What do The Beatles mean to artists today? Here’s how 30 illustrators see the band

RoomFifty co-founder and Beatles super fan Leon Edler curates and presents Beatles-themed artworks from Stan Chow and Wei Hsuan Chen to Paul Blow.

Date
3 May 2023

Leon Edler thinks that The Beatles have always been a great subject for art. The RoomFifty co-founder explains: “You think about album covers by Klaus Voorman, Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton, Heinz Edelman – The Beatles are as inspiring to artists as they are to musicians.” A collection of over 30 new Beatles artworks attempts to show this evergreen quality of the band’s music, while posing another question: how do you offer a fresh take on the most well-known band ever?

The resulting artworks cover broad ground from a fandom perspective, forming a new collection of limited edition prints, T-shirts, posters and postcards called A Soap Impression. Wei Hsuan Chen, for example, presents a unique take on Abbey Road, subbing band members for cats and dogs. Other takes include Greg Clarke’s Liverpool FC-Beatles mashup, inspired by a scene in Richard Lester’s comedy A Hard Day’s Night (1964) showing the band running to evade fans.

Leon Edler digs deeper into the Beatles story still to spotlight Mal Evans, road manager and personal assistant. Elsewhere, Paul Blow sketches a profile shot of the Fab Four and Stan Chow contributes a print inspired by Yellow Submarine – one of his children’s favourite films. There’s also Colin King’s famous 1970 Sunday Times cover included in the collection, available as a fine art print for the first time.

Though RoomFifty attempts to show the evergreen appeal of The Beatles, Leon Edler also believes that now is a particularly pertinent time to release the prints. “At a time when many of us don't feel very proud to be British, the Beatles feel like a tonic to all the evil and insularity.” A Soap Impression will be available online at RoomFifty from Thursday 11 May. Peruse a selection of the prints, along with stories from the artist, below.

GalleryRoomFifty: A Soap Impression

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Wei Hsuan Chen: Cats and dogs on Abbey (Copyright © Wei Hsuan Chen)

“When it comes to The Beatles, the first image that comes to my mind is the album cover of Abbey Road. Watching footage of their performances during certain periods, you can feel how much fun they had and how much they enjoyed the music. Despite the different challenges the band faced at different stages, there is no denying that they left behind numerous timeless musical works, and the rock spirit of The Beatles continues to influence generations.”

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Greg Clarke: Liverpudlians FC (Copyright © Greg Clarke)

“I’m both a Beatles fan and a soccer/football fan, hence the mashup with their storied hometown team. The image was inspired by the scene in Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night (1964) where the group is running to evade a horde of fans.”

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Ruan van Vliet: Nothing Is Real (Copyright © Ruan van Vliet)

“The Beatles mean a lot to me so I found it hard to zero in on one idea at first. I drew 100 things and started to pile them together in a similar style to my recent sketchbook collages, I got too deep into that. Made a big mess. I sent it to a friend who’s hot with The Beatles AND Design. He was very helpful, he said ‘I think it’s cool!!’. Later, he sent me Tadanori Yokoo’s Beatles collages, which I hadn’t seen before but I knew right away I had to simplify the whole thing, I started stripping away each element until I was left with only two; the lads and a field. I thought, “that looks good now, that’s a nice f**king print!””

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Danny Miller: Strawberry Fields Forever (Copyright © Danny Miller)

“Strawberry Fields Forever is my favourite Beatles song. It’s so otherworldly. I love John’s nihilistic, wilfully inarticulate lyrics. That self-conscious bumbling is so unusual and honest for a pop song. I find it very relatable.”

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Jango Jim: Here Comes The Sun (Copyright © Jango Jim)

“I have fond memories about my dad playing The Beatles on vinyl in the house during the weekend when I was a kid. Later as a teenager listened to them on cd a lot, watched their movies and got blown away by the Yellow Submarine animated feature. I got even more impressed when I watched The Beatles Anthology. It’s such a fun, catchy and huge universe they created. Here comes the sun never fails to make me happy.”

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Leon Edler: All You Need is Mal (Copyright © Leon Edler)

“Mal Evans (27 May 1935 – 5 January 1976) was the Beatles’ Road Manager and personal assistant. A gentle giant who was always on hand for tea, toast and anvils.”

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Lucy Jones: George, John, Paul & Ringo (Copyright © Lucy Jones)

“Asides from their music The Beatles remind me of family. There is a really fast, almost aggressive accent in Liverpool, but there’s also this really nice soft, slow accent and lots of the people in my family have this way of talking. They also had a sense of humour that could be both dry but also warm that makes me nostalgic about growing up in the North West of England.”

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Nicolas Burrows: Blackbird (Copyright © Nicolas Burrows)

“‘Blackbird’ is one of those Beatles songs I overlook because I’ve heard it so often. There’s nothing complex going on here, just a blackbird, heading off ‘into the light of a dark black night...’ ”

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Paul Blow: Fab Four (Copyright © Paul Blow)

“The Beatles were the soundtrack to my early years, they were either being played by me or my brother. He liked Paul I liked John - did we fight? Hell yes!”

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Vinnie Neuberg: I am the Egg Man (Copyright © Vinnie Neuberg)

“I’ve been obsessed with Beatles for many years, but more recently I have been developing an obsession with Humpty Dumpty. How fortunate then that John makes reference to ol’ Humpty in I am the Walrus. Goo Goo Goo Joob!”

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Zeloot (Eline Van Dam): The Flow (Copyright © Eline Van Dam)

“I was asked to do an illustration for The New York Times on the documentary series Get Back. I imagined the band recording in a small space, fully attuned to each other, becoming one body. I think The Beatles excel in ensemble playing, harmony vocals, collaborative compositions, and innovation.”

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Lorenzo Montatore: The Beatles 1967 (Copyright © Lorenzo Montatore)

“At the age of 10, The Beatles were just an old band of pop music I’ve had seen on television; four guys surrounded by crazy screaming fans. One day I discovered a cassette tape in my sister’s room, with an image of them very dissimilar: They had odd moustaches and dressed in strange patterned colourful clothes. I played the tape and the Mellotron started to sound. Ten seconds later they became my favourite band.”

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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