Many musicians and actors are also talented artists, having showcased their work in solo or group exhibitions.
Some of them have a longstanding relationship with art, having produced a variety of paintings, photographs, and performance pieces over the years.
Jim Carrey makes long-scale paintings and miniature sculptures, while Patti Smith creates black-and-white prints out of her Polaroid photos.
Here are 14 celebrities you may not have known are also talented artists.
Celebrities are always looking for more outlets and different ways to express their abundant creativity. Some of them are musicians who decide to try acting, while others are actors who want to hone their singing skills.
And then there are those who create art, experimenting with various forms, from painting and photography to graphic design and performance art.
Whether self-taught or with an actual art degree in their hands, they make outstanding pieces, some of which they often exhibit in galleries around the world.
From Marilyn Manson’s dark paintings to Yoko Ono’s conceptual work, here are 14 celebrities who you may not have realized are also talented artists.
Actor Sylvester Stallone uses painting as a way to visualize his thoughts ― or even his movie characters ― before putting them into words.
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Although most people are familiar with Sylvester Stallone’s work as an actor (namely through his lead roles in the popular “Rocky” and “Rambo” movies), Stallone’s true passion is painting. His expressive artworks are defined by a bold use of color and cryptic messages.
For some of his characters, like Rocky, the actor would first paint what he thought they’d look like, before going on to embody them on screen.
“I try to visualize something before I put it into words,” says Stallone. “Words are very difficult and sometimes unforgiving. So if I could see what Rocky looked like, then perhaps I could write about him.”
Beatles musician and art enthusiast Paul McCartney has created a number of paintings and lithographs, characterized by vivid colors.
AP Photo/POOL/David Eustace
Having developed an eye for art early on, musician and former Beatles covocalist and bassist Paul McCartney has been frequenting art galleries and expanding his collection of precious artworks for years.
It wasn’t long before he decided to make his own art. McCartney’s pieces — mainly paintings and lithographs characterized by vivid colors — have been exhibited in select UK, US, and European galleries.
The musician’s 2000 exhibition in Siegen, Germany (featuring portraits of John Lennon, Andy Warhol, and David Bowie) was also turned into a book.
Lucy Liu’s engagement with painting has helped the actress shed a light on her childhood.
Actress Lucy Liu has been making art ever since she was a teenager; she has experimented with different artforms, including photography, sculpture, silkscreen, embroidery, and painting.
The latter is what has ultimately appealed to Liu the most as an artist, offering her a new sense of self.
“I think that art helps evaluate some of the psychology of yourself as a child, and to illuminate some things you may never have understood,” she told Artsy.
Liu’s artworks have been exhibited in places like the National Museum of Singapore and the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville, California.
Canadian folk-rock musician Joni Mitchell set out to be an artist before her music career kicked off; still, she never gave up painting.
A real trailblazer in the folk, rock, and jazz music scenes of the ’60s and the ’70s, the multi-talented Joni Mitchell has enchanted people with her poetic lyrics and distinctive voice. But the musician is also a gifted painter.
Describing herself as a “painter derailed by circumstance,” Mitchell has been painting for most of her life, even though she rarely showcases her art. Some of her paintings depict musicians like Bob Dylan or Graham Nash, while others capture Canadian prairies.
Mitchell created her self-portraiture, “Turbulent Indigo,” in 1993, taking the form of a bandaged Vincent van Gogh. The painting became the cover of her 1994 album of the same name.
Acclaimed actor Anthony Hopkins creates vibrant paintings based on instinct.
Anthony Hopkins’ art studio is filled with paints, oils, acrylics, tempera bottles, pens, markers, brushes, and canvases. They all provide the actor with the freedom he needs to create his diverse, instinctual paintings.
Following no specific, technical rules, Hopkins’ paintings reveal what’s on his mind at any given moment. Their common denominator? A focus on the subject’s eyes.
As he says, “The face is not important. It’s the eyes that are the most haunting part of one’s soul. It’s very primitive. It’s childish art. It has to be childish because I am a child. I’ve discovered lately that I enjoy all that is supposedly wrong with me. I used to take myself so seriously, but now I don’t.”
Through his dark paintings, rocker Marilyn Manson pursues an existential exploration of the human condition.
Known for his edgy, goth looks and eccentric personality, rocker Marilyn Manson has been expressing his wild side, not only through his music, but also through his grotesque — at times disturbing — watercolor paintings.
Through his art, Manson pursues an existential exploration of the human condition, by challenging the conventional standards of beauty, and highlighting the unpleasant, more controversial sides of life.
Most influenced by artists like Salvador Dalí and Egon Schiele, the musician has exhibited several of his paintings for the past couple of decades in galleries around Europe and the US.
Mostly known for his comic roles, Jim Carrey has also been making art, from paintings and sculptures to puppets and politically-charged cartoons.
Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic
Hollywood actor Jim Carrey has been drawing and painting since childhood. Over the last few years, he has really devoted himself in art, creating a variety of emotive pieces, from large-scale paintings and miniature sculptures to puppets and cartoons criticizing Donald Trump’s presidency.
In his mesmerizing six-minute documentary entitled “Jim Carrey: I Needed Color,” the actor describes his relationship with art, while unveiling his creative process.
