art

Dude Art has become so mainstream since I first started carelessly throwing around the term that the definition is almost too fuzzy to be useful anymore. Originally intended to refer to the type of art that one finds on skateboard decks–but not the type of skateboard decks that you use, the type that you hang on your wall (“you” here referring to everyone but “me”), dude art exists at the highly profitable intersection of graffiti, skate culture, independent comics (post-Fort Thunder), “design” (advertising), collage and video games–I’ve heard most of these referred to collectively as “boy culture.” The prototypical piece of dude art will involve a naked woman, video game paraphernalia, graffiti/advertising/design flourishes and will most likely take the form of a mural (see: Coop).

The term was originally (and, I suppose, pejoratively) meant to apply to art made by/for young urban males who were not effete, skinny intellectuals in high school (and indeed there is an undercurrent of anti-intellectualism in the “movement,” if a “movement” can be said to exist). However, the rapid mainstreaming of Dude Art has caused it to snowball and pick up a number of other pseudo-movements, which would now most likely be called (collectively) something like “neo-pop” or (equally meaninglessly) “hipster art.” (The “female” version of dude art, for example, replaces naked women with fey graphite drawings of woodland creatures or burning houses, but includes many of the same visual flourishes). The center of Dude Art seems to be California, certainly L.A. but perhaps equally as vital in San Francisco–the type of work featured on San Francisco art-blog Fecal Face, for example, probably represents the apex that Dude Art aspires to.