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Do you think shag is selling out?

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Today I open up an issue of Juxtapoz(art mag) and was a little shocked to find in the back, an ad for a shag pen and business card holder. Now this may be just me, but isn't that kinda going to far? I'm all for an artist making good money off of thier art but a pen? I mean c'mon. The business card holder seems odd too. Isn't tiki about getting away from work, business and your worries? I've always found tiki to be a creative creature, and making a business card holder seems to go against tiki-ism if you will.

Does anyone else find this bizarre?


On 2002-09-17 15:35, renick woods wrote:

I've always found tiki to be a creative creature, and making a business card holder seems to go against tiki-ism if you will.

well, i suppose if one finds oneself making the acquaintance of another in a lounge that has the ambiance of a lounge in a shag painting, well then, only a proper business card holder will do!

i mean c'mon...whether or not you think shag's an artistic genius, he's definitely a marketing genius & he "sold out" a long time ago.

[ Edited by: Tiki Chris on 2002-09-17 15:54 ]

if by "sellout" you mean compromising one's artistic integrity in exchange for money, then no, i wouldn't say he sold out at all.

shag's style is cartoony and playful and not serious at all. his artwork isnt cool because its serious about a subject, or because it tells the truth, or becuase it's uncompromising in its vision. its pop art. its cool becuase it has style. its fun. so its on a business card holder.

and its not like shag is promoting other brands. we havent seen shag collectors Coca-cola can art yet. although i dont think that would be so bad.


Well, Shag himself will be the first one to tell you that he doesn't consider his work to be "Fine Art". It is most definitely Pop Art, and while it may lack the commentary and depth of a Lichtenstein, for example, it certainly espouses the playful and mass-reproduction aesthetic of Pop Art.

I think the closest analogous artist to Shag is probably Keith Haring, who was also tuned in to the marketing possiblities of his work. There is Haring merchandise everywhere, and no one accuses him of being a sellout.

No, I doubt the impressionists would have made or condoned business card holders, but Pop Art is different in its approach and ideals.



I think first you must define selling out. With Shag, it was a matter of supply and demand. It is not a crime to merchandise. I will say it might be getting a little thin, I saw Shag soap the other day. Basically just soap with Shag's art on the box. I never got the feeling that Shag was just going for the bucks. I think it is more that a overwhelming number of people want his work, the only way to meet this demand is massive merchandising. If presented with the same opportunity, would you say no?


Not everyone has the money to buy his work, but this way a fan CAN have something that is from him, a pen or a cardholder or a print it really is all the same, just something to make the owner smile. And how can that be bad?

Yes well having an object to sell that makes a person smile is always a good thing. I don't mean to put down shags art at all. In fact I find his stuff very inspirational. But it's just that when I think tiki, I dream of being on a tropical island watching the sun set, throwing rocks into the sea. Business card holders and soap seem to be the so far from "tiki". If I did have the oppertunity to make such a deal, in all honesty I would say no. I couldn't sell soap marked up in price because it had my name on it. The fact that my paintings were flying off at record speeds at showings would be enough. Well t-shirts would be neat to. But like someone said before it is pop art. Which leads me to ask, is tiki pop or do you think it has more soul than that?


I do things just for the bucks all the time. In fact that's the reason my butt is planted in the desk chair it's in at this very minute! Normal honest profit is good. Why do people act apologetic or pretend they don't do things for money, or even worse, scorn others who do so?

I'll be disappointed when I see Shag produce something of low quality, but to me, things like the business card holder are nice looking products. Shag has the wonderful luxury of an enthusiastic market for almost anything he produces, which means that to some degree he can pick his projects based on what he's interested in doing. Only to some degree though - his older stuff and record covers and commercial illustrations show that he's very capable with other styles. This particular style happens to be a hit.

But the expectation for him to be an "artist" or follow some particular vision like "tikiness" completely originates from fans or resellers, not from Shag. He obviously likes tikis, but obviously isn't JUST tiki. And just because he's had success as a painter doesn't mean he seeks to re-define himself as a fine artist. In fact, I think it's more admirable that he HASN'T gone highbrow, but instead maintains a commercial artist perspective and makes his stuff accessible in many forms.

