By complete coincidence, I met via telephone, Funism founder, KP. Read this excerpt from the latest article I wrote for Divulge Magazine to learn more about this positive-thinking creative whose mission is to playfully “spread the fun” all over the world.
You’d never suspect a forty-six year old, tattooed mom would be the mastermind behind a graffiti ring that’s spreading throughout the South Bay and the world. She goes by the name of KP, and she dubs her surreptitious scribblings, “Funism”. It is the temporary tattoo of tagging, with a positive spin that brings to mind the art form, “reverse-graffiti”, where artists “draw” using cleaning materials to remove dust or dirt rather than spraying with paint. When committing a not-so-random act of funism, her medium of choice is chalk, googly eyes, plastic mermaids and wax lips, with an underlying mission to spread good will, positivity, and, well…fun.
I was honored to speak with KP and learn first-hand her story of why an initial desire to beautify an ugly neighborhood wall has mushroomed into a world-wide movement to spread such messages as “fun is good” and “go hug your people”.
SK: What exactly IS “Funism”?
KP: Funism is anything that can inspire joy or playfulness in the lives of others. It’s about trying to make the world a happier place. I feel joy when I’m writing a happy chalk message out to the world. It makes my day brighter, it makes my load lighter. When I see kids finding little toys that I’ve hidden, or pointing to the fire hydrant that I’ve stuck googly eyes on, then I feel better.
Whenever I write a chalk message, I sign it by drawing what I call a “heart hug”- a smiling heart with his arms stretched out wide; something my mom drew for me once when I was much younger.
SK: What inspired you to start “chalk tagging” and “toy tagging”, and what was your first experience/tag?
KP: I’ve been doing the chalk messages for over 20 years. That started when I lived on the corner of a busy street. There was a big brick wall in front of my house. I think the first thing I wrote was “Wake up and Frolic”. People told me that it made them happy when they would drive by the wall and read the message, so I wrote another one. When a neighbor I didn’t know left a supportive note and a box of chalk on my front porch, well, that was the green light I needed to continue.
The “toy tagging” started later, about nine years ago with my son. We took a lot of his tiny toys that he didn’t play with anymore and started hiding them around our neighborhood, or leaving them on friends’ porches, slipping toys into people’s medicine cabinets, or purses. We had so much fun – good clean fun – we didn’t want to stop toy tagging when we ran out of little toys to give away. I found little plastic mermaids that we could leave instead to continue with the toy tagging.
Eventually the mermaid thing took on a life of its own. I started taking photos of all the places that I hid the mermaids and posting them on Facebook. Then people who found the mermaids would put them somewhere else and post the pictures. Now I have hundreds of photos of [plastic] mermaids. People are adding to the photo albums all the time. Just the mermaid part of Funism has grown to be something larger than I could’ve imagined. It’s like Fight Club.
I started gluing googly eyes onto things; fire hydrants, catsup bottles, rocks. It makes me giggle, imagining the people who sit at the restaurant table after me finding their catsup bottle staring at them. I started posting pictures of that, and my friend brought my attention to #VandalEYES on Instagram and I realize that there are a lot of people out there that are “funists”. The whole Instagram thing has really shown me that the world wants to play along.
Read the full-story and view more photos of this article in the September 2013 issue of Divulge Magazine.
All “Funism” photography by KP, via Divulge Magazine