Review: The Art of Being Pharrell

A few months ago, I completely  fell for advertising on Facebook.  Like any other uneventful day, I was scrolling through my news-feed when I saw a sponsored post by W Magazine asking Facebook users to vote for best magazine cover by “liking” one of the options.  I voted, started looking around their Facebook page, and eventually found myself paying $5 for a five month subscription to the over-sized publication. Yeah, I know… I fell for it and contributed to the success of pesky online advertising.  The worst part? I didn’t even read the articles – I really only looked at the photographs of Miley Cyrus where she dyed her eyebrows blonde. The magazines ended up pilled on my desk… until a few days ago.


Cover artwork by Urs Fischer

I received W’s Art edition in the mail and noticed something peculiar about the cover. Contemporary artist Urs Fischer (who’s work I first saw at MOCA) created the cover artwork using one of his signature techniques: covering the subject’s face with an inanimate object. In this case, a silver hardware screw over “Happy” singer Pharrell Williams.

The interview discusses many aspects of Pharrell’s career including his earlier work, his response to the controversy of “Blurred Lines” which he produced, and even his famous infamous “Smokey the Bear” hat and its contribution to the explosion of the singer/producer’s fame. However, unlike other profiles of music artists, every page of this interview showcases a piece of visual art contemporary artists have made with Pharrell as the main subject.

by Japanese artist Mr.

by Japanese artist Mr.


Included in the spreads are works by Mr., Jr., Alex Katz, and Rob Pruitt. If you don’t subscribe to W, you’re about to “get lucky” because you can view these artworks online.

After actually reading this edition of W, and not just looking at the layout designs, I suppose falling for advertising this one time was worth it. My admiration for Fischer’s art only grew stronger, I checked out other artists’ work, and even Pharrell’s long journey for a successful career was interesting enough for me to finish reading the entire (several paged) article.


Do I think that ‘Blurred Lines’ is about gender equality like Pharrell and Robin Thicke have claimed? Ha! Absolutely not. But that is whole other topic.

Do I like Pharrell’s hat? No, but I can admit it’s become iconic.

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