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Madonna Portraits FAQ

First what made you choose Madonna as one of your subjects?
I make art with and about icons. I like loaded imagery that represents more then just an image. I am interested in the underlying content not the surface of a picture. Madonna, the popular female musician, as a subject represents more than just one artist's solo singing career. Some call her the "Queen of Pop". Andy Warhol is the uncontested "King of Pop". Madonna's name alone conjures up historical meaning tied in with Jesus! Many call Christ the "King of Kings". Madonna (along with Jesus, Warhol, and Oprah) is one of those people in my life that I have never met, will probably never meet, but I am somehow aware of their presence. I don't really like or dislike Madonna's music, that is not what my artwork is about. I guess my portrait of Madonna represents how I view our weird relationship, And I don't know what to say about all the die hard fans that love, idolize, and worship someone like Madonna. Millions of people have attended her concerts where everything is focused on one individual. I think that is too many people just standing around being entertained and by only one entertainer. I think people should rely more on themselves to have fun, even with a small group is better than buying an expensive ticket to go see someone they don't know in a stadium full of strangers.

Also why did you produce two portraits on the singer?
The first portrait I made of Madonna uses all the bar codes from music CDs. I collected 107 UPC numbers from Barnes and website to make the 60 x 60 inch portrait. The second portrait I made uses all of the cover images to render a color version of the same face. I recycle imagery and sometimes try to recycle myself back into my art. I never intend to repeat myself, I like learning new things. After making black and white portraits with bar codes, I wanted to change it up with some color tiles. I tried it once, didn't really like the outcome, and continued making portaits with the price tags.

Why did you decide to choose the cover single of 'Rain' as the main portrait image?
I chose that particular image because she is facing forward and looking straight into the camera. A nice face that will sell lots of units. I think that Herb Ritts photographed that cover for 'Rain', but I am not at all trying to copy his work. I used it is a reference to manipulate 1728 bar codes into place and shade. I hope people feel that I am "leaving more than I'm taking" when I appropriate other people's work into my own. In today's "copy and paste" world I don't think most people mind, but I do sometimes wonder what Madonna would say if she saw what I'm doing with HER face!

What influenced you to create such work in the first place? Any major events, films, books or anything like that? or Political events that occurred during the time?
I started making art with bar codes a year before Y2K at the end of the world all because a bunch of zeros and ones where out of place. I was experimenting with digital mosaics, creating portraits in Photoshop with a bunch of circles. The dots evolved into squares, and then the squares morphed into lines. Before I knew it, I was staring at a bunch of bar code. I am not interested in making art that sells. Rather I make art that is about what has already been sold.

Lastly what are your ideas or influences of your own work?
I am a human being born on planet earth in 1976. I grew up in Tampa, FL skateboarding and making &@%#^%. I am 28 years old now, still skating, and have a regular day job shipping UPS and FedEx bar codes for a t-shirt company. I make art about art. Somebody once said "The content of Blake's artwork is... the content of Blake's artwork". A lot of people don't take me that seriously. I am trying to make my world a better place, not by just decorating the walls with pretty pictures, but instead making art that inspires real change in all of us to do better. That satisfies me.

Email, August 2005
Brandon Native Turns Barcodes into Works of Art
on TBO News website
by Rod Carter
Tampa, Florida
June 2010
Omahan Creates Bar Code Art
on WOWT News website
by Brian Mastre
Omaha, Nebraska
September 2009
Scott Blake Interview
on Dixonfoma Website
by Dixon Cordell
April 2009
Amazing portraits of Elvis and Madonna made entirely from bar codes
in Daily Mail Newspaper
by Gavin Bernard
United Kingdom
May 2008
Scott Blake: Behind Bars
in Swindle Magazine
by Jason Filipow & Anne Keehan
Los Angeles, California
March 2007
Interview with Scott Blake
on Soul Coffee Website
by Geoff Pitchford
August 2005
Interview with Scott Blake
on FryCookOnVenus website
by FryCookOnVenus
September 2004
The Fine Art of Bar Codes
in The Reader Newspaper
by Jeremy Schnitker
Omaha, Nebraska
February 2004
Creating art one pixel at a time
in The District Newspaper
by Craig Oelrich
Savannah, Georgia
March 2003
Macro/micro, subversion, and celebration
by Alessandro Imperato
Savannah, Georgia
October 2002
Ecstasy Self Portrait Q & A
by Bonnie Molins
August 2002
Original Artist Statement and FAQ
May 2001
Barcode artist Scott Blake digitizes human expressions
on Silicon Prairie News website
by Andrea Ciurej
Omaha, Nebraska
May 2010
Omaha Barcode Artist Scans Famous, Infamous Faces
on KETV News website
by John Oakey
Omaha, Nebraska
October 2009
Black is Beautiful
in Lowdown Magazine
by Sven Fortmann
August 2008
You're not special
on DocHoloday website
by DocHoloday
August 2007
Get acquainted, Scott Blake
in Inbox Magazine
by Andrey Oaheeb
February 2006
Madonna Portraits Q & A
August 2005
Bring Your Bar Codes
in Art Papers Magazine
by Kent Wolgamott
May 2005
Email from "Jesus"
September 2004
Finding Form in Bar-Code Function
on TechTV Live
by Andy Jordan
San Francisco, California
October 2003
The Body-Mined Show Catalog
by Glenn Zucman
Long Beach, California
January 2003
Abrstraction, "Capitalist Realist",
and the system

by Alessandro Imperato
Savannah, Georgia
November 2002
Enrayer le code
in Etapes Graphiques Magazine
by Vanina Pinter
July 2002
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