There was a whole generation of artists who painted for pulp paperback covers, but who were pretty much dismissed or ignored by the art community because of the subject matter and commercial nature of their works. Many great paintings were literally thrown in the trash because they were considered worthless once the book was printed. This is what bugs me about the art snobs - they're incapable of just using their eyes to appreciate art. What do they use instead? A lot of artificial concepts about what an "artist" should be, what kinds of subject matter or media qualify as showing artistic merit, what influences are acceptable, and a bunch of other BS like that. In the extreme it's like a weird formula - the more an artist thinks about value and commercial appeal during creation, the less value the art snobs think the work has.

Just as weird is the misguided self-esteem booster encouragement that a lot of art teachers give to pretentious no-talents, where basically anything is art as long as it "comes from the heart" or something like that. OK, this is getting long, off-topic, and I'm sounding like Dan Clowes. I'll stop.



Like most people I know, I can't afford to go out and pay the large amounts of $$$ for a Shag print. So I do the next best thing and buy the assorted nick knacks that I can afford. Most recently, I purchased the Shag stationeries (I'm using them to make menus for my next luau). I haven't seen the pen yet, but I would probably buy it if I did. I am a fan of the man's work, plain and simple. They could make Shag boxer shorts and I'd buy them (gladly). Most of the products and collectables he does release out side of the gallery are limited in production. Just because these products sell out, doesn't make the man a sell out.

Tiki Lee

What does "Selling Out" mean?????

So then I wonder, does this mean that making the following forms from Tiki are taboo?
Cigarette Case
Espresso Machine
Table Lamp
It's a matter of the times and my Shag business card holder is delapidated now after months in my back pocket.

[ Edited by: smogbreather on 2002-09-17 22:53 ]

On 2002-09-17 19:57, renick woods wrote:
But it's just that when I think tiki, I dream of being on a tropical island watching the sun set, throwing rocks into the sea.

well, shag's work never conjures images like you describe - more like airport lounges & swank cocktail bars.

[ Edited by: Tiki Chris on 2002-09-18 02:38 ]



Sorry, but I have been trying to get ahold of a retailer in So Cal that carries that cool pen and card case since I saw the ad in Juxtapose. If I can only afford to have a little non-conformist, controversial item on my person as I trudge through my daily straight, uptight work life, this fits the bill for me. If anyone knows where you can buy them please let me know.



Does "selling out" imply that some folks out there are "tiki whores"? I still want to talk to you about one of your bamboo briefcases.


I agree with Tiki King wholeheartedly. I think it would be pretty difficult to 'Sell out' with Tiki as it's such a culture of buying and selling 'stuff' anyway. Perhaps if Shag appeared in a Coke ad or something....(actually that would be kind of funny).

I've mentioned before, though, that perhaps he should avoid some of the more lame marketing exercises, (the soap comes to mind) for his own sake. If the images become ubiquitous, they lose their power, and the interest will begin to drop off. Stick to the really cool stuff like the prints and mugs and he'll have an audience for life.

Trader Woody


On 2002-09-18 05:15, trustar wrote:
If anyone knows where you can buy them please let me know.

You can get them at:


Concerts sell out. Artists make a living doing what they can do! I do personal (bamboo, tiki bars, etc.)work for a lot of famous and rich people. Am I a sell out? I just do what I have to do. If I could market like Shag, I'd be all over it!!!

p.s. I do make a cool toilet paper hut. If anyone knows any Ex-Lax execs., pass it on.

Shag pen. No problem. This has been done before. I got my "Shag pen" at Night of the Tiki gallery exhibition. It is a floaty where the five Tiki's in a canoe go back and forth. I keep it at my desk. $8.00 bucks and I have an origianl Shag item. Cool and affordable.


"Selling" is not "selling out."

Selling out for Shag would be maybe making Shag diapers or Shag Kool-Aid, something in direct opposition to his art. But, hey, some adults might like their kids pooping in Shag work.

Any artist is selling their work. The more the better. It's when the sales dictate the work that it changes.

All I see is people taking existing (old) Shag work and putting on every sort of item imaginable.

I am happy to say the only Shag anything I have that wasn't given to me is a Tease-O-Rama t-shirt. If I paid for Shag stuff, I would be selling out. I AM one of the people in a Shag painting. I live in that mod house and drive that mod car! Dammit! Live the Shag!

No I get what you guys are saying. I don't mind making money just like the next guy. You gotta have money in order to live. The more I make the better. But my whole point is I wouldn't ever put my art on a box of soap, mark up the price and sell it to a hard working person. It just seems so cheap.

