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The art of gossip

She probably won’t be getting flowers from Tom Cruise anytime soon, but the artist known as “14” has become a hit with pop culture junkies who just can’t get enough of what she calls “frolicsome paintings of the celebrity gossip freak show.”

More than just caricatures, the images that decorate GalleryOfTheAbsurd.com serve as a public eyeful of the latest and greatest in entertainment news. And you don’t have to be a seasoned celeb to be rendered silly-lightly sauteed will do. As long as you’re hot and fresh in the world of celebrity gossip, you are ready to be skewered.

Don’t sign this! A TomKat-inspired, faux-valentine from Gallery of the Absurd (Courtesy of 14, GalleryOfTheAbsurd.com)

But is anyone safe from the hand of 14? We talk to the artist about who is off-limits, who she hasn’t gotten around to yet, and tempting the wrath of Xenu. Have you ever heard directly from any of your celebrity subjects or their “people”?

I’ve worked really hard to get the Scientologists pissed off at me, but thus far have been unsuccessful. I imagine most of the celebrities I paint either don’t care or they have a sense of humour regarding my work. I make it clear that I’m not painting them; I’m painting their gossip. Only humourless, inflated egos would get upset over my silly paintings and we can guess who they might be.

ROFL: Not-really-for-sale candy from perpetually puckered celeb Renée Zellweger (Courtesy of 14, GalleryOfTheAbsurd.com)

You must get a lot of hate mail from fans of your subjects. Do you respond?

I actually receive very little hate mail, although rabid Britney Spears and Brangelina fans do leave some nasty comments on my blog. It doesn’t bother me in the least. In fact, I like it. I read them and have to wipe the tears from my eyes because they make me laugh so _hard. If I get the occasional hate mail, I always respond with sugary sweetness just to be a brat.

‘Absurd’ artist: “14” on display (Courtesy of 14, GalleryOfTheAbsurd.com)

14, your real name is nowhere to be found on GalleryoftheAbsurd.com. Are you making a concerted effort to stay private now that your work is attracting attention or are you in the witness protection program?

I have no interest in fame for myself personally… I prefer to stay behind the scenes and observe the world while lurking in the shadows. My job at this time is simply to observe and record the perplexing world of celebrity pop culture and to have fun while doing it.

Are all people in the public eye fair game or is anyone i.e. The Pope or Heidi Klum’s ugly baby) off-limits?

The Pope! Now there’s a fantastic idea! I try and stay away from teasing innocent kids, but I do my best to push the envelope a bit and see how far I can go before I’m filled with guilt for teasing innocent kids.

Pitt as pull toy: Superstar Brad Pitt painted by 14 as “subservient” husband to Angelina Jolie and the couple’s then two adopted children (Courtesy of 14, GalleryOfTheAbsurd.com)

There seems to be a few very high-profile celebrities missing from your gallery. Are some people just too easy?

I do need to get to Michael Jackson one day soon. So far, I’ve based my paintings on those who show up in the U.S. tabloids most frequently, so that means lots of Paris, Nicole, TomKat, Brangelina, Star Jones and Lindsay. Do you think the current obsession with the cult of celebrity will eventually reach a saturation point or possibly even a backlash? If it does, do you have a back-up plan?

I really hope a backlash is coming; perhaps I’ll start one if it doesn’t happen soon enough. Since I create art under a few different names and of varying subject matter, I always have a back-up plan.

Postscript

14’s true identity has been revealed: she is Erin Shimmervine. You can follow Shimmervine on Instagram or visit her website to see her latest illustrations.

Content Creator
Giselle Melanson Tattrie is a writer and researcher who has worked in TV, film and print. She is currently the features editor for Popjournalism as well as the technical and content editor for Drawspace Publishing. Giselle lives in Nova Scotia with her husband and two children.

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