I’ll be sharing studio space with The Office of PlayLab, Inc. over the next couple of weeks, while they’re visiting from Brooklyn. The two partners, Archie Lee Coates IV and Jeffrey Scott Franklin I start each morning with some coffee and a stack of napkins to hash out ideas. Here are a few that have developed recently during our morning conversations. Enjoy!
Cheeming Boey doesn’t drink coffee, he prefers sake. But inspiration struck him while sitting outside a coffee shop that has led to an incredible collection of artwork on a unique canvas – styrofoam cups.
You don’t drink coffee, so what were you drinking the day you first started drawing on cups in a coffee shop? I wasn’t drinking anything, just sat outside the shop, picked up a cup sitting on top of a trash can.
Are all of the cups you draw on previously used or have you purchased new ones to maintain a consistency in your work? The first couple of cups were all recycled, until hygiene became an issue. The cups were not consistent in sizes too, so displaying them as a series of works weren’t pleasing to the eye. So I started buying them. Companies are going to keep churning them out, atleast when I draw on them, I like to think they aren’t disposed of.
Have any cafes been in touch about designing custom cups for them? Yes, some have contacted me, but many times there isn’t a lot of creative freedom. It’s almost like they just need a graphic/ product designer. I didn’t want to fall into that category. I like the freedom I have now. Some were willing to give me that freedom, but the pay wasn’t right, so I didn’t. It was less than what I would sell a cup for. A clothing company also contacted me, and they didn’t even want to pay, because they see it as a privilege to have my designs on their tshirts. I didn’t like that idea at all.
Have you ever considered creating and selling your own products, like reusable mugs for example, with your work on them? Or would you be worried that mass production would decrease the artistic value of your gallery work? If my works were on ceramics, then that’s just another cup. The thing with the foam cups is that it’s so common. Everyone’s held one of these before, before throwing them away. It is that idea, that I am willing to spend so much time on one that draws people to my works I think.
The foam cup isn’t any less durable. For one, the cup will last thousands of years, which is why it is an environmental issue. If you drop it, it won’t break like ceramic would. It’s really is how you choose to view it.
Just because it is labeled disposable doesn’t mean it has to be, right?
Do you still have a day job? Or have the cups allowed you to focus solely on your artwork? Yes, I still work as an animator.
Seth Ciferri has been making custom tattoo machines since 1994 creating a range of unique liners and shaders. One of his latest is the “Light Roast” liner and in keeping with the roast theme, Seth partnered with fellow Portland business Courier Coffee Roasters to create a special packaging that combines the liner with ½ pound of coffee. Bringing together the two entities was Keegan Wenkman, who created some lovely lettering and illustration compositions for each, and printing those on a kraft paper bag. The result is something we will call Rustic Independent Chic. Or not. Point being, it’s very nice.
I love the unique collaboration between these two companies. The beautiful letterpress illustrations that represent Seth’s incredible machines really add to the handcrafted love that go into each venture. I haven’t tried the coffee, but coming from Portland, I bet it’s decent.
As a potter, I have an ever rotating gaggle of mugs to choose from, but this one is one of my recent favorites. Joyce Fujiwara has been one of my ceramics teachers on and off for a year now and she finally had an open studio where I could buy one of her beautiful pieces. This is now my go-to mug at home and helps make weekend mornings start a little easier. –Mat
“Domo, the Japanese stop-action character and meme celebrity, is appearing this fall in an elaborate 7-Eleven storewide promotion, and his toothy brown face is plastered on everything imaginable. Tons of signage of all over, collectible Slurpee cups (and Domo’s own custom flavor, Fuji Frost), character straws, coffee cups, and some truly inventive and funny packaging design for the hot dog containers. There’s even Domo schwag like hats, t-shirts, and books. Evan Brody, the marketing manager for Slurpee, told Brandweek that 7-Eleven’s consumers “love crazy Japanese shit.”
I’m not a huge fan of “crazy japanese shit,” or 7-Eleven coffee, but I do love these cups. I haven’t been to a 7-Eleven in a while, but you can see more of the Domo madness on Lovely Package.
Kate Bingaman-Burt is a professor at Portland State University and she draws the things that she buys. She also drinks a lot of coffee, so she’s drawn a lot of it in various forms. I talked with her to find out more about her coffee buying habits and her work.
How much do you spend on coffee each month? Too much. I live above a coffee shop (www.cremabakery.com) and we have a very active french press in our apartment. I also frequent Contrary Coffee which is right down the street from my office for my morning Americanos. So, again. I am kind of afraid to add it all up.
How many cups do you have a day?Days when I teach: 2 small cups at home and then a large Americano before class starts. I usually grab another americano in the afternoon before my afternoon class.
Who makes your favorite roast? Stumptown!
How important is coffee to your creative process? Pretty important. Recently I have stopped drinking it at night and have been using yerbe matte tea as a substitute. Also, I try to drink more Americanos over regular coffee because it goes down a bit easier. But I am most certainly addicted.
So many of us have the same addiction Kate! Thanks for sharing some of the intimate details of your coffee love with us. Check out more of Kate’s work at Obsessive Consumption or on her Flickr.
I’ve always loved the reuse of shipping containers. A couple years ago, Illy partnered with the architect Adam Kalkin to transform his Quik House into a mobile pop-up cafe, where guests could enjoy a complimentary espresso. We need more of these floating around the coffee deprived towns of the world.
I recently discovered the Keep Cup and found it’s unique departure from other reusable mugs refreshing. It was designed by a pair of cafe owners who realized the waste produced by disposable cups. While I don’t find the design outstanding(it looks bloated), it is fun. The cups come in standard sizes to be easily adopted and used by any cafe. The company also introduced customization into the ordering process, allowing you to choose various colors for each part and create your own personalized Keep Cup. While I don’t endorse plastic, the company discusses their considerations thoroughly in their website’s faq.
“I like coffee so much that I have tea for breakfast: The first cup of the day in particular is so good that I’m afraid I won’t be able to properly appreciate it when I am half-asleep. Therefore, I celebrate it two hours later when I am fully conscious.”
“At 17, I still suffered from coffee schizophrenia: I loved the concept of coffee, but resented the taste. I decided to cure myself through auto-hazing. Around that time, my parents took me on my first trip to Paris. We arrived by train early in the morning and went straight to a little cafe. I ordered a large café au lait and forced down the entire bowl. It worked. Since then I have enjoyed coffee pretty much every day.”
This first appeared in the New York Times Abstract City Blog a year ago, and I still love it just as much today. It’s a great visual history of Christoph Niemann’s relationship with coffee. Enjoy the rest of it over at the New York Times.