8.00 for a pen in my opinion is alot. It most likely took him a buck to make em.

Thats just me though, and if people are willing to buy soap in a box because of the outside art, more power to him.


Y'know what? If he puts his art on something "unrelated" to his general genre, how is that selling out? What the heck, exactly, is selling out anyway? It sounds like something a bunch of Birkenstock wearing, Che Gueverra T-shirt flogging environmental studies types cam up with.

Business is business. A livelihood is a livelihood.

Now, let's say that a new art style was all the rage, like painting with worm poop. If Shag, or any other artist for that matter, dropped everything and went out and bought a few dozen worms to paint with, that might be considered selling out.

Besides, doesn't our constant banter and referral to Shag simply serve to increase the hype? Don't get me wrong, he's cool, the art's cool. I'm a fan.

I guess it depends on what you think selling out is.


And what is wrong with Birkenstocks???


Just Cool!!


Greetings to all from The Pi Yi Lenai in luxurious Bel Air Maryland!

[ Edited by: johntiki on 2002-09-18 21:44 ]



Thanks for the info on the Shag pen and case. I was trying to track them down from some of the retailers listed in the mag, but no luck.



The Sacremento Bee newspaper recently printed a good article about Shag, and the whole marketing aspect of his work is presented.

The article quotes him as having no qualms about merchandising his art, but all the products have to be functional. For example, he turned down one company's offer to make Shag bobblehead dolls.

Also interesting is Robert Williams statement that Shag's art should not be considered lowbrow art, because "there's not enough overt sex or violence in it, it's too nice" ... which helps to explain why Shag's work is more likely to found in your local shopping mall than Robert William's artwork.

My favorite line in the article ...
"It's a Shag, Shag, Shag world after all."

You can read the full article at .......


You know, everyone here knows that I don't particularlly GET Shags work. I mean, I like some of it...but do not see the originality that others do. Never have.

But Rencik, $8.00 for a floaty pen is not all that expensive. In fact some regular pens are far more expensive. We're not talking about a dime-a-dozen advertising pens you give out to clients or swipe from your bank.

And, for those of us who have to work, I for one, love incorporating Tiki into my work-world, (when I can). My desk in my office is filled with tiki trinkets: Moai and Hawaii mugs hold my pens, framed postcards of Don the Bechcombers, Kahiki and The Tropics (Dayton, OH). A jar of shells and sand from the Gulf Coast. And I have a Milo hula dancer someone gave me from a Happy Meal or something.
Why would someone NOT want to bring their easy going tiki-interest into their work place? Tiki shoudl not be restricted to a home bar...you show him, you wear him, you share him!

B-Ben said,"Concerts sell out. Artists make a living doing what they can do!"
I could not agree with that more!

Hey, if I had the success that Shag has seen, I would be selling anything that people would buy - and there is no limit to what we would buy. Com'on, admit it, if someone made tiki toilet paper, we'd be buying it!

And I may not fully appreciate Shags work like many others, but you have to admit, the guy has something that people want and finds all kind of new ways to give it to them!

Who knows, I may jump on the Shag-wagon someday and buy something besides the one t-shirt that I own and have never worn.


Are you jealous of Shag's success? (sp? on all words!)

Have you read any of my posts??? In a couple previous to this one I said that I find shag art inspriational, and that in no way do I hold marketing himself against him. I also said money is good the more the better. So no I don't think I'm jealous of his success. I started this topic to get others opinions. Not to burn shag. I just find it funny that when you're basically set for life, you still are marketing pens and soap and trinkets(SP?). THATS JUST ME. Like I said many times before. Just because I don't agree with something doesn't mean I'm jealous. Shag could take a piece of crap and draw some cool art on a box and sell it for all I care. I doesn't matter because I woulnd't buy it. I may think the art on the box is really cool, but I still couldn't buy it. When I saw the business card holder, it just kinda felt odd to me because, for me, when I think of business cards I think of work and all the crap that goes with it. I found it odd that he was making those, and I wanted to see if anyone else felt the same. Thats it.

Also 8 bucks for a pen is expensive! I know that there are alot more expensive pens, but I've never spent more than a buck on a pen. But thats just my opinion too.

