Insipid thrift-store landscapes improved with monsters

An anonymous artist creates "Involuntary Collaborations" by buying cheap landscapes at thrift stores and yard-sales and improving them by adding monsters to them.

Involuntary Collaborations (via Neatorama)


  1. I like doing this with water scenes, and just having a tentacle or two coming up from the depths.

    It is more suited to my crappy painting abilities.

    You’d be surprised at how many crappy “paintings” of harbors and lakes one can find.

  2. I know someone who will check into hotel rooms, take the cheesy landscape paintings out of their frames, add monsters or other improvements, and then put them back in the frames on the wall :)

  3. What a great idea! These monsters are very cool.

    However, Mr. Doctorow, as a champion of the arts, you should know that the term “insipid” is a subjective and pejorative one. Put simply, it’s just plain mean. Because it doesn’t appear in the original article, I assume you were responsible for typing it.

    If the original painting were done by someone dear to your heart, and they were proud of it, would you still call it insipid?

    I suggest removing the term “insipid” to make the title of this post more accurate and kind. There are plenty of truly insipid ideas in our world, and the original paintings here are not deserving of your resentment.

  4. agreed- every art tastes better with added Monster.

    I imagine quite a few Thomas Kinkaides deserve to be given this treatment.

    (Side note: another artist who works in a similar vein: Eddie Breen- also brilliant stuff; so much so that his name has been given to the verb for Improving bad art: “Breening”)

  5. I’m a little confused as to why you’re saying “an anonymous artist”, since these paintings are obviously signed works of art. They are done by Chris McMahon and you can find him here:

    If you want to just correct the post rather than moderate my post I won’t be offended.

  6. This is an excellent tip for all amateur haunters, and so much fun to do.
    I’ve added holidaying skeletons to Constable repros, hairy ears onto the Virgin Mary, wolf-hands onto portraits etc.
    Acrylic paint on the outside of a perspex frame will wipe off, too, so you can avoid year-round blasphemy/restore your paintings to their former glory if you want.

  7. I don’t really get why the first artists work is insipid. I mean looking at it you can see that its someones hobby, someone who probably put allot of effort in it.

  8. All of these things on thrift-store paintings (I’ve seen several in the theme lately on the intertubes) are descendants of Asger Jorn’s détournement painting “Den oroande ankungen” from 1959. I’m wondering if people are just coming up with the idea on their own, or are consciously quoting Jorn (the latter, I highly doubt).

    1. There seems to be some debate about who originated this concept; I know Abdul Mati Klarwein was doing this as well in the early 60’s, and apparently made hundreds of these “improved” paintings in his career.

  9. I met this guy at HeroesCon in Charlotte last year. I have his business card somewhere I think. He was the hit of the show — it seemed like everyone was walking away with one of his paintings. As I recall, he was selling the head of a Pikachu doll ripped off and mounted to a trophy plaque. I was very tempted to but it.

    1. The guy at Heroes Con was Chris Hamer of He does something similar with using found paintings but his illustrative style is very different.

  10. Reminds me of KAWS a bit – back when he was improving ads by adding cartoon skulls to them. The yeti painting is awesome. I would buy that for a dollar.

  11. There’s a lot of art out there that could use this treatment: after the apocalypse, when people are tempted to steal the neighbour’s Jackson Pollock so that they can fix the leak in the roof, the work might be saved by this!

    While the use of the word “insipid” is a little harsh it is a lot better than some of the other words that might have been used. F***ing boring comes to mind. I wouldn’t use the word ‘amateur’ because it would be really offensive to all the good painters out their who have to have full time jobs to support their very expensive paint addiction.

    To everyone that I just offended because they think Aunt Mary or Cousin Bert do lovely paintings: they do. The paintings as shown in the small sample provided are not by amateur painters: they are mass produced in sweatshops in the Third World and sold for prices mostly based on the cost of the frame and the fact that they match someone’s carpet.

    No harm, no foul.

  12. Unlike some other artists I’ve seen with a similar shtick, this artist’s illustrations believably fit into and enhance the original landscapes. I love these.

  13. Thanks guys for all the mentions! I’m taking them to Chicago for C2e2 next week and orlando for Megacon the following week! Hope to see some of ya!

    Chris Hamer

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