If you were to ask every single person who enters a thrift store what they’ve come to find, chances are you wouldn’t get any of them to answer with something along the lines of ‘some artwork’ or ‘a painting’. It’s no surprise by now that thrifting is booming—thanks to gen Zers searching for sustainable, often Y2K-inspired clothes. But for most vintage stores, the increase they’ve seen in shoppers has not been mirrored in the amount of £1 paintings they’ve sold.
But you know what they say, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ and New York-based artist Dave Pollot is proof of just that. With over 176,000 followers on Instagram and his work having attracted attention from the media both in the US and abroad, including Business Insider and corporate clients like SONY, Instagram, and McDonald’s, one thing is certain: painting new life into old art has proven to be a genius idea for the artist.
“Painting has always been something of a hobby to me, but it wasn’t until I started repurposing thrift art in 2012 that I did it with any real consistency,” Pollot shared on his website. “The idea actually began as a joke between my wife (who loves to shop at thrift stores) and I, but it quickly evolved into an attempt to answer a question: Could I take a piece of unwanted art, and without changing its aesthetic, change its meaning by painting into it some bit of pop culture/nostalgia and make it desirable in the modern world?”
Here are some of his most iconic works:
This one has to be our ultimate favourite:
Beanie Babies are a line of stuffed toys created by American businessman H. Ty Warner, who founded Ty Inc. in 1986. The toys are stuffed with plastic pellets (what are called “beans”) rather than conventional soft stuffing. They come in many different forms, mostly animals.
Created in 1993, Beanie Babies emerged as a major fad and collectable during the second half of the 1990s. They have been cited as being the world’s first “internet sensation” in 1995. They were collected not only as toys but also as a financial investment due to the high resale value of particular ones. Iconic.
Did you know that when breaking the news to his son, Darth Vader never said, “Luke, I am your father.” He dropped the Luke part and went straight for the revelation. Say what?!
Though this painting is truly beautiful, Pollot has shared on Instagram that it is not for sale as it is “one of the two paintings” he’s kept for himself. No hard feelings here, we feel you.
When US Senator Bernie Sanders pick on his outfit for President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony in January 2021, he probably never imagined he would be turned into one of the most popular memes of the year—or that the move would later inspire Elle Hell to spearhead an entire adult entertainment genre with a video titled I am once again asking you to cum.
Wow, @DudeWithSign is not looking well in this one:
Last but not least, put this in the Louvre, please.
Remember the simpler times when we used to binge-watch Cartoon Network on a school night? “I wish SpongeBob was real!” most of us would holler at the playground, while day-dreaming about visiting the cartoon character in his cute little pineapple house under the sea. Several years later, your childhood visions may have motivated you to check out artworks that reimagine Disney princesses as modern women or even hotdogs—all in the guise of nostalgia.
Well, buckle up fellow cartoon lovers, it’s time to kiss your nostalgic desires—along with your peaceful sleep schedules—goodbye forever. Enter Miguel Vasquez, a 3D artist obsessed with making hyper-realistic versions of our favourite cartoon characters. The catch? The entire purpose of his art is “to disturb people.” Here are 18 of Vasquez’s most popular creations—guaranteed to make you pat the artist on the back and say “mission accomplished.”
I bet you’ve only known the wholesome yet goofy Sid who flails his arms around and manages to screw up every mission the Ice Age crew embarks on. But have you ever wondered what the iconic sloth would look like as an actual human being living among us? Hint: think someone with saggy skin, oddly-defined pectoral muscles, crusty eyes bulging out of their sockets and snotty nose dripping onto a set of misaligned and mouldy teeth. Vasquez did Sid dirty. Period. But we’re all here for it.
I’m pretty sure this is not what our 7-year-old selves had in mind while wishing upon a shooting star to meet SpongeBob in real life. Yet here we are, presented with an unsettling 3D illustration of the popular sea sponge—who looks eerily similar to Donald Trump. Scratch that, maybe Howie Mendel in his cosplaying era back in his school years?
Okay, this may just be Vasquez’s least cursed creation to date—and that’s saying something. Based on the character and protagonist of the animated television franchise under the same name, Scooby-Doo looks like the Scooby snack Shaggy would often feed him. Apart from his low-key resemblance to Steve Harvey, that is. “When you’re doing the dishes and touch soggy food,” Vasquez went on to caption the 3D artwork. Meme culture, here’s your new “What the dog doin’.”
Iconically munching on a carrot with gloved hands, Looney Tunes’ favourite anthropomorphic grey hare looks like he gulps psychedelic mushrooms for breakfast. Eh, what’s up, doc?
“Ahoy Spongebob! I’m suffering from nicotine withdrawal, gimme a pod me boi,” rightly sums up this artwork of Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants. “It’s all about shock value,” Vasquez said in an interview with The i. “I put a lot of work into the details. A character’s bloodshot eyes can make them that much creepier, or menacing look.” Well, mission accomplished, mister Vasquez.
