Andy Warhol’s iconic portraits of famous people helped him become one of the most influential Pop Artists of the 1960’s. This was an exciting time in popular culture, and Andy was in the middle of it all.

A Humble Start


Born Andrew Warhola, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Andy was the youngest of three boys. His parents Andrej and Julia were immigrants from Czechoslovakia. His father was a coal miner. His mother cleaned homes and made metal flowers from tin cans and sold them door to door for extra money. His family lived in a two-room flat, with no indoor plumbing. They traveled down two flights of stairs and across the yard to outhouse. 


A Sickly Boy


Andy spent most of his childhood in bed. At the age of eight, he contracted the rheumatic fever. Then he caught another disease called Sydenham's chorea (also known as St. Vitus' Dance), that causes involuntary movements of the extremities. He later developed a strange skin condition in which his skin became very pale and had red blotches.


School Life


Elementary school was very traumatic for Andy. He missed a lot of school during several month-long periods of bed-rest. His skin condition crushed his self-esteem, and other students bullied him due to his odd mannerisms and strange appearance. Warhol refused to attend school for some years due to the bullying, so his mother taught him at home.


A Born Artist


Even as a young boy, Warhol liked to draw, color, and cut and paste pictures. His mother, who was also artistic, would encourage him by giving him a chocolate bar every time he finished a page in his coloring book. During high school, Warhol took art classes both at school and at the Carnegie Museum. He could be found with a sketchbook in his hands. Warhol also loved to go to movies and started a collection of celebrity memorabilia, specially autographed photos. A number of these pictures appeared in Warhol's later artwork.


Andy’s College Days


Warhol graduated from high school and then went to Carnegie Institute of Technology. He graduated in 1949 with a major in pictorial design. It was during his college years that Warhol discovered the blotted-line technique. The result was a picture with irregular lines that he would color in with watercolor.


Andy The Draftsman


Right after college, Warhol moved to New York. Shortly after he got his first apartment, his mother arrived unannounced and moved in with her son. They lived amiably together for the next 20 years. With his mother at his side spurring him on, Andy quickly earned a reputation in the 1950s for using the blotted-line technique in numerous commercial advertisements. When one of the magazines misprinted his name as “Warhol” instead of “Warhola”, Andy decided to leave it that way. He went by “Warhol for the rest of his life. He became a highly sought after draftsman and grew very wealthy. Still, what he truly wanted, even more than wealth was fame.


Pop Art


Around 1960, Warhol had decided to make a name for himself in pop art. Pop art was a new style of art that began in England in the mid-1950s. It consisted of realistic renditions of popular, everyday items. Andy began with Coke bottles and comic strips, but his work wasn't getting the attention he wanted. In December 1961, a friend suggested that he paint what he liked most in the world, a can of soup. Warhol's first exhibition in an art gallery came in 1962 when he displayed his canvases of Campbell's soup, one canvas for each of the 32 types of Campbell's soup. He sold all the paintings as a set for a $1000. It took a bit, but he was a hit!


Silk Screening


Unfortunately, Warhol couldn't make his paintings fast enough on canvas. In July 1962, he discovered the process of silk screening. He immediately began making portraits of celebrities, most notably an extensive collection of paintings of Marilyn Monroe. He would use this style for the rest of his life.


Making Movies


In the 1960s, Warhol continued to paint, and he also made films. From 1963 to 1968, he made nearly 60 movies. One of his films, Sleep, is a five-and-a-half hour film of a man sleeping.


An attempt on Andy’s Life


On July 3, 1968, disgruntled actress Valerie Solanas walked into Warhol's studio ("the Factory") and shot Warhol in the chest. Less than thirty minutes later, Warhol was pronounced clinically dead. The doctor then cut Warhol's chest open and massaged his heart for a final effort to get it started again. It worked. Though his life was saved, it took a long time for his health to recover.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Warhol continued to paint. He also began publishing a magazine called Interview and several books about himself and pop art. He even dabbled in television.

On February 21, 1987, Warhol underwent a routine gallbladder surgery. Though the surgery went well, for an unknown reason, Warhol unexpectedly passed away the following morning. He was 58 years old.


Andy’s Contribution To Art


Andy Warhol was one of the most important artists of pop art. He was one of the most significant and prolific figures of his time, his works exploring the connection between celebrity culture and artistic expression.  He will always be known as the “prince of pop”.  His portrait, Eight Elvises, resold for $100 million in 2008, making it one of the most valuable paintings in history. A visual art and cultural pioneer, Warhol will forever be known for his quirky, controversial prints.


Online Resources:

At “Artsy Craftsy Mom” it is one-stop shopping for Andy Warhol projects and print-ables.

Click the following link:

Once there you can:

*Design your own soup can label

*Make your own “flower Print” art

*Print and fold an Andy Warhol replica paper toy

*Make your own DIY Warhol costume

*Generate your own Warhol inspired portrait to print