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.
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 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.
“I was at one of the many local coffee shops in Richmond a few weeks ago with Jenna Chew and she did this sweet drawing on my coffee cup out of nowhere, and I thought it was really cool. So I kept it and took it home and decided to paint it with watercolor. I guess you could call it a collaboration.”