” The styrofoam cup itself represents the pop culture we live in, and in some ways, is the epitome of 21st century technology.”
It’s a product we see every day. The styrofoam cup. Parties, barbecues and picnics are all places we use them and then we just…throw them away. But not 31-year-old artist and animator, Cheeming Boey of Newport Beach, California; he creates art. Armed with a black Sharpie ball-point pen, Boey draws images on cups that include intricate waves, birds and scenes of his life from Malaysia to Orange County.
Q: How are Sharpie markers incorporated?
Boey: They are primarily what I use to draw on my cups now. I only use one fine point sharpie for all my line works. I know there’re several sizes, but part of the challenge I want to tackle is achieving different strokes with one pen.
Q: What benefit do you think this offers and to who?
Boey: People tend to think that drawings and paintings are always on canvases or paper. I would like others to see that anything can be used as a canvas. You must have tried drawing with fries using ketchup, right? Why can’t that be serious art? It’s not what you draw on all the time; it’s the idea on it, or behind it. If the KFC recipe was sold on a napkin for a million bucks, I don’t think people are gonna say, “Nah, I don’t want it…it’s on a napkin.”
The styrofoam cup itself represents the pop culture we live in, and in some ways, is the epitome of 21st century technology. Yet it is often overlooked, and when it ever brings attention, it stands for everything negative.
The fact that it is “cheap” and “disposable” makes it an unlikely subject for anything “special”. But it is that reason that I decided to draw on them. It also keeps one cup off the streets, if people are worried about Styrofoam waste.
Q: Why are Sharpie markers a good fit for this?
Boey: Like how anything can be a canvas, I believe anything could be a tool as well.People are always surprised when I tell them I drew with a sharpie. A lot of them think it is liquid acrylics, or other fancy pens. “No, it’s with a sharpie.”The sharpie has a nice tip and it has a good consistent ink flow. It is also cheap. And cheap doesn’t mean bad.
Q: Tell us about some of your favorite designs. Why do they resonate with you?
Boey: I like the ones that are more personal, like a dining experience with a friend over sake and stories. I also like waves; hence a lot of my cups have a spaghetti-like, wave motif to it. One of my favorite Japanese artists who has influenced me heavily is Hokusai, and I think a lot about how he draws his waves when I draw mine.
Q: What is the longest amount of time you have spent on one cup?
Boey: 3 months. I don’t do initial drafts on the cups, so what you see is on the final product is the first pass. It takes forever to work on an elaborate piece because my next line could completely ruin the composition. Or I get nervous about drawing certain shapes. Or poses.
So sometimes I take hours to figure out the composition in my head, sometimes I don’t come back to it for months.
I have to also make sure the foam cups are absolutely lint/ hair free. They charge up easily and tiny hairs or lint can stick to it. And when the fine point on the sharpie catches one of these hairs, a thin line can suddenly become a broad stroke. Terrible.
Q:Do you think you’ll expand the idea to other items?
Boey: Sure. Anything is possible right?
Q: Anything else you’d like to add that I didn’t ask?
Boey:I could use some free sharpies. I go thru about 1 every 2 days.
Here is a video of how he works…
And the cup…
View more of Cheeming Boey’s art http://rectangletriangle.googlepages.com/