Art Collectors Choice: Top Pop Artist Randal Huiskens Emerges Victorious And Highly Collectible Despite Recent Hardships

Thom Bierdz
6 min readFeb 11, 2024

Randal Huiskens is a pop artist in Michigan, who has forged a brilliant and unique path in Pop Art. Richard Hamilton, arguably the world’s first Pop Artist, famously stated, “Pop Art is: Popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business.” Incorporating some of these principles into the fine art paintings Randal was creating at the time led him from Post-Impressionistic work into complete Pop Art. “To create great Pop Art, you have to present something that has been seen before in a new way,” states the artist.

Randal began drawing at the age of 3. He and his brother Ron would spend hours drawing together, and both showed an unusual proclivity for it. When Randal was 8 years old and attending the third grade, he assembled a book of drawings and brought it to school. He would show the drawings to classmates and take orders for hand-drawn copies, which he sold for 3 cents apiece.

In high school, Randal was allowed to publish his own humor magazine and sell it in the school hallway during break periods. It was heavily influenced by National Lampoon and Mad Magazine. Most of the issues featured an elaborate cover drawing by him, and while he enlisted the aid of other writers and artists to contribute, most of it was written and drawn by him. Many late nights were spent pasting up the pages and making it “camera ready.” By this time he was becoming well known for his art throughout the high school, and in 1982 it allowed him to win a scholarship to the First Annual Michigan Summer Institute for Gifted Students, held on the MSU campus.

He later attended art school at the Kresge Art Center at MSU, where he fell in love with painting. Once again he was being noticed, and his painting of a nude won first prize in the 1987 MSU Undergraduate Exhibition. The same year he won a scholarship for painting, which paid for his final year of school. After art school, he got involved with music, and spent the next 20 years touring with various punk rock bands. Still painting the whole time, he had a studio in the loft of a gigantic Chicago warehouse building, and started painting on a massive scale. Most of his work was based on Post Impressionism but started merging into Cubism, Dadaism, and touches of Pop Art.

Around 2012, his work progressed into straight Pop Art, as he was producing portraits of celebrities in a very unique style that has been called a combination of Andy Warhol and Chuck Close. “I am a painter first,” states the artist, “So I produce a style of paintings that are undoubtedly paint on a canvas featuring Pop Art subjects. Pop Art was once considered the ugly step-child of fine art, but I think it is one of the most important movements of the 20th century, and therefore I wish to create Pop Art with a Fine Art sensibility, trying to merge the painting with the Pop Art.”

In 2015 he won the American Art Awards top three spots in the Pop Art category, cementing his pedigree as a recognized Pop Artist. He was now shipping paintings to collectors all over the world.

In 2017, he suffered a tragedy. His wife of 20 years, Peggi Huiskens suddenly passed away, leaving him distraught. In total despair, his life started to spiral downward. He and his wife were incredibly close and the loss hit him very hard. Eventually he abandoned the Chicago area, moving back to Bay City MI where he grew up. “I decided I needed to get away from all the memories in Chicago and return to the friends and family I grew up with.” But Bay City MI is a far cry from Chicago. Through a set of circumstances, he eventually found himself homeless. All of his paintings were in a storage space provided by his brother Ron, as well as stored at a friend’s house that offered up space. He always had a place with a roof over his head, sleeping in easy chairs and on couches of his friends and family who helped him through this difficult time.

To add insult to injury, in 2022, he fell down a flight of stairs and wound up in a trauma unit, with a brain bleed. This started a series of health problems. Two months later he had fluid on the brain and he could barely walk. The doctors opened up his skull and put a tube in to drain the fluid. He recovered, but is still plagued by problems associated with the fall.

He returned to painting and developed a more updated version of his unique style. Despite the hardships of his recent years, his newest paintings are brighter, more colorful, with an emphasis on fun subjects. The celebrity portraits on which he earned his reputation were becoming sporadic. Now, a combination of common objects as Pop Art subjects appeared in the paintings. “I want the paintings to be fun and make people smile. I am not a political Pop Artist. The only messages I wish to convey are that I am a painter, not a graphic Pop Artist, and that subjects painted are being recognized in the world as Fine Art. Andy Warhol stated that a Campbell soup can is art. I want to recognize subjects that are part of our everyday lives that we touch and see every day, or are seen by a certain segment of people. And above all, I want it to bring a smile to people’s faces.”

For example, his painting “2021 Dodge Charger 1/25th Scale Step Two,” is an image pulled straight from the instructions of a model car. He painted a Ketchup bottle, in direct homage to Andy Warhol. “In Andy’s time, a Campbell’s tomato soup can was ubiquitous…. in our time, a Heinz ketchup bottle is ubiquitous.” To add to the “fun” nature of his works, hearts, stars and arrows are prominent, reminiscent of the simple designs of Keith Haring. He has pulled all of this together in his latest works, and looks forward to creating and furthering his artwork, continuing to evolve and move forward. “I have no choice but to try to be happy and show that in my art.”

* * * See Huiskens web site here: www.randalhuiskens.net

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Thom Bierdz

One of Medium’s TOP ART CONTRIBUTORS, award-winning author, actor, film-maker, painter. 12 books: 6 on art. President of WAA & AAA & ACCA.