Not long ago I had the honor of asking several artists from our new book You Are So Loved what inspired them to include words of hope and positivity in their artwork. Their answers were as interesting, as inspiring, and as diverse as the artworks themselves. Read on!
I’ve always been a really optimistic person. So optimistic that my nickname growing up was Glow-worm. I think being an optimist and gravitating towards including positive phrases, quotes and mottos in my work is a natural sort of progression. I’ve always included words, but for the most part they weren’t the main focus of the images till a few years ago. I’d gotten sick with an aggressive form or Rheumatoid Arthritis and went from being a healthy cheerful positive person to worrying most of the time. I kept saying a few words to myself as a motto though: “Everything is going to be OK” and sure enough, every time I said it I felt better. Not too long after that I made my first image centered on that quote. It’s been an interesting journey, making art that focuses on the positive. I’ve noticed that people like to open up about the sayings, share what they mean to them. And more than anything I love that. That these positive words create a bridge of goodwill is something pretty special, and keeps me inspired to create more.
Jordan Provost and Jason Wong (enormouschampion)
We created this design when we were pregnant with our first child. It is impossible not to feel positive about the whole world when you are about to bring another life into it. We wanted to make something for Callum that offered him a foretelling of his future—that the whole world was open to him, that he could do or be anything or anyone.
The words of positivity that I’ve included in various drawings start out as reminders to myself. “Okay let’s do this,” “What to focus on: Happy,” these are little pokes I’m giving myself to get on with it, to remember what’s really important. Sometimes they are messages that I don’t quite believe yet, but I write them down to see how they look and sound and feel. I’m trying them on for size, like a new coat. Do they fit? Does it sound okay? Is it silly or sarcastic or is it aspirational? Then I wonder if the message will resonate with anyone else. And the only way to figure that out is to share it, and see what happens.
Like a song, life is short and full of highs and lows. Knowing this can remind all of us to relish every moment and sing joyfully at the top of our lungs.
My inspirational posters came out of a previous performance-based project called the Pep Talk Squad. This was a collaboration between writer Christina Amini and myself. We would wear sporty outfits and traveled to different places with a typewriter. Our task was to talk to anyone and give encouragement on whatever they wanted to discuss—heartbreak, the world situation, a difficult boss, etc. We ended each conversation with a typed-up reflection and a cheer. It was weird and totally inspiring. These phrases of inspiration came directly out of these conversations. We heard how people struggled with listening to their intuition. We also learned that it’s so easy to lose sight of what’s in front of us with all the doubts and confusion and busyness that surround us. Hopefully these text works will be a kind of cheer for the reader, a moment of clarity to remind us of what’s possible if we just take a moment to pause.
Hannah Berman (Pie Bird Press)
I originally designed this piece for a curated show where the theme was “sunshine.” I wanted to create an image that would convey a feeling of “sunniness” without being too literal, and my mind went to picnics, and the piece evolved naturally from there.
The world right now is a crazy place. We are constantly bombarded with negative messages and imagery, nasty partisan politics, violence and consumerism. I think it’s important to stay focused on simple truths about life: that love and kindness toward others are what matter most, that staying present is really important (especially when it feels like there is so much to worry about), that happiness is not based on what you own, but how you live your life. Most of the time when I use positive and hopeful statements in my work, it’s just a reminder to myself about the stuff I need to stay focused on.
Bridget Watson Payne
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