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JJ's Hidden Gems - The 2020 Autumn Edition!

It's time to delve deeper into the brand new Autumn 2020 series by the digital genius that is JJ Adams - and what could be arguably be said to be one of his most diverse collections to date!
I can hardly wait to get stuck in to these incredible works and pick out all the hidden details you just know are waiting to be unearthed in these images, so no waiting about... let's get to it!
  
  
Available in black and white and colour - 'I'm Not A Monster' reprises the late and great Heath Ledgers best role of all time as the Joker in 'The Dark Knight'.  He sits center stage of the dark and atmospheric piece, with a menacing look upon his face - an image which is noteworthy in itself - but it is of course, JJ's expertly placed additions that really propel this image to a whole other level. There are the more obvious extras, like the pack of cards falling from the sky with the Joker card clearly visible and the Batman symbol appearing out of the smoky surroundings, as bats swarm the figure. If we take a closer look at the Jokers signature green waistcoat you will see some added JJ Adams embellishments including the faces of Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoenix, Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero - a nod to all the old and new actors interpretations of the super villain. On the opposite side you will see the words 'You complete me' - a quote directly from the scene in the film where Batman demands to know why the Joker is so adamant to kill him and really brings to light the true complexities in the relationship between the two. Another reference to the film is the sticker on his waistcoat that states 'Dent For District Attorney' - which the Joker is wearing when he disguises himself in a nurses uniform to visit Harvey Dent in hospital. Attached around a button is a tag that reads 'If found return to Arkham Asylum' - alluding to the Arkham series of video games which have been released as part of the ongoing franchise.
Now, lets hone in on the objects situated around the Joker. On the left we see a pencil and knife both appearing to have been jammed into the wooden bench and standing upright. The pencil hinting to the scene where the joker shows off his 'Pencil Trick' and the knife is the Jokers usual weapon of choice, a Smith and Wesson Extractor 1600. To the right of the joker sits the mask he wears in the bank robbery scene in The Dark Knight. There is some symbolism to this choice of the mask  as a very similar one was seen in an episode of a 1960’s Batman series. The mask has quite a bit of history since Cesar Romero wore it in the 1966 episode 'The Joker Is Wild!'. This was the Joker's debut and featured him dressed as classic clown Pagliacci. 
We are sure you will agree with us when we say that JJ's depiction is the perfect tribute to Ledger’s Joker performance - which is still to date, one of the best performances ever set to screen.
   
   
Now if you're looking for a piece of JJ Adams artwork which is not only politically charged, but is absolutely packed with hilarious and even (dare I say it) some very brave hidden references.. then the 'Great Dicktators' is the one for you.  I suppose even the name of this one gives a clear indication of JJ's stance when it comes to these 4 figures - most likely a widely shared one-  as he constructs a comical scene where Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, King Jong-un, Xi Jinping and Boris Johnson partaking in the board game where everybody wants to rule the world - Risk! As I mentioned, this piece is teeming with references so it's difficult to know where to even begin, and please excuse me if I miss anything out here. We will kick things off in the center and work our way outwards - with of course, Trump positioned slap bang in the middle and sporting a clown nose and a piece of tape across his mouth (with the words 'lies!' scrawled across it).. he's also got himself some brand new cuff links that are embellished with the number 45 - as obviously he is the 45th president of America. In flashing blue neon behind Trump are the words 'God Bless America' - the American patriotic song written by Irving Berlin during World War I (and the song Trump was accused of not knowing the words to) but what you might find harder to spot below it are the words 'It's broken'. From the window behind you can see a sign post showing directions to places like 'The Coward Bunker' 'The Tanning Salon' and 'Room Of Mirrors' - and there are also a large group of protesters gathering who displaying signs referring to the Black Lives Matter movement and have scrawled statements like 'Dump Trump' onto the glass pane. Beside Trump are two television screens, both set to the Fox News channel and featuring reporters Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. Throughout history, presidents have singled out particular reporters for special access - and Donald Trump has gone way further than any other when it comes to Fox News. When it comes to Hannity for instance, Trump virtually dictates his programming, and Hannity has little choice but to comply.
The other two monitors display images of Stormy Daniels (this probably needs no explanation) and Pinocchio flashes across the other one... with his growing nose circled and 'fake nose' scribbled above... a play on Trump's famous 'fake news' line. 
 
