The decline in traditional newspaper readership has done more than separate the populace from the powers that be, it’s also fractured the connection between two former morning-time partners:
Coffee and comics.
Which is why Columbus’s Josh Hara is here to put a little Banksy in your breakfast. His #100CoffeeCup project, wherein he charmingly defaces discarded white Starbucks cups with offhand cartoons, went viral last month. A simple merging of his loves—caffeine, cartoons, sarcasm, social media—the project has landed the digital content manager in the headlines of Mashable, The Telegraph, and Buzzfeed, among others.
“When people used to get their newspapers in the morning, they would skip ahead to the comics page,” Hara said. “So this is serving it up in that same set of mind-space: I need something funny to start my day—something that is not too thought-provoking and is simple. When you’re drinking coffee and looking at a coffee cup and have that blank morning stare, this is the kind of content that you want. You want light, funny content.”
Twitter was a lightning bolt of creativity for Hara, who works for world-renowned ad agency Resource, and has organically built his @yoyoha handle to more than 60,000 followers.
“I was always writing jokes, emailing them to friends—doing cartoons and sending them to friends—and I had my own little website for it and stuff. So Facebook and Twitter were so much easier for you than just emailing it to this group of friends that was hand-selected and gathered, who may have sent it on to their friends. Social media, in general, was built for someone like me who liked to spend his free time just creating funny shit.”
As the Brits might say, Hara relishes in “taking the piss,” his tongue-in-cheek cartoons lampooning corporate and pop culture, as well as a venti dose of self-deprecation.
“I’m defacing a piece of corporate culture or this corporate artifact with my own creativity,” Hara said. “I think that’s the fun of it, too. Starbucks isn’t knocking my door down because I’m writing bullshit, because most of this stuff I’m writing is making fun of things or being snarky.”
Since the simple idea captured the adoration of the Internet, Hara admits the project (which will document him finishing 100 cups by the end of 2015) has revived his love of art and strengthened his philosophy on what art should be.
“Since I’ve started doing this, I’ve had bigger ideas about cartoons. But it’s paralyzing to sit over a big piece of paper. The disposability of [the cups] just makes it like, ‘So what if it’s not perfect?’ It shouldn’t be perfect—it’s on a f*cking coffee cup. It’s a cylinder. For me, it was something that I could do creative everyday that’s not about what I do for a living.” The project has also given Hara a proper venue to have a bolder artistic voice. He’s the first to admit that he’s dreamed of being a cartoonist or a comedy writer for a living, and working in advertising—especially inthe social media era—is a “safe environment” in which to figuratively draw moustaches on society. He’ll leave the edgier stuff to the pros.
“[If I was a street artist] I would be the one guy who gets caught,” Hara laughed. “I would never be Banksy, or Keith Haring, or any of these artists that I idolize. I would always be the guy that got caught and had to go to jail and had to call my parents. And had to spend the night in jail because I spray painted on somebody’s f*cking lawn.”