How, oh how did this happen? Pop culture-inspired artist Will Cotton painted his signature maidens in pink clouds and mountains of candy, cutting out images of Katy Perry from magazines because her image itself was so “confectionary,” he explains.

And then, she found him. He agreed. He painted her faux-pin-up nakedness into the Teenage Dream cover and art directed her whipped cream ejaculating udders into the California Gurls video, thusly feeding his pop culture-inspired art back to pop culture. The imagery was so potent and so on-point bubblegum, but the intended sinister undercurrent — that which makes Cotton’s work interesting — was lost.

And then, it was the new hot thing — Cotton saw an “epidemic” of rip-offs/hommages in ads, fashion editorials gorging piles of cakes, hair color commercials buried in pink mist. So much of that was saturating commercial culture — it was like pop culture was vomiting his art back at him.

When I paint Katy now, I feel like I m stealing from myself, he says. It should. It’s pre-chewed.

And so, the loop continues. Swallow that, spit that, swallow that sugarcoated poison!