Various items surround the group, with things like a mug stating 'Wake up and smell the Covfefe' - a very humorous play on Trump's misspelling of the word 'coverage' in a tweet in 2017, instantly becoming an internet meme. There are a number of very questionable photos in picture frames (I'll allow you to work out what they are...) and a selection of golf clubs resting on the curtains behind - referencing JJ Adams sell out piece created in 2018 'Make America Golf Again'. Putin sits to the left of Trump, sporting a pair of shades and a knuckle tattoo that reads CCCP - the Russian abbreviation for the Soviet Union. To the right of Trump President of the People's Republic of China wearing a Covid mask as Boris awaits his turn, in a pair of 'Get Brexit Done' boxing gloves. Kim sits to the far left in a rather amusing pair of Elton John inspired sunnies, surrounded by various papers.. which if the big block lettering is anything to go by, have been written by Trump himself.  The one directly behind Kim states 'I want nothing, I want nothing. I want no quid-pro.' This was Donald Trumps response to the shocking testimony from Sondland to the existence of a quid pro quo. Thereare so many more little bits I could highlight here, but some of the fun of it is spotting things like the 'Pee-Pee Tape' for yourself, isn't it? 
 
The last thing I would like to point out before rounding off the insight into this insane work are the two figures hiding in the back of the image. You might recognise them as Roger Stone - Trump's longtime ally and former adviser who he recently spared from jail, and the other is Attorny General William Barr who many have accused of working as 'Trump's attack dog' instead of an attorny General. It has been said that both of these men are more concerned with the interests of Donald Trump over those of the United States. 
  
All in all, this is a work that packs a truly political punch, and is sure to get everyone talking at the dinner table...
 
   
  
One of the most recognised images in the world - but not as you have ever witnessed it before! 'Some Like It Hot' is JJ's newest depiction of an icon he has used in his works on many occasions over the years, Marilyn Monroe. The title of course, is one of Marilyn's most well known films where she plays the ukulele player and singer, Sugar Kane. JJ has adapted the famous 'Subway Grate' and billowing white dress scene from another of her pictures,1955 romantic comedy 'The 7 Year Itch'. This particular image was originally captured by photographer Sam Shaw - who actually came up with idea to have Marilyn stand above the grate while shooting in order to promote the film.... little did Sam Shaw know this would capture a moment in time that would mark an entire era and become part of collective memory. Obviously, JJ has made some very impressive alterations to Marilyn's appearance as she stands there full of attitude -  tatted up, cigarette in mouth and giving the finger to the photographer. Just like in the original image - hundreds of paparazzi stand behind Marilyn eager to get a glimpse of the star and snap the memorable shot. JJ has created this in the 'Life Magazine' front cover style, which is incredibly fitting to the subject matter - as not only did Marilyn appear countless times over her career on their cover, but she also gave her final interview with writer for the publication Richard Meryman, which was put to print only 2 days before her death. It is obvious from this, and the date below the Life Magazine logo displaying the day she died, that this work is tinged with a slight dose of sorrow. The headline to the right of Monroe states "We Asked The Question: If a flame burns twice as bright will it only burn for half as long" referring to the renowned quote by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, meaning those who life live faster, even recklessly and give so much of themselves in such a short time will have have the bigger impact, but will burn out quicker. This seems very appropriate when considering Marilyn Monroe - she moved in the faster lane of life as the 'Sex, Drugs & Fame' headline suggests, and her 36 years here were so brief and fleeting, however she still idolised even by today's generation almost 60 years following her passing.. showing exactly how much of an influence she had on the world.
  
In the background there lies the notorious 'No Parking' sign you will spot in many of JJ's works and a single baseball discarded on the pavement behind. This seems to be relating to Marilyn Monroe's husband at the time of this photoshoot,  New York Yankees slugger Joe Dimaggio. It is reported that was not happy about the scene, with this incident being linked to their divorce not too soon after.
  

