The Art of Metrocard Art

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Three artists use the yellow, blue, and black New York City subway ticket to create collages and doodles of everything from Bruce Lee to the Statue of Liberty

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The art of making whimsy out of the mundane is one of the highest manifestations of creativity. I've previously seen incredible artwork created out of paper, cardboard, money, spam, books, office supplies, and even toilet paper rolls. Today, I turn to an even more narrow byproduct of mundanity: the iconic New York City Metrocard.

Juan Carlos Pinto


For the past 10 years, New-York-based Guatemalan artist Juan Carlos Pinto has been using discarded Metrocards to create vibrant mosaic portraits of cultural icons and local heroes alike. His artwork comments on issues of social justice and environmental conservation with a visual aesthetic that emanates the expressive lushness of the ancient Mayan folklore traditions of his homeland.

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Metro Card Doodles


If mosaic collages use the Metrocard as a pixel on a giant canvas-screen, then Metrocardoodles does the opposite, using the Metrocard itself as the canvas and superimposing on it playful doodles that comment on pop culture. From Obama to Oprah, these quirky creations are anything but high art, but we just can't stop looking anyway.

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Metrocardoodles are the work of illustrator, art director, and animator Andrew Thomspon, whom I may or may not have met in a past life in Philly.

Nina Boesch


Artist Nina Boesch doesn't simply sample from a New York staple, she comments on New York staples with her work. From the Statue of Liberty to Conan O'Brien to the Metrocard itself, for an exercise in ultimate meta, her stunning Metrocard collages portray the Big Apple's urban iconography, human and architectural, with a remarkable balance of simplicity and complexity.

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And for the mandatory digital customization add-on, Boesch even has a microsite that lets you Metrocard yourself.


This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Images: Brain Pickings

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Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

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