Sleep paralysis demons, where you at? Based on the famous characters from the long-running comic strip—written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz—Charlie Brown and Snoopy look baked in their hyper-realistic version like Bugs Bunny. The best part? The more you look at Charlie, the more he looks like Michael Cera. Potential cast if The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show ever makes a live action of the iconic duo, I guess?
Of course, Patrick is on the list. If you’ve been wondering what the pink sea star would look like as a Chuck E. Cheese employee, this is it. With ice cream dropped splat on his forehead (bonus points if you scroll to see it dripping into his mouth), single-toothed Patrick believes mayonnaise is an instrument and you cannot, in fact, “stop the unstoppable.”
Brb, Googling how to delete my childhood.
Remember how we used to tirelessly yell “behind you, Dora!” whenever the characters from Dora the Explorer asked for directions or urged us to spot something on our TV screens? I don’t know about you guys but watching the animated series now gives me anxiety. How many times do I have to repeat myself? Or worse yet, in the age where we pull down our masks to hear better, am I actually annoying the local supermarket worker by asking them where the chips are—multiple times? Well, this time, Dora ain’t playing around. And Swiper, you better stop swiping.
In the interview with The i, Vasquez admitted how he was initially an art school student at Chaffey College but got really frustrated with the curriculum. “I felt like I could learn more at home but didn’t know what to do at first,” he said. “I suppose you could say I dropped out, but it doesn’t feel like the right word. I wanted to leave to dedicate more time to my art, and felt like I was learning more at home.”
After leaving college, he started spending time sketching out the characters he had been previously drafting absent-mindedly. “I had started drawing these characters at school when I got bored, because it seemed like no-one had quite got the dimensions for what these cartoons would look like in real life,” the artist said. “I wanted to show how strangely disproportionate and creepy they would actually look.” Well, all Squidward needs in this artwork is a shower cap and bubbles.
Who knew Michael J. Fox and Willem Dafoe could make such a good intergalactic duo? Armed with a bottle, portal and laser guns, Vasquez captures Rick and Morty in their true elements in this article. Perfectly disturbing, just like the animated sitcom in question.
You’ll never binge Adventure Time the same way again. With missing teeth and a balaclava, here’s what Finn the Human would look like in his yearbook photo. His death grip on Jake the Dog (with well-defined pecs, yet again) is worth noting here.
This is what Plankton from SpongeBob SquarePants would look like if he was one of the odd monsters Will Smith fights in Men in Black. Pecs? Check. Bloodshot eyes? Nailed them. The secret formula for Krabby Patties? Got it. At the end of the day, however, I’d be absolutely terrified to meet mildly-ripped Plankton out on the streets.
In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward is rushed to the hospital when SpongeBob accidentally slams the door on him. He undergoes surgery to have his face fixed but things don’t go as planned. Instead of looking like his old self again, the surgery makes him—drum roll—incredibly handsome! Enter ‘Handsome Squidward’, whose dazzling beauty makes everyone in Bikini Bottom fall head over heels for the hunk. With five different versions of Handsome Squidward, Vasquez has got everyone thirsting in the comment section. I never thought I’d say this in my life, but have you ever seen a sea cucumber packing a sea cucumber before?
In case you’re looking for a video of Handsome Squidward checking you out, Vasquez has got you covered. PS: I can’t wait for the anthropomorphic fanfiction of the character on Wattpad now.
At the time Vasquez gave the interview for The i, he was yet to create female characters. “I have a really good idea for Marge Simpson in the pipeline,” he told the outlet. Well, who’d have thought how The Simpsons character would turn out? Now the question is, when will Vasquez add Lisa and Bart to this unsettling family portrait? Also, I can’t help but see Bruce Willis the more I look at Homer. What do you think?
For Vasquez, his inspiration to create creepy characters was triggered after his artwork of Nintendo’s Luigi went viral on Instagram. “I realised that these characters were getting a lot of attention,” he said. “I started focusing a week at a time on perfecting them. They do look like something that lives and roams in this world.” I never thought Kirby could haunt my dreams with single nail bed for hands and legs.
Ever wondered what old video game characters would look like if they were recreated with realistic graphics? Let’s just agree that if we played Super Mario with this Toad, our childhood memories would’ve been nightmare-filled rather than nostalgic. As for Vasquez, this is exactly what he aims for with his artwork. “I love seeing the reactions,” he shared. True, even if you love or loathe them, you’d definitely share these images with a friend at the end of the day. “It’s just bringing to life what the original creators gave to the cartoon characters,” he added. Wonder what Princess Peach thinks about this Toad though…
Just going to leave this blursed image here.