In crafting the PI character for my upcoming novel “The Counterfeit Detective,” I took inspiration from Andy Warhol, a commercial artist who moved to New York City in the hope of a career as an artist. Although successful as a commercial artist, he failed to find a place in the art establishment until he turned his artistic talents to the Pop Art Movement and created his most famous work Thirty-two Campbell’s Soup Cans.
Pop Art was conceived as anti-art, a revolt against fine art by using the commercial art found in advertising as well as images from mass media. Warhol saw art in the Campbell’s Soup trademark and the packaging, referred to as the trade dress in the industry. His vision was consistent with Pop Art’s anti-art theme, because the purpose of a Campbell’s Soup trademark is to sell soup. Until Pop Art was introduced, fine art had nothing to do with selling consumer products. Many art critics derided Pop Art and called it “fake.” The initial showing of the Thirty-two Campbell’s Soup Cans fared poorly; over time it was recognized as a masterpiece.
Theo Jones, the failed actor turned PI, pursues counterfeit trademarks (trademark counterfeiting) and his personal dilemma, his longing to continue as an artist and to be true to himself, reflects Warhol’s quest to become an artist. Jones is reborn during the course of the story and rediscovers his passion for his craft as a result and, like Warhol, fulfills his dream of becoming an artist.