Lowbrow art, commonly referred to as lowbrow, is an underground movement of visual art that sprang out of Los Angeles, California in the late 1970s. Like all sub genres lowbrow encompasses a wide variety of styles even within itself, but in general the art form is rooted in renditions of pop culture, vintage comics, hot rods, and punk rock.
A disregard for anatomical proportions, hyper articulated poses, observation of the grotesque, and vibrant color schemes are key elements of the style. Robert Williams, a contemporary of Ed Roth and founder of Juxtapoz magazine, referred to the movement as “cartoon-tainted abstract surrealism.” Incidentally, Juxtapoz is a visual art publication dedicated primarily to the lowbrow art style.
There has always been a direct correlation to lowbrow and the rise of Kustom Kulture. Partly due to the fact that a few of lowbrow’s forefathers happened to also be involved in Southern California’s hot rod revival. Another reason is that it mirrors the principles associated with classic customs. In both cultures praise is given for the untraditional, anti-kitsch, and disregard for the soft-eyed highbrow population.
Bigtoe aka Tom Laura, is one of Southern California’s best examples of preserving and precipitating the culture of lowbrow. Bigtoe was born in Los Angeles, California and is a big time surfer. He has spent most of his life surfing the best that the Pacific has to offer. He attended Cal State Long Beach for fine arts and landed gigs doing artwork for surf brands such as Quiksilver, O’Neill, Rusty, Redsand, Hobie, Burton, and Split.
Bigtoe has recently emerged out of a 15 year hiatus and has exhibited his work at events such as Ink-n-Iron and Tiki Highway. His style includes a lot of Tiki and WWII era beach themes. You can check out Bigtoe’s Facebook to stay up to date on his art and schedule. Check out some of this man’s vibrant work below and try to catch him at the next car show, he’s a real pleasant guy to talk to. It’s what spending all those years on the surf will do to you.