Art galleries, museums, and everything in between are places we can go to for sources of inspiration. The artwork you see in these places usually covers a broad spectrum of emotions. Attending an exhibition can leave us feeling inspired, surprised, and in some occasions sad. The emotional element not often found at these places is humor. In short, most art is serious.
Going against the emotional grain of the art industry, Chicago creative Jason Guo uses his sense of humor as a source of inspiration in his work today. Equal parts comedian/artist, he uses typography as a medium to create unfiltered statements often found to be hilarious!
" I think humor allows artwork to not feel so pretentious, it makes it relatable to regular people. I like to laugh, so for me, sharing that emotion with others is really important. I'm always pushing myself to be an optimist. In life you can choose to focus on any aspect, I just choose to focus on light-hearted emotions. "
Challenging The Viewer
The optimism in some of his work is so powerful in his hands, even an assault rifle can feel a bit innocent. Jason created a mold of an AK-47, a weapon responsible for millions of deaths, then covered it with the kind of sprinkles you'd find at an ice cream store.
By combining two elements that are known to give off two completely different emotions, he found a way to take a negative and make it positive; one of the many tricks up his artistic sleeve.
One Year American, 2011 (sold)
" In this piece, I folded 270 one hundred dollar bills to fit into 270 empty gelatin 00 capsules. Collectively it contains $27 000; the annual income of an average American in 2011.
Much of the artist's work revolves around text based creations. His ability to add clever phrases to every day items has brought him lot of attention.
Unfortunately not all of his viewers have good intentions. With the internet, once you have a great idea and it becomes public, big brands can take it, then make it their own.
" I lost count of how many huge companies saw one of my phrases and started putting it on their products. The natural response is anger and a lawsuit. But going against them, they'll bury you with paperwork. These businesses have a legal team of their own. So I just keep smiling and creating more work. "
Last year the artist played with the idea of putting a message on a lighter to create humor between those who share it. It quickly became a hit and he's now shipping thousands of them each month across the globe. Every day more and more people grin from his work. Those who don't, are looked at as a challenge, and he'll continue to create ideas until even the most stern viewers crack a smile.
Re-Imagining Everyday Items
Each day we partake in consumer products. Many of these items we've grown so accustom to, we couldn't imagine them any other way. Part of Jason's voyage is to take what we see everyday and reinterpret it in a new voice.
Using a mirror, he creates a message out of reflective font. Which in turn makes for a moment when the viewer becomes part of the artwork itself. Each piece he creates can feel relatable in some way, but often times was previously never viewed as potential artwork before. Making an entirely new experience out of something very familiar.
The Grand Finale
It may be hard to fathom, but a handful of popular sayings we use today were first created in the lab by this ingenious individual years ago. As a culture we sometimes say things without thinking twice of who said them first. We just known if something sounds good, we'll start saying it too.
And while big brands may never credit the artist for an idea they now use, Guo will continue to create more catch phrases, artwork and household items, all with a smile on his face.
" It costs $0 to be a nice person " - Jason Guo