After graduating with a degree in Pictorial Design from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1949, Andy Warhol moved to New York City to pursue a career as a commercial artist. He began creating shoe advertisements for magazines with whimsical ink drawings in a loose, blotted-ink style.
Warhol’s early adoption of the silkscreen print process in the 1950s was a unique technique for paintings. His earliest silkscreen painting involved hand-drawn images. Prior to entering the fine art field, his commercial art background involved innovative techniques for image making. When rendering commercial objects for advertising, Warhol devised a technique that resulted in a characteristic image. His imagery used in advertising was often executed by means of applying ink to paper and then blotting the ink while still wet.
In the early 1950s after his experience as a commercial artist, Warhol began painting, drawing and illustrating books. In 1952, he held his first solo exhibition at the Hugo Gallery, featuring Fifteen Drawings on the Writing of Truman Capote. In the following years, he worked for a theater group on the Lower East Side and designs sets. Gradually, he started to incorporate photo-based techniques and screenprint processes which were much more industrial.
Warhol’s of his earliest art works were shown at the Bodley Gallery in New York. His gained a range of top clients from Harper’s Bazaar to Tiffany & Co., and was able to display his art in the windows of department stores, such as the famous I. Miller.
In April 1956, the Museum of Modern Art New York recognized Warhol’s work and included him in his first major group show. Later that year, Warhol traveled around the world with Charles Lisanby, a television-set designer, as a reward for all his hard work. It was his first trip abroad traveling to Hawaii and various countries in Asia and Europe.
Warhol began winning awards for his work such as the 35th Annual Art Directors Club Award for a Distinctive Merit, an I.Miller shoe advertisement. Additionally in 1957, he received the same award for the I.Miller show advertisements, and his illustrations were published in the article, “Crazy Golden Slippers” in Life Magazine.
Warhol rapidly built his reputation and became one of the most successful illustrators of the 1950’s.