3-D Pop Artist to showcase art form in Williamsport

With layers upon layers of vibrant colors that refuse to lay idly, paintings of sports stadiums, city scapes and more come to life in the many 3-D works of world-renowned artist Charles Fazzino.

Using his background in illustration and a childlike love of pop-out books, Fazzino travels to some of the world’s most-popular venues to showcase an art form that only was used in hobby less than 40 years ago.

Actually, the 3-D Pop Art form, which Fazzino has been perfecting for more than a quarter century, wasn’t even a major part of the art scene until Fazzino stumbled upon it in a hobby store.

“I was in an arts and crafts store when I saw the form,” Fazzino recently told the Sun-Gazette, adding that at the time this craft was more popular among elderly woman than gallery goers.

That day in the hobby store, Fazzino said he decided he would try to bring the craft into his work.

“I thought it was a really unique idea,” he said. “I kind of adopted that form.”

The idea of bringing several elements of the art piece closer to the viewer was one that appealed to Fazzino, he said, because he always was fond of children’s pop-out books, which creates an interactive illustration by having parts of it pop up on the flip of the page.

“I was the first person to use this art form as an art form and not as a craft,” Fazzino said.

Since the technique was more of a craft than an actual art form, Fazzino needed to give his new idea a name.

He explained that 3-D Pop Art was a simple solution since it best described it.

After creating a few pieces of 3-D Pop Art, he took them to an art show in New York. The rest is history as he said the art form was “a hit from day one.”

The process of making one of his pieces is to build layers of details on each other to give the piece depth.

But his art work has not only gained him popularity in the art world, but in the sports world as well. Since 2000, Fazzino has worked with the NFL to create a piece for each Super Bowl.

“From that point on I’ve been working closely with them (NFL), creating posters and so on,” he said.

For Fazzino, it’s an exciting time to work on a Super Bowl piece as it’s an event that has the entire nation and world is focused on one city.

“It’s become a wonderful thing to look forward to,” Fazzino said. “A Super Bowl transforms a city when it comes.”

And although he has created works for plenty of other subjects that don’t have to do with sports, such as the Grammy Awards and Broadway shows, it again is a sports-focused piece that has brought him to Williamsport.

Through a grant from First Community Foundation of Pennsylvania, area students are getting the opportunity to learn and, in some instances, work with Fazzino in creating a 3-D Pop Art piece to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Little League Baseball.

“It’s sort of a mix of art and sport and I think it’s two things that kids really identify with,” he said of the project.

Fazzino, who calls his artwork “whimsical,” said that he hopes that students learn from his story that there are many options in the world.

There isn’t only a handful of career options, but many.

It all depends on whether an individual can take advantage of opportunities – like he did in that hobby store in 1981.

“It is possible to be successful as an artist and there are possibilities out there,” Fazzino said. “So to get kids involved in art, especially my art, is exciting and it is motivating. There’s not just math and science.”