It’s Not Unusual: The ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ Fan Art You Never Knew You Needed
Get ready to sing the theme song. Well, sorta.
In cities across America, born and raised, in the art class is where they spent most of their days. Chillin’ out, maxin’, acting all cool, a-mazing their peers and teachers at their schools when an idea struck, and they knew it was good. If anyone could do it then these artists could! So they readied their tools, and with skill and great care, they made fresh fan art of the Prince of Bel-Air.
Thank you. Thank you. Yes, I will (as in Smith) admit that that intro there was pretty darned clever. But that’s exactly what the super fresh fan art curated here for your viewing pleasure demands.
In fact, who knew that there are talented folks out in the nerdiverse producing fan art inspired by the 90s TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? And not only that, homeboys and homegirls, but that it’s some really amazing-looking work?
Equally amazing is the fact that the styles run the gamut: from manga-influenced drawings and Picasso-inspired portraiture to graffiti and TV cartoon parodies. Yet, a unifying thread runs through all of these diverse styles: vibrant colors and geometric patterns––aesthetics for which characters on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (especially Will) were known.
Everybody Loves Bel-Air
Frankly, after seeing the gallery of works curated here, fans of this beloved show could find themselves wishing that there were even more fun expressions of fandom in which to partake. If, say, a TV show like Supernatural could inspire a yearly fan convention, why couldn’t The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? People across the globe love this show!
So until such time that something like a “Fresh-Con!” comes roaring gloriously into existence — allowing us the chance to binge watch all six seasons, take selfies with the stars, and attend panels on the proper way to cosplay Will, Carlton and Hillary — we can at least enjoy some super cool fan art. The fact that stuff like this even exists reveals that we are not alone.
First up is a series of wonderful illustrations by the Atlanta-based artist Nuri Durr. Durr produced a stellar collection of eight animated-style pieces that look as though the characters are ready to grace the TV screen in a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air animated show.
Durr’s 8x8-inch portraits feature wonderful caricatures of Will, Carlton, Ashley, Hillary, Aunt Viv, Uncle Phil, Geoffrey the butler, and best pal Jazz. Each depicts a wide range of emotions often associated with these characters, from Will’s shock and Carlton’s cluelessness to Ashley’s sweetness and Geoffrey’s…bitterness. This super fun series captures it all perfectly.
Featured next is really fun piece by the Oregon-based artist Jessica Cornelius (a.k.a. Pandabot). Cornelius samples the urban scrawl seen during the opening credit sequence of The Fresh Price of Bel-Air. In addition, the image captures what may be the most memorable moment from the show’s theme song, detailing the moments immediately after Will got into “one little fight,” and his “mom got scared and said…”
From the moment Alphonso Ribero’s Carlton Banks first performed the now famous dance known today as “The Carlton,” it made an unforgettable impression. It also quickly found its way onto the dance floor at high school proms, Quinceañeras, Bar Mitzvahs, and Midwestern weddings.
Oklahoma-based artist Steph Bassett (a.k.a. SaBasse) captures our enduring love of Carlton’s iconic dance movies in this smile-inducing piece of anime-styled fan art. As he looks joyfully at cousin Will, you can practically hear the voice of Tom Jones singing in his trademark tenor: “It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone!” And it’s not unusual to love super fun fan art like this.
One of cool things about having been a kid of the ‘80s and ‘90s is picking up clever pop culture references from that time like the one found in this sweet piece by Canadian artist Marco d’Alfonso (a.k.a. M7781). Do you get it? (If not, it’ll be broken down after the jump.)
Fans of the show falling outside the stated demographic will easily recognize the background imagery styled after the opening of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. They may even catch the poses that capture the cool, finger-snapping flourish that followed Will and his best friend Jazz’s special handshake. But they may not recognize that the ginormous Transformer robot standing across from Will also shares the name Jazz, creating a visual pun that takes this fantastic work of fan art to a whole ‘nother level.
Mark Paul Deren (MADSTEEZ)
In this gorgeously psychedelic piece by the California-based artist Mark Paul Deren (also known by the graffiti tag Madsteez), Carlton looks edgier than he ever did on TV; bow ties are pretty much the antithesis of street style, but Madsteez makes it seem as though your fashion steez isn’t complete with one!
From an interpretive standpoint, the…points on the triangle shapes seen in the bottom left area of the painting offer subtle hints on just how “sharp” this guy’s style is. And the placement of the word “fresh” in the foreground speaks to Carlton’s overall look here while also echoing the title of the TV show. It’s all so, um…the very opposite of stale, right?
There’s quite a bit of humor to be found in the piece below by artist Noam Sussman, which first plays off the height difference between the 5'6" tall Carlton and 6'2" Will. Amusing also is the Picasso-eque vibe that distorts their heads and displaces their eye balls in a way that — like Picasso’s best cubist work — is playfully unsettling.
The patterns and colors of Carlton’s polo and Will’s button down ground each of these characters in their respectively conservative and unconventional personalities. And it all sits nicely against a spackled green and yellow background. In a home accented with ‘90’s style decor, this piece would hang wonderfully over the fireplace encased in a gaudy gold baroque-style frame.
Malachi Wright (The_Wright_Artist)
Even if you don’t watch any of the current primetime TV ‘toons like American Dad, Family Guy, or The Cleveland Show, you’ll may still recognize the style of those shows as sampled for this stellar piece by 16-year-old (yeah, let that sink in) Chicago-based artist Malachi Wright (a.k.a. The_Wright_Artist).
Like the opening piece produced by Nuri Durr, this image also looks like it’s primed and ready for the television screen as a primetime Fresh Prince of Bel-Air cartoon. In fact, Wright does a great job of presenting Will and the Banks family in a contemporary style that reveals how easily the love of this popular 1990s sitcom now spans the generations.
Thanks for reading. “Smell you later!”
Paco Taylor is a writer from Chicago. He loves old history books, Japanese giant monster movies, hip-hop, anime, comics, Kit Kats, and kung fu flicks.