How One Artist Reacted When He Inspired Katy Perry’s ‘California Gurls’ Music Video

“California Gurls” is one of Katy Perry’s most famous music videos. Perry was inspired by a renowned artist to create the video’s candy-coated visuals. During an interview, the artist revealed how he felt about Perry.

Katy Perry | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for COVERGIRL

Artist found out he was communicating with Katy Perry under another name

Will Cotton is an artist who creates images of women surrounded by candy. According to a 2010 article in Interview magazine, Cotton received an email from someone who called himself “Katheryn Hudson” who wanted to purchase some of his work. Cotton asked “Katheryn Hudson” if she was actually Perry, as “Katheryn Hudson” is Perry’s birth name.

Cotton correctly assumed the “I Kissed a Girl” singer emailed him. This led Perry to pose for one of his paintings, Katy Cotton Candy. The painting served as the cover of Perry’s album teenage dream. Cotton’s work inspired the “California Gurls” video and he served as the video’s art director.

Will Cotton next to a painting

Will Cotton | Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

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Will Cotton says working with Katy Perry on ‘Teenage Dream’ and ‘California Gurls’ changed his life

In 2017, Cotton told The Daily Beast why he painted Perry. “The reason I chose Katy and no one else – I had torn up pictures of her in magazines, because she was exactly the kind of character I wanted to paint,” he said. Explain. “She is very over the top, she is very sweet, sweet. As sweet as possible. By painting the [Teenage Dream] cover and work on [‘California Gurls’ video], he disseminated this imagery in a way that the art world simply never could. It’s a totally different scale.

Cotton discussed the impact of working with Perry on his career. “Back when I was doing pop iconography and watching these pop icons, I was the one looking at advertising culture and I was influenced by it,” he said. “And now I may get an email from a 12 year old girl in Brazil who knows my images because of the Katy Perry album cover and video.”

In the aforementioned Interview magazine article, Cotton said he appreciated Perry reaching out to him. “There are so many instances where an artist is quoted but not part of it — commercials, videos — and I thought that was great, they really wanted me there,” he said.

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How Fans in the US and UK Reacted to “California Gurls”

“California Gurls” became a huge hit. For six weeks, the song was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. “California Gurls” remained on the chart for a total of 27 weeks. The song’s parent album, teenage dream, was also a success. It was No. 1 for one of its 265 weeks on the Billboard 200.

“California Gurls” was also popular in the UK. According to The Official Charts Company, the song was #1 for two weeks. It was on the chart for 35 weeks in total. Meanwhile, teenage dream was No. 1 during one of its 218 weeks on the chart.

“California Gurls” has an iconic video – and it wouldn’t be the same without Cotton.

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