The Power of Artwork: Garbage Pail Kids

This is an example of writing I’ve done for Brand-Directions.

If you grew up in the 1980’s, chances are you immediately recognize a Garbage Pail Kids card when you see one. For those uninitiated in this fine art form, Garbage Pail Kids were a spoof on Cabbage Patch Kids and released as trading cards in 1985. The cards, which doubled as stickers, featured disgusting cartoons of children with exaggerated problems. Each card had a humorous title with the child’s name such as Itchy Richie, a child covered in spiders. Or, there’s the popular Adam bomb, a kid holding a detonator with a mushroom cloud erupting from his skull. Those are tame examples. If you’re not easily offended by potty humor, do an image search for Garbage Pail Kids and you can see how gross it gets.

So why am I blogging about these nauseating trading cards? Is this just a blatant use of 80’s nostalgia to gain readers? Well… maybe. But I think there is a lesson we can learn about the power of artwork if we think about why Garbage Pail Kids became so popular.

Unlike many toys from the 80’s, Garbage Pail Kids did not rely on a popular cartoon to market them. Unlike baseball cards, they did not need the fame of sports heroes either. And you really didn’t play with them. They were not part of a card game. Sure, sometimes the backs were puzzle pieces, but most of the cards were simply released as collectors items. So if you really didn’t do anything with them, why did kids want them? Because they were works of art.

Think about that. The Topps trading card company made millions, and millions of dollars selling art for art’s sake. They targeted an audience and gave them what they wanted. Garbage Pail Kids became so popular Hollywood decided to invest $30 million in a live action movie. Sure, it’s a horrible film, but does the Mona Lisa have a movie?

The lesson is that artwork is powerful and used correctly it can become profitable. Does your company harness the power of artwork? Maybe you need new imagery to propel your brand. Or, maybe your existing artwork isn’t being used to it’s full potential. Directions Marketing has an experienced team of artists and designers ready to take your image to the next level. Whether you need graphic design, photo manipulation, illustration, or 3D rendering, contact us today to see how artwork can help your company profit