Artist makes George Zimmerman mug shot out of Skittles

An artist in Denver has turned an infamous 2005 mug shot of George Zimmerman into a piece of pop art.

Andy Bell, 31, used 12,250 Skittles to create a 3-by-4-foot portrait of Zimmerman, who was charged with second-degree murder on Wednesday in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Skittles have become a small but indelible part of the shooting. Martin, 17, was returning to his father's house in Sanford, Fla., after buying iced tea and Skittles at a convenience store. It was then that Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman, began following the teen, which later led to a confrontation and the fatal shooting.

Bell told the Denver Post that he started the piece, called "Fear Itself," after initially hearing about the killing. "I wanted to do all I could to raise awareness about the case," he said. In recent weeks, of course, the case has received no shortage of national attention.

The artist says he mapped the candy design in Photoshop before having his wife and friends assist him in gluing the hard, fruity candy onto plywood. "It became family puzzle night," he told the Post.

The work, is being featured at the RedLine Gallery in Denver, Colo. Despite the ominous look of the artwork, Bell tells the Post that he has sympathy for Zimmerman, and that he's not rushing to judgment on the case. Meanwhile, the gallery's executive director, PJ D'Amico, marveled at the creation, saying it's a "crazy, terribly beautiful piece," that is "profound beyond measure."

The Associated Press points out that Skittles joins a list of other snack foods that got sucked into less-than-favorable stories. Twinkies, Kool-Aid, and Doritos all have had to deal with becoming parts of controversies that weighed on their brand names.

Katherine Sredl, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, told the AP that companies should keep a healthy distance from the controversies.

In the case of Skittles, "they're so brightly colored and almost pure sugar," she said. "Skittles have always symbolized youth and innocence."