Gary Baseman (born 1960) is a contemporary artist who works in various creative fields, including illustration, fine art, toy design, and animation. He is the creator of the Emmy-winning ABC/Disney cartoon series, Teacher’s Pet, and the artistic designer of Cranium, a popular board game. Baseman’s aesthetic combines iconic pop art images, pre- and post-war vintage motifs, cross-cultural mythology and literary and psychological archetypes. He is noted for his playful, devious and cleverly named creatures, which recur throughout his body of work.
Baseman’s art is frequently associated with the lowbrow pop movement, also known as pop surrealism.
While Baseman is a figure in the Los Angeles art world, he is also situated within an international cultural movement that includes both mainstream and underground artists. Baseman cites Yoshitomo Nara, Takashi Murakami, and the illustrator William Joyce as contemporaries.
Baseman coined the term pervasive art as an alternative to the lowbrow art label. Baseman uses the term didactically to describe a broad shift in his and others’ work to more visible avenues of art-making. He has stated that his goal is to “blur the lines between fine art and commercial art.” According to Baseman, pervasive art can take any medium, and need not be “limited to one world, whether [that] is the gallery world, editorial world, or art toy world.”
Baseman himself exemplifies pervasive art in that he works commercially and also remains an independent artist. While he creates products that are sold to a mass market, he also shows in museums and galleries, selling original artworks to collectors. Baseman employs traditional art practices such as painting, printmaking, sculpture, drawing, and collage. For Baseman, being a pervasive artist means staying true to a particular message and aesthetic no matter the medium employed.