Some of you eagle eyed fans may have already spotted this image hit JJ's instagram feed on February last year, as he unveiled a 2018 commission he had been working on for a private collector of the late singer and racking up hundreds of likes and a huge reaction from supporters. This year, JJ finally felt was the time to release this image to the general public and so 'Faith' became part of the 2020 Autumn Collection. Created using the similar 'Times Magazine' format to pieces like 'Who Wants To Live Forever' and 'Darker Side Of The Moon' except this time changing the name to the title of George Michael's hit song, as he stands center stage dressed in the same attire he was in the memorable music video. This tribute to the late singer is filled with praise of the icons long running and very successful musical career. On George's guitar you will see the words 'Last Christmas 2016' inscribed. This not only relates to the Wham! 1984 smash hit, but also references the date that George Michael passed away - Christmas day 2016. JJ highlights a number of his other chart toppers with the inclusion of a 'Club Tropicana' symbol above his head and 'Fast Love' scrawled in graffiti on the wall behind. The headlines read 'So I'm never gonna dance again... the way I danced with you' - which of course is the well known chorus from 'Careless Whisper', and 'Heaven knows I was just a young boy, Didn't know what I wanted to be' lyrics from 'Freedom 90''
You might be able to find the little sign post fixed to the bollard that George is leaning against which reads 'Goring-On-Thames. South Of England. Village Of The Year' - the quaint town where he lived in his English Cottage, and spent his final days. 
On the ground there is a discarded newspaper - it is open to a page featuring a photograph of a younger George Michael and Elton John dressed in black. The headline states 'George Michael 'bawled his eyes out' at Princess Diana's funeral as if he was reliving his mum's'. This article was part of an 1997 interview where George relived the emotional day laying a cherished friend to rest. He said "Diana was the only person that I knew who made me feel like an ordinary person," JJ also hints at another story that dominated headlines with a placard to the left of the icon showing directions to the Gents and the words 'Game Over' and 'Police' sprayed above... alluding to the the controversial moment that ultimately led George to publicly acknowledge he was gay. George was a passionate gay rights campaigner and raised huge amounts of money for HIV and AIDS charities. 
 
   

This is JJ's first piece inspired by the riveting 1986 action film Top Gun, with the original work being created as a commission for a private collector. JJ has recreated the memorable scene where a young Tom Cruise playing Maverick and Goose encounter aggressive Russian MiG fighters whilst in the air. They need to respond but show restraint and not use their weapons. Instead, both sets of pilots attempt to outmaneuver each other using their flying skills. Maverick clearly wins this encounter for the Americans by turning his F-14 Tomcat upside down over the MiG so they can give the Russian pilots the middle finger and take a Polaroid picture of the encounter while Goose exclaims "Watch the birdie!". This image has been re-created using two very distinctive JJ-esque styles. The first being the 'classic poster' format that can be seen in a number of his most popular works including 'Time Traveller', 'Self Preservation Society' and 'Mission From God'. This time the poster is asking if you have what it takes to sign up to the Top Gun Academy - and it seems they are seeking some pretty comical skills from their recruits.. like the ability to 'flip the bird'. Another inspiration tied into this particular piece is JJ's love of video games - influencing quite a couple of his well-known works like 'Game Paused' and 'Arcade Wizard'. This time he has used the layout of the popular game 'After Burner' - where the player assumes control of an American F-14 Tomcat fighter jet and must fight incoming enemies using missiles. You will notice the games logo in the bottom corner, the score count at the top right corner and the 'Insert Coin' sign in the center of the screen.

It completely makes sense to marry this video game with the movie, as Suzuki actually designed it around the film in order to make it more approachable for worldwide audiences.

The targets are set on a number of various planes in the distance, including a Tomcat and the 'Dogturd Express' - a hilarious reference to the scene in the film where Stinger tells Maverick "And if you screw up just this much, you'll be flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog sh** out of Hong Kong!"

This piece is just bursting with smaller references hidden in true JJ style, but I can't possibly begin to go through every single one or I will be here for the rest of the week... so I'll leave it to you to get one for yourself and try and spot them! 

