Art begets music and music begets art; we're pretty sure that's in the Bible. Musical ability and visual art skills usually coincide, but rarely does someone carry enough talent in both media to be recognized for each art form–unless celebrity is involved.
We'll be the bad guys and say it: some musicians' artwork could spawn a career in the arts and some musicians' artwork is recognized because the person who painted it is famous and an art gallery wants to profit. Not to knock creative expression, but have you ever seen a painting by Paul Stanley? Yikes. Ditto for Ringo Starr's digital artwork and for Courtney Love's And She's Not Even Pretty series (that we discredited after watching her process), which is a shame because she creates great titles (i.g.: “Suicide Fuck Bomber,” “I Can't, I Can't, I Didn't, I Didn't,” and “Valentine Menstrual”).
What makes judging artistic ability difficult is that art is subjective. We might never fully appreciate Kazimir Malevich enough to salivate over a black canvas, but that doesn't stop someone from paying $60 million dollars for one of his works.
While it's true the artist will forever be more famous than his art, we've curated a list of contemporary musicians whose work we'd actually hang on our walls–even had Jane Doe on Etsy painted it in Minnesota, not David Bowie.
10. Dave Matthews
Dave Matthews teamed up with fellow South African musician Beezy Bailey to create the artwork above. While it's difficult to find original artwork by Matthews online, we know the man can draw: Matthews illustrated the cover of DMB's last record, he drew a kick-ass illustration on a guitar to raise money for the Jane Goodall Institute, and he'll sometimes draw sketches for fans.
9. Tony Bennett
Of all of the musicians listed here, Tony Bennett's catalog is the most extensive and we find it charming that he signs his work with his family name, Benedetto. Scenes from Bennett's world travels (like in the painting above) are a reoccurring theme. You can view more of his artwork here.
8. Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson coined and trademarked the terms “Celebritarian” and “Celebritarianism” to define his artwork. According to mansonwiki.com, The concept of Celebritarianism is to “satire of today's civilization that focuses on celebrities [where] the more cameras looking at you, the more power you have in your hands;” fitting, but we'd like Manson's work regardless.
7. John Mellencamp
Had John Mellencamp not landed a record deal when he moved to New York City in the late '70s, his plan was to study painting or become a Broadway dancer. Mellencamp's artwork, dubbed “museum-quality” by VanityFair.com, is often political. He began selling his paintings after his friend, Bob Dylan, introduced him to a gallery owner.
6. Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is a staple within both the art and music industries. One thing that sets his work apart from the rest of his artistic peers is controversy. Work from 2011's “The Asia Series,” a collection of paintings meant to provide “a visual journal” of Dylan's travels in Japan, China, Vietnam, and Korea, with “firsthand depictions of people, street scenes, architecture and landscapes” was scrutinized when critics discovered some of Dylan's work may have been inspired by unattributed photographs shot by other people.
5. Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple shared some of her illustrations with fans during the release and promotion of her last album, The Idler Wheel… which features a self-portrait as its cover art. Glimpses of Apple's paintings can be seen throughout Paul Thomas Anderson's film Magnolia but–as always–we wish the notoriously private artist would share more of her work with her fans.
4. Wes Borland
One thing more well-crafted than Wes Borland's artwork is his bio (as written in third-person): “Delving into realism and surrealism, his work sometimes relies on dog penises, nudity, guns, balls, racism, and Persian rugs in order to look like it's trying to make a statement that holds some kind of weight or significance. …He's just now getting into the visual art world in order to hopefully have a career that involves art later on in life so he can continue to be a spoiled perpetual baby and not have to ever get a desk job.” If only everyone in the art world were as honest.
3. Brandon Boyd
When we think of visual artists within the music industry, we immediately think of Brandon Boyd whose pensive, calm demeanor and boho chic style augments an effortless aura of creativity. Boyd told thewildmagazine.com that the “important pursuits in [his] life has been the study of, the relative and fleeting understanding, and expansion of consciousness” which he expresses in his artwork.
2. Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell considers herself to be “a painter first, and a musician second” who “sings her sorrow and paints her joy.” Her work is well-acclaimed and has been displayed worldwide. Of the musicians listed here, Mitchell's work is the most respected–and deservedly so.
1. Hannah Hooper
In her own words, Hannah Hooper, vocalist/keyboardist of Group Love, is “making art when [she's] not making music, making music when [she's] not making art.” Hooper created the artwork featured as her band's Never Trust a Happy Song album cover art and sometimes creates live art on stage. You can view more of her paintings on her website hannahhooper.com.