I don't think there's anything wrong with being a commoercial artist. All my favorite artists were commercial artists like Alphonse Mucha, Gil Elvgrn, and J.C. Leyendecker. I do hear ya about the appropriatness of what you push though. I ocassionally see a Rockabilly singer eprform named James Intveld. He has always sold CDs and T-Shirts at his shows but one time we saw he was also selling James Intveld pomade and James Intveld Body Oils. That was just funny to me. I guess wether or not something is appropriate as being marketable all depends in wether or not theres a market for it. If someone is willing to buy it then someone will show up to sell it.



I find nothing wrong with you askng this question. Everywhere you go, you'll find narrow-minded people who will accuse you of being jealous simply because you even fucking "dared" to ask about one of their favorite artists or heroes or whatever. (I know I'd be pissed if you said anything negative about John Severson's art, but I probably wouldn't be justified... It's your opinion and you're welcome to it.)

That said, you got a lot of feedback and I hope it helped, but ultimately, you have the right to feel however you want to about Shag.

For myself, I will say that when my September/October "Juxtapoz" magazine came in the mail, I was disappointed to see on page 12 that the Shag pen was selling for (no, not $8).... $49 for the roller pen and $55 for the fountain pen. I could care less if Shag is seling out or not (and will not make an opinion either way), I just simply can't afford to stay up with his prices.

I like Shag a lot... he wrote a great article for my magazine and his art speaks to me on a visual level that is alluring because I find the subject matter to be very subtle. It is easy for people to pass Shag off as someone who does just fun simulating paintings. That is true, on the one hand, but at the same time, he is also capturing something unique about those styles and commercial trends from the past (i.e. We can see how those syles operate when put together).

Shag is putting together some of the dynamics of those eras, not choosing to opine about what they mean, but embracing their vibrancy and allowing us to live inside of that visual world.

We all know why Tiki happened and what it stood/stands for. Shag has caught on to something that he does real well and I'm happy for him.

I'm not going to be mad at him fo what he does with his marketing, nor do I fault him for doing it. I wish I had something that sold nearly as well... maybe someday I will. At the same time, I can't afford to be a Shag collector anymore and that's kind of tough, because his stuff has been real insirational to a lot of sensatve Modernism collectors and appreciators. It's of no fault to Shag, you just can't have eveything, and for a collector, sometimes that's hard to swallow. Period.

Shag may have sold out... who knows? I don't feel the need to defend that or denouce the point. I still like his stuff. It's really good. As for Robt Willims, he's a dumb ass creap. He says things about Shag not fitting into the lowbrow world, yet every four or five issues, he feels the need to feature Shag in his magazine. That guy can't draw people to save his life and he is so utterly contradictory in the way he talks, its borders on just being boring anymore. Williams is the king of his own world... a legend in his own mind... uh, I mean time... uh...


I just find it funny that when you're basically set for life, you still are marketing pens and soap and trinkets(SP?).

To me, it's really presumptuous to make judgements about when someone else has "enough" money, or what choices they should make based on this arbitrary line of being "set". I think it sounds like a dream-come-true for Shag to be able to support his family with this. And as an added bonus his brother gets to make an enterprise out of the merchandising. What a great, lucky opportunity! But who knows how long it will last? What if he becomes another Nagel (hopefully without the dying young part)?

I guess the other point was that these things seem like trinkets. But pretty much every Shag product I've seen has been nicely done, I thought. Good materials, good manufacturing, good esthetics. In fact, that's what's so damn frustrating - I'm all ready to think the latest thing is gonna be junk, and then I see it at someone's house or something and think, "Damn, that Shag soap is actually kinda nice." But I'm a sucker for packaging.

It's just fine to hold the opinion that a product like a business card holder damages an artist's integrity. But maybe it's a little surprising to see that kind of high standard for artistic purity here on TC, where a lot of us have especially warm "cockles" for the thrift-store, swapmeet, secondhand esthetic. Why assume that Shag is any different? And isn't it kinda cool that he does other things beside zippos, stickers and t-shirts?


I noticed that the shag business card holder ad also mentions that you can use it for your "platinum" card also. I think this has a certain irony to it. My "platinum" card is hidden in the freezer in a big chunk of ice and maybe i should give it the holder just for its proper funeral? http://www.switchedongallery.com Look under accessories...i did buy the shag xmas cards...:evil:

[ Edited by: fartsatune on 2002-09-20 14:57 ]

[ Edited by: fartsatune on 2002-09-20 14:59 ]


When did this site become the "Shag Forum?"

Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, Shag, er...Shag?

