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Posted at 12:22 PM ET, 04/20/2010

The Museum of Celebrity Tweets: Surreally fun

By Liz Kelly

It figures that on the day we feature our Q&A with Museum of Modern Tweets proprietress and artist Odessa Begay that the first image in the queue is somewhat NSFW. So consider yourself warned. It's also laugh out loud hilarious, like most of Begay's work. Here's one (SFW) example:

(Courtesy Odessa Begay)

Many, including your pals here at Celebritology, have tried to wring laughs out of celebrity tweets. The material is rich and there is an ever-renewing supply. But is it of import? The Library of Congress isn't sure, but did announce plans last week to archive Twitter's full backlog of public tweets. But, back to the humor: Where others have failed by either over- or under-emphasizing the ironies inherent in a bunch of rich egomaniacs hunched over their computers showing off their big brains, Begay has triumphed. Her take on celeb tweets is smart, subtle and even -- dare we say it -- elevates them from the realm of camp to art. Or to social commentary. Or both.

Here's the deal: Begay, a longtime celeb news fan, curates a carefully selected collection of celebrity tweets, which she then interprets -- with a pretty broad creative license -- via computer-assisted illustration into surreal glimpses of a world where Kanye West raps to an impaled fan, a bear-costume-wearing Kirstie Alley drags Jamie Foxx around by the neck and Kendra Wilkinson keeps a miniature man in a gilded cage.

Last week, we conducted a virtual Q&A with Begay to find out what inspires the artist and what she considers prime Tweet Museum material...

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How/when was the Museum of Modern Tweets born? And, of course, why?

I started Tweet Museum in January with the help of my boyfriend, Jordan. He helps me find tweets, then we brainstorm ideas for potential drawings and then I get to work. It started with illustrating the Tiger Woods leaked "sext" messages in December which ended up being pretty popular. Considering there isn't a constant flow of celebrity text messages, illustrating their tweets seemed like a logical way to continue doing that. Plus, if I just did illustrations of my friends Kevin and Sophie no one would know who they were or understand the joke.

How often do you create a new illustration?

I do one a week but I'll frequently have a few going at the same time.

What are you criteria for choosing tweets to illustrate?

There are the obvious things such as typos, missing punctuation or cut off sentences. Then there are a lot of weird statements that make no sense or conversations with other twitter users that are out of context.

Are there any celebrity tweeters you go back to over and over? If so, who and why?

Not really. I've had some ideas for a few Conan drawings but I haven't gotten around to them yet. His self deprecating jokes sort of unify all of his tweets which is why I would love to make a series of them.

Do you have a favorite illustration?

I really like my Anderson Cooper drawing. It has the fluffy, dreamy look I was going for along with his intense facial expression. I also like my recent Ice-T drawing. I'm trying out new methods for illustrating and I thought it was successful.

Have you had any direct feedback from the celebs you're skewering?

Nope! I have no idea if any of them have even seen these. I imagine they're just in so much awe they don't have words for me yet, haha. I think skewering is a bit of a harsh word though, it's maybe more like gently poking.

Are you a celeb news fan anyway?

Unfortunately yes. I read Dlisted and The Superficial. It's an easy/mindless break from the rest of my work and I like their writing. They're also pretty good for spotting crazy celebrity tweeters.

Do you have any other artists/illustrators from whom you drew your inspiration?

I look around at a lot of portfolios, mostly on agency sites, to get ideas about design and color palettes but there isn't one artist in particular that I could point to. To be general, I like American and Japanese pop art, Photorealism, David Hockney, Mark Ryden, Sandy Skoglund and Ansel Adams. I also think Jeff Koons's work is hilarious.

What do you do for a day job?

Freelance photo editing and photo touch-up/photoshopping (I'm a nut for dust spotting and color correcting). I would love it if I could just do illustration though.

Most interesting thing that's happened to you as a result of launching the site?

Let's see, I'm going to be in two Asian art magazines, Status and Outlook, for their April/May art issues. I was also invited to Twestival last month which is a twitter-based charity event and then of course being written about for various online publications!

By Liz Kelly  | April 20, 2010; 12:22 PM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Extreme Fans  | Tags:  Museum of Modern Tweets, celebrity tweets, twitter  
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