Hidden Bits of Happiness
Happiness is a good thing. It’s like chocolate for the mind, but with fewer calories and even less chance of wrappers getting stuck down the side of your sofa.
As an illustrator, I love drawing stuff that makes me smile. In particular, I really like drawing things where there’s no limit on just how crazy you can be. Be it silly, (a pilot flying a plate of jelly with passengers stuck inside a large wobbly mass) heartfelt, (a dad teaching his son how to cook sausages on a camp fire whilst the kid sneaks a slice of pizza) or just visually interesting (like a gentleman octopus protecting a young lady from a thunderstorm).
As I mentioned in a previous post* entitled Hospital Drawings: What is He? I find that drawing things to make myself smile is the best way to create something that makes other people happy. This particular picture is just a segment (1/16th) of a image that stretches to about 3 and a half metres. I first drew it on my M.A. in Falmouth when it was nothing other than a very impractical story book for youngsters. The story was called The Best Bedtime Book and it focused and it focused on all the things you could be when you go to sleep. Suffice to say a 3 metre long roll of paper wouldn’t make for a very good book, but happily, some bloke called Steve Jobs invented the iPad shortly afterwards and as soon as someone who knows how to build Apps starts flirting with me on Match.com I may actually get this thing published online. So if any of you reading this know how to build eBooks or Apps, then feel free to contact me. And if any of you know how to stop the wooden gate at the bottom of my garden from jamming when it’s cold then please come over and sort that out, too.
At any rate, the bit of this picture I enjoy the most isn’t the bright colours or silly characters. It’s the two other bits that don’t get looked at too closely: the floaty black and white tickertape in the sky, and the orangey rock formation. Although they look pretty innocuous, I deliberately wrote hidden messages into them in Morse Code. In total, I worked 16 little hidden messages into the pictures across the whole book, using various methods and codes. It took bloody ages, and some of the messages may well never be seen by anyone, ever.
Really, I just like the idea that wherever these images end up; online, in a book or just hanging on my wall, someone might be able to look at them for a while and go “Ooh. That’s pretty. I like this silly picture. It makes me happy.” and then one day, a long time down the line suddenly look at the picture in a new light and think “Ooh. What the bleedin’ Hell is that?” and work out there’s a message there that has been hidden in plain sight all that time. That feeling – that an inanimate object you thought you knew – can suddenly surprise you, is something I really like. I’ve seen it a couple of times when I’ve shown the whole 3 metre picture to people, but should I ever manage to get my work published, it would be great to think that people across the country enjoy my work because it’s colourful and funny, only to find an extra hidden bit of happiness they weren’t expecting.
*I’m not trying to get you to read the rest of my blog. If I was trying to do that, I’d point out the post was between my other entries entitled The Meaning of Life: Sorted and Next Week’s Lottery Results.