Shaggity-Daggity Do!

Cheers Kingslod!! Good humor!!

On 2002-09-20 14:56, fartsatune wrote:
i did buy the shag xmas cards...:evil:

you are evil..you made me look, and buy some. i'm only disapointed that the trees aren't aluminum!

Don't feel bad dogbyte, i got sucked into the whole set. They say that you can either be a good person who does evil, or an evil person who does good, I think i may be the former, i hope.

thought this old thread was an interesting one.

Cammo posted on Wed, Jul 12, 2006 6:46 PM

I like Shagging as much as the next guy, but that Shag-musical thing we saw part of at Tiki Central VI was stinky. The haircut costumes were, shall we say, ill-advised.

And the songs were creepily third rate. Why not just do a musical with original lounge-era songs, a dance party in the third act, and cute chicks with knives? Why can't they get it right? And where was the supervillain at his undersea Tiki Bar lair?

C'mon, anybody get the same queasy feeling when watching that mess on stage? Bring back the Martini Kings again!


Shag selling out of posters is good for him. He does need money to drink.

hewey posted on Wed, Jul 12, 2006 7:48 PM

I like a good Shag. Apparently selling Shag is the world's oldest profession. Shag makes people happy. Happy people make life more fun. Shag is good.

:) :) :)

On 2006-07-12 18:46, Cammo wrote:
I like Shagging as much as the next guy, but that Shag-musical thing we saw part of at Tiki Central VI was stinky. The haircut costumes were, shall we say, ill-advised.

And the songs were creepily third rate. Why not just do a musical with original lounge-era songs, a dance party in the third act, and cute chicks with knives? Why can't they get it right? And where was the supervillain at his undersea Tiki Bar lair?

I don't blame you for your opinion.

The full production of "Shag With a Twist" was much better than the abreviated version seen at Tiki Oasis.

Just seeing a few dance numbers, without the full stage sets, and taken out of the context of the story, did not give a good impression.

Cammo posted on Wed, Jul 12, 2006 8:21 PM

Sets Schmetz. That was no "My Fair Lady". Gee, it wasn't even "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown". Were there better parts that they didn't show us? Why didn't they show them? Did the thing have one big showstopper number? Why not do that one, or is it some kind of secret?

And why did the guys have two parts in their hair?

And why were the girls wearing neon ripstop wetsuit material for wigs?

And why remake the wheel, why not do some cool classic lounge songs, and wild surfer hits? Or is that too obvious?

And where is Micheal Caine when you need him?

Any way you slice it, I just can't get enough Shag. Shag in the
morning, Shag in the evening, ain't we got fun!


Sorry to jump on the thread bandwagon late,But my opinion(not that its worth a damn!)is Shag is in the clear from being a sellout(until WalMart starts to carry his merchandise). If that happens then, Houston... we may have a problem! LoL,Keep rockin' the art Josh!
Really though,I look at it like this: At least there are a few artists who have seemed to put a spark back into the whole idea of "suburban paradise", and Shag is no doubt one of those hard working talented artists. Think about it, selling out or selling merchandise, either way puts a focus of attention in this scene we all seem to love, which means a resurgence in tropical decor and newer tiki establishments, which in turn, helps out artists/vendors or merchandisers put food on their tables. This resurgence is well needed since we have already lost some great establishments due to lack of exposure and interest. I'm sure most TCrs would agree that when it comes to tropical,exotica and tiki, commercial or privateer exposure is better than no exposure at all.

It would be a trip if Picasso had a blog/thread of his own in his time to see what people would say about a present artist then. (Yes, I know, Shad is Not Picasso.) Probably the same crap.

On 2006-07-16 04:38, Tom Slick wrote:
...Shag is in the clear from being a sellout(until WalMart starts to carry his merchandise). If that happens then, Houston... we may have a problem! LoL,Keep rockin' the art Josh!

I think it would be much more likely to see items with his art on it being hawked at Target. Actually, I wouldn't mind this at all. I like his stuff, but I can't afford most of it. Target has a history of Tiki items... Put them together and we can get plastic-ware with SHAG art on it! :)


hewey posted on Sun, Jul 16, 2006 8:28 PM

Shag is not selling out... There is so much Shah merchandise I dont think it will ever sell out :)

Who's this Shag fella you all keep talking about?

GROG posted on Mon, Jul 17, 2006 1:04 PM

Here ya go Flounder:


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