“I don’t know what painting teaches me,” he says, “I know that it just frees me; free from the future, free from the past, free from regret, free from worry.”
Carrey shares some of his artworks on Twitter, while a number of them can be found at the Wyland Galleries in cities around the US.
Working with oils and acrylics, actor Pierce Brosnan paints figurative and landscape portraits, which he often donates to charity auctions.
Actor Pierce Brosnan began training in commercial illustration right after leaving school at the age of 16. Although acting quickly won him over, he hasn’t really stopped painting.
Mainly working with oils and acrylics, the actor — and essentially self-taught artist — creates figurative and landscape portraits. Since 1987, he has made more than 150 paintings, but rarely decides to sell them.
He often creates art pieces to donate to charity auctions, though. In 2018, Brosnan’s painting of Bob Dylan sold for $1.4 million during the auction at amfAR’s 25th annual “Cinema Against AIDS” event in Cannes.
The slightly unsettling paintings of actor Johnny Depp are influenced by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Actor and musician Johnny Depp is an avid art collector. Among the artworks he’s collected over the past 30 years — some of which he auctioned at Christie’s in 2016 — Jean-Michel Basquiat’s hold a special place.
In the 2000 “Jean-Michel Basquiat” book, the actor commented on Basquiat’s work: “The beautiful and disturbing music of his paintings, the cacophony of his silence that attacks our senses, will live far beyond our breath.”
The artist has clearly influenced Depp’s own painting style. Slightly unsettling and somber, Depp’s paintings usually portray people who inspire him, from Marlon Brando and Jack Kerouac to ex-wife Vanessa Paradis; in fact, the artwork gracing the cover of Paradis’ 2007 “Divinidylle” album was created by Depp.
Legendary musician Bob Dylan’s drawings, paintings, and silkscreen-on-canvas compositions are inspired by his time on the road.
Those who know Bob Dylan as the legendary singer-songwriter that he is may find it hard to believe he’s also a remarkable artist.
Still, Dylan has been making art since the 1960s, creating drawings, paintings, and silkscreen-on-canvas compositions. Poetic portraits, landscapes, and street views reflect the musician’s free-spirited personality and cultivated aesthetic.
They often look back on Dylan’s time on the road, fueled by the people and places he encountered on tour — like the expressionistic paintings of his “Drawn Blank” series, produced between 1989 and 1992 while touring Europe, Asia, and the US.
Musician Patti Smith’s nostalgic photos and drawings have been showcased in places like the MoMA in NYC and the Pompidou Center in Paris.
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The world might know her as an amazing singer, songwriter, or even poet, but Patti Smith also has a soft spot for art. The multifaceted musician has been drawing and taking photographs since the late ’60s.
Most of Smith’s black-and-white photos (exhibited in places like the MoMA and the Pompidou Center) have been taken with a vintage Polaroid Land 250; she turns the original negatives into gelatin silver or digital inkjet prints, their nostalgic feel matching her own background.
“I was raised in a black-and-white world. TV was black-and-white; so were pictures in magazines and movies,” she said in an interview with The Guardian. “My photos probably seem more archaic; that’s alright. It’s fine for me to dwell in another century.”
Peace activist, singer, and artist Yoko Ono’s conceptual pieces have been exhibited in esteemed museums and galleries around the world.
More often than not, singer, songwriter, peace activist, and artist Yoko Ono is solely referred to as late John Lennon’s wife. Yet her identity as an artist is what defines her the most.
Ono’s experimental, conceptual pieces really shook up NYC’s ’60s underground art scene, while her ground-breaking, interactive performance, video, and installation pieces — showcased in prestigious galleries and museums like the MoMA — still turn heads today.
For her most famous work, “Cut Piece” (first performed in Tokyo in 1964), she kneeled on the floor of a stage urging the audience to cut off her clothes piece by piece.
Musician Mike Shinoda is also a visual artist and graphic designer, having graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
Vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Mike Shinoda is best known as one sixth of rock band Linkin Park. He’s also a talented artist, having graduated from Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design — the college even offers a scholarship funded by Shinoda himself.
The musician has worked as a visual artist and graphic designer on a number of his own projects, as well as Linkin Park’s. Among them are album artworks, personal exhibitions and, surprisingly, a collaboration piece with bandmate Joe Hahn, on the Berlin Wall.
After losing Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington to suicide in 2017, Shinoda turned to music and art for solace. “I was using [music and painting] as a diary,” he told Billboard. “There’s something therapeutic, but also autobiographical, about both.”
Painting, video, performance, and photography are among the artforms actor and director James Franco has been involved with.
Mostly known for his movies, actor and director James Franco also has an artistic side, one that is manifested through the various paintings and other artworks — including videos, performance pieces, and photographs — that he’s produced over the last few decades.
He sometimes merges those different forms of art to create multidimensional pieces, with themes like childhood and animals; the latter were the center of his “Fat Squirrel” painting series, exhibited in 2014 at Siegfried Contemporary.
Franco’s work has been showcased in solo exhibitions and group shows at the Tate Modern in London, the MoMA in New York and the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles, among other places. He has also participated in art festivals like the Venice Biennale and Performa.
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