 

Purchase 'Smile For The Birdie' here

 

    
Misters Of The Universe is a follow up to the successful 'Dance With The Devil' and 'Spideypool' and undoubtedly as the title suggests, features the main characters from the 1987 action film, He-Man and Skeletor.... but not quite as you'll remember them in the motion picture. The foot-popping superhero and supervillian are locked in a passionate embrace after what looks like a wild night out at 'The Blue Oyster' - The Blue Oyster being the fictional gay bar from the 1984 comedy, Police Academy. In true JJ fashion, some comical tattoos have been added to the pair - including the reworded famous line from He-Man "By the power of gray skull", which instead now states "By The Power Of My Gay Skills". JJ has also made quite an amusing connection to the American crime documentary that consumed the nation at the very beginning of lockdown - the name on everyone's lips is tattooed on He-Man's back, 'Tiger King'. What has he got to do with it I hear you ask? A blonde haired man who's favourite companion is a big cat... well, you catch the drift. Skeletor is also sporting a portrait of Mumm-Ra on his forearm, who of course is the notorious supervillian in the ThunderCats franchise. The image is even complete Trollan magician Orko, hovering in the background. 
This is available in both standard and a special rainbow edition - but you'll have to be quick if you want this, as we are down to our very last one! 
   
  
'A Girls Night Out' is the newest addition to the  'Dirty Disney' series of works, where we get to see these cute characters behaving badly! In the line up this time are the regal Snow Queen Elsa, the determined Rapunzel, the usually sophisticated Tiana, and the more menacing Ursula and Maleficent. What looks to be the last hours of a pretty wild night on the town.. we see these recognisable figures in a bit of a different light than what we are used to..(and I'm sure we know these ladies almost too well when we have to endure the kids begging to watch Frozen for the 2345607940 time). You will notice from the placards they are holding up, that they have been brought into police custody for some pretty hilarious reasons. Lets start with a more disheveled looking Rapunzel! She is sporting what looks to be a rather painful black eye, a new 'Flynn' tattoo, her dress is torn and she appears to have found those illustrious rabbit ears seen in The original 'Dirty Disney' and 'The Morning After' at the Poisin Apple bar. She has been brought in for a number of crimes including 'Horse Theft' and being 'Drunk and Disorderly'. Behind her is the 'Wanted' poster for her boyfriend Flynn, but it seems someone has proceeded to scrawl the words 'Jerk' over his face... a lovers tiff perhaps? Elsa appears beside her, still in full party mode with a cigarette in her mouth and giving a wink to the camera in full preparation for her impending mugshot. She has a 'L' sign stuck to her back, suggesting this could well be a hen do for one of the princesses, and is revealing an 'Ice Cold' tattoo. She has another on her arm which is a portrait of her good pal Olaf and below him reads 'RIP SUMMER 2020'. My guess is that this can only be a little joke from JJ about how barely existent the season was this year, due to the current circumstances.. (Though I doubt that Snowman would have been complaining)  Tiana is showing off her new tattoos on her shoulder too and some of you might recognise those words as the lyrics from the Prodigy's 'Voodoo People'. Voodoo is a pivotal part of the Disney films storyline, so it will come as little surprise that one of the reasons Tiana has been arrested is for practicing the black magic.  The frog prince has joined her for the ordeal and is perched upon her hip, lips puckered. 
Maleficent is hiding out in the back of the image in what looks to be a bit of a disguise. Unfortunately for her however, I am sure we have watched the movie enough times to know exactly who that haggard old face belongs to. I suppose she's not really helping herself to blend in either by displaying a big bright red apple that is marked with the deadly 'XXX' symbol. Lastly, we see the audacious Ursula, dolled up to the nines for her night on the town. She's been done for exploitation, among other things and is currently rocking a number of tattoos, including a portrait of Ariel, an anchor and the names of her two right-hand eels Flotsam and Jetsam. She also has the words 'Big Is Beautiful' inked on her neck and the title of her song in the animated film 'Poor Unfortunate Souls'. Sebastian has also accompanied the group, and looks to be thoroughly enjoying himself. 
   
