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.