Pushing the boundaries of what is deemed “appropriate,” Casey Bourke aka Printgurl utilizes their art as a sounding board to reveal hypocrisies within society and promote awareness of the sex work community. At first glance viewing a Tetris-like stack of color doesn’t make much sense to the eye and can seem disorienting. When standing back, the eye has a chance to refocus in order to find placement and meaning to why the blocks of color are positioned in a certain style. The pictures depicted in pixels are undeniably provocative and portray women being erotic, but unapologetically themselves. This series of pixel paintings is unique in and of itself since pixel art is usually executed in a digital format. Here, this artist has bent the idea and re-envisioned it onto a canvas. What once was computer generated is now individually painted blocks of color for the mind to play the game of “guess the picture.” I noticed while viewing some of their other art online that this artist contributes a variety of different techniques in their work beyond their pixel series. It is worth noting that they do not limit themselves to only one kind of painting style. I appreciate the type of art that Printgurl creates and how they incorporate addressing social problems within society through their craft.
Get ready to delve into the risqué and experience getting to know this artist in-depth and on point.
I was first intrigued as to how an artist actually discovers their love for a certain art style such as "pixel art" and even the idea to merge it with provocative types of images. The response spoke volumes in saying, "What got me started in the pixelated making world was [that] I moved to Los Angeles in 2017 and found myself in the DIY, underground art world. There's other "net artists" there. This was the first time I heard the word "net artist". It's very digitally based art. There's "glitch artists" and people that incorporate pixels with their art. Typically it's done in a digital format, but [since] I had been painting all my life I [thought], 'What if I mix the two. What if I do pixels and then paint really provocative paintings.' [When] I did my first pixel painting I loved it. It goes against what I naturally want to do as an artist 'cause I am [a] very organic and loosey-goosey [type of] artist. I have to be very mathematical, get the lines straight and everything. I think when you step back and look at it, [a] pixelated painting is just the dopest thing in the world. It's stuff that I would want to hang up in my house."
L: "Film It" & R: "I Want a Boyfriend"
As with all controversial art, there is always judgement from the outside public looking in and assuming they know what the artists' intention truly is. Casey defends their art by saying, "Yeah, I have gotten a lot of negative comments which is expected. I haven't had the best luck in getting my work into galleries especially in this area. At one solo show I did, two pieces had to be taken out because they were 'too explicit.' I can't apologize for the kind of art that I do and I also don't believe in censoring art. I think my art shows people their own hypocrisies. A lot of what I do is 'pixel porn', but [at the same time] people go to church every Sunday and then come home and start watching porn. It's totally hypocritical. What is it about my art that is offensive? [My art sends] a lot of messages [which includes] body positivity, female empowerment and raising awareness of sex workers."
The past is relevant no matter what kind of subject you venture into. The artist provided a brief history of how far they have come since the beginning of becoming a creator. "I have been painting art since I was 6 years old. I [would draw] naughty art, flowers, animals and all kinds of stuff. Printgurl came about from me working in print shops. I got my 2 year degree in graphic design and ever since then I started working at print shops. At a mom and pop print shop [I worked at] there was an old man that came in every day and loved me. He [would say], 'Where's that print girl?' So, that [name] just kind of stuck. Also, I sell prints too. I just thought it sounded cool."
L: "Pixels Gone Wild" & R: "Cash Money"
Casey Bourke is currently based in Little Rock, Arkansas and one of 50 artists participating in ASSEMBLY, an art event through INTERFORM based in Springdale, Arkansas. When inquiring about how they got involved and found out about the event, they responded, "Preston, the Project Coordinator of INTERFORM, reached out to me and told me about this amazing opportunity. We exchanged ideas back and forth and 2 months later I was a featured artist at INTERFORM: Assembly working with an amazing curator, Omar Bravo. I will forever be grateful for both Preston and Omar for seeing my vision, and taking a chance on my art. I am also thrilled to have worked with other amazingly talented visual artists and proud to be a part of something so groundbreaking in Springdale, AR. [It] truly [feels like] it is the start of something powerful. I am looking forward to more and more events that showcase the best of the NWA art scene."
L: "Internet Girlfriend" & R: "Skull Glitch"
How is the type of art you do considered a “brain drain” & what does “brain drain” mean to you?
“Art totally saved my life. While out in LA, I was in a very low place and struggling with addiction. It was one thing after the next [while dealing] with tremendous heartbreak and depression. I threw myself into painting and that is why I owe my life to art ’cause that is why I am here today. Creating is just a really cathartic thing for me. So that is my ‘brain drain’. Just the creative process [and] being able to create everyday I really believe saved my life. It makes me sane or otherwise I would be a mess without it.”