  
Ok so, this piece is obviously very dear to our good old Scottish hearts - which is why we just HAD to get this one as an exclusive deluxe edition. Barr's Irn Bru has dominated the Scottish market as the most loved soft drink for years - with only 3 people in the world knowing it's secret and very tasty recipe... so it definitely pleases us to see JJ take inspiration from Scotland's second national drink. (JJ has already given our first a twist with the piece 'Iron Stag'). This Irn Bru flavoured Campbell's soup is  infused with a touch of our national flower and of course, you will see the classic tag line below 'Made in Scotland from Girders'. This not only reminds us of the exceptional and now sold out 2019 work when JJ transformed our Forth Road Bridge, but also the classic slogan that was used to sell the drink in the 1980's. The ‘girders’ were often thought to be a reference to the ‘rust’ colour of the drink.. and surprisingly enough it does actually does contain a little bit of iron!

In 2007 the ‘Made in Scotland from Girders’ campaign was awarded ‘Best Advertising Slogan of the Last 21 Years’ at the Scottish Advertising Awards. 

Seen as we are talking about confidential drink recipes and all that.. here's another little secret we would like to share with you. This is not the first time JJ has created an Irn Bru inspired work.... when he was just 18 years old he painted a huge mural on his bedroom wall of the stuff... and here's the picture below to prove it. This makes us very happy!! 

 

Purchase 'Irn Bru Soup' here   

  
Up next we have 4 new works from the series of ' Icon Stamp Heads' - which did exceptionally well when they were first released in 2019. This collection is based around four rock, rap and reggae legends, who will forever be remembered for their work - including this incredible tribute to none other than the late and great Prince. As usual, there is some hidden words and song lyrics within the portrait so we wanted to bring these to light for you all. This includes the song titles 'Little Red Corvette' and 'Kiss' on his hair, '1999' and 'The Most Beautiful Girl In The World' along his crown. Along Princes forehead are the words 'Raspberry Beret' and 'Purple Rain' and 'Cream' line his lip and jawline. His neck is tattooed with the lines 'When The Doves Cry' and the lyrics in the song 'Dig if you will the picture' ... lastly you will spot the purple 'Love' symbol in Prince's locks, one Prince changed his name to in 1993.
   
Included in the collection is the work 'Thug Life', honouring the late Tu-Pac Shakur. Hidden within this piece are the renowned song titles 'California Love' on his forehead and 'Only God Can Judge Me' scrawled across his crown. 'Dear Mama' can be spotted along his signature bandana. 'Hit Em Up' appears across his jawline and 'Changes' on his chin and he is sporting a 'Thug Life' tattoo on his neck, which is also the title of the piece. He also has a '2 die 4' tattoo below and to the left of this are the words 'Outlaw'  - these are all real life inkings that Tu-Pac had across his chest and down his forearm.
 
   
The next one in the series is 'Purple Haze' which is dedicated to the life and music of singer and songwriter, Jimi Hendrix. In his hair you can spot the song titles 'Voodoo Chile', 'It's Wind Cries Mary' and 'Stone Free'. The words 'All Along The Watchtower' line his crown and 'Hey Joe' is concealed above his eyelid. JJ has added 'Foxy Lady' to the chin and of course, he is tatted up with the words 'Purple Haze' and the well-known lyrics from the song 'Excuse me while I kiss the sky'. 
  
Last, but certainly not least is the work commemorating Jamaican singer and song writer Bob Marley. The background is reminiscent of the bright and bold colours of the Jamaican flag, as the portrait of Marley sits in front. Hidden among his dreadlocks are the titles 'One Love', 'No Woman No Cry' 'Iron Lion Zion' and 'Jammin' . Across his crown you will find 'I Shot The Sheriff' and 'Is This Love' and the words 'Redemption Song' and 'Buffalo Soldier' lining his forehead and eyebrow. You can just about make out the tattoo behind his hair which is also the title to the work 'Get Up, Stand Up' and below this 'Three Little Birds. The work is finished off with the inclusion of the marijuana leaf which Marley believed held a lot of healing and spiritual powers. 
 

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